Mary Queen of Scots: A Narrative and Defence

Author(s): Walker, Reverend Alexander



AN effort is made in the few following
pages to condense the reading of many
years, and the conclusion drawn from almost
all that has been written in defence and in
defame of Mary Stuart.
Long ago the world was at one as to the
character of the Casket Letters. To these
forgeries the writer thinks there must now be
added that document discovered in the Charter
Room of Dunrobin Castle by Dr. John Stuart.
In that most important and deeply interesting
find, recently made in a loft above the princely
stables of Belvoir Castle, in a letter from
Randolph to Rutland, of 10th June, 1563, these
words occur in writing about our Queen: "She
is the fynneste she that ever was". This
deliberately expressed opinion of Thomas
Randolph will, I hope, be the opinion of my
The Author has neither loaded his page
with long footnote extracts, nor enlarged his
volume with ponderous glossarial or other
To the pencil of Mr. J. G. Murray of Aberdeen,
and the etching needle of M. Vaucanu of
Paris, the little book is much beholden.
A. W.

FOREWORD,. . . . . . . . . . . . v
JOHN CRAIG AND THE BANNS, . . . . . . . . 94
THE WOFUL WEDDING,. . . . . . . . . 99
THE SILVER CASKET,. . . . . . . . . . 116
QUEEN ONCE MORE,. . . . . . . . . . 227
INTO ENGLAND,. . . . . . . . . . . 130
THE END APPROACHES,. . . . . . . . . 247
Her Birth and Childhood
There beats no heart on either border,
Where through the north blasts blow,
But keeps your memory as a warder
His beacon fire aglow.
ALL Scotsmen and Scotswomen know that
when Mary's father, James the Fifth,
"King of the Commons," heard of her birth,
as he lay sick unto death in Falkland Palace,
he said: "Well, well, the crown cam' wi' a
lass, and will gang wi' a lass". Mary, born on
the 8th day of December, 1542, was six days
old when her father died. Her mother, James
the Fifth's second wife, Dowager-Duchess of
Longueville, daughter of Claude of Lorraine,
Duke of Guise, and of Antoinette de Bourbon,
was a lady of the most illustrious descent in
Europe, and in every way qualified to reign.
Mary was the prettiest baby of royal race in
Europe, and became the most important person
on the whole chess-board of European politics;
and before she was many months old, English,
French, and Scottish blood was shed in rivalry
for her tiny hand. So early as March, 1543,
the charge of the child's personal safety was
entrusted by the Parliament to Lords Erskine
and Livingstone, as Commissioners, bound
to fidelity under pain of loss of life, land, and
goods, and her nursing was confided to the
With a truculent and unscrupulous neighbour
like Henry VIII., even with two powerful
nobles for her guardians, the infant Queen was
not considered to be altogether safe in the
Palace of Linlithgow. She was accordingly
removed to Stirling, and that without the assent
of the Governor, for we find Parliament,
in December, 1543, indemnifying those who
had convened for removing the Queen from
Linlithgow to Stirling; it appears, however,
that her household was not finally installed in
Stirling till 1545. Before she left Linlithgow,
Chalmers infers from "Sadler's State Letters"
that Mary had the smallpox; but this disorder
does not seem to have impaired her beauty,
otherwise we should probably have had some
mention of this circumstance by one or other of
the many writers who have left us descriptions
of her person.
She remained for two years and a half at
Stirling Castle under the eye of the Queen-Mother,
attended by her nurse, Janet Sinclair,
whose faithful care was rewarded by repeated
grants from Parliament. Mary, when she came
of age, granted Janet's husband, John Kemp,
a pension of money and victual. The Lady
Fleming, a natural daughter of James IV., was
also in attendance as governess. The Queen-Mother,
in order to insure emulation in Mary's
studies, judiciously chose for her four playmates
of the same age. Four Maries were probably
selected to wait upon Mary their Queen because
there are four mentioned in the Gospels as
frequently in company with the Mother of our
Redeemer. From very early times disputes
about the individuality of these saintly women
have existed among Christians; but we may
take — (1) Mary, mother of James and John,
(2) Mary of Cleophas, (3) Mary, the mother of
Mark, and (4) Mary Magdalene. People in those
times knew the Bible better than they get credit
for. These children were all from families of
rank: Mary Beaton was the well-known Cardinal's
niece; Mary Seton was the daughter of
Lord Seton; Mary Fleming was the daughter
of Lord Fleming, whose mother was the
Queen's governess; and Mary Livingstone was
the daughter of Lord Livingstone, one of the
Commissioners who had charge of the Queen's
The defeat at Pinkie on the 10th September,
1547, did not lessen the dislike of the Scots
to the rude English wooing of their sovereign.
They decided to accept the alliance with France,
and at six years of age Mary was placed on
board one of the four French galleys which
Villegagnon had brought from Leith to Dumbarton
through the Pentland Frith. An English
fleet watched in vain to intercept the little
squadron. The peasants of Bretagne show the
spot where, on the 13th of August, 1548, a
Queen of Scotland and of France first stepped
on their sunny shore at Roscoff, after safely
evading the sinister designs of England. A
chapel dedicated to St. Ninian, the apostle of
Galloway, still shows her gratitude and that of
her friends for her safety — though, to Scotland's
shame, it has been for several years threatened
with ruin. Received with every attention due
to her queenly rank at St. Germain-en-Laye,
the little maiden who already filled the ancient
Scottish throne was in legal form betrothed to
the Dauphin of France, eldest son of Henry II.
and Catharine de Medici. But the shadow of
her grandeur stretched itself already dark and
deep by her side. By some fatal chance or
choice, her half-brother, James, then a stripling
of seventeen years of age — one of her father's
too numerous illegitimate children — had sailed
with her from the Clyde. He thus early secured
her sisterly affection and an elder brother's influence
on that sister's warm heart.
The Progress of her Education
But fairer far than all the crowd who bask on fortune's tide,
Effulgent in the light of youth, is she, the new made bride;
The homage of a thousand hearts — the fond deep love of one —
The hopes that dance around a life whose charms are but begun.
YOUNG though she was when taken from
her Northern home, Mary Stuart had
received careful and efficient instruction from
John Erskine, Prior of Inchmahoume, and Alexander
Scott, Parson of Balmaclellan. During
the ten years which followed her landing in
France, she was brought up under the care of
her maternal grandmother, often seeing, as duty
enjoined, the sisters and kinswomen of her
betrothed. Neither frivolous nor superficial
was the influence on our young Queen of such
a relation, who was "humble, devout, and charitable,
and conducted [her husband's] house
liker to a monastery than the court of a great
prince". Her maternal uncles naturally watched
with anxiety the development of her character
and disposition. Both Duke and Cardinal are
said to have early attracted her confidence and
to have never lost it. When her grandfather,
Duke Claude, died, on the 12th of April, 1550,
Mary took part in the funeral ceremonies and
shared the sorrows of the illustrious house to
which she was so closely allied.
Eight days after this event, peace was proclaimed
at the cross of Edinburgh; the seas
were so far freed from danger; and Mary's
mother resolved to visit her. The Queen-Dowager
of Scotland, mother of the gifted
and beautiful girl, the affianced bride of their
future King, reached Dieppe on the 19th
September, 1550, and was received by the
French people and Court at Rouen with every
possible mark of respect. Another well-loved
object called Mary of Lorraine to the home
of her kindred. While her royal daughter had
for two years been removed from her influence,
for twelve long and trying years she had not
seen her son Francis, Duke of Longueville.
She found great reason to be proud of both
her children, but ere long a double sorrow
came to wound her heart. On the 22nd
September, 1551, her son was taken from her
by death — he who might have proved a stay
and protector to his little sister in the days of
need that were at hand. About the same time
a frustrated attempt to poison her daughter
was made public.
After a stay of fourteen months in France,
the Queen-Dowager returned to Scotland with
a heavy load of sorrow, in November, 1551.
Had she foreseen what anxiety and affliction
the government of a half-civilised nation, swayed
at will by a restless and selfish oligarchy, was
to bring to her during the next eight and a
half years, she would probably never have
returned. On the 24th of April, 1558, with
much pomp, Mary Stuart was married to the
Dauphin, on a splendid platform erected in
front of the Church of Notre Dame at Paris.
On the 10th of July, 1559, the death of Henry
the Second gave the crown of France to her
husband, who assumed the title of Francis II.
The long series of Mary's misfortunes began
on the 8th of December, 1560, when her
husband died. Had her character had time
to unfold itself, had her talents been as precocious
as her beauty, Mary Stuart might
then with a little ambition have seized a
sceptre more powerful than any which had
ever fallen to a sovereign of the Scots. The
reins of the government of France, on account
of her extreme youth, fell into the hands of her
mother-in-law, Catharine de Medici. In some
moment of curiosity and forgetfulness, Mary
is said to have asked whether her mother-in-law
was not the daughter of a merchant of
Florence. The hasty phrase was not relished,
nor the unintended sting forgotten, when Mary
Stuart, herself also a Queen-Dowager, and yet
almost a child, had to stand beside the haughty
Catharine; nor in future years, when Mary's
fate depended on Catharine's good or ill will.
The death of Mary's mother on the 10th
of June, 1560, left Scotland without a ruler,
while convulsed with the throes of the Reformation.
Looking back with regret to the
happy years of her girlhood, looking with foreboding
to the future, Mary had to bid adieu to
France, and in four days—some say five, some
six — i.e., on 19th August, 1561, she safely landed
in Leith, having again escaped the English warships
sent to capture her. In that age France
was far more advanced than Scotland in everything
that constitutes the comfort and grace and
dignity of life; and Mary may well be pardoned
if, after having adorned by her girlish beauty,
her wit and learning, the most splendid Court in
Europe, she felt, and showed to others that she
felt, the rudeness and poverty of her ancestral
realm; but with courage she set herself to the
task of government, which she could not shun.
She takes Possession of her Father's Throne.
Amid her lords and ladies gay,
Slowly she ambled on her way.
Priest, abbot, layman, all were there,
And presbyter with look severe.
There rode the lords of France and Spain,
Of England, Flanders, and Lorraine,
While serried thousands round them stood,
From shore of Leith to Holyrood.
— The Queen's Wake.
AT the date of the Queen's landing in Scotland
Elizabeth had ruled England for
about three years. The rare skill and talents
of the ministers who offered her their services,
the immense interests which bound a numerous
and active section of English nobles to the faith
she had adopted, strengthened Elizabeth's hands.
Mary Stuart's position was different. Her
hands were weakened by the need, the greed,
and turbulent character of a majority of her
nobles. The New Evangel and English gold
had undermined the royal authority and the
supremacy of the law. On their estates the
nobles ruled their kindred and their inferiors
with a mixture of French feudalism and the independence
of Gaelic chiefs. The system of
bonds and manrents, which James III. and
his successors had tried in vain to extinguish,
enabled them to combine for the execution of
any crime and to deprive the Crown of any
power to bring them to punishment. Dearer
to Mary than her life or crown was her faith.
She had no Cecil, astute though unprincipled,
to guide and counsel her. The witchery of
her manner, her beauty, and her wit won some
of the nobles in a half-hearted way to her side,
but it was almost single-handed that Mary, in
the nineteenth year of her age, began to rule.
Those, indeed, whom circumstances induced
her to select as her counsellors proved to be
in league and correspondence with the foes of
her creed and the liberties of her subjects.
The abolition of the Mass and of the Papal
supremacy had, on the 24th August, 1560,
received the sanction of a Scottish Parliament,
the legality of which was questionable and is
still questioned; but Mary was content to leave
affairs as she found them, requiring only — as
surely a queen had right to require — leave to
use her own religion, and to keep unmolested
the faith she had inherited. One cannot help
feeling that if John Knox had not placed his
fanaticism at the disposal of a rapacious faction,
and if the daughter of Anne Boleyn had
been less fickle in religion and less jealous
in temperament, Mary's future life would have
been freed from many a tragedy. It is said
that Mary rejected the counsel which the
Northland barons gave her ere she left France.
Their projects were less revolutionary, and
John Leslie laid them before her at Vitri, in
Champagne, on the 15th of April, 1561. We
know that the advisers whom she chose were
leaders of the Protestant cause, chief among
them being that half-brother who, fourteen
years before, had sailed with her from Dumbarton.
James Stuart, ambitious, hypocritical,
and heartless, gave Mary's progress to the
North the proportions of a campaign, and, on
the 10th of September, 1562, managed to get
himself proclaimed Earl of Moray at Darnaway
Castle, and to crush for a time the great
house of Huntly.
In the battle at Corrichie — a cleft in the Hill
of Fare, in Aberdeenshire — on the 28th October,
1562, the Earl of Huntly was slain, some assert,
by Moray's own hand. On the Castlegate of
Aberdeen, two days after the fight, five gentlemen
of the Clan Gordon were hanged; and
three days after that bloody deed, namely,

on the 2nd November, 1562, Huntly's third
son, the gallant Sir John, was led forth to
execution on a scaffold erected in the Castlegate;
and it is on record that Moray had the
brutality to force his half-sister and Queen to a
window in the house of Earl Marischal, that
she might witness in spite of herself the untimely
end of a man whom, popular ballads
say, she tenderly loved. On beholding his
sovereign the unhappy knight dropped on his
knees, and turned his eyes up to her with a
steadfast gaze. The cruel spectacle drew a
flood of tears from Mary. Such a scene was
not for the eyes of a girl not yet twenty. The
executioner was unskilful, and the victim did
not expire until after many blows.
On the 4th November the Queen went
South. By her progress in the North, under
the guidance of Moray, she could have gained
nothing but a little insight into the character of
her relative. His unbridled greed had shown
itself at Darnaway as barefaced as that of the
band of adherents with whom he had surrounded
her. Little had the new faith to be proud
of in proselytes like Moray or Lethington,
Morton or Glencairn. Toleration for the convictions
of others they had none. "They were
Protestants," says John Knox, "for their own
commoditie". The Church's lands and wealth
were temptations too great for baron or burgh.
The ministers of the new faith, and a provision
for them, formed no part of their programme.
The "said John" cried aloud, but his projects
were derided as a "devout imagination,"
and into the pockets of laymen and
burghs went the greater part of the patrimony
of the Church. Meanwhile Mary kept
firmly to the faith in which she had been
The following list of suitors for her hand
shows how much her smile was coveted: The
King of Sweden, the King of Denmark, the
King of France, the Archduke Charles of
Austria, Don Carlos of Spain, the Duke of
Ferrara, the Duke of Nemours, the Duke of
Anjou, the Earl of Arran, and the Earl of
Leicester. Mary may have felt flattered by
the suit of Don Carlos, heir to what was
then the widest empire in the world, yet she
married suddenly her own cousin, in spite of
many plots. Two years younger than herself,
Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, son of Matthew,
Earl of Lennox, and of Margaret Douglas,
grand-daughter of King Henry VII., was one
of the nearest heirs to the English crown. Beyond
this he had nothing but his good looks
to recommend him; was weak, needy, insolent,
and vicious. He was the tallest man in the
Isle of Britain. If he had any religious belief
at all, it was, if we may trust his professions, an
unsteady adherence to the old creed. When
his self-conceit was wounded, he had occasional
fits of zeal, but his religion had little effect on his
daily life. Like the Queen, he loved the horse,
the hound, the hawk; but he could not, like
the Queen, restrain his passion within the limits
prescribed by the urgencies of public business.
The marriage in Holyrood, on the 29th July,
1565, was the signal for revolt. Mary had, in
June, a month before her marriage, in answer
to a demand from the General Assembly to
adopt measures for the suppression of the Mass
and other Catholic practices, said "that she did
not believe in the Protestant religion; she saw
nothing wrong in the Mass; that she believed
the Roman Catholic religion to be well founded;
and that, as she had never pressed her Scottish
subjects against their consciences to accept a
religion, they should not seek to press her; she
had not in the past sought to impose her
religion on them, and they might in the future
worship God as they pleased".
Darnley's dissolute habits and insolent, petulant
ways deepened the envy and dislike which
the nobles took to him. When Elizabeth permitted
the ill-starred young man to visit the
Scottish Court, she might have guessed what
would happen. Mary's thoughts were turned
too often to the English succession, and the
idea of strengthening her own and annihilating
a rival claim was sure to suggest itself. Yet the
marriage made Elizabeth the open foe of her
cousin. Moray sneaked away from the Court
and plotted to dethrone his sister with Châtellerault,
Argyle, Glencairn, Boyd, and all who
like them dreaded the restoration of the Lennox
family to its power and influence in the western
counties. The rebellious band got some money
and more encouragement from Elizabeth. They
flattered themselves that Mary had lost her
popularity, and, getting together near Glasgow
an army, they prepared to cross swords with
the Queen's loyal supporters. But 5000 horsemen
sprang into their saddles to vindicate
their sovereign's right to wed the man of her
choice; and, placing herself at their head,
with Darnley and his father on either hand,
she moved to the attack. Her opponents
waited not her coming, but fled to Dumfries,
intending to wait there for the promised aid
from England. They waited in vain. The
English Queen showed her sympathy with
the insurgents in another and less expensive
way. With a woman's petty spite she imprisoned
in the Tower Darnley's mother, the
Countess of Lennox.
Many weeks had not elapsed when Mary
discovered that the character of her young
husband was deplorably defective; his total
incapacity for business and obstinate intemperance
forced her to look for some one
to carry on her private correspondence in
French with her friends on the Continent.
The crowd who filled her Court was a
mob of men, proud, quarrelsome, intractable,
untrained to steady business and recoiling
from the idea of it, filled with mutual malice
and hatred, and striving to outdo each other in
treachery to their sovereign and their country.
The young Queen had been forced in her extremity
to turn to an Italian of mean degree,
who had come to Edinburgh in the retinue of
Moret, the Ambassador of Piedmont, in 1561.
David Riccio had acquired abroad some knowledge
of the politics of the day, and was beginning
to show some discernment of men and
things in the Scottish Court. Though no
monarch in Christendom was of prouder lineage,
Mary Stuart, to her honour, acted on her
expressed conviction that lowly birth should
not bar the path of merit to promotion —
enlightened in this as in other views beyond
the tutors of her age. Her marriage brought
her no such alleviation of her labours and difficulties
as she had a right to expect; finding
them rather increased, she had no resource but
to depend still more on the services of this
talented foreigner. In the Melville Memoirs
we have a graphic description of the rude and
savage handling the secretary had from the
Protestant nobles. Darnley turned fiercely
against the man to whom he principally
owed his greatness, when he found that man
strongly opposed to granting him the crown
matrimonial, which would have enabled him to
retain his position for the term of his life even
in the event of his wife's decease. With the
title of King-Consort, which Mary had graciously
given him, the vain youth was not
content. Riccio and Darnley had been close
friends prior to the marriage; but, discovering
that the Italian's honesty of purpose stood in
his way, the King threw himself into the hands
of the Protestant lords, his former foes, with a
thirst for revenge all the more fatal to himself
and his victim as it was reckless and impetuous.
It has now been found that Mary did not
sign the League formed at this time against
the Reformed religion. What is known is
that Bedford wrote to Cecil on the 14th February,
1566: "There is a League concluded
between the King of Spain, the Duke of Savoy,
and divers other Papist princes, for the overthrow
of religion, which is come to this Queen's
hands, but not yet confirmed". Mary retained
her promise to her subjects, and did not join
this coalition. But Darnley entered into a
combination of another sort, of which the
purpose was to murder his wife's secretary.
George Douglas, a natural son of the Earl of
Angus, laid the scheme before the King, who,
heedless of the character of his kinsman, at
once entered into it. Douglas then sought
the aid of Lord Ruthven, who, knowing the rash
and fickle nature of the King, refused to accede
to the plot until Darnley solemnly swore to keep
it secret from the Queen. This he did. Then
Ruthven made a further bargain. Blasphemously
identifying the interests of religion with a cold-blooded
murder, he exacted "that the lords
banished for the Word of God might return to
their country and their estates". Darnley
agreed to the condition provided that they
undertook to obtain for him the object of his
ambition — the crown matrimonial. Riccio had
convinced the Queen of the unfitness of her
husband for a position of such authority;
hence Darnley's action. Riccio had advised
her Majesty to carry out the forfeiture of the
estates of the rebellious Moray and his accomplices;
hence the action of these lords.
Her native Caledonia, stern and wild in
its scenery, must have felt to Mary strangely
different from those sunny plains of France,
where she had spent nearly ten years of quiet,
playful, cloister-like life; where she had
enjoyed more than two years and a half of
wedded happiness; where for sixteen months,
seated on the throne beside their monarch, she
had commanded the respect and admiration of
all true and loyal hearts "in a nation of men of
honour and of cavaliers"; where, after three
centuries of change and trouble, her memory is
still fresh and green in cottage and in castle,
and her name enkindles the enthusiasm of the
most gifted men of letters. The people of
her capital were no longer the merry commons
of her infancy. Hard Reformed ways
had taken the place of pastime and festival,
relieving the drudgery of daily toil. She had
yet to learn — and shortly, in all its intensity,
did learn — that "sorrow's crown of sorrow
is remembering happier things".
Riccio murdered: Moray suddenly re:enters
A door flew wide, I saw them there —
Ruthven in mail complete,
George Douglas, Ker of Fawdonside,
And Riccio at their feet;
With rapiers drawn and pistols bent,
They seized their wretched prey;
They wrenched his garments from her hand,
And stabbed him where he lay.
THE night of the 9th of March, 1566, has
left a stain on our national character only
less deep than that marked by another tragic
scene which we shall have too soon to rehearse.
While Mary was at supper with some of her suite,
Morton, and his kinsman George Douglas, Ruthyen,
Lindsay, Andrew Ker, and Patrick Bellenden,
followed by a crowd of armed retainers,
entered Holyrood, and there these ignoble
men, while Darnley pinioned the arms of the
Queen, basely stabbed David Riccio, in her very
presence, dragged him forth and left his body
pierced with fifty wounds. John Knox declared
this deed to be "a most just act, and worthy of
all praise". The conspirators then tried to
keep Mary, then in the sixth month of her
pregnancy, a close prisoner in her own chamber,
Darnley playing king in his own small way, as if
all the royal authority were already transferred
to him. But the Queen was more than a match
for the conspirators. In the reaction of remorse
her husband came again under her influence,
and she induced him to escape with her by a
midnight flight to Dunbar; from thence Darnley
issued a proclamation shamelessly denying all
complicity with an act of such open treason.
This broke up the gang. Morton and Ruthven
fled into England. Moray, who had for some
time previously been residing at Newcastle,
watching with eager expectation the course of
events, returned slily and suddenly to Edinburgh
on the day after, or on the very night of the
murder. He came to reap the fruits of the
crimes which he had encouraged others to
perpetrate. The Parliament was dissolved,
and his estates were saved from immediate forfeiture.
The act of dissolution was treasonable,
because it wanted the Queen's consent. One
purpose of the conspirators had, however, been
accomplished: they had saved their rebel confederates
from the punishment which their
treason entailed. But how were they to colour
the detention of their Queen as a prisoner, or
the outrage which had been perpetrated in the
royal presence? Their intention in this respect
is clear beyond question. They had made up
their minds to represent Riccio as her paramour,
and to wrench the crown from her head on the
charge of adultery, a charge, which, if available,
would have emptied in that age perhaps every
other throne in Europe. But Darnley, a mere
tool for the moment in the hands of the
conspirators, speedily gave the lie to this foul
invention, and his flight with his wife showed
incontestably his conviction of her innocence.
Riccio was assailed by the Queen's side, his
murder was accomplished almost in her own
apartment, within three months of her delivery.
On the 19th of June, 1566, the future James the
Sixth of Scotland and the First of England was
born. His birth preceded his father's death just
seven months, and occurred within three months
of the poor Italian's assassination.
"THE GOOD EARL OF MORAY" had showed his
gratitude to the sister who had conferred upon
him one of the highest titles in her kingdom,
and enriched him with many broad lands on
which he had no more claim than any other
bastard, by being the first to sign the document
which sealed the fate of her secretary. He is
known to have now used his influence to
get the murderers sheltered in England, and
in a letter to his sister he condemns in very
strong language the men who perpetrated
"the late atrocious murder". Mary, forgiving
beyond all measure, took this brother,
doubly base, again into favour. She pardoned
the cruelties he led her into during her
Northern progress, pardoned his selfish opposition
to her marriage, pardoned his rebellion,
pardoned his intercourse with her
enemies in England, pardoned his complicity
in the slaughter of her servant. Such weakness
in a sovereign cannot be justified. No wonder
if every high-placed ruffian in the kingdom
saw that he could dare with impunity any
crime, however ruthless in itself, however
loathsome to men of honesty and honour. To
Moray and his faction Darnley became soon
after an object of vindictive abhorrence as
well as contempt — Moray forgetting that,
after all, the wayward and misguided young
man was the husband of his benefactress,
and not so guilty as himself.

King Henry threatening to go abroad.
Grant, O Lord, whate'er of me proceed,
Be to Thy glory, honour, and praise indeed.
— Mary's prayer at the birth of her son.
AFTER the Prince's birth, the Queen and
Darnley lived happily for a short season;
but before autumn Darnley's vile conduct and
habitual drinking evidently distressed the poor
Queen so much that Moray and Maitland took
advantage of her chagrin to press upon her the
advisability of a divorce. The Queen stoutly
resisted a proposal for which there was no
adequate cause. The King was young and
thoughtless. Time might alter his ways. In
any case she chose to suffer in silence rather
than entertain the thought of putting asunder
that which God had joined.
At this date (August, 1566), the Earl of
Lennox wrote the Queen, informing her that
his son, her husband, meant to go abroad. In
spite of the coarseness of Darnley, Mary's
conduct showed that she still loved the heartless
lad, and she tried to win him back to
common decency of action. At her bidding
he condescended to return to Holyrood,
where she received him with all the old tenderness,
and reasoned with him on the wrong
he was about to do himself and her by leaving
the country.
Mary is said to have pleaded with him
against this resolve for a whole night without
success. She assembled her Council, sent for
the French Ambassador next morning, and
entreated Darnley in their presence to say how
she had offended him. In a letter, still extant,
of date 15th October, 1566, we are told that
Mary took her husband by the hand, "and
entreated him for God's sake to declare if she
had given him any occasion for this resolution
(to leave her and the country), and entreated
he might deal plainly and not spare her".
Darnley declared before the Council that he
had no grounds at all for complaint against the
Queen. Yet he left, saying, "Adieu, madam;
you shall not see my face for a long time".
The French Ambassador, from whose letter I
have quoted, adds: "There is not one person in
all this kingdom, from the highest to the lowest,
that regards him any further than is agreeable
to the Queen; and I never saw her Majesty
so much beloved, esteemed, and honoured, nor
so great a harmony amongst all her subjects,
as at present is, by her wise conduct".
The Privy Council's record of this matter
contains the following significant passages:
"The King had no ground of complaint, but,
on the contrary, had reason to look on himself
as one of the most fortunate princes in all
Christendom, could he but know his own
happiness. They who perpretrated the murder
of the Queen's faithful secretary got into her
chamber with the King's knowledge. They
followed at his back, and they named him chief
of their enterprise. Yet the Queen never
accused him thereof, but did always excuse him,
and willed to appear as if she believed it not
against the King; and so far was she from
ministering to him occasion of discontent, that,
on the contrary, he had all the reason in the
world to thank God for giving him so wise and
virtuous a person as she had showed herself to
be in all her actions." The same record states
that Darnley refused to enter the palace in
consequence of the presence there of three of
his co-conspirators — Mr. Froude says they
were Lethington, Moray, and Argyle — but his
forgiving wife condescended to meet him outside
the palace, and conducted him into her
own apartment, where he remained all night.
The question may be here asked — Why did
Darnley make that threat to leave the country?
The plain and obvious answer is that he knew
that Mary loved him, and he was base enough to
try to use that influence in gaining for himself
the coveted crown matrimonial. If Mary had
wished to be rid of him, as her enemies affirm,
how could his threat to leave her have given
her pain? Had she disliked him, she would
have been but too glad to let him go. But,
as Mr. Caird says, "the mean game which
Darnley played, at his father's suggestion,
was to put a strain on her affections to force
her into compliance". Yet, when the Queen
was counselled into letting Darnley have his
way, what happened? He made ostentatious
preparations, he hired ships, but he never
put his foot on board. Darnley, however, had
beyond doubt another reason for meditating
a journey to some safer country. He had
plotted with traitors against his sovereign, and
had betrayed them. He had been long enough
in Scotland to know that from that moment
his doom was sealed. The crown matrimonial
might have hastened his fate; it might also
have given him a chance of warding it off for
a time. But neither he nor his father could
have been ignorant that, if he remained in
Scotland, the vengeance of his enemies would
sooner or later be wreaked in his blood. A Scottish
feud in the sixteenth century was as full of
peril as a vendetta in Corsica or the Abruzzi.
In December preparations were made for the
celebration of the baptism of the Prince. Queen
Elizabeth, making a virtue of necessity, evinced
an affectionate interest in the christening,
and sent the Earl of Bedford to represent her.
He carried with him, as a gift from the Queen
of England, a massive and elaborately wrought
font of pure gold. The Countess of Argyle
represented Elizabeth as godmother; the
ambassadors of France and of Savoy were
proxies for their sovereigns as godfathers. At
Stirling, on the 17th December, the holy
office was performed by the Archbishop of
St. Andrews, with much pomp; and in the
afternoon the infant James was proclaimed
Prince of Scotland, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of
Carrick, Lord of the Isles, and Baron of Renfrew.

The King was absent from the ceremony,
and his absence is as ill to explain as is his
petulantly refusing to go with the Queen and
"hold courts of justice in person throughout
the realm, and especially on the Borders".
When, indeed, the time came in the preceding
October to start for the South, Darnley
had refused to accompany her Majesty. "The
Border Courts were intended to be a great
State progress to crush the disorders of those
districts. Every man who was fit to bear
arms in the adjoining counties had been summoned
to meet the King and Queen at
Jedburgh." Darnley's absence is said to
have grieved the Queen greatly, and with
reason: it was a public affront. The members
of the Privy Council were with her.
Lords, barons, freeholders, landed men, gentlemen,
and substantial yeomen from Edinburgh,
Haddington, Berwick, Selkirk, Peebles,
Lanark, Linlithgow, Stirling, Clackmannan,
Kinross, were there; but the King was not
in his place, and no excuse could be discovered
for his absence. Another mischance came to
throw into confusion the important business
which had called her Majesty to the Border.
The Earl of Bothwell, Lord-Lieutenant of the
Marches, was lying at his Castle of Hermitage,
suffering from dangerous wounds received in
an encounter with Eliot of the Park. It was a
matter of no light consequence this absence of
the Lieutenant of the Marches, chief representative
of the royal authority along all the
Borders. He alone could advise what was
best to be done. He had in his keeping the
papers without which no decision could be
taken, no case tried, no judgment rendered.

Mr. Caird says: "Mary's spirits rose with the
occasion. She took horse, and, accompanied
by Moray, Lethington, and other members of
her Council, galloped across the country to
consult with Bothwell." Without seeing the
Lieutenant of the Marches, the purpose of
Mary's progress along the frontier of her realm
was unaccomplished. Going, as her ancestors
had done for centuries, to administer justice
and to establish quiet on her Borders, the
Queen of Scotland was bound to see her Lord
Lieutenant, just as every other sovereign was
in similar circumstances.
The Lieutenant of the Marches cannot keep
the Assize.
Hope, there was none in store for me
Till Darnley filled his grave.
MARY'S progress to the Border counties
and the visit which she made to the
Lieutenant of the Marches were considered as
hurtful to her reputation in those days, when
people read certain histories of Scotland not to
weigh and consider, but to believe. Buchanan
is credited with this passage: "The Queen
flung away in haste like ane mad woman be
great journeys in post in the schairp tyme of
winter frost to Melrose, and then to Jedburgh,"
where, hearing of Bothwell's condition, "she
betuke herself to her journey with ane company,
as na man of honest degree would have
adventured his life and his gudes amang".
Authentic documents refute the tale of this
venal slanderer.
The journey of the Queen of Scots to the
South simply formed part of the arrangements
for conducting the business of the country
which had been drawn up in the month of
July. The assize at Jedburgh was first appointed
for the 13th of August, and then
postponed until the 8th of October. Mary
reached that town on the 7th, and, instead of
flinging away in haste like "ane mad woman,"
remained there for many days, giving her
whole attention to the transaction of business.
She heard of the wounds which the Lieutenant
had received, on the 8th; it was only on the
16th that she found herself obliged to have
recourse to his assistance in the decisions she
had to take on the cases that had come before
her, and in the measures which had to be
concerted for the future quiet of these troublesome
districts. The Queen's conference with
the Earl of Bothwell lasted but two hours. If
evil-minded people put an evil interpretation on
the rapidity with which Mary traversed the
twenty miles between Jedburgh and the Hermitage,
just men will remark that she travelled
the same ground with the same speed back to
the seat of assize, and at once resumed her
work. The sharp frost must have quickened
the speed and roused the mettle of her horses.
It is curious and instructive to find Buchanan
reviling the company in which the Queen rode
across the country to the Hermitage. Moray
was there, so was Lethington, so were the
Lords of the Council. Moreover, Moray's wife
was present and the wives of some other
members of the Council. When Moray drew
from the pen of Buchanan this infamous libel
on his sister and sovereign, he must surely
have winced to learn that he and his wife were
part of "ane company as na man of honest
degree would have adventured his life and his
gudes among". But let us never forget that
among the list of those who "are entertayned
in Scotland by pensions out of England"
stands the name of "Buckannon". And the
highest of authorities warns us that iniquity
gives the lie to itself.
This being one of the first open charges of
a feeling too tender on Mary's part for that
rough Border lord, let us look at the two
as best we can. The Queen is described
as being "the loveliest woman in Scotland" —
tall, graceful in her gait, more graceful in the
dance; a fearless and active rider, competent in
music and embroidery, skilful in writing. Bothwell
was an ungainly moss-trooper of uncertain
age. Mary was learned and scholarly: he was
ignorant and coarse. She had led a blameless
life: he a most foul and depraved one. From the
time when she was able to form a judgment on
those about her, Mary Stuart must have known
what manner of man James Hepburn was.
She knew that he had quite recently formed
an alliance which seemed permanent with Jean
Gordon, whose family was inferior to none in the
kingdom, and might be trusted to avenge any
wrong to their name; and yet strange rumours
were afloat of coarse connections he had fallen
into in other countries. Is it possible, then,
to think — I do not say believe — that such a
woman could have formed a violent and unlawful
affection for such a man? We shall see, in
the course of this condensed narrative, that the
accusation is an unmitigated calumny. At this
date Darnley is still alive — foolish, vain,
sensual; false to his faith, to his wife, to his
friends; despised by all who knew him; but
that gracious woman, his wife and Queen, is
true to her duty, come what may, no matter
what she may have to endure.
"The occasion of the Queen's sickness is
causit by thoucht and displeasure; and, I trow,
from hir awin declaration to me, that the root
of it is the King." This is how Lethington
accounts for the illness which, at Jedburgh,
immediately after her return from the Hermitage,
nearly ended the career of Mary Stuart:
for several hours she lay as if dead. The Secretary
wrote to the Archbishop of Glasgow on
the 24th October, 1566, and in that letter, in
reference to the Queen's illness, said that "hir
owne declaration to me was that the wite of it
is the King". Some aver that she was
poisoned, and owed her life solely to the
strength of her constitution.
The Bishop of Ross, in another letter written
about the same date, says that Mary, believing
she was dying, sent for her Ministers, and among
other matters implored them to be at peace with
one another, urging also the need there was for
more tolerant treatment of each other in religion;
for, said our wise and thoughtful Mary, "It is
a sair thing to ha'e the conscience pressed in sic
a matter". Darnley was informed of the Queen's
serious illness, yet went not near her. Mary could
not but be much mortified at his coldness and
neglect. The French Ambassador narrates
that Darnley expressed to him how eagerly he
wished that Mary would send for him. The
answer of the Ambassador might have made
any husband reflect. "I do not doubt the
Queen's goodness; but there are few women
who, after what you have done, would seek you."
When the crisis of the fever was abating, he
came to her bedside, and she, unable to repress
suddenly the pain caused by his indifference,
did not ask him to remain. Next day he again
turned his back upon her. We have the
evidence of several authorities that Mary was
then engaged in imparting her last instructions
to her Ministers and Council. Her son she
recommended to the care of the Queen of
England, whose heir he was in the event of her
own decease. In this deeply touching address
no evidence of dislike to her consort, or of anger,
is to be traced. Everywhere it abounds in
calm, kindly thoughts for all those who had a
claim upon her remembrance. It recalls the
tender-hearted dispositions of the will which
she drew up when her approaching accouchement
filled her with apprehensions, which were
not unreasonable, after the brutal treatment she
had received from her nobles during her
pregnancy. Twenty-five separate bequests
were then made to her husband, and opposite
one cherished object she wrote: "This is the
ring with which I was betrothed. I leave it to
the King, who gave it to me." Do these
things read as if Mary was thinking how best
she could rid herself of the man who, placing
on her finger that expressive symbol, had
sworn to her unalterable fidelity? Yet, within
six weeks — namely, on the 11th December —
when Mary had recovered and was living with
Darnley at Craigmillar, Moray, Lethington,
Bothwell, Huntly, and Argyle combined to urge
her to a divorce. Witnesses as they had been
to her emotions of wifely affection, and to her
high sense of duty, how dared these men
obtrude such advice?
Meanwhile, the conduct of the capricious
King becomes so reprehensible that he is
shunned of all men. Incapable of inspiring
respect, there was little about him that could
make men dread his resentment. Doubtless
he returned intensely enough hate for hate, but
the energy of revenge was now, in his case,
enfeebled by the effeminacy of vicious habits.
He had lost the power and the will to oppose
intrigue to intrigue and to weave plot against
plot. The contempt into which he had brought
himself was so great that the French Ambassador
signified to him by letter that there
were two entrances to the apartments of the
Embassy, and should his Majesty come to
secure an interview by one passage, he would
leave by the other. Moreover, the Queen had
committed one of those terrible blunders of
policy to which her feelings of royal clemency
and a certain want of foresight and sagacity
rendered her so liable. Solicited by Moray,
Athole, Lethington, and Bothwell, conjured by
Bedford the English, and Ducroc the French
Ambassador, she had pardoned the banished
lords on occasion of the solemn baptism of her
infant. Unwilling to disoblige both France
and England, her goodness of heart made her
forget her experience and got the better of her
judgment. Morton, Archibald Douglas, Lindsay,
and three score other banished conspirators
were now free of Scotland, free to scheme as
before. Darnley, whose conscience smote him,
became alarmed and went to Glasgow, where
his father, the Earl of Lennox, resided. There,
instead of mending his ways and thus securing
himself from attack, he recklessly persisted in
leading a flagitious life. Had Mary found an
Albert in Henry Stuart, the pages of Scotland's
history would be free from many a stain, and the
annals of Great Britain would command more
respect from the public opinion of Europe.
At Glasgow, the King grew unwell in the
early days of January, 1567, his illness shaping
itself into an attack of smallpox, all the more
dangerous by reason of his disorderly habits.
With the knowledge of all his wrong-doing to
her and to her country, did Mary at this
terrible crisis in her husband's life leave him
uncared for save by his enemies and that
loathsome disease? No; with the instincts of
a wife — all the more loving because ill-used —
she went, on the 24th of January, to nurse him;
went, when she herself was suffering in mind and
body; went, when she well knew that husband's
ailment; went, when she knew he was in communication
with the Pope for a purpose which,
if the Pope had received his letters and treated
them seriously, would have made every
Gospeller in Scotland shoulder his hagbutt
and sharpen his whinger; and went, too,
when she knew the sleepless hate which
Moray, Morton, and all the Douglases bore
to their recreant co-conspirator. Mary is said
to have found her husband grateful, humble,
and penitent, "willing to be advised by her
in all things". Her young heart warmed
again to the high-born lad whose handsome
presence had so filled her imagination some
two years previously. She looked forward
to long and happy days of mutual love and
common devotion to the welfare of their people.
She hoped that the follies of Henry's youth
were over — never to return.
Mary nursed her husband for several days,
and then, by easy stages, they came on together
to Edinburgh. "It was desirit first in Glasgow
that the King should have lain at Craigmillar,
but because he hadna will thereof, the purpose
was altered, and conclusion taken that he
should lie beside the Kirk o' Field." Darnley's
disease was probably then looked upon as a
kind of leprosy, and as it was against the law
to take such patients into the heart of the town,
the Kirk o' Field was the place reserved for
them, as least likely to expose the people to
infection. It was then the most salubrious
part of Edinburgh. The house selected for
the King belonged to John Balfour, and
Darnley acted without reflection on the advice
of John's brother, Sir James, the parish priest
of Flisk, as deep and dark a traitor as breathed
in that treacherous generation. The grounds
are very much those now occupied by the
University of Edinburgh. Here Mary nursed
Darnley day after day, sometimes remaining
over night, but generally going home to her
This new and unexpected reconciliation of
Mary and her husband roused the hatred and the
fears of those who had so long and determinedly
tried to widen the breach which Riccio's murder
had made between the royal couple. His old
companions in that crime, the confederate nobles,
begin to pretend to "see nothing but that God
must send Darnley a short end, or them a
miserable life," and they were not men to
accept the latter horn of the dilemma. "The
chief differences were that they had practised
themselves in high-handed murder, and Darnley
had betrayed them. Apart from the Queen,
Darnley was powerless." His restoration to
her confidence must have roused fear as well
as hate, in the hearts of men whose long-coveted
grants of land were still insecure.
The last of the four years during which Mary
Might have revoked these grants was fast running
out, and Mary, influenced by Darnley, or
for Darnley's sake, was almost sure to withhold
the final legal sanction to her lavish and
thoughtless donations. The lust of land was
the besetting sin of the age, and the dread of
losing their ill-gotten gear stirred up every evil
passion in the sordid nature of these degenerate
The courtiers craved all,
The Queen granted all,
The Parliament passed all,
The keeper sealed all.
The ladies ruled all,
Poor Darnley spoiled all,
Crafty Ambassadors heard all,
And the parson smoothed it all.
He that was opposed set himself against all,
The judge pardoned all,
Therefore unless Mary speedily amend all,
Without the great mercy of God, the
devil will have it all.
These old satiric touches seem to trace not
inaptly the current of feeling in Scotland outside
the limited and unscrupulous class which
usurped the management of the affairs of the
country. The faction now set itself in earnest
to the task of putting out of the way for ever
poor Henry Stuart. The Abbot of Holyrood,
another of those half-brothers of the Queen,
told Darnley that a plot was being formed to
take his life. Darnley naturally laid his information
before the Queen. She, with that
straightforward common sense which she never
lost, sent for the Abbot, who basely denied
what he had said. The King gave him the lie,
weapons were drawn, and it required all the
Queen's influence to prevent blood being shed.
That night she wrote a long letter to her
husband full of the evidences of everything else
than that she was tired of him. Moray says
that Mary "again confrontet the King, and my
Lord of Halyruid, conform to her letter wryttin
the nycht befoir ". That letter was written on
the 7th February. In it, amongst much else
that is beautiful, we find Mary saying: "I ask
no other thing of God but that you may know
what is in my heart, which is yours, and that
He may preserve you from all evil, at least as
long as I have life, which indeed I do not
value, except so far as I and it are acceptable to
Mary little dreams of the Calamity about to
fall upon her
I was a witness on that night
Of all his shame and guilt:
I saw his outrage on the Queen,
I saw the blood he spilt;
And, ere the day had dawned, I swore,
While spurring through the sand,
I would avenge that treachery,
And slay him with my hand —
Or, in the preacher's cherished phrase,
Would purge him from the land.
THE 9th of February, 1567, was a Sunday.
Our ancestors at that date had not learned
to call the first day of the week Sabbath. They
were innocently ignorant of the Judaising views
which were to be adopted by their grandchildren
under the inspiration of the Covenant.
So there was to be a wedding among the
servants at Holyrood, and the Queen, ever
gentle and full of sympathy with the joys, as
well as the sorrows, of those about her person,
had, days before, promised to patronise by her
presence the ceremony itself and the merrymakings
of the evening. In those days, too,
Scotsmen rose early and tried to get over all
they had to do ere daylight waned. So the
Queen had assisted at the exercises of her own
faith; had witnessed the marriage of Bastien
and Margaret Carwood; had paid a morning
call to Darnley; had dined at the Bishop of
Argyle's house with the Ambassador of Savoy,
who was to start homewards on the morrow —
all before seven o'clock in the afternoon. Her
Majesty then proposed to pass as great a part
of the evening as possible with her husband;
and all the lords of her Council except Bothwell
and Moray accompanied her to the Kirk o'
Field. The visit lasted two or three hours,
and was a sort of public, and on the part of
most perhaps a reluctant, testimony to the
satisfaction caused by the "good understanding
and union" in which the royal couple had been
living for the three preceding weeks. "The
Queen," says the French Ambassador, "then
withdrew to attend the bridal of one of her
gentlemen, according to her promise; and if
she had not made that promise, it is believed
she would have remained till twelve or one
o'clock" with her husband, now convalescent,
and showing at last some really trustworthy
signs of a change in his habits. When, after
the harmless rejoicings among her domestics,
Mary Stuart laid her head on her pillow, little
did she reck what woe and misery were in store
for her ere the dawn of another day.
But if the Queen of Scotland dreamt not of
the agony which in a few hours she would have
to endure, there were many near her who could
have warned her and were silent. More faithless
than all, her base brother James, deserting his
post as first minister, skulked away this very
evening from town, and was heard to say to
his friends: "This night ere morning the
Lord Darnley shall lose his life". As long as
Scotsmen love to transmit to their children
the memorials of their race, Monday, the
oth of February, 1567, will be one of the
blackest dates in their annals. About three
o'clock in the morning, a terrific explosion awoke
the capital of Scotland. It was soon known that
Kirk o' Field, where King Henry had been
staying for some time, had been blown up with
gunpowder. As the grey light of the morning
fell upon the place, it was seen — in the language
used at the time — to be "a' dang into dross";
and among the shrubbery, some eighty yards
away from the ruins, lay the body of the King
in his night-dress, with no trace of fire, or
smell of gunpowder, or bruise or mark of any
kind. An attendant, also in his night-dress, lay
dead beside the King. They had both been
strangled as they attempted to escape. The
King's clothes lay beside him, and a fur pelisse
lay a little way off as if he had dropped it.
"The fact being communicated to the
Queen," says the French Ambassador, "one
can scarcely think what distress and agony
it has thrown her into." "The Queen," says
Lord Herries, "tooke this misfortune with
great sorrow, and did sequestrat herselfe many
days from companie." These testimonies are
beyond question; but the Scottish Queen,
moaning in her darkened chamber of dool,
had no means of measuring the extent and
magnitude of her calamity. She must have
recalled the dreadful night which she passed
at Amboise, amid the terrified Court of
France; she must have recalled the tragic scene
eleven months before, when the floor of her
palace was reddened with the blood of her
trusty servant. But neither of these appalling
misfortunes could have oppressed her with such
a sense of utter isolation as this foul murder of
her second husband. To whom could she look
for help or counsel? Who were the assassins?
What were their purposes? What would be
their next step? How long would her own
life be spared, and that of the infant to which
she had so recently given birth? These
questions she could not answer. The ground
was quaking beneath her feet, and she — once
more a widow ere five-and-twenty years had
passed over her head — knew not what to do.
We know many things at the present day
which were hidden from Mary Stuart on the
10th of February, 1567. As soon as she recovered
herself from the prostration caused by
the evil tidings, she gave orders to search out
the assassins and to bring them to justice. But
her orders were evaded, trifled with, mocked
at. Of those who sat in council around her, not
one but was cognisant, or aider or abettor of
the atrocious plot which deprived her of her
consort. The Earl of Huntly was Chancellor,
and Argyle was Lord Justice-general. We
know from themselves that both these earls
were acquainted with the designs of the
murderers, and lifted not a finger. Morton,
by his own confession, was equally guilty.
Lord Robert had, indeed, divulged the secret,
but had twice denied his own words. Moray,
fully aware of all that was to happen, had gone
off, on the pretext that his wife was unwell, to revolve
how best he might shape events to his own
advantage. The man who can think without compassion
of Mary Stuart in desolation and in tears
on this 10th of February has lost the power to
sympathise with human sorrow. A great deal of
blame has been cast on the young and friendless
Queen for want of energy in the prosecution of
the criminals. But those who blame forget to
inquire who was sheriff of the county, who were
the magistrates of Edinburgh, who was Lord
Justice-general, who acted as her Prime Minister?
Surely, in the name of common sense, the
responsibility for all that happened must fall
upon these officials and their subordinates.
On the 11th of February, the day following,
a Privy Council was held. Pity it is that the
art of photography was unknown in those
times. We should like to study, by its help,
the features of the men who sat in that meeting.
The proceedings were perhaps the most shameless
farce that can be discovered in the records
of justice. A reward of £2000 and a grant of
land was offered to any who should discover
the King's murderer.
Two women who lived in the neighbourhood
of the Kirk o' Field were examined as
witnesses, and they deponed that the noise of
the explosion caused them to look into the
street, and they counted nineteen men running
in the direction of the city. When asked,
one of the two said that she was in "hir bed
wi' hir twins when she heard the crack. She
ran to the door in hir sark, and she heard
her neighbour Barbara Martin flytin' wi' the
men who were running past, and calling them
traitors." The other woman, Meg Crocket,
said that she took hold of one of the men as he
passed her door; that his cloak was of silk;
that he shook her off; that there was armour
underneath the cloak; and the man, after
shaking her off, ran on without speaking. She
also heard some one cry, "Oh, mercy, my
cousins". The Douglases were Darnley's
cousins. A large number of the actual perpetrators
of this crime were from the first
suspected, and they were not long in dragging
in the Queen's name as some shelter to themselves.
And it cannot be doubted that the
original contrivers of the plot enticed others to
join them by bribes and threats, alleging the
Queen's sanction or connivance — a device all
the more plausible as they held the highest
positions in her Council.
Such and such-like were the measures taken
by the Supreme Council of the realm of Scotland
for tracing out the murderers of their
King! Instead of taking the evidence of Meg
Crocket, why did they not send for the Earl of
Moray and put him to the question? And the
woman who heard Barbara Martin "flytin' wi'
the men," was she likely to throw more light
on the mystery than the Earl of Morton.
While the Council was engaged in deliberations
tending beyond doubt to deceive their
sovereign and screen the authors of the murder,
other rumours filled the air. We are told that
Mary had a letter from her Ambassador in Paris
Warning her of some impending danger, and
advising her to double her guards. To use the
Queen's own words, "This warning comes too
late"; and if the correspondence came through
England, the delay may be accounted for.
The machinations of the conspirators had pervaded
France ere they reached the ears
of the Queen of Scotland. "The matter,"
she said, in writing to the Ambassador, "is
horrible, and so strange as the like has never
been heard of in any country." Men at first
naturally blamed Moray and Morton, as everybody
knew them to be personal enemies of
the King. And after three centuries of keen
research, the natural instinct of the public has
not been found at fault. Then Melville says:
"Everybody suspects Bothwell". There were
not a few who could hint how James Hepburn
had been led to do the deed. Then Catharine
de Medici was charged with some dark
scheme which required the removal of King
Henry; then Queen Elizabeth was suspected
of an intention to destroy at one blow two
dreaded aspirants to the English crown. On
the morning after the King's burial, 15th
February, 1567, a placard was affixed to
the door of the Edinburgh Tolbooth,
charging "Earl Bothwell, Sir James Balfour,
David Chalmers, and Black John Spens
with the murder of the King, and that
the Queen was assisting thereto through the
persuasion of the Earl of Bothwell and the
witchcraft of the Lady Buccleuch"; but this
placard did not state who was responsible for
its wording and publication. A brother of
David Riccio and three French servants of the
royal household were also blamed by placard;
voices in the night were heard to couple the
names of the Queen and Bothwell.
The Queen's enemies charged Mary with
being then at Dunbar with Bothwell. Drury,
ever catering for Elizabeth's weakness for
scandal and gossip, chronicles this malevolent
report. But Mary was at Seton Castle by
the stringent order of her physician, and
Bothwell was with his brother-in-law, the
Earl of Huntly, at Holyrood in charge of the
prince; and knowing the excellency of telling
a lie, with a circumstance, Drury, in language
which betrays his knowledge of coming events,
adds that the Countess of Bothwell "is extremely
sick and not likely to live — being
marvellously swollen". Well, this "swollen"
lady did not die until fully sixty years after.
Divorced from Bothwell, she became, in 1573,
the wife of Alexander, eleventh Earl of Sutherland;
and, on his death in 1594, she married
Alexander Ogilvie of Boyne, dying as late as
1629. Need we wonder that, crushed in spirit,
physically unnerved, oppressed by an atmosphere
laden with treachery, the young Queen
should turn her thoughts to that land where she
had spent her early and happy years? Mary
asked her relatives to allow her to go to France;
but from a letter of the 15th March, 1567, from
Don Francis de Alara to Philip, we find that her
proposal was not welcomed: "The Queen of
Scotland is anxious to come to this kingdom to
live in some town assigned to her as dower, but
here they are opposed to her coming, and do
their utmost to induce her to remain where she
is". Does this show any indication of that "infatuated
love for Bothwell" which her traducers
ascribe to her? He, without doubt, was aiming
at the crown and the Queen — a fact of which
Drury and the English government were aware
before Mary Stuart; but where have we any
evidence that Mary in any way encouraged his
ambition? Within a month, however, after
Darnley's death, the conspirators, unflagging in
their fell designs, had managed to fix suspicion
on Bothwell and their Queen. When her kindred
of Lorraine sent Mary, young as she was,
into a den of robbers and demons, as Scotland
then was; when they abandoned her to her fate;
when they refused to allow her to return to
France, they committed, for reasons of French
State policy, one of the grossest cruelties in
Henry Stuart was young, and age might
have corrected his ways, but as the facts stand
he had proved a bad husband; to gainsay this,
one would require the effrontery of Buchanan,
more than the stubborn courage of Mr. Froude.
In these circumstances it might have been
possible for Mary to obtain relief by a judicial
separation from bed and board. Far from
desiring this, Mary would not give her consent
to his leaving the country even for a short
season. She was pained when he was not
by her side during her progress on the
Borders. His absence rendered her illness at
Jedburgh all the more dangerous to her life,
and one day's short visit during her convalescence
was a consolation which deepened
her distress at his rude departure on the
morrow. His preference for the society of his
father, and of his kinsmen in the western
shires, always grieved her, and was in all
probability intended to cause her vexation.
His shameless infidelities, coarse talk, and low
associations were to her a constant source of
misery. Yet what is the language in which
Mary puts aside the request of her "chief
nobility" to sanction some device to free her
of Darnley's presence? "I will that ye do
nothing whereby any spot may be laid upon
my honour or my conscience. Therefore, I
pray you, rather let the matter be in the state
that it is, abiding till God of His goodness
put remedy thereto." This is unmistakably
the language of a pure woman and a faithful
wife. They had been married only eighteen
months and eleven days; Mary hoped to the
last for better things of the man to whom she
had given her heart; and who can blame her?
Mary's first husband died blessing her for
her goodness. Is there anything to show that
a second marriage, necessary to assure the
peace of her dominions by providing indisputable
succession to the crown, had turned a
gentle, warm-hearted woman into a lustful
fiend? Facts prove the contrary: if she had
much to suffer, her heart did but pour forth
its treasure of affection in proportion as it was
crushed. When Mary went to Glasgow and
nursed her husband through a loathsome
and deeply contagious ailment, was this exposure
of her life and person a mere sham?
Pretending to forgive, did she lavish all her
tenderness on him only that she might entice
him from Glasgow and his father's care to
hand him over to those who had sworn, with
her knowledge, to kill him?
Basely wronged by her subjects, Mary Stuart
had a neighbour and cousin, who, by every artifice
in her power, was ever trying for English
interests to stir up mischief. There is more
than a suspicion that Elizabeth was privy to the
plot for Darnley's destruction. One important
letter remains of all those which are known, like
Darnley's papers, to have been destroyed. In
it Drury, writing to Cecil, says: "The King
was long of dying, and to his strength made
debate for his life. It was Captain Cullen's
persuasion for more surety to have the King
strangled, and not to trust to the train of powder
alone, affirming that he had known many so
saved. Sir Andrew Ker, with others, was on
horseback near unto the place for aid, if need
had been." Andrew Ker, so placed, is the
same as he who, on the night of Riccio's
murder, pointed his pistol at Mary's breast.
This miscreant had been specially exempted
from the pardon which enabled Morton and the
others to return. He was still an outlaw, and
must have passed the Border with the permission
or connivance of the English Wardens.
Was it likely that this villain would have
come to render service to Mary? Would the
Queen of Scotland have taken the help of one
stained with the crime which had deprived her
of one of her most capable assistants in carrying
on the business of her government? If this
Andrew Ker was not in the employment of
Moray, or of the English Ministry, what was
his purpose? Those who despatched him on
his errand must have known not only the time
but also the place of the intended assassination.
It is strange that a certain class of writers
who assume that Mary Stuart had conceived a
guilty passion for James Hepburn, and then
proceed to argue that she was an accomplice
in King Henry's murder, deal so differently
with the case of Elizabeth. The liberties
which, in the presence of the Scottish Ambassador,
Elizabeth allowed herself with her
favourite are very significant. The bitterest
enemy of Mary Stuart has never discovered
such doings at the Court of Holyrood. Elizabeth's
passion for Leicester is a matter of doubt
only to those who, in spite of accumulating evidence,
hug the legend of the Virgin Queen in
growing despair. That Amy Robsart was done
to death is an indisputed fact. Mary had seen
and known and disliked Bothwell from her
earliest years. The graceful and handsome
courtier whom she made Earl of Leicester was
not looked at with indifference by the daughter
of Henry the Eighth. The uncouth Lieutenant
of the Marches had little to recommend him besides
his courage and his loyalty to his country.
He was ugly, witless, mannerless. He led a
most loose life. He professed attachment to
the new faith. When he married Jean Gordon,
"the Queen wished the nuptials to be solemnised
in the Palace Chapel according to the old
rites. But no entreaties could overcome Bothwell's
tender regard for the Protestant religion:
the conscience which smiled at murder and
adultery was appalled by the forms of a heterodox
belief, and the marriage vows, which
he was to break almost as soon as they were
made, were blessed by a Protestant preacher
in the face of a Protestant congregation." Is
it at all possible to believe that Mary, brought
up as she was by a relative whose virtues were
the admiration of all France, could have even
cared for this man, still less nursed a licentious
passion for him, as her enemies assert? We
contend that Bothwell's personal appearance,
his uncultured mind, his evil reputation, and
his Protestantism are reasons why Mary would
never have thought of him for a husband.
Had she desired to make James Hepburn
her paramour, there would have been no necessity
for murdering anybody. The Courts of
England and the Continent presented many
examples of illicit love, which she had but to
follow. Faunt says that he never saw "so
little godliness" and "so dissolute manners"
as in the Court of Elizabeth. "All enormities
reigned there." "There was no love there,"
adds Harrington, "but that of the lusty god of
gallantry Asmodeus." Why did John Knox
roar against Mary and blow soft on Elizabeth?
The Earl of Lennox had not appeared at
Court since Riccio's murder. Instead of hastening
to her side when she announced the
assassination of his son, this cold-hearted father-in-law
commenced a correspondence with the
bereaved Queen about ten days after. In
one of his letters, dated from his Castle of
Houston, in Renfrewshire, 20th February,
15 7, he thanks the Queen for her "most
gracious and comfortable letter, and suggests
that, as the delinquents are not discovered,
Parliament should be summoned to devise the
best means of accomplishing that object".
Why did he not apply to Argyle?
Mary's immediate reply was a letter from
Seton Castle, of next day's date, telling him
that before the receipt of his yesterday's
letter she had summoned "Parliament, in
which first of all this matter (being most dear
to her) shall be handled, and nothing left undone
which may further the clear trial of the
same". Lennox, in his next letter, seeing
that the Queen had anticipated his suggestion
by having already called Parliament
together, says: "The time is long to Parliament,"
and that "The matter in hand is not a
Parliament matter, but ought rather to be with
all diligence sought out and punished". It
may be true that a Scottish Parliament was
never called upon to discharge the functions of
a county sheriff, or of a modern procurator-fiscal.
But, if so, why did the Earl of Lennox
not apply to Argyle, who was Lord Justice-general?
— why not to Huntly, the Chancellor?
— why not to his old comrade in treason, the
Earl of Moray, who then performed in the
government of Scotland the duties of Prime
Minister? If Parliament could do nothing,
what could the Queen do?
According to the notions prevalent among
Scotsmen of the sixteenth century, it was
almost a sacred duty for Lennox to avenge
the assassination of his son. To have recourse
to justice was praiseworthy only in so far as
justice was an instrument of vengeance. But
in Earl Matthew's letters we discern little of
that fierce anger and relentless revenge which
animated his brother nobles, and left them no
peace until they had seen his son stark and stiff
in the garden of the Kirk o' Field. Yet the
injury which they had suffered at the hands of
King Henry was slight in comparison with
that which they had inflicted upon King
Henry's father. Lennox proceeds to say that
he has heard the names of certain persons
mentioned as being guilty of the King's murder,
and entreats the Queen to have such persons
forthwith apprehended. The Queen asks him
eagerly to give her the names. Her letter is of
date 1st March; Lennox, with unaccountable
remissness, delays his reply until the 17th. He
gives the names already mentioned, adding,
after the name of Joseph Riccio, "I assure
your Majesty I for my part greatly suspect
this man". Was this because his son's
dagger was found sticking in the body of
"this man's" brother? The Queen summoned
a Council of her nobles for the end of
March, and urged Lennox to attend. Lennox
did not think proper to attend; but an order
was made on the 28th March for the trial of
Bothwell. At his trial the Earl of Lennox did
not appear, but wrote from Stirling saying he
was sick, and requesting that the trial meanwhile
should be stayed, "that he might have
sufficient time to seek for manifestations of this
most odious crime"; and he requested the
Queen to grant him her commission for apprehending
such persons as he should be informed
were present at the murder of his son. This
was a demand which the members of Mary's
Privy Council were not likely to listen to;
nor can we see what would have resulted from
the apprehension of Joseph Riccio. Earl
Matthew's conduct appears to be one-half
that of a dupe, the other half that of an
The accusers of Mary Stuart assert that
the trial, which at his repeated instance was
granted to the Earl of Bothwell, was a collusive
one. And judging by the light which
discussion has thrown on the proceedings,
we do not hesitate to assert that it was so.
But the collusion was not contrived by the
Queen, but by the faction of assassins who
filled her council-chamber, who, along with the
prisoner in the dock, had planned the crime,
worked out the details of its execution, and
had given written bonds to safeguard its perpetrators
from punishment. When we know
that Maitland and Morton rode by Bothwell's
side to the Tolbooth, that Argyle presided as
Justice-general, that Lord Lindsay, one of
Riccio's murderers, and James MacGill, and
Henry Balnaves — all old offenders — supported
Argyle on the bench, the inference is unavoidable.
These men were sworn to see their tool
and confederate scathless, and their selfish
interests required that they should not break
their oaths. On the 9th of April, three days
before the trial, Moray, fearing the necessity of
showing his colours, stole out of the country.
Pretending to pass over to France, he went to
England, and there propagated malignant
insinuations against his royal sister. The
discoveries of recent years inform us that this
heartless hypocrite, just six days before his
departure, executed a will for which there was
little urgency, bequeathing his child to the care
of the sister whom he was undermining and
defaming. There is this much to be said for
James Hepburn, that he persistently insisted
upon being put on his trial, while all the other
nobles accused by the public voice avoided
such a risk. He was not a hypocrite, he
audaciously brazened out his crimes and their
Two days after the trial, Parliament assembled.
Instead of appearing in his place,
the Earl of Lennox, who had so repeatedly
sought such an occasion of avenging the death
of his son, followed Moray to England on the
17th April. I do not believe that Earl Matthew
was so much afraid of Bothwell as has been
said. His real enemy was Argyle, who had
availed himself of every opportunity to plunder
the possessions of the house of Lennox in the
west, and was determined, now that Darnley
was out of the way, to keep what he had taken.
And in such a cause the confederates might be
trusted to stand by Mac-Callum-Mohr. Indeed
without giving special attention to the proceedings
of this Parliament, no one can hope
to thread his way through the intrigues, the
crimes, and the ever varying combinations of
this repulsive period of Scottish history. In
proportion as our knowledge of it increases, the
stronger becomes our conviction that in the
minds of the Scottish nobles in the sixteenth
century self-interest preceded every other consideration.
Mary Stuart had an inordinate
belief in human gratitude, and when solicited
seldom refused. The lands attached to the
monasteries, the churches, and the hospitals
had failed to satisfy the rapacity of her ministers
and their adherents. Two-thirds of the property
of the Crown disappeared amongst them.
Yet, as Chalmers justly observes, the confirmation
of all these lands at this time to such
profligate characters as Moray and Morton only
induced them to attack their too generous
Queen with greater boldness.
First and foremost in the harvest of iniquity
comes the Earl of Moray, Prior of St. Andrews,
of Pittenweem, and of Maçon in France.
This "stickit priest" blossoms forth in the
records of this Parliament into one of the most
powerful lords in the kingdom. Of the twenty-four
Acts passed, that which confirms his titles
and estates is the greatest and most elaborately
framed. As now printed it occupies eight
columns of the largest folio. And while these
confirmations were being ratified, what was
James Stuart doing? He was slandering and
working the ruin of his royal sister at the Court
of England, and hastening to do the same at
the Court of France. Next appears James
Douglas, Earl of Morton, who, over and above
the confirmation of his titles and acquisitions,
received for his nephew, a boy twelve years
old, the great Earldom of Angus with its vast
domains, which belonged by right to Lord
Darnley, and through him to the royal infant
then in his cradle at Stirling. And of course
the Maitlands came in for a large share of
the spoils. Huntly, Bothwell, Rothes, follow
in clue order with many others whom it were
tedious to enumerate. Who did the deed?
asks the ancient Roman law in every criminal
investigation. The answer guides us like a
pillar of light through the deceiving politics
of this darkened period of our annals.
"They did it who profited by it."
One Act, however, and a very significant
one, was passed, for which Mary never, during
the next hundred years, got the credit she
deserved. She was at the time charged with
attempting to suppress the reformed religion.
Yet this Act renounced all foreign jurisdiction
in ecclesiastical affairs, and gave toleration to
all to worship God in their own way!
Bothwell was assiduous in his attendance on
this Parliament, and his friends, Maitland and
Morton, secured for him a very remarkable
document, signed by several lords of Moray's
faction and eight bishops, in which they own
their belief in the innocence of Bothwell of
the charge of murdering the King, and,
though handfasted to another woman, they
name him as fittest husband for the Queen.
It is said that on that memorable night at
Ainslie's Tavern the nobles drew cuts as to
which of their number was to become third
husband to the Queen. The winning cut
was drawn by Bothwell. In some degree
to cover this atrocious arrangement, the tricky
Maitland prepared a forged consent by the
Queen to a marriage with Bothwell. The
plain English of all this intriguing is, that the
scheming villains were to keep what they had
got and to look for more; the Crown was to
be despoiled, and the lady who wore it was to
be made the victim of one man's mad lust and
ambition, and the sport of them all.
The course of our narrative thus brings us
to perceive how these noble criminals, like the
vilest thieves and murderers in our police
reports, were led on from one crime to another.
They had slain King Henry, as their ancestors
were believed to have slain fifty-six of his predecessors.
They were gorged with the spoils
of the Church and the Crown. But they were
not at ease or content. As far as they could,
they had taken from their sovereign the power
of revoking what she had granted with youthful
generosity. But ill-defined as the Scottish
constitution was, Queen Mary possessed by
uncontested and immemorial precedent the
power to recall all these donations until she
had completed her twenty-fifth year, and she
had yet nearly eight months to exercise that
constitutional prerogative. Their alarm was
increased by another circumstance. Mary was
allied to the noblest houses in Europe, and
was still in the fresh bloom of early womanhood.
Suitors from the Continent were sure
to seek her hand, and her choice might fall on
one who possessed the power and the ability to
curb rebellion in her dominions, and to check
treasonable intercourse with her neighbours on
the southern side of the Tweed. If they were
to proceed as they had begun, there were but
two courses open to them: they must either
find means to bring her "a short end," or they
must constrain her to marry some one on whom
they could place some reliance. Afraid of incurring
universal execration if they imbrued
their hands in the blood of a Queen, they
adopted the latter course. Their deliberations
resulted in the infamous meeting called
"Ainslie's supper," and we shall now see how
their project sped.

Mary trembles for the Safety of her Child.
Bothwell, that despotic man, ruled thee with shameful, overbearing
will, and with his philtres and his hellish arts . . . No! no! all the arts
he used were man's superior strength.
THE atrocity of the Kirk o' Field made
the Queen of Scots tremble for the
safety of her child. She resolved, therefore, to
entrust the care of the boy, around whom her
affections and hopes now clung all the closer,
to John Erskine, Earl of Mar, who had watched
with fidelity over the early years of her own
childhood. Mar was governor of Stirling
Castle, and on the 19th of March, Huntly and
Argyle carried the infant prince within the
strong walls of that ancient fortress. Thus at
the date which we have now reached the royal
widow had not seen her child for a whole
month. In any circumstances a youthful
mother so long separated from her first-born
would feel uneasy and anxious. In Mary
Stuart's case this pain was increased by recent
sufferings of the deepest kind, and by many
apprehensions of evil. Seizing the first opportunity,
she started on Monday, the 21st of
April, from Lord Seaton's. She could not
rest until she had assured herself with her
own eyes of the welfare of the babe whose
feeble thread of life had been exposed to such
risk ere she had ushered him into the world, and
who, notwithstanding all her precautions, might
be as seriously menaced at any moment. The
jealousy of our nobles had never permitted our
sovereigns to maintain a guard suited to their
position, and Mary, our first Queen, reigning
in her own right, was on this, as on other
journeys, obliged to content herself with a
number of attendants less than that which
often followed the heels of a bonnet laird.
Birrel, Knox, and Spottiswood have found
nothing more in Queen Mary's journey to
Stirling than the visit of an anxious mother to
her first-born child. The inventive genius of
George Buchanan, however, has imagined quite
another motive. George undertakes to persuade
us that the Earl of Bothwell longed to
have the heir to the crown in his hands; that
he induced the Queen to endeavour to get her
boy out of the Earl of Mar's keeping; but that
the Earl, suspecting some such design, made
her Majesty content herself with a distant look
at his charge. Buchanan's insinuation — quite
in the style of Moray, his paymaster — is too
broad to be mistaken. The Queen, according
to George, was planning with Bothwell how
best to make away with her child. When
George penned this slander, the generous
woman, who, for some lessons in Latin and
for some fulsome Latin verses, had given him
the revenues of the rich lands of Crossraguel,
had no more lands to give to anybody. With
unerring instinct George was turning his
hungry eyes in another direction.
I might well content myself with refuting
this disgraceful insinuation in Mary's own
words. "The natural love which a mother
bears to her only bairn is sufficient to confound"
those who repeat it; "it needs no other
answer". But what motive, let me ask, could
Mary Stuart have for committing so unnatural
a crime? Her boy's life strengthened those
claims of succession to the throne of England
which she was always labouring to secure,
which she was too often putting inopportunely
forward. Her boy inherited those titles which
in marrying Henry Stuart she had joined to
her own. The destruction of the infant James
would inevitably have raised up for her a
competitor in the person of Lord Charles,
Darnley's brother. In point of fact, she knew
that King Henry's body was scarcely laid in
the grave ere the Earl of Lennox was already
talking of the presumptive rights of his second
Emulous of Buchanan's audacity, Mr. Froude
considers that people in the nineteenth century
are soft enough to believe the following story
which he has given himself the trouble to
re-edit from Drury's correspondence. "The
Prince being brought to" the Queen at
Stirling, "she offered to kiss him, but the
Prince would not, but put her face away with
his hand, and did to his strength scratch her.
She took an apple out of her pocket and
offered it, but it would not be received by him.
The nurse took it, and to a greyhound bitch
having whelps she threw the apple. The bitch
ate it, and she and her whelps died presently.
A sugar loaf also for the Prince was brought
thither at the same time and left for the Prince,
but the Earl of Mar keeps the same. It is
judged to be very evil compounded."
It is good for honest people that calumnious
scribes like Buchanan and Drury are usually
at variance. According to the former, the
Queen was only permitted to look at her boy.
According to the latter, she was allowed to
offer to kiss the Prince; and the child being in
a fractious humour, was certainly not hindered
from doing his very best to scratch her
No natural history that we are acquainted
with attributes to dogs any special liking for
apples. It is true that pets may be schooled
into marvellous things in the way of eating, yet
in the sixteenth century greyhounds were
generally trained by hard kinds of food for stiff
coursing over the heather and in the stubble
fields. The bitch that ate Drury's apple may
be pardoned for dying so quickly, but as the
whelps are not said to have had any share of
the fruit, it is difficult to excuse them for dying
at the same precise moment. Did Drury, does
Mr. Froude, mean to assure us that apples
were ripe on the northern side of the Tweed
on the 22nd of April, 1567? If so, it is to be
deplored that the climate of the "land o' cakes"
has so woefully changed.
Mr. Froude had better make a short trip
next April to France, where Mary spent the
happy days of her youth. He will there find
the shop windows gay with fruit and fish of
many kinds made of sugar, and on inquiry he
will be told what place the "poissons d'avril"
have long held in the manners and customs of
our Gallic neighbours. Drury's childish tale
has simply this foundation, that Mary Stuart
had seen April fish and fruit presented in
France to children of all ages, and thought
that something of the same kind would be a
nice little treat to her own little boy on her
first visit to him in the month of April. Drury
was certainly one of those envoys who were
sent to lie abroad for Elizabeth's behoof and
delectation, but I doubt whether he gave this
silly gossip for gospel. As Mr. Froude does
not recognise the necessity of examination
before committing himself to a statement, he
has himself to blame if the public set him down
as a writer who systematically travesties and
omits facts for artistic and argumentative
The chequered life of the Queen of Scotland
has furnished abundant matter to poets
and writers of tragedy and romance. And
certainly no events can be more startling than
those which it is now our task to record. On
the morning of the 23rd of April, the Queen
left Stirling, slept in the place of her birth,
Linlithgow Palace, and the following day continued
her journey to the capital. Yet distant
from the city some six or seven miles, she was
met by the Earl of Bothwell, who was Sheriff
of the county of Edinburgh, at the head of 800
spearmen, whom he had assembled under pretext
of an expedition against the freebooters of
Liddesdale. The place was called Foulbriggs,
surely a most appropriate name, and lies between
two bridges, one crossing the Almond,
the other the Gogar Burn. As Mr. Chalmers
observes, "it is of all places on the road from
Linlithgow to Edinburgh that which Bothwell
might be expected to choose". Certainly none
seems to afford greater facilities for attacking
and overpowering a small party on its way
eastwards. So large a force of spearmen, commanded
by the chief magistrate of the shire
on which she had just entered, must have filled
the Queen with alarm and dread. The Earl
assured her that she was exposed to new and
greater dangers, and that in accordance with
his duty he had hastened to protect her.
But the Queen's agitation was not calmed
by this plausible explanation, and it is not easy
to discover what Huntly the Chancellor, and
Maitland the Secretary, and Sir James Melville,
who were in attendance upon her Majesty, did
or said to throw light on Bothwell's proceedings.
Rumours of new plots and combinations
had been in the air, and it is now certain that
these three men could have given the Queen
more information than they did. Bothwell implored
her Majesty to seek protection in the
Castle of Dunbar, which he held in his possession
as High Admiral. And, adding violence to
entreaty, as the cavalcade drew near to the
walls of Edinburgh, he seized the Queen's
horse by the bridle, while his men laid hold of
Huntly, Lethington, and Melville. Immediately
the whole body of horsemen, leaving the road
to the gates of the city, swept the Queen's
small party with them in the direction of
Dunbar. When the drawbridge of that gloomy
fortress rose, Mary Stuart must have begun to
see that she was the victim of an abduction
as brutal and abominable as perhaps any recorded
in the annals of mankind.
Queen Mary's visit to Hermitage Castle
during her progress on the Borders — prescribed
by duty, yet misinterpreted by factious malevolence
— obliged me to draw attention to the
appearance and character of James Hepburn,
Earl of Bothwell. It is now necessary to complete
my portraiture of this notorious personage.
James Hepburn was a compound of virtues
not at all common among our ancestors of the
sixteenth century, and of vices to which all his
contemporaries abandoned themselves without
shame. No one of his rank was more loyal to
his sovereign, no one was truer to Scotland.
Neither English nor French gold ever polluted
his hands. And as often happens in like circumstances,
he whose loyalty was the more
conspicuous because unique profited all the
less by his services to the State. The honours
or offices which he held came to him as a sort
of inheritance from his father and grandfather;
they were not, as prejudiced writers assert,
marks of favour bestowed upon him by Mary
Stuart. His grandfather had been appointed
High Admiral by James IV. in 1511, and had
received from that monarch the custody of
those strongholds on the coast which required
to be kept in a state of efficiency for the defence
of the nation. Earl James, indeed, held the
chief command on the Marches as Lord-Lieutenant
during Mary's reign, but it was not
Mary, but Mary's mother, the Queen Regent,
who promoted him to that responsible and
perilous position. And as far as fidelity and
devotion to the country were concerned, Mary
of Lorraine could not have made a better
choice. James Hepburn had a wholesome
distrust of the "South'ron loons"; he was never
known to take his cue from. London like
Kirkaldy of Grange, or whine and fawn at
the feet of Elizabeth like Moray.
Notwithstanding these rare and striking
merits, Earl James was distinguished even in
that bad age by the lowest vices. While
Darnley's excesses were the follies of a vain,
giddy, misguided, intemperate youth, Bothwell's
sins were those of a villain hardened beyond
the possibility of remorse. The Earl of Morton,
who soared far above Bothwell in every form
of rapacity, could not keep up with Bothwell in
lust and lewdness. Daring as Earl James was
on the field of battle and in tracking to their
fastnesses the wildest marauders of the Borders,
he was still more daring in attack and pursuit
when his unclean appetites were inflamed.
James Hepburn, too, came of a race in which
the worst forms of this degrading vice had long
been hereditary. One of his ancestors is
accused of having carried off Jane Beaufort,
the young widow of James I., to this very
stronghold of Dunbar, where she died; another
had sullied the reputation of Mary of Gueldres,
the young widow of James II. His father,
Earl Patrick, had divorced his wife, Janet
When Earl James, therefore, on the 24th of
April, 1567, carried the twice-widowed Mary
Stuart and her attendants "captive," as Melville
plainly says, to Dunbar, he was but following
the hereditary instincts of his family and
satiating passions which a bad education and
bad associates abroad had fostered beyond control.
In his abduction of Queen Mary he was
aided and abetted, if we are to believe an Act of
Parliament, by his uncle the Bishop of Moray,
and by three cousins, all parsons of whose ways
and characters the less I say the better. How or
why James Hepburn professed himself a Protestant
I do not pretend to examine. It is
certain that John Knox and his forbears were
vassals of the great house of Bothwell, and that
Bothwell listened to the Reformer's reprimands
and sermons with exemplary humility and
From the evening of the 24th of April,
until the morning of the 6th of May — twelve
terrible days of mental torture — the Queen of
Scotland was held in the unclean grasp of this
monster of lust. Her ladies-in-waiting were
dismissed, and no woman was allowed to
approach her but the sister of her ravisher.
With his victim completely in his power,
Bothwell now boasted that he would marry
the Queen, who "would or would she not; yea,
whether she would herself or not". Cherishing
the hope that the news of the outrage would
speedily bring an army of loyal subjects to her
rescue, Mary resisted the importunities of her
insolent captor. But the daring Earl had a
weapon of which his victim knew nothing.
He unfolded the infamous bond by which her
nobles and trusted councillors had delivered up
their Queen to the ambition and lust of one of
the most depraved among them. Mary read
the document with stupor and dismay; but the
native courage of her race did not yet desert
her — not even when days passed, and, as the
great Sir Walter complains, "not a spear was
lifted, not a sword drawn to save her from the
power of that atrocious ruffian".
I would fain pass over in silence what followed,
but historical exactness requires that
facts which afford the key to a long train of
events should be brought into proportionate
prominence. It cannot be doubted that James
Hepburn violated the person of his sovereign.
Mary herself asserts it. James Melville states
it in the plainest and crudest terms. Parliament
declared that Bothwell used "unleisum" means
in forcing the Queen to marry him. And
Bothwell himself before his death avowed as
much. It is, moreover, extremely probable that
to accomplish his purpose the villain disordered
his victim's brain by some narcotic potion; for
he himself confessed that he administered to
her "sweet waters". The common report of
the time was that he employed magic or the
black art, in which so many professed themselves
proficient in that age. But while there is little
doubt that the worst features of mesmeric
science were known long before Mesmer was
born, and that Bothwell had frequented the
worst society abroad, yet the facts are sufficiently
accounted for without this hypothesis.
I give the result in Sir James' own words.
"And then the Queen could not but marry him
seeing he had ravished her, and lain with her
against her will." Thus by matchless artifice
and brutal force was Mary so surrounded that
she had but one method of escape left open to
her. Under Bothwell's thraldom and Maitland's
collusion, in the fangs of her relentless
brother's faction, what could she do but consent
to this most odious union?
I am glad to find -evidence that the nobility
and burgesses of Aberdeen did, by special
messenger, send a letter to the Queen putting
their swords at her service, if she would but
"certifie her mind by bearer hereof". The
feeling in Aberdeen and throughout the Northland
was strongly with the Queen. It had been
intensified by the unfeeling treatment which
nearly five years before, on the chief marketplace
of the city, her base-born brother had
forced her to endure. But, great as that
Castlegate grief was, Mary's life in the few
intervening years had been filled with griefs.
Not yet was her cup of sorrow full.
The Double Process of Divorce.
No one can anticipate . . . how wide may be the discussions opened
by this discovery.
IN the interval between the Foullsbrigg
occurrence and the tragedy at Dunbar,
Bothwell had been taking steps, of which his
confederates could not be ignorant, to get his
recent marriage with Huntly's sister dissolved;
and a spectacle which in our days would appear
most singular presented itself. Lady Jean
Gordon, who is said to have professed the
Catholic religion, sued for divorce in Protestant
Consistorial court. The Earl, who on all
occasions had vaunted himself an uncompromising
Protestant, instituted a process in the court
of the Catholic Archbishop. Lady Jean's plea
was the adultery of her husband. Bothwell
alleged an impediment of consanguinity unremoved
by any dispensation. Each plea was
admirably adapted to the tribunal before which
it was urged.
Like almost every other event in Queen
Mary's short reign, this double process of
divorce by the Earl and Countess of Bothwell
has been converted into an instrument for
ruining her Majesty's reputation. It is maintained
by Mary's enemies that she had long
been planning how James Hepburn might be
separated from his Catholic wife, Jean Gordon,
and that for this purpose she had restored the
jurisdiction of the archiepiscopal court, which
had been suppressed by the Act of August,
1560, which had swept away the authority of
the Pope. But the real historical facts do not
bear this interpretation. The Queen, indeed,
had, by a writ under her sign-manual dated 23rd
of December, 1566, allowed the Archbishop of
St. Andrews to resume the exercise of his
authority; but as she had never signified her
royal assent to the Act of August, 1560, her
Majesty did not, and could not, believe that the
Archbishop's court had ever been really and
legally suppressed. Nor can it be imagined
that there then existed, or that their exists at
present in the kingdom, any competent lawyer
who would subscribe to that opinion. What
induced Bothwell and Lady Jean to apply to
both consistories was the uncertain state of the
law, at a moment when everything was in a
state of transition. What had previously urged
the Queen to get the Archbishop's court to
resume its work was the extreme disorder into
which public and private business had been
thrown by the discontinuance of its sittings.
Many suits relating to wills and to the collation
of benefices as well as to marriages were pending,
and it was difficult to decide whether they
were to be conducted before the old tribunals,
or the new Protestant consistory, or the Court
of Session.
And the detractors of Mary Stuart omit to
mention that when Archbishop Hamilton went
to Edinburgh, relying on the Queen's writ to
inaugurate the restoration of his authority over
the archdeaconry of the Lothians, he was prevented
from doing so by the menacing attitude
of the Protestant General Assembly, and by a
portion of the burghers of the capital whom
Moray and the ministers had roused to opposition.
And we find Bedford writing on the 9th
of January, 1567, to Cecil, that "at the suyte
of my Lord of Murrey, the Quene was pleased
to revoke that which she had before granted to
the said Bishop". As a historical fact, therefore,
it was not in a state of things purposely
combined and matured by Mary that the
Primate of Scotland, "ane comoun enemy to
Chryst," "the head of the venemous beast,"
was called upon to try the validity of a Protestant
marriage by the "stoutest" Protestant
in the realm. The situation was not created
by the Queen; it was the result of the action of
the General Assembly, which would not sacrifice
its hatred of "idolatrie" to the general interests
of the public, and of the intrigues of Moray,
who claimed to be oppressed by similar scruples.
Willingly or unwillingly, Archbishop Hamilton,
yielding to Bothwell's summons or entreaty,
issued his commission to Robert Crichton,
Bishop of Dunkeld, William Chisholm, Bishop
of Dunblane, and others, on Sunday, the 27th
of April. And surely nothing can be more
remarkable than that the men who but a few
months before had so strenuously resisted the
reopening of the archiepiscopal court were now
deaf and dumb when the exercise of its jurisdiction
was demanded by the foremost professor
of the Evangel. Against this backsliding of
their co-religionist, they neither drew the sword
of Gideon nor quoted the heavy message of
On the 5th of May only one judge-delegate
appeared to receive the evidence produced by
Bothwell's proctor. On the day following Lady
Jean's agent made some formal objections to the
proceedings renouncing all further defence.
And on the 7th sentence was pronounced, that,
as far as canon law and Catholic usage were
concerned, no Catholic marriage could have
taken place between Jean Gordon and James
Hepburn, because their relationship by blood
was within forbidden degrees, and no dispensation
had been obtained.
About fourteen or fifteen years ago, the
accusers of Mary Stuart raised a triumphant
cackle over a form of dispensation for Bothwell's
marriage with Lady Jane, which the late
Dr. John Stuart discovered in the charter-room
of Dunrobin Castle. This form of dispensation,
however, is evidently a ridiculous forgery. It
cannot have been issued from the chancery of
St. Andrews, or been drawn up by anyone
connected with the administration of ecclesiastical
affairs. It claims to have been granted in
the seventh year of the pontificate of Pius IV.
Now Pius IV. never saw the seventh year of
his pontificate; his reign lasted only five years,
eleven months, and three days, leaving the
sixth year from his coronation incomplete by
twenty-eight days.
Moreover, Pius IV. died during the night
between the 8th and 9th of December, 1565;
and before the date of this pretended dispensation
— 17th February, 1566 — all Scotland knew
that one Pope had gone to his account and
another had taken his place. Michael Ghisleri
had been elected on the 17th, and under the
name of Pius V. had been crowned on the 17th
January; and on the 31st of the same month
the Queen of Scotland had written a letter of
congratulation to his Holiness, and sent William,
Bishop of Dunblane, with it to Rome. It is
impossible in these circumstances that Archbishop
Hamilton or his secretary or his datary
could have been ignorant of such events; probably
they were known to the Primate, who
was Legatus-natus and Legate a Latere, before
they had been communicated to the Court of
Holyrood. And it is therefore morally impossible
that a document such as that which Dr.
Stuart disinterred at Dunrobin could have
issued from the chancery of St. Andrews.
This document provides other arguments
against its own authenticity, which our limits
prevent us from noticing. When Moray alleged
that Bothwell's marriage with Lady Jean had
been dissolved, only because the dispensation
which they had obtained had been abstracted,
he may have heard some whisper of a document,
which, however, had not been presented because
it could not bear the light of day, and would
not stand collation with the books of the archiepiscopal
chancery or of the archdeaconry of
the Lothians. The procedure, therefore, before
the Primate's court followed the ordinary course
of ecclesiastical law. If Bothwell and Jean
Gordon were fully aware — and it is nearly
impossible to imagine them ignorant — of their
relationship, when on the 24th of February,
1566, they were joined in wedlock by Jean's
uncle — a declared Protestant, though still taking
the style of a Papist prelate — the marriage was,
in a Catholic point of view, simply one of those
handfastings which were still too common in
Scotland, though the influence of the Church
had been exerted against them for centuries.
It was Jean Gordon's duty, if, as most writers
assert, she was a sincere Catholic, first to procure
a dispensation and then to celebrate her
marriage in the sight of the Catholic Church,
as had been required from the dawn of ecclesiastical
legislation in her native country.
Was this document concocted and palmed
upon her to allay any scruples she may have
entertained? Did the individual who composed
it count upon Lady Jean's ignorance of Latin,
and of the most ordinary forms of legal deeds?
Was it purposely drawn up in such terms as
would make it worthless? Why was it so
carefully stowed or so carelessly thrown away
in the charter chest at Dunrobin? To the
first couple of questions the answer is not so
important. To the latter an answer suggests
itself which throws a flood of light on the point
I am discussing. Five years before Bothwell's
death Jean Gordon entered into a contract of
marriage with the Earl of Sutherland. A valid
and authentic dispensation for her union with
Bothwell would have prevented her from completing
this new contract. On the other hand,
a forged and evidently worthless dispensation
proved that her union with the villainous Earl
had been null and void from the beginning, and
left her free from the necessity of waiting until
the horrors of a Danish dungeon had done
their work of retribution.
The Protestant Commissaries of Edinburgh
seemed to have met with even less difficulty in
their decision. James Hepburn's manner of
life afforded more matter than was necessary to
facilitate their deliberations. Already, on the
3rd of May, they had decided in favour of the
Catholic Countess, who had, curiously enough,
solicited their intervention, and freed her from
the thraldom of an adulterous husband. It has
been questioned whether the teachings and practice
of the Scottish Protestants at that date gave
liberty to the guilty parties to contract other
unions after divorce. But it would appear that
their doctrine on this point was still unsettled;
that the Protestants of France from whom they
derived their views left both divorce parties
entirely free; and that, practically, these French
ideas prevailed among their congregations in
our towns along the east coast. It may be
true that the minister who subsequently married
Bothwell to the Queen was deposed by the
General Assembly for "marrying the divorcit
adulterer". But this deposition only took
place on the 30th December, 1567, when the
Reformed divines had had time to discuss
the question as they did without any result in
the preceding June, and had adopted a provisional
resolution to inhibit presently all ministers
"to meddle with any sick marriages quhill
full decision of the question". Thus Adam
Bothwell was punished in virtue of an ex-post-facto
enactment; and when the Protestant
Commissaries made their deliverance in
favour of Jean Gordon, they were acting in
accordance with their convictions at the
time, and with the lights which they then
I am not called upon to enter into the
motives which actuated Jean Gordon in lending
herself to the institution of this double process.
The young ladies of that period were schooled
betimes into the utter sacrifice of their own
wills to family interests, and it is reasonable to
suppose that Jean did as she was bidden by
the head of the house of Huntly. My business
is with the attitude of the Queen — the Queen,
indeed, by right of all the land, yet left at this
crisis a victim to the untameable passions of a
fiend in human form, and held in close durance
by his myrmidons in Dunbar.
That Queen Mary was not guided by the
motives gratuitously ascribed to her by hostile
writers, in restoring freedom to the Archbishop's
jurisdiction, is clear from the fact that the
necessities of public business urged her to take
that step, and that she revoked her sanction
to it when it seemed likely to awaken religious
discord and cause tumults in her capital.
Moreover, no such formal restoration was
required for any purpose that can be imagined;
for the Archbishop, not believing that either
Queen or Parliament could give or take away
the authority with which he was invested, had
continued to pronounce decisions in reference to
marriages and the collation of benefices whenever
he felt himself at freedom, notwithstanding the
Act of the Parliament of 1560, which attempted
to abolish the Papal supremacy in Scotland.
For example, a sentence of divorce on the
ground of nullity was published by his authority
in the High Church of Glasgow, on the 30th of
May, 1563. And, in point of fact, neither the
Queen's approval nor her disapproval was taken
into account, when, on the 7th May, 1566,
Bothwell and Lady Jean Gordon were declared
to be unmarried.
The enemies of the Queen of Scots return to
the assault, and reproach her with what they call
"scandalous haste" in hurrying this double
process to a conclusion. Now it cannot be
denied that Bothwell and his abettors were
eager enough to hasten the consummation of
their iniquity. But there is evidence that the
Queen had nothing to do with the instruction of
the suits, and did not even know of their existence
until they were far advanced. And
besides, in the proceedings before either tribunal,
we can discover no sign of haste on either case
admitting of much cause for hesitation or for
prolonged weighing of evidence. In a country
where every man of any consequence was a
born genealogist, and could commit his cousin-ships
to the remotest degrees on his fingers'
ends, it was not a very puzzling matter to
discover whether the head of the great house
of Bothwell was related within forbidden
degrees to the sister of the head of the great
house of Huntly. And if a dispensation had
been obtained, Lady Jean's proctor and the
judge-delegate had simply to examine, or
cause to be examined, the entries in the books
of the chancery of St. Andrews and the deanery
of the Lothians.
Neither is there any "scandalous" or even
undue haste visible in the proceedings of the
Protestant tribunal. Earl James' evil propensities
were as notorious throughout Scotland as
his political and social position was eminent; and
there is reason to believe that he never made
the slightest attempt to play the sanctimonious
Pharisee. The witnesses produced by Lady Jean
were considered sufficient and irrefutable. And,
as various writers observe, the lists presented
to the Bench might have been indefinitely
prolonged. There was little delay therefore in
their deliberations, because none was required
where doubt was altogether impossible. And the
assertion that the Queen, influencing the processes,
was guilty of "scandalous haste," is completely
groundless, altogether gratuitous, and
hurtful only to those who are reckless enough to
maintain it. And finally, when Mary Stuart
accepted the decision of her Council, that it
was for her own honour and safety, for the welfare
of her subjects and for the security of her
Government, to marry James Hepburn, she
cannot be accused of taking another woman's
husband, since the two tribunals which represented
all that was venerable and authorative in
the eyes of all denominations among her people
had solemnly dissolved the union between
Bothwell and Lady Jean Gordon.
John Craig and the Banns.
An odious, a scandalous, and an infamous marriage.
BOTHWELL'S ambitious designs could
not brook delay. His confederates
had plighted such faith and honour as they
possessed, that he should have the hand of
their Queen. But he knew how little they
were trusted; and should the general public
come at the true state of matters, commotions
were certain to ensue. He immediately, therefore,
took care to have his banns of marriage
proclaimed in the High Church of Edinburgh,
but in such a way as should merely fulfil the
formalities exacted by law. John Knox had
not yet had the courage to return to Edinburgh,
and application had therefore to be
made to John Craig.
General tradition gives celebrity to Craig's
fortitude. Report had told him that the
Queen had been ravished, and was still in
constraint. He considered Bothwell to be
guilty of rape, adultery, and murder. Without
a positive command signed by her Majesty,
no such banns should be put up in his
church. He is said to have carried his remonstrance
to the hall where the Privy Council
sat, to have reproached the Earl to his face
with all his crimes, and to have taken heaven
and earth to witness that he abhorred and
detested such a marriage, as "odious and
slanderous to the world," as "against all
reason and good conscience," and offered to
prove to them, by the Word of God, right
reason, and good laws, that such a marriage
was "scandalous and infamous".
I do not mean to diminish Craig's reputation
for courage and zeal. From the time when he
entered the Order of St. Dominic till he
returned to his native country, Craig had
occupied many positions, where he had valuable
opportunities of mastering the sciences, sacred
and profane. From the date of his appearing
in the pulpits of Edinburgh, he might have
acquired some knowledge of the people among
whom he laboured, of the Court which he
attended, and of the government of the realm
and its administrators. But if we look narrowly
into the line of conduct which he followed at
this crisis of his sovereign's fate and fortunes,
we find that his zeal wanted method and
prudence, and his theology was inconsistent
with his actions.
The proclamation of an intention to marry
is not itself a marriage; it is a means prescribed
by experience for the prevention of objectionable
marriages. And Craig ought to have
known that nothing could have been more
serviceable at this juncture to his Queen than
making known to all her subjects at home and
her friends abroad the dreadful doom to which
her treacherous Council were driving her.
John Craig ought to have known, besides,
that no power could, and, in the circumstances,
no power should, have obliged him to publish
the three banns all on one Sunday. Without
giving sufficient delay to elicit objections, when
there is good reasons to believe that objections
may be forthcoming, the utility of banns in the
public services of the Church altogether disappears.
Now, when we consider what was
the feverish agitation at this moment in the
capital of Scotland, how eagerly events were
watched from a distance, how rapidly new
combinations were being formed among the
nobles, how anxious friends were to aid Mary
Stuart, if they only knew how, it is not too
much to say that a fortnight's delay might have
saved Scotland from a disgrace that will never
be wiped out, and Scotland's Queen from an
injury which she could never forget. It is clear,
therefore, that John Craig's judgment and
sagacity were sadly at fault. He resisted
when he ought to have yielded, and yielded
when he ought to have resisted. Moreover,
when the hour of trial struck, John Craig did
not display the courage of his convictions.
A minister of religion who sanctions by his
presence an "odious," a "scandalous," an
"infamous" marriage has not in him the
making of a martyr.
Before hastening on with the current of
events, I must draw attention to the additional
evidence which this incident affords of the
complicity of the nobles with Bothwell's crimes.
When Craig "discharged his conscience unto
the Lords," we find it recorded that they
"seemed unto him as so many slaves, what
by flattery, what by silence, to give way to that
abomination". And, again, we find him boldly
affirming that "the best part of the realme
did approve it ather be flatterie or be thair
silence". These testimonies enable us to
realise with what guilty obstinacy the Scottish
Privy Council were determined to push their
iniquity to its final consummation. Nothing
would alter their resolution or arrest their
progress. A man with whose depravity they
were familiar, whose crimes they had shared,
had dishonoured their Queen, and was detaining
her in his unclean hands; and they approve his
doings by their silence or flatter him openly
and urge him forward. Nothing can more
luminously demonstrate that they had made
common cause with the new Duke of Orkney
— new Lord of Shetland — in all his plans, his
plottings, and his "abominations".
The Woful Wedding.
Then come at once the lightning and the thunder,
And distant echoes tell that all is rent asunder.
THE marriage is celebrated, and Mary
Stuart has been forced to give her hand
to Bothwell on the 13th May, 1567. The
Diurnal of Occurrents speaks of it as a "marriage
not with the mass but with preaching".
(This form of speaking is now-a-days liable to
misconception. By the mass and the preaching,
people in the sixteenth century simply meant
the Catholic and the Protestant religions. It
is not, it never was, essential for a Catholic
marriage that it should be celebrated during
the Mass. And among Protestants a couple
may be joined in wedlock without a sermon.)
The Diurnal adds: "Neither pleasure nor
pastime in it".So truly, I fear, thought the
sorely tried Queen, for she is reported
often to have said about this time that she
wished only for death. Two days after the
marriage, De Croc, the French Ambassador,
reports that, "when closeted alone with Bothwell,
Mary was heard to cry as loud as she
could to give her a knife to kill herself. Those
who were in the front room heard her. They
thought that, if God did not help her, she
would be driven to desperation. I have advised
her and consoled her as much as I could," said
De Croc. "He will not be long her husband;
he is too much hated in this kingdom." Sir
James Melville also says: "The Queen was so
disdainfully handlet, and with sic reproachful
language, that Arthur Aikin and I, being
present, hard hir aske a knyfe to stick hirself,
or ellis, said sche, I sall drowne myself". It is
evident from these facts that Mary had no affection
for Bothwell; and knowing this, the villain
endeavoured to keep her down by ill-treatment.
No common wrong could have wrung such
words from Mary Stuart, but "not a day
passed without brutish conduct on the husband's
part and many a tear on hers". The
marriage enabled the conspirators to assert
with some plausibility Mary's complicity with
Bothwell in Darnley's murder. I doubt
whether the villains counted beforehand on
Mary's marrying, or appearing to marry, Bothwell.
If Mary had refused, they might have
provoked the lecherous blackguard to do her
unto death. But when Mary yielded so far, as
I think she ought never to have done, the other
course at once suggested itself to them. I
think she should have run the risk of any dishonour
rather than link herself, even in appearance,
with such a profligate. But the ideas of
that age, both in Scotland and in France,
whence we drew all our laws and usages and
ways of thinking, regarded subsequent marriage
as the only possible reparation for abduction
and dishonour. In many parts of Scotland the
notion still prevails. That which was only
whispered at the time of the King's death was
openly written about now. The faction had
engaged, with their partner in crime, that he
should have that which he coveted most,
the Queen; and they knew that when Mary
could be made to marry Bothwell, it connected
her with one of the murderers of her husband,
and supplied material for a charge against both.
James Hepburn, now Duke of Orkney, and
royal consort, developed a most arrogant and
overbearing disposition, and soon tried to play
the King; but Mary had neither given him
that title, nor the custody of her son, nor the
keeping of the Castle of Stirling, where her
son still remained under the care of the Earl
of Mar.
Elizabeth's influence in Scotland, by an
astute if niggardly administration of "comfort"
in the shape of gold, was very considerable.
She never liked Bothwell, and she liked him
less now, posing as King, than as Scottish
Commissioner on Border disputes. She had
said, in a letter to Randolph, "In nowise, if
we may choose, can we allow of Bothwell".
Mary married Bothwell on the 15th May,
and on the 23rd Elizabeth wrote to Morton,
telling him that "she could by no means
allow of Bothwell," and she further told the
Earl that he, and others like him, hirelings of
hers, were to conduct themselves in a different
way towards Bothwell to that in which they
treated him "before and after Darnley's death".
This menace clearly meant the loss of their
pensions, and therefore Morton and the others
suddenly abandoned Bothwell, and went on the
other tack. The Castle of Edinburgh was
held by Sir James Balfour, a gentleman who,
like Moray and others, was a sort of ecclesiastic.
He was parish priest of Flisk, and, to put
Church lands in his pocket, had always been
ready for any piece of scoundrelism. Melville
ingeniously tells us that he was at this time
employed to corrupt Balfour, and he seems to
have had little difficulty in getting this Protestant
priest to join the confederacy against
Bothwell. The bond made with Balfour, which
remains among the Morton papers, is of a very
extraordinary character. In it he promises to
aid the conspirators as commandant of Edinburgh
Castle, if they take part with and
defend him "in all his past actions". The
murder of the King is here clearly meant. The
conspirators further bind themselves to continue
him in charge of the Castle, and to promote him
when occasion arises; and Balfour, who knew
what manner of men he was dealing with,
stipulates that, in case "the nobility might alter
on him," Grange should promise to be his
protector. This most upright parson further
stipulates, "to save his honour," that he was
to be allowed to fire a shot or two towards
them when they should first come to Edinburgh.
Bothwell had left his papers in the Castle of
Edinburgh. Balfour broke open "a green
desk in which they were kept, and secured
from among them "the principal band of the
conspirators for Darnley's murder". They
had Bothwell thus completely in their power;
they could destroy the chief document proving
their own guilt, or keep it concealed for their
own use. The Castle of Edinburgh being shut
against him, the new Duke of Orkney
escaped with the Queen, and levied such force
in her name as he could, but the rumours that
he had ravished the Queen and was holding
her by force deprived the royal proclamations
of their authority. Morton, Kirkcaldy, and the
others collected men, and Hume advanced on
Borthwick Castle, but "her Majestie in mennis
claithes, butit and spurit, depairted that samin
nicht from Borthwick to Dunbar". On the 15th
June, on Carberry Hill, the two forces met.
The Queen had some 2000 men; "the best pairt
was commons". Her enemies had 1800 horsemen
and 400 footmen, all gentlemen "in their
gaire". While the parties stood facing each
other, De Croc, the aged Ambassador of France,
tried to effect a reconciliation. "He assured
them on the part of the Queen that she was
anxious to prevent the shedding of blood, and
eager to favour peace. To effect these objects
she would grant them pardon, and declare a
general oblivion of what had been done." To
this Morton, in the name of the confederates,
said: "We came not here to fight against the
Queen, but against the murderers of the King!"
The fanatic Glencairn added: "We came not
to ask pardon, but to grant it to some who have
offended". What did this idiot mean? Did he
insinuate that they had come in arms to Carberry
to grant pardon to Bothwell? The French
Ambassador, seeing how things were likely to
go, left the field and returned to Edinburgh.
Bothwell then sent a herald into the hostile
camp offering to prove his innocence by single
combat. James Murray of Tullibardine offered
to accept the challenge, but Bothwell naturally
declined to cross swords with an inferior in
rank. He openly challenged Morton, who
accepted, and named two-handed swords as
weapons. The conflict to be on foot. Lord
Lindsay, at this point, begged to be allowed to
fight for Morton, but the Queen interfered. How
much it is to be regretted that she did not allow
the fight to come on between these two convicted
murderers of the King. As Chalmers says,
"the best consummation had been that they had
killed one another, for they were two of the most
guilty men on earth". The Queen then sent for
the Laird of Grange, who was reputed the
best soldier in Scotland, and more honest than
his comrades who were always leading him by
the nose. He came fully empowered by the
rebel chiefs to come to terms of reconciliation
for them and for himself. He proposed that, as
Bothwell was suspected of the King's murder,
he should pass off the field until the cause
might be tried, and that the Queen should
pass over to them and take the counsel of her
nobles. They, in return, would honour, serve,
and obey her Majesty as their sovereign. To
this proposal the Queen agreed. Grange thereupon
took Bothwell by the hand and urged him
to depart. Rather a strange method of bringing
to justice the man whom they declared to be the
chief murderer of the King! A curious termination
of a campaign expressly undertaken to
pursue, apprehend, and punish Bothwell! They
catch their man and let him off, and promise
not to follow him! Grange undertook that if
the Earl, now Duke, the husband whom just
a month before they had forced upon their
Queen, went his way, no one would hinder him,
and the brutish fellow went. He went, leaving
her he had so grossly wronged to the tender
care of a band of men, unscrupulous, hypocritical,
capable of atrocities as great as his own.
"Madam," said Morton, as he took the Queen
over to the rebel force, "here is the place where
your Grace should be. We will honour, serve,
and obey you, as ever the nobility of this realm
did your pregenitors." Oh! most splendid promise!
Oh! most solemn mockery!
How did Morton fulfil this promise solemnly
made on the field of battle? He carried Mary,
about seven o'clock in the evening, to the house
of the Provost of Edinburgh, weeping sorely,
surrounded by an insulting crowd, "while before
her watery eyes," as Chalmers puts it,
he, a murderer by his own avowal, had the
effrontery "to display a banner of white taffety,
on which was painted a representation of the
strangled King with the young Prince on his
knees, crying out, "Judge and avenge my
cause, O Lord!" This banner could not have
been got ready on the spur of the moment. To
embroider or to paint it must have taken some
time. And it is of itself an evidence of forethought,
premeditation, and malice prepense.
While it was being got ready, they were solemnly
promising to honour, serve, and obey the poor
Queen! Little rest had Mary Stuart in the
Provost's house that first night. The refuse
of the town purposely collected, howled and
yelled round the building until morning, and
the first sight that met Mary's eyes was that
brutal banner fluttering in the breeze before
her window. The yells of the crowd and the
sight of that vile flag inflicted on the agonised
Queen sorrow enough, but sadder sorrow must
have crept upon her as she thought of the
new proof she had of the perfidy of her nobles
— men, as Chalmers says, "who had no
religion, or morals, or honour, or good faith";
and if there came to Mary consolation at
all, it came to her from her conscious innocence
and well-balanced faith. The perfidy of
Morton and his gang in treating Mary as they
did was likely to rouse into activity the liking
for her which the craftsmen and better class of
citizens ever had; and to prevent a rising which
was imminent, Morton next day caused it to
be made known that they were protecting the
Queen from insult and restoring her to freedom.
Next day showed what these men meant by
protection, and what freedom they thought
their sovereign should enjoy.

Not Holyrood, but Lochleven.
'Tis a weary life this —
Vaults overhead, and grates and bars around.
ON the afternoon of the 16th June the
Queen was taken to her Palace of
Holyrood, but neither freedom nor state were
restored to her.
In vain did Mary give instructions to that
most unworthy secretary of hers "to convene
the Estates of the realm, as she was willing
to submit to their determination, she being present
and heard". When darkness had set in,
they took Mary a prisoner to the Castle of
Lochleven, duping the Laird of Grange by
producing a pretended letter of the Queen's to
Bothwell. This letter was never produced
again. "The Queen has offered her cause,"
says the Bishop of Ross, "to the decision of
the Estates, but God knoweth, it is all in
vain, for they have now obtained their prey."
Where was the brutal cause of all this
trouble — Bothwell? His execrable crimes
were the immediate cause of the unspeakable
misery into which the woman was plunged,
whom he had forced to be his wife. He had
taken her advice at Carberry Hill, he had
"loupit on his horse and ridden to Dunbar,"
and there, in the comfort of his castle, did
he think of her whom he had ruined for
ever. That he really loved Mary is doubtful.
That he was aware that Mary did not love
him is certain. The story of her readiness to
follow him in a white petticoat is one of those
monstrous inventions which are a special feature
of the period. Knowledge of the man keeps
charity back from believing that this true scion
of the race of Hepburn troubled himself much
about the fate of his victim.
On reaching the Castle of Lochleven we
get a further evidence of the ingenious malice
of these rebel lords. The keeper of the castle
was Sir William Douglas, whose mother was
the frail lady who in other years had borne
to Mary's father that ill-omened son whom
Mary's generosity had enriched and made
Earl of Moray. Sir William Douglas was
thus Moray's half-brother. Robert Douglas,
William's father, had married Meg Erskine
with her shattered fame.
Sir William was the Earl of Morton's
presumptive heir, and in later years actually
succeeded to the title. The selection of the
Castle of Lochleven as a prison for Queen
Mary throws a vivid light on the connections
and dealings of this clique of Douglases
with their base kinsman the Earl of Moray.
Moray availed himself of his kinship to keep
Morton steady to his interests, and we shall
see him for the same reason trusting to the
fidelity of the keeper of Lochleven. He acted
now as he had done, when he took advantage
of their connection with Darnley, whose mother
was a Douglas, to entrap the giddy and passionate
young King into Riccio's murder.
Of course Dame Douglas ceased not to
comfort the crushed and captive Queen with
tales of the legitimacy of her son, she herself
being Mary's father's wife, and so on — a singularly
ingenious way of giving pain, to place this
aged harridan in charge of Scotland's Queen!
This state of matters continued until the end
of May, by which time threats of death had
enabled the nobles to force from Mary renunciation
of the crown in favour of her son,
making the unscrupulous half-brother of her
keeper Regent. The nobles carried the infamy
of the deed as far as cruellest mockery could do,
by bringing to the imprisoned Queen two
notaries, who got her, while signing the
enforced demission, to protest that she was
not a prisoner. The warrant for Mary's imprisonment
in Lochleven Castle had the signatures
of Morton, Athole, Glencairn, Mar,
Graham, and Sanquhar attached to it. Yet
these men say that, after mature consultation,
"it is thocht convenient, concludit, and decernit
that her Majesty's person be sequestret from
all society of Earl Bothwell, and ordains the
Queen to be conveyed to Lochleven, and
kepit surely, and no lerand person is to get
intelligence from her except bi directions of
the lords underscriband". Mary's friends protested
against the usage given, and refused
to recognise her resignation of the crown, forced
from her under such conditions, The General
Assembly even issued an address and demanded
that the cause of the Queen's detention
should be explained, or that she should
be. set at liberty. The conspirators had, however,
gone too far to recede; so, acting as a
Council of Government, they adopted a course
that must have appeared to other nations
amazing. They charged Mary with the
murder of Darnley. What would Englishmen
have said if Cecil and Walsingham had charged
Elizabeth with adultery and murder? But as
Mr. Caird says, "There was great difficulty in
the way. That double traitor Balfour still held
the Castle of Edinburgh, and kept his grip of
the bond against Darnley. It was necessary
to buy him a second time. The wily parson
of Flisk stood out for an exorbitant price;"
and that price, great as it was, was paid.
On the 8th December, Mary Stuart would
have completed her 25th year. Disputes
have been raised about the exact date of
Mary's birth. I think that she was born
either on the 7th in the evening, or the 8th in
the morning. The 8th, from 1st Vespers on
the 7th, was the Feast of the Conception of
Our Ladye, a circumstance which doubtless
had its share in determining her name. Mary's
power to revoke those grants already spoken
of would expire by law on that day. She
conceived that the Parliamentary sanction
obtained only removed the statutory nullity
attaching to Crown grants made without
Parliamentary sanction. She had still, then,
her private right of revocation on the ground
of minority. She had before this date executed
secretly a partial revocation. This fact again
excited the alarm of the holders of these lands,
and Mary's friends boasted of what this revocation
would do.
The rebel lords could not go before Parliament
with things in that state. They therefore
came to Balfour's terms, and got from him in
return "the writings, which did comprehend
the names and consents of the chiefs for the
murdering of the King". The Earl of Moray
conveyed to Balfour for this "Bond" the
Priory of Pittenweem, £5000 in money, remission
for his connection with the King's
murder, and a pension to his son, a deed which
is irrefragable evidence of Moray's complicity
in Darnley's murder, and all the subsequent
doings of the confederates. The new Prior of
Pittenweem then gave up the castle of his
Queen to the handling of her rebel lords,
and "the Bond" criminating these rebels so
directly was, we are told, in a letter of one
of the English Ministers, at the hands of
Lethington, "turned into ashes". The insurgent
nobles, Chalmers says, " seized the
Queen's plate, jewels, and other movables in
Holyrood House " — amongst other things, a
Silver Casket, the gift of Francis, in happier
years, to his now suffering Mary. Glencairn went
with his servants into the chapel and broke
down the altars, and demolished the pictures,
images, and ornaments. This destruction of
other people's property was highly commended
by the preachers, as a mark of great godliness!
Bothwell had meanwhile left the Castle of
Dunbar in charge of his depute, the laird of
Whitelaw, and put to sea in two small vessels.
Bothwell's real purpose was probably to go by
Orkney, Denmark, and Germany to France, to
endeavour to raise friends and money for his
own cause, and, perhaps, for that of the hapless
lady whom he declared to be his wife. He
and his followers went, however, no further at
first than the palace of Spynie in Moray, the
house of his grand-uncle, Bishop Patrick Hepburn.
Futile and inconsistent proclamations
in the name of the Queen had been issued
against him by the insurgents, who might, if
they had chosen, have kept him in their
clutches at Carberry or blockaded him at
Dunbar. Two ships were now sent after him,
under charge of Grange and Tullybardin, but
Bothwell managed in Orkney and in Shetland
to avoid them, and escape as easily as he had
done at Dunbar. Among the islands he lost
one of his little ships. In the tortuous navigation
of the Sound of Bressay he caused his
enemies to lose their best ship. Sailing towards
Norway, he attempted the capture of a trading
vessel somewhere on the coast. The Danish
Government at once sent vessels of war against
him, his vessel was seized, and he and his crew
put in prison; there, in the meantime, we may
leave the Lord High Admiral of Scotland a
prisoner, richly meriting what fate had sent him,
The Silver Casket.
Contained the only proof that Moray, Morton, and Lennox did ever
pretend to have against the Queen.
WE are now arrived, says the trustworthy
Chalmers, at the 10th June, 1567, "the
epoch of the supposed discovery of a boxful of
letters — love letters from the Queen to Bothwell
— from a married woman to a married man —
from a wife who wished to save her husband to
a conspirator who was leagued to murder him".
And this box, the afterwards famous Silver
Casket, was said to have been seized, and taken
from George Dalgleish, a servant of Bothwell's,
by Morton. Sir James Balfour, keeper of the
Castle, gave it, they said, to Dalgleish to take
to Bothwell at Dunbar. The Lords of the
Secret Council examined this man six days
after on a charge of his being one of Darnley's
murderers. Of the so-called interceptor of the
box, Morton, they asked not a single question
as to Casket and letters! The Casket was
evidently an after-thought to make a story in
London. Valiant and true-hearted Scots! who
accuse the descendant of the ancient kings before
a — what? — on the English throne. Nor
is there in all the consultations held by the
insurgent nobles between 26th June and 4th
December one single allusion to the Casket
or its contents; nor have we in the bond for
crowning the Queen's son and supporting his
government any insinuation of the existence
of such a criminating mass of evidence against
the Queen; but, instead of this, we have this
entry of the 26th June: "The Lords have, by
evident proof, as well of witness as writing,
made manifest to them that James Earl of
Bothwell was the principal adviser of the murder,
and was at the actual doing thereof himself";
and on the 9th and 21st July the Privy
Council minutes tell us: "That said Earl did,
first, treasonably ravish her Majesty's most
nobill person, and then constrainit hir — being
in his bondage and thraldom — to contract sic
a pretendit and unlawful marriage with him".
Is it likely that such entries as these would
have been made with the Silver Casket and the
letters in their hands? These men, Morton,
Glencairn, Maitland, Mar, or Graham, were
they likely to hold back from using such an
instrument? But the truth is the forged papers
had not then been created. Balfour and
Maitland were shaping out an entire lie from
a divided truth. Amongst Darnley's papers,
which they destroyed, were two affectionate
loving letters of the Queen to him, not dated,
and not addressed. These they kept. Amongst
the list of Mary's property at Holyrood, they
found a Silver Casket. They did not turn into
coin that casket as they did the plate, &c.
They kept it, as they had kept the two letters
found among Darnley's papers. Lethington's
wife wrote amazingly like Mary. By a forged
paper they had already sent Mary into Lochleven;
by a few forged love letters from Mary
to Bothwell these two ingenious lawyers could
piece out their case. We know it was pieced
out, and coarse men coined other letters to be
used with bits of the forged ones and the
sonnets, as if all were Mary's.
The writers of the letters made no attempt to
make the substance of these vile letters in any
way, other than the form of writing, to correspond
with Mary's style. They read liker what
"fat Jack" would have said, not written, to
Dame Quickly, as he sat by her seacoal fire,
and there too freely used the parcel-gilt goblet.
All Mary's real correspondence — and there is
a great wealth of it — is, as Mr. Caird says,
"everywhere imbued with the noblest feelings,
the purest language, the purest thought, pity
and mercy on every page". Would Mary, in
writing to Bothwell, have expressed her desire
to be joined to him in wedlock by any such
expression as "We are coupled with a false
race, the devil sinder us, and God knit us
together for ever"? That "horrible and long
letter," which Elizabeth's Commissioner speaks
of, is the one of the set which proves the forgery
best. "Four-fifths of it consist of a curt
and business-like recital of circumstances such as
would have been proper for the Queen to state
in a memorial for the information of her Privy
Council. But there are at the commencement,
towards the middle, and at the end passages
of the most extravagant love-making and
palpable suggestions of murder — passages so
different in style, language, and thought from
the rest of the paper, that one cannot understand
how they could have come from the same
Not certainly from the mind of Mary Stuart,
the most accomplished lady of her time. The
interpolations in the beginning, middle, and
end of this "horrible and long letter " were
"scribbled in Scotch". This letter, as produced
by the conspirators, was wholly in
French. It was critically examined by Goodall
and the elder Tytler, and proved by them
to be not the original, but a translation; that
the translation was from Buchanan's Latin;
and that Buchanan's Latin was itself the
translation of Moray's Scotch. One amusing
instance is given by Goodall. The Scotch
version makes the Queen say, "I am irkit
and goin' to sleep". It was for some
time questioned whether Queen Mary could
speak "Scots". This question appears to be
settled by a letter of the Father Nicholas
de Gouda, published a few years ago in a
German periodical. It is there stated that she
conversed in Scots with Edmond Hay. We
are thus led to infer that she, the Maries, and
her other Scottish attendants kept up their
native tongue in France. But whether she
could write it before the solitude of her weary
imprisonment in England gave her time for
study is another question. Of the several
languages with which she became acquainted
during her life, she had most command of the
French. Up till 1562, she could understand
Latin when spoken to her, but could not speak
it easily enough to maintain a conversation.
There is a great deal of nonsense in history
about people knowing perfectly a great number
of languages. To resume our analysis of the
letters. Was it failing eyesight, or a falling tear,

or a muddled brain, that made our old scholar
read "nakit" for "irkit," i.e., weary, and
solemnly render that into "Ego nudata sum"?
The French translator improves upon Buchanan,
and writes "toute nue" (stark nakit).
Caird says truly, "A strange condition for her
Majesty while writing so long a letter, in a
northern January". Surely all will agree with
Dr. Samuel Johnson, who, forgetful that a
slander has as many lives as a cat, declared
"that the Silver Casket letters were spurious,
and would never again be brought forward
as historic evidence". Boswell's hero forgot
that few men have patience to go down to the
bottom of the deep well where truth lies, and
there hide themselves from the prejudices that
fill the upper air.
On the 4th December, the Regent and his
Council forged and forwarded to England an
Act of Council in which they charge the Queen
not only with the murder of her husband, but
with an intent to murder her child! Three
of the known murderers of the King signed
this Act — Morton, Maitland, and Balfour — as
may be seen in Haynes' collection. But the
Register of the Scottish Privy Council contains
no such Act. It was simply an imposition
practised on Elizabeth's ministers. In it they
justify the imprisonment of the Queen (but why
in Lochleven?) by the evidence of her guilt
which her letters to Bothwell disclose, yet these
men admit that the letters did not fall into their
hands until some time after Mary had been
made a prisoner. The conduct of the Regent
in accusing his sister to a foreign government
of the most atrocious crimes, and the unprecedented
severities which he inflicted, made
him unpopular. "Great dissatisfaction continued
to be expressed that the murderers
of the King remained unpunished." In order
apparently to silence these murmurs, he had
four wretched subordinates who had no will
of their own, brought to trial for Darnley's
murder. With indecent haste the four —
Hay, Hepburn, Nicholas Hubert (commonly
called Paris), and Dalgleish — were condemned
and executed. Paris and Dalgleish by-and-by
figure in the fiction of the find of the
Silver Casket and letters; but dead men
tell no tales. The declarations of Hay and
Hepburn on the scaffold implicated many
nobles, and deepened the popular growl of
discontent. Moray began to see other perils
threatening him like lurid clouds. Maitland,
long accustomed to lead, grew weary of the
second place, and the Regent knew that at
any moment he might turn against him. The
Scottish nobles of that age were indeed always
turning against each other. If Moray had
given them time, they would have all combined
against him, and given us a new chapter of
revelations. But Bothwellhaugh's blunderbuss
unfortunately prevented us from getting at a
deal of that truth which honest men learn when
rogues fall out. Fleming held Dumbarton for
the Queen. Huntly, Argyle, and others barely
acknowledged the Regent. The Hamiltons of
course hated him, because they suspected he
had designs upon the crown, which they hoped
would soon be theirs.
Sensible of his gathering dangers, Moray
sought the help of his old ally, the Queen of
England. To London, then, the Regent sent
Nicolas Elphinstone with a copy of his Act,
in which he charged his sister with having
murdered her husband and tried to murder
her son. Being scarce of money, he sent with
Elphinstone Mary's jewels to offer to Elizabeth
for sale! Dr. Joseph Robertson, in his
preface to The History of Queen Mary's
Jewels, says: "There were one hundred and
eighty entries, or twenty-one more than the
inventory made at her departure from France.
Among the articles added we may recognise
a cross of gold set with diamonds and rubies,
which Mary had lately redeemed from the
hands in which it was pledged by her mother
for a thousand pounds. Another acquisition is
of pearls, which, as they were bought from an
Edinburgh goldsmith, we may perhaps presume
to be Scottish." Mary had given her brother
charge of these jewels on one of his visits to
her at Lochleven. But James's greed could
never resist temptation. And no wonder that
many folk believed that Meg Erskine's son
had not a drop of Stuart blood in his veins.
His manner of reforming the Church was to
eat up fat prebends, to send all the brass and
copper of the altars, choir-stalls, and other
furniture of the churches over to Holland for
sale. He professed unwillingness, yet accepts
the trust of his sister's jewels, and then sends
them to market. When the Parliament met he
took good care to get an Act of Indemnity for
his intromissions with his sister's jewels. At his
death some of the most valuable of them were
in the possession of his wife. Elizabeth helped
him little in his troubles with the management
of Scottish affairs, but she helped herself to
the bribe he laid before her — Mary's pearls, at
the price of 12,000 crowns. They were said
to be the finest pearls in Europe, and were
worth very much more, as the vain and parsimonious
Elizabeth had discreetly ascertained.
Disappointed with Elizabeth, the Regent next
applied for help to the King of France, Charles
IX., but without success, the French Ambassador
having warned his Sovereign that two-thirds
of the people of Scotland were ready to rise
against Moray and his faction. The enemies
of the Regent, he adds, have two objects in
view — the first, "to liberate the Queen; the
second, that the Regent, Lethington, and others
clear themselves of the murder of the late
King of Scotland". Is it not curious to observe
how the popular instinct swerved not from the
suspicion of the guilt of the Moray faction?
In closest durance Mary had spent the winter
at Lochleven, but Mary Seton, Jane Kennedy,
and Marie Courcelles shared her captivity, and
they jointly shaped an effort to gain for their
Queen her freedom, and the opportunity of
testing the soundness of the French Ambassador's
estimate of her people's wishes. By the
help of Willie Douglas, page to the lady of
Lochleven, on Sunday evening, 2nd May, 1568,
a postern gate close to the water's edge was
opened, and there a boat lay waiting, into which
the Queen, in the dress of Mary Seton, stepped
with two of her attendants. There are various
versions of the manner of Mary's escape.
Looking back now, it may be said that her
escape was premature: her loyal subjects were
not yet ready; their plans were not finally drawn
out. On the other hand, every day the ill-will
against Moray was increasing, and within a
few months would have ripened into revolt.
Mary was quickly rowed to the western shore,
where Lord Seton, with a small body of horsemen,
awaited her coming. At utmost speed
he took her to his Castle of Niddry, in West
Queen once more.
No chieftain there rode half so free,
Or half so light and gracefullie.
'Twas sweet to see her ringlets pale
Wide waving in the southlan' gale!
NEXT morning the Queen reached Hamilton,
where, in a very few days, she
found herself at the head of an army of 6000
Mr. Hosack, at this date, remarks: "The
staunchest supporters of the Queen were
Protestant nobles. No circumstance in the
life of Mary Stuart is more remarkable than
that, in spite of all the efforts of Moray
and his faction, this was so" — Moray's
"evangel" was place and mammon. An
application made by him to France shows
that he was quite ready to return to the old
religion if he had any sort of certainty that the
change would have answered his schemes.
Had he lived to see Henry IV. of France
twice converted to the faith of his fathers, he
might have cleverly followed the example.
Sincere men were scarce in that generation;
yet in spite of all the violence of the preachers,
she, the Catholic Queen of Scotland, daughter
of the hated house of Guise, the reputed mortal
enemy of their religion, did now, after being
maligned as the most abandoned of her sex,
find her best friends among her Protestant
subjects. This appears at first sight inexplicable.
A phenomenon so strange admits of only one
explanation. If throughout her reign Mary
had not loyally kept her promises of security
and toleration to her Protestant subjects, they
assuredly, in her time of need, would not have
risked in her defence their lives and fortunes.
The Regent had a force at his command,
scarcely strong enough to warrant an attack
upon the Queen's adherents. She made an
injudicious effort to prevent bloodshed, and
gave him time. The Regent, having tasted
power, was determined to make an effort to
keep it. Knowing that the Hamiltons, who
had long been kept in the background, were
cold in the Queen's service, and that the Earl
of Huntly was on his way with a force to
join Mary, he struck at once, trusting to the
military skill of Kirkcaldy of Grange. The
fight at Langside proved ruinous to the Queen.

She might, if she had been less hemmed in
by her foes, have found shelter in Dumbarton
Castle. By the advice of Lord Herries, however,
she made for Galloway, and never drew
bridle until she reached the shelter of the
Abbey of Dundrennan, full sixty miles away
from the field of her last battle.
In the Abbey, the few friends who had
shared her rapid flight assembled in consultation.
Queen Elizabeth had repeatedly invited
Mary to come to her should she ever escape
from the walls of Lochleven and need a place
of refuge. Elizabeth had promised to meet her
in person, and give her such a reception in
England as was due to a queen, a kinswoman,
and an ally. Mary, enfeebled by her long
imprisonment, never dreamt that she was going
to another, longer, drearier, and more unendurable.
She could not see through the
character of her royal cousin, and never
profited by the frequent lessons she had
received. She was on the frontier of England,
and resolved to try her fortune on the farther
shore of the Solway. It took nineteen years
of cruel usage to convince Mary of the wickedness
and mendacity of her fair-spoken cousin.
Into England.
Scotland's sae fu' o' treacherie
Fae highest estate to lowest degree,
That nivir a man daur lift a han'
For his queen and countrie.
— Old Ballad.
MEANWHILE, I think, before we follow
Mary into England, we should give,
while yet in the land of her birth, the further
evidence of her entire innocence of the
heaviest of the charges which her enemies
have laid against her. Her reluctant marriage
with Bothwell gave the only likely colour to
it at the time, and ten years after that scoundrel
Earl made solemn oath that Mary knew
nought whatever of the deed. At the very
time that Bothwell, in Danish prison cell,
and near his end, was making this statement,
the mother of the murdered King
was writing to Mary in the most affectionate
terms. In one of her letters quoted by Miss
Strickland the noble lady says: "I beseech

your Majesty, fear not, but trust in God
that all shall be well. The treachery of
your traitors is known better than before. I
shall always play my part to your Majesty's
content." Did the mother of the King think
— as she probably at first believed — that Mary
was his murderer? Lastly, and little though
it seem, there is significant meaning in the
finding among Mary's relics, which honest
Elizabeth took from her at Chartley, miniatures
of Francis the Second, miniatures of
Darnley, of Mary and Darnley, and of
Mary, Darnley, and their son in one jointed
set of gold frames, but neither miniature, nor
ring, nor letter, nor anything to indicate James
In the imprisonment at Lochleven Mary
had often received in writing from Elizabeth assurances
of hospitality and protection. In one
instance a diamond ring was sent to Mary as a
token of this friendship. Relying on these
promises, and in opposition to much remonstrance,
Mary crossed the Solway on the 16th
May, 1568, in a small boat, and landed at
Workington. "For ninety miles," writes Mary,
"I rode across the country without lightin' or
drawin' bridle; slept on the bare floor; no food
but oatmeal, without the company of a female,
not daring to travel except by stealth at night."
Three of her devoted Scottish nobles, Lords
Herries, Livingstone, and Fleming, all Protestants,
went with her. Lord Scrope, the
warden of the Western Marches, was in
London when Mary entered on English soil.
His deputy, Mr. Lowther, however, received
her with all due respect, and, accompanied
by several gentlemen of Cumberland, attended
her to Carlisle. Never thinking of Elizabeth's
jealous nature, Mary wrote in praise of
Lowther's attention and care. Elizabeth
showed her estimate by laying on Lowther
a fine, which, to pay, caused him to sell
two of his estates! Mr. Hosack tells us
Cecil knew well the value of having Mary
personally in his power. She was already,
as Mr. Hosack says, "a prisoner, and the
utmost precautions were forthwith taken to
prevent her escape". Cecil, writing with his
own hand: "The surety of the Queen of
Scots is first to be considered, that by no
practice she should be conveyed out of the
It was not known until the 20th June that
Elizabeth's objections to Cecil's proposed treatment
of Mary had their way. On that day the
Council of Ministers resolved to summon Mary
from Carlisle, it being too near the Border. It
was further resolved that the Queen of England
should proceed to be informed of the cause
between the Queen of Scots and her subjects.
The document then proceeds to speak of the
danger of allowing Mary to proceed to France,
of her not having signed the treaty of Edinburgh,
of her having married her late husband,
a subject of Elizabeth, without Elizabeth's consent,
and then the paper concludes with the
following significant sentences: "That neither
the Queen's Majesty, with honour or surety to
herself, nor yet with quietness to the realm,
give the Queen of Scots aid, nor permit her
to come to her presence. Nor to be restored.
Nor to depart the realm before her cause be
honourably tried." By whom? Where were
now Elizabeth's friendly promises? What a
future was here prepared for England! "Nineteen
years," says Mr. Hosack, "of successive
insurrections, and conspiracies, and plots.
Nineteen years of incessant remonstrances,
anxiety, danger, and recrimination, quenched
in blood, and followed by an eternity of infamy.
It is well for mankind that acts of
national injustice should rarely pass unpunished;
and never did a political crime entail a heavier
measure of retribution than did the keeping
captive and then murdering Mary Queen of
As far as reigning and ruling over Scotland
is concerned, Mary's name no longer floats on
the mid-stream of Scottish story. In very
deed she is Elizabeth's prisoner. The faith
she resolutely holds is not so much unpopular
as beaten down by a triumphant
faction. Many events show that those classes
of the population who had nothing to gain
by the revolution were still attached to
their old faith. This was quite natural for a
stubborn and opinionative race like the Scots.
Unfortunately, there was no portion of the
population of Scotland in the sixteenth century
that really deserved the title of "people" as we
employ the word now-a-days. The vassals of
the great chiefs and lords were not supposed
to have minds or consciences independent of
their superiors and the heritable jurisdictions
proved an efficacious means for enforcing conformity
in politics and religion. "Dinna anger
the laird" was the maxim that justified every
course of action. The laird's feud and the
laird's religion, the laird's king and the laird's
party, were every vassal's watchword and
every vassal's safety. There was no class
distinct from the lairds and their immediate
kindred who had any influence or power to
make that influence felt. At the present day,
with our freedom of discussion, our newspapers,
and our public spirit, a revolution, like that
which took place under Mary, would be utterly
impossible. There is a Scottish people now,
and they would not submit to be led by men
like Moray, Morton, Maitland, and Ruthven.
Mary's attachment to her creed and to her
country may have largely helped to ruin both.
Had she listened to John Knox the wealth of
the Church might have been more readily
kept out of lay hands, and she herself might
have ruled in greater quiet. Yet it is more
probable, if she had adopted the tenets of the
Reformer, swarms of hornets would have
assailed her from every parish where there
was an acre of secularised property. Had
she owned the supremacy of England, and
given to Elizabeth the feudal homage that
Baliol gave to Edward, though it might not
have silenced a vain and jealous woman, it
would have flattered and pleased a powerful
Queen. The daughter of that Defender of the
Faith to whom England's newer form of godliness
had been great gain found much in the
new order of things to comfort her. Mary
Stuart found nothing but avarice and falsehood
under a cloak of religion everywhere.
It has been well said, that "if Elizabeth had
pursued a straightforward course when Mary fell
into her hands, much evil might have been
spared". Had Elizabeth had the courage and
generosity to set Mary free, Mary might have
gone to France or Spain, married a foreigner,
and thus lost the sympathies of the English and
the Scottish Catholics; but, retaining Mary as
a prisoner, Elizabeth gave cause for no end of
conspiracies. Elizabeth reigned over England
as many years as Mary was allowed to live.
Elizabeth had ruled England for ten years when
the Queen of Scots, trusting to Elizabeth's
repeated proffers of protection and help, went
into the most complete imprisonment and torment
that one woman could invent against
another woman whose wit and beauty she
The points of contrast between Mary and
Elizabeth are curiously humorous. They both
were fond of dancing. Mary danced well;
Elizabeth grotesquely. They were both sensible
to the attractions of handsome manhood.
Mary married early; Elizabeth pretended that
she never meant to marry, yet on to a grey
old age she ever kept a lover to whisper soft
ditties in her ear, and the catalogue of her
sweethearts is only now in our days being
completed by industrious research. Mary was
warm-hearted and generous; Elizabeth cold,
cruel, and vindictive. She caused the right hand
of a man to be struck off because he had written
against her marrying the Duke of Alençon, and
she joked when she heard of the execution of
her lover Seymour. Mary's attendants loved
her, Elizabeth's feared her; Mary's language
and thoughts were pure, generous even to
weakness, and refined; the Tudor Queen
tickled Leicester in the neck, even in the
presence of an Ambassador, and cursed and
swore like any trooper. The Bishop of Aquila
says that she undertook to do what she did at
the bidding of her sister Mary — become a Roman
Catholic — if Philip of Spain would support her
on the throne if she became the wife of Leicester.
An endless set of contrasts might be brought
together, but these are sufficient to show what
the two Queens were as women. Mary, therefore,
had a conscience, though in some matters
of lesser importance she was not always faithful
to it. Elizabeth was ready to sacrifice soul and
body to save her skin or gratify her likings.
And we must not omit to remark, that while no
one could reproach Mary with a single act of
ingratitude, the life of Elizabeth is full of such.
More than once she owed her life to Philip;
what of her gratefulness? Elizabeth sent a
letter of condolence to Mary, but refused to see
her. She instructed Lord Scrope and Sir
Francis Knollys strictly to watch her, and when
Mary pled as an independent sovereign for
some other usage than this, Elizabeth's representatives
wrote to their mistress: "We found
hyr in hyr answers to have an eloquent tongue
and a discreet heid, and it seemeth by hyr
doings that she hath stoute courage and liberalle
harte adjoined thereunto".
Mary's dignified attitude, the eloquence of her
language, the keenness of her judgment, the
courage she displayed under her reverses,
made a deep impression on the English
envoys. On seeing the hopeless nature of her
communications with Elizabeth's representatives,
Mary sent to London two of her own
most trusted adherents, Earls Fleming and
Herries, to negotiate a loan for her on the
security of her income as Dowager-Queen
of France. They were the bearers of a letter
also from Mary to Elizabeth, urgently seeking
an interview, that she might make known
her wrongs and vindicate her character. The
wily Elizabeth yielded to none of Mary's
requests, yet gave no decided refusal, adroitly
seizing Mary's desire to exculpate herself as evidence
of Mary's acknowledgment of Elizabeth's
jurisdiction. The Regent sent from Scotland
something very like an acknowledgment on
the part of himself and his rebellious faction to
accept Elizabeth as judge in the quarrel between
them and their Queen. Artfully Elizabeth
turned this to her own account, and, changing
an offer of explanation into a defence, she
resolved to constrain Mary to prove her innocence
of Darnley's murder, and the Regent to
free himself of the charge of rebellion, pretending
at the same time that her only object in accepting
the office of arbitrator was her desire to get an
opportunity of reconciling them to each other.
Neither Fleming nor Herries was satisfied, and
when Herries asked Elizabeth, as she would not
grant a personal interview to Mary, to allow
her leave to quit England and return to Scotland
in the little boat in which she came, or to go to
France, if not to Scotland, "No," said Elizabeth,
"I will not prove myself so imprudent as to
permit this, and be held in low esteem among
other princes. When Mary was there in
France before, the King, her husband [but
he was now dead, and as far as that goes
there should have been no hindrance to letting
Mary go], assumed for her the title and arms
belonging to my crown, though I was then
alive, and I will not again place myself in
such embarrassing circumstances. As to her
return to Scotland in the humble conveyance
you have mentioned, since she has come into
my country, it would neither be to her honour
nor to mine for her to go back; besides, it
would not be for her advantage to do so."
What insolent hypocrisy!! Elizabeth would
take better care of Mary than Mary would
of herself!!!
Elizabeth then sent Mr. Middlemore into
Scotland to inform Moray of her desire to
arbitrate, at the same time commanding the
Regent to cease the war he was waging in
Scotland against his enemies. At the head of
an army of six thousand men, he was "enforcing
obedience to the young King," and
Elizabeth sagely enough said that what the
Regent was doing "sounds very strange in the
ear of us, being a Prince Sovereign having
dominions and subjects committed to our
power as your Queen had". Middlemore on
his way to Scotland called on Mary at Carlisle,
on the 13th June, and is reported to have,
among other insulting utterances, said to Mary
that his mistress could not see her until she
proved herself innocent of Darnley's murder.
Mary, indignant at such language, demanded —
"Am I a prisoner?" "No," said Elizabeth's
representative, "but I am instructed to dissuade
you from going into Scotland or seeking an
interview with the Queen of England," but to
"wait her judgment, and you will then see
with what love, with what heart, with what joy,
if found innocent, her Majesty will receive
you, embrace you, and do everything for you
that you could desire". At the words "judgment"
and "trial" Mary indignantly said, "I
have no other judge but God; none other can
take upon themselves to judge me. I offered,
of my own free will, according to the good trust
I reposed in the Queen my sister, to make her
judge of my cause. But how can that be,
when she will not suffer me to come to her?"
Mary then demanded to be admitted to an
interview with Elizabeth, or to be promptly
supplied with assistance, or to be permitted to
go elsewhere to obtain the means of returning
to her kingdom. In the pathetic letter which
she wrote to Elizabeth, Mary says "Remove
from your mind, madam, the idea that I came
here for the preservation of my life, for neither
the world nor the whole of Scotland have rejected
me. I came to regain my honour and
to chastise my false accusers. I chose you in
preference to all other princes, as being my
nearest relation and staunch friend [Mary's
penetration was not great], doing you, as I
supposed, an honour. I neither can nor will
reply to the false accusations of my subjects,
and justify myself as a dependent before them.
They and I, madam, are in no respect on an
equality, and even were I to be kept prisoner
here, I would rather die than submit to this
indignity." Let us think with pardonable pride
of the brave Queen who could write so nobly
under the oppression of her English jailors.
De Silva visited Mary a short time after she
wrote that letter, and this, in June, 1568, was
the condition in which he found her: "The
room she occupies is gloomy, being lighted
only by one casement, latticed with iron bars.
You go to it through three other rooms, which
are guarded and occupied by hackbutters. In
the last of the three, which forms the antechamber
to the Queen's apartment, resides
Lord Scrope, the governor of the Border
districts. The Queen has only three of her
women with her. Her servants and domestics
sleep out of the Castle. The doors are not
opened until ten o'clock in the morning. The
Queen is allowed to go as far as the church in
the town, but she is always accompanied by a
hundred hackbutters. She requested Lord
Scrope to send her a priest to say Mass. He
answered, 'There are no priests in England'."
Everybody knows there were all along plenty
of papist priests, whose orders no one ever
In reading all this let us not forget that a
year before, in the parish kirk of Stirling, the
deeds which Mary had signed at Lochleven
were publicly read, and the Earl of Morton
took the coronation oath for the Prince and
Steward of Scotland, the Bishop of Caithness
anointed him, John Knox preached the sermon,
and Mary's son was declared "Most
excellent Prince and King of the realm". To
an end then, on the 30th July, 1567, came the
brave Queen's rule over Scotland. I feel compelled
to confine this paper to a narrative of
the heroic life and sufferings of Mary. I do
not attempt a History of Scotland during Mary's
reign. Elizabeth's treatment of Mary became
now so bad that Mary had literally to beg. She
wrote to her uncle, the Cardinal of Lorraine,
saying, "For pity on your poor niece, send me
some money. I have none wherewith to buy
either food or clothes. The Queen of England
has sent me a little linen and one dish; the rest
I have borrowed. God will quickly me remove
from these miseries, for I have suffered insults,
calumnies, hunger, imprisonment, heat, cold;
nevertheless, rest assured that I shall die a
Catholic." Under the pretext of bringing
Mary nearer to Elizabeth, Mary was removed
to Bolton Castle, and a conference arranged
to be held at York. Thither Mary sent as her
Commissioners the Bishop of Ross, Lords Herries,
Boyd, and Livingstone, Sir John Gordon
of Lochinvar, and Sir James Cockburn. The
Regent, of course, represented himself; he had
with him Morton, the Bishop of Orkney, Lord
Lindsay, and Robert Pitcairn; to assist in their
deliberations, they had with them Secretary
Lethington, Buchanan, Sir James Macgill, and
the Clerk Register. On Queen Elizabeth's
part there appeared the Duke of Norfolk, the
Earl of Sussex, and Sir Ralph Sadler.
Mary had agreed to this conference without
consulting her staunch friend, the Bishop of
Ross; and he, on seeing the Queen, pointed
out to her the errors made in agreeing to submission;
but Mary believed in Elizabeth's professions
of friendship, and trusted her blindly.
She put much confidence also in the Duke of
Norfolk, whose sister, Lady Scrope, had been
to Mary a jailor of another sort than Dame
Douglas. The Duke was at this date in his
thirty-second year, in his third widowerhood, one
of the noblest peers of England, a professor
of the new faith, a messenger to York to do the
bidding of his Queen. As president of the
conference, he tried in the beginning of it to get
admitted England's feudal rights over Scotland,
but, failing in this, he set himself to convince
the Regent and Lethington of the terrible injury
they would bring on the Queen's cause, and that
of her son, by seeking to defame her in the way
they proposed. "If she is guilty, leave her to
God, the only judge of princes. (There is a
strong point in this advice, but, once the letters
were cited, as evidence it was for Mary's interest
to sift their value. She should, however,
have tried to find means for doing so without
compromising her dignity as a queen and
the independence of her crown. The Scottish
crown in antiquity was more venerable than
that which came to Elizabeth from the
Norman bastard and the lewd Catherine of
France, who secretly espoused the Welsh
adventurer, who metamorphosed his Celtic
name into Tudor.) Destroy these letters,
said the Duke, seek not to make her guilty,
seek ye only that she ratify the abdication
in favour of her son, and the confirmation of
Earl Moray as Regent." Norfolk succeeded
in this, but the Earl said, that for his own
defence he would not destroy the letters. He
had shown them to Parliament and to divers
parties. The Duke, however, got him to promise
not to use them. The extract from Mary's
instructions to her Commissioners is enough to
show Mary's sound common sense. "In case
they allege that they have writings of mine
which may infer presumptions against me, ye
shall desire that the principal be produced, and
that I myself may have inspection thereof, and
make answer thereto." No other than the
various forgeries were at York with the casket.
These, with the famous forged warrant, signed,
as Maitland and his associates declared, by the
Queen, were shown in private. Mary and
Elizabeth both heard of the hole-and-corner
way in which things were being managed at
York, to the great displeasure of both, and
Elizabeth demanded that the conference be
held at Westminster. All the efforts of Moray
and his set had failed to make impression of
Mary's guilt on Elizabeth's Commissioners.
"I see not," says one of them to Cecil, "how
her Majesty, with honour and safety, can
detain this Queen." But nothing could be
done to induce Elizabeth to let Mary go.
Mary's calm demand for a personal interview,
the exposure of the forgers, and all their lying
details, only did what was done in an earlier
and sunnier land — harden the ruler's heart, so
that she refused to let poor Mary go. The
whole narrative, even at this date, makes every
true Scotchman's blood boil.
The End approaches.
Now blooms the lily by the bank,
The primrose down the brae;
The hawthorn's buddin' in the glen,
An' milk-white is the slae ;
The meanest hind in fair Scotland
May rove thae sweets among,
But I, the Queen o' a' Scotland
Maun lie in prison strong.
THE double-dealing and manœuvring at
York were resumed and continued at
Westminster and Hampton Court. Paris and
Dalgleish were dead, and their share in the so-called
discovery of the Casket and letters had
the sanction only of what the conspirators said.
Mary was not permitted to see the letters, nor
to appear, but every effort was made to make
the world believe that she was being found
guilty. At the same time Maitland's scheming
brain was occupied in endeavouring to bring
about a marriage between Mary and the Duke
of Norfolk, heedless of the facts that Bothwell
had, by his help, managed, after a fashion, to
become Mary's husband, and that that estimable
nobleman still lived. The Queen was, for
greater security, about this time removed to
Tutbury, in Staffordshire. Elizabeth, finding
out about Maitland's efforts in the Duke of
Norfolk's interests, sent for the Duke to
dinner, and jocularly remarked as he rose from
table "to beware of the pillow on which he
reposed his head". Leicester, who was sick,
was then visited by Elizabeth, and she had no
difficulty as she sat by the Earl's bedside in
getting the whole story out of him. It is said
that with many tearful utterances he craved
his mistress to forgive him for having used his
influence to marry her rival to one of her subjects.
Elizabeth bestowed the solicited pardon;
but to Mary she gave an additional jailor, so
that she now had at Tutbury, in addition to the
Earl of Shrewsbury, the Earl of Huntingdon;
making her imprisonment most intolerable.
Norfolk also got nine months' quarters in the
Tower, and Elizabeth applied to Moray for
further evidence against him.
This the Regent, of course, gave, and with
the information he handed to Elizabeth a
letter which he had received from Norfolk
disclosing his intention of marrying the Scottish
Queen. The English Catholics, while
not openly taking up the cause of the captive
Queen, issued, in November, 1569, a proclamation,
declaring that they had taken up
arms against the oppressors of the ancient
nobility, and of the true religion, but no
allusion was made to Mary's interests. In
the north of England some 6000 to 8000
men were under arms. Cecil sent, under care
of Sir Ralph Sadler, the Earl of Rutland, a
boy of thirteen, to call out his tenantry. "Be
tender and careful of him," said Elizabeth's
Minister, "and, if negligent of resort to common
prayer, admonish him."
At this point, another than the young Earl
writes to Cecil about the watch on Mary
while at Tutbury: "For God's sake, let her
not remain where she is, for their great force
is horsemen". As these horsemen were within
a day's ride of Tutbury, Mary was, under a
strong escort, taken to Coventry. On the
16th November, 1569, the rebellion broke
out. Few of the higher Catholic nobles
joined in it, and no foreign aid was given.
On the field of battle no blood was shed;
and no letters connecting or criminating Mary
were found; yet orders were given to her
keepers to shoot the Queen if an effort to
escape was made, and Elizabeth ordered that
such of the rebels as had neither "freeholds,
copyholds, nor any substance of lands, be
immediately hanged, and their bodies were
not to be removed, but were to remain until
they fall to pieces where they hang". The
severity of Elizabeth's curative efforts may
be judged from the fact that in the county of
Durham alone there were 300 executions,
and the High Sheriff of Yorkshire wrote to
her Majesty that if he carried out her wishes
"many places would be left naked of inhabitants".
The leading rebels fled into Scotland,
and afterwards escaped to the Continent.
Instead of "fummellin' an' ficherin'" with
Elizabeth and her ministers about her succession
to the crown of England, Mary should
have set about organising her partisans in
England, as she had every right to do. She
had, in fact, a better right than Elizabeth to
do this. Then she ought to have roused the
national spirit of the Scots. This might have
united them, nothing else could. Elizabeth
and Cecil certainly expected Mary to have
done all this, for they were always suspecting
her of it. In fact, it was the only chance.
She might have failed, but it would have been
better to die on the way to London than
adopt the line she did. She had also many
partisans in Ireland, and all the emigrants in
France, Flanders, Spain, Germany, and Italy
— English, Scotch, and Irish — would have
flocked home to her banner.
I do not mean to enlarge this condensed
sketch by taking up in succession details of
plots and conspiracies less or more in the
interests of Mary. The forged letters had
failed. Mary had not bent her knee to Elizabeth,
and though John Knox had said "that
foolish Scotland would not obey the word
of God when He had delivered that vile
woman into their hands," Mary still lived.
On the 24th January, 1570, Elizabeth wrote
to Moray stating that she was sending to him
a trusty friend "who would communicate her
resolves to him". On the very day before
she wrote that letter, Moray lay dead in
Linlithgow, from the effect of the bullet of
one of the many Hamiltons whom he had
wronged. In his prayer on the occasion
Knox calls Queen Mary "that wretched
woman, the mother of all mischief. O Lord,
if Thy mercy prevent us not, we cannot
escape just condemnation for that Scotland
hath spared and England hath threatened the
life of that most wicked woman. Oppose
Thy power, O Lord, to the pride of that
cruel murderer." And how did Mary take
the word of the death of this man, stained
with the blood of Riccio and of Darnley, the
abettor of Bothwell, the betrayer of Norfolk,
her own maligner? She had suffered most
from his villainies, yet, tender and pious, she
wept over the sudden and violent death
which had overtaken him. It was only his
own immediate adherents who mourned the
loss of Moray. I do not think that his
country or his sister had cause to grieve. In
Scotland, the great bulk of the nobility and
gentry were for the Queen, but the party of
the Regent, after his death, was well kept
together by Morton, Macgill, and Pitcairn.
In England, Norfolk was assiduously cultivating
his interests with Mary and her party.
The politico-Norfolk love-letters of the
Queen are interesting reading, but we will
not be tempted into quotation. This Norfolk
transaction was a piece of manifest humbug,
and naturally came to a bad end. None of the
parties seem to have known precisely what
they were at, except the wily ministers of
Elizabeth, who, chuckling in their sleeves, saw
the birds hop into the trap. Randolph was in
Scotland again sowing mischief in the interests
of Elizabeth. "All the honest men in England,"
said Melville, "were sorry at it, of which
number there are as many within that country
as in any other." Randolph's intrigues raised
such indignation as forced him to flee to Berwick,
where Sussex and Scrope, under pretence of
keeping in check Elizabeth's own rebellious
subjects, were really trying to ruin Mary's friends
in Scotland. The watchful and wise Mary lost
no time in writing to the King of France and
describing to him that Elizabeth's operations
were meant to defend and strengthen against
me "these rebels of mine, and to oppress and
ruin, as far as possible, my good and faithful
subjects, under colour of recovering the English
rebels who have fled to Scotland". In April,
1570, Sussex, with 7000 men, laid waste one
part of Scotland, Sir John Foster another, and
Lord Scrope, with 3000 men, a third part.
Professing only a wish to punish English rebels,
they managed to retreat and carry with them
many cattle and much Scottish gear. "They
did burn and spoil along the river Rule, and
the water of Cale; they overthrew Ferniehirst,
they burned and spoiled along the Teviot on to
Hawick, burned it, overthrew the tower of
Branksome, the House of Bedrule, and diverse
other notable towers and houses; Jedburgh and
Kelso, and all along the river Rowbank, they
spoiled and burned."
These events, the issue of the Bishop of
Ross's "Defence of Queen Mary's Honour,"
and the publication against Elizabeth of the
Bull of Pope Pius V., did not sweeten that
estimable personage's usage of Queen Mary,
or lessen the avidity with which her soldiery
seemed to rush into Scotland on any pretence.
Sir William Drury marched from Berwick to
Linlithgow, and there made a fierce onslaught
on Mary's unprepared adherents. Two of
the residences of the Hamiltons were levelled
to the ground, and Cecil boasted that that
family "had never had such losses in all the
wars betwixt England and Scotland these
forty years". Lennox, the hereditary enemy
of the Hamiltons, was with Drury, and by the
help of Cecil now got himself elected Regent,
and carried out to the letter the vindictive
policy of Elizabeth. Sussex destroyed every
Scottish castle and place of strength as far as
Dumfries; Lennox with Morton did all the
mischief that they could in the North against
Mary's friends. On capturing the castle of
Brechin, they hung thirty-four of its defenders.
Mary's energetic appeals to the Kings of
France and Spain induced Elizabeth to pause
in her wild career. Perhaps the offer to
Elizabeth of the hand of the Duke of Anjou,
the favourite son of Catharine de Medici, had
also a softening influence.
At anyrate, about August, 1570, it was
rumoured that negotiations for the restoration
of the Scottish Queen were on foot. The
conclusion of the Westminster Conference
had proven how groundless the charges
against Mary were; yet Lord Keeper Bacon
declared that rather than see Mary restored
to her throne by the help of France, he would,
with his own hand, cut her head off. It is
not easy to know if this language was agreeable
to Elizabeth, but this we do know, that
Cecil and the others now made the reason for
retaining Mary a prisoner, not that she had
murdered Darnley, but that she encouraged
rebellion in the north of England. However,
the negotiations to restore Mary were pushed
forward to please the Duke of Anjou, and
Cecil was sent to Chatsworth to Mary. He
was accompanied by Sir Walter Mildmay.
"He and I," wrote Cecil, "are sent to the
Scottish Queen. God be our guide, for
neither of us like the message." Cecil and
the Chancellor reached Chatsworth in the
beginning of October. They both seem to
have felt Mary's power of fascination, and
soon saw that three years' confinement and
bad usage had not weakened her intellect or
broken her independent spirit. On no account
would Mary listen to Cecil's proposal that
Elizabeth should get possession of the castles
of Edinburgh and Dumbarton. He did not
venture to try again to get accepted his treaty
of Edinburgh, but contented himself with geting
Mary's assent that her succession to the
English throne was only barred in the event
"of God not giving to her Majesty any
issue of her body". The wise and witty
Mary made the amendment, "any lawful issue,"
and the erudite statesman did as the Queen
of Scots bade him, and added the words.
Other terms and conditions were settled at
Chatsworth, and it looked as if Mary was to
be restored to Scotland. Meanwhile Elizabeth
was amusing herself with the Duke of
Anjou, a lover young enough to be a son,
whom at one time, "for her country's good,"
she would wed; at another, she would not;
then she had doubts if so young a prince
would be faithful to her; then, as if convinced
he wouldn't, she, with an oath, declared that
she would remain the maiden Queen. In
Scotland, Mary's enemies, led on by the
Regent Lennox, were wreaking their private
vengeance all around, and Mary's heart was
wrung by being told that Lennox was teaching
her five years' old child to speak of her in the
most odious and offensive terms. The sickness
with which Mary was now seized, Fenelon
said, "was more owing to this cruel blow
to her affections, than to all her other troubles".
Change of air was recommended, and she was
taken to Sheffield Castle, where fourteen of
her prison years of life were spent. After
a long and severe illness Mary recovered,
only to find the Chatsworth Treaty set aside,
and three of her worst foes, the Earl of
Morton, the Abbot of Dunfermline, and James
Macgill, in London, with Elizabeth and Cecil —
Abusin' hir, accusin' hir,
With serpint wordis fell,
Of reivers and rebeillis,
Lyk hiddeous houndis of hell.
The Troublous Pilgrimage Ends
My son, my son, may kinder stars
Upon thy fortune shine,
And may these pleasures gild thy reign
That ne'er wad blink on mine.
God keep thee frae thy mither's foes,
Or turn their hearts to thee,
And when thou meetest thy mither's friend,
Remember him for me.
— Lament of Mary.
NOTHING but evidence of cruellest injustice
is to be met with by following
Mary from prison to prison at the bidding of
the fears of Elizabeth and her ministers. The
record is a sickening one, and the story is
humiliating to our national pride. Scotland's
old chivalry had gone out with an evil odour
like a tallow candle in the silver socket. We
had a hundred harnessed warriors slaughtering
a poor deformed Italian flute-player! For
Randolph we had the canting Moray; for
good Sir James, Morton; and
For well-skilled Bruce to rule the fight,
And cry St. Andrew and our right,
we had that cowardly pedant, "James the
Sext". Yes, yes; it is well to abridge the
record of the years that follow. They are but
a repetition of the same story. By all laws,
human and divine, Mary had every right to
do whatever ingenuity could devise to effect
her escape from England. She was held a
captive against all law, and anything almost
was justifiable that could set her free from
the toils of Elizabeth and Cecil. Mary had
little political knowledge or skill, she was
always pardoning and trusting. Her reliance
on Elizabeth's word passes everything in the
way of credulity. She might have learned
that neither Elizabeth nor Cecil could speak
the truth, nor make a promise save to deceive.
But her very innocence and trustfulness prove
that she was the martyr for her faith which
the Catholic Church has ever declared her to
be; and which, Protestant as I am, from my
soul I thoroughly believe she was. "There is
a transparency in character which cannot be
hid," and Mary was worshipped by her attendants
and respected by her jailors during all the
nineteen years of her "living death". Had
she been a bad or an irreligious or even a
careless woman, it is not according to nature
that she could have concealed her real character
for such a length of time; and that not
even her enemies dare accuse her of other than
the noblest demeanour during her captivity
is triumphant evidence that in her Humanity
had been blessed alike with a woman of sweet
and gracious nature and with a Sovereign
informed and resolved to do the right beyond
most the world has seen. After years of
manœuvring and all sorts of efforts on Elizabeth's
part to get Mary taken out of the way,
"without her knowing!" she, on the afternoon
of the 2nd February, 1587, caused word to be
written to the jailors of her captive that she
did note in both of them "a lack of that care
and zeal in her service that she looketh for at
your hands, in that you have not in all this
time of yourselves found out some way to
shorten the life of the Queen". After causing
this letter to be sent to Fotheringay, the
pious Elizabeth waited for another five days,
in the fruitless hope that, without committing
herself, Mary's life might be taken. The hate
of Elizabeth could not be infused into the
minds of the jailors of the captive Queen,
and so, on the 7th February, Mary's death
warrant, signed by Elizabeth, was read to Mary.
Then, in the hall of the castle of Fotheringay
the next morning, about eight o'clock, the
heroic and chastened spirit of Mary Stuart
returned to its Creator. On the way to
the scaffold, on seeing Sir Andrew Melvill
in tears, she said, "Weep not, good Melvill,
there is at present greater cause for rejoicing.
Thou shalt this day see Mary Stuart delivered
from all her cares, and such an end
put to her tedious sufferings as she has long
expected. Bear witness that I die constant
in my religion; firm in my fidelity towards
Scotland; and unchanged in my affection to
France. Commend me to my son. Tell him
I have done nothing injurious to his kingdom,
to his honour, or to his rights; and God forgive
all those who have thirsted, without
cause, for my blood." Almost her last words
were: "As Thy arms, O Jesus, were spread
upon the cross, receive me, receive me, into
Thy arms, oh, my God".
Incredible though it may seem, on the
very day following, Elizabeth Tudor wrote
to James Stuart, King of Scotland, only son
of his martyred mother :
"My dear Brother,
I would you knew, though not felt,
the extreme dolour that overwhelmeth my mind
for that miserable accident which, far contrary
to my meaning, hath befallen!"


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Mary Queen of Scots: A Narrative and Defence. 2024. In The Corpus of Modern Scottish Writing. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved 28 February 2024, from

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Mary Queen of Scots: A Narrative and Defence

Document Information

Document ID 41
Title Mary Queen of Scots: A Narrative and Defence
Year group 1850-1900
Genre Expository prose
Year of publication 1889
Wordcount 33962

Author information: Walker, Reverend Alexander

Author ID 39
Title Reverend
Forenames Alexander
Surname Walker
Gender Male
Year of birth 1825