Bothwell





1566-1567



Earl of Bothwell.--His desperate character.--Castle of Dunbar.--The

border country.--Scenes of violence and blood.--Birth of James.--Its

political importance.--Darnley's conduct.--Darnley's hypocrisy.--Mary's

dejection.--A divorce proposed.--Mary's love for her child.--Baptism

of the infant.--James's titles.--The prince's cradle.--Bothwell and

Murray.--Mary's visit to Bothwell.--Its probable motive.--Plot for

Darnley's destruction.--Bothwell's intrigues.--Desperate schemes

attributed to Darnley.--His illness.--Mary's visit.--Return

to Edinburgh.--Situation of Darnley's residence.--Kirk of

Field.--Description of Darnley's residence.--Plan of Darnley's

house.--Its accommodations.--French Paris.--The gunpowder.--A

wedding.--Details of the plot.--The powder placed in Mary's room.--The

big cask.--Bothwell's effrontery.--Mary's leave of Darnley.--Was Mary

privy to the plot?--Anecdotes of Mary.--Return to Holyrood.--French

Paris falters.--The convent gardens.--Laying the train.--Suspense.--The

explosion.--Flight of the criminals.--Mary's indignation.--Bothwell

arrested, tried, and acquitted.--Bothwell's challenge.--His plan to

marry Mary.--The abduction.--Mary's confinement at Dunbar.--Her account

of it.--Bothwell entreats Mary to marry him.--She consents.--Bothwell's

pardon.--The marriage.--Doubts in respect to Mary.--Influence of beauty

and misfortune.





The Earl of Bothwell was a man of great energy of character, fearless

and decided in all that he undertook, and sometimes perfectly

reckless and uncontrollable. He was in Scotland at the time of Mary's

return from France, but he was so turbulent and unmanageable that he

was at one time sent into banishment. He was, however, afterward

recalled, and again intrusted with power. He entered ardently into

Mary's service in her contest with the murderers of Rizzio. He

assisted her in raising an army after her flight, and in conquering

Morton, Ruthven, and the rest, and driving them out of the country.

Mary soon began to look upon him as, notwithstanding his roughness,

her best and most efficient friend. As a reward for these services,

she granted him a castle, situated in a romantic position on the

eastern coast of Scotland. It was called the Castle of Dunbar. It was

on a stormy promontory, overlooking the German Ocean: a very

appropriate retreat and fastness for such a man of iron as he.



In those days, the border country between England and Scotland was

the resort of robbers, freebooters, and outlaws from both lands. If

pursued by one government, they could retreat across the line and be

safe. Incursions, too, were continually made across this frontier by

the people of either side, to plunder or to destroy whatever property

was within reach. Thus the country became a region of violence and

bloodshed which all men of peace and quietness were glad to shun.

They left it to the possession of men who could find pleasure in such

scenes of violence and blood. When Queen Mary had got quietly settled

in her government, after the overthrow of the murderers of Rizzio, as

she thus no longer needed Bothwell's immediate aid, she sent him to

this border country to see if he could enforce some sort of order

among its lawless population.



The birth of Mary's son was an event of the greatest importance, not

only to her personally, but in respect to the political prospects of

the two great kingdoms, for in this infant were combined the claims

of succession to both the Scotch and English crowns. The whole world

knew that if Elizabeth should die without leaving a direct heir,

this child would become the monarch both of England and Scotland,

and, as such, one of the greatest personages in Europe. His birth,

therefore, was a great event, and it was celebrated in Scotland with

universal rejoicings. The tidings of it spread, as news of great

public interest, all over Europe. Even Elizabeth pretended to be

pleased, and sent messages of congratulation to Mary. But every one

thought that they could see in her air and manner, when she received

the intelligence, obvious traces of mortification and chagrin.



Mary's heart was filled, at first, with maternal pride and joy; but

her happiness was soon sadly alloyed by Darnley's continued

unkindness. She traveled about during the autumn, from castle to

castle, anxious and ill at ease. Sometimes Darnley followed her, and

sometimes he amused himself with hunting, and with various vicious

indulgences, at different towns and castles at a distance from her.

He wanted her to dismiss her ministry and put him into power, and he

took every possible means to importune or tease her into compliance

with this plan. At one time he said he had resolved to leave

Scotland, and go and reside in France, and he pretended to make his

preparations, and to be about to take his leave. He seems to have

thought that Mary, though he knew that she no longer loved him, would

be distressed at the idea of being abandoned by one who was, after

all, her husband. Mary was, in fact, distressed at this proposal, and

urged him not to go. He seemed determined, and took his leave.

Instead of going to France, however, he only went to Stirling Castle.



Darnley, finding that he could not accomplish his aims by such

methods as these, wrote, it is said, to the Catholic governments of

Europe, proposing that, if they would co-operate in putting him into

power in Scotland, he would adopt efficient measures for changing the

religion of the country from the Protestant to the Catholic faith. He

made, too, every effort to organize a party in his favor in Scotland,

and tried to defeat and counteract the influence of Mary's government

by every means in his power. These things, and other trials and

difficulties connected with them, weighed very heavily upon Mary's

mind. She sunk gradually into a state of great dejection and

despondency. She spent many hours in sighing and in tears, and often

wished that she was in her grave.



So deeply, in fact, was Mary plunged into distress and trouble by the

state of things existing between herself and Darnley, that some of

her officers of government began to conceive of a plan of having her

divorced from him. After looking at this subject in all its bearings,

and consulting about it with each other, they ventured, at last, to

propose it to Mary. She would not listen to any such plan. She did

not think a divorce could be legally accomplished. And then, if it

were to be done, it would, she feared, in some way or other, affect

the position and rights of the darling son who was now to her more

than all the world besides. She would rather endure to the end of her

days the tyranny and torment she experienced from her brutal husband,

than hazard in the least degree the future greatness and glory of the

infant who was lying in his cradle before her, equally unconscious of

the grandeur which awaited him in future years, and of the strength

of the maternal love which was smiling upon him from amid such sorrow

and tears, and extending over him such gentle, but determined and

effectual protection.



The sad and sorrowful feelings which Mary endured were interrupted

for a little time by the splendid pageant of the baptism of the

child. Embassadors came from all the important courts of the

Continent to do honor to the occasion. Elizabeth sent the Earl of

Bedford as her embassador, with a present of a baptismal font of

gold, which had cost a sum equal to five thousand dollars. The

baptism took place at Stirling, in December, with every possible

accompaniment of pomp and parade, and was followed by many days of

festivities and rejoicing. The whole country were interested in the

event except Darnley, who declared sullenly, while the preparations

were making, that he should not remain to witness the ceremony, but

should go off a day or two before the appointed time.



The ceremony was performed in the chapel. The child was baptized

under the names of "Charles James, James Charles, Prince and Steward

of Scotland, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Lord of the Isles,

and Baron of Renfrew." His subsequent designation in history was

James Sixth of Scotland and First of England. A great many

appointments of attendants and officers, to be attached to the

service of the young prince, were made immediately, most of them, of

course, mere matters of parade. Among the rest, five ladies of

distinction were constituted "rockers of his cradle." The form of

the young prince's cradle has come down to us in an ancient drawing.



[Illustration: PRINCE JAMES'S CRADLE.]



In due time after the coronation, the various embassadors and

delegates returned to their respective courts, carrying back glowing

accounts of the ceremonies and festivities attendant upon the

christening, and of the grace, and beauty, and loveliness of the

queen.



In the mean time, Bothwell and Murray were competitors for the

confidence and regard of the queen, and it began to seem probable

that Bothwell would win the day. Mary, in one of her excursions, was

traveling in the southern part of the country, when she heard that he

had been wounded in an encounter with a party of desperadoes near the

border. Moved partly, perhaps, by compassion, and partly by

gratitude for his services, Mary made an expedition across the

country to pay him a visit. Some say that she was animated by a more

powerful motive than either of these. In fact this, as well as almost

all the other acts of Mary's life, are presented in very different

lights by her friends and her enemies. The former say that this visit

to her lieutenant in his confinement from a wound received in her

service was perfectly proper, both in the design itself, and in all

the circumstances of its execution. The latter represent it as an

instance of highly indecorous eagerness on the part of a married lady

to express to another man a sympathy and kind regard which she had

ceased to feel for her husband.



Bothwell himself was married as well as Mary. He had been married but

a few months to a beautiful lady a few years younger than the queen.

The question, however, whether Mary did right or wrong in paying this

visit to him, is not, after all, a very important one. There is no

doubt that she and Bothwell loved each other before they ought to

have done so, and it is of comparatively little consequence when the

attachment began. The end of it is certain. Bothwell resolved to

kill Darnley, to get divorced from his own wife, and to marry the

queen. The world has never yet settled the question whether she was

herself his accomplice or not in the measures he adopted for

effecting these plans, or whether she only submitted to the result

when Bothwell, by his own unaided efforts, reached it. Each reader

must judge of this question for himself from the facts about to be

narrated.



Bothwell first communicated with the nobles about the court, to get

their consent and approbation to the destruction of the king. They

all appeared to be very willing to have the thing done, but were a

little cautious about involving themselves in the responsibility of

doing it. Darnley was thoroughly hated, despised, and shunned by them

all. Still they were afraid of the consequences of taking his life.

One of them, Morton, asked Bothwell what the queen would think of the

plan. Bothwell said that the queen approved of it. Morton replied,

that if Bothwell would show him an expression of the queen's approval

of the plot, in her own hand-writing, he would join it, otherwise

not. Bothwell failed to furnish this evidence, saying that the queen

was really privy to, and in favor of the plan, but that it was not

to be expected that she would commit herself to it in writing. Was

this all true, or was the pretense only a desperate measure of

Bothwell's to induce Morton to join him?



Most of the leading men about the court, however, either joined the

plot, or so far gave it their countenance and encouragement as to

induce Bothwell to proceed. There were many and strange rumors about

Darnley. One was, that he was actually going to leave the country,

and that a ship was ready for him in the Clyde. Another was, that he

had a plan for seizing the young prince, dethroning Mary, and

reigning himself in her stead, in the prince's name. Other strange

and desperate schemes were attributed to him. In the midst of them,

news came to Mary at Holyrood that he was taken suddenly and

dangerously sick at Glasgow, where he was then residing, and she

immediately went to see him. Was her motive a desire to make one more

attempt to win his confidence and love, and to divert him from the

desperate measures which she feared he was contemplating, or was she

acting as an accomplice with Bothwell, to draw him into the snare in

which he was afterward taken and destroyed?



The result of Mary's visit to her husband, after some time spent with

him in Glasgow, was a proposal that he should return with her to

Edinburgh, where she could watch over him during his convalescence

with greater care. This plan was adopted. He was conveyed on a sort

of litter, by very slow and easy stages, toward Edinburgh. He was on

such terms with the nobles and lords in attendance upon Mary that he

was not willing to go to Holyrood House. Besides, his disorder was

contagious: it is supposed to have been the small-pox; and though he

was nearly recovered, there was still some possibility that the royal

babe might take the infection if the patient came within the same

walls with him. So Mary sent forward to Edinburgh to have a house

provided for him.



[Illustration: VIEW OF EDINBURGH.]



The situation of this house is seen near the city wall on the left, in

the accompanying view of Edinburgh. Holyrood House is the large square

edifice in the fore-ground, and the castle crowns the hill in the

distance. There is now, as there was in the days of Mary, a famous

street extending from Holyrood House to the castle, called the Cannon

Gate at the lower end, and the High Street above. This street, with

the castle at one extremity and Holyrood House at the other, were

the scenes of many of the most remarkable events described in this

narrative.



The residence selected was a house of four rooms, close upon the city

wall. The place was called the Kirk of Field, from a kirk, or

church, which formerly stood near there, in the fields.



This house had two rooms upon the lower floor, with a passage-way

between them. One of these rooms was a kitchen; the other was

appropriated to Mary's use, whenever she was able to be at the place

in attendance upon her husband. Over the kitchen was a room used as a

wardrobe and for servants; and over Mary's room was the apartment for

Darnley. There was an opening through the city wall in the rear of

this dwelling, by which there was access to the kitchen. These

premises were fitted up for Darnley in the most thorough manner. A

bath was arranged for him in his apartment, and every thing was done

which could conduce to his comfort, according to the ideas which then

prevailed. Darnley was brought to Edinburgh, conveyed to this house,

and quietly established there.



The following is a plan of the house in which Darnley was lodged:



[Illustration: PLAN OF THE HOUSE AT THE KIRK O' FIELD.



M. Mary's room, below Darnley's. K. Kitchen; servants'

room above. O. Passage through the city wall into the kitchen. S.

Stair-case leading to the second story. P. Passage-way.]



The accommodations in this house do not seem to have been very

sumptuous, after all, for a royal guest; but royal dwellings in

Scotland, in those days, were not what they are now in Westminster

and at St. Cloud.



The day for the execution of the plan, which was to blow up the house

where the sick Darnley was lying with gunpowder, approached.

Bothwell selected a number of desperate characters to aid him in the

actual work to be done. One of these was a Frenchman, who had been

for a long time in his service, and who went commonly by the name of

French Paris. Bothwell contrived to get French Paris taken into

Mary's service a few days before the murder of Darnley, and, through

him, he got possession of some of the keys of the house which Darnley

was occupying, and thus had duplicates of them made, so that he had

access to every part of the house. The gunpowder was brought from

Bothwell's castle at Dunbar, and all was ready.



Mary spent much of her time at Darnley's house, and often slept in

the room beneath his, which had been allotted to her as her

apartment. One Sunday there was to be a wedding at Holyrood. The

bride and bridegroom were favorite servants of Mary's, and she was

intending to be present at the celebration of the nuptials. She was

to leave Darnley's early in the evening for this purpose. Her enemies

say that this was all a concerted arrangement between her and

Bothwell to give him the opportunity to execute his plan. Her

friends, on the other hand, insist that she knew nothing about it,

and that Bothwell had to watch and wait for such an opportunity of

blowing up the house without injuring Mary. Be this as it may, the

Sunday of this wedding was fixed upon for the consummation of the

deed.



The gunpowder had been secreted in Bothwell's rooms at the palace. On

Sunday evening, as soon as it was dark, Bothwell set the men at work

to transport the gunpowder. They brought it out in bags from the

palace, and then employed a horse to transport it to the wall of some

gardens which were in the rear of Darnley's house. They had to go

twice with the horse in order to convey all the gunpowder that they

had provided. While this was going on, Bothwell, who kept out of

sight, was walking to and fro in an adjoining street, to receive

intelligence, from time to time, of the progress of the affair, and

to issue orders. The gunpowder was conveyed across the gardens to the

rear of the house, taken in at a back door, and deposited in the room

marked M in the plan, which was the room belonging to Mary. Mary

was all this time directly over head, in Darnley's chamber.



The plan of the conspirators was to put the bags of gunpowder into a

cask which they had provided for the occasion, to keep the mass

together, and increase the force of the explosion. The cask had been

provided, and placed in the gardens behind the house; but, on

attempting to take it into the house, they found it too big to pass

through the back door. This caused considerable delay; and Bothwell,

growing impatient, came, with his characteristic impetuosity, to

ascertain the cause. By his presence and his energy, he soon remedied

the difficulty in some way or other, and completed the arrangements.

The gunpowder was all deposited; the men were dismissed, except two

who were left to watch, and who were locked up with the gunpowder in

Mary's room; and then, all things being ready for the explosion as

soon as Mary should be gone, Bothwell walked up to Darnley's room

above, and joined the party who were supping there. The cool

effrontery of this proceeding has scarcely a parallel in the annals

of crime.



At eleven o'clock Mary rose to go, saying she must return to the

palace to take part, as she had promised to do, in the celebration of

her servants' wedding. Mary took leave of her husband in a very

affectionate manner, and went away in company with Bothwell and the

other nobles. Her enemies maintain that she was privy to all the

arrangements which had been made, and that she did not go into her

own apartment below, knowing very well what was there. But even if we

imagine that Mary was aware of the general plan of destroying her

husband, and was secretly pleased with it, as almost any royal

personage that ever lived, under such circumstances, would be, we

need not admit that she was acquainted with the details of the mode

by which the plan was to be put in execution. The most that we can

suppose such a man as Bothwell would have communicated to her, would

be some dark and obscure intimations of his design, made in order to

satisfy himself that she would not really oppose it. To ask her,

woman as she was, to take any part in such a deed, or to communicate

to her beforehand any of the details of the arrangement, would have

been an act of littleness and meanness which such magnanimous

monsters as Bothwell are seldom guilty of.



Besides, Mary remarked that evening, in Darnley's room, in the course

of conversation, that it was just about a year since Rizzio's death.

On entering her palace, too, at Holyrood, that night, she met one of

Bothwell's servants who had been carrying the bags, and, perceiving

the smell of gunpowder, she asked him what it meant. Now Mary was

not the brazen-faced sort of woman to speak of such things at such a

time if she was really in the councils of the conspirators. The only

question seems to be, therefore, not whether she was a party to the

actual deed of murder, but only whether she was aware of, and

consenting to, the general design.



In the mean time, Mary and Bothwell went together into the hall where

the servants were rejoicing and making merry at the wedding. French

Paris was there, but his heart began to fail him in respect to the

deed in which he had been engaged. He stood apart, with a countenance

expressive of anxiety and distress. Bothwell went to him, and told

him that if he carried such a melancholy face as that any longer in

the presence of the queen, he would make him suffer for it. The poor

conscience-stricken man begged Bothwell to release him from any

further part in the transaction. He was sick, really sick, he said,

and he wanted to go home to his bed. Bothwell made no reply but to

order him to follow him. Bothwell went to his own rooms, changed

the silken court dress in which he had appeared in company for one

suitable to the night and to the deed, directed his men to follow

him, and passed from the palace toward the gates of the city. The

gates were shut, for it was midnight. The sentinels challenged them.

The party said they were friends to my Lord Bothwell, and were

allowed to pass on.



They advanced to the convent gardens. Here they left a part of their

number, while Bothwell and French Paris passed over the wall, and

crept softly into the house. They unlocked the room where they had

left the two watchmen with the gunpowder, and found all safe. Men

locked up under such circumstances, and on the eve of the

perpetration of such a deed, were not likely to sleep at their posts.

All things being now ready, they made a slow match of lint, long

enough to burn for some little time, and inserting one end of it into

the gunpowder, they lighted the other end, and crept stealthily out

of the apartment. They passed over the wall into the convent gardens,

where they rejoined their companions and awaited the result.



Men choose midnight often for the perpetration of crime, from the

facilities afforded by its silence and solitude. This advantage is,

however, sometimes well-nigh balanced by the stimulus which its

mysterious solemnity brings to the stings of remorse and terror.

Bothwell himself felt anxious and agitated. They waited and waited,

but it seemed as if their dreadful suspense would never end. Bothwell

became desperate. He wanted to get over the wall again and look in at

the window, to see if the slow match had not gone out. The rest

restrained him. At length the explosion came like a clap of thunder.

The flash brightened for an instant over the whole sky, and the

report roused the sleeping inhabitants of Edinburgh from their

slumbers, throwing the whole city into sudden consternation.



The perpetrators of the deed, finding that their work was done, fled

immediately. They tried various plans to avoid the sentinels at the

gates of the city, as well as the persons who were beginning to come

toward the scene of the explosion. When they reached the palace of

Holyrood, they were challenged by the sentinel on duty there. They

said that they were friends of Earl Bothwell, bringing dispatches to

him from the country. The sentinel asked them if they knew what was

the cause of that loud explosion. They said they did not, and passed

on.



Bothwell went to his room, called for a drink, undressed himself, and

went to bed. Half an hour afterward, messengers came to awaken him,

and inform him that the king's house had been blown up with

gunpowder, and the king himself killed by the explosion. He rose with

an appearance of great astonishment and indignation, and, after

conferring with some of the other nobles, concluded to go and

communicate the event to the queen. The queen was overwhelmed with

astonishment and indignation too.



The destruction of Darnley in such a manner as this, of course

produced a vast sensation all over Scotland. Every body was on the

alert to discover the authors of the crime. Rewards were offered;

proclamations were made. Rumors began to circulate that Bothwell was

the criminal. He was accused by anonymous placards put up at night in

Edinburgh. Lennox, Darnley's father, demanded his trial; and a trial

was ordered. The circumstances of the trial were such, however, and

Bothwell's power and desperate recklessness were so great, that

Lennox, when the time came, did not appear. He said he had not force

enough at his command to come safely into court. There being no

testimony offered, Bothwell was acquitted; and he immediately

afterward issued his proclamation, offering to fight any man who

should intimate, in any way, that he was concerned in the murder of

the king. Thus Bothwell established his innocence; at least, no man

dared to gainsay it.



Darnley was murdered in February. Bothwell was tried and acquitted in

April. Immediately afterward, he took measures for privately making

known to the leading nobles that it was his design to marry the

queen, and for securing their concurrence in the plan. They

concurred; or at least, perhaps for fear of displeasing such a

desperado, said what he understood to mean that they concurred. The

queen heard the reports of such a design, and said, as ladies often

do in similar cases, that she did not know what people meant by such

reports; there was no foundation for them whatever.



Toward the end of April, Mary was about returning from the castle of

Stirling to Edinburgh with a small escort of troops and attendants.

Melville was in her train. Bothwell set out at the head of a force of

more than five hundred men to intercept her. Mary lodged one night,

on her way, at Linlithgow, the palace where she was born, and the

next morning was quietly pursuing her journey, when Bothwell came up

at the head of his troops. Resistance was vain. Bothwell advanced to

Mary's horse, and, taking the bridle, led her away. A few of her

principal followers were taken prisoners too, and the rest were

dismissed. Bothwell took his captive across the country by a rapid

flight to his castle of Dunbar. The attendants who were taken with

her were released, and she remained in the Castle of Dunbar for ten

days, entirely in Bothwell's power.



[Illustration: DUNBAR CASTLE--The Residence of Earl Bothwell.]



According to the account which Mary herself gives of what took place

during this captivity, she at first reproached Bothwell bitterly for

the ungrateful and cruel return he was making for all her kindness to

him, by such a deed of violence and wrong, and begged and entreated

him to let her go. Bothwell replied that he knew that it was wrong for

him to treat his sovereign so rudely, but that he was impelled to it

by the circumstances of the case, and by love which he felt for her,

which was too strong for him to control. He then entreated her to

become his wife; he complained of the bitter hostility which he had

always been subject to from his enemies, and that he could have no

safeguard from this hostility in time to come but in her favor; and

he could not depend upon any assurance of her favor less than her

making him her husband. He protested that, if she would do so, he

would never ask to share her power, but would be content to be her

faithful and devoted servant, as he had always been. It was love, not

ambition, he said, that animated him, and he could not and would not

be refused. Mary says that she was distressed and agitated beyond

measure by the appeals and threats with which Bothwell accompanied his

urgent entreaties. She tried every way to plan some mode of escape.

Nobody came to her rescue. She was entirely alone, and in Bothwell's

power. Bothwell assured her that the leading nobles of her court were

in favor of the marriage, and showed her a written agreement signed by

them to this effect. At length, wearied and exhausted, she was finally

overcome by his urgency, and yielding partly to his persuasions, and

partly, as she says, to force, gave herself up to his power.



Mary remained at Dunbar about ten days, during which time Bothwell

sued out and obtained a divorce from his wife. His wife, feeling,

perhaps, resentment more than grief, sued, at the same time, for a

divorce from him. Bothwell then sallied forth from his fastness at

Dunbar, and, taking Mary with him, went to Edinburgh, and took up his

abode in the castle there, as that fortress was then under his power.

Mary soon after appeared in public and stated that she was now

entirely free, and that, although Bothwell had done wrong in carrying

her away by violence, still he had treated her since in so respectful

a manner, that she had pardoned him, and had received him into favor

again. A short time after this they were married. The ceremony was

performed in a very private and unostentatious manner, and took place

in May, about three months after the murder of Darnley.



By some persons Mary's account of the transactions at Dunbar is

believed. Others think that the whole affair was all a preconcerted

plan, and that the appearance of resistance on her part was only for

show, to justify, in some degree, in the eyes of the world, so

imprudent and inexcusable a marriage. A great many volumes have been

written on the question without making any progress toward a

settlement of it. It is one of those cases where, the evidence being

complicated, conflicting, and incomplete, the mind is swayed by the

feelings, and the readers of the story decide more or less favorably

for the unhappy queen, according to the warmth of the interest

awakened in their hearts by beauty and misfortune.





Before The Commissioners Bothwell's Seizure Of The Queen's Person And Subsequent Marriage To Her facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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