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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

Occurrences Immediately Preceding Darnley's Death

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

The Little Waif

Rizzio

Addendum

Mary's Birth And Subsequent Residence At The French Court

The Fall Of Bothwell



Least Viewed

Loch Leven Castle

The Ebbing Well

The Love Token

My Lady's Remorse

Wingfield Manor

Return To Scotland

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

Mary's Eighteen Years' Captivity

Ten Years After

Unquiet






Mary's Eighteen Years' Captivity








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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elizabeth was extremely anxious to implicate Mary in Norfolk's guilt, and,
for this purpose, sent Commissioners to her to reproach her with her
offences. Mary heard all they had to say with the utmost calmness; and,
when they called upon her for her answer, she replied, that though she was
a free Queen, and did not consider herself accountable, either to them or
their mistress, she had, nevertheless, no hesitation to assure them of the
injustice of their accusations. She protested that she had never imagined
any detriment to Elizabeth by her marriage with Norfolk,--that she had
never encouraged him to raise rebellion, or been privy to it, but was, on

the contrary, most ready to reveal any conspiracy against the Queen of
England which might come to her ears,--that though Rodolphi had been of
use to her in the transmission of letters abroad, she had never received
any from him,--that as to attempting an escape, she willingly gave ear to
all who offered to assist her, and in hope of effecting her deliverance,
had corresponded with several in cipher,--that so far from having any hand
in the Bull of excommunication, when a copy of it was sent her, she burned
it after she had read it,--and that she held no communication with any
foreign State, upon any matters unconnected with her restoration to her
own kingdom. Satisfied with this reply, the Commissioners returned to
London.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In 1581, Mary made a still more melancholy representation of her
condition. "I am reduced to such an excessive weakness," she says,
"especially in my legs, that I am not able to walk a hundred steps, and
yet I am at this moment better than I have been for these six months past.
Ever since last Easter, I have been obliged to make my servants carry me
in a chair; and you may judge how seldom I am thus transported from one
spot to another, when there are so few people about me fit for such an
employment." In the midst of all this distress, it was only from
resources within herself that she was able to derive any consolation. Her
religious duties she attended to with the strictest care, and devoted much
of her time to reading and writing. At rare intervals, she remembered her

early cultivation of the Muses; and she even yet attempted occasionally to
beguile the time with the charms of poetry. She produced several short
poetical compositions during her imprisonment; and of these, the following
Sonnet, embodying so simply and forcibly her own feelings, cannot fail to
be read with peculiar interest:

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

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

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





Next: Mary's Trial And Condemnation

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



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