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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

Least Viewed

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

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.

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Previous: Mary's Childhood

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