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
br />
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.