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Mary's Marriage Personal Appearance And Popularity

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

Occurrences Immediately Preceding Darnley's Death

A Tangle

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

The Little Waif


The Fall Of Bothwell

Mary's Birth And Subsequent Residence At The French Court

Mary's Escape From Lochleven And The Battle Of Langside

Least Viewed

The Love Token

Loch Leven Castle

The Ebbing Well

Before The Commissioners

My Lady's Remorse

The Huckstering Woman

Wingfield Manor

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

Mary's Eighteen Years' Captivity

A Lioness At Bay

Mary's Marriage Personal Appearance And Popularity

The time now approached when Henry began to think of confirming the French
authority in Scotland, by consummating the contract of marriage which had
so long existed between Francis and Mary. This was not, however, to be
done without considerable opposition from several quarters. The Constable
Montmorency, and the House of Bourbon, already trembled at the growing
influence of the Guises, plainly foreseeing, that as soon as the niece of
the Duke and Cardinal of Lorraine became wife to the Dauphin, and
consequently, upon Henry's death, Queen of France, their own influence
would be at an end. It is not improbable that Montmorency aimed at
marrying one of his own sons to Mary. At all events, he endeavoured to
persuade Henry that he might find a more advantageous alliance for
Francis. The Guises, however, were not thus to be overreached; and the
King more willingly listened to their powerful representations in favour
of the match, as it had long been a favourite scheme with himself. It
would be uncharitable to ascribe to the agency of any of those who
opposed it, an attempt which was made some time before by a person of the
name of Stuart, a Scottish archer in the King's guards, to poison Mary.
Stuart being detected, was tried, condemned, and executed, but made no
confession which could lead to any discovery of his motives. It is most
likely that he had embraced the reformed religion, and was actuated by a
fanatical desire to save his country from the dominion of a Catholic

Francis, the young Dauphin, who was much about Mary's own age, was far
inferior to her, both in personal appearance and mental endowments. He was
of a very weakly constitution; and the energies of his mind seem to have
been repressed by the feebleness of his body. But if unable to boast of
any distinguishing virtues, he was undegraded by the practice of any vice.
He was amiable, timid, affectionate, and shy. He was aware of his want of
physical strength, and feared lest the more robust should make it a
subject of ridicule. He appears to have loved Mary with the tenderest
affection, being probably anxious to atone to her, by every mark of
devotion, for the sacrifice he must have seen she was making in
surrendering herself to him, in all the lustre of her charms. Yet there is
good reason to believe that Mary really loved Francis. They had been
playmates from infancy; they had prosecuted all their studies together;
and though Francis cared little for the pleasures of society, and rather
shunned than encouraged those who wished to pay their court to him, Mary
was aware that, for this very reason, he was only the more sincere in his
passion for her. It was not in Mary's nature to be indifferent to those
who evinced affection for her; and if her fondness for Francis were
mingled with pity, it has long been asserted, that "pity is akin to love".

On the 24th of April 1558, the nuptials took place. In December the
preceding year, a letter from Henry had been laid before the Scotch
Parliament, requesting that some persons of rank should be sent over from
Scotland as Commissioners to witness the marriage; and in compliance with
this desire, the Lord James, Prior of St Andrews, and eight other persons
of distinction, arrived at the French Court in March 1558. Their
instructions commanded them to guard against French encroachments, upon
the rights and privileges of Scottish subjects; and, that no doubt might
remain regarding the right of succession to the Scottish throne, they were
to obtain from the King of France a ratification of his former promise, to
aid and support the Duke of Chatelherault in his claims upon the crown, in
case Mary died without issue. They were also to require a declaration to a
similar effect from the Queen and Dauphin. All these demands were at once
complied with.

It has been alleged, however, that a very gross deceit was practised, upon
this occasion, by the French Court. It is said, that though, to satisfy
the Scotch Commissioners, all their requests were ostensibly granted,
Henry took secret measures to render these grants entirely inefficacious.
Mary, it is asserted, on the 4th of April, signed three papers, in the
first of which she made over the kingdom of Scotland in free gift to the
King of France, to be enjoyed by him and his heirs, should she die without
children; in the second, (lest it might not be deemed expedient to insist
upon the first,) she assigned to the King of France the possession of
Scotland, after her decease without children, till he should be reimbursed
of a million pieces of gold, or any greater sum which he should be found
to have expended on her during her residence in France; and, in the third,
she protested, that whatever declarations she might subscribe, in
compliance with the desire of the Scotch Parliament, touching the lineal
succession of her crown, the genuine sense of her mind was contained only
in the two preceding papers. If this dishonourable transaction really
took place, whilst it cannot involve Mary, a young and inexperienced girl
of fifteen, in any serious blame, it certainly reflects the highest
discredit both upon Henry and his advisers of the house of Guise. There is
good reason, however, to believe, that these instruments, though they
unquestionably exist, are forgeries. It was not an uncommon trick in those
times, for the Reformers to stir up jealousy against a Catholic sovereign,
by alleging, that he had promised away his country to some well known
papist. The Prince of Conde, in December 1568, was not aware of the
authenticity of any such papers; for, if he had been, he would undoubtedly
have mentioned them when he asked Elizabeth's assistance to establish the
Protestant religion in France. On the contrary, he trumps up a ridiculous
story, to which no one has ever given any credit, that Mary had ceded her
right to the crown of England, in behalf of the King of France's brother,
Henry Duke of Anjou. After Mary's death, it was confidently reported, and
with equal falsehood, that by her testament she had left England to the
King of Spain, unless her son became a Roman Catholic. There is, besides,
internal evidence of a striking nature, that these deeds were forgeries.
For its discovery, we are indebted to the industry and research of

Some of the provisions in the marriage-contract between Francis and Mary,
are sufficiently remarkable to deserve being recorded. The jointure
assigned by it to the Queen, provided her husband died King of France, is
60,000 livres, or a greater sum, if a greater had ever been given to a
Queen of France. If her husband died only Dauphin, the jointure was to be
30,000 livres. The eldest son of the marriage was to be King of France and
Scotland; and if there were no sons, the eldest daughter was to be Queen
of Scotland only, with a portion of 400,000 crowns, as a daughter of
France,--every younger daughter being allowed 300,000 crowns. Should her
husband die, Mary was to be at liberty either to remain in France or
return to Scotland, with an assurance that her jointure would be always
duly paid her. The Dauphin was to bear the name and title of King of
Scotland, and enjoy all the privileges of the crown-matrimonial.

The marriage, for which so many preparations had thus been made, was
solemnized in the church of Notre Dame, the ceremony being performed by
the Cardinal of Bourbon, Archbishop of Rouen. Upon this occasion, the
festivities were graced by the presence of all the most illustrious
personages of the Court of France; and when Francis, taking a ring from
his finger, presented it to the Archbishop, who, pronouncing the
benediction, placed it on the young Queen's finger, the vaulted roof of
the Cathedral rung with congratulations, and the multitude without rent
the air with joyful shouts. The spectacle was altogether one of the most
imposing which, even in that age of spectacles, had been seen in Paris.
The procession, upon leaving the church, proceeded to the palace of the
Archbishop, where a magnificent collation was prepared,--largess, as it
moved along, being proclaimed among the people, in the name of the King
and Queen of Scots. In the afternoon, the royal party returned to the
palace of the Tournelles--Catherine de Medicis and Mary sitting together
in the same palanquin, and a Cardinal walking on each side. Henry and
Francis followed on horseback, with a long line of princes and princesses
in their train. The chronicler of these nuptials is unable to conceal his
rapture, when he describes the manner in which the palace had been
prepared for their reception. Its whole appearance, he tells us, was
"light and beautiful as Elysium." During supper, which was served upon a
marble table in the great hall, the King's band of "one hundred gentlemen"
poured forth delicious strains of music. The members of Parliament
attended in their robes; and the princes of the blood performed the duty
of servitors--the Duke of Guise acting as master of the ceremonies. The
banquet being concluded, a series of the most magnificent masks and
mummeries, prepared for the occasion, was introduced. In the pageant,
twelve artificial horses, of admirable mechanism, covered with cloth of
gold, and ridden by the young heirs of noble houses, attracted deserved
attention. They were succeeded by six galleys, which sailed into the hall,
each rich as Cleopatra's barge, and bearing on its deck two seats, the one
filled by a young cavalier, who, as he advanced, carried off from among
the spectators, and gently placed in the vacant chair, the lady of his
love. A splendid tournament concluded these rejoicings.

During the whole of these solemnities, every eye was fixed on the youthful
Mary; and, inspired by those feelings which beauty seldom fails to excite,
every heart offered up prayers for her future welfare and happiness. She
was now at that age when feminine loveliness is perhaps most attractive.
It is not to be supposed, indeed, that in her sixteenth year, her charms
had ripened into that full-blown maturity which they afterwards attained;
but they were, on this account, only the more fascinating. Some have
conjectured that Mary's beauty has been extolled far beyond its real
merits; and it cannot be denied that many vague and erroneous notions
exist regarding it. But that her countenance possessed in a pre-eminent
degree the something which constitutes beauty, is sufficiently attested by
the unanimous declaration of all cotemporary writers. It is only, however,
by carefully gathering together hints scattered here and there, that any
accurate idea can be formed of the lineaments of a countenance which has
so long ceased to exist, unless in the fancy of the enthusiast. Generally
speaking, Mary's features were more Grecian than Roman, though without the
insipidity that would have attached to them, had they been exactly
regular. Her nose exceeded a little the Grecian proportion in length. Her
hair was very nearly of the same colour as James V.'s--dark yellow, or
auburn, and, like his, clustered in luxuriant ringlets. Her eyes,--which
some writers, misled by the thousand blundering portraits of her scattered
everywhere, conceive to have been gray, or blue, or hazel,--were of a
chestnut colour,--darker, yet matching well with her auburn hair. Her brow
was high, open, and prominent. Her lips were full and expressive, as the
lips of the Stuarts generally were; and she had a small dimple in her
chin. Her complexion was clear, and very fair, without a great deal of
colour in her cheeks. Her mother was a woman of large stature, and Mary
was also above the common size. Her person was finely proportioned, and
her carriage exceedingly graceful and dignified.

In this description of Mary's personal appearance, we have placed a good
deal of reliance on the research and accuracy of Chalmers. It will be
observed, that our account differs, in many essential particulars, from
that of Robertson, who says--"Mary's hair was black, though, according to
the fashion of that age, she frequently wore borrowed locks, and of
different colours. Her eyes were a dark gray; her complexion was
exquisitely fine; and her hands and arms remarkably delicate, both as to
shape and colour. Her stature was of an height that rose to the majestic."
Where Robertson discovered that Mary's hair was black, or her eyes gray,
he does not mention. That her eyes were not black, we have the direct
testimony of Beal, Clerk to the Privy Council of England, who was ordered
by Cecil to be present at the death of the Scottish Queen, and who
describes her as having "chestnut-coloured eyes." As to her hair, and her
other features, though Melville, in his Memoirs, certainly seems to imply
that the former was auburn, yet, as he does not expressly say so, we
suspect correct conclusions can be arrived at only by a reference to the
best authenticated portraits which have been preserved of Mary. This,
however, is far from being a criterion by which opinions should be rashly
formed. There are few persons in the whole range of history, likenesses of
whom have been more eagerly sought after; and, in proportion to the
anxiety manifested to secure originals, has been the temptation to mislead
and deceive. Almost all the paintings said to be originals of Mary Queen
of Scots, are the impositions of picture-dealers. When the demand for
these paintings became general, it was not at all unusual to despatch
emissaries over the Continent to pick up every picture, the costume and
general appearance of which in the least resembled the Scottish Queen.
During Mary's life, and for some time after her death, the fame of her
beauty, and the interest attached to her fortunes, induced numerous ladies
of rank, who flattered themselves that they were like her, to have
portraits painted in the style then well understood by the phrase a la
Mary Stuart. There was, in particular, a celebrated Continental beauty of
those days--a Countess of Mansfeldt--(we speak on the authority of a
living artist of celebrity), who resembled Mary in many particulars, and
all whose portraits (nor were they few in number) when they afterwards
came into the hands of the picture-dealers, were affirmed to be Maries.
Thus, in the lapse of years, the truth became so involved in uncertainty,
that even Robertson, allowing himself to be too hastily misled, has lent
his name to the dissemination of error.

Horace Walpole, after having made extensive inquiries on this subject, has
recorded, that he never could ascertain the authenticity and originality
of any portrait of Mary, except of that in the possession of the Earl of
Morton, which was painted when she was at Lochleven. Chalmers, in order to
come as near the truth as possible, employed Mr Pailou, an artist of
ability, to compare the picture belonging to the Earl of Morton, with two
or three other undoubted originals which have been discovered since
Walpole wrote. Pailou commenced by sketching the outline of his picture
from Lord Morton's original. He then proceeded to the examination of
three genuine portraits of Mary, one in the Church of St Andrew in
Antwerp, another in the Scotch College at Douay, and a third in the Scotch
College at Paris. Neither did he forget the profile heads of Mary struck
upon her coins, nor the marble figure representing her on her tomb in
Henry VII's Chapel, which Walpole thought a correct likeness. Mr Pailou
thus made Lord Morton's picture the basis of his own, but, as he advanced,
constantly referred to the others, "till he got the whole adjusted and
coloured." Though we cannot exactly approve of thus cooking up a picture
from various different sources, and should be inclined to think, that too
much was left by such a mode of procedure to the arbitrary taste of the
artist, we nevertheless feel satisfied that Mr Pailou has hit upon a
tolerably accurate likeness. His picture, engraved by Scriven, forms the
frontispiece to the second volume of Chalmers's work. The brow, eyes,
mouth, and chin, he has given with great success. But the painting is far
from being without faults;--the face is a good deal too round and plump,
the nose is made slightly aquiline--a decided mistake,--and the neck is
much too short, at least so it appears in the engraving.

The portrait of Mary, which forms the frontispiece to the present volume,
and on which we place greater reliance than on any with which we are
acquainted, is an engraving executed expressly for this work, from an
original picture of much merit. It was painted when Mary was in
France, by an Italian artist of eminence, who flourished as her
cotemporary in the sixteenth century, and whose name is on the canvas. It
would have been impossible to say at what precise age it represented Mary,
though, from the juvenility of the countenance, it might have been
concluded that it was taken a year or two before she became Dauphiness,
had not the painter fortunately obviated the difficulty, by inserting
immediately after his own signature the date, which is 1556, when she was
just fourteen. It is upon this picture that we have chiefly founded our
description of Mary's personal appearance. What gives us the greater
confidence in its authenticity and accuracy, is, that it very exactly
corresponds with two other portraits, believed on good grounds to be
originals. This is a strong circumstance, for it is a very common and just
remark, that almost no two likenesses of Mary agree. The paintings to
which we allude are, first, one at the seat of Logie Almond, which
represents Mary at the same age, but in a religious habit. It gives
precisely the same view of the left side of the face as the engraving in
this volume does of the right. From the style and other circumstances, it
is very probable, that both pictures were painted by the same artist. The
second is in the possession of his Grace the Duke of Hamilton, and is in
one of the private apartments at Hamilton palace. It represents Mary at a
somewhat more advanced period of life, but the features are quite the
same. There is still a third picture, said to be an original, in the
collection of the Marquis of Salisbury, at Hatfield House, and which has
been engraved for Miss Benger's Memoirs, which very closely resembles our
own. To be yet more assured, we have carefully examined the heads upon
Mary's gold and silver coins. Some of these are inaccurate, but they have
all a general resemblance to each other. A silver coin, of 1561, and the
gold real stamped in 1562, agree minutely with our picture,--a
circumstance which cannot but be considered a strong corroboration of its
truth. It is unnecessary to make any apology to the reader for having
entered thus minutely upon a subject of so much general interest.

With regard to the asseverations of cotemporary writers, as to the effects
which Mary's beauty produced, many of them are almost too extravagant to
be believed. They prove, nevertheless, that, whatever beauty may be,
whether a mere fortunate arrangement of material atoms, or a light
suffused upon the face, from the secret and etherial mind, it was a gift
which Nature had lavishly bestowed on Mary. A year or two previous to her
marriage, when walking in a religious procession, through the streets of
Paris, with a lighted torch in her hand, a woman among the crowd was so
struck with her appearance, that she could not help stopping her to
ask,--"Are you not indeed an angel?" Brantome, with more questionable
sincerity, compares her, at the age of fifteen, to the sun at mid-day. He
tells us also, that the brother of Francis, afterwards Charles IX., never
saw even a picture of Mary, without lingering to gaze upon it, declaring
passionately, that he looked upon Francis as the happiest man on earth, to
possess a creature of so much loveliness. Nay, Brantome even goes the
length of asserting, that no man ever saw Mary who did not lose his heart
to her. He is pleased, likewise, with some naivete, to pay her several
high compliments at the expense of her native country. It appears that
Mary, amidst all the gaieties of the French Court, had not forgot her
early residence at Inchmahome, in the quiet lake of Monteith. Actuated by
these recollections and other motives, she delighted to testify her regard
for Scotland in various ways; and, among others, by frequently wearing in
public the graceful Highland costume. The rich and national Stuart tartan
became her exceedingly; and Brantome, who seems to have been greatly
puzzled by the novelty of the dress, is nevertheless forced to declare,
that when arrayed after "the barbarous fashion of the savages of her
country, she appeared a goddess in a mortal body, and in a most outre and
astonishing garb." Mary herself, was so fond of this costume, that she
wore it in one of the portraits which were taken of her in France. If she
appeared so beautiful thus "habillee a la sauvage," exclaims Brantome,
"what must she not be in her rich and lovely robes made a la Francaise,
ou l'Espagnole, or with a bonnet a l'Italienne; or in her flowing white
dress, contending in vain with the whiteness of her skin!" Even when she
sung, and accompanied herself upon the lute, Brantome found occasion to
discover a new beauty,--"her soft snowy hand and fingers, fairer than
Aurora's." "Ah royaume d'Escosse!" he touchingly adds, "Je croy que,
maintenant, vos jours sont encore bien plus courts qu'ils n'estoient, et
vos nuits plus longues, puisque vous avez perdu cette Princesse qui vos
illuminoit!" The historian, Castelnau, in like manner, pronounces Mary
"the most beautiful and accomplished of her sex;" and Mezeray tells us,
that "Nature had bestowed upon her every thing that is necessary to form a
complete beauty;" adding, that "by the study of the liberal arts and
sciences, especially painting, music, and poetry, she had so embellished
her natural good qualities, that she appeared to be the most amiable
Princess in Christendom." On the occasion of her marriage, not only were
the brains of all the jewellers, embroiderers, and tailors of Paris put in
requisition, but a whole host of French poets felt themselves suddenly
inspired. Epithalamiums poured in from all quarters, spiced with flattery
of all kinds, few of which have been borne down the stream of time so
honourably for their author's abilities as that of Buchanan, who, having
long struggled with poverty, had at last risen to independence, under the
patronage of Cardinal Lorraine. This poem is well known, but is not more
complimentary than that of Joachim du Bellay, who, after comparing Mary to
Venus, concludes his song with these lines:--

"Par une chaine a sa langue attachee
Hercule a soi les peuple attiroit;
Mais celle ci tire ceux qu'elle voit
Par une chaine a ses beaux yeux attachee."

Homage, so general, cannot have been entirely misplaced, or very palpably

In Scotland, through the instigation of the Queen Regent, Mary's nuptials,
which were far from being agreeable to a numerous party, were celebrated
with probably less sincere, and certainly much more homely expressions of
pleasure. Orders were sent to the different towns "to make fyres and
processions general." Mons-Meg, the celebrated great gun of Edinburgh
Castle, was fired once; and there is a charge of ten shillings in the
treasurer's accounts of that year paid to certain persons for bringing up
the cannon "to be schote, and for the finding and carrying of her bullet
after she was schote frae Wardie Muir to the Castel of Edinburgh,"--a
distance of about two miles. A play was also enacted, but of what kind it
is difficult to say, at the expense of the city of Edinburgh.

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