Mary's Death And Character





On the 7th of February 1587, the Earls, who had been commissioned to

superintend Mary's execution, arrived at Fotheringay. After dining

together, they sent to inform the Queen, that they desired to speak with

her. Mary was not well, and in bed; but as she was given to understand

that it was an affair of moment, she rose, and received them in her own

chamber. Her six waiting maids, together with her physician, her surgeon,

and apothecary, and four or five male servants, were in attendance. The

Earl of Shrewsbury, and the others associated with him, standing before

her respectfully, with their heads uncovered, communicated, as gently as

possible, the disagreeable duty with which they had been intrusted. Beal

was then desired to read the warrant for Mary's execution, to which she

listened patiently; and making the sign of the cross, she said, that

though she was sorry it came from Elizabeth, she had long been expecting

the mandate for her death, and was not unprepared to die. "For many

years," she added, "I have lived in continual affliction, unable to do

good to myself or to those who are dear to me;--and as I shall depart

innocent of the crime which has been laid to my charge, I cannot see why I

should shrink from the prospect of immortality." She then laid her hand on

the New Testament, and solemnly protested that she had never either

devised, compassed, or consented to the death of the Queen of England. The

Earl of Kent, with more zeal than wisdom, objected to the validity of this

protestation, because it was made on a Catholic version of the Bible; but

Mary replied, that it was the version, in the truth of which she believed,

and that her oath should be therefore only the less liable to suspicion.

She was advised to hold some godly conversation with the Dean of

Peterborough, whom they had brought with them to console her; but she

declined the offer, declaring that she would die in the faith in which she

had lived, and beseeching them to allow her to see her Catholic Confessor,

who had been for some time debarred her presence. This however they in

their turn positively refused.



Other topics were introduced, and casually discussed. Before leaving the

world, Mary felt a natural curiosity to be informed upon several subjects

of public interest, which, though connected with herself, and generally

known, had not penetrated the walls of her prison. She asked if no foreign

princes had interfered in her behalf,--if her secretaries were still

alive,--if it was intended to punish them as well as her,--if they brought

no letters from Elizabeth or others,--and above all, if her son, the King

of Scotland, was well, and had evinced any interest in the fate of a

mother who had always loved and never wronged him. Being satisfied upon

these points, she proceeded to inquire when her execution was to take

place? Shrewsbury replied, that it was fixed for the next morning at

eight. She appeared startled and agitated for a few minutes, saying that

it was more sudden than she had anticipated, and that she had yet to make

her will, which she had hitherto deferred, in the expectation that the

papers and letters which had been forcibly taken from her, would be

restored. She soon, however, regained her self-possession; and informing

the Commissioners that she desired to be left alone to make her

preparations, she dismissed them for the night.



During the whole of this scene, astonishment, indignation, and grief,

overwhelmed her attendants, all of whom were devoted to her. As soon as

the Earls and their retinue retired, they gave full vent to their

feelings, and Mary herself was the only one who remained calm and

undisturbed. Bourgoine, her physician, loudly exclaimed against the

iniquitous precipitancy with which she was to be hurried out of existence.

More than a few hours' notice was allowed, he said, to the very meanest

criminal; and to limit a Princess, with numerous connections both at home

and abroad, to so brief a space, was a degree of rigour which no guilt

could authorize. Mary told him, that she must submit with resignation to

her fate, and learn to regard it as the will of God. She then requested

her attendants to kneel with her, and she prayed fervently for some time

in the midst of them. Afterwards, while supper was preparing, she employed

herself in putting all the money she had by her into separate purses, and

affixed to each, with her own hand, the name of the person for whom she

intended it. At supper, though she sat down to table, she eat little. Her

mind, however, was in perfect composure; and during the repast, though she

spoke little, placid smiles were frequently observed to pass over her

countenance. The calm magnanimity of their mistress, only increased the

distress of her servants. They saw her sitting amongst them in her usual

health, and, with almost more than her usual cheerfulness, partaking of

the viands that were set before her; yet they knew that it was the last

meal at which they should ever be present together; and that the

interchange of affectionate service upon their part, and of condescending

attention and endearing gentleness on her's, which had linked them to her

for so many years, was now about to terminate for ever. Far from

attempting to offer her consolation, they were unable to discover any for

themselves. As soon as the melancholy meal was over, Mary desired that a

cup of wine should be given to her; and putting it to her lips, drank to

the health of each of her attendants by name. She requested that they

would pledge her in like manner; and each, falling on his knee, and

mingling tears with the wine, drank to her, asking pardon at the same

time, for all the faults he had ever committed. In the true spirit of

Christian humility, she not only willingly forgave them, but asked their

pardon also, if she had ever forgotten her duty towards them. She

beseeched them to continue constant to their religion, and to live in

peace and charity together, and with all men. The inventory of her

wardrobe and furniture was then brought to her; and she wrote in the

margin, opposite each article, the name of the person to whom she wished

it should be given. She did the same with her rings, jewels, and all her

most valuable trinkets; and there was not one of her friends or servants,

either present or absent, to whom she forgot to leave a memorial.



These duties being discharged, Mary sat down to her desk to arrange her

papers, to finish her will, and to write several letters. She previously

sent to her confessor, who, though in the Castle, was not allowed to see

her, entreating that he would spend the night in praying for her, and that

he would inform her what parts of Scripture he considered most suited for

her perusal at this juncture. She then drew up her last will and

testament; and without ever lifting her pen from the paper, or stopping at

intervals to think, she covered two large sheets with close writing,

forgetting nothing of any moment, and expressing herself with all that

precision and clearness which distinguished her style in the very happiest

moments of her life. She named as her four executors, the Duke of Guise,

her cousin-german; the Archbishop of Glasgow, her ambassador in France;

Lesley, Bishop of Ross; and Monsieur de Ruysseau, her Chancellor. She next

wrote a letter to her brother-in-law, the King of France, in which she

apologized for not being able to enter into her affairs at greater length,

as she had only an hour or two to live, and had not been informed till

that day after dinner that she was to be executed next morning. "Thanks be

unto God, however," she added, "I have no terror at the idea of death,

and solemnly declare to you, that I meet it innocent of every crime. The

bearer of this letter, and my other servants, will recount to you how I

comported myself in my last moments." The letter concluded with earnest

entreaties, that her faithful followers should be protected and rewarded.

Her anxiety on their account, at such a moment, indicated all that amiable

generosity of disposition, which was one of the leading features of Mary's

character. About two in the morning, she sealed up all her papers and

said she would now think no more of the affairs of this world, but would

spend the rest of her time in prayer and commune with her own conscience.

She went to bed for some hours; but she did not sleep. Her lips were

observed in continual motion, and her hands were frequently folded and

lifted up towards Heaven.



On the morning of Wednesday the 8th of February, Mary rose with the break

of day; and her domestics, who had watched and wept all night immediately

gathered round her. She told them that she had made her will, and

requested that they would see it safely deposited in the hands of her

executors. She likewise beseeched them not to separate until they had

carried her body to France; and she placed a sum of money in the hands of

her physician to defray the expenses of the journey. Her earnest desire

was, to be buried either in the Church of St Dennis, in Paris, beside her

first husband Francis, or at Rheims, in the tomb which contained the

remains of her mother. She expressed a wish too, that, besides her friends

and servants, a number of poor people and children from different

hospitals should be present at her funeral, clothed in mourning at her

expense, and each, according to the Catholic custom, carrying in his hand

a lighted taper.



She now renewed her devotions, and was in the midst of them, with her

servants praying and weeping round her, when a messenger from the

Commissioners knocked at the door, to announce that all was ready. She

requested a little longer time to finish her prayers, which was granted.

As soon as she desired the door to be opened, the Sheriff, carrying in his

hand the white wand of office, entered to conduct her to the place of

execution. Her servants crowded round her, and insisted on being allowed

to accompany her to the scaffold. But contrary orders having been given by

Elizabeth, they were told that she must proceed alone. Against a piece of

such arbitrary cruelty they remonstrated loudly, but in vain; for as soon

as Mary passed into the gallery, the door was closed, and believing that

they were separated from her forever, the shrieks of the women and the

scarcely less audible lamentations of the men were heard in distant parts

of the castle.



At the foot of the staircase leading down to the hall below, Mary was met

by the Earls of Kent and Shrewsbury; and she was allowed to stop to take

farewell of Sir Andrew Melvil, the master of her household, whom her

keepers had not allowed to come into her presence for some time before.

With tears in his eyes, Melvil knelt before her, kissed her hand, and

declared that it was the heaviest hour of his life. Mary assured him, that

it was not so to her. "I now feel, my good Melvil," said she, "that all

this world is vanity. When you speak of me hereafter, mention that I died

firm in my faith, willing to forgive my enemies, conscious that I had

never disgraced Scotland my native country, and rejoicing in the thought

that I had always been true to France, the land of my happiest years. Tell

my son," she added, and when she named her only child of whom she had been

so proud in his infancy, but in whom all her hopes had been so fatally

blasted, her feelings for the first time overpowered her, and a flood of

tears flowed from her eyes,--"tell my son that I thought of him in my last

moments, and that I have never yielded, either by word or deed, to aught

that might lead to his prejudice; desire him to preserve the memory of his

unfortunate parent, and may he be a thousand times more happy and more

prosperous than she has been."



Before taking leave of Melvil, Mary turned to the Commissioners and told

them, that her three last requests were, that her secretary Curl, whom she

blamed less for his treachery than Naw, should not be punished; that her

servants should have free permission to depart to France; and that some of

them should be allowed to come down from the apartments above to see her

die. The Earls answered, that they believed the two former of these

requests would be granted; but that they could not concede the last,

alleging, as their excuse, that the affliction of her attendants would

only add to the severity of her sufferings. But Mary was resolved that

some of her own people should witness her last moments. "I will not submit

to the indignity," she said, "of permitting my body to fall into the hands

of strangers. You are the servants of a maiden Queen, and she herself,

were she here, would yield to the dictates of humanity, and permit some of

those who have been so long faithful to me to assist me at my death.

Remember, too, that I am cousin to your mistress, and the descendant of

Henry VII.; I am the Dowager of France, and the anointed Queen of

Scotland." Ashamed of any further opposition, the Earls allowed her to

name four male and two female attendants, whom they sent for, and

permitted to remain beside her for the short time she had yet to

live.



The same hall in which the trial had taken place, was prepared for the

execution. At the upper end was the scaffold, covered with black cloth,

and elevated about two feet from the floor. A chair was placed on it for

the Queen of Scots. On one side of the block stood two executioners, and

on the other, the Earls of Kent and Shrewsbury; Beal and the Sheriff were

immediately behind. The scaffold was railed off from the rest of the

hall, in which Sir Amias Paulet with a body of guards, the other

Commissioners, and some gentlemen of the neighbourhood, amounting

altogether to about two hundred persons, were assembled. Mary entered

leaning on the arm of her physician, while Sir Andrew Melvil carried the

train of her robe. She was in full dress, and looked as if she were about

to hold a drawing-room, not to lay her head beneath the axe. She wore a

gown of black silk, bordered with crimson velvet, over which was a satin

mantle; a long veil of white crape, stiffened with wire, and edged with

rich lace, hung down almost to the ground; round her neck was suspended an

ivory crucifix; and the beads which the Catholics use in their prayers,

were fastened to her girdle. The symmetry of her fine figure had long been

destroyed by her sedentary life; and years of care had left many a trace

on her beautiful features. But the dignity of the Queen was still

apparent; and the calm grace of mental serenity imparted to her

countenance at least some share of its former loveliness. With a composed

and steady step she passed through the hall, and ascended the

scaffold,--and as she listened unmoved, whilst Beal read aloud the warrant

for her death, even the myrmidons of Elizabeth looked upon her with

admiration.



Beal having finished, the Dean of Peterborough presented himself at the

foot of the scaffold, and with more zeal than humanity, addressed Mary on

the subject of her religion. She mildly told him, that as she had been

born, so she was resolved to die, a Catholic, and requested that he would

not annoy her any longer with useless reasonings. But finding that he

would not be persuaded to desist, she turned away from him, and falling on

her knees, prayed fervently aloud,--repeating, in particular, many

passages from the Psalms. She prayed for her own soul, and that God would

send his Holy Spirit to comfort her in the agony of death; she prayed for

all good monarchs, for the Queen of England, for the King her son, for her

friends, and for all her enemies. She spoke with a degree of earnest

vehemence, and occasional strength of gesticulation, which deeply affected

all who heard her. She held a small crucifix in her hands, which were

clasped, and raised to Heaven; and at intervals a convulsive sob choked

her voice. As soon as her prayers were ended, she prepared to lay her head

on the block. Her two female attendants, as they assisted her to remove

her veil and head-dress, trembled so violently that they were hardly able

to stand. Mary gently reproved them,--"Be not thus overcome," she said; "I

am happy to leave the world, and you also ought to be happy to see me die

so willingly." As she bared her neck, she took from around it a cross of

gold, which she wished to give to Jane Kennedy; but the executioner, with

brutal coarseness, objected, alleging that it was one of his perquisites.

"My good friend," said Mary, "she will pay you much more than its value;"

but his only answer was, to snatch it rudely from her hand. She turned

from him, to pronounce a parting benediction on all her servants, to kiss

them, and bid them affectionately farewell. Being now ready, she desired

Jane Kennedy to bind her eyes with a rich handkerchief, bordered with

gold, which she had brought with her for the purpose; and laying her head

upon the block, her last words were,--"O Lord, in thee I have hoped, and

into thy hands I commit my spirit." The executioner, either from a want of

skill, or from agitation, or because the axe he used was blunt, struck

three blows before he separated her head from her body. His comrade then

lifted the head by the hair, (which, falling in disorder, was observed to

be quite grey), and called out, "God save Elizabeth, Queen of England!"

The Earl of Kent added, "Thus perish all her enemies;"--but, overpowered

by the solemnity and horror of the scene, none were able to respond,

"Amen!"



Mary's remains were immediately taken from her servants, who wished to pay

them the last sad offices of affection, and were carried into an adjoining

apartment, where a piece of old green baize, taken from a billiard-table,

was thrown over that form which had once lived in the light of a nation's

eyes. It lay thus for some time; but was at length ordered to be embalmed,

and buried, with royal pomp, in the Cathedral at Peterborough,--a vulgar

artifice used by Elizabeth to stifle the gnawing remorse of her own

conscience, and make an empty atonement for her cruelty. Twenty-five years

afterwards, James VI. wishing to perform an act of tardy justice to the

memory of his mother, ordered her remains to be removed from Peterborough

to Henry VII.'s Chapel, in Westminster Abbey. A splendid monument was

there erected, adorned with an inscription, which, if it spoke truth,

James must have blushed with shame and indignation whenever he thought of

his mother's fate.



Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, died in the forty-fifth year of her age. If

the events of her life have been faithfully recorded in the preceding

pages, the estimate which is to be formed of her character cannot be a

matter of much doubt. To great natural endowments,--to feelings

constitutionally warm,--and to a disposition spontaneously excellent, were

added all the advantages which education could confer or wealth purchase.

That she was one of the most accomplished and talented women of the age,

even her enemies allow. But talents do not always insure success, nor

accomplishments command happiness; and by few persons in the whole range

of history was this truth more fatally experienced than by Mary Stuart. At

first sight, her life and fate seem almost a paradox. That one upon whom

most of the common goods of fortune had been heaped with so lavish a

hand,--one who was born to the enjoyment of all the rank and splendour

which earth possesses,--one whose personal charms and fascinations

obtained for her an empire over the heart, more lasting and honourable

than that which her birth gave her over a nation,--that even she should

have lived to lament that she had ever beheld the light of day, is one of

those striking examples of the uncertainty of all human calculations

regarding happiness, which, while it inspires the commonest mind with

wonder, teaches a deeper lesson of philosophy to the wisely reflective.

Circumstances are not so much the slaves of men, as men are of

circumstances. Mary lived at an age, and in a country, which only rendered

her risk the greater the more exalted her station. In France, where

civilization had made more progress, she might perhaps have avoided the

evils which overtook her at home; but in Scotland, a Princess possessing

the refinement of a foreign court, and though with a large proportion of

the virtues and captivations of her sex, not entirely destitute of some of

its weaknesses, could hardly expect to cope with the turbulent spirit, the

fanatical enthusiasm, the semi-barbarous prejudices of the times, without

finding her own virtues immerged in the crowd of contending interests, and

the vortex of fierce passions that surrounded her.



Mary's failings, almost without an exception, "leant to virtue's side."

They arose partly from too enthusiastic a temperament, and partly from a

want of experience. Although she lived forty-four years and two months, it

ought to be remembered that she was just twenty-five when she came into

England, and that all the most important events of her history happened

between sixteen and twenty-five. With feelings whose strength kept pace

with the unsuspicious generosity of her nature, Mary was one who, in an

especial manner, stood in need of experience, to teach what the world

calls wisdom. The great mass of mankind, endowed with no finer

susceptibilities, and influenced by no hidden impulses of soul or sense,

fall into the common track naturally and easily. But they whom heaven has

either cursed or blessed with minds, over which external circumstances

exercise a deeper sway, whose fancies are more vivid, and whose

impressions are more acute, require the aid of time to clip the wings of

imagination,--to cast a soberer shade over the glowing pictures of

hope,--and to teach the art of reducing an ideal standard of felicity and

virtue, to one less romantic, but more practical. Had she continued longer

in public life, there is every probability that the world would have been

forced to own, without a dissenting voice, the talent which Mary

possessed. In youth, genius is often indicated only by eccentricity and

imprudence; but its errors are errors of judgment, which have their origin

in an exuberance of sensibility. The sentiments of the heart have burst

forth into precocious blossom long before the reasoning faculties have

reached maturity. Her youth was Mary's chief misfortune, or rather it was

the source from which most of her misfortunes sprung. She judged of

mankind not as they were, but as she wished them to be. Conscious of the

sincerity of her own character, and the affectionate nature of her own

dispositions, she formed attachments too rashly, and trusted too

indiscriminately. She often found, when it was too late, that she had been

deceived; and the consequence was, that she became diffident of her own

judgment, and anxious to be guided by that of others. Here again, however,

she fell into an opposite extreme. In yielding, on her return to Scotland,

so implicitly to the counsels of Murray, she did what few queens, young

and flattered as she had been, would have done, and what, had she been

older, or more experienced, she ought not to have done.



But the highest degree of excellence, both in the material and the moral

world, arises out of the skilful combination of many discordant elements.

Time must be allowed them to settle down into an harmonious arrangement;

and time is all that is required. Before the age of five-and-twenty, it is

not to be supposed that Mary's character had acquired that strength and

stability which it would afterwards have attained. Nor was it desirable

that it should; for an old head upon youthful shoulders is contrary to

nature, and the anomaly frequently ends with a youthful head upon old

shoulders. Mary was young--she was beautiful--she was admired--she was a

woman; and to expect to have found, in the spring-time of her life, the

undeviating consistency, and the cool calculations of riper years, would

have been to imagine her that "faultless monster whom the world ne'er

saw." But, considering the situation in which she was placed--the persons

by whom she was surrounded--the stormy temper of the age--the pious and

deep-rooted prejudices of her subjects against the creed which she

professed--the restless jealousy of the Sovereign who reigned over the

neighbouring and more powerful country of England--the unfortunate though

not precipitate marriage with Lord Darnley,--it may be very safely asked,

where there is to be found an example of so much moderation, prudence, and

success, in one so recently introduced to the arduous cares of government?

Had Mary been vain, headstrong, opinionative, and bigotted, she would

never have yielded, as she did, to the current of popular opinion which

then ran so tumultuously;--she would never have condescended to

expostulate with Knox,--she would never have been ruled by Murray,--she

would never have so easily forgiven injuries and stifled resentments. She

was in truth only too facile. She submitted too tamely to the insolence of

Knox; she was too diffident of herself, and too willing to be swayed by

Murray; she was too ready to pardon those who had given her the justest

cause of offence; she was too candid and open, too distrustful of her own

capacity, too gentle, too generous, and too engaging.



But if her faults consisted only in an excess of amiable qualities, or in

those strong feelings which, though properly directed, were not always

properly proportioned, the question naturally occurs, why the Queen of

Scots should have suffered so much misery? "To say that she was always

unfortunate," observes Robertson, "will not account for that long and

almost uninterrupted succession of calamities which befel her; we must

likewise add, that she was often imprudent." Here the historian first

mistates the fact, and then draws an inference from that mistatement. No

"long and uninterrupted succession of calamities" befel Mary. She

experienced an almost unparalleled reverse of fortune, but that reverse

was sudden and complete. She sunk at once from a queen into a

captive,--from power to weakness,--from splendor to obscurity. So long as

she was permitted to be the arbitress of her own fortune, she met and

overcame every difficulty; but when lawless and ambitious men wove their

web around her, she was caught in it, and could never again escape from

its meshes. Had she stumbled on from one calamity to another, continuing

all the while a free agent, Robertson's remark would have been just. But

such was not her case;--the morning saw her a queen, and the evening found

her a captive. The blow was as sudden as it was decisive; and her future

life was an ineffectual struggle to escape from the chains which had been

thrown round her in a moment, and which pressed her irresistibly to the

ground. A calamity which no foresight could anticipate, or prudence avert,

may overtake the wisest and the best; and such to Mary was the murder of

Darnley, and Bothwell's subsequent treason and violence. If to these be

added the scarcely less iniquitous conduct of Elizabeth, the treachery of

Morton, the craftiness of Murray, and the disastrous defeat at Langside,

it needs no research or ingenuity to discover, that her miseries were not

of her own making.



Should a still more comprehensive view of this subject be taken, and the

whole life of the Queen of Scots reviewed, from her birth to her death, it

will be found that, however great her advantages, they were almost always

counterbalanced by some evil, which necessarily attended or sprung out of

them. She was a queen when only a few months old; but she was also an

orphan. She was destined, from her earliest childhood, to be the wife of

the future monarch of France; but she was, in consequence, taken away from

her native country, and the arms of her mother. The power and talents of

her uncles of Guise were constantly exerted in her behalf; but she shared,

therefore, in the hatred and jealousy in which they were held by a

numerous party, both at home and abroad. Her residence and education, at

the Court of Henry II., insured the refinement of her manners and the

cultivation of her mind; but it excited the suspicions and the fears of

the people of Scotland. She was beautiful even to a proverb; but her

beauty obtained for her as much envy as praise. She possessed the heart of

her husband Francis; but she only felt his loss the more acutely. She

returned to her own kingdom as the Queen-dowager of France; but her power

and her pretensions made the English dread, and did not prevent her

heretical subjects from openly braving, her authority. She married Darnley

in the hopes of brightening her prospects, and securing her happiness; but

he was the main cause of overclouding the one, and destroying the other.

She was freed, by his death, from the wayward caprices of his ill-governed

temper; but she escaped from one yoke only to be forced into another a

thousand times worse. She loved her brother, and loaded him with favours;

but he repaid them by placing himself upon her throne, and chasing her

from the country. She escaped into England; but there she met with

reproaches instead of assistance, a prison instead of an asylum, a mortal

enemy instead of a sister, an axe and a scaffold instead of sympathy and

protection.



Mary's misfortunes, therefore, may be safely asserted not to have been the

result of her imprudence or her errors. But justice is not satisfied with

this merely negative praise. The Queen of Scots was one who needed only to

have been prosperous, to be in the eyes of the world all that was great

and good. And though the narrow-minded are only too ready, at all times,

to triumph over the fallen, and to fancy, that where there is misery

there is also guilt, they must nevertheless own, that there are some whose

character only rises the higher, the more it is tried. If, on the one

hand, the temptations to which Mary was exposed be duly considered,--her

youth,--the prejudices of her education,--and the designing ministers by

whom she was surrounded;--and, on the other, her conduct towards the

Reformers, towards her enemies, towards her friends, towards all her

subjects,--the deliberate judgment of calm impartiality, not of hasty

enthusiasm, must be, that illustrious as her birth and rank were, she

possessed virtues and talents which not only made her independent of the

former, but raised her above them. In her better days, the vivacity and

sweetness of her manners, her openness, her candour, her generosity, her

polished wit, her extensive information, her cultivated taste, her easy

affability, her powers of conversation, her native dignity and grace, were

all conspicuous, though too little appreciated by the less refined

frequenters of the Scottish Court. Nor did she appear to less advantage in

the season of calamity. On the contrary, she had an opportunity of

displaying in adversity a fortitude and nobility of soul, which she

herself might not have known that she possessed, had she been always

prosperous. Her piety and her constancy became more apparent in a prison

than on a throne; and of none could it be said more truly than of

her,--"ponderibus virtus innata resistit." In the glory of victory and

the pride of success, it is easy for a conquering monarch to float down

the stream of popularity; but it is a far more arduous task to gain a

victory over the natural weaknesses of one's own nature, and, in the

midst of sufferings, to triumph over one's enemies. Mary did this; and was

a thousand times more to be envied, when kneeling at her solitary

devotions in the Castle of Fotheringhay, than Elizabeth surrounded with

all the heartless splendor of Hampton Court. As she laid her head upon the

block, the dying graces threw upon her their last smiles; and the sublime

serenity of her death was an argument in her favour, the force of which

must be confessed by incredulity itself. Mary was not destined to obtain

the crown of England, but she gained instead the crown of martyrdom.



"Many of us," said the Archbishop of Bruges, who was appointed to preach

Mary's funeral sermon in the church of Notre Dame at Paris, "Many of us

have seen in this very place the Queen whom we now deplore, on her bridal

morning and in her royal robes, so resplendent with jewels, that they

shone like the light of day, or like her own beauty, which was more

resplendent still. Nothing was to be discovered around or within but

embroidered hangings, and cloth of gold, and precious tapestry, and

couches and thrones occupied by kings and queens, and princes and nobles,

who had come from all parts to be present at the festival. In the palace

were magnificent banquets, and pageants, and masquerades; in the streets

and squares, joustings, tournaments, and processions. It seemed as if the

overwhelming brilliancy of our age was destined to surpass the richest

pomp of every preceding age,--even the times when Greece and Rome were in

all their splendor. A brief space has passed away like a cloud, and we

have seen her a captive whom we saw in triumph,--a prisoner, who set the

prisoners free,--poor, who gave away so liberally,--disdained, who was the

fountain of honour. We have seen her, who was a two-fold Queen, in the

hands of a common executioner, and that fair form, which graced the

nuptial couch of the greatest monarch in Christendom, dishonoured on a

scaffold. We have seen that loveliness, which was one of the wonders of

the world, broken down by long captivity, and at length effaced by an

ignominious death. If this fatal reverse teaches the uncertainty and

vanity of all human things, the patience and incomparable fortitude of the

Queen we have lost, also teach a more profitable lesson, and afford a

salutary consolation. Every new calamity gave her an opportunity of

gaining a new victory, and of evincing new proofs of her piety and

constancy. It seems certain, indeed, that Providence made her affliction

conspicuous, only to make her virtue more conspicuous. Others leave to

their successors the care of building monuments, to preserve their name

from oblivion; but the life and death of this lady are her monument.

Marble, and brass, and iron decay, or are devoured by rust; but in no age,

however long the world may endure, will the memory of Mary Stuart, Queen

of Scots, and Dowager of France, cease to be cherished with affection and

admiration."





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