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Mary's Marriage Personal Appearance And Popularity

Mary The Queen Dauphiness The Queen And The Queen Dowager Of France

A Tangle

An Examination Of The Letters Sonnets And Other Writings Adduced In Evidence Against Mary Queen Of Scots

Occurrences Immediately Preceding Darnley's Death

The Little Waif

Paul's Walk



Mary's Birth And Subsequent Residence At The French Court

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Return To Scotland

My Lady's Remorse

The Bewitched Whistle

Hunting Down The Deer

Mary's Eighteen Years' Captivity

Queen Mary's Presence Chamber

Mary's Reception In England And The Conferences At York And Westminster

The Love Token

Before The Commissioners

The Ebbing Well

Bothwell's Trial And Acquittal

During the whole of the day that succeeded her husband's death, (Monday
the 10th of February 1567), Mary shut herself up in her own apartment, and
would see no one. Bothwell was anxious to have conversed with her, but
overpowered with grief, she was unable to listen to any thing he wished to
say. In the meantime all was confusion and dismay in Edinburgh, and
wherever the news of this strange murder arrived, a thousand contradictory
reports went abroad. Some suspected one thing, and some another; and it
must be recollected, that although, at a subsequent date, facts came out
sufficient to fix the guilt upon those who had really committed the crime,
as yet there was nothing but mere vague conjecture. Mary herself was lost
in wonder and doubt. Most of the nobility who were near her wished to
persuade her, at Bothwell's instigation, that her husband's death was
either the effect of accident, or that it had been brought about by the
malice and villany of some obscure and ignoble traitors; and every
endeavour being thus made to mislead her, she was the very last who could
be expected to know the truth. Accordingly, it appears by a letter she
wrote to the Archbishop of Glasgow, her ambassador at Paris, on Tuesday
the 11th (two days after the murder), that she was still but very
imperfectly informed even of the manner of Darnley's death. This letter,
at once so simple and natural, must not be omitted here. She had, the same
morning, received a despatch from her ambassador, in which he had
expressed a fear, that the pardon she had lately given to Morton, Ruthven,
Lindsay and others, might involve her in trouble. Mary's answer was as

"Most Reverend Father in God, and trust Counsellor, we greet you well: We
have received this morning your letters of the 27th January, by your
servant Robert Dury, containing in part such advertisement as we find by
effect over true, albeit the success has not altogether been such as the
authors of that mischievous fact had preconceived in their mind, and had
put it in execution, if God in his mercy had not preserved us and reserved
us, as we trust, to the end that we may take a vigorous vengeance of that
mischievous deed, which, before it should remain unpunished, we had rather
lose life and all. The matter is horrible, and so strange, that we believe
the like was never heard of in any country. This night past, being the 9th
February, a little after two hours after midnight, the house wherein the
King was lodged was in an instant blown in the air, he lying sleeping in
his bed, with such a vehemency, that of the whole lodging, walls, and
other, there is nothing remaining,--no, not a stone above another, but
all either carried far away, or dung in dross to the very ground-stone. It
must be done by force of powder, and appears to have been a mine. By
whom it has been done, or in what manner, it appears not as yet. We doubt
not but, according to the diligence our Council has begun already to use,
the certainty of all shall be obtained shortly; and the same being
discovered, which we wot God will never suffer to lie hid, we hope to
punish the same with such rigour, as shall serve for example of this
cruelty to all ages to come. At all events, whoever has taken this wicked
enterprise in hand, we assure ourself it was devised as well for us as for
the King; for we lay all the most part of all the last week in that same
lodging, and were there accompanied with the most part of the lords that
are in this town, that same night at midnight, and of very chance tarried
not all night, by reason of some masque in the Abbey; but we believe it
was not chance, but God that put it in our head. We despatch this
bearer upon the sudden, and therefore write to you the more shortly. The
rest of your letter we shall answer at more leisure, within four or five
days, by your own servant; and so, for the present, commit you to Almighty
God.--At Edinburgh, the 11th day of February 1556-7.--MARIE R."

In accordance with the resolution intimated in the above letter, to seek
out and vigorously punish her husband's murderers, a proclamation was
issued upon Wednesday the 12th, immediately after an inquisition had been
taken by the Justice-General, offering a reward of two thousand pounds,
and "an honest yearly rent," to whosoever should reveal "the persons,
devisers, counsellors, or actual committers of the said mischievous and
treasonable murder," and promising besides to the first revealer, although
a partaker of the crime, a free pardon. The same proclamation declared,
that as "Almighty God would never suffer so horrible a deed to lie hid,
so, before it should remain untried, the Queen's Majesty, unto whom of all
others the case was most grievous, would rather lose life and all." In
the mean time, not knowing but that the same traitors who had murdered her
husband, might intend a similar fate for herself, Mary removed to the
Castle, as a place of greater security than Holyrood Palace. There she
remained shut up in a dark chamber, hung with black, till after Darnley's
burial. He lay in the Chapel at Holyrood, from the 12th to the 15th of
February. His body having been embalmed, he was then interred in the royal
vault, in which King James V., together with his first wife, Magdalene,
and his two infant sons, Mary's brothers, lay. Buchanan, and his follower
Laing, have both insisted upon the nocturnal secrecy and indifference with
which the funeral ceremony was conducted. "The nobles that were there
present," says Buchanan, "decreed, that a stately and honourable funeral
should be made for him; but the Queen ordered it so, that he was carried
by private bearers in the night-time, and was buried in no manner of
state." The interpretation to be put upon this insidious passage is, that
the Protestant Lords proposed to bury Darnley after the Presbyterian form,
and that Mary refused her consent, and, in consequence, only the Catholics
attended. "The ceremonies indeed," says Lesley, "were the fewer, because
that the greatest part of the Council were Protestants, and had before
interred their own parents without accustomed solemnities." That
Mary's calumniators should have insisted upon this circumstance at all,
only shows how eager they were to avail themselves of everything which
they could pervert to their own purposes. Had Mary wished to act the
hypocrite, nothing could have been easier for her than to have made a
great parade at Darnley's funeral.

Bothwell, in the mean time, kept as quiet as possible, attending, as
usual, at court, and taking care always to be present at the meetings of
the Privy Council. But he had lighted a torch which was not to be
extinguished, till it had blazed over Scotland, and kindled his own
funeral pyre. On whatever grounds the suspicion had gone abroad, (and it
is difficult to say why public attention should so soon have been directed
to him as the perpetrator of the late murder, unless we suppose Murray, or
some of his other accomplices, to have been now eager to publish his
guilt, in order to accomplish his ruin), it is at all events certain, that
in a few days after the proclamation for the discovery of the assassins
had been issued, a placard was set up at night, on the door of the
Tolbooth of Edinburgh, in which it was affirmed, that the Earl of
Bothwell, together with a Mr James Balfour, a Mr David Chalmers, and a Mr
John Spence, were the persons principally concerned in the crime, and that
the Queen herself was "assenting thereto." It might be reasonably
concluded, that no notice whatever would be taken of an anonymous paper
thus expressed; but the Queen, even although it insultingly accused
herself, was so anxious to have the matter of the murder investigated,
that she caused another proclamation to be issued, without waiting for the
advice of her Privy Council, desiring the author of the placard to divulge
his name, and promising that if he could show there was any truth in any
part of his averment, he should receive the promised reward. A second
placard was stuck up in answer, requiring the money to be lodged in honest
hands, and three of the Queen's servants, whom it named, to be put in
arrest; and undertaking, as soon as these conditions were complied with,
that the author and four friends would discover themselves. This was so
palpable an evasion, that it of course met with no attention. To suppose
that Government would take upon itself the charge of partiality, and place
the public money in what an anonymous writer might consider "honest
hands," was too grossly absurd to have been proposed by any one who really
wished to do his country a service.

The circumstance of Bothwell's name being mentioned in these placards, in
conjunction with that of the Queen, probably operated in his favour with
Mary. Conscious of her own innocence, she would very naturally suppose
that the charge was equally calumnious in regard to him; for if she knew
it to be false in one particular, what dependence could she place upon its
truth in any other? At the same time, she could not of course see her
husband murdered, almost before her eyes, without making various surmises
concerning the real author and cause of his death. Her accusers, however,
seem to suppose that she ought to have been gifted with an almost
miraculous power of discovering the guilty. Only a few days before, every
thing had been proceeding smoothly; and she herself, with renovated
spirits, was enjoying the returning health and affection of her husband.
In a moment the scene was overclouded; her husband was barbarously slain;
and all Scotland was in a ferment. Yet around the Queen all wore the same
aspect. Murray was living quietly in Fife; her secretary Maitland was
proceeding as usual with the official details of public business; the Earl
of Morton had not yet returned to Court, and he also was in Fife; the
Archbishop of St Andrews was busied in bolstering up the last remains of
Catholicism; Athol, Caithness, Huntly, Argyle, Bothwell, Cassils, and
Sutherland, were attending their Sovereign, as faithful and attached
servants ought. Where then was she to look for the traitor who had raised
his hand against her husband's life and her own happiness? Whom was she to
suspect? Was it Murray?--he had left town without any sufficient cause, on
the very day of Darnley's death, and had hated him ever since he put his
foot in Scotland. Was it Morton?--he had returned recently from
banishment, and that banishment had been the result of Darnley's
treachery, and had not Morton assassinated Rizzio, with far less grounds
of offence? Was it Argyle?--the Lennox family had stripped him of some of
his possessions, and the King's death might, perhaps, be the means of
restoring them to him. Was it the Hamiltons?--they were the hereditary
enemies of the house of Lennox, and Darnley had blasted for ever their
hopes of succession to the throne. Was it Huntly? Was it Athol? Was it
Bothwell? It was less likely to be any of these, because Darnley had never
come into direct collision with them. By what art, or superior
penetration, was Mary to make a discovery which was baffling the whole of
Scotland? Was she surrounded by the very men who had done the deed, and
who used every means to lead her astray from the truth; yet was she to be
able to single out the criminal at a glance, and hurl upon him her just

Worn out by her griefs and her perplexities, her doubts and her fears,
Mary's health began to give way, and her friends prevailed upon her to
leave for a short time her confinement in Edinburgh Castle, and visit
Seaton House, a country residence of which she was fond, only seven miles
off. Lesley, after describing Mary's melancholy sojourn in the Castle,
adds, that she would have "continued a longer time in this lamentable
wise, had she not been most earnestly dehorted by the vehement
exhortations and persuasions of her Council, who were moved thereto by her
physicians informations, declaring to them the great and imminent dangers
of her health and life, if she did not in all speed break up and leave
that kind of close and solitary life, and repair to some good open and
wholesome air; which she did, being thus advised, and earnestly thereto
solicited by her said council." She went to Seaton on the 16th of
February, accompanied by a very considerable train, among whom were the
Earls of Argyle, Huntly, Bothwell, Arbroath, the Archbishop of St Andrews,
the Lords Fleming and Livingston, and Secretary Maitland. It was here
that a correspondence took place between the Queen and the Earl of Lennox,
Darnley's father, which deserves attention.

In his first letter, the Earl thanked her Majesty for the trouble and
labour she took to discover and bring to trial those who were guilty of
the "late cruel act;" but as the offenders were not yet known, he
beseeched her Highness to assemble, with all convenient diligence, the
whole nobility and estates of the realm, that they, acting in conjunction
with her Majesty, might take such steps as should seem most likely to make
manifest the "bloody and cruel actors of the deed." This letter was dated
the 20th of February 1567. Mary replied to it on the 21st; and in her
answer, assured Lennox that in showing him all the pleasure and goodwill
in her power, she did only her duty, and that which her natural affection
prompted, adding, that on that affection he might always depend, "so long
as God gave her life." As to the assembling of her nobility, she informed
him, that shortly before the receipt of his letter, she had desired a
Parliament to be summoned, and that as soon as it met, the death of
Darnley would be the first subject which it would be called upon to
consider. Lennox wrote again on the 26th, to explain, that when he advised
her Majesty to assemble her nobility, he did not allude to the holding of
a Parliament, which he knew could not be done immediately. But because he
had heard of certain placards which had been set up in Edinburgh, in which
certain persons were named as the devisers of the murder, he requested
that these persons should be apprehended and imprisoned, that the nobility
and Council should be assembled, and that the writers of the placards
should be required to appear before them, and be confronted with those
whom they had accused; and that if they refused to appear, or did not make
good their charge, the persons slandered should be exonerated and set at
liberty. A proposal so very unconstitutional could not have been made by
Lennox, unless misled by the ardour of his paternal feelings, or
instigated by some personal enmity towards Bothwell. If Mary had ventured
to throw into prison every one accused in an anonymous bill, there is no
saying where the abuse might have ended. The most worthless coward might
have thus revenged himself upon those he hated; and law and justice would
have degenerated into despotism, or civil anarchy. The Queen, therefore,
informed Lennox, that although, as she had already written, she had
summoned a Parliament, and should lay the matter of the murder before it,
it was never her intention to allow it to sleep in the mean time. Her
Lords and Council would of course continue to exert themselves, but her
whole nobility could not be assembled till the Parliament met. As to his
desire, that the persons named in the placards should be apprehended,
there had been so many, and so contrary statements made in these placards,
that she knew not to which in particular he alluded; and besides, that she
could not find herself justified in throwing any of her subjects into
prison upon such authority; but that, if he himself would condescend upon
the names of such persons as he thought deserved a trial, she would order
that trial to take place immediately. She was anxious that Lennox should
take this responsibility upon himself, for she had hitherto been kept much
in the dark, and was glad to have the assistance of one almost as desirous
as herself to come to the truth. She invited him, therefore, in her letter
of the 1st of March, to write to her again immediately, with any other
suggestion which might occur to him, because she was determined "not to
omit any occasion which might clear the matter." It was the 17th of March
before Lennox again addressed the Queen. He thanked her Majesty for her
attention to his wishes; he marvelled that the names of the persons upon
the placards, against whom the greatest suspicions were entertained, "had
been kept from her Majesty's ears;" and, as she requested it, he now
named them himself, putting the Earl of Bothwell first, and several other
inferior persons after him. He did not undertake to be their accuser,
confessing that he had no evidence of their guilt; but he said he greatly
suspected Bothwell, and hoped "her Majesty, now knowing their names, and
being a party, as well and more than he was, although he was the father,
would take order in the matter according to the weight of the cause."
Mary, who had by this time returned to Edinburgh, wrote to Lennox, the
very day after the receipt of his letter, that she had summoned her
nobility to come to Edinburgh the first week of April; and that, as soon
as they came, the persons named in his letter should "abide and underlie
such trial, as by the laws of the realm was usual."--"They being found
culpable," Mary added, "in any way of that crime and odious fact, named in
the placards, and whereof you suspect them, we shall even, according to
our former letter, see the condign punishment as vigorously and extremely
executed as the weight of that fact deserves; for, indeed, as you write,
we esteem ourself a party if we were resolute of the authors." She further
entreated Lennox to come to Edinburgh, that he might be present at the
trial, and lend his assistance to it. "You shall there have experience,"
she concluded, "of our earnest will and effectuous mind to have an end in
this matter, and the authors of so unworthy a deed really punished."

The Queen, having waited anxiously till something should occur which might
lead to the detection of the murderers, hoped that a clue to the mystery
was now about to be discovered. It was a bold and perhaps almost too
strong a measure, to arraign a nobleman so powerful, and apparently so
respected as Bothwell, of so serious a crime, upon such vague suspicion;
but if Mary in this instance exceeded the due limits of her constituted
authority, it was an error which leant to virtue's side, and the feelings
of an insulted Queen and afflicted wife must plead her excuse. Her Privy
Council, which she summoned immediately upon the receipt of Lennox's last
letter, and before whom she laid it, passed an act directing the trial of
the Earl of Bothwell, and the other suspected persons named by Lennox. The
trial was fixed to take place on the 12th day of April 1567; letters were
directed to the Earl of Lennox to inform him of it, and proclamations were
made in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dumbarton, and other places, calling upon all
who would accuse Bothwell, or his accomplices, to appear in court on the
day appointed. The Council, however, would not authorize the
imprisonment of the suspected persons, seeing that it was only anonymous
placards which had excited that suspicion.

As soon as the Earl of Lennox got intimation of the intended trial, he set
out for Edinburgh from his estate in Dumbartonshire. Not choosing to
proceed thither direct, in consequence of the enmity which he knew
Bothwell must bear to him, he went to Stirling, where it was understood he
was engaged in collecting all the evidence in his power. Nor can Bothwell
be supposed to have felt very easy, under the prospect of his approaching
trial. He counted, however, on the good offices of his friends among the
nobility; and having removed all who might have been witnesses against
him, and brought into Edinburgh a numerous body of retainers, he resolved
to brazen out the accusation with his usual audacity. He even affected to
complain that he had not been treated with sufficient fairness; that a
paper affixed privately to the door of the Tolbooth had been made the
means of involving him in serious trouble; and that, instead of the usual
term of forty days, only fifteen had been allowed him to prepare for his
defence. He assumed the air, therefore, of an injured and innocent
man; and he was well borne out in this character by the countenance he
received from most of the Lords then at court. We learn from Killigrew,
that twenty days after Bothwell had been placarded, he dined with him at
the Earl of Murray's, who had by this time returned from Fife, in company
with Huntly, Argyle, and Lethington.

The day of trial now drew near; but, to her astonishment, Mary received a
letter only twenty-four hours before it was to take place, from the Earl
of Lennox, who did not exactly see how he was to carry through his
accusation, and therefore wished that the case should be postponed. The
letter was dated from Stirling, and mentioned two causes which he said
would prevent him from coming to Edinburgh; one was sickness, and the
other the short time which had been allowed him to prepare for making
good his charge. He asked, therefore, that the Queen would imprison the
suspected persons, and would delay the trial till he had collected his
friends and his proofs. This request disappointed Mary exceedingly.
She had hurried on the trial as much to gratify Lennox as herself; but she
now saw that, in asking for it at all, he had been guided more by the
feeling of the moment, than by any rational conviction of its propriety.
To postpone it without the consent of the accused, who had by this time
made the necessary preparations for their defence, was of course out of
the question; and, if the time originally mentioned was too short, why did
Lennox not write to that effect, as soon as he received intimation of the
day appointed? If she put off the trial now, for any thing she knew it
might never come on at all. Her enemies, however, were determined,
whatever she did, to discover some cause of complaint;--if she urged it
on, they would accuse her of precipitancy; if she postponed it, they would
charge her with indifference. Elizabeth, in particular, under the pretence
of a mighty anxiety that Mary should do what was most honourable and
requisite, insolently suggested that suspicion might attach to herself,
unless she complied with the request made by Lennox. "For the love of God,
Madam," she hypocritically and insidiously wrote to Mary, "conduct
yourself with such sincerity and prudence, in a case which touches you so
nearly, that all the world may have reason to pronounce you innocent of a
crime so enormous, which, unless they did, you would deserve to be blotted
out from the rank of Princesses, and to become odious even to the vulgar,
rather than see which, I would wish you an honourable sepulchre." Just
as if any one did suspect Mary, or as if any monarch in Christendom
would have dared to hint the possibility of her being an adulterous
murderess, except her jealous rival Elizabeth, pining in the chagrined
malevolence of antiquated virginity. The real motives which dictated this
epistle became the more apparent, when we learn that it was not written
till the 8th of April, and could not at the very soonest reach Edinburgh
till the morning of the very day on which the trial was to take place, and
probably not till after it was over. The truth is, the very moment she
heard of Darnley's death, Elizabeth had eagerly considered in her own mind
the possibility of involving "her good sister" in the guilt attached to
those who had murdered him, and was now the very first who openly
attempted to lead the thoughts of the Scottish Queen's subjects into that
channel;--she was the very first who commenced laying the train which
produced in the end so fatal a catastrophe.

On Saturday, the 12th of April 1567, a Justiciary Court was held in the
tolbooth of Edinburgh, for the trial of the Earl of Bothwell. The Lord
High Justice the Earl of Argyle presided, attended by four assessors, or
legal advisers, two of whom, Mr James MacGill and Mr Henry Balnaves, were
Senators of the College of Justice; the third was Robert Pitcairn,
Commendator of Dumfermlin, and the fourth was Lord Lindsay. The usual
preliminary formalities having been gone through, the indictment was read,
in which Bothwell was accused of being "art and part of the cruel, odious,
treasonable, and abominable slaughter and murder, of the umwhile the Right
High and Mighty Prince the King's Grace, dearest spouse for the time to
our Sovereign Lady the Queen's Majesty." He was then called as
defender on the one side, and Matthew Earl of Lennox, and all others the
Queen's lieges, who wished to pursue in the matter, on the other. Bothwell
appeared immediately at the bar, supported by the Earl of Morton, and two
gentlemen who were to act as his advocates. But the Earl of Lennox, or
other pursuers, though frequently called, did not appear. At length Robert
Cunningham, one of Lennox's servants, stepped forward, and produced a
writing in the shape of a protest, which his master had authorized him to
deliver. It stated, that the cause of the Earl's absence was the shortness
of time, and the want of friends and retainers to accompany him to the
place of trial; and it therefore objected to the decision of any assize
which might be held that day. In reply to this protest, the letters of the
Earl of Lennox to the Queen, in which he desired that a short and summary
process might be taken against the suspected persons, were produced and
read; and it was maintained by the Earl of Bothwell's counsel, that the
trial ought to proceed immediately, according to the laws of the realm,
and the wish of the party accused. The judges, having heard both sides,
were of opinion that Bothwell had a right to insist upon the trial going
on. A jury was therefore chosen, which does not seem to have consisted of
persons particularly friendly to the Earl. It was composed of the Earls of
Rothes, Caithness, and Cassils, Lord John Hamilton, son to the Duke of
Chatelherault, Lords Ross, Semple, Herries, Oliphant, and Boyd, the Master
of Forbes, Gordon of Lochinvar, Cockburn of Langton, Sommerville of
Cambusnethan, Mowbray of Barnbougle, and Ogilby of Boyne. Bothwell pled
not guilty; and, no evidence appearing against him, the jury retired,
and were out of court for some time. When they returned, their verdict,
delivered by the Earl of Caithness, whom they had chosen their chancellor,
unanimously acquitted Bothwell of the slaughter of the King.

Immediately after his acquittal, Bothwell, as was customary in those
times, published a challenge, in which he offered to fight hand to hand,
with any man who would avow that he still suspected him to have had a
share in the King's death; but nobody ventured openly to accept it. As
far, therefore, as appearances were concerned, he was now able to stand
upon higher ground than ever, and boldly to declare, that whosoever was
guilty, he had been found innocent. Accordingly, at the Parliament which
met on the 14th of April, he appeared in great state, with banners flying,
and a numerous body of retainers; and in compliment to him, an act was
passed, in which it was set forth, that "by a licentious abuse lately come
into practice within this realm, there had been placards and bills and
tickets of defamation, set up under silence of night, in diverse public
places, to the slander, reproach and infamy of the Queen's majesty and
diverse of the nobility; which disorder, if it were suffered to remain
longer unpunished, would redound not only to the great hurt and detriment
of all noblemen in their good fame, private calumniators having by this
means liberty to backbite them, but also the common weal would be
disturbed, and occasion of quarrel taken upon false and untrue
slander;"--it was therefore made criminal to put up any such placards, or
to abstain from destroying them as soon as they were seen. At this
Parliament, there was also an act passed on the subject of religion, which
is deserving of notice. "The same Queen," says Chalmers, "who is charged
by Robertson with attempting to suppress the Reformed discipline, with the
aid of the Bishops, passed a law, renouncing all foreign jurisdiction in
ecclesiastical affairs,--giving toleration to all her subjects to worship
God in their own way,--and engaging to give some additional privileges."
This is one of the most satisfactory answers which can be given to the
supposition, that Mary was in any way a party in the Continental
persecution of the Hugonots.

The Earl of Murray was not present either at this Parliament, or the trial
which immediately preceded it. Actuated by motives which do not exactly
appear, and which historians have not been able satisfactorily to explain,
he obtained permission from Mary, in the beginning of April, to leave
Scotland, and, on the 9th, he set off for France, visiting London and the
Court of Elizabeth on his way. There is something very unaccountable, in a
man of Murray's ambition thus withdrawing from the scene of action, just
at the very time when he must have been anticipating political events of
the last importance. His conduct can be rationally explained, only by
supposing, that it was suggested by his systematic caution. He was not
now, nor had he ever been since his rebellion, Mary's exclusive and
all-powerful Prime Minister;--yet he could not bear to fill a second
place; and he knew that, if any civil war occurred, the eyes of many would
immediately be turned towards him. If he remained in the country, he would
necessarily be obliged to take a side as soon as the dissensions broke
out, and might find himself again associated with the losing party; but,
if he kept at a distance for a while, he could throw his influence, when
he chose, into the heaviest scale, and thus gain an increase of popularity
and power. These were probably the real motives of his present conduct,
and, judging by the result, no one can say that he reasoned ill. That he
was aware of every thing that was about to happen, and that he urged
Bothwell forward into a net, from whose meshes he knew he could never be
disengaged, as has been maintained so positively by Whittaker, Chalmers,
and others, does not appear. The peremptoriness with which these writers
have asserted the truth of this unfounded theory, is the leading defect of
their works, and has tended to weaken materially the chain of argument by
which they would otherwise have established Mary's innocence. That
Bothwell, as they over and over again repeat, was the mere "cat's-paw" of
Murray, is a preposterous belief, and argues a decided want of knowledge
of Bothwell's real character. But supposing that he had been so, nothing
could be more chimerical than the idea, that after having made him murder
Darnley, Murray would wish to see him first acquitted of that murder, and
then married to the Queen, for the vague chance that both might be
deposed, and he himself called to succeed them as Regent. "Would it ever
enter into the imagination of a wise man," asks Robertson, "first to raise
his rival to supreme power, in hopes that, afterwards, he should find some
opportunity of depriving him of that power? The most adventurous
politician never hazarded such a dangerous experiment; the most credulous
folly never trusted such an uncertain chance." Murray probably winked at
the murder, because he foresaw that it was likely to lead to Bothwell's
ruin. When he left the country, he may not have been altogether aware of
Bothwell's more ambitious objects; but if he was, he would still have
gone, for his staying could not have prevented their attempted execution;
and if they induced a civil war, whosoever lost, he might contrive to be a
gainer. He acted selfishly and unpatriotically, but not with that
deliberate villany with which he has been charged.

Next: Bothwell's Seizure Of The Queen's Person And Subsequent Marriage To Her

Previous: The Death Of Darnley

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