The Long Captivity


Dumbarton Castle.--The situation and aspect.--Attempt to

retreat to Dumbarton.--Mary's forces defeated.--Mary's

flight.--Dundrennan.--Consultations.--Carlisle Castle.--Mary's

message to the governor.--Lowther.--Mary's reception at the

castle.--Is Mary a guest or a prisoner?--Precautions for

guarding her.--Elizabeth's hypocrisy.--Dishonorable

proposal.--Removal.--Separation from friends.--Proposed

trial.--Opening of the court.--Adjourned to London.--Failure

of the trial.--Mary's indignant pride.--Elizabeth's negotiations

with Murray.--Their failure.--Cruel treatment of Lady

Hamilton.--Hamilton resolves on revenge.--Hamilton's plans.--Death

of Murray.--Hamilton's flight.--Mary's grief.--Duke of Norfolk

beheaded.--Mary's unhappy situation.--Mary almost forgotten in

her captivity.

Hamilton, which had been thus far the queen's place of rendezvous,

was a palace rather than a castle, and therefore not a place of

defense. It was situated, as has been already stated, on the River

Clyde, above Glasgow; that is, toward the southeast of it, the

River Clyde flowing toward the northwest. The Castle of Dumbarton,

which has already been mentioned as the place from which Mary

embarked for France in her early childhood, was below Glasgow, on the

northern shore of the river. It stands there still in good repair,

and is well garrisoned; it crowns a rock which rises abruptly from

the midst of a comparatively level country, smiling with villages and

cultivated fields, and frowns sternly upon the peaceful steamers and

merchant ships which are continually gliding along under its guns, up

and down the Clyde.

Queen Mary concluded to move forward to Dumbarton, it being a place

of greater safety than Hamilton. Murray gathered his forces to

intercept her march. The two armies met near Glasgow, as the queen

was moving westward, down the river. There was a piece of rising

ground between them, which each party was eager to ascend before the

other should reach it. The leader of the forces on Murray's side

ordered every horseman to take up a foot-soldier behind him, and ride

with all speed to the top of the hill. By this means the great body

of Murray's troops were put in possession of the vantage ground. The

queen's forces took post on another rising ground, less favorable, at

a little distance. The place was called Langside. A cannonading was

soon commenced, and a general battle ensued. Mary watched the

progress of it with intense emotions. Her forces began soon to give

way, and before many hours they were retreating in all directions,

the whole country being soon covered with the awful spectacles which

are afforded by one terrified and panic-stricken army flying before

the furious and triumphant rage of another. Mary gazed on the scene

in an agony of grief and despair.

A few faithful friends kept near her side, and told her that she must

hurry away. They turned to the southward, and rode away from the

ground. They pressed on as rapidly as possible toward the southern

coast, thinking that the only safety for Mary now was for her to make

her escape from the country altogether, and go either to England or

to France, in hopes of obtaining foreign aid to enable her to recover

her throne. They at length reached the sea-coast. Mary was received

into an abbey called Dundrennan, not far from the English frontier.

Here she remained, with a few nobles and a small body of attendants,

for two days, spending the time in anxious consultations to determine

what should be done. Mary herself was in favor of going to England,

and appealing to Elizabeth for protection and help. Her friends and

advisers, knowing Elizabeth perhaps better than Mary did, recommended

that she should sail for France, in hopes of awakening sympathy

there. But Mary, as we might naturally have expected, considering the

circumstances under which she left that country, found herself

extremely unwilling to go there as a fugitive and a suppliant. It was

decided, finally, to go to England.

The nearest stronghold in England was Carlisle Castle, which was not

very far from the frontier. The boundary between the two kingdoms is

formed here by the Solway Frith, a broad arm of the sea. Dundrennan

Abbey, to which Mary had retreated, was near the town of

Kirkcudbright, which is, of course, on the northern side of the

Frith; it is also near the sea. Carlisle is further up the Frith,

near where the River Solway empties into it, and is twenty or thirty

miles from the shore.

Mary sent a messenger to the governor of the castle at Carlisle to

inquire whether he would receive and protect her. She could not,

however, wait for an answer to this message, as the country was all

in commotion, and she was exposed to an attack at any time from

Murray's forces, in which case, even if they should not succeed in

taking her captive, they might effectually cut off her retreat from

Scottish ground. She accordingly determined to proceed immediately,

and receive the answer from the governor of the castle on the way.

She set out on the 16th of May. Eighteen or twenty persons

constituted her train. This was all that remained to her of her army

of six thousand men. She proceeded to the shore. They provided a

fishing-boat for the voyage, furnishing it as comfortably for her as

circumstances would admit. She embarked, and sailed along the coast,

eastward, up the Frith, for about eighteen miles, gazing mournfully

upon the receding shore of her native land--receding, in fact, now

from her view forever. They landed at the most convenient port for

reaching Carlisle, intending to take the remainder of the journey by


In the mean time, the messenger, on his arrival at Carlisle, found

that the governor had gone to London. His second in rank, whom he had

left in command, immediately sent off an express after him to inform

him of the event. The name of this lieutenant-governor was Lowther.

Lowther did all in Mary's favor that it was in his power to do. He

directed the messenger to inform her that he had sent to London for

instructions from Elizabeth, but that, in the mean time, she would be

a welcome guest in his castle, and that he would defend her there

from all her enemies. He then sent around to all the nobles and men

of distinction in the neighborhood, informing them of the arrival of

the distinguished visitor, and having assembled them, they proceeded

together toward the coast to meet and receive the unhappy fugitive

with the honors becoming her rank, though such honors must have

seemed little else than a mockery in her present condition.

Mary was received at the castle as an honored guest. It is, however,

a curious circumstance, that, in respect to the reception of princes

and queens in royal castles, there is little or no distinction

between the ceremonies which mark the honored guest and those which

attend the helpless captive. Mary had a great many friends at first,

who came out of Scotland to visit her. The authorities ordered

repairs to be commenced upon the castle, to fit it more suitably for

so distinguished an inmate, and, in consequence of the making of

these repairs, they found it inconvenient to admit visitors. Of

course, Mary, being a mere guest, could not complain. She wanted to

take a walk beyond the limits of the castle, upon a green to which

there was access through a postern gate. Certainly: the governor made

no objection to such a walk, but sent twenty or thirty armed men to

accompany her. They might be considered either as an honorary escort,

or as a guard to watch her movements, to prevent her escape, and to

secure her return. At one time she proposed to go a-hunting. They

allowed her to go, properly attended. On her return, however, the

officer reported to his superior that she was so admirable in her

horsemanship, and could ride with so much fearlessness and speed,

that he thought it might be possible for a body of her friends to

come and carry her off, on some such occasion, back across the

frontier. So they determined to tell Mary, when she wished to hunt

again, that they thought it not safe for her to go out on such

excursions, as her enemies might make a sudden invasion and carry

her away. The precautions would be just the same to protect Mary from

her enemies as to keep her from her friends.

Elizabeth sent her captive cousin very kind and condoling messages,

dispatching, however, by the same messenger stringent orders to the

commander of the castle to be sure and keep her safely. Mary asked

for an interview with Elizabeth. Elizabeth's officers replied that

she could not properly admit Mary to a personal interview until she

had been, in some way or other, cleared of the suspicion which

attached to her in respect to the murder of Darnley. They proposed,

moreover, that Mary should consent to have that question examined

before some sort of court which Elizabeth might constitute for this

purpose. Now it is a special point of honor among all sovereign

kings and queens, throughout the civilized world, that they can,

technically, do no wrong; that they can not in any way be brought to

trial; and especially that they can not be, by any means or in any

way, amenable to each other. Mary refused to acknowledge any English

jurisdiction whatever in respect to any charges brought against her,

a sovereign queen of Scotland.

Elizabeth removed her prisoner to another castle further from the

frontier than Carlisle, in order to place her in a situation where

she would be more safe from her enemies. It was not convenient to

lodge so many of her attendants at these new quarters as in the other

fortress, and several were dismissed. Additional obstructions were

thrown in the way of her seeing friends and visitors from Scotland.

Mary found her situation growing every day more and more helpless and

desolate. Elizabeth urged continually upon her the necessity of

having the points at issue between herself and Murray examined by a

commissioner, artfully putting it on the ground, not of a trial of

Mary, but a calling of Murray to account, by Mary, for his

usurpation. At last, harassed and worn down, and finding no ray of

hope coming to her from any quarter, she consented. Elizabeth

constituted such a court, which was to meet at York, a large and

ancient city in the north of England. Murray was to appear there in

person, with other lords associated with him. Mary appointed

commissioners to appear for her; and the two parties went into court,

each thinking that it was the other which was accused and on trial.

The court assembled, and, after being opened with great parade and

ceremony, commenced the investigation of the questions at issue,

which led, of course, to endless criminations and recriminations, the

ground covering the whole history of Mary's career in Scotland. They

went on for some weeks in this hopeless labyrinth, until, at length,

Murray produced the famous letters alleged to have been written by

Mary to Bothwell before Darnley's murder, as a part of the evidence,

and charged Mary, on the strength of this evidence, with having been

an abettor in the murder. Elizabeth, finding that the affair was

becoming, as in fact she wished it to become, more and more involved,

and wishing to get Mary more and more entangled in it, and to draw

her still further into her power, ordered the conference, as the

court was called, to be adjourned to London. Here things took such a

turn that Mary complained that she was herself treated in so unjust a

manner, and Murray and his cause were allowed so many unfair

advantages, that she could not allow the discussion on her part to

continue. The conference was accordingly broken up, each party

charging the other with being the cause of the interruption.

Murray returned to Scotland to resume his government there. Mary was

held a closer captive than ever. She sent to Elizabeth asking her to

remove these restraints, and allow her to depart either to her own

country or to France. Elizabeth replied that she could not,

considering all the circumstances of the case, allow her to leave

England; but that, if she would give up all claims to the government

of Scotland to her son, the young prince, she might remain in peace

in England. Mary replied that she would suffer death a thousand

times rather than dishonor herself in the eyes of the world by

abandoning, in such a way, her rights as a sovereign. The last words

which she should speak, she said, should be those of the Queen of


Elizabeth therefore considered that she had no alternative left but

to keep Mary a prisoner. She accordingly retained her for some time

in confinement, but she soon found that such a charge was a serious

incumbrance to her, and one not unattended with danger. The

disaffected in her own realm were beginning to form plots, and to

consider whether they could not, in some way or other, make use of

Mary's claims to the English crown to aid them. Finally, Elizabeth

came to the conclusion, when she had become a little satiated with

the feeling, at first so delightful, of having Mary in her power,

that, after all, it would be quite as convenient to have her

imprisoned in Scotland, and she opened a negotiation with Murray for

delivering Mary into his hands. He was, on his part, to agree to save

her life, and to keep her a close prisoner, and he was to deliver

hostages to Elizabeth as security for the fulfillment of these


Various difficulties, however, occurred in the way of the

accomplishment of these plans, and before the arrangement was finally

completed, it was cut suddenly short by Murray's miserable end. One

of the Hamiltons, who had been with Mary at Langside, was taken

prisoner after the battle. Murray, who, of course, as the legally

constituted regent in the name of James, considered himself as

representing the royal authority of the kingdom, regarded these

prisoners as rebels taken in the act of insurrection against their

sovereign. They were condemned to death, but finally were pardoned at

the place of execution. Their estates were, however, confiscated, and

given to the followers and favorites of Murray.

One of these men, in taking possession of the house of Hamilton, with

a cruel brutality characteristic of the times, turned Hamilton's

family out abruptly in a cold night--perhaps exasperated by

resistance which he may have encountered. The wife of Hamilton, it is

said, was sent out naked; but the expression means, probably, very

insufficiently clothed for such an exposure. At any rate, the unhappy

outcast wandered about, half frantic with anger and terror, until,

before morning, she was wholly frantic and insane. To have such a

calamity brought upon him in consequence merely of his fidelity to

his queen, was, as the bereaved and wretched husband thought, an

injury not to be borne. He considered Murray the responsible author

of these miseries, and silently and calmly resolved on a terrible


Murray was making a progress through the country, traveling in state

with a great retinue, and was to pass through Linlithgow. There is a

town of that name close by the palace. Hamilton provided himself with

a room in one of the houses on the principal street, through which he

knew that Murray must pass. He had a fleet horse ready for him at the

back door. The front door was barricaded. There was a sort of balcony

or gallery projecting toward the street, with a window in it. He

stationed himself here, having carefully taken every precaution to

prevent his being seen from the street, or overheard in his

movements. Murray lodged in the town during the night, and Hamilton

posted himself in his ambuscade the next morning, armed with a gun.

The town was thronged, and Murray, on issuing from his lodging,

escorted by his cavalcade, found the streets crowded with spectators.

He made his way slowly, on account of the throng. When he arrived at

the proper point, Hamilton took his aim in a cool and deliberate

manner, screened from observation by black cloths with which he had

darkened his hiding-place. He fired. The ball passed through the body

of the regent, and thence, descending as it went, killed a horse on

the other side of him. Murray fell. There was a universal outcry of

surprise and fear. They made an onset upon the house from which the

shot had been fired. The door was strongly barricaded. Before they

could get the means to force an entrance, Hamilton was on his horse

and far away. The regent was carried to his lodgings, and died that


Murray was Queen Mary's half brother, and the connection of his

fortunes with hers, considered in respect to its intimacy and the

length of its duration, was, on the whole, greater than that of any

other individual. He may be said to have governed Scotland, in

reality, during the whole of Mary's nominal reign, first as her

minister and friend, and afterward as her competitor and foe. He was,

at any rate, during most of her life, her nearest relative and her

most constant companion, and Mary mourned his death with many tears.

There was a great nobleman in England, named the Duke of Norfolk, who

had vast estates, and was regarded as the greatest subject in the

realm. He was a Catholic. Among the other countless schemes and plots

to which Mary's presence in England gave rise, he formed a plan of

marrying her, and, through her claim to the crown and by the help of

the Catholics, to overturn the government of Elizabeth. He entered

into negotiations with Mary, and she consented to become his wife,

without, however, as she says, being a party to his political

schemes. His plots were discovered; he was imprisoned, tried, and

beheaded. Mary was accused of sharing the guilt of his treason. She

denied this. She was not very vigorously proceeded against, but she

suffered in the event of the affair another sad disappointment of her

hopes of liberty, and her confinement became more strict and absolute

than ever.

Still she had quite a numerous retinue of attendants. Many of her

former friends were allowed to continue with her. Jane Kennedy, who

had escaped with her from Loch Leven, remained in her service. She

was removed from castle to castle, at Elizabeth's orders, to diminish

the probability of the forming and maturing of plans of escape. She

amused herself sometimes in embroidery and similar pursuits, and

sometimes she pined and languished under the pressure of her sorrows

and woes. Sixteen or eighteen years passed away in this manner. She

was almost forgotten. Very exciting public events were taking place

in England and in Scotland, and the name of the poor captive queen

at length seemed to pass from men's minds, except so far as it was

whispered secretly in plots and intrigues.

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