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


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


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


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.

Mary's Death And Character Mary's Escape From Lochleven And The Battle Of Langside facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail