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Mary's Marriage Personal Appearance And Popularity

Mary The Queen Dauphiness The Queen And The Queen Dowager Of France

A Tangle

An Examination Of The Letters Sonnets And Other Writings Adduced In Evidence Against Mary Queen Of Scots

Occurrences Immediately Preceding Darnley's Death

The Little Waif

Paul's Walk



Mary's Birth And Subsequent Residence At The French Court

Least Viewed

Return To Scotland

The Bewitched Whistle

Hunting Down The Deer

My Lady's Remorse

The Love Token

Queen Mary's Presence Chamber

Mary's Reception In England And The Conferences At York And Westminster

Mary's Eighteen Years' Captivity

Ten Years After

Before The Commissioners

Mary At Lochleven Her Abdication And Murray's Regency

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next: Mary's Escape From Lochleven And The Battle Of Langside

Previous: The Rebellion Of The Nobles The Meeting At Carberry Hill And Its Consequences

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