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Title: Life of Mary Queen of Scots, Volume II (of 2)
Author: Bell, Henry Glassford
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Life of Mary Queen of Scots, Volume II (of 2)" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.


  _Just Published, 3 Vols. post 8vo,
  Price 1l. 4s. boards,_






  Original and Selected Publications



  [Illustration: LOCHLEVEN CASTLE.

  Drawn by W. Brown     Engraved by W. Miller]






  VOL. II.

                          _Mary's own Words._





    The Proposal of a Divorce between Mary and Darnley, and the
    Christening of James VI                                            1

    Occurrences immediately preceding Darnley's Death                 19

    The Death of Darnley                                              37

    Bothwell's Trial and Acquittal                                    55

    Bothwell's Seizure of the Queen's Person, and subsequent
    Marriage to her                                                   77

    The Rebellion of the Nobles, the Meeting at Carberry Hill,
    and its Consequences                                              99

    Mary at Loch-Leven, her Abdication, and Murray's Regency         120

    Mary's Escape from Loch-Leven, and the Battle of Langside        147

    Mary's Reception in England, and the Conferences at York
    and Westminster                                                  161

    Mary's Eighteen Years' Captivity                                 191

    Mary's Trial and Condemnation                                    219

    Mary's Death, and Character                                      245

  An Examination of the Letters, Sonnets, and other Writings,
  adduced in Evidence against Mary Queen of Scots                    267

  Addendum                                                           335


Preface, p. v, for "_eminent_," read "_imminent_."

Page 104, for "_On the 25th of August 1561, Mary sailed out of the harbour
of Calais_," read "_on the 15th of August_," &c.

Page 155, for "_knapsack_," read "_knapscap_."




It was in December 1566, during Mary's residence at Craigmillar, that a
proposal was made to her by her Privy Council, which deserves particular
attention. It originated with the Earl of Bothwell, who was now an active
Cabinet Minister and Officer of State. Murray and Darnley, the only two
persons in her kingdom to whom Mary had been willing to surrender, in a
great degree, the reins of government, had deceived her; and finding her
interests betrayed by them, she knew not where to look for an adviser.
Rizzio had been faithful to her, and to him she listened with some
deference; but it was impossible that he could ever have supplied the
place of a Prime Minister. The Earl of Morton was not destitute of
ambition sufficient to have made him aspire to that office; but he chose,
unfortunately for himself, to risk his advancement in espousing Darnley's
cause, in opposition to the Queen. Both, in consequence, fell into
suspicion; Morton was banished from Court, and Murray again made his
appearance there. But, though she still had a partiality for her brother,
Mary could not now trust him, as she had once done. Gratitude and common
justice called upon her not to elevate him above those men, (particularly
Huntly and Bothwell), who had enabled her to pass so successfully through
her recent troubles. She made it her policy, therefore, to preserve as
nice a balance of power as possible among her ministers. Bothwell's rank
and services, undoubtedly entitled him to the first place; but this the
Queen did not choose to concede to him. The truth is, she had never any
partiality for Bothwell. His turbulent and boisterous behaviour, soon
after her return from France, gave her, at that period, a dislike to him,
which she testified, by first committing him to prison, and afterwards
ordering him into banishment. He had conducted himself better since his
recall; but experience had taught Mary the deceitfulness of appearances;
and Bothwell, though much more listened to than before, was not allowed to
assume any tone of superiority in her councils. She restored Maitland to
his lands and place at Court, in such direct opposition to the Earl's
wishes, that, so recently as the month of August (1566), he and Murray
came to very high words upon the subject in the Queen's presence. After
Rizzio's murder, some part of Maitland's lands had been given to Bothwell.
These Murray wished him to restore; but he declared positively, that he
would part with them only with his life. Murray, enraged at his obstinacy,
told him, that "twenty as honest men as he should lose their lives, ere he
saw Lethington robbed;" and through his influence with his sister,
Maitland was pardoned, and his lands given back.[1] Thus Mary endeavoured
to divide her favours and friendship among Murray, Bothwell, Maitland,
Argyle the Justice-General, and Huntly the Chancellor.

It was in this state of affairs, when the contending interests of the
nobility were in so accurate an equilibrium, that Bothwell's daring spirit
suggested to him, that there was an opening for one bold and ambitious
enough to take advantage of it. As yet, his plans were immatured and
confused; but he began to cherish the belief that a dazzling reach of
power was within his grasp, were he only to lie in wait for a favourable
opportunity to seize the prize. With these views, it was necessary for him
to strengthen and increase his resources as much as possible. His first
step was to prevail on Murray, Huntly, and Argyle, about the beginning of
October, to join with him in a bond of mutual friendship and support;[2]
his second was to lay aside any enmity he may have felt towards Morton,
and to intimate to him, that he would himself petition the Queen for his
recall; his third and boldest measure, was that of arranging with the rest
of the Privy Council the propriety of suggesting to Mary a divorce from
her husband. Bothwell's conscience seldom troubled him much when he had a
favourite end in view. He was about to play a hazardous game; but if the
risk was great, the glory of winning would be proportionate. Darnley had
fallen into general neglect and odium; yet he stood directly in the path
of the Earl's ambition. He was resolved that means should be found to
remove him out of it; and as there was no occasion to have recourse to
violence until gentler methods had failed, a divorce was the first
expedient of which he thought. He knew that the proposal would not be
disagreeable to the nobility; for it had been their policy, for some time
back, to endeavour to persuade the nation at large, and Mary in
particular, that it was Darnley's ill conduct that made her unhappy, and
created all the differences which existed. Nor were these representations
altogether unfounded; but the Queen's unhappiness arose, not so much from
her husband's ingratitude, as from the impossibility of retaining his
regard, and at the same time discharging her duty to the country. Though
the nobles were determined to shut their eyes upon the fact, it was
nevertheless the share which they held in the government, and the
necessity under which Mary lay to avail herself of their assistance, which
alone prevented her from being much more with her husband, and a great
deal less with them. There were even times, when, perplexed by all the
thousand cares of greatness, and grievously disappointed in the fulfilment
of her most fondly cherished hopes, Mary would gladly have exchanged the
splendors of her palace for the thatched roof and the contentment of the
peasant. It was on more than one occasion that Sir James Melville heard
her "casting great sighs, and saw that she would not eat for no persuasion
that my Lords of Murray and Mar could make her." "She is in the hands of
the physicians," Le Croc writes from Craigmillar, "and is not at all well.
I believe the principal part of her disease to consist in a deep grief and
sorrow, which it seems impossible to make her forget. She is continually
exclaiming "Would I were dead!"[3] "But, alas!" says Melville, "she had
over evil company about her for the time; the Earl Bothwell had a mark of
his own that he shot at."[4]

One of his bolts Bothwell lost no time in shooting; but it missed the
mark. By undertaking to sue with them for Morton's pardon, and by making
other promises, he prevailed on Murray, Huntly, Argyle and Lethington, to
join him in advising the Queen to consent to a divorce. It could have been
obtained only through the interference of the Pope, and Murray at first
affected to have some religious scruples; but as the suggestion was
secretly agreeable to him, it was not difficult to overcome his
objections. "Take you no trouble," said Lethington to him, "we shall find
the means well enough to make her quit of him, so that you and my Lord of
Huntly will only behold the matter, and not be offended thereat." The
Lords therefore proceeded to wait upon the Queen, and lay their proposal
before her. Lethington, who had a better command of words than any among
them, commenced by reminding her of the "great number of grievous and
intolerable offences, the King, ungrateful for the honour received from
her Majesty, had committed." He added, that Darnley "troubled her Grace
and them all;" and that, if he was allowed to remain with her Majesty, he
"would not cease till he did her some other evil turn which she would find
it difficult to remedy." He then proceeded to suggest a divorce,
undertaking for himself and the rest of the nobility, to obtain the
consent of Parliament to it, provided she would agree to pardon the Earl
of Morton, the Lords Ruthven and Lindsay, and their friends, whose aid
they would require to secure a majority. But Lethington, and the rest,
soon found that they had little understood Mary's real sentiments towards
her husband. She would not at first agree even to talk upon the subject at
all; and it was only after "every one of them endeavoured particularly to
bring her to the purpose," that she condescended to state two objections,
which, setting aside every other consideration, she regarded as
insuperable. The first was, that she did not understand how the divorce
could be made lawfully; and the second, that it would be to her son's
prejudice, rather than hurt whom, she declared she "would endure all
torments." Bothwell endeavoured to take up the argument, and to do away
with the force of these objections, alleging, that though his father and
mother had been divorced, there had never been any doubt as to his
succession to his paternal estates; but his illustrations and
Lethington's oratory met with the same success. Mary answered firmly, "I
will that you do nothing, by which any spot may be laid on my honour and
conscience; and therefore, I pray ye rather let the matter be in the
estate as it is, abiding till God of his goodness put a remedy to it. That
you believe would do me service, may possibly turn to my hurt and
displeasure." As to Darnley, she expressed a hope that he would soon
change for the better; and, prompted by the ardent desire she felt to get
rid, for a season, of her many cares, she said she would perhaps go for a
time to France, and remain there till her husband acknowledged his errors.
She then dismissed Bothwell and his friends, who retired to meditate new

On the 11th of December, Mary proceeded to Stirling, to make the necessary
arrangements for the baptism of her son, which she determined to celebrate
with the pomp and magnificence his future prospects justified. Darnley,
who had been with the Queen a week at Craigmillar Castle, and afterwards
came into Edinburgh with her, had gone to Stirling two days before.[6]
Ambassadors had arrived from England, France, Piedmont, and Savoy, to be
present at the ceremony. The Pope also had proposed sending a nuncio into
Scotland; but Mary had good sense enough to know, that her bigoted
subjects would be greatly offended, were she to receive any such servant
of Antichrist. It may have occurred to her, besides, that his presence
might facilitate the negotiations for the divorce proposed by her
nobility, but which she was determined should not take place. She,
therefore, wrote to the great spiritual Head of her Church, expressing all
that respect for his authority which a good Catholic was bound to feel;
but she, at the same time, contrived to prevent his nuncio, Cardinal
Laurea, from coming further north than Paris.[7]

The splendour of Mary's preparations for the approaching ceremony,
astonished not a little the sober minds of the Presbyterians. "The
excessive expenses and superfluous apparel," says Knox, "which were
prepared at that time, exceeded far all the preparations that ever had
been devised or set forth before in this country." Elizabeth, as if
participating in Mary's maternal feelings, ordered the Earl of Bedford,
her ambassador, to appear at Stirling with a very gorgeous train; and sent
by him as a present for Mary a font of gold, valued at upwards of 1000_l._
In her instructions to Bedford, she desired him to say jocularly, that it
had been made as soon as she heard of the Prince's birth, and that it was
large enough then; but that, as he had now, she supposed, outgrown it, it
might be kept for the next child. It was too far in the season to admit of
Elizabeth's sending any of the Ladies of her own realm into Scotland;
she, therefore, fixed on the Countess of Argyle to represent her as
godmother, preferring that lady, because she understood her to be much
esteemed by Mary. To meet the extraordinary expenditure occasioned by
entertaining so many ambassadors, the Queen was permitted to levy an
assessment of 12,000_l._ It may appear strange, how a taxation of this
kind could be imposed without the consent of Parliament; but it was
managed thus. The Privy Council called a meeting both of the Lords
Temporal and Spiritual, and of the representatives of the boroughs, and
informed them that some of the greatest princes in Christendom had
requested permission to witness, through their ambassadors, the baptism of
the Prince. It was therefore moved, and unanimously carried, that their
Majesties should be allowed to levy a tax for "the honourable expenses
requisite." The tax was to be proportioned in this way; six thousand
pounds from the spiritual estate;--four thousand from the barons and
freeholders;--and two thousand from the boroughs.[8]

Till the ceremony of baptism took place, the Queen gave splendid banquets
every day to the ambassadors and their suites. At one of these a slight
disturbance occurred, which, as it serves to illustrate amusingly the
manners of the times, is worth describing. There seems to have been some
little jealousy between the English and French envoys upon matters of
precedence; and Mary on the whole was inclined to favour the English,
being now more connected with England than with France. It happened,
however, that at the banquet in question, a kind of mummery was got up,
under the superintendance of one of Mary's French servants, called
Sebastian, who was a fellow of a clever wit. He contrived a piece of
workmanship, in the shape of a great table; and its machinery was so
ingeniously arranged, that, upon the doors of the great hall in which the
feast was to be held, being thrown open, it moved in, apparently of its
own accord, covered with delicacies of all sorts. A band of musicians,
clothed like maidens, singing and accompanying themselves on various
instruments, surrounded the pageant. It was preceded, and this was the
cause of the offence, by a number of men, dressed like satyrs, with long
tails, and carrying whips in their hands. These satyrs were not content to
ride round the table, but they put their hands behind them to their tails,
wagging them in the faces of the Englishmen, who took it into their heads
that the whole was done in derision of them, "daftly apprehending that
which they should not seem to have understood." Several of the suite of
the Earl of Bedford, perceiving themselves thus mocked, as they thought,
and the satyrs "wagging their tails or rumples," were so exasperated, that
one of them told Sir James Melville, if it were not in the Queen's
presence, "he would put a dagger to the heart of the French knave
Sebastian, whom he alleged did it for despite that the Queen made more of
them than of the Frenchmen." The Queen and Bedford, who knew that the
whole was a mere jest, had some trouble in allaying the wrath of the
hot-headed Southerns.

In the midst of these festivities, Mary had various cares to perplex her,
and various difficulties to encounter. When she first came to Stirling,
she found that Darnley had not chosen to go, as usual, to the Castle, but
was residing in a private house. He left it, however, upon the Queen's
arrival, and took up his residence in the Castle with her,--a fact of some
consequence, and one which Murray has himself supplied.[9] But Darnley's
sentiments towards Mary's ministers, continued unchanged; and it was
impossible to prevail upon them to act and associate together, with any
degree of harmony, even in presence of the ambassadors. Mary was extremely
anxious to prevent her husband from exposing his weakness and waywardness
to foreigners; but he was as stubborn as ever; and though he had given up
thoughts of going abroad, it was only because he hoped to put into
execution some new plot at home. Surrounded by gayeties, he continued
sullen and discontented, shutting himself up in his own apartment, and
associating with no one, except his wife and the French envoy, Le Croc,
for whom he had contracted a sort of friendship. To heighten his bad
humour, Elizabeth, according to Camden, had forbidden Bedford, or any of
his retinue, to give him the title of King. The anger inspired by his
contempt of her authority, on the occasion of his marriage, had not yet
subsided; and there is not a state paper extant, in which she acknowledges
Darnley in other terms than as "Henry Stuart, the Queen of Scotland's
husband." It seems likely that this, added to the other reasons already
mentioned, was the cause why Darnley refused to be present at the
christening of his son.[10] Mary had another cause of vexation. The
baptism was to be performed after the Catholic ritual, and the greater
part of her nobility, in consequence, not only refused to take any share
in the ceremony, but even to be present at it. All Mary's influence with
Murray, Huntly, and Bothwell, was exerted in vain. They did not choose to
risk their character with the Reformers, to gratify her. "The Queen
laboured much," says Knox, "with the noblemen, to bear the salt, grease,
and candles, and such other things, but all refused."

On the 19th of December 1566, the baptism, for which so many preparations
had been made, took place.[11] The ceremony was performed between five and
six in the afternoon. The Earls of Athol and Eglinton, and the Lords
Semple and Ross, being of the Catholic persuasion, carried the
instruments. The Archbishop of St Andrews, assisted by the Bishops of
Dumblane, Dunkeld, and Ross, received the Prince at the door of the
chapel. The Countess of Argyle held the infant at the font, and the
Archbishop baptized him by the name of Charles James, James Charles,
Prince and Steward of Scotland, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Lord of
the Isles, and Baron of Renfrew; and these names and titles were
proclaimed three times by heralds, with sound of trumpet. Mary called her
son Charles, in compliment to the King of France, her brother-in-law; but
she gave him also the name of James, because, as she said, her father, and
all the good kings of Scotland, his predecessors, had been called by that
name. The Scottish nobles of the Protestant persuasion, together with the
Earl of Bedford, remained at the door of the chapel; and the Countess of
Argyle had afterwards to do penance for the share she took in the business
of the day,--a circumstance which shows very forcibly the power of the
clergy at this time, who were able to triumph over a Queen's
representative, a King's daughter, and their Sovereign's sister. It is
also worthy of notice, that of the twelve Earls, and numerous Lords then
in the castle, only two of the former, and three of the latter, ventured
to cross the threshold of a Catholic chapel.[12]

Elizabeth was probably not far wrong, in supposing that her font had grown
too small for the infant James. He was a remarkably stout and healthy
child, and as Le Croc says, he made his gossips feel his weight in their
arms. Mary was very proud of her son, and from his earliest infancy, the
establishment of his household was on the most princely scale. The Lady
Mar was his governess. A certain Mistress Margaret Little, the spouse of
Alexander Gray, Burgess of Edinburgh, was his head-nurse; and for her good
services, there was granted to her and her husband, in February 1567, part
of the lands of Kingsbarns in Fife, during their lives. The chief nurse
had four or five women under her, "Keepers of the King's clothes," &c.
Five ladies of distinction were appointed to the honourable office of
"Rockers" of the Prince's cradle. For his kitchen, James, at the same
early age, had a master-cook, a foreman, and three other servitors, and
one for his pantry, one for his wine, and two for his ale-cellar. He had
three "chalmer-chields," one "furnisher of coals," and one pastry-cook or
confectioner. Five musicians or "violars," as they are called, completed
the number of his household. To fill so many mouths, there was a fixed
allowance of provisions, consisting of bread, beef, veal, mutton, capons,
chickens, pigeons, fish, pottages, wine and ale. Thus, upon the life of
the infant, the comfortable support of a reasonable number of his subjects

The captivating grace and affability of Mary's manners, won for her, upon
the baptismal occasion, universal admiration. She sent home the
ambassadors with the most favourable impressions, which were not less
loudly proclaimed, because she enriched them, before they went, with gifts
of value. To Bedford, in particular, she gave a chain of diamonds, worth
about six or seven hundred pounds. To other individuals of his suite, she
gave chains of pearl, rings, and pictures.[14] But she was all the time
making an effort to appear happier and more contented than she really was.
"She showed so much earnestness," says Le Croc, "to entertain all the
goodly company, in the best manner, that this made her forget, in a good
measure, her former ailments. But I am of the mind, however, that she will
give us some trouble as yet; nor can I be brought to think otherwise, so
long as she continues to be so pensive and melancholy. She sent for me
yesterday, and I found her laid on the bed weeping sore. I am much grieved
for the many troubles and vexations she meets with." Mary did not weep
without cause. One source of uneasiness, at the present moment, was the
determination of her ministers to force from her a pardon for the Earl of
Morton, and seventy-five of his accomplices. As some one has remarked, her
whole reign was made up of plots and pardons. Her chief failing indeed,
was the facility with which she allowed herself to be persuaded to
forgive the deadliest injuries which could be offered to her. Murray, from
the representations he had made through Cecil, had induced Elizabeth to
desire Bedford to join his influence to that of Mary's Privy Council in
behalf of Morton. The consequence was, that the Queen could no longer
resist their united importunities, and, with two exceptions, all the
conspirators against Rizzio were pardoned. These exceptions were, George
Douglas, who had seized the King's dagger, and struck Rizzio the first
blow; and Andrew Kerr, who, in the affray, had threatened to shoot the
Queen herself. Robertson, with great inaccuracy, has said, that it was to
the solicitations of Bothwell alone that these criminals were indebted for
their recall. It would have been long before Bothwell, whose weight with
Mary was never considerable, could have obtained, unassisted, her consent
to such a measure; and the truth of this assertion is proved by the
clearest and directest testimony. In a letter which Bedford wrote to Cecil
on the 30th of December, we meet with the following passage:--"The Queen
here hath now granted to the Earl of Morton, to the Lords Ruthven and
Lindsay, their relaxation and pardon.[15] _The Earl of Murray hath done
very friendly towards the Queen for them, so have I, according to your
advice_; the Earls Bothwell and Athol, and all other Lords _helped_
therein, or else such pardons could not so soon have been gotten."[16] It
is no doubt true, that Bothwell was glad of this opportunity to
ingratiate himself with Morton, and that, in the words of Melville, he
"packed up a quiet friendship with him;"--but it is strange that Robertson
should have been so ignorant of the real influence which secured a
remission of their offences from Mary.

Darnley was of course greatly offended that any of his former accomplices
should be received again into favour. They would return only to force him
a few steps farther down the ladder, to the top of which he had so eagerly
desired to climb. They were recalled too at the very time when he had it
in contemplation, according to common report, to seize on the person of
the young Prince, and, after crowning him, to take upon himself the
government as his father. Whether this report was true or not, (and
perhaps it was a belief in it which induced the Queen to remove shortly
afterwards from Stirling to Edinburgh), it is certain that Darnley
declared he "could not bear with some of the noblemen that were attending
in the Court, and that either he or they behoved to leave the same."[17]
He accordingly left Stirling on the 24th of December, the very day on
which Morton's pardon was signed, to visit his father at Glasgow. But it
was not with Mary he had quarrelled, with whom he had been living for the
last ten days, and whom he intended rejoining in Edinburgh, as soon as she
had paid some Christmas visits in the neighbourhood of Stirling.[18]



We are now about to enter upon a part of Mary's history, more important in
its results, and more interesting in its details, than all that has gone
before. A deed had been determined on, which, for audacity and villany,
has but few parallels in either ancient or modern story. The manner of its
perpetration, and the consequences which ensued, not only threw Scotland
into a ferment, but astonished the whole of Europe; and, even to this day,
the amazement and horror it excited, continue to be felt, whenever that
page of our national history is perused which records the event. Ambition
has led to the commission of many crimes; but, fortunately for the great
interests of society, it is only in a few instances, of which the present
is one of the most conspicuous, that it has been able to involve in
misery, the innocent as well as the guilty. But, even where this is the
case, time rescues the virtuous from unmerited disgrace, and, causing the
mantle of mystery to moulder away, enables us to point out, on one hand,
those who have been unjustly accused, and, on the other, those who were
both the passive conspirators and the active murderers. A plain narrative
of facts, told without violence or party-spirit, is that upon which most
reliance will be placed, and which will be most likely to advance the
cause of truth by correcting the mistakes of the careless, and exposing
the falsehoods of the calumnious.

The Earl of Bothwell was now irrevocably resolved to push his fortunes to
the utmost. He acted, for the time, in conjunction with the Earl of
Murray, though independently of him, using his name and authority to
strengthen his own influence, but communicating to the scarcely less
ambitious Murray only as much of his plans as he thought he might disclose
with safety. Bothwell was probably the only Scottish baron of the age over
whom Murray does not appear ever to have had any control. His character,
indeed, was not one which would have brooked control. On Mary's return
home, so soon as he perceived the ascendancy which her brother possessed
over her, he entered into a conspiracy with Huntly and others, to remove
him. The conspiracy failed, and Bothwell left the kingdom. He was not
recalled till Murray had fallen into disgrace; and though the Earl was
subsequently pardoned, he never regained that superiority in Mary's
councils he had once enjoyed. But Bothwell hoped to secure the distinction
for himself; and, that he might not lose it as Murray had done, after it
was once gained, he daringly aimed at becoming not merely a prime
minister, but a king. The historians, therefore, (among whom are to be
included many of Mary's most zealous defenders), who speak of Bothwell as
only a "cat's-paw" in the hands of Murray and his party, evidently
mistake both the character of the men, and the positions they relatively
held. Murray and Bothwell had both considerable influence at Court; but
there was no yielding on the part of either to the higher authority of the
other, and the Queen herself endeavoured, upon all occasions, to act
impartially between them. We have found her frequently granting the
requests of Murray in opposition to the advice of Bothwell; and there is
no reason to suppose, that, when she saw cause, she may not have followed
the advice of her Lord High Admiral, in preference to that of her brother.
A circumstance which occurred only a few days after the baptism of James
VI., strikingly illustrates the justice of these observations. It is the
more deserving of attention, as the spirit of partiality, which has been
unfortunately so busy in giving an erroneous colouring even to Mary's most
trifling transactions, has not forgotten to misrepresent that to which we
now refer.

Darnley's death being resolved, Bothwell began to consider how he was to
act after it had taken place. He probably made arrangements for various
contingencies, and trusted to the chapter of accidents, or his own
ingenuity, to assist him in others. But there was one thing certain, that
he could never become the legal husband of Mary, so long as he continued
united to his own wife, the Lady Jane Gordon. Anticipating, therefore, the
necessity of a divorce, and aware that the emergency of the occasion might
not permit of his waiting for all the ordinary forms of law, he used his
interest with the Queen at a time when his real motives were little
suspected, to revive the ancient jurisdiction of the Catholic
Consistorial Courts, which had been abolished by the Reformed Parliament
of 1560, and the ordinary civil judges of Commissary Courts established in
their place. In accordance with his request, Mary restored the Archbishop
of St Andrews, the Primate of Scotland, to the ancient Consistorial
Jurisdiction, granted him by the Canon laws, and discharged the
Commissaries from the further exercise of their offices. Thus, Bothwell
not only won the friendship of the Archbishop, but secured for himself a
court, where the Catholic plea of consanguinity might be advanced,--the
only plausible pretext he could make use of for annulling his former
marriage. This proceeding, however, in favour of the Archbishop and the
old faith, gave great offence to the Reformed party; and when the Primate
came from St Andrews to Edinburgh, at the beginning of January, for the
purpose of holding his court, his authority was very strenuously resisted.
The Earl of Murray took up the subject, and represented to Mary the injury
she had done to the true religion. Bothwell, of course, used every effort
to counteract the force of such a representation; but he was unsuccessful.
By a letter which the Earl of Bedford wrote to Cecil from Berwick, on the
9th of January 1567, we learn that the Archbishop was not allowed to
proceed to the hearing of cases, and that "because it was found to be
contrary to the religion, and therefore not liked of by the townsmen; _at
the suit of my Lord of Murray_, the Queen was pleased to revoke that which
she had before granted to the said bishop." Probably the grant of
jurisdiction was not "revoked," but only suspended, as Bothwell
subsequently availed himself of it; but even its suspension sufficiently
testifies, that Mary, at this period, listened implicitly and exclusively
neither to one nor other of her counsellors.[19]

In the meantime, Darnley, who, as we have seen, left Stirling for Glasgow
on the 24th of December, had been taken dangerously ill. Historians differ
a good deal concerning the nature of his illness, which is by some
confidently asserted to have been occasioned by poison, administered to
him either before he left Stirling, or on the road, by servants, who had
been bribed by Bothwell; and by others is as confidently affirmed to have
been the small-pox, a complaint then prevalent in Glasgow. On the whole,
the latter opinion seems to be the best supported, as it is confirmed by
the authority both of the English ambassador, and of the cotemporary
historians, Lesley and Blackwood. Knox, Buchanan, Melville, Crawford,
Birrell and others, mention, on the other hand, that the belief was
prevalent, that the King's sickness was the effect of poison. But as the
only evidence offered in support of this popular rumour is, that "blisters
broke out of a bluish colour over every part of his body," and as this may
have been the symptoms of small-pox as well as of poison, the story does
not seem well authenticated. Besides, in the letter which Mary is alleged
to have written a week or two afterwards to Bothwell from Glasgow, she is
made to say that Darnley told her he was ill of the small-pox. Whether the
letter be a forgery or not, this paragraph would not have been introduced,
unless it had contained what was then known to be the fact.

Be this matter as it may, it is of more importance to correct a mistake
into which Robertson has not unwillingly fallen, regarding the neglect and
indifference with which he maintains Mary treated her husband, during the
earlier part of his sickness. We learn, in the first place, by Bedford's
letter to Cecil, already mentioned, that as soon as Mary heard of
Darnley's illness, she sent her own physician to attend him.[20] And, in
the second place, it appears, that it was some time before Darnley's
complaint assumed a serious complexion; but that, whenever Mary understood
he was considered in danger, she immediately set out to visit him. "The
Queen," says Crawford, "was no sooner informed of his danger, than she
hasted after him."--"As soon as the rumour of his sickness gained
strength," says Turner (or Barnestaple), "the Queen flew to him, thinking
more of the person to whom she flew, than of the danger which she herself
incurred."--"Being advertised," observes Lesley, "that Darnley was
repentant and sorrowful, she without delay, thereby to renew, quicken, and
refresh his spirits, and to comfort his heart to the amendment and
repairing of his health, lately by sickness sore impaired, hasted with
such speed as she conveniently might, to see and visit him at Glasgow."
Thus, Robertson's insinuation falls innocuous to the ground.

It was on the 13th of January 1567 that Mary returned from Stirling to
Edinburgh, having spent the intermediate time, from the 27th of December,
in paying visits to Sir William Murray, the Comptroller of her household,
at Tullibardin, and to Lord Drummond at Drummond Castle. As is somewhere
remarked, "every moment now begins to be critical, and every minuteness
and specific caution becomes necessary for ascertaining the truth, and
guarding against slander." The probability is, that Bothwell was not with
Mary either at Tullibardin or Drummond Castle. Meetings of her Privy
Council were held by her on the 2d and 10th of January; and it appears by
the Register, that Bothwell was not present at any of them. Chalmers is of
opinion, that, during the early part of January he must have been at
Dunbar, making his preparations, and arranging a meeting with Morton. When
the Queen arrived at Edinburgh on the 13th, she lodged her son, whom she
brought with her, in Holyroodhouse. A few days afterwards, she set out
for Glasgow to see her husband. Her calumniators, on the supposition that
she had previously quarrelled with Darnley, affect to discover something
very forced and unnatural in this visit. But _Mary had never quarrelled
with Darnley_. He had quarrelled with her ministers, and had been enraged
at the failure of his own schemes of boyish ambition, but against his wife
he had himself frequently declared he had no cause of complaint. Mary, on
her part, had always shown herself more grieved by Darnley's waywardness
than angry at it. Only a day or two before going to Glasgow, she said
solemnly, in a letter she wrote to her ambassador at Paris,--"As for the
King, our husband, God knows always our part towards him."--"God willing,
our doings shall be always such as none shall have occasion to be offended
with them, or to report of us any way but honourably."[21] So far,
therefore, from there being any thing uncommon or forced in her journey to
Glasgow, nothing could be more natural, or more likely to have taken
place. "Darnley's danger," observes Dr Gilbert Stuart, with the simple
eloquence of truth, "awakened all the gentleness of her nature, and she
forgot the wrongs she had endured. Time had abated the vivacity of her
resentment, and after its paroxysm was past, she was more disposed to weep
over her afflictions, than to indulge herself in revenge. The softness of
grief prepared her for a returning tenderness. His distresses effected it.
Her memory shut itself to his errors and imperfections, and was only open
to his better qualities and accomplishments. He himself, affected with
the near prospect of death, thought, with sorrow, of the injuries he had
committed against her. The news of his repentance was sent to her. She
recollected the ardour of that affection he had lighted up in her bosom,
and the happiness with which she had surrendered herself to him in the
bloom and ripeness of her beauty. Her infant son, the pledge of their
love, being continually in her sight, inspirited her sensibilities. The
plan of lenity which she had previously adopted with regard to him; her
design to excite even the approbation of her enemies by the propriety of
her conduct; the advices of Elizabeth by the Earl of Bedford to entertain
him with respect; the apprehension lest the royal dignity might suffer any
diminution by the universal distaste with which he was beheld by her
subjects, and her certainty and knowledge of the angry passions which her
chief counsellors had fostered against him--all concurred to divest her
heart of every sentiment of bitterness, and to melt it down in sympathy
and sorrow. Yielding to tender and anxious emotions, she left her capital
and her palace, in the severest season of the year, to wait upon him. Her
assiduities and kindnesses communicated to him the most flattering
solacement; and while she lingered about his person with a fond
solicitude, and a delicate attention, he felt that the sickness of his
mind and the virulence of his disease were diminished."

On arriving at Glasgow, Mary found her husband convalescent, though weak
and much reduced. She lodged in the same house with him; but his disease
being considered infectious, they had separate apartments. Finding that
his recent approach to the very brink of the grave had exercised a
salutary influence over his mind and dispositions, and hoping to regain
his entire confidence, by carefully and affectionately nursing him during
his recovery, she gladly acceded to the proposal made by Darnley, that she
should take him back with her to Edinburgh or its vicinity. She suggested
that he should reside at Craigmillar Castle, as the situation was open and
salubrious; but for some reason or other, which does not appear, he
objected to Craigmillar, and the Queen therefore wrote to Secretary
Maitland to procure convenient accommodation for her husband, in the town
of Edinburgh.[22] Darnley disliked the Lords of the Privy Council too much
to think of living at Holyrood; and besides, it was the opinion of the
physicians, that the young Prince, even though he should not be brought
into his father's presence, might catch the infection from the servants
who would be about the persons of both. But when Mary wrote to Maitland,
she little knew that she was addressing an accomplice of her husband's
future murderer. The Secretary showed her letter to Bothwell, and they
mutually determined on recommending to Darnley the house of the
Kirk-of-Field, which stood on an airy and healthy situation to the south
of the town, and which, therefore, appeared well suited for an invalid,
although _they_ preferred it because it stood by itself, in a
comparatively solitary part of the town.[23] On Monday, January 27th, Mary
and Darnley left Glasgow. They appear to have travelled in a wheeled
carriage, and came by slow and easy stages to Edinburgh. They slept on
Monday night at Callander. They came on Tuesday to Linlithgow, where they
remained over Wednesday, and arrived in Edinburgh on Thursday.

The Kirk-of-Field, in which, says Melville, "the King was lodged, as a
place of good air, where he might best recover his health," belonged to
Robert Balfour, the Provost or head prebendary of the collegiate church of
St Mary-in-the-Field, so called because it was beyond the city wall when
first built. When the wall was afterwards extended, it enclosed the
Kirk-of-Field, as well as the house of the Provost and Prebendaries. The
Kirk-of-Field with the grounds pertaining to it, occupied the site of the
present College, and of those buildings which stand between Infirmary and
Drummond Street. In the extended line of wall, what was afterwards called
the Potter-row Port, was at first denominated the Kirk-of-Field Port, from
its vicinity to the church of that name. The wall ran east from this port
along the south side of the present College, and the north side of
Drummond Street, where a part of it is still to be seen in its original
state. The house stood at some distance from the Kirk, and the latter,
from the period of the Reformation, had fallen into decay. The city had
not yet stretched in this direction much farther than the Cowgate. Between
that street and the town wall, were the Dominican Convent of the
Blackfriars, with its alms-houses for the poor, and gardens, covering the
site of the present High School and Royal Infirmary,--and the
Kirk-of-Field and its Provost's residence. The house nearest to it of any
note was Hamilton House, which belonged to the Duke of Chatelherault, and
some part of which is still standing in College Wynd.[24] It was at first
supposed, that Darnley would have taken up his abode there; but the
families of Lennox and Hamilton were never on such terms as would have
elicited this mark of friendship from the King. The Kirk-of-Field House
stood very nearly on the site of the present north-west corner of Drummond
Street. It fronted the west, having its southern gavel so close upon the
town-wall, that a little postern door entered immediately through the wall
into the kitchen. It contained only four apartments; but these were
commodious, and were fitted up with great care. Below, a small passage
went through from the front door to the back of the house; upon the right
hand of which was the kitchen, and upon the left, a room furnished as a
bedroom, for the Queen, when she chose to remain all night. Passing out at
the back-door, there was a turnpike stair behind, which, after the old
fashion of Scottish houses, led up to the second story. Above, there were
two rooms corresponding with those below. Darnley's chamber was
immediately over Mary's; and on the other side of the lobby, above the
kitchen, a "garde-robe" or "little-gallery," which was used as a servant's
room, and which had a window in the gavel, looking through the town-wall,
and corresponding with the postern door below. Immediately beyond this
wall, was a lane shut in by another wall, to the south of which were
extensive gardens.[25]

During the ten days which Darnley spent in his new residence, Mary was a
great deal with him, and slept several nights in the room we have
described below her husband's, this being more agreeable to her, than
returning at a late hour to Holyrood Palace. Darnley was still much of an
invalid, and his constitution had received so severe a shock, that every
attention was necessary during his convalescence. A bath was put up for
him, in his own room, and he appears to have used it frequently. He had
been long extremely unpopular, as has been seen, among the nobles; but
following the example which Mary set them, some were disposed to forget
their former disagreements, and used to call upon him occasionally, and
among others, Hamilton, the Archbishop of St Andrews, who came to
Edinburgh about this time, and lodged hard by in Hamilton house. Mary
herself, after sitting for hours in her husband's sick-chamber, used
sometimes to breathe the air in the neighbouring gardens of the Dominican
convent; and she sometimes brought up from Holyrood her band of musicians,
who played and sung to her and Darnley. Thus, every thing went on so
smoothly, that neither the victim nor his friends could in the least
suspect that they were all treading the brink of a precipice.

Bothwell had taken advantage of Mary's visit to Glasgow, to proceed to
Whittingham, in the neighbourhood of Dunbar, where he met the Earl of
Morton, and obtained his consent to Darnley's murder. To conceal his real
purpose, Bothwell gave out at Edinburgh, that he was going on a journey to
Liddesdale; but, accompanied by Secretary Maitland, whom he had by this
time won over to his designs, and the notorious Archibald Douglas, a
creature of his own, and a relation of Morton, he went direct to
Whittingham. There, the trio met Morton, who had only recently returned
from England, and opened to him their plot. Morton heard of the intended
murder without any desire to prevent its perpetration; but before he would
agree to take an active share in it, he insisted upon being satisfied that
the Queen, as Bothwell had the audacity to assert, was willing that
Darnley should be removed. "I desired the Earl Bothwell," says Morton in
his subsequent confession, "to bring me the Queen's hand write of this
matter for a warrant, and then I should give him an answer; otherwise, I
would not mell (intermeddle) therewith;--which warrant he never purchased
(procured) unto me."[26] But though Morton, refused to risk an active, he
had no objections to take a passive part in this conspiracy. Bothwell,
Maitland, and Douglas, returned to Edinburgh, and he proceeded to St
Andrews, with the understanding, that Bothwell was to communicate with
him, and inform him of the progress of the plot. Accordingly, a day or two
before the murder was committed, Douglas was sent to St Andrews, to let
Morton know that the affair was near its conclusion. Bothwell, however,
was well aware that what he had told the Earl regarding the wishes of the
Queen, was equally false and calumnious. Of all persons in existence, it
was from her that he most wished to conceal his design; and as for a
written approval of it, he knew that he might just as well have applied to
Darnley himself. Douglas was, therefore, commanded to say to Morton,
evasively, "that the Queen would bear no speech of the matter appointed to
him." Morton, in consequence, remained quietly in the neighbourhood of St
Andrews till the deed was done.[27]

The Earl of Murray was another powerful nobleman, who, when the last act
of this tragedy was about to be performed, withdrew to a careful distance
from the scene. It is impossible to say whether Murray was all along
acquainted with Bothwell's intention; there is certainly no direct
evidence that he was; but there are very considerable probabilities. When
a divorce was proposed to Mary at Craigmillar, she was told that Murray
would look through his fingers at it; and this design being frustrated, by
the Queen's refusal to agree to it, there is every likelihood that
Bothwell would not conceal from the cabal he had then formed, his
subsequent determination. That he disclosed it to Morton and Maitland, is
beyond a doubt; and that Murray again consented "to look through his
fingers," is all but proved. It is true he was far too cautious and wily a
politician, to plunge recklessly, like Bothwell, into such a sea of
dangers and difficulties; but he was no friend to Darnley,--having lost
through him much of his former power; and however the matter now ended, if
he remained quiet, he could not suffer any injury, and might gain much
benefit. If Bothwell prospered, they would unite their interests,--if he
failed, then Murray would rise upon his ruin. Only three days before the
murder, the Lord Robert Stuart, Murray's brother, having heard, as
Buchanan affirms of the designs entertained against Darnley's life,
mentioned them to the King. Darnley immediately informed Mary, who sent
for Lord Robert, and in the presence of her husband and the Earl of
Murray, questioned him on the subject. Lord Robert, afraid of involving
himself in danger, retracted what he had formerly said, and denied that he
had ever repeated to Darnley any such report. High words ensued in
consequence; and even supposing that Murray had before been ignorant of
Bothwell's schemes, his suspicions must now have been roused. Perceiving
that the matter was about to be brought to a crisis, he left town abruptly
upon Sunday, the very last day of Darnley's life, alleging his wife's
illness at St Andrews, as the cause of his departure. The fact mentioned
by Lesley, in his "Defence of Queen Mary's Honour," that on the evening
of this day, Murray said, when riding through Fife, to one of his most
trusty servants,--"This night, ere morning, the Lord Darnley shall lose
his life," is a strong corroboration of the supposition that he was well
informed upon the subject.[28]

There were others, as has been said, whom Bothwell either won over to
assist him, or persuaded to remain quiet. One of his inferior accomplices
afterwards declared, that the Earl showed him a bond, to which were
affixed the signatures of Huntly, Argyle, Maitland, and Sir James Balfour,
and that the words of the bond were to this effect:--"That for as much as
it was thought expedient and most profitable for the commonwealth, by the
whole nobility and Lords undersubscribed, that such a young fool and proud
tyrant should not reign, nor bear rule over them, for diverse causes,
therefore, these all had concluded, that he should be put off by one way
or other, and who-soever should take the deed in hand, or do it, they
should defend and fortify it as themselves, for it should be every one of
their own, reckoned and holden done by themselves."[29] To another of his
accomplices, Bothwell declared that Argyle, Huntly, Morton, Maitland,
Ruthven, and Lindsay, had promised to support him; and when he was asked
what part the Earl of Murray would take, his answer was,--"He does not
wish to intermeddle with it; he does not mean either to aid or hinder

But whoever his assistants were, it was Bothwell's own lawless ambition
that suggested the whole plan of proceeding, and whose daring hand was to
strike the final and decisive blow. Everything was now arranged. His
retainers were collected round him;--four or five of the most powerful
ministers of the crown knew of his design, and did not disapprove of
it;--the nobles then at court were disposed to befriend him, from motives
either of political interest or personal apprehension;--Darnley and the
Queen were unsuspicious and unprotected. A kingly crown glittered almost
within his grasp; he had only to venture across the Rubicon of guilt, to
place it on his brow.



It was on Sunday, the 9th of February 1567, that the final preparations
for the murder of Darnley were made. To execute the guilty deed, Bothwell
was obliged to avail himself of the assistance of those ready ministers of
crime, who are always to be found at the beck of a wealthy and depraved
patron. There were eight unfortunate men whom he thus used as tools with
which to work his purpose. Four of these were merely menial
servants;--their names were, Dalgleish, Wilson, Powrie, and Nicolas
Haubert, more commonly known by the sobriquet of French Paris. He was a
native of France, and had been a long while in the service of the Earl of
Bothwell; but on his master's recommendation, who foresaw the advantages
he might reap from the change, he was taken into the Queen's service
shortly before her husband's death. Bothwell was thus able to obtain the
keys of some of the doors of the Kirk-of-Field house, of which he caused
counterfeit impressions to be taken.[31] The other four who were at the
"deed-doing," were persons of somewhat more consequence. They were small
landed proprietors or _lairds_, who had squandered their patrimony in
idleness and dissipation, and were willing to run the chance of retrieving
their ruined fortunes at any risk. They were the Laird of Ormiston, Hob
Ormiston his uncle, "or father's brother," as he is called, John Hepburn
of Bolton, and John Hay of Tallo. Bothwell wished Maitland, Morton, and
one or two others, to send some of their servants also to assist in the
enterprise; but if they ever promised to do so, it does not appear that
they kept their word. Archibald Douglas, however, who had linked himself
to the fortunes of Bothwell, was in the immediate neighbourhood with two
servants, when the crime was perpetrated.[32]

Till within two days of the murder, Bothwell had not made up his mind how
the King was to be killed. He held various secret meetings with his four
principal accomplices, at which the plan first proposed was to attack
Darnley when walking in the gardens adjoining the Kirk-of-Field, which his
returning health enabled him to visit occasionally when the weather was
favourable. But the success of this scheme was uncertain, and there was
every probability that the assassins would be discovered.[33] It was next
suggested that the house might easily be entered at midnight, and the King
stabbed in bed. But a servant commonly lay in the same apartment with him,
and there were always one or two in the adjoining room, who might have
resisted or escaped, and afterwards have been able to identify the
criminals. After much deliberation, it at length occurred that gunpowder
might be used with effect; and that, if the whole premises were blown up,
they were likely to bury in their ruins every thing that could fix the
suspicion on the parties concerned. Powder was therefore secretly brought
into Edinburgh from the Castle of Dunbar, of which Bothwell had the
lordship, and was carried to his own lodgings in the immediate vicinity of
Holyrood Palace.[34] It then became necessary to ascertain on what night
the house could be blown up, without endangering the safety of the Queen,
whom Bothwell had no desire should share the fate of her husband. She
frequently slept at the Kirk-of-Field; and it was difficult to ascertain
precisely when she would pass the night at Holyrood.[35] In his
confession, Hay mentions, that "the purpose should have been put in
execution upon the Saturday night; but the matter failed, because all
things were not in readiness." It is not in the least unlikely that this
delay was owing to Mary's remaining with her husband that evening.

On Sunday, Bothwell learned that the Queen intended honouring with her
presence a masque which was to be given in the Palace, at a late hour, on
the occasion of the marriage of her French servant Sebastian, to Margaret
Carwood, one of her waiting-maids. He knew therefore that she could not
sleep at the Kirk-of-Field that night, and took his measures accordingly.
At dusk he assembled his accomplices, and told them that the time was come
when he should have occasion for their services.[36] He was himself to
sup between seven and eight at a banquet given to the Queen by the Bishop
of Argyle, but he desired them to be in readiness as soon as the company
should break up, when he promised to join them.[37] The Queen dined at
Holyrood, and went from thence to the house of Mr John Balfour, where the
Bishop lodged. She rose from the supper-table about nine o'clock, and,
accompanied by the Earls of Argyle, Huntly, and Cassils, she went to visit
her husband at the Kirk-of-Field. Bothwell, on the contrary, having called
Paris aside, who was in waiting on the Queen, took him with him to the
lodgings of the Laird of Ormiston.[38] There he met Hay and Hepburn, and
they passed down the Blackfriars Wynd together. The wall which surrounded
the gardens of the Dominican monastery ran near the foot of this wynd.
They passed through a gate in the wall, which Bothwell had contrived to
open by stealth, and, crossing the gardens, came to another wall
immediately behind Darnley's house.[39]

Dalgleish and Wilson had, in the meantime, been employed in bringing up,
from Bothwell's residence in the Abbey, the gunpowder he had lodged there.
It had been divided into bags, and the bags were put into trunks, which
they carried upon horses. Not being able to take it all at once, they were
obliged to go twice between the Kirk-of-Field and the Palace. They were
not allowed to come nearer than the Convent-gate at the foot of
Blackfriars Wynd, where the powder was taken from them by Ormiston,
Hepburn, and Hay, who carried it up to the house. When they had conveyed
the whole, they were ordered to return home; and as they passed up the
Blackfriars' Wynd, Powrie, as if suddenly conscience-struck, said to
Wilson, "Jesu! whatna a gait is this we are ganging? I trow it be not
good."[40] Neither of these menials had seen Bothwell, for he kept at a
distance, walking up and down the Cowgate, until the others received and
deposited the powder. A large empty barrel had been concealed, by his
orders, in the Convent gardens, and into it they intended to have put all
the bags; and the barrel was then to have been carried in at the lower
back door of Darnley's house, and placed in the Queen's bedroom, which, it
will be remembered, was immediately under that of the King. Paris, as the
Queen's valet-de-chambre, kept the keys of the lower flat, and was now in
Mary's apartment ready to receive the powder. But some delay occurred in
consequence of the barrel turning out to be so large that it could not be
taken in by the back door; and it became necessary therefore to carry the
bags one by one into the bedroom, where they emptied them in a heap on the
floor. Bothwell, who was walking anxiously to and fro, was alarmed at this
delay, and came to inquire if all was ready. He was afraid that the
company up stairs, among whom was the Queen, with several of her nobility
and ladies in waiting, might come suddenly out upon them, and discover
their proceedings. "_He bade them haste_," says Hepburn, "_before the
Queen came forth of the King's house; for if she came forth before they
were ready, they would not find such commodity_."[41] At length, every
thing being put into the state they wished, they all left the under part
of the house, with the exception of Hepburn and Hay, who were locked into
the room with the gunpowder, and left to keep watch there till the others
should return.[42]

Bothwell, having dismissed the others, went up stairs and joined the Queen
and her friends in Darnley's apartment, as if he had that moment come to
the Kirk-of-Field. Shortly afterwards, Paris also entered; and the Queen,
being either reminded of, or recollecting her promise, to grace with her
presence Sebastian's entertainment, rose, about eleven at night, to take
leave of her husband. It has been asserted, upon the alleged authority of
Buchanan, that, before going away, she kissed him, and put upon his finger
a ring, in pledge of her affection. It seems doubtful, however, whether
this is Buchanan's meaning. He certainly mentions, in his own insidious
manner, that Mary endeavoured to divert all suspicions from herself, by
paying frequent visits to her husband, by staying with him many hours at a
time, by talking lovingly with him, by paying every attention to his
health, by kissing him, and making him a present of a ring; but he does
not expressly say that a kiss and ring were given upon the occasion of her
parting with Darnley for the last time.[43] It is not at all unlikely,
that the fact may have been as Buchanan is supposed to state; but as it is
not a circumstance of much importance, it is unnecessary to insist upon
its being either believed or discredited so long as it is involved in any
uncertainty. Buchanan mentions another little particular, which may easily
be conceived to be true,--that, in the course of her conversation with her
husband this evening, Mary made the remark, that "just about that time
last year David Rizzio was killed." Bothwell, at such a moment, could not
have made the observation; but it may have come naturally enough from
Mary, or Darnley himself.[44]

Accompanied by Bothwell, Argyle, Huntly, Cassils, and others, Mary now
proceeded to the palace, going first up the Blackfriars' Wynd, and then
down the Canongate. Just as she was about to enter Holyrood House, she met
one of the Earl of Bothwell's servants (either Dalgleish or Powrie), whom
she asked where he had been, that he smelt so strongly of gunpowder? The
fellow made some excuse, and no further notice was taken of the
circumstance.[45] The Queen proceeded immediately to the rooms where
Sebastian's friends were assembled; and Bothwell, who was very anxious to
avoid any suspicion, and, above all, to prevent Mary from suspecting him,
continued to attend her assiduously. Paris, who carried in his pocket the
key of Mary's bed-room at the Kirk-of-Field, in which he had locked Hay
and Hepburn, followed in the Earl's train. Upon entering the apartment
where the dancing and masquing was going on, this Frenchman, who had
neither the courage nor the cunning necessary to carry him through such a
deed of villany, retired in a melancholy mood to a corner, and stood by
himself wrapt in a profound reverie. Bothwell, observing him, and fearing
that his conduct might excite observation, went up to him, and angrily
demanded why he looked so sad, telling him in a whisper, _that if he
retained that lugubrious countenance before the Queen, he should be made
to suffer for it_. Paris answered despondingly, that he did not care what
became of himself, if he could only get permission to go home to bed, for
he was ill. "No," said Bothwell, "you must remain with me; would you leave
those two gentlemen, Hay and Hepburn, locked up where they now
are?"--"Alas!" answered Paris, "what more must I do this night? I have no
heart for this business." Bothwell put an end to the conversation, by
ordering Paris to follow him immediately.[46] It is uncertain whether the
Queen had retired to her own chamber before Bothwell quitted the Palace,
or whether he left her at the masque. Buchanan, always ready to fabricate
calumny, says, that the Queen and Bothwell were "in long talk together, in
her own chamber after midnight." But the falsehood of this assertion is
clearly established; for Buchanan himself allows, that it was past eleven
before Mary left the Kirk-of-Field, and Dalgleish and Powrie both state,
that Bothwell came to his own lodgings from the Palace about twelve. If,
therefore, he was at the masque, as we have seen, he had no time to talk
with the Queen in private; and, if he had talked with the Queen, he could
not have been at the masque. It is most likely that Mary continued for
some time after Bothwell's departure at Sebastian's wedding, for Sebastian
was "in great favour with the Queen, for his skill in music and his merry

As soon as Bothwell came to his "own lodging in the Abbey," he exchanged
his rich court dress for a more common one. Instead of a black satin
doublet, bordered with silver, he put on a white canvass doublet, and
wrapt himself up in his riding-cloak. Taking Paris, Powrie, Wilson and
Dalgleish with him, he then went down the lane which ran along the wall of
the Queen's south gardens, and which still exists, joining the foot of the
Canongate, where the gate of the outer court of the Palace formerly stood.
Passing by the door of the Queen's garden, where sentinels were always
stationed, the party was challenged by one of the soldiers, who demanded,
"Who goes there?" They answered, "Friends." "What friends?" "Friends to my
Lord Bothwell." They proceeded up the Canongate till they came to the
Netherbow Port, or lower gate of the city, which was shut. They called to
the porter, John Galloway, and desired him to open to friends of my Lord
Bothwell. Galloway was not well pleased to be raised at so late an hour,
and he kept them waiting for some time. As they entered, he asked, "What
they did out of their beds at that time of night?" but they gave him no
answer. As soon as they got into the town, they called at Ormiston's
lodgings, who lived in a house, called Bassyntine's house, a short way up
the High Street, on the south side; but they were told that he was not at
home. They went without him, down a close below the Blackfriars Wynd, till
they came to the gate of the Convent Gardens already mentioned. They
entered, and, crossing the gardens, they stopped at the back wall, a short
way behind Darnley's residence. Here, Dalgleish, Wilson, and Powrie, were
ordered to remain; and Bothwell and Paris passed in, over the wall. Having
gone into the lower part of the house, they unlocked the door of the room
in which they had left Hay and Hepburn, and the four together held a
consultation regarding the best mode of setting fire to the gunpowder,
which was lying in a great heap upon the floor. They took a piece of lint,
three or four inches long, and kindling one end of it, they laid the other
on the powder, knowing that it would burn slowly enough to give them time
to retire to a safe distance. They then returned to the Convent gardens;
and having rejoined the servants whom they had left there, the whole group
stood together, anxiously waiting for the explosion.

Darnley, meantime, little aware of his impending fate, had gone to bed
within an hour after the Queen had left him. His servant, William Taylor,
lay, as was his wont, in the same room. Thomas Nelson, Edward Simmons, and
a boy, lay in the gallery, or servant's apartment, on the same floor, and
nearer the town-wall. Bothwell must have been quite aware, that from the
mode of death he had chosen for Darnley, there was every probability that
his attendants would also perish. But when lawless ambition once
commences its work of blood, whether there be only one, or a hundred
victims, seems to be a matter of indifference.[47]

The conspirators waited for upwards of a quarter of an hour without
hearing any noise. Bothwell became impatient; and unless the others had
interfered, and pointed out to him the danger, he would have returned and
looked in at the back window of the bedroom, to see if the light was
burning. It must have been a moment of intense anxiety and terror to all
of them. At length, every doubt was terminated. With an explosion so
tremendous, that it shook nearly the whole town, and startled the
inhabitants from their sleep, the house of the Kirk-of-Field blew up into
a thousand fragments, leaving scarcely a vestige standing of its former
walls. Paris, who describes the noise as that of a storm of thunder
condensed into one clap, fell almost senseless, through fear, with his
face upon the earth. Bothwell himself, though "a bold, bad man," confessed
a momentary panic. "I have been at many important enterprises," said he,
"but I never felt before as I do now." Without waiting to ascertain the
full extent of the catastrophe, he and his accomplices left the scene of
their guilt with all expedition. They went out at the Convent-gate, and,
having passed down to the Cowgate, they there separated, and went up by
different roads to the Netherbow-Port. They were very desirous to avoid
disturbing the porter again, lest they should excite his suspicion. They
therefore went down a close, which still exists, on the north side of the
High Street, immediately above the city gate, expecting that they would be
able to drop from the wall into Leith Wynd; but Bothwell found it too
high, especially as a wound he had received at Hermitage Castle, still
left one of his hands weak. They were forced, therefore, to apply once
more to John Galloway, who, on being told that they were friends of the
Earl Bothwell, does not seem to have asked any questions. On getting into
the Canongate, some people were observed coming up the street; to avoid
them, Bothwell passed down St Mary's Wynd, and went to his lodgings by the
back road. The sentinels, at the door of the Queen's garden again
challenged them, and they made the usual answer, that they were friends of
the Earl Bothwell, carrying despatches to him from the country. The
sentinels asked,--"If they knew what noise that was they had heard a short
time before?" They told them they did not.[48]

When Bothwell came home, he called for a drink; and, taking off his
clothes, went to bed immediately. He had not lain there above half an hour
when the news was brought him that the House of the Kirk-of-Field had been
blown up, and the King slain. Exclaiming that there must be treason
abroad, and affecting the utmost alarm and indignation, he rose and put on
the same clothes he had worn when he was last with the Queen. The Earl of
Huntly and others soon joined him, and, after hearing from them as much as
was then known of the matter, it was thought advisable to repair to the
Palace, to inform Mary of what had happened. They found her already
alarmed, and anxious to see them, some vague rumours of the accident
having reached her. They disclosed the whole melancholy truth as gradually
and gently as possible, attributing Darnley's death either to the
accidental explosion of some gunpowder in the neighbourhood, or to the
effects of lightning. Mary's distress knew no bounds; and seeing that it
was hopeless to reason with her in the first anguish of her feelings,
Bothwell and the other Lords left her just as day began to break, and
proceeded to the Kirk-of-Field.[49] There they found every thing in a
state of confusion;--the edifice in ruins, and the town's-people gathered
round it in dismay. Of the five persons who were in the house at the time
of the explosion, one only was saved. Darnley, and his servant William
Taylor, who slept in the room immediately above the gunpowder, had been
most exposed to its effects, and they were accordingly carried through the
air over the town wall, and across the lane on the other side, and were
found lying at a short distance from each other in a garden to the south
of this lane,--both in their night-dress, and with little external injury.
Simmons, Nelson, and the boy, being nearer the town-wall, were only
collaterally affected by the explosion. They were, however, all buried in
the ruins, out of which Nelson alone had the good fortune to be taken
alive. The bodies were, by Bothwell's command, removed to an adjoining
house, and a guard from the Palace set over them.[50]

Darnley and his servant being found at so great a distance, and so
triflingly injured, it was almost universally supposed at the time, and
for long afterwards, that they had been first strangled or assassinated,
and then carried out to the garden. This supposition is now proved, beyond
a doubt, to have been erroneous. If Darnley had been first murdered, there
would have been no occasion to have blown up the house; and if this was
done, that his death might appear to be the result of accident, his body
would never have been removed to such a distance as might appear to
disconnect it with the previous explosion. Before the expansive force of
gunpowder was sufficiently understood, it was not conceived possible that
it could have acted as in the present instance; and various theories were
invented, none of which were so simple or so true, as that which accords
with the facts now established. It is the depositions already quoted that
set the matter at rest; for, having confessed so much of the truth, there
could have been no reason for concealing any other part of it. Hepburn
declared expressly, that "he knew nothing but that Darnley was blown into
the air, for he was handled with no men's hands that he saw;" and Hay
deponed that Bothwell, some time afterwards, said to him, "What thought ye
when ye saw him blown into the air?" Hay answered,--"Alas! my Lord, why
speak ye of that, for whenever I hear such a thing, the words wound me to
death, as they ought to do you."[51] There is nothing wonderful in the
bodies having been carried so far; for it is mentioned by a cotemporary
author, that "they kindled their train of gunpowder, which inflamed the
whole timber of the house, and troubled the walls thereof in such sort,
that great stones of the length of ten feet, and of the breadth of four
feet, were found blown from the house a far way."[52] Besides, after the
minute account, which a careful collation of the different confessions and
depositions has enabled us to give, of the manner in which Bothwell spent
every minute of his time, from the period of the Queen's leaving Darnley,
till the unfortunate Prince ceased to exist, it would be a work of
supererogation to seek to refute, by any stronger evidence, the notion
that he was strangled.

It is, however, somewhat remarkable, that, even in recent times, authors
of good repute should have allowed themselves to be misled by the exploded
errors of earlier writers. "The house," says Miss Benger, "was invested
with armed men, some of whom watched without, whilst others entered to
achieve their barbarous purpose; these having strangled Darnley and his
servant with silken cords, carried their bodies into the garden, and then
blew up the house with powder."[53] This is almost as foolish as the
report mentioned by Melville, that he was taken out of his bed, and
brought down to a stable, where they suffocated him by stopping a napkin
into his mouth; or, as that still more ridiculous story alluded to by
Sanderson, that the Earl of Dunbar, and Sir Roger Aston, an Englishman,
who chose to hoax his countrymen, by telling them that he lodged in the
King's chamber that night, "having smelt the fire of a match, leapt both
out at a window into the garden; and that the King catching hold of his
sword, and suspecting treason, not only against himself, but the Queen and
the young Prince, who was then at Holyrood House with his mother, desired
him (Sir Roger Aston) to make all the haste he could to acquaint her of
it, and that immediately armed men, rushing into the room, seized him
single and alone, and stabbed him, and then laid him in the garden, and
afterwards blew up the house."[54] Buchanan, Crawford and others, fall
into similar mistakes; but Knox, or his continuator, writes more
correctly, and mentions, besides, that medical men "being convened, at the
Queen's command, to view and consider the manner of Darnley's death," were
almost unanimously of opinion that he was blown into the air, although he
had no mark of fire.[55]

Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, Duke of Albany and King of Scotland, perished
in the twenty-first year of his age, and the eighteenth month of his
reign. The suddenness and severity of his fate excited a degree of
compassion, and attached an interest to his memory, which, had he died in
the ordinary course of nature, would never have been felt. He had been to
Scotland only a cause of civil war,--to his nobility an object of
contempt, of pity, or of hatred,--and to his wife a perpetual source of
sorrow and misfortune. Any praise he may deserve must be given to him
almost solely on the score of his personal endowments; his mind and
dispositions had been allowed to run to waste, and were under no controul
but that of his own wayward feelings and fancies. Keith, in the following
words, draws a judicious contrast between his animal and intellectual
qualities. "He is said to have been one of the tallest and handsomest
young men of the age; that he had a comely face and pleasant countenance;
that he was a most dexterous horseman, and exceedingly well skilled in all
genteel exercises, prompt and ready for all games and sports, much given
to the diversions of hawking and hunting, to horse-racing and music,
especially playing on the lute; he could speak and write well, and was
bountiful and liberal enough. But, then, to balance these good natural
qualifications, he was much addicted to intemperance, to base and unmanly
pleasures; he was haughty and proud, and so very weak in mind, as to be a
prey to all that came about him; he was inconstant, credulous, and facile,
unable to abide by any resolutions, capable to be imposed upon by
designing men, and could conceal no secret, let it tend ever so much to
his own welfare or detriment."[56] With all his faults, there was no one
in Scotland who lamented him more sincerely than Mary. She had loved him
deeply; and whilst her whole life proves that she was incapable of
indulging that violent and unextinguishable hatred which prompts to deeds
of cruelty and revenge, it likewise proves that it was almost impossible
for her to cease to esteem an object for which she had once formed an
attachment. Murray must himself have allowed the truth of the first part
of this statement; and for many days before his death, Darnley had himself
felt the force of the latter. She had, no doubt, too much good sense to
believe that Darnley, in his character of king, was a loss to the country;
but the tears she shed for him, are to be put down to the account, not of
the queen, but of the woman and the wife.



During the whole of the day that succeeded her husband's death, (Monday
the 10th of February 1567), Mary shut herself up in her own apartment, and
would see no one. Bothwell was anxious to have conversed with her, but
overpowered with grief, she was unable to listen to any thing he wished to
say.[57] In the meantime all was confusion and dismay in Edinburgh, and
wherever the news of this strange murder arrived, a thousand contradictory
reports went abroad. Some suspected one thing, and some another; and it
must be recollected, that although, at a subsequent date, facts came out
sufficient to fix the guilt upon those who had really committed the crime,
as yet there was nothing but mere vague conjecture. Mary herself was lost
in wonder and doubt. Most of the nobility who were near her wished to
persuade her, at Bothwell's instigation, that her husband's death was
either the effect of accident, or that it had been brought about by the
malice and villany of some obscure and ignoble traitors; and every
endeavour being thus made to mislead her, she was the very last who could
be expected to know the truth. Accordingly, it appears by a letter she
wrote to the Archbishop of Glasgow, her ambassador at Paris, on Tuesday
the 11th (two days after the murder), that she was still but very
imperfectly informed even of the manner of Darnley's death. This letter,
at once so simple and natural, must not be omitted here. She had, the same
morning, received a despatch from her ambassador, in which he had
expressed a fear, that the pardon she had lately given to Morton, Ruthven,
Lindsay and others, might involve her in trouble. Mary's answer was as

"Most Reverend Father in God, and trust Counsellor, we greet you well: We
have received this morning your letters of the 27th January, by your
servant Robert Dury, containing in part such advertisement as we find by
effect over true, albeit the success has not altogether been such as the
authors of that mischievous fact had preconceived in their mind, and had
put it in execution, if God in his mercy had not preserved us and reserved
us, as we trust, to the end that we may take a vigorous vengeance of that
mischievous deed, which, before it should remain unpunished, we had rather
lose life and all. The matter is horrible, and so strange, that we believe
the like was never heard of in any country. This night past, being the 9th
February, a little after two hours after midnight, the house wherein the
King was lodged was in an instant blown in the air, he lying sleeping in
his bed, with such a vehemency, that of the whole lodging, walls, and
other, there is nothing remaining,--no, not a stone above another, but
all either carried far away, or dung in dross to the very ground-stone. It
must be done by force of powder, and appears to have been a mine.[58] By
whom it has been done, or in what manner, it appears not as yet. We doubt
not but, according to the diligence our Council has begun already to use,
the certainty of all shall be obtained shortly; and the same being
discovered, which we wot God will never suffer to lie hid, we hope to
punish the same with such rigour, as shall serve for example of this
cruelty to all ages to come. At all events, whoever has taken this wicked
enterprise in hand, we assure ourself it was devised as well for us as for
the King; for we lay all the most part of all the last week in that same
lodging, and were there accompanied with the most part of the lords that
are in this town, that same night at midnight, and of very chance tarried
not all night, by reason of some masque in the Abbey; but we believe it
was not chance, but God that put it in our head.[59] We despatch this
bearer upon the sudden, and therefore write to you the more shortly. The
rest of your letter we shall answer at more leisure, within four or five
days, by your own servant; and so, for the present, commit you to Almighty
God.--At Edinburgh, the 11th day of February 1556-7.--MARIE R."[60]

In accordance with the resolution intimated in the above letter, to seek
out and vigorously punish her husband's murderers, a proclamation was
issued upon Wednesday the 12th, immediately after an inquisition had been
taken by the Justice-General, offering a reward of two thousand pounds,
and "an honest yearly rent," to whosoever should reveal "the persons,
devisers, counsellors, or actual committers of the said mischievous and
treasonable murder," and promising besides to the first revealer, although
a partaker of the crime, a free pardon. The same proclamation declared,
that as "Almighty God would never suffer so horrible a deed to lie hid,
so, before it should remain untried, the Queen's Majesty, unto whom of all
others the case was most grievous, would rather lose life and all."[61] In
the mean time, not knowing but that the same traitors who had murdered her
husband, might intend a similar fate for herself, Mary removed to the
Castle, as a place of greater security than Holyrood Palace. There she
remained shut up in a dark chamber, hung with black, till after Darnley's
burial. He lay in the Chapel at Holyrood, from the 12th to the 15th of
February. His body having been embalmed, he was then interred in the royal
vault, in which King James V., together with his first wife, Magdalene,
and his two infant sons, Mary's brothers, lay. Buchanan, and his follower
Laing, have both insisted upon the nocturnal secrecy and indifference with
which the funeral ceremony was conducted. "The nobles that were there
present," says Buchanan, "decreed, that a stately and honourable funeral
should be made for him; but the Queen ordered it so, that he was carried
by private bearers in the night-time, and was buried in no manner of
state." The interpretation to be put upon this insidious passage is, that
the Protestant Lords proposed to bury Darnley after the Presbyterian form,
and that Mary refused her consent, and, in consequence, only the Catholics
attended. "The ceremonies indeed," says Lesley, "were the fewer, because
that the greatest part of the Council were Protestants, and had before
interred their own parents without accustomed solemnities."[62] That
Mary's calumniators should have insisted upon this circumstance at all,
only shows how eager they were to avail themselves of everything which
they could pervert to their own purposes. Had Mary wished to act the
hypocrite, nothing could have been easier for her than to have made a
great parade at Darnley's funeral.

Bothwell, in the mean time, kept as quiet as possible, attending, as
usual, at court, and taking care always to be present at the meetings of
the Privy Council. But he had lighted a torch which was not to be
extinguished, till it had blazed over Scotland, and kindled his own
funeral pyre. On whatever grounds the suspicion had gone abroad, (and it
is difficult to say why public attention should so soon have been directed
to him as the perpetrator of the late murder, unless we suppose Murray, or
some of his other accomplices, to have been now eager to publish his
guilt, in order to accomplish his ruin), it is at all events certain, that
in a few days after the proclamation for the discovery of the assassins
had been issued, a placard was set up at night, on the door of the
Tolbooth of Edinburgh, in which it was affirmed, that the Earl of
Bothwell, together with a Mr James Balfour, a Mr David Chalmers, and a Mr
John Spence, were the persons principally concerned in the crime, and that
the Queen herself was "assenting thereto." It might be reasonably
concluded, that no notice whatever would be taken of an anonymous paper
thus expressed; but the Queen, even although it insultingly accused
herself, was so anxious to have the matter of the murder investigated,
that she caused another proclamation to be issued, without waiting for the
advice of her Privy Council, desiring the author of the placard to divulge
his name, and promising that if he could show there was any truth in any
part of his averment, he should receive the promised reward.[63] A second
placard was stuck up in answer, requiring the money to be lodged in honest
hands, and three of the Queen's servants, whom it named, to be put in
arrest; and undertaking, as soon as these conditions were complied with,
that the author and four friends would discover themselves. This was so
palpable an evasion, that it of course met with no attention. To suppose
that Government would take upon itself the charge of partiality, and place
the public money in what an anonymous writer might consider "honest
hands," was too grossly absurd to have been proposed by any one who really
wished to do his country a service.

The circumstance of Bothwell's name being mentioned in these placards, in
conjunction with that of the Queen, probably operated in his favour with
Mary. Conscious of her own innocence, she would very naturally suppose
that the charge was equally calumnious in regard to him; for if she knew
it to be false in one particular, what dependence could she place upon its
truth in any other? At the same time, she could not of course see her
husband murdered, almost before her eyes, without making various surmises
concerning the real author and cause of his death. Her accusers, however,
seem to suppose that she ought to have been gifted with an almost
miraculous power of discovering the guilty. Only a few days before, every
thing had been proceeding smoothly; and she herself, with renovated
spirits, was enjoying the returning health and affection of her husband.
In a moment the scene was overclouded; her husband was barbarously slain;
and all Scotland was in a ferment. Yet around the Queen all wore the same
aspect. Murray was living quietly in Fife; her secretary Maitland was
proceeding as usual with the official details of public business; the Earl
of Morton had not yet returned to Court, and he also was in Fife; the
Archbishop of St Andrews was busied in bolstering up the last remains of
Catholicism; Athol, Caithness, Huntly, Argyle, Bothwell, Cassils, and
Sutherland, were attending their Sovereign, as faithful and attached
servants ought. Where then was she to look for the traitor who had raised
his hand against her husband's life and her own happiness? Whom was she to
suspect? Was it Murray?--he had left town without any sufficient cause, on
the very day of Darnley's death, and had hated him ever since he put his
foot in Scotland. Was it Morton?--he had returned recently from
banishment, and that banishment had been the result of Darnley's
treachery, and had not Morton assassinated Rizzio, with far less grounds
of offence? Was it Argyle?--the Lennox family had stripped him of some of
his possessions, and the King's death might, perhaps, be the means of
restoring them to him. Was it the Hamiltons?--they were the hereditary
enemies of the house of Lennox, and Darnley had blasted for ever their
hopes of succession to the throne. Was it Huntly? Was it Athol? Was it
Bothwell? It was less likely to be any of these, because Darnley had never
come into direct collision with them. By what art, or superior
penetration, was Mary to make a discovery which was baffling the whole of
Scotland? Was she surrounded by the very men who had done the deed, and
who used every means to lead her astray from the truth; yet was she to be
able to single out the criminal at a glance, and hurl upon him her just

Worn out by her griefs and her perplexities, her doubts and her fears,
Mary's health began to give way, and her friends prevailed upon her to
leave for a short time her confinement in Edinburgh Castle, and visit
Seaton House, a country residence of which she was fond, only seven miles
off. Lesley, after describing Mary's melancholy sojourn in the Castle,
adds, that she would have "continued a longer time in this lamentable
wise, had she not been most earnestly dehorted by the vehement
exhortations and persuasions of her Council, who were moved thereto by her
physicians informations, declaring to them the great and imminent dangers
of her health and life, if she did not in all speed break up and leave
that kind of close and solitary life, and repair to some good open and
wholesome air; which she did, being thus advised, and earnestly thereto
solicited by her said council."[65] She went to Seaton on the 16th of
February, accompanied by a very considerable train, among whom were the
Earls of Argyle, Huntly, Bothwell, Arbroath, the Archbishop of St Andrews,
the Lords Fleming and Livingston, and Secretary Maitland.[66] It was here
that a correspondence took place between the Queen and the Earl of Lennox,
Darnley's father, which deserves attention.

In his first letter, the Earl thanked her Majesty for the trouble and
labour she took to discover and bring to trial those who were guilty of
the "late cruel act;" but as the offenders were not yet known, he
beseeched her Highness to assemble, with all convenient diligence, the
whole nobility and estates of the realm, that they, acting in conjunction
with her Majesty, might take such steps as should seem most likely to make
manifest the "bloody and cruel actors of the deed." This letter was dated
the 20th of February 1567. Mary replied to it on the 21st; and in her
answer, assured Lennox that in showing him all the pleasure and goodwill
in her power, she did only her duty, and that which her natural affection
prompted, adding, that on that affection he might always depend, "so long
as God gave her life." As to the assembling of her nobility, she informed
him, that shortly before the receipt of his letter, she had desired a
Parliament to be summoned, and that as soon as it met, the death of
Darnley would be the first subject which it would be called upon to
consider. Lennox wrote again on the 26th, to explain, that when he advised
her Majesty to assemble her nobility, he did not allude to the holding of
a Parliament, which he knew could not be done immediately. But because he
had heard of certain placards which had been set up in Edinburgh, in which
certain persons were named as the devisers of the murder, he requested
that these persons should be apprehended and imprisoned, that the nobility
and Council should be assembled, and that the writers of the placards
should be required to appear before them, and be confronted with those
whom they had accused; and that if they refused to appear, or did not make
good their charge, the persons slandered should be exonerated and set at
liberty. A proposal so very unconstitutional could not have been made by
Lennox, unless misled by the ardour of his paternal feelings, or
instigated by some personal enmity towards Bothwell. If Mary had ventured
to throw into prison every one accused in an anonymous bill, there is no
saying where the abuse might have ended. The most worthless coward might
have thus revenged himself upon those he hated; and law and justice would
have degenerated into despotism, or civil anarchy. The Queen, therefore,
informed Lennox, that although, as she had already written, she had
summoned a Parliament, and should lay the matter of the murder before it,
it was never her intention to allow it to sleep in the mean time. Her
Lords and Council would of course continue to exert themselves, but her
_whole_ nobility could not be assembled till the Parliament met. As to his
desire, that the persons named in the placards should be apprehended,
there had been so many, and so contrary statements made in these placards,
that she knew not to which in particular he alluded; and besides, that she
could not find herself justified in throwing any of her subjects into
prison upon such authority; but that, if he himself would condescend upon
the names of such persons as he thought deserved a trial, she would order
that trial to take place immediately. She was anxious that Lennox should
take this responsibility upon himself, for she had hitherto been kept much
in the dark, and was glad to have the assistance of one almost as desirous
as herself to come to the truth. She invited him, therefore, in her letter
of the 1st of March, to write to her again immediately, with any other
suggestion which might occur to him, because she was determined "not to
omit any occasion which might clear the matter." It was the 17th of March
before Lennox again addressed the Queen. He thanked her Majesty for her
attention to his wishes; he marvelled that the names of the persons upon
the placards, against whom the greatest suspicions were entertained, "_had
been kept from her Majesty's ears_;" and, as she requested it, he now
named them himself, putting the Earl of Bothwell first, and several other
inferior persons after him. He did not undertake to be their accuser,
confessing that he had no evidence of their guilt; but he said he greatly
suspected Bothwell, and hoped "her Majesty, now knowing their names, and
being a party, as well and more than he was, although he was the father,
would take order in the matter according to the weight of the cause."
Mary, who had by this time returned to Edinburgh, wrote to Lennox, the
very day after the receipt of his letter, that she had summoned her
nobility to come to Edinburgh the first week of April; and that, as soon
as they came, the persons named in his letter should "abide and underlie
such trial, as by the laws of the realm was usual."--"They being found
culpable," Mary added, "in any way of that crime and odious fact, named in
the placards, and whereof you suspect them, we shall even, according to
our former letter, see the condign punishment as vigorously and extremely
executed as the weight of that fact deserves; for, indeed, as you write,
we esteem ourself a party if we were resolute of the authors." She further
entreated Lennox to come to Edinburgh, that he might be present at the
trial, and lend his assistance to it. "You shall there have experience,"
she concluded, "of our earnest will and effectuous mind to have an end in
this matter, and the authors of so unworthy a deed really punished."[67]

The Queen, having waited anxiously till something should occur which might
lead to the detection of the murderers, hoped that a clue to the mystery
was now about to be discovered. It was a bold and perhaps almost too
strong a measure, to arraign a nobleman so powerful, and apparently so
respected as Bothwell, of so serious a crime, upon such vague suspicion;
but if Mary in this instance exceeded the due limits of her constituted
authority, it was an error which leant to virtue's side, and the feelings
of an insulted Queen and afflicted wife must plead her excuse. Her Privy
Council, which she summoned immediately upon the receipt of Lennox's last
letter, and before whom she laid it, passed an act directing the trial of
the Earl of Bothwell, and the other suspected persons named by Lennox. The
trial was fixed to take place on the 12th day of April 1567; letters were
directed to the Earl of Lennox to inform him of it, and proclamations were
made in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dumbarton, and other places, calling upon all
who would accuse Bothwell, or his accomplices, to appear in court on the
day appointed.[68] The Council, however, would not authorize the
imprisonment of the suspected persons, seeing that it was only anonymous
placards which had excited that suspicion.

As soon as the Earl of Lennox got intimation of the intended trial, he set
out for Edinburgh from his estate in Dumbartonshire. Not choosing to
proceed thither direct, in consequence of the enmity which he knew
Bothwell must bear to him, he went to Stirling, where it was understood he
was engaged in collecting all the evidence in his power. Nor can Bothwell
be supposed to have felt very easy, under the prospect of his approaching
trial. He counted, however, on the good offices of his friends among the
nobility; and having removed all who might have been witnesses against
him, and brought into Edinburgh a numerous body of retainers, he resolved
to brazen out the accusation with his usual audacity. He even affected to
complain that he had not been treated with sufficient fairness; that a
paper affixed privately to the door of the Tolbooth had been made the
means of involving him in serious trouble; and that, instead of the usual
term of forty days, only fifteen had been allowed him to prepare for his
defence.[69] He assumed the air, therefore, of an injured and innocent
man; and he was well borne out in this character by the countenance he
received from most of the Lords then at court. We learn from Killigrew,
that twenty days after Bothwell had been placarded, he dined with him at
the Earl of Murray's, who had by this time returned from Fife, in company
with Huntly, Argyle, and Lethington.[70]

The day of trial now drew near; but, to her astonishment, Mary received a
letter only twenty-four hours before it was to take place, from the Earl
of Lennox, who did not exactly see how he was to carry through his
accusation, and therefore wished that the case should be postponed. The
letter was dated from Stirling, and mentioned two causes which he said
would prevent him from coming to Edinburgh; one was sickness, and the
other the short time which had been allowed him to prepare for making
good his charge. He asked, therefore, that the Queen would imprison the
suspected persons, and would delay the trial till he had collected his
friends and his proofs.[71] This request disappointed Mary exceedingly.
She had hurried on the trial as much to gratify Lennox as herself; but she
now saw that, in asking for it at all, he had been guided more by the
feeling of the moment, than by any rational conviction of its propriety.
To postpone it without the consent of the accused, who had by this time
made the necessary preparations for their defence, was of course out of
the question; and, if the time originally mentioned was too short, why did
Lennox not write to that effect, as soon as he received intimation of the
day appointed? If she put off the trial now, for any thing she knew it
might never come on at all. Her enemies, however, were determined,
whatever she did, to discover some cause of complaint;--if she urged it
on, they would accuse her of precipitancy; if she postponed it, they would
charge her with indifference. Elizabeth, in particular, under the pretence
of a mighty anxiety that Mary should do what was most honourable and
requisite, insolently suggested that suspicion might attach to herself,
unless she complied with the request made by Lennox. "For the love of God,
Madam," she hypocritically and insidiously wrote to Mary, "conduct
yourself with such sincerity and prudence, in a case which touches you so
nearly, that all the world may have reason to pronounce you innocent of a
crime so enormous, which, unless they did, you would deserve to be blotted
out from the rank of Princesses, and to become odious even to the vulgar,
rather than see which, I would wish you an honourable sepulchre."[72] Just
as if any one _did_ suspect Mary, or as if any monarch in Christendom
would have dared to hint the possibility of her being an adulterous
murderess, except her jealous rival Elizabeth, pining in the chagrined
malevolence of antiquated virginity. The real motives which dictated this
epistle became the more apparent, when we learn that it was not written
till the 8th of April, and could not at the very soonest reach Edinburgh
till the morning of the very day on which the trial was to take place, and
probably not till after it was over. The truth is, the very moment she
heard of Darnley's death, Elizabeth had eagerly considered in her own mind
the possibility of involving "her good sister" in the guilt attached to
those who had murdered him, and was now the very first who openly
attempted to lead the thoughts of the Scottish Queen's subjects into that
channel;--she was the very first who commenced laying the train which
produced in the end so fatal a catastrophe.

On Saturday, the 12th of April 1567, a Justiciary Court was held in the
tolbooth of Edinburgh, for the trial of the Earl of Bothwell. The Lord
High Justice the Earl of Argyle presided, attended by four assessors, or
legal advisers, two of whom, Mr James MacGill and Mr Henry Balnaves, were
Senators of the College of Justice; the third was Robert Pitcairn,
Commendator of Dumfermlin, and the fourth was Lord Lindsay. The usual
preliminary formalities having been gone through, the indictment was read,
in which Bothwell was accused of being "art and part of the cruel, odious,
treasonable, and abominable slaughter and murder, of the umwhile the Right
High and Mighty Prince the King's Grace, dearest spouse for the time to
our Sovereign Lady the Queen's Majesty."[73] He was then called as
defender on the one side, and Matthew Earl of Lennox, and all others the
Queen's lieges, who wished to pursue in the matter, on the other. Bothwell
appeared immediately at the bar, supported by the Earl of Morton, and two
gentlemen who were to act as his advocates. But the Earl of Lennox, or
other pursuers, though frequently called, did not appear. At length Robert
Cunningham, one of Lennox's servants, stepped forward, and produced a
writing in the shape of a protest, which his master had authorized him to
deliver. It stated, that the cause of the Earl's absence was the shortness
of time, and the want of friends and retainers to accompany him to the
place of trial; and it therefore objected to the decision of any assize
which might be held that day. In reply to this protest, the letters of the
Earl of Lennox to the Queen, in which he desired that a short and summary
process might be taken against the suspected persons, were produced and
read; and it was maintained by the Earl of Bothwell's counsel, that the
trial ought to proceed immediately, according to the laws of the realm,
and the wish of the party accused. The judges, having heard both sides,
were of opinion that Bothwell had a right to insist upon the trial going
on. A jury was therefore chosen, which does not seem to have consisted of
persons particularly friendly to the Earl. It was composed of the Earls of
Rothes, Caithness, and Cassils, Lord John Hamilton, son to the Duke of
Chatelherault, Lords Ross, Semple, Herries, Oliphant, and Boyd, the Master
of Forbes, Gordon of Lochinvar, Cockburn of Langton, Sommerville of
Cambusnethan, Mowbray of Barnbougle, and Ogilby of Boyne. Bothwell pled
_not guilty_; and, no evidence appearing against him, the jury retired,
and were out of court for some time. When they returned, their verdict,
delivered by the Earl of Caithness, whom they had chosen their chancellor,
unanimously acquitted Bothwell of the slaughter of the King.[74]

Immediately after his acquittal, Bothwell, as was customary in those
times, published a challenge, in which he offered to fight hand to hand,
with any man who would avow that he still suspected him to have had a
share in the King's death; but nobody ventured openly to accept it.[75] As
far, therefore, as appearances were concerned, he was now able to stand
upon higher ground than ever, and boldly to declare, that whosoever was
guilty, he had been found innocent. Accordingly, at the Parliament which
met on the 14th of April, he appeared in great state, with banners flying,
and a numerous body of retainers; and in compliment to him, an act was
passed, in which it was set forth, that "by a licentious abuse lately come
into practice within this realm, there had been placards and bills and
tickets of defamation, set up under silence of night, in diverse public
places, to the slander, reproach and infamy of the Queen's majesty and
diverse of the nobility; which disorder, if it were suffered to remain
longer unpunished, would redound not only to the great hurt and detriment
of all noblemen in their good fame, private calumniators having by this
means liberty to backbite them, but also the common weal would be
disturbed, and occasion of quarrel taken upon false and untrue
slander;"--it was therefore made criminal to put up any such placards, or
to abstain from destroying them as soon as they were seen. At this
Parliament, there was also an act passed on the subject of religion, which
is deserving of notice. "The same Queen," says Chalmers, "who is charged
by Robertson with attempting to suppress the Reformed discipline, with the
aid of the Bishops, passed a law, renouncing all foreign jurisdiction in
ecclesiastical affairs,--giving toleration to all her subjects to worship
God in their own way,--and engaging to give some additional privileges."
This is one of the most satisfactory answers which can be given to the
supposition, that Mary was in any way a party in the Continental
persecution of the Hugonots.

The Earl of Murray was not present either at this Parliament, or the trial
which immediately preceded it. Actuated by motives which do not exactly
appear, and which historians have not been able satisfactorily to explain,
he obtained permission from Mary, in the beginning of April, to leave
Scotland, and, on the 9th, he set off for France, visiting London and the
Court of Elizabeth on his way. There is something very unaccountable, in a
man of Murray's ambition thus withdrawing from the scene of action, just
at the very time when he must have been anticipating political events of
the last importance. His conduct can be rationally explained, only by
supposing, that it was suggested by his systematic caution. He was not
now, nor had he ever been since his rebellion, Mary's exclusive and
all-powerful Prime Minister;--yet he could not bear to fill a second
place; and he knew that, if any civil war occurred, the eyes of many would
immediately be turned towards him. If he remained in the country, he would
necessarily be obliged to take a side as soon as the dissensions broke
out, and might find himself again associated with the losing party; but,
if he kept at a distance for a while, he could throw his influence, when
he chose, into the heaviest scale, and thus gain an increase of popularity
and power. These were probably the real motives of his present conduct,
and, judging by the result, no one can say that he reasoned ill. That he
was aware of every thing that was about to happen, and that he urged
Bothwell forward into a net, from whose meshes he knew he could never be
disengaged, as has been maintained so positively by Whittaker, Chalmers,
and others, does not appear. The peremptoriness with which these writers
have asserted the truth of this unfounded theory, is the leading defect of
their works, and has tended to weaken materially the chain of argument by
which they would otherwise have established Mary's innocence. That
Bothwell, as they over and over again repeat, was the mere "cat's-paw" of
Murray, is a preposterous belief, and argues a decided want of knowledge
of Bothwell's real character. But supposing that he had been so, nothing
could be more chimerical than the idea, that after having made him murder
Darnley, Murray would wish to see him first acquitted of that murder, and
then married to the Queen, for the vague chance that both might be
deposed, and he himself called to succeed them as Regent. "Would it ever
enter into the imagination of a wise man," asks Robertson, "first to raise
his rival to supreme power, in hopes that, afterwards, he should find some
opportunity of depriving him of that power? The most adventurous
politician never hazarded such a dangerous experiment; the most credulous
folly never trusted such an uncertain chance." Murray probably winked at
the murder, because he foresaw that it was likely to lead to Bothwell's
ruin. When he left the country, he may not have been altogether aware of
Bothwell's more ambitious objects; but if he was, he would still have
gone, for his staying could not have prevented their attempted execution;
and if they induced a civil war, whosoever lost, he might contrive to be a
gainer. He acted selfishly and unpatriotically, but not with that
deliberate villany with which he has been charged.



Every thing appeared now to be going smoothly with Bothwell, and he had
only to take one step more to reach the very height of his ambition.
Mary's hand and Scotland's crown were the objects he had all along kept
steadily in view. The latter was to be obtained only through the medium of
the former, and hence his reason for removing Darnley, and willingly
submitting to a trial, from which he saw he would come off triumphantly.
The question he now anxiously asked himself was, whether it was likely
that Mary could be persuaded to accept him as a husband. He was aware,
that in the unsettled state of the country, she must feel that, unless
married to a person of strength and resolution, she would hardly be able
to keep her turbulent subjects in order; and he was of opinion, that it
was not improbable she would now cast her eyes upon one of her own
nobility, as she could no where else find a king who would be so agreeable
to the national prejudices. Yet he had a lurking consciousness, that he
himself would not be the object of her choice. She had of late, it was
true, given him a considerable share in the administration; but he felt
that she had done so, more as a matter of state policy, and to preserve a
balance of power between himself and her other ministers, than from any
personal regard. The most assiduous attentions which it was in his power
to pay her, had failed to kindle in her bosom any warmer sentiment; for
though she esteemed him for his fidelity as an officer of state, his
manners and habits as a man, were too coarse and dissolute to please one
of so much refinement, sensibility and gentleness, as Mary Stuart.
Bothwell therefore became secretly convinced that it would be necessary
for him to have recourse to fraud, and perhaps to force. Had Mary loved
him, their marriage would have been a matter of mutual agreement, and
would have taken place whenever circumstances seemed to make it mutually
advisable; but as it was, artifice and audacity were to be his weapons;
nor were they wielded by an unskilful hand.

The Parliament which met on the 14th of April 1567, continued to sit only
till the 19th of the same month; and on the evening of the following day,
Bothwell invited nearly all the Lords who were then in Edinburgh to a
great supper, in a tavern kept by a person of the name of Ainsly, from
which circumstance, the entertainment was afterwards known by the name of
"_Ainsly's Supper_." After plying his guests with wine, he produced a
document, which he had himself previously drawn up, and which he requested
them all to sign. It was in the form of a bond; and in the preamble,
after expressing their conviction that James Earl of Bothwell, Lord Hales,
Crichton, and Liddisdale, Great Admiral of Scotland, and Lieutenant to the
Queen over all the Marches, had been grossly slandered in being suspected
of having a share in the murder of Darnley, and that his innocence had
been fully and satisfactorily proved at his late trial, they bound
themselves, as they should answer to God, that whatever person or persons
should afterwards renew such calumniation, should be proceeded against by
them with all diligence and perseverance. After this introduction,
evidently meant to aid in removing any lingering suspicion which the Queen
might still entertain of Bothwell's guilt, the bond went on to state,
that, "Moreover, weighing and considering the present time, and how our
Sovereign, the Queen's Majesty, is destitute of a husband, in which
solitary state the common weal of this realm may not permit her Highness
to continue and endure, but at some time her Highness, in appearance, may
be inclined to yield unto a marriage,--therefore, in case the former
affectionate and hearty services of the said Earl (Bothwell), done to her
Majesty from time to time, and his other good qualities and behaviour, may
move her Majesty so far to humble herself as, preferring one of her own
native born subjects unto all foreign princes, to take to husband the said
Earl, we, and every one of us under subscribing, upon our honours and
fidelity, oblige ourselves, and promise, not only to further, advance, and
set forward the marriage to be solemnized and completed betwixt her
Highness and the said noble Lord, with our votes, counsel, fortification
and assistance, in word and deed, at such time as it shall please her
Majesty to think it convenient, and as soon as the laws shall permit it to
be done; but, in case any should presume, directly or indirectly, openly,
or under whatsoever colour or pretence, to hinder, hold back, or disturb
the same marriage, we shall, in that behalf, hold and repute the
hinderers, adversaries, or disturbers thereof, as our common enemies and
evil-willers; and notwithstanding the same, take part with, and fortify
the said Earl to the said marriage, so far as it may please our said
Sovereign Lady to allow; and therein shall spend and bestow our lives and
goods against all that live or die, as we shall answer to God, and upon
our own fidelities and conscience; and in case we do the contrary, never
to have reputation or credit in no time hereafter, but to be accounted
unworthy and faithless traitors."[76]

This bond having been read and considered, all the nobles present, with
the exception of the Earl of Eglinton, who went away unperceived, put
their signatures to it. "Among the subscribers," says Robertson, "we find
some who were the Queen's chief confidents, others who were strangers to
her councils, and obnoxious to her displeasure; some who faithfully
adhered to her through all the vicissitudes of her fortune, and others who
became the principal authors of her sufferings; some passionately attached
to the Romish superstition, and others zealous advocates for the
Protestant faith. No common interest can be supposed to have united men of
such opposite interests and parties, in recommending to their Sovereign a
step so injurious to her honour, and so fatal to her peace. This strange
coalition was the effect of much artifice, and must be considered as the
boldest and most masterly stroke of Bothwell's address." It is, indeed,
impossible to conceive that such a bond was so numerously subscribed on
the mere impulse of the moment. Before obtaining so solemn a promise of
support from so many, he must have had recourse to numerous machinations,
and have brought into action a thousand interests. He must, in the first
place, have influenced Morton, his brother-in-law Huntly, Argyle, and
others; and having secured these, he would use them as agents to bring
over as many more. The rest, finding that so formidable a majority
approved of the bond, would not have the courage to stand out, for they
would fear the consequences if Bothwell ever became king. Among the names
attached to this bond are those of the Archbishop of St Andrews, the
Bishops of Aberdeen, Dumblane, Brechin, and Ross, the Earls of Huntly,
Argyle, Morton, Cassils, Sutherland, Errol, Crawfurd, Caithness, and
Rothes, and the Lords Boyd, Glamis, Ruthven, Semple, Herries, Ogilvie, and
Fleming.[77] Here was an overwhelming and irresistible force, enlisted by
Bothwell in his support. The sincerity of many of the subscribers he
probably had good reason to doubt; but what he wanted was to be able to
present himself before Mary armed with an argument which she would find it
difficult to evade, and if she yielded to it, his object would be gained.
He was afraid, however, to lay the bond openly and fairly before her; he
dreaded that her aversion to a matrimonial connexion with him might weigh
more powerfully than even the almost unanimous recommendation of her
nobility. But having already gone so far, he was resolved that a woman's
will should not be any serious obstacle to his wishes.

The whole affair of the supper was, for a short time, kept concealed from
Mary; and though Bothwell's intentions and wishes began to be pretty
generally talked of throughout the country, she was the very last to hear
of them. When the Lord Herries ventured on one occasion to come upon the
subject with the Queen, and mentioned the report as one which had gained
considerable credit, "her Majesty marvelled," says Melville, "to hear of
such rumours without meaning, and said _that there was no such thing in
her mind_." Only a day or two after the bond was signed, she left
Edinburgh to visit the prince her son, who was then in the keeping of the
Earl of Mar at Stirling. Before she went, Bothwell ventured to express his
hopes to her, but she gave him an answer little agreeable to his ambition.
"The bond being once obtained," Mary afterwards wrote to France, "Bothwell
began afar off to discover his intention, and to essay if he might by
humble suit purchase our good will."--"But finding an answer nothing
correspondent to his desire, and casting from before his eyes all doubts
that men use commonly to revolve with themselves in similar
enterprises,--the backwardness of our own mind--the persuasions which our
friends or his enemies might cast out for his hindrance--the change of
their minds whose consent he had already obtained, with many other
incidents which might occur to frustrate him of his expectation,--he
resolved with himself to follow forth his good fortune, and, all respect
laid apart, either to tine all in one hour, or to bring to pass that thing
he had taken in hand."[78] This is a clear and strong statement,
describing exactly the feelings both of Bothwell and Mary at this period.

The Earl did not long dally on the brink of his fate. Ascertaining that
Mary was to return from Stirling on the 24th, he left Edinburgh with a
force of nearly 1000 men well mounted, under the pretence of proceeding
to quell some riots on the Borders. But he had only gone a few miles
southward, when he turned suddenly to the west, and riding with all speed
to Linlithgow, waited for Mary at a bridge over the Almond about a mile
from that town. The Queen soon made her appearance with a small train,
which was easily overpowered, and which indeed did not venture to offer
any resistance. The Earl of Huntly, Secretary Maitland, and Sir James
Melville, were the only persons of rank who were with the Queen; and they
were carried captive along with her; but the rest of her attendants were
dismissed. Bothwell himself seized the bridle of Mary's horse, and turning
off the road to Edinburgh, conducted her with all speed to his Castle at

The leading features of this forcible abduction, or _ravishment_, as it is
commonly called by the Scottish historians, have been greatly
misrepresented by Robertson and Laing. Both of these writers mention, as a
matter of surprise, that Mary yielded without struggle or regret, to the
insult thus offered her. That she yielded without struggle,--that is to
say, without any attempt at physical resistance, is exceedingly probable;
for when was a party of a dozen persons, riding without suspicion of
danger, able to offer resistance to a thousand armed troopers? There is
little wonder that they were surrounded and carried off, "without
opposition," as Laing expresses it; for by a thousand soldiers, a dozen
Sir William Wallaces would have been made prisoners "without opposition."
But the very number which Bothwell brought with him, and which even Mary's
worst enemies allow was not less than six hundred, proves that there was
no collusion between him and the Queen. Had it been only a pretended
violence, to afford a decent excuse for Mary's subsequent conduct, fifty
horsemen would have done as well as a thousand; but Bothwell knew the
Queen's spirit, and the danger of the attempt, and came prepared
accordingly. But it is urged, that, if displeased, she must have expressed
her resentment to those who were near her. And there is certainly no
reason to suppose that she was silent, though neither Huntly nor
Lethington would be much influenced by her complaints, for they had both
secretly attached themselves to Bothwell. Sir James Melville, who was more
faithful to the Queen, was dismissed from Dunbar the day after her
capture, lest she should have employed him to solicit aid for her relief,
as she had formerly done on the occasion of the murder of Rizzio.[80] Mary
herself, in the letter already quoted, sets the matter beyond dispute, for
she there gives a long and interesting detail, both of her own
indignation, and of the arts used by Bothwell to appease it.[81] Nothing,
indeed, can be more contrary to reason, than to suppose this abduction a
mere device, mutually arranged to deceive the country. If Mary had really
loved Bothwell and was anxious to marry him, it would have been the very
last thing she would have wished to be believed, whether she thought him
guilty of Darnley's murder or not, that she gave him her hand, after he
had been publicly acquitted, and all her principal nobility had declared
in his favour, only in consequence of a treasonable act, committed by him
against her person. If she hoped to live in peace and happiness with him,
why should she have allowed it to be supposed, that she acted from
necessity, rather than from choice, or that she yielded to a seducer, what
she would not give to a faithful subject? This pre-arranged ravishment,
would evidently defeat its own purpose, and would serve as a pretence
suggested by Mary herself, for every malcontent in Scotland to take up
arms against her and Bothwell. It was a contrivance directly opposed to
all sound policy, and certainly very unlike the open and straight-forward
manner in which she usually went about the accomplishment of a favourite
purpose. "But one object of the seizure," says Laing, "was the vindication
of her precipitate marriage." Where was the necessity for a precipitate
marriage at all? Was Mary so eager to become the wife of Bothwell, with
whom, according to the veracious Buchanan, she had long been indulging an
illicit intercourse, that she could not wait the time required by common
decency to wear her widow's garb for Darnley? Was he barbarously murdered
by her consent on the 9th of February, on the express condition that she
was to have Bothwell in her arms as her husband on the 15th of May? Was
she, indeed, so entirely lost to every sense of female delicacy and
public shame,--so utterly dead to her own interests and reputation,--or so
very scrupulous about continuing a little longer her unlicensed amours,
that, rather than suffer the delay of a few months, she would thus run the
risk of involving herself in eternal infamy? Even supposing that she was
perfectly assured the artifice would remain undiscovered,--was her
conscience so hardened, her feelings so abandoned, and her reason so
perverted, as to enable her to anticipate gratification from a marriage
thus hastily concluded, with so little queenly dignity, or female modesty,
and with a man who was not yet divorced from his own wife? There is but
one answer which can be given to these questions, and that answer comes
instinctively to the lips, from every generous heart, and well-regulated

For ten days Bothwell kept Mary in Dunbar "sequestrated," in her own
words, "from the company of all her servants, and others of whom she might
have asked counsel, and seeing those upon whose counsel and fidelity she
had before depended, already yielded to his appetite, and _so left alone,
as it were, a prey to him_."[82] Closely shut up as she was, she long
hoped that some of her more loyal nobles would exert themselves to procure
her deliverance. But not one of them stirred in her behalf, for Bothwell
was at this time dreaded or courted by all of them, and finding the person
of the Queen thus left at his disposal, he did not hesitate to declare to
her, that he would make her his wife, "who would, or who would not,--yea,
whether she would herself or not."[83] Mary, in reply, charged him with
the foulest ingratitude; and his conduct, she told him, grieved her the
more, because he was one "of whom she doubted less than of any subject she
had."[84] But he was not now to be driven from his purpose. He spent his
whole time with Mary; and his whole conversation was directed to the one
great object he had in view. He called to his aid every variety of
passion; sometimes flinging himself at her feet, and imploring her to
pardon a deed which the violence of his love had made imperative; and, at
other times, giving vent to a storm of rage, and threatening dishonour,
imprisonment, and death, if she hesitated longer to comply with his
demands. Mary herself is the best chronicler of these distracting scenes,
although it must be observed, that she did not write of them till Bothwell
had achieved his purpose; and consequently, making a virtue of necessity,
she was anxious to place them in as favourable a point of view as
possible. "Being at Dunbar," she says, "we reproached him the honour he
had to be so esteemed of us, the favour we had always shewn him, his
ingratitude, with all other remonstrances which might serve to rid us out
of his hands. Albeit we found his doing rude, yet were his answer and
words but gentle, that he would honour and serve us, and would noways
offend us, asking pardon of the boldness he had taken to convoy us to one
of our own houses, whereunto he was driven by force, as well as
constrained by love, the vehemency whereof had made him to set apart the
reverence, which naturally, as our subject, he bore to us, as also for
safety of his own life. And then began to make us a discourse of his whole
life, how unfortunate he had been to find men his unfriends whom he had
never offended; how their malice never ceased to assault him on all
occasions, albeit unjustly; what calumnies they had spread of him,
touching the odious violence perpetrated in the person of the King our
late husband; how unable he was to save himself from the conspiracies of
his enemies, whom he could not know by reason that every man professed
himself outwardly to be his friend; and yet he found such hidden malice
that he could not find himself in surety, unless he were insured of our
favour to endure without alteration; and on no other assurance of our
favour could he rely, unless it would please us to do him that honour to
take him to husband, protesting always that he would seek no other
sovereignty but as formerly, to serve and obey us all the days of our
life; joining thereunto all the honest language that could be used in such
a case."[85] But these arguments were of no avail, and he was obliged to
go a step farther. "When he saw us like to reject all his suit and
offers," says Mary, "in the end he shewed us how far he had proceeded with
our whole nobility and principals of our estates, and what they had
promised him under their handwriting. If we had cause then to be
astonished, we leave to the judgment of the King and Queen, (of France),
our uncle, and our other friends." "Many things we resolved with ourself,
but never could find an outgait (deliverance); and yet he gave us little
space to meditate with ourself, ever pressing us with continual and
importunate suit." "As by a bravade in the beginning, he had won the first
point, so ceased he never till, by persuasions and importunate suit,
_accompanied not the less with force_, he has finally driven us to end the
work begun, at such time, and in such form, as he thought might best serve
his turn; wherein we cannot dissemble that he has used us otherwise than
we would have wished, or yet have deserved at his hand; having more
respect to content them, by whose consent granted to him beforehand, he
thinks he has obtained his purpose, than regarding our contentation, or
weighing what was convenient for us."[86]

Bothwell had kept Mary at Dunbar for nearly a week, when, in order to
make it be believed that her residence there was voluntary, he ventured to
call together a few of the Lords of the Privy Council on whom he could
depend, and on the 29th of April there was one unimportant act of Council
passed, concerning provisions for the Royal Household. From the influence
he at that time possessed over the Scottish nobles, Bothwell might have
held a Privy Council every day at Dunbar, and whether he allowed the
Queen, _pro forma_, to be present or not, nobody would have objected to
any thing he proposed.[87] In the meantime, mutual actions of divorce were
raised by Bothwell and his wife, the Lady Jane Gordon, and being hurried
through the courts, only a few days elapsed before they were obtained.[88]
This is another circumstance which tends to prove, that Bothwell's seizure
of Mary was not collusive; for had it been so, she would certainly never
have allowed it to take place till these actions had been decided.

The die was now cast; Mary was in Bothwell's fangs, and her ruin was
completed. On the 3d of May 1567, he thought it expedient to conduct her,
closely guarded, from Dunbar to the Castle of Edinburgh. When they came
near the town, he desired his followers to conceal their arms, lest it
should be supposed that he was still keeping the Queen an unwilling
prisoner. But the truth broke out in spite of his precautions; for at the
foot of the Canongate, Mary was about to turn her horse towards Holyrood,
upon which Bothwell himself seized the bridle, and conducted her up the
High Street to the Castle, which was then in the keeping of Sir James
Balfour, who was entirely subservient to Bothwell.[89] He was now resolved
that his marriage should be consummated with as little delay as possible,
having wrung a consent to it from the unfortunate Queen, by means of
which, it is impossible to think without shuddering. In the state to which
she was reduced, she had no alternative; she chose the least of two evils,
in becoming, with an aching heart, the wife of her ravisher. Yet it would
appear, that she did not herself take a single step to advance the matter.
Three days after she arrived at the Castle, a person of the name of Thomas
Hepburn, (probably a relation of the Hepburn who was engaged with Bothwell
in Darnley's murder), was sent to Craig, Knox's colleague in the church of
St Giles, to desire that he would proclaim the banns of matrimony betwixt
the Queen and Bothwell. But the clergyman refused, because Hepburn brought
no authority from the Queen.[90] Neither Mary nor Bothwell were so
ignorant as to suppose that any minister would publish banns without
receiving a written or personal order; and Hepburn would hardly have been
sent on so idle an errand, had not the Queen been still reluctant to
surrender herself to one whose person and manners she had never liked, and
who was now so odious to her. But not a voice was raised,--not a sword was
drawn to protect her,--and what resource was left? In a day or two, the
Lord Justice Clerk conveyed a written mandate to Craig; but the preacher,
had still some scruples: not thinking such a marriage agreeable to the
laws either of God or man, he insisted upon seeing the Queen and Bothwell,
before he gave intimation of it. He was admitted to a meeting of the Privy
Council, where Bothwell presided, but at which Mary does not seem to have
been present. "In the Council," says Craig, "I laid to his charge the law
of adultery, the ordinance of the kirk, the law of ravishing, the
suspicion of collusion betwixt him and his wife, the sudden divorcement
and proclaiming within the space of four days, and lastly, the suspicion
of the King's death, which his marriage would confirm; but he answered
nothing to my satisfaction."--"Therefore, upon Sunday, after I had
declared what they had done, and how they would proceed, whether we would
or not, I took heaven and earth to witness, that I abhorred and detested
that marriage, because it was odious and scandalous to the world; and
_seeing the best part of the realm did approve it, either by flattery or
by their silence_, I desired the faithful to pray earnestly, that God
would turn it to the comfort of this realm."[91]

It was not till after the banns had been twice proclaimed, that Bothwell
allowed the Queen, on the 12th of May, to come forth from the Castle for
the first time. He conducted her himself to the Court of Session, where he
persuaded her to affix her signature to two deeds of great importance to
him. The bond he had obtained from the nobles, recommending him as a
husband to the Queen, has been already fully described; but when the Lords
put their names to it, they were not aware that Bothwell would, in
consequence, conceive himself entitled to have recourse to violence; and
they now became alarmed lest the Queen should imagine that they were
themselves implicated in an act which many of them, though they did not
yet venture to express their sentiments, viewed with disgust. By way of
precaution, therefore, they required Bothwell to obtain, from her Majesty,
a written promise, that she would not at any time hereafter impute to them
as a crime the consent they had given to the bond. Here is another
argument against the idea of collusion between Mary and Bothwell; for in
that case, so far from having any thing to fear, Bothwell's friends would
have known that nothing could have recommended them more to Mary, than the
countenance they gave his marriage; and if, for the sake of appearances,
she wished it to be believed that she was forced into it, she would
certainly have carefully avoided recording her approval of the previous
encouragement given to Bothwell by her nobility. Mary's calumniators are
thus placed between the horns of a dilemma. If she did not consent to the
abduction, then the marriage was not one of her choice; if she did, then
why defeat the only object she had in view, which was to deceive her
subjects, by publicly declaring that the Lords who signed the bond had
done nothing to displease her? and why, moreover, should such a
declaration have been thought necessary, either by Bothwell or his
friends? The deed which Mary signed in the Court of Session, and which,
taking this view of it, is worthy of every attention, was subjoined to a
copy of the bond, and expressed in these words: "The Queen's Majesty
having seen and considered the bond above written, promises, on the word
of a Princess, that she, nor her successors, shall never impute as crime
or offence, to any of the persons subscribers thereof, their consent and
subscription to the matter above written therein contained; nor that they
nor their heirs shall never be called nor accused therefor; nor yet shall
the said consent or subscribing be any derogation or spot to their honour,
or they esteemed undutiful subjects for doing thereof, notwithstanding
whatever thing can tend or be alleged in the contrary. In witness whereof,
her Majesty has subscribed the same with her own hand."[92]

On the same day, Mary granted a formal pardon to Bothwell, before all the
Lords of Session and others, for his late conduct, in taking her to, and
holding her in Dunbar, "contrary to her Majesty's will and mind," which is
also very much against the supposition of collusion. It states,--"That
albeit her Highness was commoved for the present time of her taking at the
said Earl Bothwell; yet for his good behaviour, and thankful service in
time past, and for more thankful service in time coming, her Highness
stands content with the said Earl, and has forgiven and forgives him, and
all others his accomplices, being with him in company at the time, all
hatred conceived by her Majesty, for the taking and imprisoning of her, at
the time foresaid."[93]

All these preparations having been made, Mary at length became the wife of
Bothwell, after he had been previously created Duke of Orkney. Even in the
celebration of the marriage ceremony, the despotic power which Bothwell
now exercised over the unhappy and passive Queen, is but too evident. She,
who had never before failed in a single instance, to observe the rites of
her own faith, however tolerant she was to those who professed a different
persuasion, was now obliged, in opposition to all the prejudices of
education, and all the principles of her religion, to submit to be married
according to the form of the Protestant church. Adam Bothwell, Bishop of
Orkney, who, though holding an Episcopal order, had lately renounced that
heresy, and joined the Reformers, presided on the occasion. The marriage
took place, not at mass in the Queen's chapel, but in the Council Chamber,
where, after a sermon had been delivered, the company separated, with
little demonstrations of mirth.[94] Melville, who came to Court the same
evening, mentions some particulars, which show how the dissolute Bothwell
chose to spend his time:--"When I came to the Court," he says, "I found my
Lord Duke of Orkney, sitting at his supper. He said I had been a great
stranger, desiring me to sit down and sup with him. The Earl of Huntly,
the Justice-Clerk, and diverse others, were sitting at the table with him.
I said that I had already supped. Then he called for a cup of wine, and
drank to me, that I might pledge him like a Dutchman. He made me drink it
out to grow fatter, 'for,' said he, 'the zeal of the commonweal has eaten
ye up, and made ye lean.' I answered, that every little member should
serve to some use; but that the care of the commonweal appertained most to
him, and the rest of the nobility, who should be as fathers to it. Then he
said, I well knew he would find a pin for every bore. Then he discoursed
of gentlewomen, speaking such filthy language, that I left him, and passed
up to the Queen, who was very glad at my coming."[95]

Such was the man who was now inseparably joined to Mary, and who, by fraud
and villany, had made himself, for the time, so absolute in Scotland, that
her possession of the throne of her ancestors, nay, her very life, seems
to have depended upon his will and pleasure.



Mary's first step, after her marriage, was to send, at her husband's
desire, ambassadors into England and France, to explain to these Courts
the motives by which she had been actuated. The instructions given to
these ambassadors, as Buchanan has justly remarked, and after him the
French historians De Thou and Le Clerc, were drawn up with much art. They
came, no doubt, from the pen of Bothwell's friend, Secretary Maitland; and
they recapitulate so forcibly all the Earl's services, both to Mary and
her mother, enlarge so successfully upon his influence in Scotland, his
favour with the nobility, and their anxiety that he should become King;
and finally, colour so dexterously his recent conduct, that after their
perusal, one is almost induced to believe that the Queen could not have
chosen a better husband in all Christendom. Of course, Mary would herself
see them before they were despatched, as they are written in her name; and
the consent she must have given to the attempt made in them to screen her
husband from blame, confirms the belief that she did not plan, along with
him, the scheme of the abduction; for she would, in that case, have
represented, in a much stronger light, the consequences necessarily
arising from it. If she had consented to such a scheme, it must have been
with the view of making it be believed that her marriage with a suspected
murderer (suspected at least by many, though probably not by Mary
herself), was a matter of necessity; and she could never have been so
inconsistent as labour to convince her foreign friends, that though
violence had been used in the first instance, she had ultimately seen the
propriety of voluntarily becoming Bothwell's wife. But it was her sincere
and laudable desire, now that she was married, to shelter her husband as
much as possible; and, conscious of her own innocence, she did not
anticipate that the measures she took in his behalf might be turned
against herself. It must indeed be distinctly remembered, in tracing the
lamentable events which followed this marriage, that though force and
fraud were not perhaps employed on the very day of its consummation, yet
that they had previously done their utmost, and that it was not the Queen
who surrendered herself to Bothwell, but Bothwell who forced himself upon
the Queen.

Though Mary attempted to conceal her misery from the prying eye of the
world, they who had an opportunity of being near her person easily saw
that her peace of mind was wrecked. So little love existed either on the
one side or the other, that even the days usually set aside for nuptial
rejoicings, were marked only by suspicions and wranglings. They remained
together at Holyrood from the 15th of May to the 7th of June; but during
the whole of that time, Bothwell was so alarmed, lest she should yet break
from him, and assert her independence, that he kept her "environed with a
continual guard of two hundred harquebuziers, as well day as night,
wherever she went;"--and whoever wished an audience with her, "it behoved
him, before he could come to her presence, to go through the ranks of
harquebuziers, under the mercy of a notorious tyrant,--a new example,
wherewith this nation had never been acquainted; and yet few or none were
admitted to her speech, for his suspicious heart, brought in fear by the
testimony of an evil conscience, would not suffer her subjects to have
access to her Majesty as they were wont to do."[96] The letter from which
these passages are quoted, deserves, at this period of Mary's history,
every attention, for it was written, scarcely two months after her
marriage, by the Lords who had associated themselves against Bothwell, but
who had not yet discovered the necessity of implicating Mary in the guilt
with which they charged him. The declarations therefore, they then made,
contrasted with those which ambition and selfishness afterwards prompted,
prove their sincerity in the first instance, and their wickedness in the
last. "They firmly believe," they say, "that whether they had risen up
against her husband or not, _the Queen would not have lived with him half
a year to an end_, as may be conjectured by the short time they lived
together, and _the maintaining of his other wife at home at his house_."
This last fact is no less singular than it is important. It seems
distinctly to imply, that though Bothwell was divorced from his first
wife, and that though her brother, the Earl of Huntly, had given his
consent to the divorce, yet that in reality, the dissolution of the
marriage was, on the part of Bothwell, merely _pro forma_, to enable him
to prosecute his scheme of ambition, that his attachment to the Lady Jane
Gordon continued unabated, and that if Mary had ever loved him, she must
have loved him, knowing that he did not return her affection. No wonder
that under such an accumulation of miseries--the suspicion with which she
was regarded by foreign courts,--the ready hatred of many of her more
bigoted Presbyterian subjects,--the dependence, almost amounting to a
state of bondage, in which she was kept,--and the brutal treatment she
experienced from her worthless husband,--no wonder that Mary was heard, in
moments almost of distraction, to express an intention of committing
suicide.[97] Her heart was broken,--her prospects were blighted,--her
honour, which was dearer to her than life, was doubted. She was a Queen
without the command of her subjects,--a wife without the love of her
husband. The humblest peasant in Scotland was more to be envied than the
last daughter of the royal line.

But Bothwell was not permitted to triumph long in the success of his
villany. Many, even of his own friends, now began to think that he had
carried through his measures with too high a hand. They were willing that
he should have won Mary by fair means, but not by foul; and when they saw
that he had not only imperatively thrust himself upon her as a husband,
but was taking rapid strides towards making himself absolute in Scotland,
they trembled for the freedom of the Constitution, and the safety of the
Commonweal. With an imprudence equal to his audacity, Bothwell was at no
pains either to disguise his wishes, or to conciliate the good will of
those whose assistance might have been valuable. With the restless
uneasiness of one conscious of guilt, and dreading its probable
consequences, he scrupled not to avow his anxiety to get into his
possession the person of the young Prince, and had even "made a vaunt
already among his familiars, that if he could get him once into his own
hands, he should warrant him from revenging his father's death."[98] But
the Prince was lodged in the Castle of Stirling, in the custody of the
Earl of Mar, a nobleman of approved fidelity and honour, who positively
refused to deliver him up. It was not easy, however, to divert Bothwell
from his object; and though the Queen did not countenance it, being, on
the contrary, rather desirous that her son should remain with Mar, yet he
ceased not to cajole and threaten, by turns, until all Scotland was roused
into suspicion and anger.[99] A number of the nobility met at Stirling,
and entered into an association to defend the person of the Prince; and
they soon saw, or thought they saw, the necessity of taking active
measures to that effect. On the 28th of May, proclamations were issued at
Edinburgh, intimating the intention of the Queen and Bothwell to proceed,
with a strong force, to the Borders, to suppress some disturbances there,
and requiring all loyal subjects to assemble in arms at Melrose. It was
immediately rumoured that this expedition was only a pretence, and that
Bothwell's real design was to march to Stirling, there to make himself
master of the Castle and its inhabitants. In a second proclamation, made
for the purpose, this suspicion was characterized as most unfounded; but
whether just or not, it had taken a strong hold of the public mind, and
was not easily removed. The Prince's Lords, as they were called, the chief
of whom were Argyle, Athol, Morton, Mar, and Glencairn, busied themselves
in collecting their followers, as if in compliance with the requisition to
assemble at Melrose. On the 6th or 7th of June 1567, Bothwell took the
Queen with him from the Palace of Holyrood to the Castle of Borthwick,
situated about eight miles to the south of Edinburgh, having discovered,
only a day or two before, that Edinburgh was no longer a safe residence
for him. Sir James Balfour, the Governor of the Castle, seeing so strong a
party start up against his former patron, had allowed himself to be
tampered with, and Bothwell now suspected that he held the Castle not for
him, but for the Lords at Stirling. He feared, that Balfour might be
persuaded by them to sally down to Holyrood with a party of troops, and
carry him off a prisoner to the Castle, and therefore thought it wise to
withdraw to a safer distance.

It was not long before the nobility at Stirling heard of Bothwell's
retreat to Borthwick, and they resolved to take advantage of it. They
advanced unexpectedly from Stirling, and, marching past Edinburgh,
suddenly invested the Castle of Borthwick. It was with great difficulty
that Bothwell and the Queen escaped to Dunbar, and the Lords then fell
back upon Edinburgh. Huntly commanded there for Bothwell; but though, at
his request, the magistrates shut the gates of the city, the opposite
party found little difficulty in forcibly effecting an entrance. Huntly,
and the rest of Bothwell's friends, still trusting to Sir James Balfour's
fidelity, retreated into the Castle. The opposite faction, with Morton at
its head, immediately issued proclamations, in which they demanded the
assistance of all loyal subjects, on the grounds, "that the Queen's
Majesty, being detained in captivity, was neither able to govern her
realm, nor try the murder of her husband, and that they had assembled to
deliver her and preserve the Prince."[100] These proclamations prove, that
no feelings of hostility were as yet entertained or expressed against
Mary. One of them, issued at Edinburgh on the 12th of June, commences
thus:--"The Lords of Secret Council and Nobility, understanding that
James, Earl of Bothwell, put violent hands on our Sovereign Lady's most
noble person upon the 24th day of April last, and thereafter warded
(imprisoned) her Highness in the Castle of Dunbar, which he had in
keeping, and, before a long space thereafter, conveyed her Majesty,
environed with men of war, and such friends and kinsmen of his as would do
for him, ever into such places where he had most dominion and power, her
Grace being destitute of all counsel and servants, during which time the
said Earl seduced, by unlawful ways, our said Sovereign to a dishonest
marriage with himself, which, from the beginning, is null and of no
effect." And the proclamation concludes with announcing their
determination, "to deliver the Queen's Majesty's most noble person forth
of captivity and prison," and to bring Bothwell and his accomplices to
trial, both for the murder of Darnley, and for "the ravishing and
detaining of the Queen's Majesty's person," as well as to prevent the
enterprise intended against the Prince.[101] Can any thing establish an
historical fact more explicitly than such evidence?

Bothwell was, in the meantime, busily collecting his friends at Dunbar. In
a few days, upwards of 2000 men had resorted to him, more because the
Queen was with him, than from any love they bore himself; and, as he was
unwilling that the hostile Lords should be allowed time to collect their
strength, he marched, with this force, from Dunbar on the 14th of June.
When the news of his approach reached Edinburgh, the Lords immediately
advanced to meet him, though with a somewhat inferior strength. The two
armies did not come in sight of each other till the morning of the 15th,
when Bothwell's troops were discovered upon Carberry Hill, a rising ground
of some extent between Musselburgh and Dalkeith. The Lords, who had spent
the night at Musselburgh, made a circuit towards Dalkeith, that they also
might get on the high ground, and took up a position to the west of
Bothwell. It was here discovered that neither party was very anxious to
commence an engagement; and the French ambassador, Le Croc, spent several
hours in riding between both armies, and endeavouring to bring them to
terms of mutual accommodation, being authorized on the part of the Queen,
to promise that the present insurrection would be willingly forgiven, if
the Lords would lay down their arms and disband their followers. But the
Earl of Morton answered, "that they had taken up arms _not against the
Queen_, but against the murderer of the King, whom, if she would deliver
to be punished, or at least put from her company, she should find a
continuation of dutiful obedience from them and all other good
subjects."[102] Le Croc, despairing of effecting his purpose, unwillingly
quitted the field, and returned to Edinburgh. But both parties were still
desirous to temporize,--Bothwell, because he hourly expected
reinforcements from Lord Herries and others,--and the Lords, because they
also looked for an accession of strength, and because the day was hot, and
the sun shining strong in their faces.[103] To draw out the time, Bothwell
made a bravado of offering to end the quarrel, by engaging in single
combat any Lord of equal rank who would encounter him. Kircaldy of Grange,
one of the best soldiers of the day, and Murray of Tullibardin, both
expressed their willingness to accept the challenge, but were rejected on
the score of inferiority in rank. Lord Lindsay then offered himself, and
him Bothwell had no right to refuse. It was expected, therefore, that the
whole quarrel would be referred to them, the Queen herself, though at the
head of an army superior to that of her opponents, having consented, that
a husband to whom she had so short a while been married, and for whom the
veracious Buchanan would have us believe she entertained so extravagant an
affection, should thus unnecessarily risk his life. Twenty gentlemen on
either side were to attend, and the ground was about to be marked out,
when the Lords changed their minds, and declared they did not choose that
Lord Lindsay should take upon himself the whole burden of a quarrel in
which they all felt equally interested.[104]

In these negotiations the day passed over. It was now between seven and
eight in the evening, and a battle must have ensued, either that night or
next morning, had not an unexpected step been taken by the Queen. Without
betraying Bothwell, she formed a resolution to rid herself from the
bondage in which he kept her. She sent to desire that Kircaldy of Grange
should come to speak with her, and she intimated to him her willingness to
part from Bothwell as was demanded, if Morton and the other Lords would
undertake to conduct her safely into Edinburgh, and there return to their
allegiance. This overture, on being reported by Grange, was at once
accepted, provided Mary agreed to dismiss Bothwell on the field. It may be
easily conceived that to Bothwell himself such an arrangement was not
particularly agreeable, and could never have entered the imagination, much
less have been the deliberate proposal, of a loving and obedient wife.
Historians, we think, have not sufficiently insisted on the strong
presumption in Mary's favour, afforded by her conduct at Carberry Hill. It
is true, that there might have been an understanding between her and
Bothwell, that as soon as she was re-instated in her power, she would
recall him to a share of her throne and bed. But even supposing that,
notwithstanding the alleged violence of her love, she had been willing to
consent to a temporary separation, both she and Bothwell knew the spirit
of the men they had to deal with too well, to trust to the chance of
outwitting them, after yielding to their demands. Mary must have been
aware, that if she parted with Bothwell at all, she in all probability
parted with him for ever. Had she truly loved him, she would rather have
braved all risks (as she did with Darnley when Murray rebelled) than have
abandoned him just at the crisis of his fortune. But she had at no period
felt more than the commonest friendship for Bothwell; and since she had
been seized by him at the Bridge of Almond, she had absolutely hated him.
Melville, accordingly, expresses himself regarding this transaction in
these terms. "Albeit her Majesty was at Carberry Hill, I cannot name it to
be her army; for many of them that were with her, were of opinion that she
had intelligence with the Lords; chiefly such as understood of the Earl
Bothwell's mishandling of her, and many indignities that he had both said
and done unto her since their marriage. He was so beastly and suspicious,
that he suffered her not to pass a day in patience, or without giving her
cause to shed abundance of salt tears. Thus, part of his own company
detested him; and the other part believed that her Majesty would fain
have been quit of him, but thought shame to be the doer thereof directly
herself."[105] Melville adds, that so determined was Bothwell not to leave
the field if he could avoid it, that he ordered a soldier to shoot Grange
when he overheard the arrangement which he and the Queen were making. It
was "not without great difficulty," says another cotemporary writer, that
Mary prevailed upon Bothwell to mount his horse, and ride away with a few
followers back to Dunbar.[106] There is no wonder;--but that a wife of one
month's standing, who is said for his sake to have murdered her former
husband, should permit, nay beseech him, thus to sneak off a field he
might have won, had she allowed him to fight, is indeed strange and
unaccountable. When Bothwell left Carberry Hill, he turned his back upon a
Queen and a throne;--he left hope behind, and must have seen only ruin

As soon as her husband had departed, Mary desired Grange to lead her to
the Lords. Morton and the rest came forward to meet her, and received her
with all due respect. The Queen was on horseback, and Grange himself
walked at her bridle. On riding up to the associated Nobles, she said to
them,--"My Lords, I am come to you, not out of any fear I had of my life,
nor yet doubting of the victory, if matters had gone to the worst; but I
abhor the shedding of Christian blood, especially of those that are my own
subjects; and therefore I yield to you, and will be ruled hereafter by
your counsels, trusting you will respect me as your born Princess and
Queen."[107] Alas! Mary had not calculated either on the perfidy of the
men to whom she had surrendered herself, or on the vulgar virulence of
their hired retainers, who, having been disappointed in their hopes of a
battle, thought they might take their revenge, by insulting the person of
a Roman Catholic Sovereign, now for the first time standing before them
somewhat in the light of a suitor and a prisoner. They led her into
Edinburgh between eight and nine in the evening; and the citizens, hearing
of the turn which affairs had taken, came out in great crowds, and lined
the way as they passed. The envy and hatred of the more bigoted part of
the rabble did not fail to exhibit itself. Royalty in misfortune, like a
statue taken from its pedestal, is often liable to the rudest handling,
simply because it has fallen from a height which previously kept it at a
distance from the multitude. There had long rancoured in the bosoms of the
more zealous and less honest Presbyterians, an ill-concealed jealousy of
Mary's superiority; and in the mob which now gathered round her, the
turbulent and unprincipled led the way, as they commonly do in a mob, to
insult and outrage. So far from being allowed to return to Edinburgh as a
Queen, and to take possession of her wonted state, Mary was forced to ride
as a captive in a triumphal show. The hatred which was borne towards
Bothwell was transferred to her, and the Lords, at the head of whom was
the crafty Morton, forgetting the proclamation they had made only two
days before, announcing their intention to rescue the Queen from the
bondage in which she was held, only took her from one tyrant to retain her
in the hands of many. As the cavalcade proceeded, a banner was displayed
in front, on which was represented the King lying dead at the foot of a
tree, and the young Prince upon his knees near him, exclaiming--"Judge and
revenge my cause, O Lord!" The people shouted with savage exultation, as
this ensign was carried past, and turning their eyes on the Queen, who was
dissolved in tears, they scrupled not, by the coarse malice of their
expressions, to add to the agony of her feelings.

When Mary arrived in Edinburgh, and found she was not to be taken to
Holyrood House, (from which, indeed, the Lords had previously carried off
much of her valuable furniture), she gave up all for lost, and in her
despair called upon all who came near her to rescue her from the hands of
traitors. But an excitement had just been given to the public mind, which
it required some hours of sober reflection to allay. No one interfering in
her behalf, she was taken to the Provost's house in the High Street, where
she was lodged for the night. The crowd gradually dispersed, and the Lords
were left to themselves to arrange their future plan of procedure.
Kircaldy of Grange, was the only one among them who was disposed to act
honourably. He reminded them that he had been commissioned to assure the
Queen of their loyal services, provided she parted from Bothwell, and came
over to them,--and as she had fulfilled her part of the agreement, he did
not think it right that they should fail in theirs. Influenced by these
representations, a division might thus have taken place among themselves,
had not Morton fallen on an expedient to silence the scruples of Grange.
He produced a letter, which he alleged Mary had just written to Bothwell,
and which he had intercepted, in which she was made to declare, that she
was resolved never to abandon him, although for a time she might be
obliged to yield to circumstances. Kircaldy, possessing all the blunt
sincerity of a soldier, and being little given to suspicion, was startled
by this letter, and left Morton, in consequence, to take his own way. That
the pretended epistle was in truth a mere hasty forgery, is proved to
demonstration, by the fact that, important as such a document would have
been, it was never afterwards alluded to by the Lords, nor produced in
evidence along with the other papers they so laboriously collected to lay
before Elizabeth's Commissioners. From this specimen of their honesty, we
may guess what reliance is to be placed on the authenticity of writings,
subsequently scraped together by men who, on the spur of the moment,
executed a forgery so clumsily, that they were unable to avail themselves
of it on any future occasion. But Morton's intriguing spirit was again
busily at work; and having the Queen's person once more in his possession,
and being apparently supported by the people, he was determined on taking
a step which would secure him Elizabeth's lasting gratitude, and might
ultimately raise him to the regency of Scotland. He, therefore, veered
suddenly round; and though he had asserted, on the 12th of June, that Mary
was kept in unwilling bondage by Bothwell, he saw it prudent to maintain
on the 15th, that there was no man in Scotland to whom she was so
passionately attached. In support of this assertion, the letter became a
necessary fabrication; and Morton well knew that a political falsehood,
though credited only for a day, may be made a useful engine in the hands
of a skilful workman.

It would appear, however, that a night's reflection operated a
considerable change in the minds of the ever-fluctuating populace. In the
course of the 16th, they collected before the Provost's house; and the
Queen having come several times to the window, and represented to them
strongly the iniquity of the constraint in which she was kept by her own
nobles who had betrayed her, a general feeling began to manifest itself in
her favour. Morton and his colleagues no sooner perceived this change,
than they waited on the Queen, and, with the most consummate hypocrisy,
protested that she had quite mistaken their intentions, and that, to
convince her of their sincerity, they should immediately replace her in
the palace of Holyrood. Mary listened to them, and was again deceived. In
the evening, as if to fulfil their promise, they conducted her to
Holyrood, Morton walking respectfully on one side of her horse, and Athol
on the other. But when she reached the Palace, she was as strictly watched
as ever; and about midnight, to her terror and surprise, they suddenly
came to her, and forcing her to disguise herself in an ordinary
riding-habit, mounted her on horseback, and rode off, without informing
her whither she was going. She was escorted by the Lords Ruthven and
Lindsay, and, after riding all night, arrived at the castle of Loch-Leven
early in the morning. This castle was a place of considerable strength,
standing on a small island in the centre of the lake, which is ten or
twelve miles in circumference. It was possessed by Lady Douglas, the Lady
of Loch-Leven, as she was commonly called, the widow of Sir Robert
Douglas, and mother to the Earl of Murray, by James V. "It is needless to
observe," says Keith, "how proper a place this was for the design of the
rebels, the house being surrounded with water on all sides, for the space,
at shortest, of half a mile; and the proprietors of it being so nearly
related to some principal persons among them, in whom, therefore, they
could the more securely confide. And indeed it has been said, that the
Lady Loch-Leven answered the expectation of the Lords to the full, having
basely insulted the captive Queen's misfortune, and bragged, besides, that
she herself was King James V.'s lawful wife, and her son, the Earl of
Murray, his legitimate issue, and true heir of the crown. The Lady
Loch-Leven was not only mother to the Earl of Murray, but likewise to the
Lord Lindsay's lady, by her husband Robert Douglas of Loch-Leven. The
family of Loch-Leven was moreover heirs-apparent to that of Morton; and to
that family they did actually succeed some time after. The Lord Ruthven
also had to wife a natural daughter of the Earl of Angus;--all which
considerations centering together in one, made the house of Loch-Leven,
humanly speaking, a most sure and close prison for the Royal

To give an air of something like justice to a measure so violent and
unexpected, Morton and his friends endeavoured to sanction it by what they
were pleased to term an Act of Privy Council. They experienced, however,
no little difficulty in determining on the proper mode of expressing this
act. They recollected the proclamations in the Queen's favour to which
they had so recently put their names; they recollected also the solemn
engagement into which they had entered at Carberry Hill; and though
_might_ was with them of greater value than _right_, they did not choose,
if they could avoid it, to stand convicted of treason in the face of the
whole country. They tried, therefore, to excuse the step they had taken,
by asserting, that though they still believed her Majesty had unwillingly
married Bothwell, and had been kept in bondage by him, and that, though
she had quitted his company for theirs at Carberry, yet that after they
had "opened and declared unto her Highness her own estate and condition,
and the miserable estate of this realm, with the danger that her dearest
son the Prince stood in, requiring that she would suffer and command the
murder and authors thereof to be punished, they found in her Majesty such
untowardness and repugnance thereto, that rather she appeared to fortify
and maintain the said Earl Bothwell and his accomplices in the said wicked
crimes." The truth of this statement is directly contradicted by the
transactions of the 15th of June, when Mary, though at the head of an
army, had agreed to do every thing the Lords desired, and when, with a
degree of facility only to be accounted for on the supposition that she
was anxious to escape from his company, she had separated herself finally
from Bothwell in the face of the whole world. So far from charging her
with "fortifying" and "maintaining" him in his crimes, these Lords
themselves declared, on the 11th, that they had assembled "to deliver
their sovereign's most noble person out of bondage and captivity;" and, a
month afterwards, they told the English ambassador they "firmly believed
the Queen would not have lived with Bothwell half a year to an end."[109]

In addition to this act of Privy Council, which was no doubt the
production of Morton, and is signed by him and Athol, and six other
noblemen of less note, a bond of association was drawn up the same day, in
which an explanation was given at greater length, of the system on which
the Lords were about to proceed. It is a remarkable feature of this bond,
that, in so far as Mary is concerned, it very materially contradicts the
act of Council. Instead of containing any accusation against her, it
represents her throughout as having been the victim of force and fraud. It
commences by stating the conviction of the subscribers, that Bothwell was
the murderer of Darnley, and that, had he himself not taken means to
prevent a fair trial, he would have been convicted of the crime. It goes
on to assert, that, adding wickedness to wickedness, the Earl had
treasonably, and without any reverence for his native Prince, carried her
prisoner to his castle at Dunbar, and had afterwards pretended unlawfully
to marry her; which being accomplished, his cruel and ambitious nature
immediately showed itself, "no nobleman daring to resort to her Majesty
to speak with her without suspicion, unless in his presence and hearing,
and her chamber-doors being continually watched by armed men." It is
therefore maintained that their interference was necessary, both on
account of the "shameful thraldom" in which the Queen was kept, and the
great danger of the young Prince, her only son. They had taken up arms,
they say, against Bothwell, and to deliver their sovereign; and though
they had already chased him from his unlawful authority, they considered
themselves obliged to continue in arms till "the authors of the murder and
ravishing were condignly punished, the pretended marriage dissolved, their
sovereign relieved of the thraldom, bondage, and ignominy, which she had
sustained, and still underlies by the said Earl's fault, the person of the
innocent prince placed in safety, and, finally, justice restored and
uprightly administered to all the subjects of the realm."[110]

This, then, was all the length to which Morton and the other Lords, as yet
ventured. They had sent Mary to Loch-Leven, merely to keep her at a safe
distance from Bothwell; and as soon as they had seized his person, or
driven him from the kingdom, it was of course implied that they would
restore their sovereign to her throne. They did not hint, in the most
distant manner, that she was in the least implicated in the guilt of her
husband's death; and they expressly declared that, for every thing which
had taken place since, Bothwell alone was to blame. Judging by their own
words, they entertained as much respect for the Queen as ever; and the
impression they gave to the country was, that they intended she should
remain at Loch-Leven only for a short time, and that so far from meaning
to punish one whom they accused of no crime, by forcing from her an
abdication of her crown, and condemning her to perpetual imprisonment,
they would soon be found rallying round her, and conducting her back to
her capital in triumph. These may have been the hopes entertained by some;
but they forgot that Morton, who was at the head of the new faction, had
assassinated Rizzio, and countenanced the murder of Darnley;--and that
Murray, though at present in France, had left the country only till new
disturbances should afford new prospects for his inordinate ambition.



Scotland was now in the most unfortunate condition in which a country
could possibly be. Like a ship without a pilot, it was left at the mercy
of a hundred contrary opinions; and it was not long before there sprung
out of these two opposing currents or distinct parties, known by the name
of the Queen's and the Prince's. Morton and his friends calling themselves
the Prince's Lords, continued at Edinburgh; whilst the Queen's nobles
assembled at Hamilton Palace in very considerable force, having among
them, besides the Hamiltons, Huntly, (who had been allowed by Sir James
Balfour to escape from the Castle of Edinburgh, in which he had taken
shelter some time before), Argyle, (who, though he had at first joined
with Morton and Mar at Stirling, when they announced their determination
to keep the Prince out of Bothwell's hands, never intended taking up arms
against the Queen), Rothes, Caithness, Crawfurd, Boyd, Herries,
Livingston, Seaton, Ogilvie, and others.[111] Morton laboured to effect a
coalition with these Lords; but though he employed the mediation of the
General Assembly, they would not consent to any proposals he made them.
Buchanan himself is forced to allow, that affairs took a very different
turn from what was expected. "For popular envy being abated, partly by
time, and partly by the consideration of the uncertainty of human affairs,
commiseration succeeded; nay, some of the nobility did then no less bewail
the Queen's calamity than they had before execrated her cruelty."[112] The
truth is, that Mary's friends were at this time much more numerous than
her enemies; but unfortunately they were not sufficiently unanimous in
their councils, to be able to take any decisive steps in her behalf.

Morton earnestly laboured to increase the popularity of his faction by
every means in his power. To please the multitude, he apprehended several
persons, whom he accused of being implicated in the murder of Darnley; and
though he probably knew them to be innocent, they were all condemned and
executed, with the exception of Sebastian, the Queen's servant, who was
seized with the view of casting suspicion on Mary herself, but who
contrived to escape.[113] Thus, they who blamed Mary for being too remiss
in seeking out and punishing the murderers, were able to console
themselves with the reflection, that, under the new order of things,
persons were iniquitously executed for the sake of appearances, by those
who had themselves been Bothwell's accomplices. Against Bothwell himself,
Morton, for his own sake, proceeded with more caution. It was not till
the 26th of June, that letters were addressed to the keeper of the Castle
at Dunbar, ordering him to deliver up his charge, because he had received
and protected Bothwell; and, on the same day, a proclamation was issued,
offering the moderate reward of a thousand crowns to any one who should
apprehend the Earl.[114] It is singular that these Lords, who were so
fully convinced of his criminality, not only allowed him to depart
unmolested from Carberry Hill, but took no steps, for ten days afterwards,
towards securing his person.

The precise period at which Bothwell left Dunbar, the efforts he made to
regain his authority in Scotland, and in general, most of the particulars
of his subsequent fate, are not accurately known. He entered, no doubt,
into correspondence with the noblemen assembled at Hamilton; but probably
received from them little encouragement, as it was the Queen's cause, not
his, in which they were interested. He then retired to the North, where he
possessed estates as Duke of Orkney, and some influence with his kinsman,
the Bishop of Murray. As soon as his flight thither was known, Grange and
Tullibardin were sent in pursuit of him, with several vessels which were
fitted out on purpose. Hearing of their approach, Bothwell fled towards
the Orkney and Shetland Islands, and, being closely followed, was there
very nearly captured. His pursuers were at one time within gun-shot of his
ship, and it must have been taken, had not the vessels of Grange and
Tullibardin, in the very heat of the chase, both struck upon a sunken
rock, which Bothwell, either because his pilot was better acquainted with
the seas, or because his ship was lighter, avoided. They were, however,
fortunate enough to seize some of his accomplices, who were brought to
Edinburgh, and having been tried and condemned, made the confessions which
have been already referred to, and by which the particulars of the murder
became known. Bothwell himself proceeded to Denmark, imagining that the
King of that country, Frederick II., who was distantly related to Mary,
through her great-grandmother Margaret of Denmark, the spouse of James
III., might be disposed to interest himself in his behalf. But finding
that the circumstances under which he had left Scotland, would prevent him
from appearing at the Danish Court with so much _eclat_ as he desired, he
ventured on enriching his treasury, by making a seizure of one or two
merchantmen, trading in the North Seas. These practices were discovered; a
superior force was fitted out against him; and he was carried into a
Danish port, not as an exiled prince, but as a captive pirate. He was
there thrown into prison without ceremony; and though he lost no time in
letting his name and rank be known to the government, it does not appear
that the discovery operated greatly in his favour. He was retained in
durance for many years, the King of Denmark neither choosing to surrender
him to Elizabeth or his enemies in Scotland, nor thinking it right to
offend them by restoring him to liberty, so long at least as Mary herself
remained a prisoner. Broken down by misfortune, and perhaps assailed by
remorse, Bothwell is believed to have been in a state of mental
derangement for several years before his death. There can be no doubt
that he died miserably; and he seems, even in this life, to have paid the
penalty of his crimes, if any earthly penalty could atone for the misery
he brought on the innocent victim of his lawless ambition and systematic
villany. His character may be summed up in the words of our great poet:--

  "Tetchy and wayward was thy infancy;
  Thy schooldays frightful, desp'rate, wild, and furious;
  Thy prime of manhood daring, bold, and venturous;
  Thy age confirmed, proud, subtle, sly, and bloody."[115]

In the meantime, foreign courts were not inattentive to the state of
affairs in Scotland. An ambassador arrived from Mary's friends in France;
but finding, to his astonishment, that she was imprisoned, and that some
of the nobility had usurped the government, he refused to acknowledge
their authority, and immediately left the country. Elizabeth's messenger,
who came about the same time, was less scrupulous; and, indeed, few things
could have given that Queen greater satisfaction, than the turn which
Scottish affairs had recently taken. In the letters she sent by her
ambassador Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, are discovered all that duplicity,
affected sincerity, and real heartlessness, which so constantly
distinguish the despatches of Cecil and his mistress. After taking it for
granted, in direct opposition to the declarations of the rebel Lords
themselves, that Mary had given her consent to the hasty marriage with
Bothwell, and that she was consequently implicated in all his guilt,
Elizabeth proceeds with no little contradiction, to assure her good sister
that she considers her imprisonment entirely unjustifiable. But the
insincerity of her desire, that the Queen of Scots should recover her
liberty, is evinced by the very idle conditions she suggests should first
be imposed upon her. These are, that the murderers of Darnley should be
immediately prosecuted and punished, and that the young Prince should be
preserved free from all danger;--just as if Mary could punish murderers
before they were discovered or taken, unless, indeed, she chose to follow
the example of her Lords, and condemn the innocent; and as if she had lost
the natural affection of a mother, and would have delivered her only son
to be butchered, as his father had been. In short, Morton and his
colleagues had no difficulty in perceiving, that though Elizabeth thought
it necessary, for the sake of appearances, to pretend to be displeased
with them, yet that they had, in truth, never stood higher in her good
graces. They well knew, as they had observed in the case of Murray, and
experienced in their own, that Elizabeth seldom said what she meant, or
meant what she said.

But to put her conduct on the present occasion in a still clearer light,
the reader will be somewhat surprised to learn, that Throckmorton brought
with him into Scotland two distinct sets of "Instructions," both bearing
the same date (June 30th 1567), the one of which was to be shown to Mary,
and the other to the rebel Lords. In the former, she expresses the
greatest indignation at the Queen's imprisonment, and threatens vengeance
on all her enemies. In the latter, the Lords are spoken of in a much more
confidential and friendly manner. They are told, that Elizabeth thought it
requisite to send an ambassador; but that he came to solicit nothing that
was not for the general weal of the realm; and that, if she were allowed
to mediate between their Queen and them, "they should have no just cause
to mislike her doings," because she would consent to nothing that was not
"for their security hereafter, and for quietness to the realm." Nay, she
even desired Throckmorton to assure them, that she "meant not to allow of
such faults as she hears _by report_ are imputed to the Queen of Scots,
but had given him strictly in charge to lay before, and to _reprove her_,
in her name, for the same."--"And in the end also," she adds, "we mean not
with any such partiality to deal for her, but that her princely state
being preserved, she should conform herself to all reasonable devices that
may bring a good accord betwixt her and her nobility and people." Thus she
was to take upon herself to reprove Mary for faults which "_she heard by
report were imputed to her_;" and to insist, though she herself was of
opinion that she had been unlawfully imprisoned, that she should enter
into negotiations with her rebel subjects, which would compromise her
dignity, and even impugn her character.[116]

When Throckmorton came into Scotland, in July 1567, although he was
allowed no more access to the Queen than had been granted to the French
ambassador, yet, as his instructions authorized him to treat with the
Lords of Secret Council, he of course remained. From them he received an
explanation of their late proceedings, containing some of the most glaring
contradictions ever exhibited in a State paper. They do not throw out the
most distant suspicion of the Queen being implicated in Bothwell's guilt;
on the contrary, they continue to express their conviction that she became
his wife very unwillingly, and only after force had been used; but they
allege, as their reason for imprisoning her, the change which took place
in her mind an hour or two after she parted with her husband at Carberry
Hill. They state, that, immediately after, Bothwell, "caring little or
nothing for her Majesty" left her to save himself, and that after she,
caring as little for him, had parted company from him, and voluntarily
come with them to Edinburgh, they all at once, and most unexpectedly,
"found her passion so prevail in maintenance of him and his cause, that
she would not with patience hear speak any thing to his reproof, or
suffer his doings to be called in question; but, on the contrary, offered
to give over the realm and all, so that she might be suffered to enjoy
him, with many threatenings to be revenged on every man who had dealt in
the matter."[117] This was surely a very sudden and inexplicable change of
mind; for, in the very same letter, with an inconsistency which might
almost have startled themselves, these veracious Lords declare, that "the
Queen, their Sovereign, had been led captive, and, by fear, force, and
other extraordinary and more unlawful means, compelled to become
bed-fellow to another wife's husband;" that even though they had not
interfered, "she would not have lived with him half a year to an end;" and
that at Carberry Hill, a separation voluntary on both sides took place.
Was it, therefore, for a moment to be credited, that during the short
interval of a few hours, which elapsed between this separation and Mary's
imprisonment in Loch-Leven, she could either have so entirely altered her
sentiments regarding Bothwell, or, if they had in truth never been
unfavourable, so foolishly and unnecessarily betrayed them, as to convince
her nobility, that to secure their own safety, and force her to live apart
from him, no plan would be of any avail, but that of shutting her up in a
strong and remote castle? And even if this expedient appeared advisable at
the moment, did they think that, if Mary was now restored to liberty, she
would set sail for Denmark, and join Bothwell in his prison there? No;
they did not go so far; for, in conclusion, they assured Throckmorton,
that, "knowing the great wisdom wherewith God hath endowed her," they
anticipated that within a short time her mind would be settled, and that
as soon as "by a just trial they had made the truth appear, she would
conform herself to their doings."[118]

"By the above answer," says Keith, "I make no doubt but my readers will be
ready enough to prognosticate what shall be the upshot of Sir Nicholas
Throckmorton's negotiations with the rebels in favour of our Queen." There
can be no doubt that the same motives (whatever these might be) which led
to Mary's imprisonment, would have equal force in keeping her there. The
whole history of this conspiracy may be explained in a few words. When
Morton and the other Lords took up arms at Stirling, they were, to a
certain extent, sincere; they believed (especially those of them who had
been his accomplices) that Bothwell was the murderer of Darnley, and that
he was anxiously endeavouring to get the young Prince into his power. This
they determined to prevent, and having won over Sir James Balfour, the
governor of the Castle, they advanced to Edinburgh. Bothwell retired to
Dunbar, taking the Queen along with him. But the Lords knew that Mary
entertained no affection for her husband, and they therefore hoped to
create a division between them. They accomplished this object at Carberry
Hill, and reconducted the Queen to Edinburgh. There, though not sorry
that she had parted from her husband, Mary did not express any high
approbation of the conduct of Lords who, when she was first seized by
Bothwell, did not draw a sword in her defence, and now that she had become
his wife, according to their own express recommendation recorded in the
bond they had given him, openly rebelled against the authority with which
they had induced her to intrust him. Morton recollected at the same time
his share in Rizzio's assassination, and the disastrous consequences which
ensued, as soon as Mary made her escape from the thraldom in which he had
then kept her for several days. He determined not to expose himself to a
similar risk now, especially as he had an army at his command; if he
disbanded it, he might be executed as a traitor,--if he remained at the
head of it, he might become Regent of Scotland. These were the secret
motives by which his conduct was regulated;--having taken one step he
thought he might venture to go on with another; he commenced with
defending the son, and ended by dethroning the mother.

Four different plans were now in agitation, by adopting any of which it
was thought the troubles of the kingdom might be brought to a conclusion.
The first was suggested by the Queen's friends assembled at Hamilton;
their proposal was, to restore the Queen to her liberty and throne, having
previously bound her, by an express agreement, to pardon the rebel Lords,
to watch over the safety of the Prince, to consent to a divorce from
Bothwell, and to punish all persons implicated in the murder of Darnley.
The other three schemes came from Morton and his party, and were worthy of
the source from which they came. The _first_ was, to make the Queen
resign all government and regal authority in favour of her son, under whom
a Council of the nobility should govern the realm, whilst she herself
should retire to France or England, and never again return to her own
country. The _second_ was, to have the Queen tried, to condemn her, to
keep her in prison for life, and to crown the Prince. The _third_ was, to
have her tried, condemned, and executed,--a measure which would have
disgraced Scotland in even its most barbarous times, and which nothing but
the violence of party feeling could now have suggested.[119] The English
ambassador, knowing the wishes of his mistress, did not hesitate to assure
her that there was no probability of any of the more lenient proposals
being adopted; and he took care to remind the Lords, that "it would be
convenient for them so to proceed, as that by their doings they should not
wipe away the Queen's infamy, and the Lord Bothwell's detestable murder,
and by their outrageous dealings bring all the slander upon themselves."
At Morton's request, he likewise suggested to Elizabeth, that it would be
proper to send a supply of ten or twelve thousand crowns to aid the Lords
in their present increased expenditure; and this he said was the more
necessary, because Lethington and others had reminded him that,
notwithstanding all her Majesty's fair words, Murray, Morton, and the
rest, "had in their troubles found cold relief and small favour at her
Majesty's hands."[120] No wonder that, in moments when his better nature
prevailed, Throckmorton felt disgusted with the double part he was obliged
to act, and spoke "honestly and plainly" of it to Melville. "Yea," says
Sir James, "he detested the whole counsel of England for the time, and
told us friendly what reasoning they held among themselves to that end;
namely, how that one of their finest counsellors (Cecil) proposed openly
to the rest, that it was needful for the welfare of England, to foster and
nourish the civil wars, as well in France and in Flanders, as in Scotland;
whereby England might reap many advantages, and be sought after by all
parties, and in the meantime live in rest, and gather great riches. This
advice and proposition was well liked by most part of the Council; yet an
honest counsellor stood up and said, it was a very worldly advice, and had
little or nothing to do with a Christian commonweal."[121]

The Earl of Murray was in the meantime anxiously watching the progress of
affairs in Scotland, and, though still in France, had so contrived, that
he possessed as much influence in the counsels of the nation as Morton
himself. The Lords indeed had long been in close correspondence with him.
Letters from them were forwarded to him by Cecil, who exchanged frequent
communications with Murray; and, on the 26th of June, four days before
Throckmorton left London for Scotland, Cecil wrote to the English
ambassador at Paris, that "Murray's return into Scotland was much desired,
for the weal both of England and Scotland."[122] But as Murray had
attempted to ingratiate himself at the French Court, by exaggerating his
fidelity to Mary, he found it impossible to disengage himself immediately
from the connexions he had there made, not anticipating so sudden a
revolution in the state of affairs at home. He sent, however, an agent
into Scotland, of the name of Elphinston, whom he commissioned to attend
to his interests, and whom the Lords allowed to visit the Queen at
Loch-Leven, though they refused every body else. It is not likely that
Morton, who had thus a second time been engaged in setting up a ladder for
Murray to ascend by, was altogether pleased to find that he could not
obtain the first place for himself. As soon as he determined to force Mary
to abdicate the Crown, he saw that he would be obliged to yield the
Regency to Murray, supported as that nobleman was, both by his numerous
friends in England and Scotland, and the earnest recommendations of Knox
and the other preachers, who, in their anxiety to see their old patron
once more Lord of the ascendant, "took pieces of Scripture, and inveighed
vehemently against the Queen, and persuaded extremities against her, by
application of the text."[123] Morton, however, consoled himself with the
reflection, that he was in great favour with Murray, and that, by acting
in concert with him, he would enjoy a scarcely inferior degree of power
and honour.

Preparatory to extorting from her an abdication, the Lords anxiously
circulated a report, that the Queen was devotedly and almost insanely
attached to Bothwell. They did not venture, it is true, to put this
attachment to the test, by publicly offering her reasonable terms of
accommodation, which, if she had refused, all men would have acknowledged
her infatuation, and deserted her cause;--they brought her to no
trial,--they proved her guilty of no crime; all they did was to endeavour
to impose upon the vulgar. They asserted that Mary would not agree to
prosecute the perpetrators of the murder, after she had already prosecuted
them,--and that she would not consent to abandon a husband whom she had
already abandoned, and with whom, they themselves had declared, only a few
weeks before, she could not, under any circumstances, have lived for many
months. Throckmorton, who was willing enough to propagate all the absurd
falsehoods they told him, wrote to Elizabeth,--"she avoweth constantly
that she will live and die with him; and saith, that if it were put to her
choice to relinquish her Crown and kingdom, or the Lord Bothwell, she
would leave her kingdom and dignity, to go as a simple damsel with him;
and that she will never consent that he shall fare worse, or have more
harm than herself."[124] But the numerous party in favour of the Queen
openly avowed their disbelief of these reports; and Elizabeth herself, who
began to fear that, in sending Throckmorton to the rebel Lords, she had
countenanced the weaker side, wrote to her ambassador on the 29th of
August in the following terms, which, as they are used by an enemy so
determined as Elizabeth, speak volumes in favour of Mary:--"We cannot
perceive, that they, with whom they have dealt, can answer the doubts
moved by the Hamiltons, who, howsoever they may be carried for their
private respects, yet those things which they move will be allowed by all
reasonable persons. For if they may not, being noblemen of the realm, be
suffered to hear the Queen, their Sovereign, declare her mind concerning
the reports which are made of her by such as keep her in captivity, how
should they believe the reports, or obey them which do report it?"[125]

That Mary refused to return to her throne, unless Bothwell was placed upon
it beside her, is an assertion so ridiculous, that no time need be lost in
refuting it. That she may not have chosen to submit to an immediate
divorce from one whom all her nobility had recommended to her as a
husband, and by whom she might possibly have a child, is within the verge
of probability. She would naturally be anxious to avoid doing any thing
which would be equivalent with acknowledging her belief of his guilt, and
might have appeared to implicate her in the suspicion attached to him. She
had not married Bothwell till he had been judicially acquitted; and were
she to consent to be divorced from him before he was again tried, she
would seem to confess, that she had previously sanctioned a procedure
possessing the show of justice, without the substance.[126] There can be
no doubt, however, that if Bothwell's guilt had been distinctly proved to
her, and if she could have disunited herself from him without injury to
her reputation or her prospects, she would have been the very last person
to have objected either to see Darnley's death revenged, or herself freed
from an alliance into which she had been forced against her will.

But the Lords of Secret Council, conscious as they were of the injustice
of their proceedings, had gone too far to recede, and were determined not
to rest satisfied with any half-measures. On the 24th of July 1567, Lord
Lindsay and Sir Robert Melville (brother to Sir James), were commissioned
to pass to Loch-Leven, and to carry with them deeds or instruments of
abdication.[127] These instruments were three in number. By the first,
Mary was made to resign the Crown in favour of her son,--by the second, to
constitute the Earl of Murray Regent during his nonage,--and, by the
third, to appoint a Council to administer the Government until Murray's
return home, and, if he should refuse to accept of the regency, until her
son's majority. It was of course well known to the rebels, that the Queen
would not willingly affix her signature to deeds by which she was to
surrender all power, and to reduce herself at once to the station of a
subject, without receiving in return any promise of liberty, or the
enjoyment of a single worldly good. Yet they had the effrontery to aver,
that rather than submit to a separation from one with whom "she could not
have lived half-a-year to an end," she preferred becoming a landless and
crownless pensioner, on the bounty of such men as Morton and his

Were we to single out the day in Mary's whole life in which it might be
fairly concluded that she suffered the most intense mental anguish, we
should fix on the 25th of July 1567, the day on which the Commissioners
had their audience. Shut up in a gloomy edifice, which, though dignified
with the name of a castle, was little else than a square tower of three
stories; and instead of a numerous assemblage of obsequious nobles,
attended by only three or four female servants;--it must have required a
more than common spirit of queenly fortitude to support so great a reverse
of fortune.[128] But the misery of her situation was now to be increased a
hundred fold, by a blow the severest she had yet experienced. When the
report first reached her, that it was in contemplation to force her to
abdicate her crown, she indignantly refused to believe so lawless an
attempt possible. Mary had been all her life fond of power, and proud of
her illustrious birth and rank; and there were few subjects on which she
dwelt with greater pleasure, than her unsullied descent from a "centenary
line of kings." Was she now, without a struggle, to surrender the crown of
the Stuarts into the hands of the bastard Murray, or the blood-stained
Morton? Was she to submit to the bitter mockery, introduced in the very
preamble to the instrument of demission, which stated, that, ever since
her arrival in her realm, she had "employed her body, spirit, whole senses
and forces, to govern in such sort, that her royal and honourable estate
might stand and continue with her and her posterity, and that her loving
and kind lieges might enjoy the quietness of true subjects;" but that,
being now wearied with the fatigues of administration, she wished to lay
down her sceptre?[129] Even though prepared to lay it down, was she also
to countenance falsehood, and practise dissimulation?

When the commissioners arrived at Lochleven, Sir Robert Melville, knowing
that Lindsay was personally disagreeable to his Sovereign, came to her at
first alone. Opening to her his errand, and, addressing her with respect,
and professions of attachment (for she had often employed him before about
her person, or as her ambassador to foreign courts), he urged every
argument he could think of to persuade her to affix her signature to the
deeds. She listened to him with calm dignity and unshaken resolution. She
heard him describe the distracted state of Scotland--the impossibility of
ever prevailing on all parties to submit again to her sway--the virulence
of her enemies, and the apparent lukewarmness of her friends. She allowed
him to proceed from these more general topics, to others more intimately
connected with her own person. She listened to his assurance, that, if she
continued obstinate, it was determined to bring her to trial,--to blacken
her character, by accusing her of incontinency, not only with Bothwell,
but with others, and of the murder of her late husband, and, upon whatever
evidence, to condemn and execute her.[130] But she remained unmoved, and
preserved the same composure of manner, though not without many a secret
throb of pain, at the discovery of the utter ingratitude and perfidy of
those whom she had so often befriended and advanced. As a last expedient,
Melville produced a letter from Throckmorton, in which the ambassador
advised her to consult her personal safety, by consenting to an
abdication--a somewhat singular advice to be given by one who affected to
have come into Scotland for the express purpose of securing her
restoration to the throne.[131] But she only remarked on this letter, that
it convinced her of the insincerity of Elizabeth's promises of assistance.

Melville now saw that there was no alternative, and that Lindsay must be
called in to his assistance. Notorious for being one of the most
passionate men in Scotland, Lindsay burst into the Queen's presence, with
the instruments in his hands, and rage sparkling in his eyes. Mary, for
the first time, became agitated, for she recollected the evening of
Rizzio's murder, when Lindsay stood beside the gaunt form of Ruthven,
instigating him to the commission of that deed of cruelty. With fearful
oaths and imprecations, this unmannered barbarian, entitled to be called a
man only because he bore the external form of one, vowed, that unless she
subscribed the deeds without delay, he would sign them himself with her
blood, and seal them on her heart.[132] Mary had a bold and masculine
spirit; but, trembling under the prospect of immediate destruction, and
imagining that she saw Lindsay's dagger already drawn, she became
suddenly pale and motionless, and would have fallen in a swoon, had not a
flood of tears afforded her relief. Melville, moved perhaps to contrition
by the depth of her misery, whispered in her ear, that instruments signed
in captivity could not be considered valid, if she chose to revoke them
when she regained her liberty. This suggestion may have had some weight;
but almost before she had time to attend to it, Lindsay's passion again
broke forth, and, pointing to the lake which surrounded her confined
residence, he swore that it should become her immediate grave, if she
hesitated one moment longer. Driven to distraction, and scarcely knowing
what she did, Mary seized a pen, and without reading a line of the
voluminous writings before her, she affixed her name to each of them, as
legibly as her tears would permit. The Commissioners then took their
departure, secretly congratulating themselves, that, by a mixture of
cunning and ferocity, they had gained their end. Mary, no longer a Queen,
was left alone to the desolate solitude of her own gloomy thoughts.[133]

As soon as Lord Lindsay returned to Edinburgh, and notified the success of
his mission, it was determined by Morton and his associates that the
Prince should be crowned with as little delay as possible. Sir James
Melville, who was considered a moderate man by both parties, was sent to
the Lords at Hamilton, to invite their concurrence and presence on the
occasion. He was received courteously; but the nobility there would not
agree to countenance proceedings which they denounced as treasonable. On
the contrary, perceiving the turn which matters were about to take, they
retired from Hamilton to Dumbarton, where they prepared for more active
opposition. They signed a bond of mutual defence and assistance, in which
they declared, that owing to the state of captivity in which the Queen was
detained at Loch-Leven, her Majesty's subjects were prevented from having
free access to her, and that it therefore became their duty to endeavour
to procure her freedom, by all lawful means, however strong the opposition
that might be offered. This bond was signed by many persons of rank and
influence, among whom were the Archbishop of St Andrews, the Earls of
Argyle and Huntly, and the Lords Ross, Fleming, and Herries.[134]

On the 29th of July 1567, James was publicly crowned at Stirling. He was
anointed by Adam, Bishop of Orkney, in the parish church, and the Earl of
Morton took the oath of coronation in the Prince's name, who was little
more than a year old. On returning in procession to the Castle, the Earl
of Athol carried the crown, Morton the sceptre, Glencairn the sword, and
Mar the new made King. All public writs were thenceforth issued, and the
government was established, in the name and authority of James VI.[135]
The infant King was in the power of his mother's deadliest enemies; and of
course they resolved that neither her religion nor modes of thinking
should be transmitted to her son. Buchanan was appointed his principal
tutor, and if early precept can ever counteract natural affection, there
is good reason to suppose, that, together with her crown, the filial love
of her child was taken from Mary.

Only a few days after the coronation, the Earl of Murray returned to
Scotland. He came by the way of London, where he concocted his future
measures with Cecil and Elizabeth. He had some difficulty in fixing on the
course which would be most expedient for him to pursue. He knew that the
regency was about to be offered to him; but he also knew how unlawfully
his sister's abdication had been obtained, and that there was a strong
party in Scotland who were still bent on supporting her authority. Were he
at once to place himself at the head of a faction which might afterwards
turn out to be the weaker of the two, he incurred the risk of falling from
his temporary eminence lower than ever. He resolved therefore, with his
usual caution, to feel his way before he took any decisive step. Sir James
Melville was sent to meet him at Berwick; and from him he learned that
even Morton's Lords had by this time split into two parties, and that
while one-half were of opinion that Murray should accept of the regency
without delay, and give his approval to all that had been done in his
absence, the other, among whom were Mar, Athol, Lethington, Tullibardin,
and Grange, prayed him to bear himself gently and humbly towards the
Queen, and to get as much into her favour as possible, as her Majesty was
of "a clear wit, and princely inclination," and the time might come when
they would all wish her at liberty to rule over them.[136] Murray, who
adopted on this occasion Elizabeth's favourite maxim,--"_Video et taceo_,"
disclosed his mind to no one, until he ascertained for himself the precise
state of affairs, and of public feeling in Scotland.

To be the better informed, he determined on visiting the Queen personally
at Loch-Leven. He was accompanied by Athol, Morton, and Lindsay. When Mary
saw her brother, a crowd of recollections rushing into her mind, she burst
into tears, and it was some time before she could enter into conversation
with him. At length she desired that the others would retire, and they had
then a long private conference, of which the particulars are not fully
known. Mary had flattered herself that she might place some reliance on
Murray's affection and gratitude, but she had egregiously mistaken his
character. Having, by this time, secretly resolved to accept the regency
at all hazards, his only desire was to impress her with a belief, that he
assumed that office principally with the view of saving her from a severer
fate, and that he was actually conferring a favour on her by taking her
sceptre into his own hands. Reduced already to despair, the Queen
listened, with tears in her eyes, to Murray's representations, and at
length became convinced of his sincerity, and thanked him for his promises
of protection. Thus the Earl and his friends were able to give out, that
Mary confirmed, by word of mouth, what she had formerly signed with her
hand, and that she entreated her brother to accept the Government.[137]
Besides, if she were ever restored to the throne, she would not be
disposed to treat with severity one who had been artful enough to persuade
her, that, in usurping her authority, he was doing her a service.

On the 22d of August 1567, James, Earl of Murray, was proclaimed Regent;
and, in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, before the Justice Clerk and others, he
took the oaths, and accepted the charge. He first, however, made a long
discourse, in which, with overacted humility, he stated his own
insufficiency, and expressed a desire that the office had been conferred
on some more worthy nobleman.[138] But his scruples were easily conquered;
and, under the title of Regent, he became, in fact, King of Scotland,
until James VI. should attain the age of seventeen.[139] He proceeded to
establish himself in his Government by prudent and vigorous measures. He
made himself master of the Castles of Edinburgh and Dunbar, and other
places of strength; he contrived either to bring over to his own side, or
to overawe and keep quiet, most of the Queen's Lords; and he severely
chastised such districts as continued disaffected. A Parliament was
summoned in December, at which the imprisoning and dethroning of the Queen
were declared lawful, and, what is remarkable, the reason assigned for
these measures had never been hinted at before Murray's return,--that
there was certain proof that she was implicated in the murder of Darnley.
This proof was stated to consist in certain "private letters, written
wholly with the Queen's own hand." They were not produced at the time, but
will come to be examined more particularly afterwards. All that need be
remarked here, is the sudden change introduced by the Regent into the
nature of the allegations against Mary. It had been always given out
previously, that she was kept in Loch-Leven, because she evinced a
determination to be again united to Bothwell; but now, an entirely new and
more serious cause was assigned for her detention.[140]



With few comforts and no enjoyments, Mary remained closely confined in the
Castle of Loch-Leven. Her only resources were in herself, and in the
religion whose precepts she was ever anxious not only to profess, but to
practise. Though deprived of liberty and the delights of a court, she was
able to console herself with the reflection, that there is no prison for a
soul that puts its trust in its God, and that all the world belongs to one
who knows how to despise its vanities. Yet the misfortunes which had
overtaken her were enough to appal the stoutest heart. Her husband had
been murdered, she herself forced into an unwilling marriage, her kingdom
taken from her, her child raised up against her, her honour defamed, and
her person insulted,--all within the short space of four months. History
records few reverses so sudden and so complete. Many a masculine spirit
would have felt its energies give way under so dreadful a change of
fortune; and if Mary was able to put in practice the Roman maxim, _Ne
cedere malis, sed contra audentior ire_, it would be to exalt vice and
libel virtue to suppose, that she could have been inspired with strength
for so arduous a task by aught but her own integrity.

It was not these more serious calamities alone whose load she was doomed
to bear; there were many petty annoyances to which she was daily and
hourly subject. Margaret Erskine, the Lady of Loch-Leven, and widow of Sir
Robert Douglas, who fell at the battle of Pinkie one-and-twenty years
before, was a woman of a proud temper and austere disposition. Soured by
early disappointment, for, previous to her marriage with Sir Robert, she
had been one of the rejected mistresses of James V., she chose to indulge
her more malignant nature in continually exalting her illegitimate
offspring the Earl of Murray above his lawful Queen, now her prisoner. Her
servants, of course, took their tone from their mistress; and there was
one in particular, named James Drysdale, who held a place of some
authority in her household, and who, having had some concern in the murder
of Rizzio, and being a bigoted and unprincipled fanatic, entertained the
most deadly hatred against Mary, and had been heard to declare, that it
would give him pleasure to plunge a dagger into her heart's blood. This
savage probably succeeded in spreading similar sentiments among the other
domestics; and thus the Queen's very life seemed to hang upon the
prejudices and caprices of menials.[141]

But numerous and violent as Mary's enemies may have been, few could
remain near her person, without becoming ardently attached to her. Hence,
throughout all her misfortunes, her own immediate attendants continued
more than faithful. At Loch-Leven, it is true, although her rebellious
nobles had been willing to allow her a suitable train, the absence of
accommodation would have rendered their residence there impossible. One or
two female, and three or four male servants, were all, over whom Mary, the
Queen of Scotland, and Dowager of France, could now exercise the slightest
control. Of these, John Beaton was the individual upon whose assiduity she
placed most reliance. But the influence which the fascination of her
manners, and the beauty of her person, obtained for her, over two of the
younger branches of the House of Loch-Leven, made up for the want of many
of her former attendants. The persons alluded to were George Douglas, the
youngest son of Lady Douglas, about five-and-twenty years of age, and
William Douglas, an orphan youth of sixteen or seventeen, a relative of
the family, and resident in the Castle. So forcibly was George Douglas, in
particular, impressed with the injustice of Mary's treatment, that he
resolved on sparing no pains till he accomplished her escape; and his
friend William, though too young to be of equal service, was not less
ardent in the cause.[142] George commenced operations, by informing Mary's
friends in the adjoining districts of Scotland, of the design he had in
view, and establishing a communication with them. At his suggestion, Lord
Seaton, with a considerable party, arrived secretly in the neighbourhood
of Loch-Leven, and held themselves in readiness to receive the Queen as
soon as she should be able to find her way across the lake. Nor was it
long before Mary made an attempt to join her friends. On the 25th of March
1568, she had a glimpse of liberty so enlivening, that nothing could
exceed the bitterness of her disappointment. Suffering as she did, both in
health and spirits, she had contracted a habit of spending a considerable
part of the morning in bed. On the day referred to, her laundress came
into her room before she was up, when Mary, according to a scheme which
Douglas had contrived, immediately rose, and resigning her bed to the
washer-woman, dressed herself in the habiliments of the latter. With a
bundle of clothes in her hand, and a muffler over her face, she went out,
and passed down unsuspected to the boat which was waiting to take the
laundress across the lake. The men in it belonged to the Castle; but did
not imagine any thing was wrong, for some time. At length one of them
observing, that Mary was very anxious to keep her face concealed, said in
jest,--"Let us see what kind of a looking damsel this is;" and attempted
to pull away her muffler. The Queen put up her hands to prevent him, which
were immediately observed to be particularly soft and white, and a
discovery took place in consequence. Mary, finding it no longer of any
use, threw aside her disguise, and, assuming an air of dignity, told the
men that she was their Queen, and charged them upon their lives to row
her over to the shore. Though surprised and overawed, they resolutely
refused to obey, promising, however, that if she would return quietly to
the castle, they would not inform Sir William Douglas or his mother that
she had ever left it. But they promised more than they were able to
perform, for the whole affair was soon known, and George Douglas, together
with Beaton and Sempil, two of Mary's servants, were ordered to leave the
island, and took up their residence in the neighbouring village of

But neither the Queen nor her friends gave up hope. George Douglas
continued indefatigable, though separated from her; and William supplied
his place within the Castle, and acted with a degree of cautious and
silent enterprise beyond his years. It was probably in reference to what
might be done by him, that a small picture was secretly conveyed to Mary,
representing the deliverance of the lion by the mouse.[144] Little more
than a month elapsed from the failure of the first attempt, before another
was adventured, and with better success. On Sunday, the second of May,
about seven in the evening, William Douglas, when sitting at supper with
the rest of the family, managed to get into his possession the keys of the
Castle, which his relation, Sir William, had put down beside his plate on
the table. The young man immediately left the room with the prize, and,
locking the door of the apartment from without, proceeded to the Queen's
chamber, whom he conducted with all speed, through a little postern gate,
to a boat which had been prepared for her reception. One of her maids, of
the name of Jane Kennedy, lingered a few moments behind, and as Douglas
had locked the postern gate in the interval, she leapt from a window, and
rejoined her mistress without injury. Lord Seaton, James Hamilton of
Rochbank, and others who were in the neighbourhood, had been informed by a
few words which Mary traced with charcoal on one of her handkerchiefs, and
contrived to send to them, that she was about to make another effort to
escape, and were anxiously watching the arrival of the boat. Nor did they
watch in vain. Sir William Douglas and his retainers, were locked up in
their own castle; and the Queen, her maid, and young escort, had already
put off across the lake. It is said that Douglas, not being accustomed to
handle the oar, was making little or no progress, until Mary herself,
taking one into her own hands, lent him all the aid in her power. It was
not long before they arrived safely at the opposite shore, where Lord
Seaton, Hamilton, Douglas, Beaton, and the rest, received the Queen with
every demonstration of joyful loyalty. Little time was allowed, however,
for congratulations; they mounted her immediately upon horseback, and
surrounding her with a strong party, they galloped all night, and having
rested only an hour or two at Lord Seaton's house of Niddry, in West
Lothian, they arrived early next forenoon at Hamilton. Mary's first
tumultuous feelings of happiness, on being thus delivered from captivity,
can hardly be imagined by those who have never been deprived of the
blessing of liberty. It is fair, however, to state, that her happiness was
neither selfish nor exclusive; and it deserves to be recorded to her
honour, that till the very latest day of her life, she never forgot the
services of those who so essentially befriended her on this occasion. She
bestowed pensions upon both the Douglases,--the elder of whom, became
afterwards a favourite with her son James VI., and the younger is
particularly mentioned in Mary's last will and testament. Nor was the
faithful Beaton allowed to go unrewarded.[145]

The news that Mary was arrived at Hamilton, and that noblemen and troops
were flocking to her from all quarters, was so astounding, that the
Regent, who was not many miles off, holding courts of justice at Glasgow,
refused at first to credit the report. He would soon, however, (without
other evidence) have discovered its truth, from the very visible change
which took place even among those whom he had previously considered his
best friends. "A strange alteration," says Keith, "might be discovered in
the minds and faces of a great many; some slipped privately away, others
sent quietly to beg the Queen's pardon, and not a few went publicly over
to her Majesty." In this state of matters, Murray was earnestly advised to
retire to Stirling, where the young King resided; but he was afraid that
his departure from Glasgow might be considered a flight, which would at
once have animated his enemies and discouraged his friends. He, therefore,
resolved to continue where he was, making every exertion to collect a
sufficient force with as little delay as possible. He was not allowed to
remain long in suspense regarding Mary's intentions, for she sent him a
message in a day or two, requiring him to surrender his Regency and
replace her in her just government; and before the Earls, Bishops, Lords,
and others, who had now gathered round her, she solemnly protested, that
the instruments she had subscribed at Loch-Leven were all extorted from
her by fear. Sir Robert Melville, one of those who, in this new turn of
affairs, left Murray's party for the Queen's, gave his testimony to the
truth of this protest, as he had been a witness of the whole proceeding.
The abdication, therefore, was pronounced _ipso facto_ null and void; and
Murray having issued a proclamation, in which he refused to surrender the
Regency, both parties prepared for immediate hostilities. The principal
Lords who had joined the Queen, were Argyle, Huntly, Cassils, Rothes,
Montrose, Fleming, Livingston, Seaton, Boyd, Herries, Ross, Maxwell,
Ogilvy, and Oliphant. There were, in all, nine Earls, nine Bishops,
eighteen Lords, and many Barons and Gentlemen. In a single week, she
found herself at the head of an army of 6000 men. Hamilton, not being a
place of strength, they determined to march to Dumbarton, and to keep her
Majesty there peaceably, until she assembled a Parliament, which should
determine on the measures best suited for the safety of the common

On Thursday the 13th of May 1568, Murray was informed that the Queen with
her troops was on her way from Hamilton to Dumbarton, and would pass near
Glasgow. He instantly determined to intercept her on the road; for should
she reach Dumbarton, which was then, and had long been in the possession
of the Hamiltons, she would be comparatively beyond his reach, and would
have time to collect so great a strength, that she might once more chase
him out of Scotland. Besides, the loss of a battle, where the army on
either side consisted of only a few thousand men, though it might in all
probability be fatal to Mary, was not of so much consequence to the
Regent. He therefore assembled his troops, which mustered about 4000
strong, on the Green of Glasgow; and being informed that the Queen was
marching upon the south side of the Clyde, he crossed that river, and met
her at a small village called Langside, on the Water of Cart, about two
miles to the south of Glasgow. Mary was anxious to avoid a battle, for she
knew that Murray himself possessed no inconsiderable military talent, and
that Kircaldy of Grange, the best soldier in Scotland, was with him. But
party spirit ran so high, and the Hamiltons and the Lennoxes, in
particular, were so much exasperated against each other, that as soon as
they came within sight, it was evident that nothing but blows would
satisfy them. The main body of the Queen's army was under the command of
the Earl of Argyle; the van was led by Claud Hamilton, second son of the
Duke of Chatelherault; and the cavalry was under the conduct of Lord
Herries. The Earl of Huntly would have held a conspicuous place in the
battle, but he had set off from Hamilton a few days before to collect his
followers, and did not return till it was too late. Murray himself
commanded his main body, and the Earl of Morton the van; whilst to Grange
was intrusted the special charge of riding about over the whole field, and
making such alterations in the position of the battle as he deemed

Nothing now intervened between the two armies but a hill, of which both
were anxious to gain possession, the one marching from the east, and the
other from the west. It happened, however, that the ascent on the side
next Mary's troops was the steepest, and a stratagem suggested by Grange
secured the vantage-ground to the Regent. He ordered every man who was
mounted to take up a foot soldier behind him, and ride with all speed to
the top of the hill, where they were set down, and instantly formed into
line. Argyle was therefore obliged to take his position on a lesser hill,
over against that occupied by Murray. A cannonading commenced upon both
sides, and continued for about half an hour but without much effect. At
length, Argyle led his forces forward, and determined if possible to carry
the heights sword in hand. The engagement soon became general, and
advantages were obtained upon both sides. The Earl of Morton, who came
down the hill to meet Argyle, succeeded in driving back the Queen's
cannoneers and part of her infantry; whilst on the other hand, Lord
Herries, making a vigorous charge on Murray's cavalry, put them to rout.
Judiciously abstaining from a long pursuit, he returned to attack some of
the enemy's battalions of foot, but as he was obliged to advance directly
up hill, he was unable to make much impression on them. In the meantime,
with the view of obtaining more equal ground, Argyle endeavoured to lead
his troops round towards the west, and it was to counteract this movement
that the most desperate part of the engagement took place. All the forces
of both parties were gradually drawn off from their previous positions,
and the whole strength of the battle on either side was concentrated upon
this new ground. For half an hour the fortune of the day continued
doubtful; but at length the Queen's troops began to waver, and a
re-inforcement of two hundred Highlanders, which arrived just at the
fortunate moment for Murray, and broke in upon Argyle's flank, decided the
victory. The flight soon afterwards became general; and though the loss of
lives on the Queen's side did not exceed three hundred, a great number of
her best officers and soldiers were made prisoners.[147]

Mary had taken her station upon a neighbouring eminence to watch the
progress of the fight. Her heart beat high with a thousand hopes and
fears, for she was either to regain the crown of her forefathers, or to
become a fugitive and a wanderer she knew not where. It must have been
with emotions of no common kind, that her eye glanced from one part of the
field to another;--it must have been with throbbing brow and palpitating
heart, that she saw her troops either advance or retreat; and when at
length she beheld the goodly array she had led forth in the morning,
scattered over the country, and all the Lords who had attended her with
pride and loyalty, seeking safety in flight, no wonder if she burst into a
passion of tears, and lamented that she had ever been born. But the
necessity of the moment fortunately put a check to this overwhelming
ebullition of her feelings. With a very small retinue of trusty friends,
among whom was the Lord Herries, she was quickly hurried away from the
scene of her disasters. She rode off at full speed, taking a southerly
direction towards Galloway, because from thence she could secure a passage
either by sea or land into England or France. She never stopped or closed
her eyes till she reached Dundrennan, an abbey about two miles from
Kirkcudbright, and at least sixty from the village of Langside.[148]

She remained two days at Dundrennan, and there held several anxious
consultations with the few friends, who had either accompanied her in her
flight, or who joined her afterwards. Lord Herries, her principal adviser,
gave it as his decided opinion, that she ought to sail immediately for
France, where she had relations on whose affection she could depend, even
though they should not be able to secure her restoration to the throne of
Scotland. But Mary could not brook the idea of returning as a fugitive to
a country she had left as a Queen; and besides, had she placed herself
under the protection of Catholics, she might have exasperated her own
subjects, and would certainly have displeased Elizabeth and the people of
England. She was disposed also to place some reliance on the assurances of
friendship she had lately received from the English Queen. She was well
aware of the hollowness of most of Elizabeth's promises; but in her
present extremity, she thought that to cross the sea would be to resign
her crown forever. After much hesitation, she finally determined on going
into England, and desired Herries to write to Elizabeth's Warden at
Carlisle, to know whether she might proceed thither. Without waiting for
an answer, she rode to the coast on Sunday the 16th of May, and with
eighteen or twenty persons in her train, embarked in a fishing-boat, and
sailed eighteen miles along the shore, till she came to the small harbour
of Workington, in Cumberland. Thence she proceeded to the town of
Cockermouth, about twenty-six miles from Carlisle. Lord Scroope, the
Warden on these frontiers, was at this time in London; but his deputy, a
gentleman of the name of Lowther, having sent off an express to the Court,
to intimate the arrival of the Queen of Scots, assembled, on his own
responsibility, the men of rank and influence in the neighbourhood, and
having come out to meet the Queen, conducted her honourably to the Castle
of Carlisle, with the assurance, that, until Elizabeth's pleasure was
known, he would protect her from all her enemies.

As soon as the important news reached Elizabeth, that Mary was now within
her dominions, and consequently at her disposal, she perceived that the
great end of all her intrigues was at length achieved. It was necessary,
however, to proceed with caution, for she did not yet know either the
precise strength of Mary's party in Scotland, or the degree of interest
which might be taken by France in her future fate. She, therefore,
immediately despatched Lord Scroope, and Sir Francis Knollys her
Vice-Chamberlain, to Carlisle, with messages of comfort and condolence.
Mary, who anxiously waited their arrival, anticipated that they would
bring consolatory assurances. Her spirits began to revive, and she was
willing to believe that Elizabeth would prove her friendship by deeds, as
well as by words. But this delusion was destined to be of only momentary



If there had been a single generous feeling still lurking in Elizabeth's
bosom, the time was now arrived when it should have discovered itself.
Mary was no longer a rival Queen, but an unfortunate sister, who, in her
hour of distress, had thrown herself into the arms of her nearest
neighbour and ally. During her imprisonment in Scotland, Elizabeth had
avowed her conviction of its injustice; and, if it was unjust that her own
subjects should retain her in captivity, it would of course be much more
iniquitous in one who had no right to interfere with her affairs, and who
had already condemned such conduct in others. If it was too much to expect
that the English Queen would supply her with money and arms, to enable her
to win back the Crown she had lost, it was surely not to be doubted that
she would either allow her to seek assistance in France, or, if she
remained in England, would treat her with kindness and hospitality. All
these hopes were fallacious; for, "with Elizabeth and her counsellors,"
as Robertson has justly observed, "the question was, not what was most
just or generous, but what was most beneficial to herself and the English

On the 29th of May 1568, Lord Scroope and Sir Francis Knollys arrived at
Carlisle. They were met at some little distance from the town by Lord
Herries, who told them, that what the Queen his mistress most desired, was
a personal interview with Elizabeth. But they had been instructed to
answer, that they doubted whether her Majesty could receive the Queen of
Scots, until her innocence from any share in the murder of her husband was
satisfactorily established.[150] Thus, the ground which Elizabeth had
resolved to take was at once discovered. She was to affect to treat the
Scottish Queen with empty civility, whilst in reality she detained her a
prisoner, until she had arranged with Murray the precise accusation which
was to be brought against her, and which, if it succeeded in blackening
her character, might justify subsequent severities. Mary could not at
first believe that she would be treated with so much treachery; but
circumstances occurred every day to diminish her confidence in the good
intentions of the English Queen. Under the pretence that there was too
great a concourse of strangers from Scotland, Lord Scroope and Sir Francis
Knollys ordered the fortifications of Carlisle Castle to be repaired, and
Mary was not allowed to ride out to any distance. The most distinguished
of the few friends who were now with her, and who remained faithful to
her to the end of her life, were Lesley, Bishop of Ross,--the Lords
Herries, Livingston, and Fleming, and George and William Douglas. She had
also her two secretaries, Curl and Nawe, who afterwards betrayed her,--and
among other servants, Beaton, and Sebastian the Frenchman; there were
likewise the Ladies Livingston and Fleming, Mary Seaton, Lord Seaton's
daughter, and other female attendants.[151]

Mary's first interview with the envoys from Elizabeth, prepossessed them
both in her favour. "We found her," they said, "to have an eloquent tongue
and a discreet head, and it seems by her doings, that she has stout
courage, and a liberal heart adjoined thereto." When they told her that
the Queen, their mistress, refused to admit her to her presence, Mary
burst into tears, and expressed the bitterest disappointment. Checking her
grief, however, and assuming a tone of becoming dignity, she said, that if
she did not receive without delay, the aid she had been induced to expect,
she would immediately demand permission to pass into France, where she did
not doubt she would obtain what the English Queen denied.[152] In the
meantime, as she was not allowed to proceed to London herself, she
despatched Lord Herries to superintend her interests there; and shortly
afterwards, it being represented to her that her person was not in safety
so long as she continued so near the Borders, she consented to be removed
further into England, and was conveyed to Bolton Castle, a seat of Lord
Scroope, in the North Riding of Yorkshire.[153]

The Regent Murray, on his part, was any thing but inactive. He forced the
Earl of Huntly, who had collected upwards of 2000 men, and was marching to
the Queen's assistance when he heard of the unfortunate battle of
Langside, to retire to the North, and disband the greater part of his
troops; he put to flight the remains of the Queen's army, which had been
again gathered by Argyle and Cassils; and, assembling a Parliament, he
procured acts of forfeiture and banishment against many of the most
powerful Lords of the opposite party. Elizabeth, perceiving his success,
had no desire to check the progress of his usurped authority, whatever
professions to the contrary she chose to make to Mary. On the 8th of June,
she wrote Murray a letter, in which she addressed him as her "right
trusty, and right well-beloved cousin;" told him falsely that the Queen of
Scots had confided to her the examination of the differences between
herself and her subjects; and advised him to take such steps as would
place his own side of the question in the most favourable point of view.
Murray had no objection to make Elizabeth the umpire between himself and
his sister, well assured that she would ultimately decide in his favour,
lest the rival, whom she had once found so formidable, should again become
a source of jealousy and alarm.

But Mary had never dreamt of appealing to Elizabeth as to a judge, and she
now learned with indignation that her rebellious nobles were to be
encouraged to come before that Queen on the same footing with herself.
When she asked for a personal interview, it was that she might speak to
her cousin as to a friend and equal, of the wrongs she had suffered. She
had voluntarily undertaken to satisfy the English Queen, as soon as they
conversed together, of her innocence from all the charges which had been
brought against her; but she was not to degrade herself by entering into a
controversy with her subjects regarding these charges. Accordingly, as
soon as she discovered Elizabeth's insidious policy, she addressed a
letter to her, in which she openly protested against it. The letter was in
French, and to the following effect:--

"Madam, my good sister, I came into your dominions to ask your assistance,
and not to save my life. Scotland and the world have not renounced me. I
was conscious of innocence; I was disposed to lay all my transactions
before you; and I was willing to do you honour, by making you the
restorer of a Queen. But you have afforded me no aid, and no consolation.
You even deny me admittance to your presence. I escaped from a prison, and
I am again a captive. Can it expose you to censure, to hear the complaints
of the unfortunate? You received my bastard brother when he was in open
rebellion; I am a Princess, and your equal, and you refuse me this
indulgence. Permit me then to leave your dominions. Your severity
encourages my enemies, intimidates my friends, and is most cruelly
destructive to my interests. You keep me in fetters, and allow my enemies
to conquer my realm. I am defenceless; and they enjoy my authority,
possess themselves of my revenues, and hold out to me the points of their
swords. In the miserable condition to which I am reduced, you invite them
to accuse me. Is it too small a misfortune for me to lose my kingdom? Must
I, also, be robbed of my integrity and my reputation? Excuse me, if I
speak without dissimulation. In your dominions I will not answer to their
calumnies and criminations. To you, in a personal conference, I shall at
all times be ready to vindicate my conduct; but to sink myself into a
level with my rebellious subjects, and to be a party in a suit or trial
with them, is an indignity so vile, that I can never submit to it. I can
die, but I cannot meet dishonour. Consult, I conjure you, what is right
and proper, and entitle yourself to my warmest gratitude; or, if you are
inclined not to know me as a sister, and to withhold your kindness,
abstain at least from rigour and injustice. Be neither my enemy nor my
friend; preserve yourself in the coldness of neutrality; and let me be
indebted to other princes for my re-establishment in my kingdom."[154]

Unmoved by the forcible representations contained in this and other
letters, Elizabeth resolved to treat the Queen of Scots only with greater
severity than before, in the hope of intimidating her into a compliance
with her wishes. It was with this view that she had removed her to Bolton,
where she took care that she should be strictly guarded, and not allowed
to hold any intercourse with the loyal part of her Scottish subjects. Lord
Fleming, too, whom Mary wished to send as her ambassador to France, was
stopped; and she was given distinctly to understand, that she must not
expect any of her commands to be obeyed, unless they met with Elizabeth's
approval. The English Privy Council, of course, sanctioned their
Sovereign's severity; and gave it as their opinion, that, until an inquiry
had taken place into the whole conduct of the Scottish Queen, it would not
be consistent with the honour or safety of the realm to afford her the aid
she required. The result of all these machinations,--a result which
Elizabeth contrived to bring about with the most consummate art,--was,
that Mary agreed to nominate Commissioners to meet the Earl of Murray and
the Lords associated with him, and to authorize them, before Commissioners
to be appointed by Elizabeth, to state the grievances of which their
mistress, the Queen of Scots, complained. Murray approved of this
arrangement, because he foresaw from the first how it would end; and Mary
consented to it, because she was led to believe, that Murray and his
accomplices were summoned solely that they might answer to her complaints.
Well aware that their answer could not be satisfactory, she fondly
imagined that she would soon be restored to the power they had usurped.

The important _Conference_, as it was termed, between the three sets of
Commissioners, was appointed to be held at York. Mary's Commissioners were
Lesley, Bishop of Ross, the Lords Herries, Livingston, and Boyd, Gavin
Hamilton, Commendator of Kilwinning, Sir John Gordon of Lochinvar, and Sir
James Cockburn of Stirling.[155] Murray associated with himself the Earl
of Morton, Bothwell, Bishop of Orkney, Pitcairn, Commendator of
Dunfermlin, and Lord Lindsay. Macgill and Balnaves, two civilians,
Buchanan, whose pen was always at the Regent's command "through good
report and bad report," Secretary Maitland, and one or two others, came
with them as legal advisers and literary assistants.[156] On the part of
Elizabeth, the Commissioners were Thomas Howard Duke of Norfolk, Thomas
Ratcliffe Earl of Sussex, and Sir Ralph Sadler; and they were invested
with full authority to arrange all the differences and controversies
existing between her "dear sister and cousin, Mary Queen of Scots," and
James Earl of Murray.[157]

On the 4th of October 1568, the conference was opened with much solemnity
at York. "The great abilities of the deputies on both sides," observes
Robertson, "the dignity of the judges before whom they were to appear, the
high rank of the persons whose cause was to be heard, and the importance
of the points in dispute, rendered the whole transaction no less
illustrious than it was singular. The situation in which Elizabeth
appeared on this occasion, strikes us with an air of magnificence. Her
rival, an independent queen, and the heir of an ancient race of monarchs,
was a prisoner in her hands, and appeared, by her ambassadors, before her
tribunal. The Regent of Scotland, who represented the Majesty, and
possessed the authority of a king, stood in person at her bar, and the
fate of a kingdom, whose power her ancestors had often dreaded, but could
never subdue, was now absolutely at her disposal." It may, however, be
remarked, that the "magnificence" of power depends, in a great degree, on
the manner in which that power has been acquired; and when it is
recollected that, by secretly and diligently fomenting civil disturbances
in Scotland, Elizabeth first attacked Mary's peace, and then undermined
her authority, and that, having subsequently assumed the mask of a friend,
only to conceal the scowl of an enemy, she had forcibly arrogated the rank
of a judge, her "air of magnificence" is discovered to be little else than

The "Instructions" given to her Commissioners, are of themselves
sufficient to show that her desire was not to extinguish, but to encourage
animosities between the Queen of Scots and her subjects. She had
previously assured Mary, in order to induce her to send Commissioners to
York at all, that so far from intending to use any form or process by
which her subjects should become her accusers, "she meant rather to have
such of them, as the Queen of Scots should name, called into the realm, to
be charged with such crimes as the said Queen should please to object
against them; _and if any form of judgment should be used, it should be
against them_."[158] But as soon as she had persuaded Mary, by these
specious promises, to come into Court, she resolved to alter the features
of the cause. She instructed her Commissioners to listen particularly to
the requests and complaints of the Earl of Murray, and to assure him
privately, that if he could prove Mary to have been implicated in her
husband's murder, she should never be restored to the throne. Nay, she
went further; she desired it to be intimated to the Regent, that even
though he could not prove Mary's guilt, yet, that if he could attach
sufficient suspicion to her, it would be left to himself and his friends
to determine under what conditions they would again consent to receive her
into Scotland. This was as much encouragement as Murray could desire; for
he knew that, by artifice and effrontery, a shade of suspicion might be
made to attach itself even to the most perfect. Mary's Commissioners, on
the other hand, though doubting much the impartiality of the party which
was to arbitrate between them, felt strong in the justice of their cause;
and after protesting that their appearance was not to be construed as
implying any surrender of her independence on the part of their mistress,
or of feudal inferiority to the Crown of England, they proceeded to give
in their complaint. It contained a short review of the injuries the Queen
of Scots had suffered since her marriage with Bothwell;--of the rebellion
of Morton and others,--of her voluntary surrender at Carberry Hill,--of
her imprisonment in Loch-Leven,--of the abdication that had been forced
from her,--of the coronation of her infant son, and the assumed regency of
the Earl of Murray,--of her defeat at Langside,--and of the undutiful
conduct in which the Regent had since persevered.[159]

To this complaint it was answered, at great length, by Murray, that the
Earl of Bothwell having forcibly carried off the person of the Queen to
the Castle of Dunbar, and kept her there a prisoner for some time, had, in
the end, suddenly accomplished "a pretended marriage," which, confirming
the nobility in the belief that the Earl was the chief author of the
murder of the King, made them determine to take up arms to relieve those
who were unjustly calumniated, and to rescue the Queen from the bondage of
a tyrant, who had presumptuously attempted to ravish and marry her, though
he could neither be her lawful husband, nor she his lawful wife;--that
Bothwell came against these nobility, "leading the Queen in his company,
as a defence and cloak to his wickedness;" but that, as the quarrel was
intended only against him, the Queen was received by the nobles, and led
by them into Edinburgh, as soon as she consented to part from the
Earl;--that she was then requested to agree that the murderers should be
punished, and that the pretended marriage into which she had been led,
should be dissolved;--that to this request she only answered, by
rigorously menacing all who had taken up arms in her cause, and declaring
she would surrender her realm altogether, "so she might be suffered to
possess the murderer of her husband;"--that, perceiving the inflexibility
of her mind, they had been compelled to "sequestrate her person" for a
season;--that, during this time, she had voluntarily renounced the
Government, finding herself wearied by its fatigues, and perceiving that
she and her people could not well agree; and that she had appointed,
during the minority of her son, the Earl of Murray Regent of the realm,
and that every thing he had done since had been in accordance with the
legal authority with which she had thus invested him;--and that he
therefore required, in behalf of his Sovereign Lord the King, to be
allowed peaceably to enjoy and govern the country.[160]

The "Reply" of Mary's Commissioners, to this feeble and disingenuous
"Answer" of the Earl of Murray, was quite as candid as it was conclusive.
It was stated for Mary, that, so far from having been aware, at the time
of her marriage, that Bothwell was "known," or "affirmed," to be the
"chief author" of the horrible murder committed on her late husband, she
had seen him solemnly acquitted of all suspicion by a regular trial,
according to the laws of the realm, and that most of her principal
nobility had solicited her to accept of him as a husband, promising him
service, and her Highness loyal obedience,--not one of them, either before
or after the marriage, having warned her to avoid it, or expressed their
discontent with it, till they suddenly appeared in arms;--that, at
Carberry Hill, she willingly parted with Bothwell, as they themselves had
seen; but that, if he were in truth guilty of the crimes imputed to him,
which she did not then believe, they were to blame for permitting him to
escape;--that, upon being taken into Edinburgh, where they had promised to
reverence her as their Queen, she found herself treated as their
captive;--that, so far from showing any persevering attachment to
Bothwell, she repeatedly declared it to be her wish, that the estates of
the realm should examine into all the charges which had been made against
him;--that, notwithstanding, she had been forcibly carried off under shade
of night, and imprisoned against her will in the Castle of Loch-Leven,
where she was afterwards made to subscribe instruments of abdication, only
through the fear of present death;--that, consequently, the pretended
coronation of her son was an unlawful and treasonable proceeding, and the
pretended nomination of the Earl of Murray as Regent, a proof of itself
that force and fraud had been used; for, even supposing she had been
willing to abdicate, if she had been left to her own free choice, there
were others whom she would have preferred to appoint to the chief rule
during her son's minority;--that, therefore, she required the Queen of
England to support and fortify her in the peaceable enjoyment and
government of her realm, and to declare the pretended authority usurped by
others null from the beginning.[161]

"So far," says Hume, "the Queen of Scots seemed plainly to have the
advantage in the contest; and the English Commissioners might have been
surprised, that Murray had made so weak a defence." The truth is, that not
only were the English Commissioners surprised, but the Regent himself felt
painfully conscious, that he had entirely failed to offer even a plausible
pretext for the dethronement of his sister, and his own usurpation.
Elizabeth also, anxious as she was to befriend him, saw that she would be
imperatively required, by every principle of justice and good government,
to take measures against him, were the discussion allowed to terminate at
the point to which it had now been brought. Means were therefore taken to
inform Murray, that unless he was able to strengthen his case, and to
bring his charges more directly home, the matter would in all probability
go against him. Upon this the Regent held a consultation with his friends,
Maitland and Buchanan, and the necessity of bringing into play a new
device, which had been prepared as a corps-de-reserve, was by all of them
felt and acknowledged. Though no evidence had been adduced against her,
Mary had already been accused by her brother of having had a share in the
murder of Darnley. But as the charge was made soon after his return from
France, it was strongly suspected to have been invented only to justify
himself for retaining her in Loch-Leven. Now, however, seeing the
emergency of his affairs, he determined that something like evidence of
its truth should be produced. This evidence consisted of a collection of
certain letters and sonnets, alleged to be in the Queen's own hand, and
addressed to the Earl of Bothwell, containing passages which testified at
once her love for him, and her guilt towards Darnley. But here the
question very naturally occurs, why these important documents should not
have been brought forward in the earlier part of the conference; and as
Robertson, in endeavouring to account for the delay, appears to have
fallen into a mistake, it will be worth while examining, for a moment, the
soundness of his hypothesis.

The Duke of Norfolk, Elizabeth's principal Commissioner, was one of the
most powerful of all her nobility, and, since Mary's arrival in England,
he had formed the ambitious project of ascending the Scottish throne by
means of a marriage with her. With this view, he had already engaged
extensively in secret intrigues, and had, in particular, prevailed on
Lethington to approve of his plans, and promise him his support. But
Robertson asserts further, that soon after his arrival at York, he won
over Murray also to his views, and persuaded him to keep back, for a time,
the heaviest part of his accusation against Mary, that her character might
not be so fatally blackened. The historian's assertion, however, is
unsupported by the evidence he adduces in its favour, his references to
Anderson, to Goodall, and to his own Appendix, being quite unsatisfactory.
Whatever promises Murray may, at a subsequent date, have made to Norfolk,
it clearly appears that no charge against Mary was delayed one hour at
York, in consequence of any understanding between these two noblemen.

It had been all along the Regent's determination, not to have recourse to
the letters, if he could make out a case without them; and even after he
perceived that he would require their aid, he did not produce them openly,
till they had been first shown privately to the English Commissioners, and
their opinion obtained concerning them. It was on the 4th of October that
the conference commenced; and on the 10th, Lethington, Macgill, and
Buchanan, in a secret interview with Norfolk, Sussex, and Sadler, laid
before them the mysterious documents. The nature of their contents was
communicated to Elizabeth on the 11th, and she was requested to mention in
reply, whether, when publicly adduced and authenticated, they would be
sufficient to secure Mary's condemnation. Murray, therefore, cannot at
this time, have entered into any agreement with the Duke of Norfolk; for,
so far from keeping back his box-full of letters, he was nervously anxious
to ascertain, as speedily as possible, whether Elizabeth would attach any
weight to them, or allow them to be branded as palpable forgeries. Had
Robertson attended a little more to dates, he would have discovered, that
so far from wishing to favour the views of the Duke of Norfolk, Murray
informed Elizabeth regarding the letters and their contents, on the very
day on which he gave in his first "Answer" to Mary's Commissioners. Nor
had these letters been entirely unheard of till now; for, though they had
never been exhibited, they had been expressly alluded to nearly a year
before, in an act published by the Lords of Secret Council, on the 4th of
December 1567, in which it was asserted, that by the discovery of certain
of the Queen's private letters, sent by her to the Earl of Bothwell, it
was "most certain that she was art and part of the actual device and deed
of the murder of the King."[162] The same assertion was subsequently
repeated, founded upon the same alleged proof, in one of the Acts of the
Parliament called by Murray. The only legitimate conclusion therefore to
be drawn from his unwillingness to bring forward these letters at York,
and make good, by their means the sole charge against the Queen which
could justify his usurpation of her authority, is, that he was afraid to
expose such fabrications to the eye of day, until he should have received
Elizabeth's assurance that she would treat them with becoming
consideration, and assign to them an air of importance, even though
forgery, with brazen audacity, was stamped upon their face.[163]

As soon as Elizabeth heard of the letters, and reflected on the turn which
they might give to the case, she determined on taking the whole of the
proceedings under her own immediate superintendence, and with this view
removed the conference from York to Westminster. To the Commissioners
previously appointed, she there added the Earls of Arundel and Leicester,
Lord Clinton, Sir Nicolas Bacon, and Sir William Cecil. Mary at first
expressed satisfaction at this new arrangement, but several circumstances
soon occurred which proved, that no favour was intended to her by the
change. That which galled her most, was the marked attention paid to the
Earl of Murray. Though Elizabeth refused Mary a personal interview, she
admitted her rebellious brother to that honour, and thus glaringly
deviated from the impartiality which ought to have been observed by an
umpire. Accordingly, the Queen of Scots commanded her Commissioners, the
Bishop of Ross and Lord Herries, to complain of this injustice. Not to be
received into Elizabeth's presence, she could regard in no other light but
as an assumption of superiority,--a parade of rigid righteousness,--and an
affected dread of contamination, which, whilst it was meant to imply the
purity of the maiden Queen, aimed at exciting suspicion of the purity of
another. Continuing to believe that her Scottish rebels had been called
before the English Commissioners at her instance, Mary had consented that
her representatives should proceed from York to Westminster, to make her
complaints as a free Sovereign. In her instructions to the Bishop of Ross,
and those associated with him, she expressly told them, that the
conference was appointed "only for making a pacification between her and
her rebellious subjects, and restoring her to her realm and authority."
She never lost sight of the fact, that she did not appeal to Elizabeth as
a suppliant, but as an equal; and she always took care to preserve high
and dignified ground. But to depart from this, and before the tribunal of
Hampton Court, in which such men as Cecil were able to procure any
decision they chose, to undertake to answer every calumnious charge which
might be brought against her, never entered into her imagination. "It is
not unknown to us," she wrote to her Commissioners from Bolton, "how
hurtful and prejudicial it would be to us, our posterity and realm, to
enter into foreign judgment or arbitrement before the Queen our good
sister, her Council, or Commissioners, either for our estate, Crown,
dignity or honour;--we will and command you, therefore, that you pass to
the presence of our said dearest sister, her Council and Commissioners,
and there, in our name, extend our clemency toward our disobedient
subjects, and give them appointment for their offences committed against
us and our realm,--so that they may live, in time coming, in surety under
us their head."--"And, in case they will otherwise proceed, then we will
and command you to dissolve this present diet and negotiation, and proceed
no further therein, for the causes foresaid."[164]

It may well be conceived, therefore, that when Mary heard of Elizabeth's
kind and familiar treatment of the Earl of Murray, "the principal of her
rebels," she was not a little indignant. She immediately sent word to her
Commissioners, that, before proceeding a step further in the negotiation,
she considered it right that she should be put on at least an equal
footing with the pretended Regent,--for she did not choose that greater
respect should be shown to her rebels than to her and her true subjects.
There were other three points, of which she thought she had also just
cause to complain. _First_, that though she had come into England on the
assurance of friendship, and of her own free will, she had not only seen
no steps taken to restore her to her realm and authority, but had most
unexpectedly found herself detained a prisoner, and her confinement
rendered closer every day;--_second_, that though, at Elizabeth's request,
she had desired her loyal subjects in Scotland to abstain from
hostilities, yet the Earl of Murray had not been prevented from molesting
and invading them;--and, _third_, that having already established the
utter groundlessness of the charges brought against her, instead of
finding herself reinstated on her throne, the conference had been merely
removed to a greater distance, where she could not communicate with her
Commissioners so frequently and speedily as was necessary. In
consideration of these premises, and especially in consideration of the
treatment of the Earl of Murray, "you shall break the conference," she
continued, "and proceed no further therein, but take your leave, and come
away. And if our sister allege that, at the beginning, she were content
our cause should be conferred on by Commissioners, it is true. But since
our principal rebels have free access towards her to accuse us in her
presence, and the same is denied to us, personally to declare our
innocence, and answer to their calumnies, being held as prisoner, and
transported from place to place, though we came into her realm, of our
free will, to seek her support and natural amity, we have resolved to have
nothing further conferred on, except we be present before her, as the said

In the mean time, before these letters arrived, the Commissioners had held
several sittings at Westminster; and Elizabeth having personally informed
Murray, that if he would accuse the Queen of Scots of a share in the
murder of Darnley, and produce the letters he had in his possession, she
would authorize his continuance in the Regency, he no longer hesitated. On
the 26th of November, after protesting that he had been anxious to save,
as long as possible, the mother of his gracious King, James VI., from the
perpetual infamy which the discovery of her shame would attach to her, and
that he was now forced to disclose it, in his own defence, because it was
maintained, that his previous answer to the complaint made against him was
not sufficient, Murray, in conjunction with his colleagues, presented to
the English Commissioners an "Eik" or addition to their "Answer," in which
they formally charged Mary with the murder. As to the reluctance so
hypocritically avowed, it has been already seen, that so far back as
December 1567, precisely the same charge, though unsupported by any
evidence, was brought forward in the Scottish Parliament; and having then
served its purpose, was allowed to lie dormant for eleven months. It is
true, that there was then, no less than now, a palpable contradiction
between this accusation, and the grounds which had always previously been
assigned, both for Mary's "sequestration" in Loch-Leven, and her alleged
voluntary abdication. It was not till the public mind had been inflamed,
and till opposing interests contributed to involve the truth in obscurity,
that the notorious fact was denied or concealed, that Mary had been forced
into an unwilling marriage with Bothwell, and that her abduction, and
imprisonment in the Castle of Dunbar, were themselves an answer to any
suspicion, that she was one of his accomplices in Darnley's slaughter. But
now that Mary was a prisoner, in the hands of a jealous rival, the Regent
naturally supposed, that some contradictions would be overlooked; and all
at once, assuming a tone of the utmost confidence, and undertaking "to
manifest the naked truth," he ventured on couching his assertion in these
terms:--"It is certain, and we boldly and constantly affirm, that as
James, some time Earl of Bothwell, was the chief executor of the horrible
and unworthy murder, perpetrated in the person of King Henry, of good
memory, father to our Sovereign Lord, and the Queen's lawful husband,--so
was she of the fore-knowledge, counsel, and device, persuader and
commander of the said murder to be done, maintainer and fortifier of the
executors thereof, by impeding and stopping of the inquisition and
punishment due for the same, according to the laws of the realm, and,
consequently, by marriage with the said James, some time Earl Bothwell,
dilated and universally esteemed chief author of the above named
murder."[166] In support of this new charge, the letters and other
documents were referred to, and it was promised to produce them as soon as
they were called for.

Before they were able to inform their mistress of the unexpected turn
which affairs had taken, Mary's Commissioners received her instructions
from Bolton, to proceed no further in the conference. They therefore
stated to Elizabeth, that though they were heartily sorry to perceive
their countrymen, with a view to colour their unjust and ungrateful
doings, had committed to writing a charge of so shameful a sort, they
nevertheless could not condescend to answer it, having begun the
conference at York as plaintives, and having afterwards found their
relative positions altered, Murray being admitted into her Majesty's
presence, to advance his calumnious falsehoods, and Mary being expected to
defend herself against them, though kept in imprisonment at a distance. At
the same time, according to Mary's commands, they said that, although the
proceedings of the Regent were altogether intolerable and injurious, they
would not yet dissolve the conference, provided their mistress were
permitted to appear in her own person before the Queen of England and her
nobility.[167] To this request Elizabeth would not agree. Her real motive
was the fear of truth; that which she assigned was sufficiently
preposterous. "As to your desire," she said to Mary's Commissioners, "that
your Sovereign should come to my presence to declare her innocence in this
cause, you will understand, that from the beginning why she was debarred
therefrom, was through the bruit and slander that was passed upon her,
that she was participant of such a heinous crime as the murder of her
husband; and I thought it best for your mistress's weal and honour, and
also for mine own, that trial should be taken thereof before her coming to
me; _for I could never believe, nor yet will, that ever she did assent
thereto_."[168] If Elizabeth had been anxious to see justice done, she
could very easily have overcome the squeamish dread of being brought into
contact with Mary, the more especially as she arrogated for herself the
superior character of judge, as it was only "bruit and slander" that
implicated her "dearest sister," and as she did not, according to her own
confession, believe her guilty, _even after she had been informed of the
existence of the love-letters, and made acquainted with their contents_.
Both parties, however, continuing alike resolute, the Commissioners of the
Queen of Scots intimated, that in so far as they were concerned, the
conference might be considered closed.

It is here of some importance to point out, that both Robertson and Hume
have deduced an argument against Mary, from their own erroneous manner of
stating the proceedings of the conference at Westminster. According to the
narrative of both these historians, the reader is led to believe, that
Mary was perfectly willing to go on till the moment that Murray accused
her of being a sharer in Darnley's murder, but that, as soon as this
charge was made, she drew back as if afraid to meet it. Robertson and Hume
would have themselves discovered how unfair this view of the matter was,
had they taken the trouble to attend to the dates of the documents
connected with the transaction. By these they would have seen, that Mary
refused to proceed on the 22d of November 1568, unless admitted equally
with the Earl of Murray into Elizabeth's presence, and that Murray's
accusation was not produced till the 26th.[169] Thus so far from
"recoiling from the inquiry at the critical moment," as Hume expresses it,
she did not hesitate to proceed until she had rebutted every thing which
had been advanced against her, and stood on even higher ground than
before. It will besides be immediately found, that notwithstanding her
previous determination to the contrary, she was no sooner informed of the
existence of letters alleged to have been written by her to Bothwell, than
she was willing to enter into a proof of their authenticity.

It would not have suited Elizabeth's views to allow the contending parties
to slip through her fingers, before arriving at any definite conclusion.
She therefore fell upon an expedient by which she hoped, although the
Queen of Scots had withdrawn from the conference, and it consequently
should have been considered at an end, to attach to her so great a degree
of suspicion, that she might safely detain her from her own realm. She
ordered Murray and his colleagues to be called before her Commissioners;
and the scene having been arranged before-hand with them, she commanded
the Regent to be rebuked for accusing his native Sovereign of a crime so
horrible, that if it could be proved true, she would be infamous to all
princes in the world. The Regent readily answered, that finding he had
displeased her Majesty, he had no objections to show the Commissioners "a
collection made in writing of the presumptions and circumstances" by which
he had been guided in the charge he had advanced against Mary, and which
would satisfy them that it had not been made without due grounds and
consideration. This was all that Elizabeth wished. In however glaring a
point of view it placed her injustice, she rejoiced that Mary's
Commissioners were no longer attending the conference; for she would now
be able to represent to the world, without fear of contradiction, the
overwhelming strength of Murray's evidences, and hold them out as the
justification of her own severity. These hopes and plans, however, were
very nearly frustrated by the boldness and decision of Mary's conduct. As
soon as she received intelligence of this new accusation, and of the means
by which it was to be supported, she resolved that her own innocence and
its falsehood should be made apparent; and for this purpose, she even
consented to depart from her former demand of being personally admitted to
Elizabeth's presence. She wrote to her Commissioners to resume the duties
which they had intermitted, and to renew the conference once more. "We
have seen the copy," she said, "which you have sent us of the false and
unlawful accusation presented against us by some of our rebels, together
with the declarations and protestations made by you thereon before the
Queen of England, our good sister's Commissioners, wherein you have obeyed
our commands to refuse consenting to any further proceedings, if the
presence of our sister were refused us. But that our rebels may see that
they have not closed your mouths, you may offer a reply to the pretended
excuse and cloak of their wicked actions, falsity and disloyalty, whereof
you had no information before, it being a thing so horrible, that neither
we nor you could have imagined it would have fallen into the thoughts of
the said rebels."[170]

A reply was accordingly made, in which the "Eik" was maintained to be
false in every particular, and nothing but a device, contrived to justify
Murray's own "detestable doings and ambitious purpose." The writings, or
at least copies of them, which had been adduced in support of the Regent's
charge, were required to be delivered; and it was intimated, that Mary
would undertake to prove, that the very men who now accused her of murder,
were themselves the first inventors, and some of them the executors of the
deed. It will at first appear hardly credible, but it is nevertheless
true, that Elizabeth refused to allow duplicates of the evidence against
her to be sent to Mary. On the contrary, she now hastened to break up the
conference; Murray was sent back to his Regency, and the Queen of Scots
detained in closer captivity than ever; and though she even yet petitioned
to see the writings, Elizabeth refused to surrender them, except upon
conditions with which Mary's Commissioners would not comply. They had
formally accused the Regent and his adherents of a share in Bothwell's
guilt; yet the latter had been permitted "to depart into Scotland without
abiding to hear the defence of the Queen of Scotland's innocency, nor the
trial and proof of their detection, which was offered to verify and prove
them guilty of the same crime, but were fully released, and no end put to
the cause, according to the equity and justice thereof. It did not appear
meet, therefore, that their Sovereign should make any further answer,
unless her rebels were made to remain within the realm until the trial

As no decision had been pronounced against Mary, and as the Regent had
been allowed to depart, leave was also asked for her to return to
Scotland, or proceed to France, as she might think fit. This, however, was
expressly refused; but it was insultingly promised, that if she would
yield up the crown and government of Scotland in favour of her son the
Prince, she would be permitted to remain privately and quietly in England.
Mary, of course, rejected the proposal with scorn. "The eyes of all
Europe," she said, "are upon me at this moment; and were I thus tamely to
yield to my adversaries, I should be pronouncing my own condemnation. A
thousand times rather would I submit to death, than inflict this stain
upon my honour. The last words I speak shall be those of the Queen of

Thus ended this famous conference, which Elizabeth had opened with so many
professions of friendship, which she conducted with so much duplicity, and
which she concluded without any conclusion, except that of endeavouring to
blacken the character of her sister Mary, and give plausibility to her
continued imprisonment. To a certain extent it answered her purpose. She
had won the reputation, in the eyes of those who looked only at the
surface of things, of having endeavoured to do justice between the Queen
of Scots and her nobility; she had secured the favour of the Regent; and
had obtained a strong hold of the person of her rival, whom she now doomed
to lingering and hopeless captivity.[173]



The last eighteen years of Mary's life were spent in imprisonment, and are
comparatively a blank in her personal history. She was transported, at
intervals, from castle to castle, and was intrusted sometimes to the
charge of one nobleman, and sometimes of another; but for her the active
scenes of life were past,--the splendour and the dignity of a throne were
to be enjoyed no longer,--the sceptre of her native country was never more
to grace her hand,--her will ceased to influence a nation,--her voice did
not travel beyond the walls that witnessed her confinement. She came into
England at the age of twenty-five, in the prime of womanhood, the full
vigour of health, and the rapidly ripening strength of her intellectual
powers. She was there destined to feel in all its bitterness, that "hope
delayed maketh the heart sick." Year after year passed slowly on, and year
after year her spirits became more exhausted, her health feebler, and her
doubts and fears confirmed, till they at length settled into despair.
Premature old age overtook her, before she was past the meridian of life;
and for some time before her death, her hair was white "with other snows
than those of age." Yet, during the whole of this long period, amid
sufferings which would have broken many a masculine spirit, and which,
even in our own times, have been seen to conquer those who had conquered
empires, Mary retained the innate grace and dignity of her character,
never forgetting that she had been born a queen, or making her calamities
an excuse for the commission of any petty meanness, which she would have
scorned in the day of her prosperity. Full of incident as her previous
life had been,--brilliant in many of its achievements, fortunate in some,
and honourable in all, it may be doubted whether the forbearance,
fortitude, and magnanimity, displayed in her latter years, does not
redound more highly to her praise, than all that preceded. Many important
events took place, and intrigues of various kinds were carried on, between
the years 1569, and 1586, but as it is not the intention of this work to
illustrate any parts of the history either of Scotland or England, which
do not bear immediate reference to the Queen of Scots, nothing but a
summary of them, in so far as they were connected with her, need be
introduced here.

It was on the 12th of January 1569, that the Earl of Murray and the
Scottish Commissioners obtained permission to return home, the Regent
having previously received from Elizabeth a loan of 5000_l._, lent him
"for the maintenance of peace between the realms of England and Scotland,"
or in other words, as a bribe to secure his co-operation in all time
coming.[174] Mary, on the contrary, was removed from Bolton, to the Castle
of Tutbury in Staffordshire, farther in the interior of England, and was
placed under the charge of Lord Shrewsbury, to whom Tutbury belonged.
Elizabeth was unwilling to allow her captive to remain long in any one
place, lest she should form connections and friendships, which might lead
to arrangements for an escape. Besides, Sir Francis Knollys had
represented, that unless it was determined to keep the Scottish Queen so
close a prisoner, that she should not be allowed to ride out occasionally,
which would be death to her, she could not remain any longer at Bolton,
for want of forage and provisions.[175] During the year, she was taken
about by Shrewsbury, on occasional visits, to several mansions which he
possessed in different parts of England; but Tutbury was her
head-quarters; and wherever she went, she was very strictly guarded. "If I
might give advice," says one of Cecil's friends, in a letter he wrote to
him about this time, "there should very few subjects of this land have
access to a conference with this lady; for, beside that she is a goodly
personage (and yet in truth not comparable to our Sovereign), she hath
withal an alluring grace, a pretty Scotch speech, and a searching wit,
clouded with mildness. The greatest person about her is the Lord
Livingston, and the lady his wife, which is a fair gentlewoman. She hath
nine women more, fifty persons in her household, with ten horses. Lord
Shrewsbury is very watchful of his charge; but the Queen overwatches them
all, for it is one of the clock at least every night ere she go to bed. I
asked her Grace, since the weather did cut off all exercise abroad, how
she passed the time within? She said, that all the day she wrought with
her needle, and that the diversity of the colours made the work seem less
tedious; and she continued so long till even pain made her give over; and
with that laid her hand upon her left side, and complained of an old grief
newly increased there. She then entered upon a pretty disputable
comparison between carving, painting, and working with the needle,
affirming painting, in her own opinion, for the most commendable

But though Mary thus attempted to beguile her solitude, the thought of her
unjust imprisonment never ceased to prey upon her mind. Elizabeth and
Cecil tried to defend themselves upon four grounds; but they were all
alike weak. They said, _first_, that she was a lawful prisoner by good
treaties. But as they did not mention to what treaties they alluded,
Chalmers supposes they meant the same kind of treaties "which justify the
Barbary Powers to detain all Christians as slaves." They said, _secondly_,
that she could not be suffered to depart, till she had satisfied the wrong
she had done to Elizabeth, in openly claiming the crown of England, and
not making any just recompense. But the disavowal of that claim was all
the recompense that was necessary; and though Mary had made the claim when
married to Francis, she had expressly given it up ever since his death.
They said, _thirdly_, that Elizabeth possessed a superiority over the
crown of Scotland. But this antiquated notion, arising from the
subservience of John Baliol to Edward I., in 1292, had long been
relinquished, and had never been acknowledged in any treaty between the
two nations. They said, _fourthly_, that the Queen of England was bound to
attend to the petition of her subjects "in matters of blood." But though
Lord and Lady Lennox had been brought forward to present a petition
against Mary, it was evident that Elizabeth had no power either to grant
or refuse such petition, the Queen of Scots not being one of her subjects.

Though Mary's enemies, however, prevailed, her friends were by no means
discomfited. In Scotland, Murray found that only one half of the kingdom
was disposed to submit to his authority; and it was not till after a
protracted and disastrous civil war, that he was able to free himself from
the resolute hostility of Chatelherault, Argyle, Huntly, and others. In
England, the Duke of Norfolk was more active than ever in his intrigues.
So far from being alarmed by the pretended discoveries to her prejudice,
he openly expressed his conviction of their falsehood, and prevailed upon
a number of the English nobility to second, to the best of their power,
his honourable proposals to the Queen of Scots.[177] Though it does not
appear that he was able to obtain a personal interview with Mary, many
letters passed between them; and as she soon perceived that her best
chance of restoration to the throne of Scotland was by joining her
interests with those of Norfolk, (whose power and estates were so
extensive, that Melville calls him the greatest subject in Europe,) she
promised that, though little disposed to form a new alliance, after the
experience she had already had of matrimony, she would nevertheless bestow
her hand on him as soon as she should regain her liberty, through his
means. The Duke's machinations, however, which had been hitherto carefully
concealed from Elizabeth, at length reached her ears, and in the utmost
indignation she scrupled not, with her usual arbitrary violence, to send
him to the Tower, where she kept him a close prisoner for upwards of nine
months,--while the Earls of Arundel, Pembroke, and Leicester, who had
favoured his views, all fell into disgrace. Mary was watched more narrowly
than before; and Hastings, Earl of Huntingdon, who pretended a superior
right to the English succession, was joined with Shrewsbury in the
commission of superintending her imprisonment.

Norfolk had not been long in the Tower, when an open rebellion broke out
in the Northern counties, headed by the Earls of Northumberland and
Westmoreland. It is difficult to ascertain the precise causes which led to
it. Though there is no reason to believe that Mary gave it any
encouragement, it seems to have borne some reference to her; for in the
"Declaration" published by the Earls, one ground of complaint was the want
of a law for settling the succession. They marched also towards Tutbury,
with the evident intention of restoring Mary to freedom, which they might
have succeeded in doing, had she not been removed with all expedition to
Coventry. Elizabeth sent an army against the rebels, and they were
speedily dispersed;--Westmoreland concealed himself on the Borders; but
Northumberland, proceeding further into Scotland, was seized by Murray,
and confined in the castle of Loch-Leven,--probably in the very apartments
which Mary had occupied.

The year 1570 opened with an event which materially affected the state of
public affairs in Scotland, and which to Mary was the occasion of many
mingled feelings. Elizabeth, perceiving the danger which accrued to
herself from detaining a prisoner of so much importance, had commenced a
negotiation with the Earl of Murray for replacing his sister in his hands,
when she received the unexpected and unwelcome intelligence of his
assassination. The manner and cause of his death are sufficiently known to
all who are acquainted with Scottish History; and though nothing can
justify a murder committed to gratify private revenge, yet it is
impossible to read the story of the wrongs which the Regent had heaped
upon Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh, without feeling towards the latter more of
pity than of hatred.

Next to Mary herself, no one had held so prominent a place in Scotland as
the Earl of Murray; and there is no one concerning whose character
historians have more widely differed. There can be no doubt that, like
most human characters, it was a very mixed one; but it is to be feared
that the evil preponderated. Ambition was his ruling passion, and the
temptations which his birth, rank, and fortune, held out for its
indulgence, unfortunately led him into errors and crimes which, had he
been contented with an humbler sphere, he would in all probability have
avoided. There are various sorts of ambition, and the most dangerous is
not always that which is most apparent and reckless. Murray was ambitious
under the cloak of patriotism, and the mask of religion. He had enough of
knowledge of mankind to be aware, that no one could so safely play the
villain as he who maintained a high name for integrity. Hence, though he
may have loved honesty to a certain extent, for its own sake, he loved it
a great deal more for the sake of the advantages to be derived from a
reputation for possessing it. He was perhaps constitutionally religious;
but though he was very willing to fight as a leader in the armies of the
Reformation, it is somewhat questionable that he would have served the
good cause with equal zeal, had he been obliged to fill only a subordinate
place in its ranks. There is every reason to believe that in many cases he
did good only that he might the more safely do wrong; and that he rigidly
observed all the external forms of religion, only that the less suspicion
might attach to him when he infringed its precepts. He had enough of moral
rectitude to understand the distinctions between right and wrong, but too
much selfishness to observe them unostentatiously, and too much prudence
to disregard them openly. Thus to the casual observer he appeared strong
in unshaken integrity, and full of the odour of sanctity. He possessed
the art, which few but profound politicians can acquire, of going in the
wrong path, as if he were in the right, and of gaining more estimation for
his errors, than others do for their virtues. His conduct towards his
sister was altogether unjustifiable; yet with the exception of his
rebellion on the occasion of her marriage with Darnley, which was the
least objectionable, because the boldest and most straight-forward part of
the whole, he contrived to inflict, and to see inflicted, the deadliest
injuries, as if he unwillingly submitted to them, rather than actively
instigated them. He had little warmth of feeling; but what he had,
prompted him to affect to feel as he never in reality did. He possessed
all the talent compatible with cunning; he had abundance of military
skill, and was not deficient in personal courage. He was not often cruel,
because he saw it for his interest to be humane; he was a patron of
literature, and attentive to his friends, because patronage and a numerous
body of friends confer power. He affected nevertheless an ostentatious
austerity in his manners, which it was impossible to reconcile with the
worldliness of his pursuits. In short, he had so involved his whole
character in disingenuousness, under a show of every thing that was
exactly the reverse, that he was probably not aware himself when he acted
from good, and when from bad motives. He had far too much ambition to be
an upright man, and far too much good sense to be an undisguised villain.
Notwithstanding all the ill usage she had received from him, Mary shed
tears when she heard of his untimely death; and to record this fact, is
the highest euloguim which need be passed on his memory.

The Scots chose the Earl of Lennox Regent in the place of Murray, whilst
Elizabeth, says Robertson, "adhering to her old system with regard to
Scottish affairs, laboured, notwithstanding the solicitations of Mary's
friends, to multiply and to perpetuate the factions which tore in pieces
the kingdom." At the same time, she pretended to enter into a new
negotiation with Mary, as she frequently did at subsequent periods, when
hard pressed by any of the more powerful friends of the Queen of Scots.
But after appointing Commissioners, and requiring Morton and others to
meet them from Scotland, the affair ended as it began; Mary still
continued in her prison, and Morton returned home, no proposals having
been made, to which either of the parties would agree. About this period
Elizabeth's temper was particularly soured, by an excommunication which
Pope Pius V. issued against her, and which she erroneously supposed had
been prepared in concert with Mary. A person of the name of Felton,
affixed a copy of the Pope's Bull on the gate of the Bishop of London's
palace, and, refusing either to fly or conceal himself, he was seized and
executed for the crime. In her ill humour, Elizabeth also ordered that
Mary should not be allowed to go abroad, and she did not revoke this
order, until strong representations were made to her of the cruel effect
produced by it on the health of the Queen, whose constitution was now much
broken. The weakness in one of her sides which had long pained her, had of
late greatly increased, and she was obliged to have recourse to
strengthening baths of white wine.[178] During this year she was removed
from Tutbury to Chatsworth, and from Chatsworth she was taken to the Earl
of Shrewsbury's castle at Sheffield,--"a town," says Camden, "of great
renown for the smiths therein." She had not at the most above thirty
attendants, among whom the principal were Lord and Lady Livingston, her
young friend William Douglas, Castel her French physician, and Roulet her
French Secretary. The latter died when she was at Sheffield, and his death
afflicted her much. All communication with her friends at a distance was
denied her; and her letters were continually intercepted, and either
copies, or the originals, sent to Cecil. Yet she had too proud a spirit to
give way to unavailing complaints; and when she wrote to inquire after her
faithful servant the Bishop of Ross, whom Elizabeth had put into
confinement, from a jealousy of his exertions for his mistress, all she
allowed herself to say was, that she pitied poor prisoners, for she was
used like one herself.

In the year 1571, the Duke of Norfolk, who had been by this time
discharged from the Tower, had the imprudence to renew his intrigues for
the liberation of Mary, and his own marriage with her. The secret
correspondence was renewed between them; and the Queen of Scots sent him,
says Stranguage, "a long commentary of her purposes, and certain
love-letters in a private character, known to them two." The Duke was now
resolved either to make or mar his fortune; and, deeply engaging in the
dangerous game he was playing, he scrupled not to have recourse to many
highly treasonable practices. He set on foot negotiations both with one
Rodolphi, a Florentine merchant, residing in London, and an agent of the
Court of Rome, and with the Spanish ambassador; and with them he boldly
entered into an extensive conspiracy, which, if successful, would entirely
have subverted the Government. His plan was, that the Duke of Alva should
land in England with a numerous army, and should be immediately joined by
himself and friends. They were then to proclaim Mary's right to the
throne, call upon all good Catholics to support them, and march direct for
London. The Pope, and the King of Spain, readily entered into the scheme;
and every thing appeared to be proceeding according to his wishes, when
the treachery of one of Norfolk's servants made Elizabeth acquainted with
the whole conspiracy. The Duke was immediately seized, and thrown into
prison; and, after several private examinations, he was tried for high
treason, found guilty, and condemned to death. Elizabeth, who cultivated a
reputation for extreme sensibility, affected the greatest reluctance to
sign the warrant for Norfolk's execution. But she was at length able to
shut her heart against his many noble qualities, his princely spirit, and
valuable services, and she ordered him to be led to the scaffold. He there
confessed that he had been justly found guilty, in so far as he had dealt
with the Queen of Scots, in weighty and important business, without the
knowledge of his own Queen. He died, as he had lived, with undaunted
courage. When the executioner offered him a napkin to cover his eyes, he
refused it, saying, "I fear not death;" and, laying his head on the block,
it was taken off at one blow.

Elizabeth was extremely anxious to implicate Mary in Norfolk's guilt, and,
for this purpose, sent Commissioners to her to reproach her with her
offences. Mary heard all they had to say with the utmost calmness; and,
when they called upon her for her answer, she replied, that though she was
a free Queen, and did not consider herself accountable, either to them or
their mistress, she had, nevertheless, no hesitation to assure them of the
injustice of their accusations. She protested that she had never imagined
any detriment to Elizabeth by her marriage with Norfolk,--that she had
never encouraged him to raise rebellion, or been privy to it, but was, on
the contrary, most ready to reveal any conspiracy against the Queen of
England which might come to her ears,--that though Rodolphi had been of
use to her in the transmission of letters abroad, she had never received
any from him,--that as to attempting an escape, she willingly gave ear to
all who offered to assist her, and in hope of effecting her deliverance,
had corresponded with several in cipher,--that so far from having any hand
in the Bull of excommunication, when a copy of it was sent her, she burned
it after she had read it,--and that she held no communication with any
foreign State, upon any matters unconnected with her restoration to her
own kingdom. Satisfied with this reply, the Commissioners returned to

All the miseries of civil war were in the meantime desolating the kingdom
of Scotland. The Earl of Lennox was a feeble and very incompetent
successor to Murray. Perceiving him unable to maintain his authority, and
observing that the current of popular feeling was becoming stronger
against the unjust imprisonment which Mary was suffering, many of those
who had stood by Murray deserted to the opposite faction. Among the rest
were Secretary Maitland and Kircaldy of Grange, the first the ablest
statesman, and the second the best soldier in the country. It was now
almost impossible to say which side preponderated. Both parties levied
armies, convoked Parliaments, fought battles, besieged towns, and ordered
executions. "Fellow-citizens, friends, brothers," says Robertson, "took
different sides, and ranged themselves under the standards of the
contending factions. In every county, and almost in every town and
village, _Kingsmen_ and _Queensmen_ were names of distinction. Political
hatred dissolved all natural ties, and extinguished the reciprocal
good-will and confidence which hold mankind together in society. Religious
zeal mingled itself with these civil distinctions, and contributed not a
little to heighten and to inflame them." One of the most successful
exploits performed by the Regent, was the taking of the Castle of
Dumbarton from the Queen's Lords. The Archbishop of St Andrews, whom he
found in it, was condemned to be hanged without a trial, and the sentence
was immediately executed. No Bishop had ever suffered in Scotland so
ignominiously before; and while the King's adherents were glad to get rid
of one who had been very zealous against them, the nobles who supported
the Queen were exasperated to the last degree by so violent a measure, and
their watchword became,--"Think on the Archbishop of St Andrews!" Lennox
was sacrificed to his memory; for the town of Stirling having been
suddenly taken, in an expedition contrived by Grange, Lennox, after he had
surrendered himself prisoner, was shot by command of Lord Claud Hamilton,
brother to the deceased Archbishop; and in his room, the Earl of Mar was
elected Regent.

In the year 1572, Mary's cause sustained a serious injury, by the
atrocious massacre of the Hugonots in France, which exasperated all the
Protestants throughout Europe, and made the very name of a Catholic
Sovereign odious. Although Mary herself, so far from having lent any
countenance to this massacre, had expressly avowed her unwillingness to
constrain the conscience of any one, and had been all her life the
strenuous advocate of toleration, yet, recollecting her connexion with
Charles IX. and Catharine de Medicis, whose sanguinary fury made itself so
conspicuous on this melancholy occasion, her enemies took care that she
should not escape from some share of the blame. Elizabeth, in particular,
taking advantage of the excitement which had been given to public feeling,
used every exertion to secure the circulation of Buchanan's notorious
"Detection of Mary's Doings," which had been published a short time
before. She ordered Cecil to send a number of copies to Walsingham, her
ambassador at Paris, that they might be presented to the King, and leading
persons of the French Court. "It is not amiss," Cecil wrote, "to have
divers of Buchanan's little Latin books to present, if need be, to the
King, as from yourself, and likewise to some of the other noblemen of his
Council; for they will serve to good effect to disgrace her, _which must
be done before other purposes can be attained_." Cecil himself printed and
circulated a small treatise, in the shape of a letter, from London to a
friend at a distance, giving an account of the "Detection," and the credit
it deserved. The publication, on the other hand, of Bishop Lesley's
"Defence of Queen Mary's Honour," was positively interdicted; and Lesley
was obliged to send the manuscript abroad, before he was able to present
it to the world. To such low and cowardly devices were Elizabeth and her
Minister under the necessity of resorting, to blacken the character of
Mary, and justify their own iniquitous proceedings![180]

In Scotland, too, Mary's party, beginning to see the hopelessness of the
cause, was gradually dwindling away. Through Mar's exertions, a general
peace might have been obtained, had not Morton's superior influence and
persevering cruelty drawn out the civil war to the last dregs. Mar,
finding himself thwarted in every measure he proposed for the tranquillity
of his country, fell into a deep melancholy, which ended in his death,
before he had been a year in office. Morton succeeded him without
opposition, and immediately proceeded to very violent measures against all
the Queen's friends, who were now divided into two parties, the one
headed by Chatelherault and Huntly, and the other by Maitland and Grange.
After gaining some advantages over both, he concluded a peace with the
former; and having invested the Castle of Edinburgh on all sides, in
conjunction with some troops which Elizabeth sent to his assistance, he at
length forced the latter to surrender. Kircaldy of Grange, the bravest and
most honest man in Scotland, was hanged at the Cross of Edinburgh; and
Secretary Maitland, who, with all his talents, had vacillated too much to
be greatly respected, anticipating a similar fate, avoided it by a
voluntary death, "ending his days," says Melville, "after the old Roman

About the same time, John Knox concluded his laborious, and, in many
respects, useful life, in the 67th year of his age. Appearing as he did,
in treacherous and turbulent times, the rough unpolished integrity of Knox
demands the higher praise, because it enabled him the more successfully to
maintain an influence over the minds of his countrymen, and effect those
important revolutions in their modes of thought and belief, which his
superior abilities pointed out to him as conducive to the moral and
religious improvement of the land. He had many failings, but they were to
be attributed more to the age to which he belonged, than to any fault of
his own. His very violence and acrimony, his strong prejudices, and no
less confirmed partialities, were perhaps the very best instruments he
could have used for advancing the cause of the Reformation. He was without
the cunning of Murray, the fickleness of Maitland, or the ferocity of
Morton. He pursued a steady and undeviating course; and though loved by
few, he was reverenced by many. Courage, in particular,--and not the mere
common-place courage inspired by the possession of physical strength, but
the far nobler courage arising from a consciousness of innate
integrity,--was the leading feature of his mind. Morton never spoke more
truly than when he said at the grave of Knox,--"Here lies he who never
feared the face of man."

In the year 1573, Mary, at her own earnest request, was removed, for the
benefit of her health, from Sheffield to the Wells at Buxton. The news she
had lately received from Scotland, and the apparent annihilation of all
her hopes, had affected her not a little. "Though she makes little show of
any grief," the Earl of Shrewsbury wrote to Cecil, "yet this news nips her
very sore." At Buxton, which was then the most fashionable watering-place
in England, she was obliged to live in complete seclusion; and it may
easily be conceived, that the waters could be of little benefit to her,
without the aid of air, exercise, and amusement. Lesley, though detained
at a distance, took every means in his power to afford her consolation,
and wrote two treatises, after the manner of Seneca, expressly applicable
to her condition; both of which he sent to her. The first was
entitled,--"_Piæ afflicti animi meditationes divinaque remedia_," and the
second,--"_Tranquillitatis animi conservatio et munimentum_." She thanked
him for both of these productions, and assured him, that she had received
much benefit from their perusal. With many parts of the first, in
particular, she was so pleased, that she occupied herself in paraphrasing
them into French verse.[181] Lesley was soon afterwards allowed by
Elizabeth to pass into France, where he long continued to exert himself in
the cause of his mistress, visiting, on her account, several foreign
courts, and exposing himself to many inconveniences and hardships. He died
at a good old age in 1596, and his memory deserves to be cherished, both
for the many amiable qualities he possessed in private life, and his
inflexible fidelity and attachment to the Queen of Scots.[182]

In 1574, a fresh misfortune overtook Mary, in the death of her
brother-in-law, Charles IX. He was succeeded on the throne by the Duke of
Anjou, who took the title of Henry III., and was little inclined to exert
himself in the cause of his sister, having been long at enmity with the
house of Guise. But a still more fatal blow was the death of her uncle,
the Cardinal of Lorraine, who had ever made it a part of his policy to
identify her interests with his own, and to whom she had always been
accustomed to turn, with confidence, in her greatest distresses.

From this period to the year 1581, Mary seems to have been nearly
forgotten by all parties. Elizabeth, satisfied with keeping her rival
securely imprisoned, busied herself with other affairs of political
moment; and, in Scotland, as the Prince grew up, and years passed on,
death, or other causes, gradually diminished the number of Mary's
adherents; and though the country was far from being in tranquillity, the
dissensions assumed a new shape, for even they who opposed the regency of
the Earl of Morton, found it more for their interest to associate
themselves with the young King than with the absent Queen. Mary became
gradually more solitary and more depressed. Though yet only in the prime
of womanhood, she had lived to see almost all her best friends, and some
of her worst enemies, depart from the world before her. The specious
Murray,--the imbecile Lennox,--Hamilton, the last supporter of
Catholicism,--Knox, the great champion of the Reformation,--the gentle
Mar,--the brilliant but misguided Norfolk,--the gallant Kircaldy,--and the
sagacious Maitland,--had all been removed from the scene; and in the
melancholy solitude of her prison, she wept to think that she should have
been destined to survive them. But Elizabeth had no sympathy for her
griefs, and every rumour which reached her ear, only served as an excuse
for narrowing and rendering more irksome Mary's captivity. Even the few
female friends who had been at first allowed to attend her, were taken
from her; no congenial society of any sort was allowed her; it was rarely,
indeed, that she was permitted to hunt or hawk, or take any exercise out
of doors; and the wearisome monotony of her sedentary life, at once
impaired her health and broke down her spirits. The manner in which she
spoke of her own situation, in letters she wrote about this period to
France and elsewhere, is not the less affecting, that it is characterized
by that mental dignity and queenly spirit which no afflictions could
overcome. "I find it necessary," she wrote from Tutbury in 1680, "to
renew the memorial of my grievances respecting the remittance of my dowry,
the augmentation of my attendants, and a change of
residence,--circumstances apparently trivial, and of small importance to
the Queen, my good sister, but which I feel to be essential to the
preservation of my existence. Necessity alone could induce me to descend
to earnest and reiterated supplications, the dearest price at which any
boon can be purchased. To convey to you an idea, of my present situation,
I am on all sides enclosed by fortified walls, on the summit of a hill
which lies exposed to every wind of heaven: within these bounds, not
unlike the wood of Vincennes, is a very old edifice, originally a hunting
lodge, built merely of lath and plaster, the plaster in many places
crumbling away. This edifice, detached from the walls, about twenty feet,
is sunk so low, that the rampart of earth behind the wall is level with
the highest part of the building, so that here the sun can never
penetrate, neither does any pure air ever visit this habitation, on which
descend drizzling damps and eternal fogs, to such excess, that not an
article of furniture can be placed beneath the roof, but in four days it
becomes covered with green mould. I leave you to judge in what manner such
humidity must act upon the human frame; and, to say every thing in one
word, the apartments are in general more like dungeons prepared for the
reception of the vilest criminals, than suited to persons of a station far
inferior to mine, inasmuch as I do not believe there is a lord or
gentleman, or even yeoman in the kingdom, who would patiently endure the
penance of living in so wretched an habitation. With regard to
accommodation, I have for my own person but two miserable little
chambers, so intensely cold during the night, that but for ramparts and
entrenchments of tapestry and curtains, it would be impossible to prolong
my existence; and of those who have sat up with me during my illness, not
one has escaped malady. Sir Amias can testify that three of my women have
been rendered ill by this severe temperature, and even my physician
declines taking charge of my health the ensuing winter, unless I shall be
permitted to change my habitation. With respect to convenience, I have
neither gallery nor cabinet, if I except two little pigeon-holes, through
which the only light admitted is from an aperture of about nine feet in
circumference; for taking air and exercise, either on foot or in my chair,
I have but about a quarter of an acre behind the stables, round which
Somers last year planted a quickset hedge, a spot more proper for swine
than to be cultivated as a garden; there is no shepherd's hut but has more
grace and proportion. As to riding on horseback during the winter, I am
sure to be impeded by floods of water or banks of snow, nor is there a
road in which I could go for one mile in my coach without putting my limbs
in jeopardy; abstracted from these real and positive inconveniences, I
have conceived for this spot an antipathy, which, in one ill as I am,
might alone claim some humane consideration. As it was here that I first
began to be treated with rigour and indignity, I have conceived, from that
time, this mansion to be singularly unlucky to me, and in this sinister
impression I have been confirmed by the tragical catastrophe of the poor
priest of whom I wrote to you, who, having been tortured for his
religion, was at length found hanging in front of my window."[183]

In 1581, Mary made a still more melancholy representation of her
condition. "I am reduced to such an excessive weakness," she says,
"especially in my legs, that I am not able to walk a hundred steps, and
yet I am at this moment better than I have been for these six months past.
Ever since last Easter, I have been obliged to make my servants carry me
in a chair; and you may judge how seldom I am thus transported from one
spot to another, when there are so few people about me fit for such an
employment."[184] In the midst of all this distress, it was only from
resources within herself that she was able to derive any consolation. Her
religious duties she attended to with the strictest care, and devoted much
of her time to reading and writing. At rare intervals, she remembered her
early cultivation of the Muses; and she even yet attempted occasionally to
beguile the time with the charms of poetry. She produced several short
poetical compositions during her imprisonment; and of these, the following
Sonnet, embodying so simply and forcibly her own feelings, cannot fail to
be read with peculiar interest:

  "Que suis je, helas! et de quoi sert ma vie?
  Je ne suis fors q'un corps privé de coeur;
  Un ombre vain, un objet de malheur,
  Qui n'a plus rien que de mourir envie.
  Plus ne portez, O ennemis, d'envie
  A qui n'a plus l'esprit à la grandeur!
  Je consomme d'excessive douleur,--
  Votre ire en bref ce voira assouvie;
  Et vous amis, qui m'avez tenu chere,
  Souvenez vous, que sans heur--sans santé
  Je ne saurois aucun bon oeuvre faire:
  Souhaitez donc fin de calamité;
  Et que ci bas étant assez punie,
  J'aye ma part en la joye infinie."[185]

But the most celebrated of all Mary's efforts during her captivity, is a
long and eloquent letter she addressed to Elizabeth, in 1582, when she
heard that her son's person had been seized at the Raid of Ruthven,--and
when, dreading, with maternal anxiety, that he might be involved in the
woes which had overtaken herself, she gave vent to those feelings which
had long agitated her bosom, and which she now, with pathetic force, laid
before Elizabeth, as the author of all her misfortunes. The ability and
vigour with which this letter is written, well entitle it, as Dr Stuart
has remarked, to survive in the history of the Scottish nation. It was
Mary's own wish that it should do so. "I am no longer able," she says,
"to resist laying my heart before you; and while I desire that my just
complaints shall be engraved in your conscience, it is my hope that they
will also descend to posterity, to prove the misery into which I have been
brought by the injustice and cruelty of my enemies. Having in vain looked
to you for support against their various devices, I shall now carry my
appeal to the Eternal God, the Judge of both, whose dominion is over all
the princes of the earth. I shall appeal to him to arbitrate between us;
and would request you, Madam, to remember, that in his sight nothing can
be disguised by the paint and artifices of the world." She proceeds to
recapitulate the injuries she had sustained from Elizabeth ever since she
came to the throne of Scotland,--reminding her, that she had busied
herself in corrupting her subjects and encouraging rebellion; that when
imprisoned in Loch-Leven, she had assured her, through her ambassador,
Throckmorton, that any deed of abdication she might subscribe, was
altogether invalid; yet that, upon her escape, though she at first allured
her by fair promises into England, she had no sooner arrived there, than
she was thrown into captivity, in which she had been kept alive only to
suffer a thousand deaths; that she had tried for years to accommodate
herself to that captivity, to reduce the number of her attendants, to make
no complaint of the plainness of her diet, and the want of ordinary
exercise, to live quietly and peaceably, as if she were of a far inferior
rank, and even to abstain from correspondence with her friends in
Scotland; but that the only return she had experienced for her good
intentions was neglect, calumny, and increasing severity. "To take away
every foundation of dispute and misunderstanding between us," Mary
continued, "I invite you, Madam, to examine into every report against me,
and to grant to every person the liberty of accusing me publicly; and
while I freely solicit you to take every advantage to my prejudice, I only
request that you will not condemn me without a hearing. If it be proved
that I have done evil, let me suffer for it; if I am guiltless, do not
take upon yourself the responsibility, before God and man, of punishing me
unjustly. Let not my enemies be afraid that I aim any longer at
dispossessing them of their usurped authority. I look now to no other
kingdom but that of Heaven, and would wish to prepare myself for it,
knowing that my sorrows will never cease till I arrive there." She then
speaks of her son, and entreats that Elizabeth would interfere in his
behalf. She concludes with requesting, that some honourable churchman
should be sent to her, to remind her daily of the road she had yet to
finish, and to instruct her how to pursue it, according to her religion,
in which she would wish to die as she had lived. "I am very weak and
helpless," she adds, "and do beseech you to give me some solitary mark of
your friendship. Bind your own relations to yourself; let me have the
happiness of knowing, before I die, that a reconciliation has taken place
between us, and that, when my soul quits my body, it will not be necessary
for it to carry complaints of your injustice to the throne of my
Creator."[186] The only result which this letter produced, was a
remonstrance from Elizabeth which she sent by Beal, the Clerk of her Privy
Council, against such unnecessary complaints.[187]

In Scotland, meanwhile, the event of greatest consequence which had taken
place, was the trial and execution of the Earl of Morton, for having been
_art_ and _part_ in the murder of Darnley. Morton's intolerable tyranny
having rendered him odious to the greater part of the nobility, and the
young King having nearly arrived at an age when he could act and think for
himself, he found it necessary, very unwillingly, to retire from office.
He did not, even then, desist from carrying on numerous intrigues; and it
was rumoured, that he intended seizing the King's person, and carrying him
captive into England. Whether there was any truth in this report or not,
it is certain that James became anxious to get rid of so factious and
dangerous a nobleman. The only plausible expedient which occurred to him,
or his Council, was, to accuse Morton of a share in Bothwell's guilt. His
trial does not seem to have been conducted with any very scrupulous regard
to justice. But a jury of his peers was allowed him; and they, having
heard the evidence in support of the charges, found him guilty of having
been in the council or knowledge of the conspiracy against the late King,
of concealing it, and of being _art_ and _part_ in the murder. It was to
the latter part of this verdict alone that Morton objected. He confessed
that he knew of the intended murder, and had concealed it, but positively
disclaimed having been _art_ and _part_ in it. This seems, however, to
have been a distinction without a difference. On the 1st of June 1581, he
was condemned to the block, and next day the sentence was executed. The
instrument called the _Maiden_, which was used to behead him, he had
himself brought into Scotland, and he was the first to suffer by it. His
head was placed on the public gaol at Edinburgh, and his body buried
privately by a few menials. He had been universally hated, and there was
hardly one who lamented his death.



The closing scene of Mary's life was now rapidly approaching. Debilitated
as she was by her long confinement, and the many painful thoughts which
had been incessantly preying on her peace of mind, it is not likely that
she could have long survived, even though she had been left unmolested
within the walls of her prison. But she had been the source of two much
jealousy and uneasiness to Elizabeth, to be either forgotten or forgiven.
Weak as she was in body, and destitute alike of wealth and power, her name
had nevertheless continued a watchword and a tower of strength, not only
to all her own friends throughout Christendom, but to all who were
disposed, from whatever cause, to stir up civil dissensions and broils in
England. Scarcely a conspiracy against Elizabeth's person and authority
had been contrived for the last sixteen years, with which the Queen of
Scots was not supposed to be either remotely or immediately connected. Nor
is it to be denied, that appeals were made to her sufferings and cruel
treatment, to give plausibility to many an enterprise which was
anti-constitutional in its object, and criminal in its execution. Other
less objectionable enterprises Mary herself expressly countenanced, for
she always openly declared, that being detained a captive by force, she
considered herself fully entitled to take every means that offered to
effect her escape. She acted solely upon a principle of self-defence.
Whenever a nobleman of influence like Norfolk, or a man of integrity like
Lesley, undertook to arrange a scheme for her release, she willingly
listened to their proposals, and was ever ready to act in concert with
them. She had been detained in strict ward in a realm into which she had
come voluntarily, or rather into which she had been seduced by specious
promises and offers of assistance; and it would have been against every
dictate of common sense and common justice, to suppose that she had not a
right to free herself from her unwarrantable imprisonment. It is true,
that many of her attempts, mixed up as they were with the interested and
ambitious projects of others, gave Elizabeth no little inconvenience and
anxiety. But this was the price she must have laid her account with paying
for the pleasure of seeing the Queen of Scots a helpless hostage in her

To discourage the numerous plots which were formed, either by Mary's real
or pretended adherents, a number of persons of the first rank in the
kingdom entered into a solemn "Association," in which they bound
themselves to defend Elizabeth against all her enemies, "and if any
violence should be offered to her life, in order to favour the title of
any pretender to the crown, not only never to allow or acknowledge the
person or persons _by_ whom, or _for_ whom such a detestable act should be
committed, but, as they should answer to the Eternal God, to prosecute
such person or persons to the death, and pursue them with the utmost
vengeance to their overthrow and extirpation." The Parliament, which met
in 1585, sanctioned this Association; and, alarmed by the recent discovery
of a fanatical design, on the part of a Roman Catholic, to assassinate the
Queen, because she had been excommunicated by the Pope, they passed an
Act, by which they determined, with the most arbitrary injustice, "That if
any rebellion should be excited in the kingdom, or any thing attempted to
the hurt of her Majesty's person, _by_ or _for_ any person pretending a
title to the crown, the Queen should empower twenty-four persons, by a
commission under the Great Seal, to examine into and pass sentence upon
such offences; and that, after judgment given, a proclamation should be
issued, declaring the persons whom they found guilty excluded from any
right to the crown; and her Majesty's subjects might lawfully pursue every
one of them to the death; and that, if any design against the life of the
Queen took effect, the persons _by_ or _for_ whom such a detestable act
was executed, and their issues, being in any wise assenting or privy to
the same, should be disabled for ever from pretending to the crown, and be
pursued to death, in the like manner." That the persons _by_ whom any of
these faults were committed, should be punished, was in strict accordance
with equity; but that the persons _for_ whom they might be supposed to be
done, should be considered as much involved in their guilt, was alike
contrary to law and reason. The discontented were forming plots every year
against Elizabeth, and, with the very existence of many of these plots,
Mary was unacquainted; yet, by this statute, she was made answerable for
all of them. There is little wonder, therefore, if she considered it only
a forerunner of greater severities; and it was not long before an occasion
occurred which afforded a plausible pretext for making a practical
application of it.

In the year 1586, three English priests, who had been educated in a
Catholic seminary at Rheims, and over whose minds the most illiberal
superstition held unlimited sway, actually conceived the belief, that the
bull of excommunication, issued by Pope Pius V. against Elizabeth, had
been dictated under the immediate inspiration of the Holy Ghost. They
looked, consequently, upon that Sovereign with a fanatical hatred, which
they determined, if possible, to gratify. Having contrived to win over one
or two others to their own way of thinking, and, in particular, an officer
of the name of Savage, and another priest of the name of Ballard, they
sent them into England to disseminate their principles among all on whose
co-operation they thought they could depend; and, in the meantime, they
set on foot a negotiation with the Spanish ambassador in Paris, through
whose means they hoped to obtain the assistance of a foreign force. He
gave them a promise of encouragement, only on condition that they secured
a strong party in England, and that means were taken to remove Elizabeth.
Among the first persons to whom Savage and Ballard communicated their
designs, was Anthony Babington, a young gentleman of estate and fortune in
Derbyshire. Having resided for some time in France, he had formed an
acquaintance with the Archbishop of Glasgow, and from him had heard so
many eulogiums on Mary, that he became inspired with the most enthusiastic
feelings in her favour, and cherished a romantic desire of performing some
exploit which might secure for him her gratitude and esteem. By his advice
and assistance, a knowledge of the conspiracy was intrusted to a number of
persons of respectability of the Roman Catholic persuasion; and a secret
correspondence was set on foot with the Queen of Scots, through the medium
of her Secretaries Naw and Curl. Mary, however, was not disposed to give
the conspirators much encouragement. She had been now so long accustomed
to despair, and was so convinced of the fallaciousness of hope, that she
was almost inclined to turn away from it, as from something painful. She
had grown indifferent about her future fate, and had endeavoured to resign
herself to the prospect of ending her days in captivity. Besides, she had
the recent Act of Parliament before her eyes; and she was well aware, that
though she did nothing but attempt an escape, she would be held
responsible for the whole plot, whatever its extent or criminality might
be. It is, however, not at all unlikely that she may, notwithstanding,
have authorized her Secretaries to write once or twice to Babington and
his associates; but that she gave them any support in their designs
against Elizabeth, was never proved, and is not to be believed. It was
indeed with no little difficulty that Mary was able to hold any epistolary
communication at all with her friends, so strictly was she watched by Sir
Amias Paulet and Sir Drue Drury, to whose custody she had been committed,
and who kept her in the Castle of Chartley in Staffordshire. The
conspirators were obliged to bribe one of the servants, who conveyed to
the Queen or her Secretaries, the letters which they deposited in a hole
in the wall, and put the answers into the same place, from which they took
them privately, when it was dark.

Every thing seemed to proceed smoothly, and all the necessary arrangements
were now concluded. The different conspirators had different tasks
allotted to them; by some a rebellion was to be excited in several parts
of the kingdom at once; six others bound themselves by solemn oaths to
assassinate Elizabeth; and Babington himself undertook to head a strong
party, which he was to lead to the rescue of the Queen of Scots. Nor were
they to be destitute of foreign assistance as soon as the first blow was
struck, and the first symptoms of internal commotion appeared. So inspired
were these infatuated men with an idea of the glory of the revolution they
were about to achieve, that they had medals prepared representing
themselves assembled together, with Babington in the midst, and bearing
the motto,--"_Hi mihi sunt comites quos ipsa pericula ducunt._" But in all
their fancied security and enthusiasm, they were ignorant that every step
they took was known to Elizabeth and her minister Walsingham, and that
they were advancing only to the foot of their own scaffold. It was through
the treachery of one of their own associates of the name of Polly, one of
Walsingham's accredited spies, who had joined them only that he might
betray them, that all their proceedings were discovered, and attentively
watched. Savage, Ballard, and the other four who were bent on the murder
of Elizabeth, had already come up to London, and were lying in wait for
the first favourable opportunity to execute their purpose; and, as
Walsingham was anxious to have complete evidence of their guilt in his
possession before apprehending them, they were allowed to remain
unmolested for some time. The Queen, however, fearing for her personal
safety, at length insisted on their being seized, remarking, that, "in not
taking heed of a danger when she might, she seemed more to tempt God than
to hope in him." Ballard was first arrested; his accomplices, struck with
astonishment and dismay, fled out of London; but, after lurking for some
days in woods and byeways, cutting off their hair, disfiguring their
faces, and submitting to every kind of deprivation and hardship to avoid
the hot search which was made for them, they were at length taken; and so
much had the public feeling been excited against them, that, when they
were brought into London, the bells of the city were rung, and bonfires
kindled in the streets. Walsingham had arranged his measures so
effectively, that all the other conspirators, who were scattered
throughout the kingdom, were also seized and brought to the capital within
a very short time. Fourteen of the principal inventors of the plot were
immediately tried, condemned, and executed. No mercy whatever was shown
to them; for Elizabeth seldom forgave her enemies.[188]

But, in the death of these men, only one part of Elizabeth's vengeance was
gratified. The wrongs and the merits of the Queen of Scots had been the
means of imparting to this conspiracy a degree of respectability; and she,
therefore, was regarded as the chief culprit. Walsingham had ascertained,
that communications of some sort or another had passed between Mary's
secretaries and the conspirators; and before she was aware that
Babington's plot had been discovered, he sent down Sir Thomas Gorges to
Chartley to take her by surprise, and endeavour to discover some
additional grounds of suspicion. Sir Thomas arrived just as she was about
to ride out in a wheeled carriage which had been procured for her, and,
without permitting her to alight, he rudely told her of Babington's fate;
then entering the Castle, he committed Naw and Curl into custody; and,
breaking into the private cabinets of the Queen, he seized all her letters
and papers, and sent them off immediately to Elizabeth. He took possession
too of all her money, "lest she should use it for corruption." She herself
was not allowed to return to Chartley for some days, but conveyed about
from one castle to another. When she was at length brought back, and saw
how she had been plundered in her absence, she could not refrain from
weeping bitterly. "There are two things, however," she said in the midst
of her tears, "which they cannot take away,--my birth and my

In the excited state of feeling which then prevailed in the nation, and
the fears which her subjects entertained for the safety of their
Sovereign, Elizabeth perceived that she might now safely proceed to those
extremities against Mary which she had so long meditated, but which
considerations of selfish prudence had hitherto prevented her from putting
into execution. She asserted, that not only her own life, but the religion
and peace of the country were at stake, and that either the Queen of Scots
must be removed, or the whole realm given up as a sacrifice. By her own
injustice, she had involved herself in inconveniences; and as soon as she
began to feel their effects, she pretended to be indignant at the innocent
victim of her tyranny. But it was not without difficulty that she brought
all her ministers to think on this subject precisely as she herself did.
Many of them did not hesitate to state their conviction, that Mary had
neither set on foot nor countenanced Babington's plot, and that, however
the conspirators might have interwoven her name with it, she could not be
punished for what she could not have prevented. Besides, they urged that
she was not likely to live long at any rate, and that it would be more for
the honour of the kingdom to leave her unmolested for the short remainder
of her days. Nevertheless, by Elizabeth's exertions, and those of
Walsingham, who had always courted the favour of his mistress by the most
persevering persecution of Mary, opposition was at length silenced, and
the trial of the Queen of Scots finally determined. To give as much
dignity, and as great a semblance of justice as possible to a proceeding
so unwarrantable as that of calling upon her to answer for an imaginary
offence, forty of the most illustrious persons in the kingdom were
appointed Commissioners, and were intrusted with the charge of hearing the
cause, and deciding upon the question of life or death.

On the 25th of September 1586, Mary had been taken from Chartley to the
Castle of Fotheringay in Northamptonshire, where she was more strictly
watched than ever by Sir Amias Paulet, who was a harsh and inflexible
gaoler. On the 11th of October, Elizabeth's Commissioners arrived, the
great hall of the Castle having been previously fitted up as a court-room
for their reception. They would have proceeded with the trial immediately;
but a difficulty occurred, which, though they scarcely can have failed to
anticipate, they were not prepared to obviate. Mary refused to acknowledge
their jurisdiction, denying that they possessed any right either to
arraign or try her. "I am no subject to Elizabeth," she said, "but an
independent Queen as well as she; and I will consent to nothing unbecoming
the majesty of a crowned head. Worn out as my body is, my mind is not yet
so enfeebled as to make me forget what is due to myself, my ancestors, and
my country. Whatever the laws of England may be, I am not subject to them;
for I came into the realm only to ask assistance from a sister Queen, and
I have been detained an unwilling prisoner." For two days the
Commissioners laboured in vain to induce Mary to appear before them; and
as she assigned reasons for refusing, which it was impossible for fair
argument to invalidate, recourse was at length had to threats. They told
her that they would proceed with the trial, whether she consented to be
present or not; and that, though they were anxious to hear her
justification, they would nevertheless conclude that she was guilty, and
pronounce accordingly, if she refused to defend herself. It would have
been well had Mary allowed them to take their own way; but, conscious that
she was accused unjustly, she could not bear to think that she excited
suspicion, by refusing the opportunity of establishing her innocence.
Actuated by this honourable motive, she at length yielded, after solemnly
protesting that she did not, and never would, acknowledge the authority
which Elizabeth arrogated over her.

On the 14th of October the trial commenced. The upper half of the great
hall of Fotheringay Castle was railed off, and at the higher end was
placed a chair of state, under a canopy, for the Queen of England. Upon
both sides of the room benches were arranged in order, where the Lord
Chancellor Bromley, the Lord Treasurer Burleigh, fourteen Earls, thirteen
Barons, and Knights and Members of the Privy Council, sat. In the centre
was a table, at which the Lord Chief Justice, several Doctors of the Civil
Law, Popham, the Queen's Attorney, her Solicitors, Sergeants and Notaries,
took their places. At the foot of this table, and immediately opposite
Elizabeth's chair of state, a chair, without any canopy, was placed for
the Queen of Scots. Behind, was the rail which ran across the hall, the
lower part of which was fitted up for the accommodation of persons who
were not in the commission.[190]

There was never, perhaps, an occasion throughout the whole of Mary's life
on which she appeared to greater advantage than this. In the presence of
all the pomp, learning, and talent of England, she stood alone and
undaunted; evincing, in the modest dignity of her bearing, a mind
conscious of its own integrity, and superior to the malice of fortune.
Elizabeth's craftiest lawyers and ablest politicians were assembled to
probe her to the quick,--to press home every argument against her, which
ingenuity could devise and eloquence embellish,--to dazzle her with a
blaze of erudition, or involve her in a maze of technical perplexities.
Mary had no counsellor--no adviser--no friend. Her very papers, to which
she might have wished to refer, had been taken from her; and there was not
one to plead her cause, or defend her innocence. Yet was she not dismayed.
She knew that she had a higher Judge than Elizabeth; and that great as was
the array of Lords and Barons that appeared against her, posterity was
greater than they, and that to its decision all things would be finally
referred. Her bodily infirmities imparted only a greater lustre to her
mental pre-eminence; and not in all the fascinating splendor of her youth
and beauty--not on the morning of her first bridal day, when Paris rang
with acclamations in her praise--was Mary Stuart so much to be admired, as
when, weak and worn out, she stood calmly before the myrmidons of a rival
Queen, to hear and refute their unjust accusations, her eye radiant once
more with the brilliancy of earlier years, and the placid benignity of a
serene conscience, lending to her countenance its undying grace.

Elizabeth's Attorney-General opened the pleadings. He began by referring
to the act of Parliament, in which it was made capital to be the person
_for_ whom any design was undertaken against the life of the Queen. He
then described the late conspiracy, and attempted to establish Mary's
connexion with it, by producing copies of letters which, he alleged, she
had written to Babington himself and several of his accomplices. To these
having added letters from Babington to her, and the declarations and
confessions which had been extorted from her secretaries, he asserted that
the case was made out, and wound up his speech with a laboured display of
legal knowledge and forensic oratory.

Mary was now called upon for her defence; and she entered on it with
composure and dignity. She denied all connexion with Babington's
conspiracy, in so far as he entertained any designs injurious to
Elizabeth's safety or the welfare of her kingdom;--she allowed that the
letters which he was said to have addressed to her might be genuine, but
it had not been proved that she ever received them;--she maintained that
her own letters were all garbled or fabricated;[191] that as to the
confessions of her secretaries, they had been extorted by fear, and were
therefore not to be credited; but that, if they were in any particulars
true, these particulars must have been disclosed at the expense of the
oath of fidelity they had come under to her when they entered her service,
and that men who would perjure themselves in one instance were not to be
trusted in any;--she objected besides that they had not been confronted
with her according to an express law enacted in the thirteenth year of
Elizabeth's reign "that no one should be arraigned for intending the
destruction of the Prince's life, but by the testimony and oath of two
lawful witnesses, _to be produced face to face before him_;"--she
maintained, that even supposing she were to allow the authenticity of many
of the papers adduced against her, they would not prove her guilty of any
crime; for she was surely doing no wrong, if, after a calamitous captivity
of nineteen years, in which she had lost forever her youth, her health,
and her happiness, she made one last effort to regain the liberty of
which she had been so unfairly robbed; but that as to scheming against the
life of the Queen her sister, it was an infamy she abhored;--"I would
disdain," said she "to purchase all that is most valuable on earth by the
assasination of the meanest of the human race; and worn out, as I now am,
with cares and sufferings, the prospect of a crown is not so inviting that
I should ruin my soul in order to obtain it. Neither am I a stranger to
the feelings of humanity, nor unacquainted with the duties of religion,
and it is my nature to be more inclined to the devotion of Esther, than to
the sword of Judith. If ever I have given consent by my words, or even by
my thoughts, to any attempt against the life of the Queen of England, far
from declining the judgment of men, I shall not even pray for the mercy of

Elizabeth's advocates were not a little surprised at the eloquent and able
manner in which Mary conducted her defence. They had expected to have
every thing their own way, and to gain an easy victory over one
unacquainted with the forms of legal procedure, and unable to cope with
their own professional talents. But they were disappointed and baffled;
and in order to maintain their ground even plausibly, they were obliged to
protract the proceedings for two whole days. Nor, after all, did the
Commissioners venture to pronounce judgment, but adjourned the court to
the Star-Chamber at Westminster, where they knew that Mary would not be
present, and where, consequently, they would have no opposition to
fear.[193] On the 25th of October, they assembled there, and having again
examined the Secretaries, Naw and Curl, who appear to have been persons of
little fidelity or constancy, and who confirmed their former declarations,
a unanimous judgment was delivered, that "Mary, commonly called Queen of
Scots and dowager of France, was accessary to Babington's conspiracy, and
had compassed and imagined divers matters within the realm of England,
tending to the hurt, death, and destruction of the royal person of
Elizabeth, in opposition to the statute framed for her protection."[194]

Elizabeth ordered this verdict to be laid before her Parliament, which
assembled a few days afterwards; and, at Walsingham's instigation, its
legality was not only confirmed, but the Lord Chancellor was sent up with
an address to the Queen, in which, after stating their conviction that her
security was incompatible with Mary's life, they requested that she would
give the sentence effect, by ordering her immediate execution. Elizabeth,
though conscious that, if her personal safety had been endangered, she had
herself to blame, was rejoiced at the opportunity at length afforded her,
for gratifying her long cherished hatred. She affected, however, to be
greatly perplexed how to act. She declared that, if she were not afraid of
endangering the welfare of her people, she would freely pardon Mary for
all her treasonable practices, and she beseeched the House to endeavour to
discover some less severe method of procedure. The Parliament, as she
expected, replied firmly, that they could not recommend any more lenient
measure; and in the pedantic language of the day, called to Elizabeth's
remembrance the examples of God's vengeance upon Saul for sparing Agag,
and on Ahab for sparing Benhadad. Elizabeth still affected to be
irresolute; and indeed it was not unlikely that she was so in reality;
for, though anxious to have Mary removed, she was not so hardened and
insane as not to know, that however it might be sanctioned by the world,
murder was as criminal and as contrary to the unchanging code of moral
justice, when commanded by a Queen, as when perpetrated by a peasant. She
desired that her Parliament should be content for the present "with an
answer without an answer." "If I should say, that I will not do what you
request, I might say perhaps more than I intend; and if I should say I
will do it, I might plunge myself into as much inconvenience as you
endeavour to preserve me from." All this manoeuvring was for the purpose
of conveying to the nation an impression of her extreme sensibility, and
generous hesitation.

Another reason why Elizabeth did not choose to be over-precipitate, was
her fear of giving any deadly offence to foreign courts. She ordered the
sentence against Mary to be published both throughout her own kingdom and
abroad, and she waited anxiously to observe the sensation which it should
create, and the steps that might be taken in consequence. She need not,
however, have given herself much uneasiness upon this score. Henry III. of
France had never been more than a very lukewarm advocate for the Queen of
Scots, and the remonstrances he occasionally made in her behalf, were
rather for the sake of appearances, than because he was anxious that they
should be successful. On the present occasion, startled by the imminence
of his cousin's danger, he seems to have been a little more in earnest,
and ordered his ambassador to make as forcible a representation as
possible against the iniquitous severity that was intended. But Elizabeth
knew that his rage would evaporate in words, and paid little attention to
the harangue. In Scotland, the young King, James, was surrounded by
ministers who had sold themselves to England, and Elizabeth was well
aware, that though he might bark, he dared not bite. Besides, the
sentiments regarding his mother, which had been carefully instilled into
him from his earliest years, were not such as were likely to inspire him
with any decided wish to protect and avenge her. He had been constantly
surrounded by her deadliest enemies, and the lesson which Buchanan taught
him daily, was a lesson of hatred towards his only surviving parent. His
succession also to the English crown, greatly depended on the friendship
of Elizabeth; and she was able, in consequence, to maintain an ascendancy
over him, which he dared not venture to resist. He was not, however, so
entirely destitute of all ordinary filial sentiments as to consent to
remain a quiet spectator of his mother's execution. "His opinion is,"
said his worthless minion the Master of Gray, "that it cannot stand with
his honour to be a consenter to take his mother's life, but he does not
care how strictly she be kept; and is content that all her old knavish
servants should be hanged."[195] To prevent if possible a catastrophe
which "did not stand with his honour," he sent the Master of Gray and Sir
Robert Melville as his ambassadors to London, to press his objections upon
the attention of Elizabeth. The latter was true to the cause in which he
had been sent, and his remonstrances were vigorous and sincere. But Gray,
wishing to curry favour with Elizabeth, assured her that she had no cause
to fear the King's resentment, for he was of an irresolute character and
timid disposition, and that whatever might happen, he would never think of
embroiling himself in a disastrous war with England. Elizabeth listened
with evident satisfaction to these artful insinuations; and desired her
minister Walsingham, to inform the Scottish monarch, that Mary's doom was
already fixed by the decision of the nation, and that his mistress the
Queen had it not in her power to save her. James received this
intelligence with grief, but not with the spirit that became the only
child of Mary Stuart. Instead of putting himself at the head of an army,
and marching into the heart of England, he was contented to communicate
his mother's unfortunate condition to his subjects, and order prayers to
be said for her in all the churches,--"that it might please God to
enlighten her with the light of his truth, and to protect her from the
danger which was hanging over her."

In the mean time, messengers had been sent to the Queen of Scots, to
report to her the sentence of the Commissioners, and to prepare her for
the consequences which might be expected to follow. So far from receiving
the news with dismay, Mary solemnly raised her hands to heaven, and
thanked God that she was so soon to be relieved from her troubles. They
were not yet, however, at a close; and even during the short remainder of
her life, she was to be still further insulted. Her keepers, Sir Amias
Paulet and Sir Drue Drury, refused any longer to treat her with the
reverence and respect due to her rank and sex. The canopy of state, which
she had always ordered to be put up in her apartment wherever she went,
was taken down, and every badge of royalty removed. It was intimated to
her, that she was no longer to be regarded as a Princess, but as a
criminal; and the persons who came into her presence stood before her
without uncovering their heads, or paying her any obeisance. The
attendance of a Catholic priest was refused, and an Episcopalian bishop
sent in his stead, to point out and correct the errors of her ways. Mary
bore all these indignities with a calm spirit, which rose superior to
them, and which proved their unworthiness, by bringing them into contrast
with her own elevation of mind. "In despite of your Sovereign and her
subservient judges," said she, "I will die a Queen. My royal character is
indelible, and I will surrender it with my spirit to the Almighty God,
from whom I received it, and to whom my honour and my innocence are fully
known."[196] In December 1586, she wrote her last letter to Elizabeth; and
though from an unfriended prisoner to an envied and powerful Sovereign, it
evinces so much magnanimity and calm consciousness of mental serenity,
that it is impossible to peruse it, without confessing Elizabeth's
inferiority, and Mary's triumph. It was couched in the following terms:

"Madam, I thank God from the bottom of my heart, that, by the sentence
which has been passed against me, he is about to put an end to my tedious
pilgrimage. I would not wish it prolonged, though it were in my power,
having had enough of time to experience its bitterness. I write at present
only to make three last requests which, as I can expect no favour from
your implacable ministers, I should wish to owe to your Majesty, and to no
other. _First_, as in England, I cannot hope to be buried according to the
solemnities of the Catholic church, (the religion of the ancient Kings,
your ancestors and mine, being now changed,) and as in Scotland they have
already violated the ashes of my progenitors, I have to request, that, as
soon as my enemies have bathed their hands in my innocent blood, my
domestics may be allowed to inter my body in some consecrated ground; and,
above all, that they may be permitted to carry it to France, where the
bones of the Queen, my most honoured mother, repose. Thus, that poor
frame, which has never enjoyed repose so long as it has been joined to my
soul, may find it at last when they will be separated. _Second_, as I
dread the tyranny of the harsh men, to whose power you have abandoned me,
I entreat your Majesty that I may not be executed in secret, but in the
presence of my servants and other persons, who may bear testimony of my
faith and fidelity to the true church, and guard the last hours of my
life, and my last sighs from the false rumours which my adversaries may
spread abroad. _Third_, I request that my domestics, who have served me
through so much misery, and with so much constancy, may be allowed to
retire without molestation wherever they choose, to enjoy for the
remainder of their lives the small legacies which my poverty has enabled
me to bequeath to them. I conjure you, Madam, by the blood of Jesus
Christ, by our consanguinity, by the memory of Henry VII., our common
father, and by the royal title which I carry with me to death, not to
refuse me those reasonable demands, but to assure me, by a letter under
your own hand, that you will comply with them; and I shall then die as I
have lived, your affectionate sister and prisoner, MARY, Queen of

Whether Elizabeth ever answered this letter, does not appear; but it
produced so little effect, that epistles from her to Sir Amias Paulet
still exist, which prove that, in her anxiety to avoid taking upon herself
the responsibility of Mary's death, she wished to have her privately
assassinated or poisoned. Paulet, however, though a harsh and violent man,
positively refused to sanction so nefarious a scheme. Yet in the very act
of instigating murder, Elizabeth could close her eyes against her own
iniquity, and affect indignation at the alleged offences of another.[198]
But perceiving at length, that no alternative remained, she ordered her
secretary Davidson to bring her the warrant for Mary's execution, and
after perusing it, she deliberately affixed her signature. She then
desired him to carry it to Walsingham, saying, with an ironical smile, and
in a "merry tone," that she feared he would die of grief when he saw it.
Walsingham sent the warrant to the Chancellor, who affixed the Great Seal
to it, and despatched it by Beal, with a commission to the Earls of
Shrewsbury, Kent, Derby, and others, to see it put in execution. Davidson
was afterwards made the victim of Elizabeth's artifice,--who, to complete
the solemn farce she had been playing, pretended he had obeyed her orders
too quickly, and doomed him in consequence to perpetual



On the 7th of February 1587, the Earls, who had been commissioned to
superintend Mary's execution, arrived at Fotheringay. After dining
together, they sent to inform the Queen, that they desired to speak with
her. Mary was not well, and in bed; but as she was given to understand
that it was an affair of moment, she rose, and received them in her own
chamber. Her six waiting maids, together with her physician, her surgeon,
and apothecary, and four or five male servants, were in attendance. The
Earl of Shrewsbury, and the others associated with him, standing before
her respectfully, with their heads uncovered, communicated, as gently as
possible, the disagreeable duty with which they had been intrusted. Beal
was then desired to read the warrant for Mary's execution, to which she
listened patiently; and making the sign of the cross, she said, that
though she was sorry it came from Elizabeth, she had long been expecting
the mandate for her death, and was not unprepared to die. "For many
years," she added, "I have lived in continual affliction, unable to do
good to myself or to those who are dear to me;--and as I shall depart
innocent of the crime which has been laid to my charge, I cannot see why I
should shrink from the prospect of immortality." She then laid her hand on
the New Testament, and solemnly protested that she had never either
devised, compassed, or consented to the death of the Queen of England. The
Earl of Kent, with more zeal than wisdom, objected to the validity of this
protestation, because it was made on a Catholic version of the Bible; but
Mary replied, that it was the version, in the truth of which she believed,
and that her oath should be therefore only the less liable to suspicion.
She was advised to hold some godly conversation with the Dean of
Peterborough, whom they had brought with them to console her; but she
declined the offer, declaring that she would die in the faith in which she
had lived, and beseeching them to allow her to see her Catholic Confessor,
who had been for some time debarred her presence. This however they in
their turn positively refused.[200]

Other topics were introduced, and casually discussed. Before leaving the
world, Mary felt a natural curiosity to be informed upon several subjects
of public interest, which, though connected with herself, and generally
known, had not penetrated the walls of her prison. She asked if no foreign
princes had interfered in her behalf,--if her secretaries were still
alive,--if it was intended to punish them as well as her,--if they brought
no letters from Elizabeth or others,--and above all, if her son, the King
of Scotland, was well, and had evinced any interest in the fate of a
mother who had always loved and never wronged him. Being satisfied upon
these points, she proceeded to inquire when her execution was to take
place? Shrewsbury replied, that it was fixed for the next morning at
eight. She appeared startled and agitated for a few minutes, saying that
it was more sudden than she had anticipated, and that she had yet to make
her will, which she had hitherto deferred, in the expectation that the
papers and letters which had been forcibly taken from her, would be
restored. She soon, however, regained her self-possession; and informing
the Commissioners that she desired to be left alone to make her
preparations, she dismissed them for the night.

During the whole of this scene, astonishment, indignation, and grief,
overwhelmed her attendants, all of whom were devoted to her. As soon as
the Earls and their retinue retired, they gave full vent to their
feelings, and Mary herself was the only one who remained calm and
undisturbed. Bourgoine, her physician, loudly exclaimed against the
iniquitous precipitancy with which she was to be hurried out of existence.
More than a few hours' notice was allowed, he said, to the very meanest
criminal; and to limit a Princess, with numerous connections both at home
and abroad, to so brief a space, was a degree of rigour which no guilt
could authorize. Mary told him, that she must submit with resignation to
her fate, and learn to regard it as the will of God. She then requested
her attendants to kneel with her, and she prayed fervently for some time
in the midst of them. Afterwards, while supper was preparing, she employed
herself in putting all the money she had by her into separate purses, and
affixed to each, with her own hand, the name of the person for whom she
intended it. At supper, though she sat down to table, she eat little. Her
mind, however, was in perfect composure; and during the repast, though she
spoke little, placid smiles were frequently observed to pass over her
countenance. The calm magnanimity of their mistress, only increased the
distress of her servants. They saw her sitting amongst them in her usual
health, and, with almost more than her usual cheerfulness, partaking of
the viands that were set before her; yet they knew that it was the last
meal at which they should ever be present together; and that the
interchange of affectionate service upon their part, and of condescending
attention and endearing gentleness on her's, which had linked them to her
for so many years, was now about to terminate for ever. Far from
attempting to offer her consolation, they were unable to discover any for
themselves. As soon as the melancholy meal was over, Mary desired that a
cup of wine should be given to her; and putting it to her lips, drank to
the health of each of her attendants by name. She requested that they
would pledge her in like manner; and each, falling on his knee, and
mingling tears with the wine, drank to her, asking pardon at the same
time, for all the faults he had ever committed. In the true spirit of
Christian humility, she not only willingly forgave them, but asked their
pardon also, if she had ever forgotten her duty towards them. She
beseeched them to continue constant to their religion, and to live in
peace and charity together, and with all men. The inventory of her
wardrobe and furniture was then brought to her; and she wrote in the
margin, opposite each article, the name of the person to whom she wished
it should be given. She did the same with her rings, jewels, and all her
most valuable trinkets; and there was not one of her friends or servants,
either present or absent, to whom she forgot to leave a memorial.[201]

These duties being discharged, Mary sat down to her desk to arrange her
papers, to finish her will, and to write several letters. She previously
sent to her confessor, who, though in the Castle, was not allowed to see
her, entreating that he would spend the night in praying for her, and that
he would inform her what parts of Scripture he considered most suited for
her perusal at this juncture. She then drew up her last will and
testament; and without ever lifting her pen from the paper, or stopping at
intervals to think, she covered two large sheets with close writing,
forgetting nothing of any moment, and expressing herself with all that
precision and clearness which distinguished her style in the very happiest
moments of her life. She named as her four executors, the Duke of Guise,
her cousin-german; the Archbishop of Glasgow, her ambassador in France;
Lesley, Bishop of Ross; and Monsieur de Ruysseau, her Chancellor. She next
wrote a letter to her brother-in-law, the King of France, in which she
apologized for not being able to enter into her affairs at greater length,
as she had only an hour or two to live, and had not been informed till
that day after dinner that she was to be executed next morning. "Thanks be
unto God, however," she added, "I have no terror at the idea of death,
and solemnly declare to you, that I meet it innocent of every crime. The
bearer of this letter, and my other servants, will recount to you how I
comported myself in my last moments." The letter concluded with earnest
entreaties, that her faithful followers should be protected and rewarded.
Her anxiety on their account, at such a moment, indicated all that amiable
generosity of disposition, which was one of the leading features of Mary's
character.[202] About two in the morning, she sealed up all her papers and
said she would now think no more of the affairs of this world, but would
spend the rest of her time in prayer and commune with her own conscience.
She went to bed for some hours; but she did not sleep. Her lips were
observed in continual motion, and her hands were frequently folded and
lifted up towards Heaven.[203]

On the morning of Wednesday the 8th of February, Mary rose with the break
of day; and her domestics, who had watched and wept all night immediately
gathered round her. She told them that she had made her will, and
requested that they would see it safely deposited in the hands of her
executors. She likewise beseeched them not to separate until they had
carried her body to France; and she placed a sum of money in the hands of
her physician to defray the expenses of the journey. Her earnest desire
was, to be buried either in the Church of St Dennis, in Paris, beside her
first husband Francis, or at Rheims, in the tomb which contained the
remains of her mother. She expressed a wish too, that, besides her friends
and servants, a number of poor people and children from different
hospitals should be present at her funeral, clothed in mourning at her
expense, and each, according to the Catholic custom, carrying in his hand
a lighted taper.[204]

She now renewed her devotions, and was in the midst of them, with her
servants praying and weeping round her, when a messenger from the
Commissioners knocked at the door, to announce that all was ready. She
requested a little longer time to finish her prayers, which was granted.
As soon as she desired the door to be opened, the Sheriff, carrying in his
hand the white wand of office, entered to conduct her to the place of
execution. Her servants crowded round her, and insisted on being allowed
to accompany her to the scaffold. But contrary orders having been given by
Elizabeth, they were told that she must proceed alone. Against a piece of
such arbitrary cruelty they remonstrated loudly, but in vain; for as soon
as Mary passed into the gallery, the door was closed, and believing that
they were separated from her forever, the shrieks of the women and the
scarcely less audible lamentations of the men were heard in distant parts
of the castle.

At the foot of the staircase leading down to the hall below, Mary was met
by the Earls of Kent and Shrewsbury; and she was allowed to stop to take
farewell of Sir Andrew Melvil, the master of her household, whom her
keepers had not allowed to come into her presence for some time before.
With tears in his eyes, Melvil knelt before her, kissed her hand, and
declared that it was the heaviest hour of his life. Mary assured him, that
it was not so to her. "I now feel, my good Melvil," said she, "that all
this world is vanity. When you speak of me hereafter, mention that I died
firm in my faith, willing to forgive my enemies, conscious that I had
never disgraced Scotland my native country, and rejoicing in the thought
that I had always been true to France, the land of my happiest years. Tell
my son," she added, and when she named her only child of whom she had been
so proud in his infancy, but in whom all her hopes had been so fatally
blasted, her feelings for the first time overpowered her, and a flood of
tears flowed from her eyes,--"tell my son that I thought of him in my last
moments, and that I have never yielded, either by word or deed, to aught
that might lead to his prejudice; desire him to preserve the memory of his
unfortunate parent, and may he be a thousand times more happy and more
prosperous than she has been."

Before taking leave of Melvil, Mary turned to the Commissioners and told
them, that her three last requests were, that her secretary Curl, whom she
blamed less for his treachery than Naw, should not be punished; that her
servants should have free permission to depart to France; and that some of
them should be allowed to come down from the apartments above to see her
die. The Earls answered, that they believed the two former of these
requests would be granted; but that they could not concede the last,
alleging, as their excuse, that the affliction of her attendants would
only add to the severity of her sufferings. But Mary was resolved that
some of her own people should witness her last moments. "I will not submit
to the indignity," she said, "of permitting my body to fall into the hands
of strangers. You are the servants of a maiden Queen, and she herself,
were she here, would yield to the dictates of humanity, and permit some of
those who have been so long faithful to me to assist me at my death.
Remember, too, that I am cousin to your mistress, and the descendant of
Henry VII.; I am the Dowager of France, and the anointed Queen of
Scotland." Ashamed of any further opposition, the Earls allowed her to
name four male and two female attendants, whom they sent for, and
permitted to remain beside her for the short time she had yet to

The same hall in which the trial had taken place, was prepared for the
execution. At the upper end was the scaffold, covered with black cloth,
and elevated about two feet from the floor. A chair was placed on it for
the Queen of Scots. On one side of the block stood two executioners, and
on the other, the Earls of Kent and Shrewsbury; Beal and the Sheriff were
immediately behind. The scaffold was railed off from the rest of the
hall, in which Sir Amias Paulet with a body of guards, the other
Commissioners, and some gentlemen of the neighbourhood, amounting
altogether to about two hundred persons, were assembled. Mary entered
leaning on the arm of her physician, while Sir Andrew Melvil carried the
train of her robe. She was in full dress, and looked as if she were about
to hold a drawing-room, not to lay her head beneath the axe. She wore a
gown of black silk, bordered with crimson velvet, over which was a satin
mantle; a long veil of white crape, stiffened with wire, and edged with
rich lace, hung down almost to the ground; round her neck was suspended an
ivory crucifix; and the beads which the Catholics use in their prayers,
were fastened to her girdle. The symmetry of her fine figure had long been
destroyed by her sedentary life; and years of care had left many a trace
on her beautiful features. But the dignity of the Queen was still
apparent; and the calm grace of mental serenity imparted to her
countenance at least some share of its former loveliness. With a composed
and steady step she passed through the hall, and ascended the
scaffold,--and as she listened unmoved, whilst Beal read aloud the warrant
for her death, even the myrmidons of Elizabeth looked upon her with

Beal having finished, the Dean of Peterborough presented himself at the
foot of the scaffold, and with more zeal than humanity, addressed Mary on
the subject of her religion. She mildly told him, that as she had been
born, so she was resolved to die, a Catholic, and requested that he would
not annoy her any longer with useless reasonings. But finding that he
would not be persuaded to desist, she turned away from him, and falling on
her knees, prayed fervently aloud,--repeating, in particular, many
passages from the Psalms. She prayed for her own soul, and that God would
send his Holy Spirit to comfort her in the agony of death; she prayed for
all good monarchs, for the Queen of England, for the King her son, for her
friends, and for all her enemies. She spoke with a degree of earnest
vehemence, and occasional strength of gesticulation, which deeply affected
all who heard her. She held a small crucifix in her hands, which were
clasped, and raised to Heaven; and at intervals a convulsive sob choked
her voice. As soon as her prayers were ended, she prepared to lay her head
on the block. Her two female attendants, as they assisted her to remove
her veil and head-dress, trembled so violently that they were hardly able
to stand. Mary gently reproved them,--"Be not thus overcome," she said; "I
am happy to leave the world, and you also ought to be happy to see me die
so willingly." As she bared her neck, she took from around it a cross of
gold, which she wished to give to Jane Kennedy; but the executioner, with
brutal coarseness, objected, alleging that it was one of his perquisites.
"My good friend," said Mary, "she will pay you much more than its value;"
but his only answer was, to snatch it rudely from her hand. She turned
from him, to pronounce a parting benediction on all her servants, to kiss
them, and bid them affectionately farewell. Being now ready, she desired
Jane Kennedy to bind her eyes with a rich handkerchief, bordered with
gold, which she had brought with her for the purpose; and laying her head
upon the block, her last words were,--"O Lord, in thee I have hoped, and
into thy hands I commit my spirit." The executioner, either from a want of
skill, or from agitation, or because the axe he used was blunt, struck
three blows before he separated her head from her body. His comrade then
lifted the head by the hair, (which, falling in disorder, was observed to
be quite grey), and called out, "God save Elizabeth, Queen of England!"
The Earl of Kent added, "Thus perish all her enemies;"--but, overpowered
by the solemnity and horror of the scene, none were able to respond,

Mary's remains were immediately taken from her servants, who wished to pay
them the last sad offices of affection, and were carried into an adjoining
apartment, where a piece of old green baize, taken from a billiard-table,
was thrown over that form which had once lived in the light of a nation's
eyes. It lay thus for some time; but was at length ordered to be embalmed,
and buried, with royal pomp, in the Cathedral at Peterborough,--a vulgar
artifice used by Elizabeth to stifle the gnawing remorse of her own
conscience, and make an empty atonement for her cruelty. Twenty-five years
afterwards, James VI. wishing to perform an act of tardy justice to the
memory of his mother, ordered her remains to be removed from Peterborough
to Henry VII.'s Chapel, in Westminster Abbey. A splendid monument was
there erected, adorned with an inscription, which, if it spoke truth,
James must have blushed with shame and indignation whenever he thought of
his mother's fate.

Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, died in the forty-fifth year of her age. If
the events of her life have been faithfully recorded in the preceding
pages, the estimate which is to be formed of her character cannot be a
matter of much doubt. To great natural endowments,--to feelings
constitutionally warm,--and to a disposition spontaneously excellent, were
added all the advantages which education could confer or wealth purchase.
That she was one of the most accomplished and talented women of the age,
even her enemies allow. But talents do not always insure success, nor
accomplishments command happiness; and by few persons in the whole range
of history was this truth more fatally experienced than by Mary Stuart. At
first sight, her life and fate seem almost a paradox. That one upon whom
most of the common goods of fortune had been heaped with so lavish a
hand,--one who was born to the enjoyment of all the rank and splendour
which earth possesses,--one whose personal charms and fascinations
obtained for her an empire over the heart, more lasting and honourable
than that which her birth gave her over a nation,--that even she should
have lived to lament that she had ever beheld the light of day, is one of
those striking examples of the uncertainty of all human calculations
regarding happiness, which, while it inspires the commonest mind with
wonder, teaches a deeper lesson of philosophy to the wisely reflective.
Circumstances are not so much the slaves of men, as men are of
circumstances. Mary lived at an age, and in a country, which only rendered
her risk the greater the more exalted her station. In France, where
civilization had made more progress, she might perhaps have avoided the
evils which overtook her at home; but in Scotland, a Princess possessing
the refinement of a foreign court, and though with a large proportion of
the virtues and captivations of her sex, not entirely destitute of some of
its weaknesses, could hardly expect to cope with the turbulent spirit, the
fanatical enthusiasm, the semi-barbarous prejudices of the times, without
finding her own virtues immerged in the crowd of contending interests, and
the vortex of fierce passions that surrounded her.

Mary's failings, almost without an exception, "leant to virtue's side."
They arose partly from too enthusiastic a temperament, and partly from a
want of experience. Although she lived forty-four years and two months, it
ought to be remembered that she was just twenty-five when she came into
England, and that all the most important events of her history happened
between sixteen and twenty-five. With feelings whose strength kept pace
with the unsuspicious generosity of her nature, Mary was one who, in an
especial manner, stood in need of experience, to teach what the world
calls wisdom. The great mass of mankind, endowed with no finer
susceptibilities, and influenced by no hidden impulses of soul or sense,
fall into the common track naturally and easily. But they whom heaven has
either cursed or blessed with minds, over which external circumstances
exercise a deeper sway, whose fancies are more vivid, and whose
impressions are more acute, require the aid of time to clip the wings of
imagination,--to cast a soberer shade over the glowing pictures of
hope,--and to teach the art of reducing an ideal standard of felicity and
virtue, to one less romantic, but more practical. Had she continued longer
in public life, there is every probability that the world would have been
forced to own, without a dissenting voice, the talent which Mary
possessed. In youth, genius is often indicated only by eccentricity and
imprudence; but its errors are errors of judgment, which have their origin
in an exuberance of sensibility. The sentiments of the heart have burst
forth into precocious blossom long before the reasoning faculties have
reached maturity. Her youth was Mary's chief misfortune, or rather it was
the source from which most of her misfortunes sprung. She judged of
mankind not as they were, but as she wished them to be. Conscious of the
sincerity of her own character, and the affectionate nature of her own
dispositions, she formed attachments too rashly, and trusted too
indiscriminately. She often found, when it was too late, that she had been
deceived; and the consequence was, that she became diffident of her own
judgment, and anxious to be guided by that of others. Here again, however,
she fell into an opposite extreme. In yielding, on her return to Scotland,
so implicitly to the counsels of Murray, she did what few queens, young
and flattered as she had been, would have done, and what, had she been
older, or more experienced, she ought not to have done.

But the highest degree of excellence, both in the material and the moral
world, arises out of the skilful combination of many discordant elements.
Time must be allowed them to settle down into an harmonious arrangement;
and time is all that is required. Before the age of five-and-twenty, it is
not to be supposed that Mary's character had acquired that strength and
stability which it would afterwards have attained. Nor was it desirable
that it should; for an old head upon youthful shoulders is contrary to
nature, and the anomaly frequently ends with a youthful head upon old
shoulders. Mary was young--she was beautiful--she was admired--she was a
woman; and to expect to have found, in the spring-time of her life, the
undeviating consistency, and the cool calculations of riper years, would
have been to imagine her that "faultless monster whom the world ne'er
saw." But, considering the situation in which she was placed--the persons
by whom she was surrounded--the stormy temper of the age--the pious and
deep-rooted prejudices of her subjects against the creed which she
professed--the restless jealousy of the Sovereign who reigned over the
neighbouring and more powerful country of England--the unfortunate though
not precipitate marriage with Lord Darnley,--it may be very safely asked,
where there is to be found an example of so much moderation, prudence, and
success, in one so recently introduced to the arduous cares of government?
Had Mary been vain, headstrong, opinionative, and bigotted, she would
never have yielded, as she did, to the current of popular opinion which
then ran so tumultuously;--she would never have condescended to
expostulate with Knox,--she would never have been ruled by Murray,--she
would never have so easily forgiven injuries and stifled resentments. She
was in truth only too facile. She submitted too tamely to the insolence of
Knox; she was too diffident of herself, and too willing to be swayed by
Murray; she was too ready to pardon those who had given her the justest
cause of offence; she was too candid and open, too distrustful of her own
capacity, too gentle, too generous, and too engaging.

But if her faults consisted only in an excess of amiable qualities, or in
those strong feelings which, though properly directed, were not always
properly proportioned, the question naturally occurs, why the Queen of
Scots should have suffered so much misery? "To say that she was always
unfortunate," observes Robertson, "will not account for that long and
almost uninterrupted succession of calamities which befel her; we must
likewise add, that she was often imprudent." Here the historian first
mistates the fact, and then draws an inference from that mistatement. No
"long and uninterrupted succession of calamities" befel Mary. She
experienced an almost unparalleled reverse of fortune, but that reverse
was sudden and complete. She sunk at once from a queen into a
captive,--from power to weakness,--from splendor to obscurity. So long as
she was permitted to be the arbitress of her own fortune, she met and
overcame every difficulty; but when lawless and ambitious men wove their
web around her, she was caught in it, and could never again escape from
its meshes. Had she stumbled on from one calamity to another, continuing
all the while a free agent, Robertson's remark would have been just. But
such was not her case;--the morning saw her a queen, and the evening found
her a captive. The blow was as sudden as it was decisive; and her future
life was an ineffectual struggle to escape from the chains which had been
thrown round her in a moment, and which pressed her irresistibly to the
ground. A calamity which no foresight could anticipate, or prudence avert,
may overtake the wisest and the best; and such to Mary was the murder of
Darnley, and Bothwell's subsequent treason and violence. If to these be
added the scarcely less iniquitous conduct of Elizabeth, the treachery of
Morton, the craftiness of Murray, and the disastrous defeat at Langside,
it needs no research or ingenuity to discover, that her miseries were not
of her own making.

Should a still more comprehensive view of this subject be taken, and the
whole life of the Queen of Scots reviewed, from her birth to her death, it
will be found that, however great her advantages, they were almost always
counterbalanced by some evil, which necessarily attended or sprung out of
them. She was a queen when only a few months old; but she was also an
orphan. She was destined, from her earliest childhood, to be the wife of
the future monarch of France; but she was, in consequence, taken away from
her native country, and the arms of her mother. The power and talents of
her uncles of Guise were constantly exerted in her behalf; but she shared,
therefore, in the hatred and jealousy in which they were held by a
numerous party, both at home and abroad. Her residence and education, at
the Court of Henry II., insured the refinement of her manners and the
cultivation of her mind; but it excited the suspicions and the fears of
the people of Scotland. She was beautiful even to a proverb; but her
beauty obtained for her as much envy as praise. She possessed the heart of
her husband Francis; but she only felt his loss the more acutely. She
returned to her own kingdom as the Queen-dowager of France; but her power
and her pretensions made the English dread, and did not prevent her
heretical subjects from openly braving, her authority. She married Darnley
in the hopes of brightening her prospects, and securing her happiness; but
he was the main cause of overclouding the one, and destroying the other.
She was freed, by his death, from the wayward caprices of his ill-governed
temper; but she escaped from one yoke only to be forced into another a
thousand times worse. She loved her brother, and loaded him with favours;
but he repaid them by placing himself upon her throne, and chasing her
from the country. She escaped into England; but there she met with
reproaches instead of assistance, a prison instead of an asylum, a mortal
enemy instead of a sister, an axe and a scaffold instead of sympathy and

Mary's misfortunes, therefore, may be safely asserted not to have been the
result of her imprudence or her errors. But justice is not satisfied with
this merely negative praise. The Queen of Scots was one who needed only to
have been prosperous, to be in the eyes of the world all that was great
and good. And though the narrow-minded are only too ready, at all times,
to triumph over the fallen, and to fancy, that where there is misery
there is also guilt, they must nevertheless own, that there are some whose
character only rises the higher, the more it is tried. If, on the one
hand, the temptations to which Mary was exposed be duly considered,--her
youth,--the prejudices of her education,--and the designing ministers by
whom she was surrounded;--and, on the other, her conduct towards the
Reformers, towards her enemies, towards her friends, towards all her
subjects,--the deliberate judgment of calm impartiality, not of hasty
enthusiasm, must be, that illustrious as her birth and rank were, she
possessed virtues and talents which not only made her independent of the
former, but raised her above them. In her better days, the vivacity and
sweetness of her manners, her openness, her candour, her generosity, her
polished wit, her extensive information, her cultivated taste, her easy
affability, her powers of conversation, her native dignity and grace, were
all conspicuous, though too little appreciated by the less refined
frequenters of the Scottish Court. Nor did she appear to less advantage in
the season of calamity. On the contrary, she had an opportunity of
displaying in adversity a fortitude and nobility of soul, which she
herself might not have known that she possessed, had she been always
prosperous. Her piety and her constancy became more apparent in a prison
than on a throne; and of none could it be said more truly than of
her,--"_ponderibus virtus innata resistit_." In the glory of victory and
the pride of success, it is easy for a conquering monarch to float down
the stream of popularity; but it is a far more arduous task to gain a
victory over the natural weaknesses of one's own nature, and, in the
midst of sufferings, to triumph over one's enemies. Mary did this; and was
a thousand times more to be envied, when kneeling at her solitary
devotions in the Castle of Fotheringhay, than Elizabeth surrounded with
all the heartless splendor of Hampton Court. As she laid her head upon the
block, the dying graces threw upon her their last smiles; and the sublime
serenity of her death was an argument in her favour, the force of which
must be confessed by incredulity itself. Mary was not destined to obtain
the crown of England, but she gained instead the crown of martyrdom.[209]

"Many of us," said the Archbishop of Bruges, who was appointed to preach
Mary's funeral sermon in the church of Notre Dame at Paris, "Many of us
have seen in this very place the Queen whom we now deplore, on her bridal
morning and in her royal robes, so resplendent with jewels, that they
shone like the light of day, or like her own beauty, which was more
resplendent still. Nothing was to be discovered around or within but
embroidered hangings, and cloth of gold, and precious tapestry, and
couches and thrones occupied by kings and queens, and princes and nobles,
who had come from all parts to be present at the festival. In the palace
were magnificent banquets, and pageants, and masquerades; in the streets
and squares, joustings, tournaments, and processions. It seemed as if the
overwhelming brilliancy of our age was destined to surpass the richest
pomp of every preceding age,--even the times when Greece and Rome were in
all their splendor. A brief space has passed away like a cloud, and we
have seen _her_ a captive whom we saw in triumph,--a prisoner, who set the
prisoners free,--poor, who gave away so liberally,--disdained, who was the
fountain of honour. We have seen _her_, who was a two-fold Queen, in the
hands of a common executioner, and that fair form, which graced the
nuptial couch of the greatest monarch in Christendom, dishonoured on a
scaffold. We have seen that loveliness, which was one of the wonders of
the world, broken down by long captivity, and at length effaced by an
ignominious death. If this fatal reverse teaches the uncertainty and
vanity of all human things, the patience and incomparable fortitude of the
Queen we have lost, also teach a more profitable lesson, and afford a
salutary consolation. Every new calamity gave her an opportunity of
gaining a new victory, and of evincing new proofs of her piety and
constancy. It seems certain, indeed, that Providence made her affliction
conspicuous, only to make her virtue more conspicuous. Others leave to
their successors the care of building monuments, to preserve their name
from oblivion; but the life and death of this lady are her monument.
Marble, and brass, and iron decay, or are devoured by rust; but in no age,
however long the world may endure, will the memory of Mary Stuart, Queen
of Scots, and Dowager of France, cease to be cherished with affection and


  O place and greatness! millions of false eyes
  Are stuck upon thee! Volumes of report
  Run with these false and most contrarious guests
  Upon thy doings! Thousand 'scapes of wit
  Make thee the father of their idle dream,
  And rack thee in their fancies.----

Considering the very opposite opinions which have been long entertained,
regarding the character and conduct of the Queen of Scots, no memoirs of
her life would be complete, that did not contain some examination of the
evidence upon which they who believe her guilty principally rest their
conviction. This evidence consists of eight Letters, eleven Love-Sonnets,
and one Marriage Contract, all alleged to have been written in the Queen's
own hand, and addressed to the Earl of Bothwell. In corroboration of
these, another Contract, said to have been written by the Earl of Huntly,
and signed by the Queen; and the Confessions and Depositions of some of
the persons who were known to be implicated in Bothwell's guilt, were
likewise produced. Of the Letters, two were supposed to have been written
from Glasgow, at the time Mary went thither to visit Darnley when he was
ill, and are intended to prove her criminal connection with Bothwell; two
or three from the Kirk-of-Field, for the purpose of facilitating the
arrangements regarding the murder; and the rest after that event, and
before her abduction, to show that the whole scheme of the pretended
ravishment was preconcerted between them. The precise time at which it is
pretended the Sonnets were composed, does not appear; but expressions in
them prove, that it must have been posterior to the Queen's residence at
Dunbar. The Contract of Marriage, in Mary's own hand, though without date,
must have been written very soon after Darnley's death, and contained a
promise never to marry any one but Bothwell. The Contract, said to be in
Huntly's hand, was dated at Seton, the 5th of April 1567, eight weeks
after Darnley's death, a week before Bothwell's trial and acquittal, and
three weeks before he was divorced from his first wife. The Confessions
and Depositions are various, but only in one or two of them is any
allusion made to Mary. The Letters, Sonnets, and Contracts, were said to
have been discovered in a small gilt coffer, which the Earl of Bothwell
left in the Castle of Edinburgh, in the custody of Sir James Balfour, at
the time he fled from Edinburgh to Borthwick, about a month after his
marriage, and shortly before the affair at Carberry Hill. After his
discomfiture there, he is stated to have sent his servant, Dalgleish, into
Edinburgh from Dunbar, to demand the coffer from Balfour. Sir James, it
was said, delivered it up, but at the same time gave intimation to the
Earl of Morton, who seized Dalgleish, and made himself master of the box
and its contents. The Letters and Sonnets, which were written in French,
were afterwards all translated into Scotch, and three into Latin.

Anxious to put beyond a doubt, either the forgery or the authenticity of
these writings, numerous authors have exercised their ingenuity and
talents, in a most minute and laborious examination, not only of their
leading features, but of every line, and almost of every word. It would
seem, however, not to be necessary, in so far as the great interests of
truth are concerned, to descend to such microscopic investigation, and
tedious verbal criticism, as have extended pages into volumes, and
rendered confused and tiresome, disquisitions which might otherwise have
been simple and interesting. If Mary's innocence is to be established, it
must not be by the discovery of petty inconsistencies, or trifling
inaccuracies. If her guilt is to be proved, the impartial reader is not to
be satisfied with vague suspicions or ingenious suggestions, but must have
a body of evidence set before him, which, if it does not amount to actual
demonstration, contains a circumstantial strength equally calculated to

It may be observed, at the outset, that unless the conclusions, to which
these writings would lead, be corroborated by the established facts of
History, it cannot be expected that a great deal of weight will be
attached to them. Besides, it must not be forgotten, that as the originals
have been lost, it is by means of translations alone that their alleged
contents are known to the world. Upon their authority, Mary is accused of
having first committed adultery, and then murder. Whatever opinion may
have been formed of her from her behaviour during the rest of her
existence,--however gentle her dispositions may have appeared,--however
strong her sense of the distinction between right and wrong,--however
constant her religious principles,--however wise her government,--however
excellent the culture of her mind,--if the letters are to be credited, the
whole was either hypocrisy from beginning to end, or, (overcome by some
sudden impulse,) a year of gross criminality was introduced into the very
middle of a well spent life. If she made so rapid a descent into a career
of vice, she as rapidly rose again; and reassuming the character she had
laid aside, lived and died with the purity of a saint, and the fortitude
of a martyr. It cannot therefore be upon slight grounds that evidence so
fatal to her reputation is to be admitted; and there will be little
necessity to engage in minute cavilling, or to enter upon points of minor
importance, if, by a distinct statement of some of the leading arguments
against its authenticity, the whole shall be made to appear nugatory,
improbable, and unentitled to credit.

The evidences naturally divide themselves into the two heads of
_external_ and _internal_; and, without further preface, it will be best
to consider these in succession.

THE EXTERNAL EVIDENCES.--It was on the 20th of June 1567, that Dalgleish
was seized, with the box and writings. The official account given by
Buchanan is,--"That in the Castle of Edinburgh there was left by the Earl
Bothwell, before his flying away, and was sent for by one George
Dalgleish, his servant, who was taken by the Earl of Morton, a small gilt
coffer, not fully a foot long, being garnished in sundry places with the
Roman letter F, under a king's crown, wherein were certain letters and
writings well known, and by oaths, to be affirmed to have been written
with the Queen of Scots own hand, to the Earl of Bothwell."[211] The
question to be decided is, whether these letters and writings are genuine,
or whether they can be proved to be fabrications? That the latter is the
correct conclusion, appears on the following grounds.

_First_, The conduct of Murray, Morton, and others of the Scottish
nobility, on various occasions, proves that ambition was the ruling
passion of their lives. Murray's iniquitous extermination of the Gordons
in 1562, the influence he afterwards exercised in Mary's councils, and his
unjustifiable opposition to her marriage with Darnley, carried even the
length of open rebellion, illustrate his character no less clearly, than
the share he had in the murder of Rizzio, and his proceedings after the
meeting at Carberry Hill, do that of Morton. A train of events, arising
out of the audacious machinations of Bothwell, placed Mary at the disposal
of men thus devoted to the attainment of power. Yielding to their
irresistible desire to secure its possession, they first imprisoned, and
then dethroned their sovereign. She escaped from their hands, and, though
driven from the country, threatened to return with foreign aid, to place
herself at the head of her own party, which was still powerful, and to
force from them their usurped authority. The urgency of the case called
for a bold and decisive remedy. If Mary could prove, as there was no doubt
she could, that, according to all the facts yet before the world, she had
suffered severely and unjustly, they must either fall upon some means to
vindicate their own actions, or be ruined for ever. Nothing would more
naturally suggest itself than the expedient they adopted. The circumstance
of Mary having been actually married to the man who murdered her former
husband, opened a door to the very worst suspicions; and if they could
artfully conceal the events which led to the marriage, and which not only
justified it, but made it a matter of necessity, they hoped still to
retain possession of the government. They were aware, indeed, that by
their own proclamations and acts of council, they had acknowledged Mary's
innocence, and pointed out the real cause of her connection with Bothwell;
and it was now not enough, after they had involved themselves in deeper
responsibility, merely to retract their former allegations. They were
called upon to show _why_ they departed from them;--they were called upon
to prove, that when they first imprisoned her, though they confessed the
Queen was innocent, they were now satisfied she was guilty. There was a
positive necessity for the appearance of the letters; and if they had not
been fortunately discovered, just at the proper time, Murray and his
colleagues must either have had recourse to some other expedient, or have
consented to Mary's restoration, and their own disgrace.

_Second_, That Mary may have written love-letters to Francis II., and to
Darnley, before and after she was married to them, is not unlikely; that
she wrote sonnets and letters of affection to many of her friends, both
male and female, is beyond a doubt; but that she would ever have written
such letters and sonnets to the Earl of Bothwell, whom she never loved,
whom she at one time threw into prison, and at another sent into
banishment, whom she knew to be a married man, and whose marriage she had
herself countenanced and encouraged, is against all probability. If
Bothwell had never become Mary's husband, history does not record one
circumstance, which would at all lead to the belief, that she was attached
to him. Her very marriage, when fairly and fully considered, only makes
the fact more certain, that she had no regard for Bothwell, else there
would have been no forcible abduction on his part, or pretended reluctance
on hers. Even though she had consented to marry Bothwell, which the
clearest evidence proves her not to have done, it would afford no
presumption against her, that he was afterwards discovered to have been
the murderer of Darnley. He had not only been legally acquitted, but all
her chief nobility had recommended him to her as a husband, stating the
grounds of their recommendation to be the high opinion they entertained of
his worth and loyalty. Robertson, Laing, and others, it is true, copying
Buchanan, have laboured to show, that Mary discovered in various ways her
extreme partiality for Bothwell. Most of their arguments have been already
considered elsewhere; but it will be worth while attending for a moment to
such of the circumstances collected by Robertson, and drawn up in
formidable array, in the "Critical Dissertation" subjoined to his History
of Scotland, as have not yet been noticed. The answers and explanations
which immediately suggest themselves are so entirely satisfactory, that we
can only wonder the historian did not himself perceive them.

Robertson states, that on the 15th of February 1567, five days after the
murder, Mary bestowed on Bothwell the reversion of the superiority of the
town of Leith, and that this grant was of much importance, as it gave him
both the command of the principal port in the kingdom, and a great
ascendancy over the citizens of Edinburgh. But this assignation, as is
expressly stated in the charter, was made to Bothwell as a reward for his
faithful services, both to Mary's mother and to herself, especially on the
occasion of Rizzio's death, and must have been in contemplation for some
time; nor can it be supposed to have occupied the Queen's thoughts, at a
moment when she was refusing to see any one, and was shut up by herself in
a dark room, a prey to the bitterest regrets. It ought to be recollected,
besides, that she had not yet conferred on Bothwell any adequate
recompense for his fidelity and exertions after her escape from Morton;
and that the grant of the superiority of the town of Leith, was only a
very tardy acknowledgment of her obligations. She made presents of a
similar description to others of her nobility about the same time: if any
of them had afterwards forced her into a marriage, these gifts might have
been raked up with equal plausibility, to prove that she was then in love
with Morton, Huntly, Secretary Maitland, or any body else. At the
Parliament which assembled on the 14th of April 1567, ratifications of
grants were passed to many of the principal persons in the realm; and
among others to the Earl of Mar, Morton, Crawford, Caithness, and Lord
Robert Stuart.[212] It will not be asserted, that Mary was attached to any
of these persons; and is there any thing wonderful that she included in
the list of those to whom she made donations, her Lord High Admiral? The
case, no doubt, would have been worse, had she known that Bothwell was the
murderer of Darnley, but throughout the whole of this discussion, it must
be remembered, that if Mary was really innocent, she could not believe
Bothwell guilty till he had been actually proved so.

Robertson states further, that two days after the trial, Mary allowed
Bothwell to carry the sceptre before her when she went to open the
Parliament; that she there granted him a ratification of all the vast
possessions and honours which she had conferred upon him; and that, when
Sir James Melville warned her of the danger which would attend a marriage
with that nobleman, she not only disregarded his admonition, but
discovered to Bothwell what had passed. But, as to the carrying of the
sceptre, it was surely not to be expected, that after a full acquittal,
without even the shadow of evidence being advanced against him, Mary could
have ventured to refuse his accustomed honours to the most powerful noble
in the realm. As to the Parliamentary ratification of "all the vast
possessions and honours which she had conferred upon him," the
misrepresentation is glaring in the extreme; for she never conferred on
Bothwell any vast possessions and honours, and the ratification alluded
only to certain lands which were given him, to defray his charges in
keeping the Castle of Dunbar.[213] Bothwell no doubt enjoyed "vast
possessions and honours;" but they were mostly hereditary, or had been
obtained by him before Mary came into the kingdom. And as to the manner in
which Mary took Sir James Melville's warning,--the facts were these:--Sir
James received a letter out of England, from a person of the name of
Bishop, telling him that it had been rumoured (and there is no wonder,
considering the bond which had been previously obtained from the nobility)
that Bothwell was to be married to her Majesty, and assuring him, that if
she consented to such an alliance, it would be much against her own
reputation and interest. When Sir James showed this letter to Mary, she
immediately sent, not for Bothwell, but for Secretary Maitland, to whom
she handed it, expressing her surprise at its contents, and her suspicion
that it was only a device on the part of some of Bothwell's enemies, who
wished to ruin him in her estimation. She afterwards took an opportunity
to speak of it to Bothwell himself, who affected to be highly indignant,
and was so enraged against Melville, that, had not Mary interfered, he
would have forced him to fly from the Court to save his life. Bothwell's
rage is easily accounted for, considering the designs he then had in view,
and the necessity for concealing them. But had he known that Mary was
disposed to favour them, he would of course have taken the whole matter
much more coolly. When Melville came upon the subject with Mary, she
assured him that she did not contemplate any such alliance, and she had in
like manner previously told Lord Herries, that "there was no such thing in
her mind."[214] If deductions like those of Robertson, so contrary to the
premises on which they are founded, be allowed, it is impossible to say to
what belief they may not be made to lead.

Robertson states, lastly, that even after Mary had been separated from
Bothwell, and confined in Loch-Leven, her affection for him did not abate;
and that the fair conclusion from all these circumstances is, that had
Mary really been accessory to the murder of her husband, "she could
scarcely have taken any other steps than those she took, nor could her
conduct have been more repugnant to all the maxims of prudence or of
decency." But that Mary's affection for a man she had never loved,
continued after she had left him to his fate, at Carberry Hill, and gone
publicly over in the face of the whole world to his bitterest enemies, (on
whose authority alone Robertson's assertion is made, though expressly
contradicted by their own previous declarations, as well as by Mary's
statements whenever she regained her liberty), is not to be believed; and
had she been really innocent, "she could scarcely have taken any other
steps than those she took," nor could her conduct have been more accordant
with all the maxims of prudence and propriety.

_Third_, Supposing Mary to have actually written the letters to Bothwell,
it may very fairly be asked,--Why he was so imprudent as preserve
them?--why he chose to keep only eight?--why he put them all into the same
box?--and why he should ever have intrusted that box to the custody of Sir
James Balfour? It is extremely difficult to answer satisfactorily any of
these questions. The only explanation which the first admits of, is, that
Bothwell was afraid lest Mary should afterwards quarrel with him, and
resolved therefore not to destroy the evidence of her participation in the
murder. But if he acted upon this principle, why did he limit himself to a
collection of eight letters? If Mary ever corresponded with him at all, he
must have had in his possession many more of her epistles; for the first
of the series which has been preserved, is evidently not the letter of one
commencing a correspondence, but of one who writes as a matter of course,
to a person whom she has often written to before. It may be said, perhaps,
that none of her previous letters bore upon the subject of Darnley's
murder; but they must at all events have contained expressions of
affection, which would have served as an indirect proof of her guilt. If,
by preserving these documents, and running the risk of their falling into
the hands of his enemies, who would so eagerly use them to his
disadvantage, Bothwell thought he was choosing the least of two dangers,
he would certainly have been anxious to make his evidence of Mary's
connexion with him as full and complete as possible. Accordingly, some
love-sonnets, and a contract of marriage, were said to have been put into
the same box, but only eight letters; as if, during the whole course of
his amour with the Queen, and all its anxious days and nights, she had
limited herself to eight epistolary testimonials of her love. But having
preserved them, and having limited their number to eight, and having
chosen to put them, not into a strong iron box locked and pad-locked, of
which he alone kept the key, but into a "small gilt coffer" which never
belonged to him at all, but had been a gift to Mary from her first husband
Francis,--why was he so very absurd as send them to Sir James Balfour in
the Castle of Edinburgh, at the very time that a rebellion was rising in
the nation, and that he was beginning to suspect Balfour's fidelity? They
were sent, we are informed, "before his flying away" from Edinburgh, in
the beginning of June 1567. Was this the moment at which he would be
disposed to part with writings he had so carefully treasured? If he was
afraid that his enemies would advance upon Edinburgh, why did he not take
the "small gilt coffer" with him to Dunbar, instead of sending it to the
very place where it was sure to become their prey? If the letters were in
truth forged, it was necessary for the forgers to concoct as plausible a
story concerning them as possible. They knew it was not likely that
Bothwell would send them to the Castle tied up as an open packet; and the
idea of a box would therefore occur to them. But as they had not in their
possession any box which belonged to Bothwell, they were forced to make
use of what they could get; and finding at Holyrood, when they rifled the
palace of most of the Queen's valuables, the coffer in question, they
would readily avail themselves of it. It would further occur to them, that
Bothwell could not be supposed to have left the letters at Holyrood, which
was not a place of any strength; and as they had not followed him to
Dunbar, they were obliged to give out that he had made the Castle of
Edinburgh their hiding-place. But if the letters had not been forgeries,
and if they had been really preserved by Bothwell, they would have been
more numerous,--they would not have been kept in one of Mary's
trinket-boxes,--and they would never have found their way out of his own
hands into the custody of Sir James Balfour.

_Fourth_, The next improbability connected with this story, is, that
Bothwell sent to reclaim the letters at the time alleged. On the 15th of
September 1568, Murray, before going into England, to attend the
conference at York, gave the Earl of Morton a receipt for the "silver box,
overgilt with gold, with all missive letters, contracts or obligations for
marriage, sonnets or love ballads, and all other letters contained
therein, sent and passed betwixt the Queen and James, sometime Earl
Bothwell; which box, and whole pieces within the same, were taken and
found with umwhile George Dalgleish, servant to the said Earl Bothwell,
upon the 20th day of June, in the year of God 1567."[215] This, then, was
exactly five days after Bothwell had fled from Carberry Hill, and when
Edinburgh was in the possession of the opposite faction, with whom Sir
James Balfour had now associated himself. Dalgleish, it appears, who was
well known to be a servant of Bothwell, was able not only to effect an
entrance into Edinburgh, though the city was strictly guarded, but was
received into the Castle, and had the box actually delivered to him by
Balfour. How he happened to be afterwards discovered, and his property
taken from him, is not made out. If Balfour privately intimated to Morton
what he had done, then he at once acted knavishly towards Bothwell, and
most inconsiderately towards those whom he wished to befriend; for
Dalgleish might have either baffled pursuit, or he might have secreted the
box, or destroyed its contents before he was taken. Thus we have a tissue
of improbabilities, pervading the whole of this part of the narrative.
Bothwell could never send to Edinburgh Castle for writings he would never
have deposited there: and most especially he would never send, when he
himself was a fugitive, and that fortress, along with the adjacent town,
in the hands of his enemies. Nor would Balfour have surrendered a box so
precious; nor, if he did, would Dalgleish have allowed it again to become
the prey of those from whom it was most wished to conceal it.

_Fifth_, What was done with the letters immediately after Morton and the
other Lords got possession of them? Bothwell had been already accused of
the murder of Darnley; his former acquittal had been declared unjust; he
had been separated from the Queen; and she herself had been sequestrated
in Loch-Leven, until the whole affair should be duly investigated. Surely,
then, the discovery of these letters would be regarded with signal
satisfaction, and the associated Lords would lose not a moment in
announcing their existence to the nation, as the best justification of
their own proceedings. They had sent Mary, it is true, to Loch-Leven,
somewhat precipitately, five days before they were aware of her enormous
guilt; but if their own ambition had prompted that step, they would now be
able to free themselves from blame, and would silence at once the boldest
of the Queen's defenders. As it appears by the records, that a meeting of
Privy Council was held on the 21st of June, the very day after Dalgleish
was seized, we shall surely find that all the papers were produced, and
their contents impressively recorded in the Council-books. Nothing of the
kind took place; and though Morton was present at the meeting, not a
single word was said of the letters.[216] Again, on the 26th of June, an
act was passed for sanctioning the imprisonment of the Queen in
Loch-Leven, and a proclamation issued for apprehending the Earl of
Bothwell; but though the latter was accused of having "treasonably
ravished" the person of her Highness the Queen, and also of being the
"principal author of the late cruel murder," no hint was given of the
evidence which had been recently discovered against him, and which,
indeed, had it been in their possession, would have directly contradicted
the assertion, that Bothwell had been guilty Of "treasonable ravishment,"
or of keeping the Queen in "thraldom and bondage;" for it would have
appeared, that he had obtained her previous consent for every thing he had
done.[217] Between this date and the 11th of July, several other meetings
of Council were held, and acts published, but not a whisper was heard
concerning these important letters. When Sir Nicolas Throckmorton was sent
by Elizabeth, as her ambassador into Scotland, the Lords presented him, on
the 11th of July, with a formal justification of their doings; but, in all
that long and laboured paper, the letters were never once alluded to. On
the contrary, in direct opposition to them, such passages as the following
occur more than once:--"How shamefully the Queen, our Sovereign, was led
captive, and, by fear, force, and (as by many conjectures may be well
suspected) other extraordinary and more unlawful means, compelled to
become bed-fellow to another wife's husband, and to him who, not three
months before, had in his bed most cruelly murdered her husband, is
manifest to the world, to the great dishonour of her Majesty, us all, and
this whole nation."--"It behoved us, assuredly, to have recommended the
soul of our Prince, and of the most part of ourselves, to God's hands;
and as we may firmly believe the soul also of our Sovereign the Queen,
who should not have lived with him half a year to an end, as may be
conjectured by the short time they lived together, and the maintaining of
his other wife at home in his house."--"The respects aforesaid, with many
others, and very necessity, moved us to enterprise the quarrel we have in
hand, which was only intended against the Earl of Bothwell's person, to
dissolve the dishonourable and unlawful conjunction under the name of
marriage."[218] These are positive declarations, which not only bear no
reference to the box of love-letters, but which deliberately and
conclusively give the lie to their contents. When was it, then, that these
momentous letters were introduced to the world? The Lords, not satisfied
with "sequestrating the person" of the Queen, forced from her an
abdication of her throne on the 25th of July. Surely, before venturing on
so audacious a proceeding, these criminal writings would be made known to
the country. But no; we in vain expect to hear any thing of
them;--"shadows, clouds, and darkness" still rest upon them.

At length, a fresh actor returned to that scene, in which he had formerly
played with so much success; and _his_ inventive genius brought the
mystery to light. Early in August, the Earl of Murray rejoined his old
associates; and on the 22d of that month, he was proclaimed Regent. It was
necessary for him, shortly afterwards, to hold a Parliament; and the
Queen's party being then almost as strong as his own, it was still more
necessary for him to fall upon some means to justify his usurpation, as
well as those severe proceedings against Mary to which he had given his
sanction. Accordingly, after he had been in Scotland four months, and had
cautiously prepared his body of written evidence, we find it mentioned,
_for the first time_, in an act of Council, passed on the 4th of December,
only ten days before the meeting of Parliament, and evidently in
anticipation of that event. In this act it is expressly declared, "that
the cause and occasion of the private conventions of the Lords, Barons and
others, and consequently their taking of arms, and coming to the field,
and the cause and occasion of the taking of the Queen's person, upon the
15th day of June last, and holding and detaining of the same within the
house and place of Loch Leven, continually since, presently, and in all
time coming, and generally all other things invented, spoken, or written
by them since the 10th day of February last, (upon which day umwhile King
Henry was shamefully and horribly murdered), unto the day and date hereof,
touching the Queen's person, cause, and all things depending thereon, was
in the said Queen's own default, in as far as, by diverse her privy
letters, written and subscribed with her own hand, and sent by her to
James Earl of Bothwell, chief executor of the said horrible murder, as
well before the committing thereof as after, and by her ungodly and
dishonourable proceeding in a private marriage with him, suddenly and
unprovisedly thereafter, it is most certain that she was privy, art and
part, and of the actual device and deed of the forementioned
murder."[219] The ensuing Parliament passed an act, which, after a
preamble expressed in nearly the same words, sanctioned the Queen's
imprisonment and Murray's Regency;[220] and nothing more whatever is known
or heard of these "privy letters," till nearly the end of the following
year, 1568.

With regard to these acts of Council and Parliament, it is to be remarked,
in the first place, that they refer to the Letters as the grounds upon
which the nobles took up arms, separated the Queen from Bothwell at
Carberry Hill, and imprisoned her at Loch-Leven; although, according to a
subsequent confession, the Letters were not discovered till after she had
been in captivity for five days, and although, in all the proclamations
and acts of the time, Mary's innocence was openly allowed, and the bondage
in which she had been kept by Bothwell as openly proclaimed. It is to be
remarked, in the second place, that no account is given, either of the
contents of these Letters, of the time of their discovery, or of the
evidence by which their authenticity was ascertained. Dalgleish was at the
very moment in custody, and a few days afterwards was tried and executed
for his share in Darnley's death, of which he made a full confession. But
why was he not brought forward and examined concerning the Letters; and
why is there not a word about them in his confession?[221] Why was
Dalgleish never mentioned as having any connection with the Letters at all
till after he was dead? And if it was originally intended to refer to the
Letters as the authorities on which the Lords sent Mary to Loch-Leven,
may it not be fairly concluded, that the idea of their having been taken
from Dalgleish on the 20th of June, was an after-thought, when it became
necessary to account for the manner in which they had fallen into their
hands? Was it, besides, enough to satisfy the nation to allude, in vague
and general terms, to the existence of documents of so much weight? If
they were thus obscurely locked up in Murray's custody,--if nothing
further was said about them but that they existed,--if all the nobility of
Scotland were not requested to come and examine them,--if they were not
printed and published that the people might see them, and feel convinced
that the Lords had acted justly, can it be cause of wonder, that, not only
all Mary's friends, but even Elizabeth herself, intimated doubts of their

_Sixth_, If it is strange that these important writings were so long kept
from the public eye, it is no less strange, that, when they were at length
produced, a degree of caution and hesitation was observed regarding them
not a little suspicious. If the Regent had been satisfied of their
authenticity, he would fearlessly have exhibited them to all who were
interested in their contents. Even allowing that he had a fair excuse for
concealing them so long, he would have been eager to challenge for them,
when he at last determined to bring them forward, the minutest
examination, so that the most sceptical might be convinced they were
genuine. If he acted honestly, and, on the authority of these writings,
believed his sister unworthy of continuing on the Scottish throne, he must
have been anxious that the whole country should acknowledge the propriety
of his conduct; or if he had himself been misled, he ought not to have
been unwilling to have had the forgery pointed out to him, and Mary
restored to the government. But we look in vain for any thing frank, open,
and candid, in Murray's proceedings.

When the conference began at York, there was not a word said of the
letters, till it was found that, without their aid, no plausible answer
could be given to the complaints made by Mary. Even then they were not
boldly produced, and openly laid before the Commissioners; but Maitland,
Macgill, Wood, and Buchanan, were sent to hold a "private and secret
conference" with Norfolk and his colleagues, in which they produced the
letters and other papers, and asked their opinion concerning them.[222] As
soon as Elizabeth was informed of their contents, she removed the
conference to Westminster; and Mary sent her Commissioners thither, still
ignorant of the alleged existence of any such writings. It was not till
the 8th of December 1568 that the letters made their appearance in an
official manner. As Elizabeth herself, departing from the impartiality of
an umpire, had already secretly encouraged their production, and as she
had evidently entered into Murray's views regarding them, there was now
surely no further trepidation or concealment. But what is the fact? On
only _two_ occasions were the originals of these writings ever shown; and
on neither occasion does their authenticity appear to have been at all
determined. On the 8th of December, "they produced seven several writings,
written in French, and avowed by them to be written by the said Queen;
which seven writings being copied, were read in French, and a due
collation made thereof, as near as could be, by reading and inspection,
and made to accord with the originals, which the said Earl of Murray
required to be re-delivered, and did thereupon deliver the copies, being
collationed."[223] Here, therefore, nothing was done except comparing
copies with what were called originals, to see that they agreed. These
copies were left in the hands of the Commissioners, and the originals, by
whoever they were written, were immediately returned to Murray. On the
14th of December, they again made their appearance, for the second and
last time; "and being read, were duly conferred and compared, for the
manner of writing and fashion of orthography, with sundry other letters,
long since heretofore written, and sent by the said Queen of Scots to the
Queen's Majesty."[224] Was this all the proof that was offered? Yes; the
whole. Elizabeth, who was no less anxious than Murray himself to blacken
the character of the Queen of Scots, was allowed to supply the letters
with which the other writings were to be compared; and, for any thing that
is known to the contrary, these "other letters, long since heretofore
written," were only a few more forgeries from the same hand, prepared for
the very use to which they were applied. And be this as it may, is it
likely that, by a hasty collation of this kind, any accurate decision
could be formed; or that, in a single forenoon, a number of different
individuals could come to a conclusion on so very nice a point as a
comparison of hands, especially having before them so great a number of
documents to decide upon? It is a maxim in law, that "_fallacissimum genus
probandi sit per comparationem litterarum_;" and surely the fallaciousness
of such a proof was not diminished by the hasty examination given to them
by some English nobles, probably unacquainted previously with the writing
of the Queen of Scots.

But could Mary herself, it will be asked, refuse to acknowledge her own
hand? Her Commissioners would of course be allowed to see the original
letters; if not the whole, at least some of them, would be given to them,
that they might transmit them to their mistress; and she being either
unable to deny them, would confess her guilt, or, perceiving them to be
fabrications, would point out the proofs. But nothing of all this was
done. Mary's Commissioners were not present at the only meetings at which
the originals were produced; and when they afterwards applied for a sight
of them, or for copies, they were put off from time to time till the
conference was dissolved, and Murray sent back to Scotland. "Suppose a
man," says Tytler, "was to swear a debt against me, and offered to prove
it by bond or bill of my handwriting; if I knew this bond to be a false
writing, what would be my defence? Show me the bond itself, and I will
prove it a forgery. If he withdrew the bond, and refused to let me see it,
what would be the presumption? Surely that the bond was forged, and that
the user was himself the forger. The case is precisely similar to the
point in hand. The Queen, we have seen, repeatedly demands to see the
principal writings themselves, which she asserts are forged. Elizabeth
herself says the demand is most reasonable. What follows? Is this
reasonable demand of Mary complied with? Far from it; so far from seeing
or having inspection of the originals, even copies of them are refused to
her and her Commissioners."[225] Under these circumstances, and as the
writings were seen only twice by a few of the English nobility, and then
locked up again in Murray's box, that they once existed may perhaps be
granted, but that they were what they pretended to be, cannot be believed
to have been ever proved.

_Seventh_, Having effected the purpose they were meant to achieve, it
might have been expected that these letters would be carefully preserved
in the public archives of the Scottish nation;--that, as they had been the
means of bringing about a revolution in the country, they would be
regarded not as private, but as public property;--and that Murray would be
anxious to lodge them where they might be referred to, both by his
cotemporaries and posterity, as documents with which his own reputation,
no less than that of his sister, was indissolubly connected. Here again,
however, the impartial inquirer is disappointed. The Regent appears to
have kept these writings close in his own possession till his death, and
they then fell into the hands of his successor, the Earl of Lennox.
Towards the end of January 1571, Lennox delivered them to Morton; and
after Morton's execution, the box and its contents became the property of
the Earl of Gowrie. Knowing that he would be less anxious to maintain
their authenticity, not being influenced by any of the motives which had
actuated Murray, Lennox, and Morton, and fearing lest the whole trick
should be discovered, Elizabeth became now very anxious to obtain them.
She ordered her ambassador in Scotland, in 1582, to promise Gowrie, that
if he would surrender them, he should "be requited to his comfort and
contentment, with princely thanks and gratuity." But Gowrie was neither to
be bribed nor persuaded; he knew the value of the papers too well, and the
power which their possession gave him, both over James and Elizabeth. As
long as they befriended him, he would be silent; but should he ever be
cast off by them, he would proclaim their fabrication, and remove the
stains they had cast upon Mary's honour. Elizabeth's earnest endeavours to
get them into her own possession can be accounted for, only on the
supposition that she knew them to be forgeries; for it was in that case
alone, that any dangerous use could have been made of them. Subsequent to
the correspondence with Gowrie, in 1582, nothing further is known of these
writings. In 1584, Gowrie was executed as a traitor, on account of the
conspiracy in which he had engaged, and many of his effects fell into the
hands of James VI.; but whether these documents were among them, is
uncertain. In so far as the originals are concerned, this celebrated body
of evidence is little else than a mere shadow. It was never spoken of at
all, till long after it had been discovered,--it was not produced till
long after it had been first spoken of,--it appeared only for a few hours
before persons predisposed to give it all credit,--it then returned to
its former obscurity, and not even _copies_ but merely _translations_, are
all that were ever presented to the world, on which to form an opinion. It
is strange that any importance should have ever been attached to papers,
which were never fairly exposed to the light, and which the jaws of
darkness so soon devoured.[226]

_Eighth_, Though it would be perhaps as difficult to prove a negative, as
to demonstrate the spuriousness of writings which do not exist, and which
were hardly ever seen, the presumption against them is increased a
hundred-fold, if it can be clearly established, that the same men who
produced them were more than once guilty of deliberate forgery. This could
be done in many instances; but it will be enough to mention two, which are
sufficiently glaring. The first is the letter which Morton exhibited
before Mary was taken to Loch-Leven, and which was never afterwards
referred to or produced, even at the time when evidence of all kinds was
raked up against her. It was a letter which would not only have gone a
great way to corroborate the others, but, as it did not implicate the
Queen in Darnley's murder, was exactly the sort of apology that was wished
for keeping her "sequestrated" at Loch-Leven, and forcing from her an
abdication. Even though all the other epistles had been kept back, this
might have been safely engrossed in the minutes of Morton's Privy Council,
and referred to again and again by the King's Lords, as the great
justification of their conduct. If by any chance a reason could be found,
why it was first produced, and again concealed, it would still be
impossible to discover why it alone was withdrawn, when all the rest were
laid before Elizabeth. There is but one solution of the enigma, which is,
that it was too hasty a fabrication to bear minute examination, and that,
though it misled Kircaldy of Grange, Morton and Murray were themselves
ashamed of it.

A second and even more remarkable example of forgery is to be found in one
of the papers which Murray showed to the English Commissioners at York,
but which he afterwards thought it prudent to withdraw when the writings
were more publicly produced at Westminster. This paper was described
as,--"The Queen's consent given to the Lords who subscribed the bond for
the promotion of the said James Earl Bothwell to her marriage."[227] In
the "private and secret Conference," which Lethington, MacGill, Wood, and
Buchanan, had with the Commissioners at York; "they showed unto us," say
the latter, "a copy of a band, bearing date the 19th of April 1567, to the
which the most part of the Lords and Counsellors of Scotland have put to
their hands; and, as they say, more for fear than any liking they had of
the same. Which band contained two special points,--the one a declaration
of Bothwell's purgation of the murder of the Lord Darnley, and the other
a general consent to his marriage with the Queen, so far forth as the law
and her own liking should allow. And yet, in proof that they did it not
willingly, they procured a warrant which was now showed unto us, bearing
date the 19th of April, signed with the Queen's hand, whereby she gave
them license to agree to the same; affirming, that before they had such a
warrant, there was none of them that did or would set to their hands,
saving only the Earl of Huntly."[228] This must have been a very curious
and interesting warrant; and it is somewhat surprising, that it had never
been heard of before. It was a very strong link in the chain; and spoke
volumes of Mary's love for Bothwell, which carried her so far that she not
only secretly wished, but openly requested her nobles to recommend him to
her as a husband. Besides, if the warrant was genuine, it must have been
seen by all the Lords who were present at "Ainsly's supper;" and they must
have been consequently well aware that there was no such thing as a
forcible abduction of the Queen's person. So far from supposing that
Bothwell ever kept her in "unlawful bondage," or forced her into a
"pretended marriage," they would know that she had shown greater anxiety
to possess him than he had to secure her. Their only wonder would be, that
after so far overcoming the natural modesty of her sex, as to point out to
them one of her own subjects, whom she asked them to advise her to marry,
she should so palpably have contradicted herself, as to give out
afterwards that it was not till she had been carried off, and till every
argument had been used which power could supply, or passion suggest, that
she reluctantly agreed to become his wife. If she openly and formally
licensed her nobles to recommend him, what was the use of all her
subsequent affected reluctance? But it was not Murray's business to
explain this problem. The warrant spoke for itself, and it was with it
only that he had to do. What, then, were the comments which he made on it
at Westminster, and the conclusive presumptions against Mary which he drew
from it? _The "Warrant" was not produced at Westminster at all, and not a
single allusion was made to it._[229] This fact alone is sufficient to
mark the credit it deserves. It could do no harm to show it privately to
Norfolk, Sussex, and Sadler; but it would not have answered so well to
have advanced it publicly, as all the nobility of Scotland would at once
have known it to be a fabrication. The probability is, that this
"Warrant," or "Consent," was neither more nor less than a garbled copy of
the pardon which Bothwell obtained from Mary, for the Lords who had signed
the bond, when he brought her out of the Castle of Edinburgh on the 14th
of May, the day previous to her marriage; and she would never have been
asked for this pardon if she had before recommended the bond.[230] If
Murray and his party are thus detected in fabrications so gross, that they
themselves, however anxious to bolster up their cause, were afraid to
make use of them, what dependence is to be placed upon the authenticity of
any writings they chose to produce?

_Ninth_, It was Bothwell who murdered Darnley; it was Bothwell who seized
the person of the Queen; it was Bothwell who was married to her; it was
Bothwell whose daring ambition waded through blood and crime, till at
length he set his foot upon a throne. But his triumph was of short
duration. The Queen left him, and went over to his enemies; and he himself
was forced into a miserable exile. It was this reverse of fortune which he
had all along dreaded; and it was to be prepared for the evil day, that he
had preserved the eight letters and love-sonnets so carefully in the small
gilt box. He had determined, that whatever might happen, he should never
lose his hold over Mary, but that, as she had participated in his guilt,
she should be made to share his subsequent fortunes. He cannot have been
well pleased with her conduct at Carberry Hill; and it was perhaps to
revenge himself upon her, that he sent Dalgleish for the casket, part of
the contents of which he may have intended to disclose to the world.
Dalgleish and the casket were seized, but the secret of Mary's criminality
was still in Bothwell's possession; and there was surely no occasion that
he should become odious in the eyes of all men, whilst his paramour and
accomplice preserved her reputation. Did he never, then, throughout the
whole course of his life, utter a word, or issue a declaration, or make a
confession which in the slightest degree implicated Mary? It is surely a
strong presumption in her favour if he never did.

Before Darnley was murdered, Bothwell went to meet Morton at Whittingham,
to consult him on the subject. Morton told him, that unless he could
produce proof, under the Queen's hand, of her consent to have her husband
removed, he would not interfere in the matter. Before going to
Whittingham, Bothwell must have received the two letters which Mary is
alleged to have written to him from Glasgow; _yet he was unable to show
Morton any writing to corroborate his assertion, that the Queen would not
be offended at the proposed murder_. He promised, however, that he would
do all he could to procure the warrant which Morton desired. Some time
afterwards, "I being at St Andrews," says Morton in his confession, "to
visit the Earl of Angus a little before the murder, Mr Archibald Douglas
came to me there, both with write and credit of the Earl Bothwell, to show
unto me that the purpose of the King's murder was to be done, and near a
point; and to request my concurrence and assistance thereunto. My answer
to him was, that I would give no answer to that purpose, seeing I had not
got the Queen's warrant in write, which was promised; and therefore,
seeing the Earl Bothwell never reported any warrant of the Queen to me, I
never meddled further with it."[231] As all that Morton wished, before
giving Bothwell his active support, was "the Queen's hand-write of the
matter for a warrant," what would have been more natural or easy for
Bothwell than to have produced any of the letters he had got from Mary,
which would exactly have answered the purpose, and satisfied all Morton's
scruples? As Bothwell told him that the Queen approved of the design, he
could not have any objection to make good that assertion, by any written
evidence in his possession. He need not even have shown the whole of any
one letter, but only such detached parts of it as bore directly on the
subject in question. It is strange, that Bothwell should have gone so far,
and should have been so anxious to secure the co-operation of Morton; yet,
that he did not obviate the only objection which Morton started, by
putting into his hands a letter, or letters, which, if they ever existed,
he must have then had.[232]

Various occasions occurred afterwards, which held out every inducement to
Bothwell to produce the letters and accuse the Queen. Passing over his
silence at Carberry Hill, notwithstanding her desertion of him there, and
during all the rest of the time that he remained in Scotland, it may be
mentioned, that Murray, shortly after he had been appointed Regent, wrote
to the King of Denmark, to request that Bothwell should be delivered up to
him. The King refused, on several grounds, and among others, that Bothwell
maintained he had been unjustly driven from the kingdom,--that he had been
legally tried and acquitted,--that he had been lawfully married to the
Queen,--and that _no blame whatever attached to her_.[233] Not at all
satisfied with this answer, Mr Thomas Buchanan was afterwards sent out to
Denmark, to procure, if possible, Bothwell's surrender. Buchanan, of
course, made himself acquainted with all that Bothwell had been saying and
doing, since he fled from Scotland; and in January 1571, he sent home a
full account of his discoveries to his constituents. The letter was
addressed to the Earl of Lennox, who was then Regent; but it fell first
into the Earl of Morton's hands, who was at the time in London. Perceiving
that it contained matter by no means favourable to their cause, and afraid
lest it might produce some effect on the mind of Elizabeth, he played the
same game with her he had formerly been so successful in with Mary, and
passed off upon her a garbled copy as a genuine transcript of the
original. "We had no will," the Earl of Morton wrote to Lennox, "that the
contents of the letter should be known, fearing that some words and
matters mentioned in the same being dispersed here as news, would rather
have hindered than furthered our cause. And, therefore, being desired at
Court to show the letter, we gave to understand that we had sent the
principal away, and delivered a copy, omitting such things as we thought
not meet to be shown, as your Grace may perceive by the like copy, which
also we have sent you herewith; which you may communicate to such as your
Grace thinks it not expedient to communicate the whole contents of the
principal letter unto."[234] Both the original despatch and the spurious
copy have unfortunately been lost, or were more probably destroyed by
Lennox himself; so that their contents can only be conjectured; but it is
evident, that so far from tending to hurt Mary's reputation, they must
rather have served to exculpate her.

In the year 1576, Mary wrote to the Archbishop of Glasgow, that she had
received intelligence of Bothwell's death, and that, before his decease,
he had declared himself the murderer of Darnley, and expressly freed her
from any share in it, attesting her innocence in the most solemn manner.
"If this be true," Mary added, "this testimony will be of great importance
to me against the false calumnies of my enemies. I therefore beseech you
to take every means in your power to discover the real state of the
case."[235] The Archbishop proposed, in consequence, to send a messenger
to Denmark, to procure a properly authenticated copy of the testament, but
for want of money and other causes, it appears that he was never able to
carry his intentions into effect. The confession was transmitted to
Elizabeth by the King of Denmark, but its publication was anxiously
suppressed by her;[236] and is now lost. Its place, however, has been not
unsatisfactorily supplied by a discovery which has recently been made in
the Royal library at Drottningholm, entitled, a "Declaration of the Earl
of Bothwell," made by him when a prisoner at Copenhagen in the year 1568.
It contains a full account of all the principal events of his past life;
and though it was written, not as a confession, but as a justification,
and is consequently an artful piece of special pleading in his own
defence, and not always particularly accurate in its detail of facts, it
cannot fail nevertheless to be regarded as an interesting and important
document. One thing is especially to be remarked, that throughout the
whole, he never attempts in the most distant manner to implicate Mary in
the blame attachable to his own conduct. On the contrary, he speaks of her
throughout with the utmost respect. It may be said, that if Bothwell had
accused Mary, he could not have defended himself, and that he abstained
only from a selfish motive. There were, however, a thousand different
degrees of responsibility with which he might have charged Mary. There was
no necessity to have accused her of the murder of Darnley, or of a
criminal attachment to him; but if it had been the truth, it would
certainly have been for his own interest, to have proved that the Queen
loved him sincerely and warmly. Even this he does not venture to state;
and the impression left by the whole tone of the declaration
unquestionably is, that he felt it would be for his advantage to say as
little about Mary as possible, knowing that, of all others he had offended
most against her, and that to attempt to cast any imputation upon her
innocence, would be only to throw a darker shade over his own

_Tenth._--Some historians have ventured to assert, that however little
credit they might be disposed to give to the statements of such men as
Murray and Morton, they have been somewhat startled to find that Mary
herself never denied them very positively, or evinced much indignation
against them. These historians cannot have looked very deeply into the
records on this subject, else they would have found that the fact was
exactly the reverse of what they suppose it to have been. "And yet is
there one injury more," says Bishop Lesley, "that doth grieve and molest
this good guiltless lady more than all their foretold villanous pranks
played by them against her, and surely not without just cause of grief;
for, indeed, it far passeth and exceedeth them all, and that is, their
shameful and most traitorous defaming her, being altogether innocent
therein, with the death of her husband, as though that she had suborned
the Earl of Bothwell thereto, and rewarded him therefor with the marriage
of her own body."[238] It is altogether unnecessary to refer to any
particular authorities upon this subject; for a volume might be easily
filled with Letters, Despatches, and Instructions from Mary, which not
only deny her guilt, but, by the arguments they contain, go very far to
establish her innocence. A communication, which she addressed, in the year
1569, to the States of Scotland, must, however, be mentioned, as it
distinctly shows what her feelings then were towards Bothwell; for whom,
indeed, she had so little affection, that, very soon after her arrival in
England, she lent a favourable ear to the proposals of marriage made by
the Duke of Norfolk. Her letter to the Scottish Parliament is to be
considered in connection with this contemplated marriage. Its purpose was,
to obtain the sanction of the States to a divorce from Bothwell; and she
alluded to him in the following terms: "Forasmuch as we are credibly
informed, by sundry and diverse noblemen of our realm, that the pretended
marriage, some time contracted, and in a manner solemnized, between us and
James Earl of Bothwell, was, for diverse respects, unlawful, and may not
of good conscience and law stand betwixt us, (albeit it seemed otherwise
to us and our Council at that time);--considering, therefore, with
ourselves, and thinking that the same does touch us as highly in honour
and conscience that it daily and hourly troubles and vexes our spirit
quite through, we are moved to seek remedy."[239] The very Lords, however,
who had before affected so much anxiety to free her from that "ungodly
alliance," now refused to take any steps towards forwarding the divorce;
and they were thus convicted of another inconsistency.[240] Little more
than eighteen months had elapsed since they had not only imprisoned her,
but forced her to surrender her crown, because, as they alleged, she
"would not consent, by any persuasion, to abandon the Lord Bothwell for
her husband, but avowed constantly that she would live and die with him,
saying, that if it were put to her choice to relinquish her crown and
kingdom, or the Lord Bothwell, she would leave her kingdom and dignity to
go as a simple damsel with him, and would never consent that he would fare
worse, or have more harm than herself."[241] Yet she now expressly asked
a divorce from this Lord Bothwell, her connection with whom had "daily and
hourly troubled and vexed her spirit;" and the Lords, forgetting all their
former protestations, were not disposed to accede to it.

Nor was it by Mary herself alone, that a direct contradiction was given to
the defamatory accusations of the regent and his associates. Numerous
state papers exist which show, that all the impartial and disinterested
part, not only of her own nobility, but of Elizabeth's, considered her
entirely innocent. In the year 1568, letters were addressed to the Queen
of England, by many of the Lords of Scotland, which spoke very strongly in
her favour. Among the signatures to these, will be found the names of the
Archbishop of St Andrews, the Earl of Huntly, Argyle, Crawfurd, Errol,
Rothes, Cassils, Eglinton, and Caithness, and the Lords Fleming, Ross,
Sanquhar, Ogilvy, Boyd, Oliphant, Drummond, Maxwell, and others.[242] In
England, the great number of Lords and gentlemen of the first rank who
joined with Norfolk in aid of Mary, affords perhaps a still stronger
presumption in her favour. But Robertson, on the other hand, asserts that
her father and mother-in-law, Lord and Lady Lennox, were convinced of her
guilt. By attaching himself to the Prince's faction, Lennox came to be
elected Regent, and that he was willing to believe, or affect to believe,
all that Mary's enemies advanced, cannot be matter of much wonder; for he
had in truth identified his interests with those of Murray and Morton, and
if their fabrications had been detected, he must have suffered along with
them. But in so far as regards the Countess of Lennox, Robertson's
statement is directly contrary to the fact. He quotes a letter, it is
true, written by Mary to that Lady in the year 1570, in which, with
ingenuous sincerity, the Queen laments that the Countess should allow
herself to be persuaded to think evil of her; and it was perhaps partly in
consequence of this appeal, that Lady Lennox began to consider the subject
more seriously. Robertson either did not know, or chose to conceal the
fact, that she saw cause soon after receiving Mary's letter decidedly to
change her opinions. In 1578, Mary wrote to the Archbishop of Glasgow to
this effect:--"The Countess of Lennox, my mother-in-law, died about a
month ago. This good lady, thanks to God, has been in very good
intelligence and correspondence with me for the last five or six years.
She has confessed to me, by diverse letters under her hand which I
carefully keep, the wrong she did me in the unjust prosecutions which she
allowed to proceed against me in her name, and which originated, partly in
erroneous information, but principally in the express commands of the
Queen of England, and persuasions of those of her Council who were always
averse to our reconciliation. As soon as she became persuaded of my
innocence, she desisted from these prosecutions, and resolutely refused to
countenance the proceedings which were carried on against me under her
name."[243] Thus, however prejudiced her husband necessarily was, the
Countess was unable to resist the force of truth, as soon as she was
allowed to judge for herself. It may further be mentioned, that in France
there was scarcely an individual who thought Mary guilty; and that the
funeral orations which were ordered by the Government to be preached upon
her death, were attended by hundreds, who wept over the injuries and the
misfortunes of their beloved Queen-dowager.[244] It appears, therefore,
both by Mary's own declarations, repeated over and over again with
undeviating consistency, up to the very hour of her death, when she passed
into the presence of her Maker, solemnly protesting her innocence, and by
the deliberate opinions of nearly all her cotemporaries who are deserving
of credit, that the strongest and most positive contradiction was given to
the malicious insinuations of the opposite party.

_Eleventh, and Lastly._--A considerable number of Bothwell's accomplices
were tried, condemned and executed, for their share in the murder; and
before their death, they all made Depositions and Confessions which still
exist, and have been printed by Goodall, Anderson, Laing, and others.
Among these are the Examinations, Depositions, and Confessions, of Powrie,
Dalgleish, Hay, Hepburn and Paris; the evidence of Nelson, Darnley's
servant, and the Confessions of Ormiston, and the Earl of Morton. Here,
then, is a tolerably voluminous collection of facts, supplied by those who
were most intimate with Bothwell, and who, if he had any undue intimacy
with the Queen, would in all probability have known something concerning
it, and have had it in their power to throw some light upon the subject.
These Documents, therefore, will be anxiously read by all who aim at
discovering the real perpetrators and devisers of the murder. The result
of their readings will be the discovery, that in every one of these
documents, which is properly authenticated and ascertained to be genuine,
Bothwell, and Bothwell alone, is mentioned as the executor of the deed;
and there is not a syllable in any of them which can be construed to the
disadvantage of the Queen. On the contrary, various particulars are
mentioned, which have a direct tendency to disprove her connexion with
him. Some of these have been already alluded to; but a few of the
circumstances most decisive in the Queen's favour may be recapitulated
here. 1. Hepburn deponed, that as it took longer time to get the powder
into the lower part of Darnley's house than was expected, Bothwell became
impatient, and told them to make haste, for they would not find so much
commodity if the Queen came out.[245] 2. Hepburn and Paris deponed, that
Bothwell got false keys made for opening all the doors of the house in
which Darnley lodged, for which he would have had no occasion, if the
Queen had been in the plot with him.[246] 3. Ormiston being asked if ever
the Queen spoke to him at any time concerning the murder, or if he knew
what was her mind unto it, replied--"As I shall answer to God, she spoke
never to me, nor I to her, of it, nor I know nothing of her part, but as
my Lord Bothwell told me." As if alluding to some bribe which had been
offered him, if he would accuse the Queen, he added,--"I will not speak
but the truth for all the gold of the earth, which I desire you, good
minister, bear record of, and as you have written, I pray you read over to
me; let me also see it."[247] 4. Paris can have had no suspicion that the
Queen countenanced the proposed murder; for, in the conversation he had
with Bothwell, when the Earl first disclosed his intention to him, he
beseeched him to desist from his enterprise, telling him that he was
"already the most powerful nobleman in the country, and that, having
lately married, he ought now or never to be anxious to keep himself out of
trouble."[248] 5. Paris further deponed, that Bothwell asked him to
procure the key of the Queen's chamber, at the Kirk-of-Field, telling him
that he had got him transferred to the Queen's service, solely in the hope
of finding him useful on this occasion. Had Mary herself known of the
plot, Bothwell need not have run the risk of disclosing it to Paris.[249]
6. Though Dalgleish was minutely examined regarding all the circumstances
of the murder, not one question was put to him upon the subject of the box
and letters which were of so much importance; nor was it ever mentioned
till after his death, that the casket had been in his custody. On the 20th
of June 1567, Dalgleish is said to have been seized, and this is probably
the fact; he was examined six days afterwards, before Morton and the other
Lords of the Privy Council, and his examination has been preserved entire.
"This remarkable particular," says Tytler, "naturally occurs to be
observed in it, that it was surely of great importance for Morton, who
then had the box in his custody, to have confronted Dalgleish with the
persons who apprehended him, and to have asked him some questions relating
to this box; such as, Whether or not this box was in his custody when he
was seized?--What orders he received from his master Bothwell concerning
it?--Who delivered it to him? or where he found it?--Whether open, or
locked?--If open, what it contained? and where he was to have carried it?
Dalgleish, and the persons who seized him, in a matter so recent, only six
days before, could have given distinct answers to those questions."[250]
There can be little doubt, that as no such questions were put, no such
transaction, as the seizure of a box and papers had taken place. Laing
endeavours to account for this very suspicious circumstance in the
following manner: "The depositions are strictly confined to the murder, as
the design was to procure judicial evidence against Bothwell and his
associates, not to implicate the Queen in his guilt." But in the first
place, these letters were themselves the very best "judicial evidence"
they could have found; and in the second, questions might have been put
concerning them, without, in the mean time making any disclosure of their
contents. The total silence of the Privy Council, and of Dalgleish, is
fatal to their supposed existence. 7. The Earl of Morton confessed, that
though he told Bothwell he would give him more active assistance if he
could show him any writing of the Queen, which proved that she sanctioned
the murder; yet that Bothwell, after undertaking to procure such writing,
was never able to fulfil his promise; and this was at a time posterior to
the date of some of the love-letters, which Mary was afterwards alleged to
have written to him. Thus, these Confessions, Depositions, and
Examinations, though they were collected with the anxious wish of
eliciting some circumstances which would seem to criminate Mary, must have
been felt by the rebel Lords themselves, to be as much in her favour as it
was possible for any negative evidence to be.[251]

Having thus stated the leading External Evidences against the genuineness
of these Letters, it will be worth while to examine, for a moment,
Robertson's "external proofs" in support of them,--which, when contrasted
with those stated above, will be found to be of little weight. The
Historian argues for their authenticity, on the following
grounds:--_First_, "Murray and the nobles who adhered to him, affirmed,
upon their word and honour, that the letters were written with the Queen's
own hand, with which they were well acquainted." This is a very powerful
argument to begin with, as if men who forged letters for a particular
purpose, would themselves confess that they were forged. _Second_, "The
Letters were publicly produced in the Parliament of Scotland, December
1567, and were so far considered as genuine, that they are mentioned in
the Act against Mary, as one chief argument of her guilt." This is nothing
but a repetition, in other words, of the former powerful argument; for the
Parliament of December 1567 was the Parliament assembled by Murray, after
he had been elected Regent, and he was able to secure the passing of any
act he chose. Where Robertson learned, that at this Parliament "the
letters were publicly produced," does not appear, as his reference to
Goodall (vol. ii. p. 66) by no means authorizes the assertion. _Third_,
"The Letters seem to have been considered genuine by Elizabeth's
Commissioners, both at York and Westminster, as appears by letters which
Norfolk, Sussex, and Sadler, wrote from York; and as, in the journal of
the proceedings at Hampton Court, it is said that, when the letters
supposed to be written by the Queen of Scots, 'were duly conferred and
compared for the manner of writing and fashion of orthography, with sundry
other letters long since heretofore written, and sent by the said Queen of
Scots to the Queen's Majesty, in the collation no difference was found.'"
It has been seen, however, that whatever Norfolk chose to write concerning
those letters with the view of pleasing Elizabeth, and concealing from her
his own engagements and designs, he was, in truth, so little influenced by
them, that he avowed a passion for Mary, and risked his life and fortune
in order to become her husband. It has been also seen, that the hasty
collation, made by the nobles at Hampton Court, of these pretended
letters, with others, "long since heretofore written" and furnished by
Elizabeth herself, is, in truth, no collation at all, or one upon which no
dependence be placed. _Fourth_, "The Earl of Lennox, both in public, and
in a private letter he wrote to his own wife, so expressed himself, that
it is plain he not only thought the Queen guilty, but believed the
authenticity of her letters to Bothwell." This matter has been already
investigated. The Regent Lennox was obliged to maintain Mary's guilt for
his own sake; and it is scarcely to be supposed he would have been so
imprudent as write to his wife, to inform her that the opinions he had so
strenuously supported before the world were not those of his heart and
conscience. Murray himself would as soon have acknowledged that the
letters were fabricated as Lennox. But it is a strong fact, that, though
she had every inducement to think as her husband did, Lady Lennox believed
Mary innocent. These are all Robertson's "external proofs of the
genuineness of Mary's letters."[252]

The external evidence against these writings, is probably enough to
convince every impartial reader that they are forgeries. But, as they
exist in one shape or other, it may be as well to go a step further, and
see whether their perusal will strengthen or weaken the belief of their
fabrication. This brings us to the second division of the subject, which
will not detain us so long as the first.

INTERNAL EVIDENCES.--Considering the weight which Mary's enemies have
attached to these letters, the first question the impartial inquirer
would naturally ask is, whether properly authenticated copies of what Mary
is alleged to have written can still be seen,--whether the _ipsissima
verba_ which she used have been preserved,--and whether an opportunity can
thus be had of judging of the precise shade of meaning of particular
passages, and of the general style and tenor of these strange
compositions. In answer to these inquiries it has to be stated, that the
letters, as taken out of the casket, were exhibited only to a few
noblemen, who acted under Elizabeth; and that nothing but translations of
them are now extant. The Latin edition of Buchanan's "Detection,"
published in 1571, contained only the three first letters translated into
Latin; in the Scottish edition, all the eight letters were translated into
Scotch.[253] The originals were thus left at the mercy of translators;
and, in particular, at the mercy of such a translator as Buchanan, who
cannot be supposed to have had any great desire to be scrupulously
accurate. In 1572, a French edition of the "Detection" was published at
London, to which were subjoined seven French letters and the love-sonnets.
For two hundred years, no one doubted but that these were Mary's original
letters, and they were always referred to as such in any controversies
which took place on the subject. In 1754, however, Mr Walter Goodall,
keeper of the Advocates' Library at Edinburgh, published his "Examination
of the Letters," and showed, in the clearest manner, that these seven
French letters were nothing but re-translations from the Latin and
Scottish translations which had been previously published. This was
certainly an important and interesting discovery, although it scarcely
warranted the conclusion which Goodall thought he was entitled to draw
from it, that no French copy of the letters had, in reality, ever existed
until the Latin and Scottish editions were first fabricated. Robertson and
others have maintained more justly, that, though they acknowledge Goodall
to have proved that the existing French copies of the letters are only
translations from translations, there is, nevertheless, no reason to
believe that these are the French letters which were produced by Murray at
York and Westminster, copies of which they grant have never been given to
the world. That this is the true state of the case, appears by the French
editor's own admission in his Preface. "The letters subjoined to this
work," he says, "were written by the Queen, partly in French and partly in
Scotch, and were afterwards translated altogether into Latin; but having
no knowledge of the Scottish language, I have preferred translating
accurately from the Latin copy, lest, by being over scrupulous about
changing a single syllable, I might frustrate the reader in his desire to
ascertain precisely to whom the fault of the execrable murder, and other
enormities mentioned in them, ought to be ascribed."[254] Thus, both by
the ignorance which this translator evinces, in alleging, contrary to the
assertions which had been made by Murray, that the letters were
originally written partly in French and partly in Scotch, and, by his own
confession, that he preferred translating from the Latin wherever he could
get it, rather than from the Scotch, it is perfectly evident that no such
thing as the original French letters have ever appeared, and that the
French letters which do exist, are not so much to be depended on as even
the Scotch or Latin, which were probably translated directly from the
epistles which Murray produced.

In what condition, then, do we find these wonderful letters about which so
much has been written? We have three in Latin, eight in Scotch, and seven
in French. The French are only re-translations from the Latin and
Scottish; and they, in their turn, are translations from the invisible
French originals. And under whose superintendence were these translations,
into the Scottish and Latin, made? It must have been either under that of
Murray, or of Elizabeth and Cecil. The former, after merely showing the
letters at Westminster, took them back with him to Scotland; but intrusted
the latter with copies.[255] It is not very likely that the Scottish
translation could be made in England; and the three that have been
rendered into Latin, have been commonly attributed to George Buchanan.
Laing, however, labours to show, that this is a mistake, and that the
translation was made by a Dr Wilson, Elizabeth's master of requests. Be
this as it may, in what court of law or equity would such documents as
these be admitted as evidence? The grossest errors have often been made
by translators, even where they were anxious to be as faithful as
possible. Yet we are now called upon to form an opinion of letters, which
exist in languages different from that in which they were originally
written, and which are either translations from translations, or
translations executed by those who had every motive and desire to pervert
the original, and make it appear much worse than it really was. What jury
would for a moment look at such letters? What impartial judge would allow
his mind to be biassed by them, altered and garbled as they must
unquestionably be, even supposing that their originals once existed? It
was to Buchanan's Detection that these letters were always subjoined. At
Westminster, Murray produced a Book of Articles, in five parts, containing
certain presumptions, likelihoods and circumstances, whereby it should
evidently appear, that as Bothwell was the chief murderer of the King, so
was the Queen a deviser and maintainer thereof. "From the explanation
given in Buchanan's History," says Laing, "the book of articles
corresponds, and was undoubtedly the same with the Detection of the doings
of Mary."[256] Buchanan, identifying as he did, his interests with those
of Murray, was from the first one of the most active of the Queen's
prosecutors. The dependence to be placed upon his accuracy and honesty as
a controversialist, has been already pretty clearly established; and the
sort of translations he would make, of any of Mary's writings, may be very
easily conjectured.

Laing, however, claims the merit of a discovery, which, at first sight,
appears somewhat remarkable. It is a copy of one of the eight
Love-letters, in the original French, and found in the State-Paper Office
in a book containing, "Letters upon Scottish Affairs to Queen Elizabeth."
Whether it be in the original French or not, it is certainly different
from the French translation published with the French edition of the
Detection in 1572, and has altogether a greater air of originality about
it. But being confessedly only a copy, it is quite impossible to say
whether it is Mary's French, or that of some one who chose to write French
in her name. It is, besides, remarkable, that, even though it could be
proved to demonstration to be a copy of a genuine letter, it does not
contain a single word which, in the slightest degree, implicates Mary.
Introduced, it is true, as one of a series, all of which, it is
maintained, were addressed to Bothwell, something suspicious might easily
be made out of it. But, as it stands by itself, it must be taken by
itself; and as it bears no address or date, it may just as well be
supposed to have been written to Darnley, or even to a female friend. The
subject spoken of, is the ungrateful conduct of one of Mary's female
attendants; and the advice of the person to whom it is written is asked,
as to what is proper to be done in consequence. To this person, whoever it
was, several natural terms of endearment are also applied, such as, "_Mon
coeur_," and, "_Ma chere vie_;" and these are all the grounds of
suspicion which this "Copy from the State-Paper Office," contains.[257]

Having thus shown the extreme uncertainty which must attend any argument
against Mary, founded on any minute or literal examination of these
Letters, a very few objections further may be stated to them, upon
evidences which they themselves afford.

Although it is impossible to form any opinion of the _words_ which Mary
may have used in these letters, some conclusions may be drawn from the
_sentiments_ which the translators of course pretend not to have altered.
These are, in many respects, directly contradictory of the character which
history proves her to have possessed. Whatever follies Mary may have
committed--whatever weaknesses she may have fallen into--it cannot be
denied, even by her worst enemies, that she was a woman of a proud
spirit, and too much accustomed to admiration and flattery, to consider
her esteem a gift of little value. Yet, through all these writings, she is
made to evince a degree of ardour and forwardness of affection for
Bothwell, at once against every notion of female delicacy, and all
probability. She is continually made to express fears that he does not
return her love with an equal warmth,--that he loves his wife, the Lady
Jane Gordon, better than he does her,--and that he is not so zealous in
bringing about their mutual purposes as she could wish. If Bothwell had
ever carried on these criminal intrigues with Mary, one of his first
objects would have been to remove from her mind all suspicion that he was
not in truth devotedly attached to her. Whether he was successful in
deceiving her or not, is it likely that Mary Queen of Scots, whose hand
had been sought by all the first Princes in Christendom, would have
condescended to servility, meanness, and abject cringing in her advances
to him? If the letters were forged, Murray would naturally wish to put in
as strong a point of view as possible, Mary's anxiety to urge Bothwell on
to all the crimes which he perpetrated. But if letters had been really
written by her, many compunctious visitings of conscience would surely be
apparent in them,--many a fear would be expressed,--many a symptom would
be discovered of the reluctance with which she yielded to the overwhelming
strength of Bothwell's passion and entreaties. Yet in these letters
nothing of the kind is to be found. Passages occur continually, in which,
far from there being any of the conscious confusion and hesitation which
would necessarily have marked the style of one who was, for the first
time, deviating so far from the paths of virtue, nothing is to be
discovered but the hardened vice and shameless effrontery of a confirmed
and _masculine villain_.

Another peculiarity is to be observed in the first and longest of these
letters. In describing a conversation which she had with Darnley at
Glasgow, Mary is made to give very minutely all his defence of his own
conduct, in reply to some charges which she brought against him; and to
make it evident that he was in the right, and that she herself, even when
instigating Bothwell to his murder, must have felt him to be so. "This is
another proof of forgery," says Whittaker; "that the Queen should repeat
all the King's defences of himself, and should not repeat her replies to
them, is contrary to every principle of the human heart. Our natural
fondness for ourselves puts us constantly upon a conduct the very reverse
of all this. We shorten the defences, we lengthen the replies; or, if we
are fair enough to give the full substance of the former, we are always
partial enough to do the same by the latter."[258] The forger, however, in
his anxiety to throw as much odium as possible upon Mary, was willing to
diminish some of even Bothwell's responsibility, and disposed to vindicate
Darnley entirely; but he took a clumsy method of effecting his purpose.

Notwithstanding these considerations, Robertson was of opinion, as usual,
that the style and sentiments of these letters tended on the whole to
prove that they were genuine. His principal reason for entertaining this
belief is, that "there are only imperfect hints, obscure intimations, and
dark expressions in the letters, which, however convincing evidence they
might furnish if found in real letters, bear no resemblance to that glare
and superfluity of evidence which forgeries commonly contain." "Had Mary's
enemies been so base as to have recourse to forgery, is it not natural to
think, that they would have produced something more explicit and
decisive?"--"Mary's letters, especially the first, are filled with a
multiplicity of circumstances extremely natural in a real correspondence,
but altogether foreign to the purpose of the Queen's enemies, and which it
would have been perfect folly to have inserted, if they had been
altogether imaginary and without foundation." There is some plausibility
in this view of the subject; and Laing and others have dwelt upon it at
great length, and with much confidence. But it is divested of all force as
soon as we come to consider the manner in which these letters would be
prepared, if they were in truth forgeries. The long time which elapsed
after Mary's imprisonment in Loch-Leven, before any allusion was made to
them, and the still longer time they were allowed to lie dormant after
their existence had been first asserted, has been already described. Upon
the hypothesis that they were fabrications, it was during this period that
Murray and his associates were engaged in preparing them; and they would
probably reason on the following grounds, as to what ought to be the
nature of their contents. The point they wished to establish was, "that as
the Earl of Bothwell was chief executor of the horrible and unworthy
murder; so was the Queen of the fore-knowledge, counsel, device,
persuader and commander of the said murder to be done." They knew that, in
so far as appearances went, nothing made this latter part of the assertion
in the least probable, except the circumstance of Mary having been married
to Bothwell, which they themselves had declared was a forced marriage, and
which Mary had proved to be so by taking the first opportunity which
occurred to desert him. It had become necessary, however, even at the
expense of their own consistency to accuse the Queen of having acted in
concert with Bothwell throughout. No evidence whatever would establish
this fact, (the more especially as all the confessions and depositions of
Bothwell's accomplices tended to exculpate her), except writings under her
own hand acknowledging her guilt. In order to make it appear possible that
Mary had committed an account of that guilt to paper, the idea of letters
to a confidential friend naturally suggested itself; and to none could
these letters with so much propriety be addressed as to Bothwell himself;
because, having subsequently married him, it was to be shown that it was
her inordinate affection for him that induced her to wish for the death of
Darnley. The train being thus laid, the next question was, in what precise
manner Mary was to be made to address Bothwell. The forgers would at once
perceive, that it would not do to make her speak straight out, and in
plain terms command the perpetration of the murder, and arrange all the
preliminary steps for it. This would have been to represent Mary as at
once a Messalina and a Medea,--which even Murray felt would have been
going too far. The letters were to show her guilt, but to show it in such
a manner as she herself might be naturally supposed to have exhibited it,
had she actually written them;--and nothing therefore was to be introduced
but those "imperfect hints, obscure intimations, and dark expressions,"
which, without the "glare and superfluity" of common forgeries, furnished
convincing evidence when found in letters alleged to be real. Murray,
Morton, Maitland, and Buchanan, were no ordinary forgers; and if they were
not able to conceive and express the whole so artfully, that it would cost
some difficulty to detect them, then, forgery in every instance must be
hopeless and manifest.

There were, besides, two circumstances which afforded them peculiar
facilities, and of which they were no doubt glad to avail themselves. The
first was, that Mary's hand-writing was not very difficult of imitation.
"It was formed," says Goodall, "after what is commonly called Italic
print, which it much resembled both in beauty and regularity."[259] All
the letters being shaped according to certain definite rules, there would
be fewer singularities in the writing, and less danger of the forger
committing mistakes. Mary herself alluded to the facility with which her
hand could be imitated, in her instructions to her Commissioners on the
opening of the conferences, and mentioned also another important fact. "In
case they allege," she says, "that they have any writings of mine, which
may infer presumption against me, you shall desire the principals to be
produced, and that I myself may have inspection thereof, and make answer
thereto. For you shall affirm, in my name, I never wrote any thing
concerning that matter to any creature; and if any such writings be, they
are false and feigned, forged and invented by themselves, only to my
dishonour and slander. And there are divers in Scotland, both men and
women, that can counterfeit my hand-writing, and write the like manner of
writing which I use, as well as myself, and principally such as are in
company with themselves."[260] "There are sundry who can counterfeit her
hand-write," says Lesley, "who have been brought up in her company, of
whom there are some assisting themselves, as well of other nations as of
Scotland. And I doubt not but your Majesty," (he is addressing Elizabeth),
"and divers others of your Highness's Court, has seen sundry letters sent
here from Scotland, which would not be known from her own hand-write; and
it may be well presumed, in so weighty a cause, that they who have put
hands on their Prince, imprisoned her person, and committed such heinous
crimes, if a counterfeit letter be sufficient to save them, to maintain
their cause, and conquer for them a kingdom, will not leave the same
unforged, '_cum si violandum est jus, imperii causa violandum est_.'" In
still further confirmation of these facts, Blackwood mentions that the
hand-writing of Mary Beaton, one of her maids of honour, could not
possibly be distinguished from that of the Queen;[261] and Camden and
other contemporary authors speak of it as a matter of established
notoriety, that Maitland often counterfeited her hand.[262]

The second facility which the forgers enjoyed, arose from their either
possessing among them, or having access to, many genuine letters of Mary.
This is a circumstance of some consequence, and has scarcely been
sufficiently attended to by the various writers on the subject. It at once
obviates Robertson's cause of wonder, that the letters should be "filled
with a multiplicity of circumstances, extremely natural in a real
correspondence, but altogether foreign to the purpose of the Queen's
enemies." In all probability, Mary wrote to her Secretary Maitland from
Glasgow, and had of course written to him a hundred times before. There is
every reason to believe also, that she corresponded with Maitland's wife,
Mary Fleming, who had been one of her friends and attendants from infancy.
Murray must have had in his possession numerous letters from his sister.
Where then was the difficulty of founding these forgeries upon writings
which were not forgeries, and of making it almost impossible for any one
but Mary herself to detect what was genuine in them from what was
fabricated? Many passages might be introduced which Mary had actually
written, but which she had applied in some very different manner; and here
and there might be artfully interwoven a few sentences which she never
wrote, but which seemed so naturally connected with the rest, that they
fixed upon her soul the guilt of adultery and murder. There is nothing
which ought to be more constantly borne in mind, whenever these writings
are read or discussed, than the probability, we might almost say the
certainty, that the originals contained parts which had been actually
written by Mary, although neither addressed to Bothwell, nor ever meant to
be twisted into the sense which was afterwards put upon them; and which
appeared the true meaning only, in consequence of their having been so
much garbled and disfigured.

Were we disposed to enter still more minutely into an examination of these
writings, it would not be difficult to show, as Goodall, Tytler, Whittaker
and Chalmers, have in various instances done, that they abound in many
other symptoms of forgery, which, though not perhaps conclusive, when
taken separately, make up, when combined, a very strong presumption
against them. It might be shown, for example, _first_, that as Mary, in
all probability, did not set off for Glasgow till Friday the 24th of
January 1567, and staid a night at Callendar on the way, it is quite
impossible she could have been at Glasgow on Saturday the 25th, though her
second letter ends with these words:--"From Glasgow, this Saturday, in the
morning."[263] She is thus made to have written two letters from Glasgow,
one of them a very long one, by Saturday morning; while, in point of fact,
she could not have reached that town till Saturday afternoon. "_Non sunt
hæc satis divisa temporibus._"[264] It might be shown, _second_, that
these letters were neither addressed, signed, nor sealed; and that, in the
words of Whittaker, "it violates every principle of probability to
suppose, that letters with such a plenitude of murderous evidence in them
should be sent open."[265] It might be shown, _third_, that before the
appearance of the letters, they were differently described at different
times, as if they were gradually undergoing changes;--that in the Act of
Privy Council, in which they are first referred to, they are mentioned as
Mary's "Privy Letters, written and _subscribed_ with her own hand;"--but
in the Act of Parliament passed a few weeks afterwards, they are only
spoken of as "_written wholly_ with her own hand," not, "written and
subscribed;"[266]--that though at first nothing was spoken of as having
been found in the box but the "Privy Letters," "written and subscribed
with her own hand," and afterwards only "wholly written with her own
hand," yet, before the box made its appearance at York, love-sonnets and
contracts of marriage were also found in it;--and that at York and
Westminster only five letters were laid before the Commissioners, though
the number afterwards printed was eight. "Did the three remaining
letters," asks Whittaker, "lie still lower in the box, under the contracts
and sonnets, and so escape the notice of the rebels?"[267] It might be
shown, _fourth_, that all the letters are contradicted and overthrown by
the first three lines of the ninth sonnet, which are, in French,

  ----"Pour luy aussi J'ay jeté mainte larme,
  Premier qu'il fust de ce corps possesseur,
  _Du quel alors il n'avoit pas le coeur_;"

and in English--"For him also I shed many a tear, when he first made
himself possessor of this body, _of which he did not then possess the
heart_."[268] In the letters, Mary is made, with the most violent
protestations of love, to suggest arrangements for her pretended abduction
by Bothwell; yet here she expressly says, that when he first carried her
off, he did not possess her heart. How then could she have written him
love-letters before this event? These and other things might be insisted
on. The sonnets and contracts of marriage might be also minutely examined
and proved, both to contradict one another, and to be liable, in a still
stronger degree, to almost all the objections which have been advanced
against the letters.[269] But it is much better to rest Mary's innocence
on the broad basis of her life and character, and a distinct statement of
leading and incontrovertible facts, than on wranglings about dates, or
disputations concerning detached incidents and ill-authenticated papers.

From a full review of the proof on both sides, and an ample examination of
all the principal facts advanced in the controversy, it appears evident
that one of two conclusions must be formed. Either that Mary, having
formed a criminal attachment to Bothwell, encouraged him to perpetrate
the murder, and that, having thus become responsible for at least an equal
share of the guilt, was justly imprisoned and dethroned; or that, never
having had any excessive love for Bothwell, she was altogether ignorant of
his designs, and irresponsible for his crimes, of which his own lawless
ambition made her the victim, and with which the treachery of Murray,
Morton and Elizabeth, too successfully contrived to involve her for the
remainder of her life. That the latter conclusion is that to which
impartial inquiry must inevitably lead, these Memoirs, it is hoped, have
sufficiently established. That the arguments in Mary's favour, drawn from
the history of her life and death, are not invalidated by the contents of
the "gilt coffer," it has been the object of the present Examination to

It has been seen, first, by external evidence, that these papers are
spurious, because the notorious ambition of Morton and Murray, and the
perilous predicament in which it finally placed them, rendered their
fabrication necessary to save themselves from ruin,--because Mary could
not have written any love-letters or sonnets to Bothwell, for whom, at
best, she never felt any thing but common regard, and who was obliged to
seize and carry off her person, in order to force her into an unwilling
marriage,--because such letters, if they had been written, would not have
been preserved by Bothwell, or, if preserved, would have been more
numerous,--because the story of their discovery is altogether improbable,
since Bothwell, for the most satisfactory reasons, would never have
thought of sending for them to the Castle of Edinburgh on the 20th of June
1567,--because not a word was said about them long after they were
discovered, but, on the contrary, motives quite inconsistent with their
contents assigned for sequestrating Mary's person in Loch-Leven,--because,
though Dalgleish was tried, condemned, and executed, not a question was
put to him, as appears by his examination, still extant, concerning these
letters,--because the originals were only produced twice, and _that_ under
suspicious and unsatisfactory circumstances,--because nothing but
translations, and translations from translations, of these originals, now
exist, from which no fair arguments can be drawn,--because Murray and his
associates have been convicted of open forgery in several other instances,
and are therefore the more liable to be doubted in this,--because Bothwell
not only never accused Mary, but was unable to show Morton any writing of
her's sanctioning the murder, and, by subsequent declarations, seems to
have exculpated her from all share in it,--because Mary herself invariably
denied that she had ever written such letters, undertaking to prove that
they were fabrications, if the originals, or even copies, were shown to
her,--because Lady Lennox, Darnley's mother, many of the most respectable
of the Scottish nobility, Norfolk, and a numerous party in England, and
all her Continental friends, avowed their belief of her
innocence,--because the confessions and depositions of Bothwell's
accomplices, so far from implicating, tended to acquit her of all blame,
though the persons by whom the depositions were made had every inducement
to accuse her, if it had been in their power,--and because the external
evidence, advanced in support of the letters by Robertson and others, is
entirely nugatory.

It has been seen, second, by internal evidence, that the Letters are
spurious,--because the translations differ from each other,--because the
style and composition of many passages, are not such as could ever have
come from Mary's pen,--because every facility was given to forgery by the
nature of her handwriting, and by the access which the forgers had to
genuine letters and papers, of which they could make a partial
use,--because, at the time in which they are alleged to have been written,
Mary was, in all probability, not at the places from which they are
dated,--because the letters contradict each other, and are all
contradicted by the sonnets,--and because the arguments in support of
them, drawn from internal evidence by Robertson and others, are equally
inconclusive with their external proofs.

If Mary's innocence, from all the blacker crimes with which she has been
charged, must still continue matter of doubt, it is not too much to
declare all history uncertain, and virtue and vice merely convertible


Through the kindness of William Traill, Esq. of Woodwick, Orkney, we are
enabled to give the following authentic genealogical account of the manner
in which the interesting portrait of Mary Queen of Scots, engraved for
this Work, and particularly described in Vol. I. Chap. IV., came into the
possession of his family.

"Sir Robert Stewart of Strathdon, son of King James V., by Eupham,
daughter of Alexander, 1st Lord Elphingston, obtained a grant of the Crown
lands of Orkney and Shetland from his sister Queen Mary in 1565. He was
created Earl of Orkney by his uncle James VI., 28th October 1581. He
married Lady Jean Kennedy, daughter of Gilbert, fourth Earl of Cassils.

"George Traill, son of the Laird of Blebo in Fife, married, first, Jean
Kennedy of Carmunks, a relative of the Earl's Lady. He accompanied the
Earl to Orkney; got a grant from the Earl of the lands of Quandale, in the
Island of Ronsay, and, as stewart or factor, managed the affairs of the
earldom. By Jean Kennedy he had one son, the first Thomas Traill of
Holland. He afterwards married Isobel Craigie of Gairsay, by whom he had
James Traill of Quandale, who married Ann Baikie of Burness. Lady Barbara
Stewart, the Earl's youngest daughter, married Hugh Halcro of Halcro, a
descendant of the Royal Family of Denmark, and who possessed a great part
of the Islands of Orkney. For her patrimony, the Earl wadset to Halcro
lands, in Widewall, Ronaldsvoe, and in South Ronaldshay, which lands were
afterwards redeemed by Patrick Stewart, the Earl's eldest son, 1598.
_Vide_ Bishop Law's Rentall 1614. Lady Barbara, being the youngest and
the last of the Earl's family, succeeded to her father's furniture, plate,
pictures, and other moveables, and amongst the rest, the family picture of
Queen Mary. Hugh Halcro of that Ilk, the eldest son of this marriage,
succeeded his father, and married Jean, daughter of William Stewart of
Mains and Burray. _Vid._ Charters 1615 and 1620. In 1644, this Hugh Halcro
executed a settlement in favour of Hugh his Oye, and his heirs; whom
failing, to Patrick his brother; whom failing, to Harry fiar of Aikrs;
whom failing, to Edward of Hauton; whom all failing, to the name of
Halcro. Hugh the Oye, married Margaret, daughter of James Stewart of
Gromsay. _Vid._ Charter by him in her favour of lands in South Ronaldshay
and the Island Cava, 12th June 1630. Their son, Hugh Halcro of that Ilk,
married Barbara Greem, by whom he had two daughters, Jean and Sibella
Halcro. Jean married Alexander Mouat Swenze, and Sibella married James
Baikie of Burness; and the estate of Halcro was divided between these
families by decreet-arbitral, 21st and 22d December 1677,--Arthur Baikie
of Tankerness, and John Kennaday of Carmunks, arbiters; which decreet is
in the possession of the present William Traill of Woodwick, Esquire, as
is the picture of Queen Mary, and other family relics."




[1] Robertson, Appendix to vol. i. No. XVII.

[2] Keith, Appendix, p. 139.

[3] Keith, Preface, p. vii.

[4] Melville's Memoirs, p. 170.

[5] Goodall, vol. ii. p. 316.--Keith, p. 355; Appendix, p. 136.--Anderson,
vol. ii. p. 270. vol. iv. p. 183 and 188.--"Martyre de Marie," in Jebb,
vol. ii. p. 210. It would be difficult to explain why Robertson, who, in
the Dissertation subjoined to his History, allows the authenticity of the
documents which detail the particulars of this important conference at
Craigmillar, should not have taken the slightest notice of it in his
History. There is surely something indicative of partiality in the
omission. Miss Benger, who is not always over-favourable to Mary, remarks
on her decision regarding a divorce;--"It is difficult to develope the
motives of Mary's refusal. Had she secretly loved Bothwell, she would
probably have embraced the means of liberty; and had she already embarked
in a criminal intrigue, she would not have resisted the persuasions of her
paramour. If, influenced alone by vindictive feelings, she sought her
husband's life, she must have been sensible that, when the nuptial tie was
dissolved, he would be more easily assailable. Why then did she recoil
from the proposal, unless she feared to compromise herself by endangering
Darnley's safety, or that some sentiments of affection still lingered in
her heart? It has been supposed, that she dreaded the censures which might
be passed on her conduct in France; or that she feared to separate her
interests from those of her husband, lest she should injure her title to
the English crown. All these objections are valid when addressed to
reason, but passion would have challenged stronger arguments."--Memoirs,
vol. ii. p. 301.--Blackwood, in his _Martyre de Marie_, mentions, that
Mary upon this occasion told her nobility, that "her husband was yet
young, and might be brought back to the right path, having left it
principally in consequence of the bad advice of those who were no less his
enemies than her's."--"This answer," adds Blackwood, "was far from being
agreeable to the Lords, proving to them that her Majesty's present
estrangement from her husband was more from the necessity of the times,
than because she had ceased to love him."

[6] Chalmers, vol. ii. p. 173.--Keith, Preface, p. vii.

[7] The above transaction, in which there is so little mystery, has been
converted by Robertson into "a negociation, secretly carried on by Mary,
for subverting the Reformed Church." He cannot, it is true, very easily
reconcile the "negotiation" with the fact that, "at the very time, she did
not scruple publicly to employ her authority towards obtaining for the
ministers of that Church a more certain and comfortable subsistence."
"During this year," he tells us, "she issued several proclamations and
Acts of Council for that purpose, and readily approved of every scheme
which was proposed for the more effectual payment of their stipends." The
historian might have inquired a little more closely into the real nature
of her correspondence with the Court of Rome, before charging Mary with
"falsehood and deceit," and availing himself of the subject to point a

[8] Keith, p. 359.

[9] Anderson, vol. ii. p. 271.

[10] That Darnley was actually absent upon this occasion, we are not quite
satisfied. Robertson says he was, on the authority of Le Croc's letter in
Keith, preface, p. vii.; and after him, most writers on the subject state
the fact as beyond a doubt. All, however, that Le Croc says is this:--"The
King had still given out, that he would depart two days before the
baptism; but when the time came on, he made no sign of removing at all,
only he still kept close within his own apartment. The very day of the
baptism, he sent three several times, desiring me either to come and see
him, or to appoint him an hour, that he might come to me in my lodgings."
This is no direct evidence that the King was absent from the christening.
Neither does Buchanan furnish us with any; he merely says, with his usual
accuracy and love of calumny, that "her lawful husband was not allowed
necessaries at the christening; nay, was forbid to come in sight of the
ambassadors, who were advised not to enter into discourse with the King,
though they were in the same part of the castle the most part of the
day."--History, Book XVIII. Nor does Knox say any thing definite upon the
subject; but Keith, Crawford, and Spottswood, though not referred to by
Robertson, seem to support his opinion. Let the fact, however, be as it
may, it is not of great consequence. The erroneousness of the popular
belief, that Darnley, during the whole of this time, resided in a
citizen's house in the town of Stirling, is more deserving of being
pointed out and corrected.

[11] Knox, p. 400.--Keith, Preface, p. vii.

[12] Keith, p. 369.--Knox, p. 400.--The Historie of King James the Sext,
p. 5.

[13] Chalmers, vol. ii. p. 176.

[14] Melville, p. 192.

[15] The Ruthven here spoken of is the son of the Lord Ruthven, who took
so active a part in the murder.

[16] Chalmers, vol. ii. p. 175 and 342.

[17] Keith--Preface, p. viii.

[18] Keith, p. 364.

[19] Keith, p. 151.--Laing, vol. ii. p. 76.--Chalmers, vol. ii. p.
268.--Whittaker, in endeavouring to prove (vol. ii. p. 322) that the
Catholic Ecclesiastical Courts had never been deprived of their
jurisdiction, and that, consequently, there was no _restoration_ of power
to the Archbishop of St Andrews, evidently takes an erroneous view of this
matter. In direct opposition to such a view, Knox, or his continuator, has
the following account of the transaction:--"At the same time, the Bishop
of St Andrews, by means of the Earl of Bothwell, procured a writing from
the Queen's Majesty, to be obeyed within the Diocess of his Jurisdiction,
in all such causes as before, in time of Popery, were used in the
Consistory, and, therefore, to discharge the new Commissioners; and for
the same purpose, came to Edinburgh in January, having a company of one
hundred horses, or more, intending to take possession according to his
gift lately obtained. The Provost being advertised thereof by the Earl of
Murray, they sent to the Bishop three or four of the Council, desiring him
to desist from the said matter, for fear of trouble and sedition that
might rise thereupon; whereby he was persuaded to desist at that
time."--Knox, p. 403. This account is not quite correct, in so far as the
Earl of Murray alone, unsupported by Mary's authority, is described as
having diverted the Archbishop from his purpose.

[20] Chalmers, vol. i. p. 199; and vol. ii. p. 176.

[21] Keith, Preface p. viii.

[22] Anderson, vol. iv. p. 165.--Goodall, vol. ii. p. 76.

[23] Goodall, vol. ii. p. 76.--et seq.

[24] Birrel's Dairy, p. 6.--Laing, vol. i. p. 30.

[25] Keith, p. 364.--Anderson, vol. ii. p. 67.--Goodall, vol. ii. p.
244.--Chalmers, vol. i. p. 203.--vol. ii. p. 180, and 271.--Laing, vol. i.
p. 30.--and vol. ii. p. 17.--Whittaker, vol. iii. p. 258, and
283.--Arnot's History of Edinburgh, p. 237. Whittaker has made several
mistakes regarding the House of the Kirk-of-Field. He describes it as much
larger than it really was; and, misled by the appearance of a gun-port
still remaining in one part of the old wall, and which Arnot supposed had
been the postern-door in the gavel of the house, he fixes its situation at
too great a distance from the College, and too near the Infirmary. Sir
Walter Scott, in his "Tales of a Grandfather," (vol. iii. p. 187.) has
oddly enough fallen into the error of describing the Kirk-of-Field, as
standing "just _without_ the walls of the city."

[26] Morton's Confession in Laing, vol. ii. p. 354; and Archibald
Douglas's Letter, ibid. p. 363.

[27] Idem.

[28] Lesley's Defence in Anderson, vol. i. p. 75.--Buchanan's History, p.
350.--Laing, vol. ii. p. 34.

[29] Ormiston's Confession in Laing, vol. ii. p. 322.

[30] Paris's Confession in Laing, vol. ii. p. 298-9.

[31] Paris's Deposition in Laing, vol. ii. p. 296.

[32] Laing, vol. ii. p. 282 and 370.

[33] Deposition of Hepburn--Anderson, vol. ii. p. 183.

[34] Anderson, vol. ii. p. 183.

[35] Keith, Preface, p. viii.

[36] Anderson, vol. ii. p. 179.

[37] Ibid. vol. ii. p. 184.

[38] Laing, Appendix, p. 304.

[39] Deposition of John Hay in Anderson, vol. ii. p. 177.

[40] Deposition of William Powrie, in Anderson, vol. ii. p. 165.

[41] Anderson, vol. ii. p. 183.

[42] Ibid. vol. ii. p. 181.

[43] Buchanan's _History_, Book XVIII. may be compared with his
_Detection_ in Anderson, vol. i. p. 22 and 72.

[44] Buchanan's _History_, Book XVIII.

[45] Freebairn's Life of Mary, p. 112 and 114.

[46] Deposition of Paris in Laing, vol. ii. p. 305.

[47] Evidence of Thomas Nelson, Anderson, vol. iv. p. 165.

[48] The Confessions and Depositions in Anderson, vol. ii. and vol. iv;
and in Laing, vol. ii.

[49] Melville's Memoirs, p. 174. Lesley in Anderson, vol. i. p. 24.
Freebairn, p. 115.

[50] Anderson, vol. i. p. 36.--Goodall, vol. ii. p. 245.

[51] Laing, vol. ii. p. 289 et 290.

[52] Historie of King James the Sext, p. 6.

[53] Miss Benger, vol. ii. p. 313.

[54] Sanderson's Life of Mary, p. 48.--Freebairn, p. 113.

[55] Knox, p. 404.

[56] Keith, p. 365.

[57] Melville, p. 174.

[58] The notion that the powder, with which the Kirk-of-Field was blown
up, had been placed in a mine, dug for the purpose, was for a while very
prevalent. Mary, of course, never suspected that it had been put into her
own bedroom; but the truth came out as soon as the depositions of
Bothwell's accomplices were published. Why Whittaker should still have
continued to believe that a mine had been excavated, it is difficult to
understand. Laing very justly ridicules the absurdity of such a belief.

[59] There is a sincere piety in this rejection of the word "chance." Mary
was steadily religious all her life, and certainly nothing but a pure and
upright spirit could have induced her, on the present occasion, to appeal
to her Creator, and say, "It was not chance, but God."

[60] Keith, Preface, p. viii.

[61] Anderson, vol. i. p. 36.

[62] Lesley in Anderson, vol. i. p. 23.

[63] Keith, p. 368.

[64] Laing's remarks upon this subject, are exceedingly weak. He seems to
suppose that Mary, for the mere sake of appearances, ought to have thrown
into prison some of her most powerful nobility. He adds,--"If innocent,
she must have suspected somebody, and the means of detection were
evidently in her hands. The persons who provided or furnished the
lodging,--the man to whom the house belonged,--the servants of the Queen,
who were intrusted with the keys,--the King's servants who had previously
withdrawn, or were preserved, at his death,--her brother, Lord Robert, who
had apprised him of his danger, were the first objects for suspicion or
inquiry; and their evidence would have afforded the most ample detection."
Laing does not seem to be aware, that he is here suggesting the very steps
which Mary actually took. She had not, indeed, herself examined witnesses,
which would have been alike contrary to her general habits and her
feelings at the time; but she had ordered the legal authorities to
assemble every day, till they ascertained all the facts which could be
collected. Nor does Laing seem to remember, that Bothwell had it in his
power to exercise over these legal authorities no inconsiderable control,
and to prevail upon them, as he in truth did, to garble and conceal
several circumstances of importance which came out.

[65] Killigrew, the English ambassador, sent by Elizabeth to offer her
condolence, mentions, that he "found the Queen's Majesty in a dark chamber
so as he could not see her face, but by her words she seemed very
doleful."--Chalmers, vol. ii. p. 209.

[66] Chalmers, vol. i. p. 208.

[67] _Vide_ these Letters in Anderson, vol. i. p. 40, or Keith, p. 369.

[68] Anderson, vol. i. p. 50.

[69] Goodall, vol. i. p. 346, _et seq._

[70] Chalmers, vol. i. p. 209. The above fact is no proof, as Chalmers
alleges, that Murray was connected with the conspirators; but it shows,
that whatever his own suspicions or belief were, he did not choose to
discountenance Bothwell. Could Mary ever suppose that the _godly_ Earl of
Murray would entertain a murderer at his table?

[71] Anderson, vol. i. p. 52.

[72] Robertson--Appendix to vol. i. No. XIX.

[73] Anderson, vol. ii. p. 103.

[74] Anderson, vol. ii. p. 104, et seq.--and Keith, p. 375, et seq.

[75] Anderson, vol. ii. p. 157.

[76] Anderson, vol. i. p. 107; and Keith, p. 381.

[77] Keith, p. 382.--There are extant two lists of the names of the
subscribers, and these differ in one or two particulars from each other;
but the one was only a list given to Cecil from memory by John Reid,
Buchanan's clerk; the other is a document authenticated by the
subscription of Sir James Balfour, who was at the time Clerk of Register
and Privy Council. The chief difference between these two copies is, that
Reid's list contains the name of the Earl of Murray, though on the 20th of
April he was out of the realm of Scotland. It has been supposed that the
bond, though not produced, might have been drawn up some time before, and
that Murray put his name to it before going away. This is possible, but,
considering Murray's cautious character, not probable. The point does not
seem one of great importance, though by those who are anxious to make out
a case against Murray rather than against Bothwell, it is deemed necessary
to insist upon it at length. Perhaps Bothwell forged Murray's signature,
to give his bond greater weight both with the nobles and with the Queen;
although one name more or less could not make much difference either to
her or them.

[78] Keith, p. 390.

[79] Keith, p. 383.--Melville's Memoirs, p. 177.--Whittaker, vol. iii. p.
106 and 356.

[80] Melville, p. 177.

[81] Keith, p. 390.

[82] Anderson, vol. i. p. 97.--Keith, p. 390.

[83] Melville, p. 197.

[84] Anderson, vol. i. p. 95.

[85] Anderson, vol. i. p. 95.

[86] Anderson, vol. i. p. 97. et seq. There is something so peculiar in
the last passage quoted above, and Bothwell's conduct was so despotic,
during the whole of the time he had Mary's person at his disposal, that
Whittaker's supposition seems by no means unlikely, that the _force_ to
which Mary alludes was of the most culpable and desperate kind.
"Throughout the whole of the Queen's own account of these transactions,"
he observes, "the delicacy of the lady, and the prudence of the wife, are
in a continual struggle with facts,--willing to lay open the whole for her
own vindication, yet unable to do it for her own sake and her husband's,
and yet doing it in effect." Vide Whittaker, vol. iii. p. 112. et
seq.--Melville is still more explicit upon the subject, p. 177. And in a
letter from "the Lords of Scotland," written to the English ambassador,
six weeks after the ravishment, it is expressly said, that "the Queen was
led captive, and by fear, force, and (as by many conjectures may be well
suspected) other extraordinary and more unlawful means, compelled to
become the bedfellow to another wife's husband."--See the letter in Keith
p. 418.

[87] Vide Laing, vol. i. p. 86, and vol. ii. p. 105, and Whittaker, vol.
iii. p. 116.

[88] Keith, p. 383.

[89] History of James VI., p. 10.--Buchanan's History, Book XVII.--Keith,
p. 384.--Whittaker, vol. iii. p. 120.

[90] "I plainly refused," says Craig, in his account of this matter, which
still remains among the records of the General Assembly, "because he
(Hepburn) had not her handwriting; and also the constant bruit that my
Lord had both ravished her and kept her in captivity."--Anderson, vol. ii.
p. 299.

[91] Anderson, vol. ii. p. 280.

[92] Anderson, vol. i. p. 111.--Keith, p. 384.

[93] Anderson, vol. i. p. 87.

[94] History of James VI. p. 10.--Keith, p. 386.--Melville, p.
78.--Whittaker, vol. iii. p. 127. et seq. Upon this subject, Lord Hailes
has judiciously remarked:--"After Mary had remained a fortnight under the
power of a daring profligate adventurer, few foreign princes would have
solicited her hand. Some of her subjects might still have sought that
honour, but her compliance would have been humiliating beyond measure. It
would have left her at the mercy of a capricious husband,--it would have
exposed her to the disgrace of being reproached in some sullen hour, for
the adventure at Dunbar. Mary was so situated, at this critical period,
that she was reduced to this horrid alternative, either to remain in a
friendless and most hazardous celibacy, or to yield her hand to
Bothwell."--_Remarks on the History of Scotland_, _p._ 204.

[95] Melville, p. 178.

[96] Letter from the Lords of Scotland to Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, in
Keith, p. 417.

[97] Melville, p. 180.

[98] Melville, p. 199.

[99] Keith, p. 394.--Melville, p. 179.--Knox, p. 406.

[100] Anderson, vol. i. p. 131.

[101] Anderson, vol. i. p. 128.

[102] Knox, p. 409.

[103] Laing, Appendix, p. 115.

[104] Laing, Appendix, vol. ii. p. 116. Knox says that it was Bothwell who
drew back; but the authority to which we have referred is more to be
depended on.

[105] Melville, p. 182.

[106] Laing, Appendix, vol. ii. p. 116.

[107] Keith, p. 402.

[108] Keith, p. 403.--Melville, p. 184.--Knox, p. 409.--Laing, Appendix,
vol. ii. p. 117.

[109] Laing, Appendix, vol. ii. p. 119.--Anderson, vol. i. p. 128.--Keith,
p. 418.

[110] Anderson, vol. i. p. 134.

[111] Keith, p. 408.

[112] Buchanan's History, Book XVIII.

[113] Keith, p. 406, et seq.

[114] Anderson, vol. i. p. 139.

[115] The above account of Bothwell's adventures and fate, after he left
Scotland, is taken principally from Melville, and the History of James VI.
But an interesting and original manuscript, entitled a "Declaration of the
Earl of Bothwell," which was made at Copenhagen, in the year 1568, for the
satisfaction apparently of the Danish government, has recently been
discovered, and an authenticated copy of it having been transmitted to
this country in August 1824, a careful translation from the old French in
which it is written, was presented to the public in "The New Monthly
Magazine," for June 1825. Satisfied as we are of the authenticity of this
"Declaration," we have availed ourselves of some of the information it
supplies, though, of course, great allowance must be made for the
colouring Bothwell has artfully given to the transactions he details. We
shall have more to say of this "Declaration" afterwards; at present, it is
necessary only to refer to it.

[116] Keith, p. 411 and 414.

[117] Keith, p. 418. It is worth noticing, that no proof of this absurd
falsehood is offered--no allusion being even made to the letter which had
been shown to Grange, and which, though only the first of a series of
forgeries, yet having been hastily prepared to serve the purpose of the
hour, seems to have been destroyed immediately.

[118] Keith, Ibid.

[119] Keith, p. 420.

[120] Throckmorton's Letter in Keith, p. 420, et seq.

[121] Melville's Memoirs, p. 197.

[122] Whittaker, vol. i. p. 228.

[123] Throckmorton in Keith, p. 422.

[124] Robertson, Appendix to vol. i. No. XXI.

[125] Robertson, Appendix to vol. i. No. XXII.

[126] Throckmorton, in one of his letters, mentions explicitly, that Mary
had given him the very reasons stated above for refusing to renounce
Bothwell. But as Throckmorton could communicate with Mary only through the
channel of the rebel Lords, who, he says, "_had sent him word_," it is not
at all improbable, that her message may have been a good deal garbled by
the way. The passage in Throckmorton's letter is as follows:--"I have also
persuaded her to conform herself to renounce Bothwell for her husband, and
to be contented to suffer a divorce to pass betwixt them. She hath sent me
word, that she will in no wise consent unto that, but rather die:
grounding herself upon this reason, taking herself to be seven weeks gone
with child; by renouncing Bothwell, she should acknowledge herself to be
with child of a bastard, and to have forfeited her honour, which she will
not do to die for it. I have persuaded her to save her own life and her
child, to choose the least hard condition." Robertson--Appendix to vol. i.
No. XXII. It was, perhaps, this passage in Throckmorton's despatch to
England, that gave rise to a vulgar rumour, which was of course much
improved by the time it reached France. Le Laboureur, an historian of much
respectability, actually asserts that the Queen of Scots had a daughter to
Bothwell, who was educated as a religieuse in the Convent of Notre Dame at
Soissons. _Vide_ Laboureur Addit. aux Mem. de Castelnau, p. 610. Of
course, the assertion is altogether unfounded.

[127] Some historians have asserted, that Lord Ruthven accompanied the two
Commissioners mentioned in the text. But this is not the case, for he was
present at a conference with the English ambassador, Throckmorton, on the
very day the others were at Lochleven. Throckmorton in Keith, p. 426.

[128] Pennant, in his "Tour in Scotland," thus describes Lochleven, and
the island where the Queen resided:--"Lochleven, a magnificent piece of
water, very broad but irregularly indented; is about twelve miles in
circumference, and its greatest depth about twenty-four fathoms. Some
islands are dispersed in this great expanse of water, one of which is
large enough to feed several head of cattle; but the most remarkable is
that distinguished by the captivity of Mary Stuart, which stands almost in
the middle of the lake. The castle still remains, consists of a _square
tower_, a small yard with two round towers, a chapel, and the ruins of a
building, where (it is said) the unfortunate Princess was lodged. In the
square tower is a DUNGEON, with a vaulted room above, over which had been
three other stories."--Tour in Scotland, vol. i. p. 64.

[129] Keith, p. 431.

[130] Keith, p. 426.--Whittaker, vol. i. p. 299.

[131] Goodall, vol. ii. p. 166, and 344.

[132] Leslie, p. 37.--Jebb, vol. ii. p. 221 and 222.

[133] Goodall, ibid.--Freebairn, p. 147.--Whittaker, vol. i. p. 301. _et
seq._--Chalmers, vol. i. p. 248.

[134] Keith, p. 436.

[135] History of James VI. p. 17. Keith, p. 438.

[136] Melville's Memoirs, p. 193. Keith, p. 442. et seq.

[137] Throckmorton's Letter in Keith, p. 444 et seq.

[138] What Mark Antony, according to Shakespeare, said of Cæsar, might be,
with propriety, applied to the Earl of Murray:

  "You all did see that, on the Lupercal,
  I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
  Which he did thrice refuse.--Was this ambition?"

[139] Anderson, vol. ii. p. 251 and 254.--Chalmers, vol. ii. p. 355.

[140] Goodall, vol. ii. p. 66.--Anderson, vol. ii. p. 206 et seq.

[141] Goodall, vol. ii. p. 299, and Chalmers, vol. i. p. 275 and 278.

[142] Jebb, vol. ii. p. 230.--Keith, p. 471--and Chalmers, vol. i. p. 275.

[143] Sir William Drury's Letter in Keith, p. 470.

[144] Buchanan's Cameleon, p. 13.

[145] Jebb, vol. ii. p. 65 and 230.--Keith, p. 471.--Freebairn, p. 152, et
seq.--Chalmers, vol. i. p. 277, et seq. The interest taken in Queen Mary
by George Douglas, is ascribed by Mackenzie to a motive less pure than the
affection of a good subject. His chief characteristic, we are told by that
author, was an excessive love of money, and it was by bribing him, he
asserts, with the best part of what gold and jewels she had about her,
that Mary prevailed upon him to assist her. But this statement does not
seem well authenticated. Another story, still more improbable, was told by
the Earl of Murray to the English ambassador, Sir William Drury, namely,
that Mary had entreated him to allow her to have a husband, and had named
George Douglas as the person she would wish to marry. Murray must have
fabricated this falsehood, in order to lower the dignity of the Queen; but
he surely forgot that the reason assigned in justification of her
imprisonment in Loch-Leven, was her alleged determination not to consent
to a separation from Bothwell. How then did she happen to wish to marry
another? See Sir William Drury's Letter in Keith, p. 469.

[146] Keith, p. 472, et seq.

[147] Buchanan, Book xix.--Melville's Memoirs, p. 200. et seq.--Keith, p.
477.--Calderwood, Crawfurd, and Holinshed. The accounts which historians
give of this battle are so confused and contradictory, that it is almost
impossible to furnish any very distinct narrative of it, even by collating
them all. Robertson hardly attempts any detail, and the few particulars
which he does mention, are in several instances erroneous.

[148] Keith, p. 481 and 482.--Anderson, vol. iv. p. 1.

[149] Anderson, vol. iv. p. 1. et seq.--Keith, p. 481.

[150] Goodall, vol. ii. p. 69.

[151] Chalmers, vol. i. p. 283.

[152] Goodall, vol. ii. p. 71.

[153] Anderson, vol. iv. p. 6.--Chalmers, vol. i. p. 288. Even at
Carlisle, Mary was always strictly watched. In one of his letters to
Cecil, Knollys writes thus:--"Yesterday, her Grace went out at a postern,
to walk on the playing green, towards Scotland; and we, with twenty-two
halberdeers, diverse gentlemen and other servants, waited upon her. About
twenty of her retinue played at foot-ball before her the space of two
hours, very strongly, nimbly, and skilfully,--without any foul play
offered, the smallness of their ball occasioning their fair play. And
before yesterday, since our coming, she went but twice out of the town,
once to the like play of foot-ball, in the same place, and once she rode
out a hunting the hare, she galloping so fast upon every occasion, and her
whole retinue being so well horsed, that we, upon experience thereof,
doubting that, upon a set course, some of her friends out of Scotland
might invade and assault us upon the sudden, for to rescue and take her
from us; we mean hereafter, if any such riding pastimes be required that
way, so much to fear the endangering of her person by some sudden invasion
of her enemies, that she must hold us excused, in that behalf."

[154] Anderson, vol. iv. p. 95.--Stuart, vol. i. p. 300. It is of Dr
Stuart's translation that we have availed ourselves.

[155] Anderson, vol. iv. part ii. p. 33.

[156] Buchanan, book xix. It is worth remarking, that of these particular
friends of Murray, the two Commissioners, Lord Lindsay and the Commendator
of Dunfermlin, and the two lawyers, Macgill and Balnaves, sat on the trial
of Bothwell when he was unanimously acquitted. Yet they afterwards accused
the Queen of consenting to an unfair trial.

[157] Anderson, vol. iv. Part ii. p. 3.

[158] Anderson, vol. iv. Part I. p. 12.

[159] Goodall, vol. ii. p. 128.

[160] Goodall, vol. ii. p. 144.

[161] Goodall, vol. ii. p. 162.

[162] Goodall, vol. ii. p. 62.

[163] We do not at present stop the course of our narrative to examine
these letters more minutely, but we shall devote some time to their
consideration afterwards.

[164] Goodall, vol. ii. p. 182.

[165] Goodall, vol. ii. p. 184.

[166] Goodall, vol. ii. p. 206.

[167] Ibid. p. 220.

[168] Ibid. p. 221.

[169] Ibid. p. 184 and 206.

[170] Ibid. p. 283.

[171] Ibid. p. 312.

[172] Ibid. p. 300 and 301.

[173] There is one other circumstance connected with this conference,
which, though not bearing any immediate reference to Mary, is worth
mentioning. We allude to the challenges which passed between Lord Lindsay,
one of Murray's Commissioners, and Lord Herries, one of Mary's most
constant and faithful servants. Lindsay, whose passionate violence we have
formerly had occasion to notice, attempted to force a quarrel upon
Herries, by writing him the following letter:

"Lord Herries,--I am informed that you have spoken and affirmed, that my
Lord Regent's Grace and his company here present, were guilty of the
abominable murder of the late King, our Sovereign Lord's father. If you
have so spoken, you have said untruly, and have lied in your throat, which
I will maintain, God willing, against you, as becomes me of honour and
duty. And hereupon I desire your answer. Subscribed with my hand, at
Kingston, the twenty-second day of December 1568. PATRICK LINDSAY."

To this epistle Lord Herries made the following spirited reply:

"Lord Lindsay,--I have seen a writing of yours, the 22d of December, and
thereby understand,--'You are informed that I have said and affirmed, that
the Earl of Murray, whom you call your Regent, and his company, are guilty
of the Queen's husband's slaughter, father to our Prince; and if I said
it, I have lied in my throat, which you will maintain against me as
becomes you of honour and duty.' In respect they have accused the Queen's
Majesty, mine and your native Sovereign, of that foul crime, far from the
duty that good subjects owed, or ever have been seen to have done to their
native Sovereign,--I have said--'There is of that company present with the
Earl of Murray, guilty of that abominable treason, in the fore-knowledge
and consent thereto.' That you were privy to it, Lord Lindsay, I know not;
and if you will say that I have specially spoken of you, you lie in your
throat; and that I will defend as of my honour and duty becomes me. But
let any of the principal that is of them subscribe the like writing you
have sent to me, and I shall point them forth, and fight with some of the
traitors therein; for meetest it is that traitors should pay for their own
treason. HERRIES. London, 22d of December 1568."

No answer appears to have been returned to this letter, and so the affair
was dropped.--Goodall, vol. ii. p. 271.

[174] Goodall, vol. ii. p. 313.

[175] Chalmers, vol. i. p. 327.

[176] Chalmers, vol. i. p. 332.

[177] Anderson, vol. i. p. 80.

[178] Strype, vol. i. p. 538.--Chalmers, vol. i. p. 337.

[179] Stranguage, p. 114.

[180] Goodall, vol. ii. p. 375.--Anderson, vol. ii. p. 261.--Stuart, vol.
ii. p. 59.--Chalmers, vol. i. p. 349.

[181] Anderson, vol. iii. p. 248.

[182] See "An Account of the Life and Actions of the Reverend Father in
God, John Lesley, Bishop of Ross," in Anderson, vol. iii. p. vii.

[183] Miss Benger, vol. ii. p. 439.

[184] Additions to the Memoirs of Castelnau, p. 589, et seq.

[185] Laing, vol. ii. p. 285.

  Alas! what am I?--what avails my life?
    Does not my body live without a soul?--
  A shadow vain--the sport of anxious strife,
    That wishes but to die, and end the whole.
  Why should harsh enmity pursue me more?
    The false world's greatness has no charms for me;
  Soon will the struggle and the grief be o'er;--
    Soon the oppressor gain the victory.
  Ye friends! to whose remembrance I am dear,
    No strength to aid you, or your cause, have I;
  Cease then to shed the unavailing tear,--
    I have not feared to live, nor dread to die;
  Perchance the pain that I have suffered here,
  May win me more of bliss thro' God's eternal year.

[186] See the whole of this letter in Whittaker, vol. iv. p. 399. Camden
translated it into Latin, and introduced it into his History; but he
published only an abridged edition of it, which Dr Stuart has paraphrased
and abridged still further; and Mademoiselle de Keralio has translated Dr
Stuart's paraphrased abridgment into French, supposing it to have been the
original letter. Stuart, vol. ii. p. 164.--Keralio, Histoire d'Elisabethe,
vol. v. p. 349.

[187] Chalmers, vol. i. p. 395.

[188] They were hanged on two successive days, seven on each day; and the
first seven, among whom were Ballard, Babington, and Savage, were cut down
before they were dead, embowelled, and then quartered.--_Stranguage_, _p._

[189] Stranguage, p. 176.--Chalmers, vol. i. p. 427 et seq.

[190] In the first series of Ellis's Collection of "Original Letters
illustrative of English History," there is given a fac simile of the plan,
in Lord Burleigh's hand, for the arrangement to be observed at the trial
of the Queen of Scots. As it is interesting, and brings the whole scene
more vividly before us, the following explanatory copy of it will be
perused with interest.

[Illustration: The upper end of the Gret Chambre at Fordynghay Cast.]

_Below, in another hand, apparently in answer to Lord Burleigh's
direction, is the following_:

"This will be most convenientlye in the greatt Chamber; the lengthe
whereof is in all xxiij. yerds with the windowe: whereof there may be fr.
the neither part beneth the barre viij. yerds: and the rest for the upper
parte. The breadeth of the chamber is vij. yerds.

"There is another chambre for the Lords to dyne in, the lengthe is xiiij.
yerds; the breadeth, vij. yerdes; and the deppeth iij. yerdes dim."

[191] As an example of some of the mistakes which the fabricators of these
letters committed, it may be mentioned, that in one of them, dated the
27th of July 1586, Mary is made to say,--"I am not yet brought so low but
that I am able to handle my cross-bow for killing a deer, and to gallop
after the hounds on horseback, as this afternoon I intend to do, within
the limits of this park, and could otherwhere if it were permitted." Yet
on the 3d of June previous, Sir Amias Paulet informed Walsingham--"The
Scottish Queen is getting a little strength, and has been out in her
coach, and is sometimes carried in a chair to one of the adjoining ponds
to see the diversion of duck-hunting; but she is not able to walk without
support on each side." See Chalmers, vol. i. p. 426.

[192] Camden, p. 519, et seq.--Stranguage, p. 192, et seq.--Robertson,
Book VII.--Stuart, vol. ii. p. 268, et seq.

[193] It deserves notice, that no particulars of the trial at Fotheringay
have been recorded, either by Mary herself, or any of her friends, but are
all derived from the narrative of two of Elizabeth's notaries. If Mary's
triumph was so decided, even by their account, it may easily be conceived
that it would have appeared still more complete, had it been described by
less partial writers.

[194] Camden, p. 525, et seq.

[195] Murdin, p. 569.

[196] Camden.

[197] Jebb, vol. ii. p. 91.

[198] Tytler, vol. ii. p. 319, et seq., and p. 403.--Chalmers, vol. i. p.
447.--Tytler gives a strong and just exposition of the shameful nature of
the Queen's correspondence with Paulet. The reader cannot fail to peruse
the following passage with interest:

"The letters written by Elizabeth to Sir Amias Paulet, Queen Mary's keeper
in her prison at Fotheringay Castle, disclose to us the true sentiments of
her heart, and her steady purpose to have Mary privately assassinated.
Paulet, a rude but an honest man, had behaved with great insolence and
harshness to Queen Mary, and treated her with the utmost disrespect. He
approached her person without any ceremony, and usually came covered into
her presence, of which she had complained to Queen Elizabeth. He was
therefore thought a fit person for executing the above purpose. The
following letter from Elizabeth displays a strong picture of her artifice
and flattery, in order to raise his expectations to the highest pitch.


'_Amias, my most faithful and careful servant_, God reward thee treblefold
for the most troublesome charge so well discharged. If you knew, _my
Amias_, how kindly, beside most dutifully, my grateful heart accepts and
praiseth your spotless endeavours and faithful actions, performed in so
dangerous and crafty a charge, it would ease your travail, and rejoice
your heart; in which I charge you to carry this most instant thought, that
I cannot balance in any weight of my judgment the value that I prize you
at, and suppose no treasure can countervail such a faith. And you shall
condemn me in that fault that yet I never committed, if I reward not such
desert; yea let me lack when I most need it, if I acknowledge not such a
merit, _non omnibus datum_.'[*]

Having thus buoyed up his hopes and wishes, Walsingham, in his letters to
Paulet and Drury, mentions the proposal in plain words to them. 'We find,
by a speech lately made by her Majesty, that she doth note in you both a
lack of that care and zeal for her service, that she looketh for at your
hands, in that you have not in all this time (of yourselves, without any
other provocation) found out some way to shorten the life of the Scots
Queen, considering the great peril she is hourly subject to, so long as
the said Queen shall live.'--In a Post-script: 'I pray you, let both this
and the enclosed be committed to the fire; as your answer shall be, after
it has been communicated to her Majesty, for her satisfaction.' In a
subsequent letter: 'I pray you let me know what you have done with my
letters, because they are not fit to be kept, that I may satisfy her
Majesty therein, who might otherwise take offence thereat.'

What a cruel snare is here laid for this faithful servant! He is tempted
to commit a murder, and at the same time has orders from his Sovereign to
destroy the warrant for doing it. He was too wise and too honourable to do
either the one or the other. Had he fallen into the snare, we may guess,
from the fate of Davidson, what would have been his. Paulet, in return,
thus writes to Walsingham:--'Your letters of yesterday coming to my hand
this day, I would not fail, according to your directions, to return my
answer with all possible speed; which I shall deliver unto you with great
grief and bitterness of mind, in that I am so unhappy, as living to see
this unhappy day, in which I am required, by direction of my most gracious
Sovereign, to do an act which God and the law forbiddeth. My goods and
life are at her Majesty's disposition, and I am ready to lose them the
next morrow if it shall please her. But God forbid I should make so foul a
shipwreck of my conscience, or leave so great a blot to my poor posterity,
as shed blood without law or warrant."

    [*] What a picture have we here, of the heroine of England! Wooing a
    faithful servant to commit a clandestine murder, which she herself
    durst not avow! The portrait of King John, in the same predicament,
    practising with Hubert to murder his nephew, then under his charge,
    shows how intimately the great Poet was acquainted with nature.

                          O my gentle Hubert,
        We owe thee much! Within this wall of flesh,
        There is a soul, counts thee her creditor,
        And with advantage means to pay thy love,
        And, my good friend, thy voluntary oath
        Lives in this bosom dearly cherished.

[199] Mackenzie's Lives of the Scottish Writers, vol. iii. p.
336.--Robertson, vol. ii. p. 194.--Chalmers, vol. i. p. 449.

[200] La Mort de la Royne d'Ecosse in Jebb, vol. ii. p. 611.

[201] Jebb, vol. ii. p. 622. et seq.

[202] "Mary's testament and letters," says Ritson the antiquarian, "which
I have seen, blotted with her tears in the Scotch College, Paris, will
remain perpetual monuments of singular abilities, tenderness, and
affection,--of a head and heart of which no other Queen in the world was
probably ever possessed."

[203] Jebb, vol. ii. p. 628, et seq.

[204] History of Fotheringay, p. 79.

[205] Among these attendants were her physician Bourgoine, who afterwards
wrote a long and circumstantial narrative of her death, and Jane Kennedy,
formerly mentioned on the occasion of Mary's escape from Loch-Leven.

[206] Narratio Supplicii Mortis Mariae Stuart in Jebb, vol. ii. p.
163.--La Mort de la Royne d'Ecosse in Jebb, vol. ii. p. 636 and
639.--Camden, p. 535.

[207] Jebb, vol. ii. p. 640, et seq.

[208] See Mezeray, Histoire de France, tome iii.

[209] "We may say of Mary, I believe, with strict propriety," observes
Whittaker, "what has been said of one of her Royal predecessors,--'the
gracious Duncan,' that she

  "Had borne her faculties so meek, had been
  So clear in her great office, that her virtues,
  Will plead, like angels, trumpet-tongued, against
  _The deep damnation of her taking off_."

[210] "Oraison Funebre" in Jebb, vol. ii. p. 671.

[211] Anderson, vol. ii. p. 92.

[212] Keith, p. 79.

[213] Anderson, vol. i. p. 117.--Keith, p. 379.

[214] Melville, p. 175. et seq.

[215] Goodall, vol. ii. p. 90.

[216] Keith, p. 406.

[217] Anderson, vol. i. p. 139.

[218] Keith, p. 417.

[219] Haynes, p. 454.--Stuart, vol. i. p. 361.

[220] Goodall, vol. ii. p. 66.

[221] Keith, p. 467.--Anderson, vol. ii. p. 173.

[222] Goodall, vol. ii. p. 140.

[223] Goodall, vol. ii. p. 235.

[224] Ibid. 256.

[225] Tytler, vol. i. p. 144.

[226] There is preserved at Hamilton Palace, a small silver box, said to
be the very casket which once contained the Letters. Laing, who appears to
believe in the genuineness of this relic somewhat too hastily, mentions,
that "the casket was purchased from a Papist by the Marchioness of Douglas
(a daughter of the Huntly family) about the period of the Restoration.
After her death, her plate was sold to a goldsmith, from whom her
daughter-in-law Anne, heiress and Dutchess of Hamilton, repurchased the

"For the following accurate and satisfactory account of the casket," adds
Mr Laing, "I am indebted to Mr Alexander Young, W. S., to whom I
transmitted the description of it given in Morton's receipt, and in the
Memorandum prefixed to the Letters in Buchanan's 'Detection.'"

"'The silver box is carefully preserved in the Charter-room at Hamilton
Palace, and answers exactly the description you have given of it, both in
size and general appearance. I examined the outside very minutely. On the
first glance I was led to state, that it had none of those ornaments to
which you allude, and, in particular, that it wanted the crowns, with the
Italic letter _F_. Instead of these, I found on one of the sides the arms
of the house of Hamilton, which seemed to have been engraved on a
compartment, which had previously contained some other ornament. On the
top of the lock, which is of curious workmanship, there is a large
embossed crown with _fleurs de lis_, but without any letters. Upon the
bottom, however, of the casket, there are two other small ornaments--one
near each end, which, at first sight, I thought resembled our
silver-smiths' marks; but, on closer inspection, I found they consisted
each of a royal crown above a _fleur de lis_, surmounting the Italic
letter _F_.'"--Laing, vol. ii. p. 235.

Upon this description of the box, it may be remarked, that it does _not_
exactly agree with the account given of it by Buchanan; for it would
appear, that in the casket preserved at Hamilton, there are only two
Italic _F's_; while Buchanan describes it as "a small gilt coffer, not
fully a foot long, being _garnished in sundry places_ with the Roman
letter F, under a king's crown," an expression he would not have used, had
there been only two of these letters. Besides, there seems to have been a
king's crown above each; but on the coffer at Hamilton, there is only one
crown on the top of the lock, and not above the letter F. Antiquarians,
however, have investigated subjects of less curiosity, and have been
willing to believe upon far more slender data.

[227] Goodall, vol. ii. p. 87.

[228] Goodall, vol. ii. p. 140.

[229] Goodall, vol. ii. p. 235; and p. 257.

[230] The authentic "Warrant" and "Consent," has been already described,
_supra_, vol. ii. p. 95, and may be seen at length in Anderson, vol. i. p.

[231] Laing, Appendix, vol. ii. p. 356.

[232] See in further corroboration of the facts stated above, a Letter of
Archibald Douglas to the Queen of Scots, in Robertson's Appendix, or in
Laing, vol. ii. p. 363.

[233] "Nec ullam hac in causa reginæ accusationem intervenire."--See the
King of Denmark's Letter in Laing, vol. ii. p. 328.

[234] Goodall, vol. ii. p. 382.

[235] Keith, Appendix, p. 141.

[236] Jebb, vol. ii. p. 227.--Keith, Appendix, p. 143.

[237] See the New Monthly Magazine, No. LIV. p. 521.

[238] Lesley's "Defence" in Anderson, vol. i. p. 40.

[239] Miss Benger, Appendix, vol. ii. p. 494.

[240] Buchanan, book xix.--Stuart, vol. i. p. 460.

[241] Robertson, Appendix to vol. i. No. xxii.

[242] Anderson, vol. iv. Part I. p. 120 and 125.

[243] Keith, Appendix, p. 145.

[244] Jebb, vol. ii. p. 671.

[245] Anderson, vol. ii. p. 185.

[246] Anderson, ibid. p. 187.--Laing, vol. ii. p. 296.

[247] Laing, Appendix p. 323.

[248] Laing, vol. ii. p. 298.

[249] Ibid. p. 300.

[250] Tytler, vol. i. p. 20.

[251] It is unnecessary to enter into any discussion regarding the second
Confession of Paris, which has been so satisfactorily proved to be
spurious, by Tytler, Whittaker, and Chalmers, and on which Robertson
acknowledges "no stress is to be laid," on account of the "improbable
circumstances" it contains. See Tytler, vol. i. p. 286.--Whittaker, vol.
ii. p. 305.--Chalmers, vol. ii. p. 50.--Robertson, vol. iii. p. 20.

[252] Robertson, vol. iii. p. 21.

[253] Goodall, vol. ii. p. 371 and 375.--Robertson, vol. iii. p. 28.

[254] The French edition of the Detection, p. 2.--Goodall, vol. i. p. 103.

[255] Goodall, vol. ii. p. 235.

[256] Laing, vol. i. p. 250.

[257] See the Letter in Laing, vol. ii. p. 202; and an unsuccessful
attempt to give a criminal interpretation to it, in vol. i. p. 311. It is
quite unnecessary to allude here to several other flimsy forgeries which,
at a later period, have been attempted to be palmed upon the world as
genuine letters of Mary. In 1726, a book was published, entitled, "The
genuine Letters of Mary Queen of Scots, to James Earl of Bothwell, found
in his Secretary's Closet after his Decease, and now in the Possession of
a Gentleman at Oxford. Translated from the French by Edward Simmons, late
of Christ-Church College, Oxford." These had only to be read, to be seen
to be fabrications. Yet so late as the year 1824, a compilation was
published by Dr Hugh Campbell, containing, among other things, eleven
letters, which the Doctor thought were original love-letters of the Queen
to Bothwell, although, with a very trifling variation, they were the same
as those published in 1726; only, not being described as translations, and
being written in comparatively modern English, which Mary never could
write, they bear still more evidently the stamp of forgery. This is put
beyond a doubt, by a short Examination of them, published by Murray,
London, 1825, and entitled, "A Detection of the Love-Letters, lately
attributed, in Hugh Campbell's Work, to Mary Queen of Scots; wherein his
Plagiarisms are proved, and his fictions fixed."

[258] Whittaker, vol. ii. p. 79.

[259] Goodall, vol. i. p. 79--Laing, vol. i. p. 209.

[260] Goodall, vol. ii. p. 342.

[261] Jebb, vol. ii. 244.

[262] Camden, p. 143.--Tytler, vol. i. p. 101.

[263] Goodall, vol. ii. p. 31.

[264] It is proper to state, that Robertson has considered this argument
at some length; and though he has not overturned, he has certainly
invalidated the strength of the evidence adduced by Goodall in support of
it.--Goodall, vol. i. p. 118.--Whittaker, vol. i. p. 383.--Chalmers, vol.
ii. p. 375.--Laing, vol. i. p. 315.

[265] Whittaker, vol. i. p. 332.

[266] Goodall, vol. ii. p. 64 & 67.

[267] Whittaker, vol. i. p. 408.

[268] Goodall, vol. ii. p. 51.

[269] Regarding these sonnets, the curious reader may consult Whittaker,
vol. iii. p. 55.--Stuart, vol. i. p. 395.--Jebb, vol. ii. p. 481--and
Laing, vol. i. p. 230. 347. 349. and 368. For remarks on the
marriage-contracts, see Goodall, vol. ii. p. 54 & 56, and vol. i. p.
126.--Whittaker, vol. i, p. 392, and Stuart, vol, i. p. 397.

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