Misfortunes





1559-1561



Mary's love for Francis.--How to cherish the passion.--Grand

tournament.--Henry's pride.--An encounter.--The helmet.--The

vizor.--King Henry wounded.--His death.--The mournful

marriage.--The dauphin becomes king.--Catharine superseded.--Mary's

gentleness.--Coronation of Francis.--Francis's health

declines.--Superstition of the people.--Commotions in

Scotland.--Sickness of the queen regent.--Death of Mary's

mother.--Illness of Francis.--His last moments and death.--Mary a

young widow.--Embassadors from Scotland.--Mary's unwillingness to

leave France.--Mary in mourning.--She is called the White Queen.--A

device.--Mary's employments.--Her beautiful hands.--Melancholy

visit.--Mary returns to Paris.--Jealousy.--Queen Elizabeth.--Her

character.--Henry VIII.--Elizabeth's claim to the throne.--Mary's

claim.--The coat of arms.--Elizabeth offended and alarmed.--The

Catholic party.--A device.--Treaty of Edinburgh.--The

safe-conduct.--Elizabeth refuses the safe-conduct.--Mary's

speech.--Mary's true nobility of soul.--Sympathy with her.--Mary's

religious faith.--Her frankness and candor.





It was said in the last chapter that Mary loved her husband, infirm

and feeble as he was both in body and in mind. This love was probably

the effect, quite as much as it was the cause, of the kindness which

she showed him. As we are very apt to hate those whom we have

injured, so we almost instinctively love those who have in any way

become the objects of our kindness and care. If any wife, therefore,

wishes for the pleasure of loving her husband, or which is, perhaps,

a better supposition, if any husband desires the happiness of loving

his wife, conscious that it is a pleasure which he does not now

enjoy, let him commence by making her the object of his kind

attentions and care, and love will spring up in the heart as a

consequence of the kind of action of which it is more commonly the

cause.



About a year passed away, when at length another great celebration

took place in Paris, to honor the marriages of some other members of

King Henry's family. One of them was Francis's oldest sister. A

grand tournament was arranged on this occasion too. The place for

this tournament was where the great street of St. Antoine now lies,

and which may be found on any map of Paris. A very large concourse of

kings and nobles from all the courts of Europe were present. King

Henry, magnificently dressed, and mounted on a superb war-horse, was

a very prominent figure in all the parades of the occasion, though

the actual contests and trials of skill which took place were between

younger princes and knights, King Henry and the ladies being

generally only spectators and judges. He, however, took a part

himself on one or two occasions, and received great applause.



At last, at the end of the third day, just as the tournament was to

be closed, King Henry was riding around the field, greatly excited

with the pride and pleasure which so magnificent a spectacle was

calculated to awaken, when he saw two lances still remaining which

had not been broken. The idea immediately seized him of making one

more exhibition of his own power and dexterity in such contests. He

took one of the lances, and, directing a high officer who was riding

near him to take the other, he challenged him to a trial of skill.

The name of this officer was Montgomery. Montgomery at first

declined, being unwilling to contend with his king. The king

insisted. Queen Catharine begged that he would not contend again.

Accidents sometimes happened, she knew, in these rough encounters;

and, at any rate, it terrified her to see her husband exposed to such

dangers. The other lords and ladies, and Francis and Queen Mary

particularly, joined in these expostulations. But Henry was

inflexible. There was no danger, and, smiling at their fears, he

commanded Montgomery to arm himself with his lance and take his

position.



The spectators looked on in breathless silence. The two horsemen rode

toward each other, each pressing his horse forward to his utmost

speed, and as they passed, each aimed his lance at the head and

breast of the other. It was customary on such occasions to wear a

helmet, with a part called a vizor in front, which could be raised on

ordinary occasions, or let down in moments of danger like this, to

cover and protect the eyes. Of course this part of the armor was

weaker than the rest, and it happened that Montgomery's lance struck

here--was shivered--and a splinter of it penetrated the vizor and

inflicted a wound upon Henry, on the head, just over the eye. Henry's

horse went on. The spectators observed that the rider reeled and

trembled in his seat. The whole assembly were in consternation. The

excitement of pride and pleasure was every where turned into extreme

anxiety and alarm.



They flocked about Henry's horse, and helped the king to dismount. He

said it was nothing. They took off his helmet, and found large drops

of blood issuing from the wound. They bore him to his palace. He had

the magnanimity to say that Montgomery must not be blamed for this

result, as he was himself responsible for it entirely. He lingered

eleven days, and then died. This was in July, 1559.



One of the marriages which this unfortunate tournament had been

intended to celebrate, that of Elizabeth, the king's daughter, had

already taken place, having been performed a day or two before the

king was wounded; and it was decided, after Henry was wounded, that

the other must proceed, as there were great reasons of state against

any postponement of it. This second marriage was that of Margaret,

his sister. The ceremony in her case was performed in a silent and

private manner, at night, by torch-light, in the chapel of the

palace, while her brother was dying. The services were interrupted by

her sobs and tears.



Notwithstanding the mental and bodily feebleness which seemed to

characterize the dauphin, Mary's husband, who now, by the death of

his father, became King of France, the event of his accession to the

throne seemed to awaken his energies, and arouse him to animation and

effort. He was sick himself, and in his bed, in a palace called the

Tournelles, when some officers of state were ushered into his

apartment, and, kneeling before him, saluted him as king. This was

the first announcement of his father's death. He sprang from his bed,

exclaiming at once that he was well. It is one of the sad

consequences of hereditary greatness and power that a son must

sometimes rejoice at the death of his father.



It was Francis's duty to repair at once to the royal palace of the

Louvre, with Mary, who was now Queen of France as well as of

Scotland, to receive the homage of the various estates of the realm.

Catharine was, of course, now queen dowager. Mary, the child whom she

had so long looked upon with feelings of jealousy and envy was, from

this time, to take her place as queen. It was very humiliating to

Catharine to assume the position of a second and an inferior in the

presence of one whom she had so long been accustomed to direct and to

command. She yielded, however, with a good grace, though she seemed

dejected and sad. As they were leaving the Tournelles, she stopped to

let Mary go before her, saying, "Pass on, madame; it is your turn to

take precedence now." Mary went before her, but she stopped in her

turn, with a sweetness of disposition so characteristic of her, to

let Queen Catharine enter first into the carriage which awaited them

at the door.



Francis, though only sixteen, was entitled to assume the government

himself. He went to Rheims, a town northeast of Paris, where is an

abbey, which is the ancient place of coronation for the kings of

France. Here he was crowned. He appointed his ministers, and evinced,

in his management and in his measures, more energy and decision than

it was supposed he possessed. He himself and Mary were now, together,

on the summit of earthly grandeur. They had many political troubles

and cares which can not be related here, but Mary's life was

comparatively peaceful and happy, the pleasures which she enjoyed

being greatly enhanced by the mutual affection which existed between

herself and her husband.



Though he was small in stature, and very unprepossessing in

appearance and manners, Francis still evinced in his government a

considerable degree of good judgment and of energy. His health,

however, gradually declined. He spent much of his time in traveling,

and was often dejected and depressed. One circumstance made him feel

very unhappy. The people of many of the villages through which he

passed, being in those days very ignorant and superstitious, got a

rumor into circulation that the king's malady was such that he could

only be cured by being bathed in the blood of young children. They

imagined that he was traveling to obtain such a bath; and, wherever

he came, the people fled, mothers eagerly carrying off their children

from this impending danger. The king did not understand the cause

of his being thus shunned. They concealed it from him, knowing that

it would give him pain. He knew only the fact, and it made him very

sad to find himself the object of this mysterious and unaccountable

aversion.



In the mean time, while these occurrences had been taking place in

France, Mary's mother, the queen dowager of Scotland, had been made

queen regent of Scotland after her return from France; but she

experienced infinite trouble and difficulty in managing the affairs

of the country. The Protestant party became very strong, and took up

arms against her government. The English sent them aid. She, on the

other hand, with the Catholic interest to support her, defended her

power as well as she could, and called for help from France to

sustain her. And thus the country which she was so ambitious to

govern, was involved by her management in the calamities and sorrows

of civil war.



In the midst of this contest she died. During her last sickness she

sent for some of the leaders of the Protestant party, and did all

that she could to soothe and conciliate their minds. She mourned the

calamities and sufferings which the civil war had brought upon the

country, and urged the Protestants to do all in their power, after

her death, to heal these dissensions and restore peace. She also

exhorted them to remember their obligations of loyalty and obedience

to their absent queen, and to sustain and strengthen her government

by every means in their power. She died, and after her death the war

was brought to a close by a treaty of peace, in which the French and

English governments joined with the government of Scotland to settle

the points in dispute, and immediately afterward the troops of both

these nations were withdrawn. The death of the queen regent was

supposed to have been caused by the pressure of anxiety which the

cares of her government imposed. Her body was carried home to France,

and interred in the royal abbey at Rheims.



The death of Mary's mother took place in the summer of 1560. The next

December Mary was destined to meet with a much heavier affliction.

Her husband, King Francis, in addition to other complaints, had been

suffering for some time from pain and disease in the ear. One day,

when he was preparing to go out hunting, he was suddenly seized with

a fainting fit, and was soon found to be in great danger. He

continued some days very ill. He was convinced himself that he could

not recover, and began to make arrangements for his approaching end.

As he drew near to the close of his life, he was more and more deeply

impressed with a sense of Mary's kindness and love. He mourned very

much his approaching separation from her. He sent for his mother,

Queen Catharine, to come to his bedside, and begged that she would

treat Mary kindly, for his sake, after he was gone.



Mary was overwhelmed with grief at the approaching death of her

husband. She knew at once what a great change it would make in her

condition. She would lose immediately her rank and station. Queen

Catharine would again come into power, as queen regent, during the

minority of the next heir. All her friends of the family of Guise,

would be removed from office, and she herself would become a mere

guest and stranger in the land of which she had been the queen. But

nothing could arrest the progress of the disease under which her

husband was sinking. He died, leaving Mary a disconsolate widow of

seventeen.



The historians of those days say that Queen Catharine was much

pleased at the death of Francis her son. It restored her to rank and

power. Mary was again beneath her, and in some degree subject to her

will. All Mary's friends were removed from their high stations, and

others, hostile to her family, were put into their places. Mary soon

found herself unhappy at court, and she accordingly removed to a

castle at a considerable distance from Paris to the west, near the

city of Orleans. The people of Scotland wished her to return to her

native land. Both the great parties sent embassadors to her to ask

her to return, each of them urging her to adopt such measures on her

arrival in Scotland as should favor their cause. Queen Catharine,

too, who was still jealous of Mary's influence, and of the admiration

and love which her beauty and the loveliness of her character

inspired, intimated to her that perhaps it would be better for her

now to leave France and return to her own land.



Mary was very unwilling to go. She loved France. She knew very little

of Scotland. She was very young when she left it, and the few

recollections which she had of the country were confined to the

lonely island of Inchmahome and the Castle of Stirling. Scotland was

in a cold and inhospitable climate, accessible only through stormy

and dangerous seas, and it seemed to her that going there was going

into exile. Besides, she dreaded to undertake personally to

administer a government whose cares and anxieties had been so great

as to carry her mother to the grave.



Mary, however, found that it was in vain for her to resist the

influences which pressed upon her the necessity of returning to her

native land. She wandered about during the spring and summer after

her husband's death, spending her time in various palaces and abbeys,

and at length she began to prepare for her return to Scotland. The

same gentleness and loveliness of character which she had exhibited

in her prosperous fortunes, shone still more conspicuously now in her

hours of sorrow. Sometimes she appeared in public, in certain

ceremonies of state. She was then dressed in mourning--in

white--according to the custom in royal families in those days, her

dark hair covered by a delicate crape veil. Her beauty, softened and

chastened by her sorrows, made a strong impression upon all who saw

her.



She appeared so frequently, and attracted so much attention in her

white mourning, that she began to be known among the people as the

White Queen. Every body wanted to see her. They admired her beauty;

they were impressed with the romantic interest of her history; they

pitied her sorrows. She mourned her husband's death with deep and

unaffected grief. She invented a device and motto for a seal,

appropriate to the occasion: it was a figure of the liquorice-tree,

every part of which is useless except the root, which, of course,

lies beneath the surface of the earth. Underneath was the

inscription, in Latin, My treasure is in the ground. The expression

is much more beautiful in the Latin than can be expressed in any

English words.[D]



[Footnote D: Dulce meum terra tegit.]



Mary did not, however, give herself up to sullen and idle grief, but

employed herself in various studies and pursuits, in order to soothe

and solace her grief by useful occupation. She read Latin authors;

she studied poetry; she composed. She paid much attention to music,

and charmed those who were in her company by the sweet tones of her

voice and her skillful performance upon an instrument. The historians

even record a description of the fascinating effect produced by the

graceful movements of her beautiful hand. Whatever she did or said

seemed to carry with it an inexpressible charm.



Before she set out on her return to Scotland she went to pay a visit

to her grandmother, the same lady whom her mother had gone to see in

her castle, ten years before, on her return to Scotland after her

visit to Mary. During this ten years the unhappy mourner had made no

change in respect to her symbols of grief. The apartments of her

palace were still hung with black. Her countenance wore the same

expression of austerity and woe. Her attendants were trained to pay

to her every mark of the most profound deference in all their

approaches to her. No sounds of gayety or pleasure were to be heard,

but a profound stillness and solemnity reigned continually throughout

the gloomy mansion.



Not long before the arrangements were completed for Mary's return to

Scotland, she revisited Paris, where she was received with great

marks of attention and honor. She was now eighteen or nineteen years

of age, in the bloom of her beauty, and the monarch of a powerful

kingdom, to which she was about to return, and many of the young

princes of Europe began to aspire to the honor of her hand. Through

these and other influences, she was the object of much attention;

while, on the other hand, Queen Catharine, and the party in power at

the French court, were envious and jealous of her popularity, and did

a great deal to mortify and vex her.



The enemy, however, whom Mary had most to fear, was her cousin,

Queen Elizabeth of England. Queen Elizabeth was a maiden lady, now

nearly thirty years of age. She was in all respects extremely

different from Mary. She was a zealous Protestant, and very

suspicious and watchful in respect to Mary, on account of her

Catholic connections and faith. She was very plain in person, and

unprepossessing in manners. She was, however, intelligent and shrewd,

and was governed by calculations and policy in all that she did. The

people by whom she was surrounded admired her talents and feared her

power, but nobody loved her. She had many good qualities as a

monarch, but none considered as a woman.



[Illustration: PORTRAIT OF QUEEN ELIZABETH.]



Elizabeth was somewhat envious of her cousin Mary's beauty, and of her

being such an object of interest and affection to all who knew her.

But she had a far more serious and permanent cause of alienation from

her than personal envy. It was this: Elizabeth's father, King Henry

VIII., had, in succession, several wives, and there had been a

question raised about the legality of his marriage with Elizabeth's

mother. Parliament decided at one time that this marriage was not

valid; at another time, subsequently, they decided that it was.

This difference in the two decisions was not owing so much to a

change of sentiment in the persons who voted, as to a change in the

ascendency of the parties by which the decision was controlled. If the

marriage were valid, then Elizabeth was entitled to the English crown.

If it were not valid, then she was not entitled to it: it belonged to

the next heir. Now it happened that Mary Queen of Scots was the next

heir. Her grandmother on the father's side was an English princess,

and through her Mary had a just title to the crown, if Queen

Elizabeth's title was annulled.



Now, while Mary was in France, during the lifetime of King Henry,

Francis's father, he and the members of the family of Guise advanced

Mary's claim to the British crown, and denied that of Elizabeth. They

made a coat of arms, in which the arms of France, and Scotland, and

England were combined, and had it engraved on Mary's silver plate. On

one great occasion, they had this symbol displayed conspicuously over

the gateway of a town where Mary was making a public entry. The

English embassador, who was present, made this, and the other acts of

the same kind, known to Elizabeth, and she was greatly incensed at

them. She considered Mary as plotting treasonably against her power,

and began to contrive plans to circumvent and thwart her.



Nor was Elizabeth wholly unreasonable in this. Mary, though

personally a gentle and peaceful woman, yet in her teens, was very

formidable to Elizabeth as an opposing claimant of the crown. All the

Catholics in France and in Scotland would naturally take Mary's side.

Then, besides this, there was a large Catholic party in England, who

would be strongly disposed to favor any plan which should give them a

Catholic monarch. Elizabeth was, therefore, very justly alarmed at

such a claim on the part of her cousin. It threatened not only to

expose her to the aggressions of foreign foes, but also to internal

commotions and dangers, in her own dominions.



The chief responsibility for bringing forward this claim must rest

undoubtedly, not on Mary herself, but on King Henry of France and the

other French princes, who first put it forward. Mary, however,

herself, was not entirely passive in the affair. She liked to

consider herself as entitled to the English crown. She had a device

for a seal, a very favorite one with her, which expressed this claim.

It contained two crowns, with a motto in Latin below which meant,

"A third awaits me." Elizabeth knew all these things, and she held

Mary accountable for all the anxiety and alarm which this dangerous

claim occasioned her.



At the peace which was made in Scotland between the French and

English forces and the Scotch, by the great treaty of Edinburgh which

has been already described, it was agreed that Mary should relinquish

all claim to the crown of England. This treaty was brought to France

for Mary to ratify it, but she declined. Whatever rights she might

have to the English crown, she refused to surrender them. Things

remained in this state until the time arrived for her return to her

native land, and then, fearing that perhaps Elizabeth might do

something to intercept her passage, she applied to her for a

safe-conduct; that is, a writing authorizing her to pass safely and

without hinderance through the English dominions, whether land or

sea. Queen Elizabeth returned word through her embassador in Paris,

whose name was Throckmorton, that she could not give her any such

safe-conduct, because she had refused to ratify the treaty of

Edinburgh.



When this answer was communicated to Mary, she felt deeply wounded

by it. She sent all the attendants away, that she might express

herself to Throckmorton without reserve. She told him that it seemed

to her very hard that her cousin was disposed to prevent her return

to her native land. As to her claim upon the English crown, she said

that advancing it was not her plan, but that of her husband and his

father; and that now she could not properly renounce it, whatever its

validity might be, till she could have opportunity to return to

Scotland and consult with her government there, since it affected not

her personally alone, but the public interests of Scotland. "And

now," she continued, in substance, "I am sorry that I asked such a

favor of her. I have no need to ask it, for I am sure I have a right

to return from France to my own country without asking permission of

any one. You have often told me that the queen wished to be on

friendly terms with me, and that it was your opinion that to be

friends would be best for us both. But now I see that she is not of

your mind, but is disposed to treat me in an unkind and unfriendly

manner, while she knows that I am her equal in rank, though I do not

pretend to be her equal in abilities and experience. Well she may do

as she pleases. If my preparations were not so far advanced, perhaps

I should give up the voyage. But I am resolved to go. I hope the

winds will prove favorable, and carry me away from her shores. If

they carry me upon them, and I fall into her hands, she may make what

disposal of me she will. If I lose my life, I shall esteem it no

great loss, for it is now little else than a burden."



How strongly this speech expresses "that mixture of melancholy and

dignity, of womanly softness and noble decision, which pervaded her

character." There is a sort of gentleness even in her anger, and a

certain indescribable womanly charm in the workings of her mind,

which cause all who read her story, while they can not but think that

Elizabeth was right, to sympathize wholly with Mary.



Throckmorton, at one of his conversations with Mary, took occasion to

ask her respecting her religious views, as Elizabeth wished to know

how far she was fixed and committed in her attachment to the Catholic

faith. Mary said that she was born and had been brought up a

Catholic, and that she should remain so as long as she lived. She

would not interfere, she said, with her subjects adopting such form

of religion as they might prefer, but for herself she should not

change. If she should change, she said, she should justly lose the

confidence of her people; for, if they saw that she was light and

fickle on that subject, they could not rely upon her in respect to

any other. She did not profess to be able to argue, herself, the

questions of difference, but she was not wholly uninformed in respect

to them, as she had often heard the points discussed by learned men,

and had found nothing to lead her to change her ground.



It is impossible for any reader, whether Protestant or Catholic, not

to admire the frankness and candor, the honest conscientiousness, the

courage, and, at the same time, womanly modesty and propriety which

characterize this reply.





Master Talbot And His Charge Mother And Child facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Feedback