Her Education In France


Departure.--Stormy voyage.--Journey to Paris.--Release of

prisoners.--Barabbas.--St. Germain.--Celebrations.--The

convent.--Character of the nuns.--Interest in Mary.--Leaving

the convent.--Amusements.--Visit of Mary's mother.--Queen

dowager.--Rouen.--A happy meeting.--Rejoicings.--A last

farewell.--Visit to a mourner.--The queen dowager's return.--The

regency.--A page of honor.--Sir
James Melville.--Mary's

character.--Her diligence.--Devices and mottoes.--Festivities.--Water

parties.--Hunting.--An accident.--Restraint.--Queen Catharine.--Her

character.--Embroidery.--Mary's admiration of Queen Catharine.--The

latter suspicious.--Unguarded remark.--Catharine's mortification.--The

dauphin.--Origin of the title.--Character of Francis.--Mary's

beauty.--Torch-light procession.--An angel.--Mary a Catholic.--Her

conscientiousness and fidelity.

The departure of Mary from Scotland, little as she was, was a great

event both for Scotland and for France. In those days kings and

queens were even of greater relative importance than they are now,

and all Scotland was interested in the young queen's going away from

them, and all France in expecting her arrival. She sailed down the

Clyde, and then passed along the seas and channels which lie between

England and Ireland. These seas, though they look small upon the map,

are really spacious and wide, and are often greatly agitated by winds

and storms. This was the case at the time Mary made her voyage. The

days and nights were tempestuous and wild, and the ships had

difficulty in keeping in each other's company. There was danger of

being blown upon the coasts, or upon the rocks or islands which lie

in the way. Mary was too young to give much heed to these dangers,

but the lords and commissioners, and the great ladies who went to

attend her, were heartily glad when the voyage was over. It ended

safely at last, after several days of tossing upon the stormy

billows, by their arrival upon the northern coast of France. They

landed at a town called Brest.

The King of France had made great preparations for receiving the

young queen immediately upon her landing. Carriages and horses had

been provided to convey herself and the company of her attendants, by

easy journeys, to Paris. They received her with great pomp and

ceremony at every town which she passed through. One mark of respect

which they showed her was very singular. The king ordered that every

prison which she passed in her route should be thrown open, and the

prisoners set free. This fact is a striking illustration of the

different ideas which prevailed in those days, compared with those

which are entertained now, in respect to crime and punishment. Crime

is now considered as an offense against the community, and it would

be considered no favor to the community, but the reverse, to let

imprisoned criminals go free. In those days, on the other hand,

crimes were considered rather as injuries committed by the

community, and against the king; so that, if the monarch wished to

show the community a favor, he would do it by releasing such of them

as had been imprisoned by his officers for their crimes. It was just

so in the time of our Savior, when the Jews had a custom of having

some criminal released to them once a year, at the Passover, by the

Roman government, as an act of favor. That is, the government was

accustomed to furnish, by way of contributing its share toward the

general festivities of the occasion, the setting of a robber and a

murderer at liberty!

The King of France has several palaces in the neighborhood of Paris.

Mary was taken to one of them, named St. Germain. This palace, which

still stands, is about twelve miles from Paris, toward the northwest.

It is a very magnificent residence, and has been for many centuries a

favorite resort of the French kings. Many of them were born in it.

There are extensive parks and gardens connected with it, and a great

artificial forest, in which the trees were all planted and cultivated

like the trees of an orchard. Mary was received at this palace with

great pomp and parade; and many spectacles and festivities were

arranged to amuse her and the four Maries who accompanied her, and

to impress her strongly with an idea of the wealth, and power, and

splendor of the great country to which she had come.

She remained here but a short time, and then it was arranged for her

to go to a convent to be educated. Convents were in those days, as

in fact they are now, quite famous as places of education. They were

situated sometimes in large towns, and sometimes in secluded places

in the country; but, whether in town or country, the inmates of them

were shut up very strictly from all intercourse with the world. They

were under the care of nuns who had devoted themselves for life to

the service. These nuns were some of them unhappy persons, who were

weary of the sorrows and sufferings of the world, and who were glad

to retire from it to such a retreat as they fancied the convent would

be. Others became nuns from conscientious principles of duty,

thinking that they should commend themselves to the favor of God by

devoting their lives to works of benevolence and to the exercises of

religion. Of course there were all varieties of character among the

nuns; some of them were selfish and disagreeable, others were

benevolent and kind.

At the convent where Mary was sent there were some nuns of very

excellent and amiable character, and they took a great interest in

Mary, both because she was a queen, and because she was beautiful,

and of a kind and affectionate disposition. Mary became very strongly

attached to these nuns, and began to entertain the idea of becoming a

nun herself, and spending her life with them in the convent. It

seemed pleasant to her to live there in such a peaceful seclusion, in

company with those who loved her, and whom she herself loved, but the

King of France, and the Scottish nobles who had come with her from

Scotland, would, of course, be opposed to any such plan. They

intended her to be married to the young prince, and to become one of

the great ladies of the court, and to lead a life of magnificence and

splendor. They became alarmed, therefore, when they found that she

was imbibing a taste for the life of seclusion and solitude which is

led by a nun. They decided to take her immediately away.

Mary bade farewell to the convent and its inmates with much regret

and many tears; but, notwithstanding her reluctance, she was obliged

to submit. If she had not been a queen, she might, perhaps, have had

her own way. As it was, however, she was obliged to leave the

convent and the nuns whom she loved, and to go back to the palaces of

the king, in which she afterward continued to live, sometimes in one

and sometimes in another, for many years. Wherever she went, she was

surrounded with scenes of great gayety and splendor. They wished to

obliterate from her mind all recollections of the convent, and all

love of solitude and seclusion. They did not neglect her studies, but

they filled up the intervals of study with all possible schemes of

enjoyment and pleasure, to amuse and occupy her mind and the minds of

her companions. Her companions were her own four Maries, and the two

daughters of the French king.

When Mary was about seven years of age, that is, after she had been

two years in France, her mother formed a plan to come from Scotland

to see her. Her mother had remained behind when Mary left Scotland,

as she had an important part to perform in public affairs, and in the

administration of the government of Scotland while Mary was away. She

wanted, however, to come and see her. France, too, was her own native

land, and all her relations and friends resided there. She wished to

see them as well as Mary, and to revisit once more the palaces and

cities where her own early life had been spent. In speaking of Mary's

mother we shall call her sometimes the queen dowager. The expression

queen dowager is the one usually applied to the widow of a king, as

queen consort is used to denote the wife of a king.

This visit of the queen dowager of Scotland to her little daughter in

France was an event of great consequence, and all the arrangements

for carrying it into effect were conducted with great pomp and

ceremony. A large company attended her, with many of the Scottish

lords and ladies among them. The King of France, too, went from Paris

toward the French coast, to meet the party of visitors, taking little

Mary and a large company of attendants with him. They went to Rouen,

a large city not far from the coast, where they awaited the arrival

of Mary's mother, and where they received her with great ceremonies

of parade and rejoicing. The queen regent was very much delighted to

see her little daughter again. She had grown two years older, and had

improved greatly in every respect, and tears of joy came into her

mother's eyes as she clasped her in her arms. The two parties

journeyed in company to Paris and entered the city with great

rejoicings. The two queens, mother and daughter, were the objects of

universal interest and attention. Feasts and celebrations without end

were arranged for them, and every possible means of amusement and

rejoicing were contrived in the palaces of Paris, of St. Germain's,

and of Fontainebleau. Mary's mother remained in France about a year.

She then bade Mary farewell, leaving her at Fontainebleau. This

proved to be a final farewell, for she never saw her again.

After taking leave of her daughter, the queen dowager went, before

leaving France, to see her own mother, who was a widow, and who was

living at a considerable distance from Paris in seclusion, and in a

state of austere and melancholy grief, on account of the loss of her

husband. Instead of forgetting her sorrows, as she ought to have

done, and returning calmly and peacefully to the duties and

enjoyments of life, she had given herself up to inconsolable grief,

and was doing all she could to perpetuate the mournful influence of

her sorrows. She lived in an ancient and gloomy mansion, of vast

size, and she had hung all the apartments in black, to make it still

more desolate and gloomy, and to continue the influence of grief upon

her mind. Here the queen dowager found her, spending her time in

prayers and austerities of every kind, making herself and all her

family perfectly miserable. Many persons, at the present day, act,

under such circumstances, on the same principle and with the same

spirit, though they do not do it perhaps in precisely the same way.

One would suppose that Mary's mother would have preferred to remain

in France with her daughter and her mother and all her family

friends, instead of going back to Scotland, where she was, as it

were, a foreigner and a stranger. The reason why she desired to go

back was that she wished to be made queen regent, and thus have the

government of Scotland in her own hands. She would rather be queen

regent in Scotland than a simple queen mother in France. While she

was in France, she urged the king to use all his influence to have

Arran resign his regency into her hands, and finally obtained

writings from him and from Queen Mary to this effect. She then left

France and went to Scotland, going through England on the way. The

young King of England, to whom Mary had been engaged by the

government when she was an infant in Janet Sinclair's arms, renewed

his proposals to the queen dowager to let her daughter become his

wife; but she told him that it was all settled that she was to be

married to the French prince, and that it was now too late to change

the plan.

There was a young gentleman, about nineteen or twenty years of age,

who came from Scotland also, not far from this time, to wait upon

Mary as her page of honor. A page is an attendant above the rank of

an ordinary servant, whose business it is to wait upon his mistress,

to read to her, sometimes to convey her letters and notes, and to

carry her commands to the other attendants who are beneath him in

rank and whose business it is actually to perform the services which

the lady requires. A page of honor is a young gentleman who

sustains this office in a nominal and temporary manner for a princess

or a queen.

The name of Mary's page of honor, who came to her now from Scotland,

was Sir James Melville. The only reason for mentioning him thus

particularly, rather than the many other officers and attendants by

whom Mary was surrounded was, that the service which he thus

commenced was continued in various ways through the whole period of

Mary's life. We shall often hear of him in the subsequent parts of

this narrative. He followed Mary to Scotland when she returned to

that country, and became afterward her secretary, and also her

embassador on many occasions. He was now quite young, and when he

landed at Brest he traveled slowly to Paris in the care of two

Scotchmen, to whose charge he had been intrusted. He was a young man

of uncommon talents and of great accomplishments, and it was a mark

of high distinction for him to be appointed page of honor to the

queen, although he was about nineteen years of age and she was but


After the queen regent's return to Scotland, Mary went on improving

in every respect more and more. She was diligent, industrious, and

tractable. She took a great interest in her studies. She was not only

beautiful in person, and amiable and affectionate in heart, but she

possessed a very intelligent and active mind, and she entered with a

sort of quiet but earnest enthusiasm into all the studies to which

her attention was called. She paid a great deal of attention to

music, to poetry, and to drawing. She used to invent little devices

for seals, with French and Latin mottoes, and, after drawing them

again and again with great care, until she was satisfied with the

design, she would give them to the gem-engravers to be cut upon

stone seals, so that she could seal her letters with them. These

mottoes and devices can not well be represented in English, as the

force and beauty of them depended generally upon a double meaning in

some word of French or Latin, which can not be preserved in the

translation. We shall, however, give one of these seals, which she

made just before she left France, to return to Scotland, when we come

to that period of her history.

The King of France, and the lords and ladies who came with Mary from

Scotland, contrived a great many festivals and celebrations in the

parks, and forests, and palaces, to amuse the queen and the four

Maries who were with her. The daughters of the French king joined,

also, in these pleasures. They would have little balls, and parties,

and pic-nics, sometimes in the open air, sometimes in the little

summer-houses built upon the grounds attached to the palaces. The

scenes of these festivities were in many cases made unusually joyous

and gay by bon-fires and illuminations. They had water parties on the

little lakes, and hunting parties through the parks and forests. Mary

was a very graceful and beautiful rider, and full of courage.

Sometimes she met with accidents which were attended with some

danger. Once, while hunting the stag, and riding at full speed with a

great company of ladies and gentlemen behind her and before her, her

dress got caught by the bough of a tree, and she was pulled to the

ground. The horse went on. Several other riders drove by her without

seeing her, as she had too much composure and fortitude to attract

their attention by outcries and lamentations. They saw her, however,

at last, and came to her assistance. They brought back her horse,

and, smoothing down her hair, which had fallen into confusion, she

mounted again, and rode on after the stag as before.

Notwithstanding all these means of enjoyment and diversion, Mary was

subjected to a great deal of restraint. The rules of etiquette are

very precise and very strictly enforced in royal households, and they

were still more strict in those days than they are now. The king was

very ceremonious in all his arrangements, and was surrounded by a

multitude of officers who performed every thing by rule. As Mary grew

older, she was subjected to greater and greater restraint. She used

to spend a considerable portion of every day in the apartments of

Queen Catharine, the wife of the King of France and the mother of the

little Francis to whom she was to be married. Mary and Queen

Catharine did not, however, like each other very well. Catharine was

a woman of strong mind and of an imperious disposition; and it is

supposed by some that she was jealous of Mary because she was more

beautiful and accomplished and more generally beloved than her own

daughters, the princesses of France. At any rate, she treated Mary in

rather a stern and haughty manner, and it was thought that she would

finally oppose her marriage to Francis her son.

And yet Mary was at first very much pleased with Queen Catharine, and

was accustomed to look up to her with great admiration, and to feel

for her a very sincere regard. She often went into the queen's

apartments, where they sat together and talked, or worked upon their

embroidery, which was a famous amusement for ladies of exalted rank

in those days. Mary herself at one time worked a large piece, which

she sent as a present to the nuns in the convent where she had

resided; and afterward, in Scotland, she worked a great many things,

some of which still remain, and may be seen in her ancient rooms in

the palace of Holyrood House. She learned this art by working with

Queen Catharine in her apartments. When she first became acquainted

with Catharine on these occasions, she used to love her society. She

admired her talents and her conversational powers, and she liked very

much to be in her room. She listened to all she said, watched her

movements, and endeavored in all things to follow her example.

Catharine, however, thought that this was all a pretense, and that

Mary did not really like her, but only wished to make her believe

that she did so in order to get favor, or to accomplish some other

selfish end. One day she asked her why she seemed to prefer her

society to that of her youthful and more suitable companions. Mary

replied, in substance, "The reason was, that though with them she

might enjoy much, she could learn nothing; while she always learned

from Queen Catharine's conversation something which would be of use

to her as a guide in future life." One would have thought that this

answer would have pleased the queen, but it did not. She did not

believe that it was sincere.

On one occasion Mary seriously offended the queen by a remark which

she made, and which was, at least, incautious. Kings and queens, and,

in fact, all great people in Europe, pride themselves very much upon

the antiquity of the line from which they have descended. Now the

family of Queen Catharine had risen to rank and distinction within a

moderate period; and though she was, as Queen of France, on the very

pinnacle of human greatness, she would naturally be vexed at any

remark which would remind her of the recentness of her elevation. Now

Mary at one time said, in conversation in the presence of Queen

Catharine, that she herself was the descendant of a hundred kings.

This was perhaps true, but it brought her into direct comparison with

Catharine in a point in which the latter was greatly her inferior,

and it vexed and mortified Catharine very much to have such a thing

said to her by such a child.

Mary associated thus during all this time, not only with the queen

and the princesses, but also with the little prince whom she was

destined to marry. His name was Francis, but he was commonly called

the dauphin, which was the name by which the oldest son of the King

of France was then, and has been since designated. The origin of this

custom was this. About a hundred years before the time of which we

are speaking, a certain nobleman of high rank, who possessed estates

in an ancient province of France called Dauphiny, lost his son and

heir. He was overwhelmed with affliction at the loss, and finally

bequeathed all his estates to the king and his successors, on

condition that the oldest son should bear the title of Dauphin. The

grant was accepted, and the oldest son was accordingly so styled from

that time forward, from generation to generation.

The dauphin, Francis, was a weak and feeble child, but he was amiable

and gentle in his manners, and Mary liked him. She met him often in

their walks and rides, and she danced with him at the balls and

parties given for her amusement. She knew that he was to be her

husband as soon as she was old enough to be married, and he knew that

she was to be his wife. It was all decided, and nothing which either

of them could say or do would have any influence on the result.

Neither of them, however, seem to have had any desire to change the

result. Mary pitied Francis on account of his feeble health, and

liked his amiable and gentle disposition; and Francis could not help

loving Mary, both on account of the traits of her character and her

personal charms.

As Mary advanced in years, she grew very beautiful. In some of the

great processions and ceremonies, the ladies were accustomed to walk,

magnificently dressed and carrying torches in their hands. In one of

these processions Mary was moving along with the rest, through a

crowd of spectators, and the light from her torch fell upon her

features and upon her hair in such a manner as to make her appear

more beautiful than usual. A woman, standing there, pressed up nearer

to her to view her more closely, and, seeing how beautiful she was,

asked her if she was not an angel. In those days, however, people

believed in what is miraculous and supernatural more easily than now,

so that it was not very surprising that one should think, in such a

case, that an angel from Heaven had come down to join in the


Mary grew up a Catholic, of course: all were Catholics around her.

The king and all the royal family were devoted to Catholic

observances. The convent, the ceremonies, the daily religious

observances enjoined upon her, the splendid churches which she

frequented, all tended in their influence to lead her mind away from

the Protestant religion which prevailed in her native land, and to

make her a Catholic: she remained so throughout her life. There is no

doubt that she was conscientious in her attachment to the forms and

to the spirit of the Roman Church. At any rate, she was faithful to

the ties which her early education imposed upon her, and this

fidelity became afterward the source of some of her heaviest

calamities and woes.