Mary And Lord Darnley


Stormy scenes.--Lord James.--Acts of cruelty.--Mary's energy and

decision.--Her popularity.--Story of Chatelard.--His love and

infatuation.--Trial of Chatelard.--His execution and last

words.--Mary and Elizabeth.--The English succession.--Claim of

Lady Lennox.--Lord Darnley.--Offers of marriage.--Duplicity of

Elizabeth.--Melville sent as embassador to Elizabeth.--His

ersation of Melville and Elizabeth.--Dudley, earl

of Leicester.--The "long" lad.--Lord Darnley.--Elizabeth's

management.--Darnley's visit to Scotland.--Mary's message to

Elizabeth.--Elizabeth's duplicity.--Wemys Castle.--Mary's opinion

of Darnley.--His interview with her.--The courtship.--Elizabeth in

a rage.--Murray's opposition.--Mary hastens the marriage.--A

dangerous plot.--Mary's narrow escape.--The marriage.--The mourner

and the bride.--Darnley's contemptible character.--Darnley's

imperiousness and pride.--Mary's cares.--Rebellion.--Elizabeth's

treatment of the rebels.--Mary's generous conduct to Darnley.--The

double throne.--Darnley's cruel ingratitude.

During the three or four years which elapsed after Queen Mary's

arrival in Scotland, she had to pass through many stormy scenes of

anxiety and trouble. The great nobles of the land were continually

quarreling, and all parties were earnest and eager in their efforts

to get Mary's influence and power on their side. She had a great deal

of trouble with the affairs of her brother, the Lord James. He wished

to have the earldom of Murray conferred upon him. The castle and

estates pertaining to this title were in the north of Scotland, in

the neighborhood of Inverness. They were in possession of another

family, who refused to give them up. Mary accompanied Lord James to

the north with an army, to put him in possession. They took the

castle, and hung the governor, who had refused to surrender at their

summons. This, and some other acts of this expedition, have since

been considered unjust and cruel; but posterity have been divided in

opinion on the question how far Mary herself was personally

responsible for them.

Mary, at any rate, displayed a great degree of decision and energy in

her management of public affairs, and in the personal exploits which

she performed. She made excursions from castle to castle, and from

town to town, all over Scotland. On these expeditions she traveled on

horseback, sometimes with a royal escort, and sometimes at the head

of an army of eighteen or twenty thousand men. These royal progresses

were made sometimes among the great towns and cities on the eastern

coast of Scotland, and also, at other times, among the gloomy and

dangerous defiles of the Highlands. Occasionally she would pay visits

to the nobles at their castles, to hunt in their parks, to review

their Highland retainers, or to join them in celebrations and fetes,

and military parades.

During all this time, her personal influence and ascendency over all

who knew her was constantly increasing; and the people of Scotland,

notwithstanding the disagreement on the subject of religion, became

more and more devoted to their queen. The attachment which those who

were in immediate attendance upon her felt to her person and

character, was in many cases extreme. In one instance, this

attachment led to a very sad result. There was a young Frenchman,

named Chatelard, who came in Mary's train from France. He was a

scholar and a poet. He began by writing verses in Mary's praise,

which Mary read, and seemed to be pleased with. This increased his

interest in her, and led him to imagine that he was himself the

object of her kind regard. Finally, the love which he felt for her

came to be a perfect infatuation. He concealed himself one night in

Mary's bed-chamber, armed, as if to resist any attack which the

attendants might make upon him. He was discovered by the female

attendants, and taken away, and they, for fear of alarming Mary, did

not tell her of the circumstance till the next morning.

Mary was very much displeased, or, at least, professed to be so. John

Knox thought that this displeasure was only a pretense. She, however,

forbid Chatelard to come any more into her sight. A day or two after

this, Mary set out on a journey to the north. Chatelard followed. He

either believed that Mary really loved him, or else he was led on by

that strange and incontrollable infatuation which so often, in such

cases, renders even the wisest men utterly reckless and blind to the

consequences of what they say or do. He watched his opportunity, and

one night, when Mary retired to her bed-room, he followed her

directly in. Mary called for help. The attendants came in, and

immediately sent for the Earl of Murray, who was in the palace.

Chatelard protested that all he wanted was to explain and apologize

for his coming into Mary's room before, and to ask her to forgive

him. Mary, however, would not listen. She was very much incensed.

When Murray came in, she directed him to run his dagger through the

man. Murray, however, instead of doing this, had the offender seized

and sent to prison. In a few days he was tried, and condemned to be

beheaded. The excitement and enthusiasm of his love continued to the

last. He stood firm and undaunted on the scaffold, and, just before

he laid his head on the block, he turned toward the place where Mary

was then lodging, and said, "Farewell! loveliest and most cruel

princess that the world contains!"

In the mean time, Mary and Queen Elizabeth continued ostensibly on

good terms. They sent embassadors to each other's courts. They

communicated letters and messages to each other, and entered into

various negotiations respecting the affairs of their respective

kingdoms. The truth was, each was afraid of the other, and neither

dared to come to an open rupture. Elizabeth was uneasy on account of

Mary's claim to her crown, and was very anxious to avoid driving her

to extremities, since she knew that, in that case, there would be

great danger of her attempting openly to enforce it. Mary, on the

other hand, thought that there was more probability of her obtaining

the succession to the English crown by keeping peace with Elizabeth

than by a quarrel. Elizabeth was not married, and was likely to live

and die single. Mary would then be the next heir, without much

question. She wished Elizabeth to acknowledge this, and to have the

English Parliament enact it. If Elizabeth would take this course,

Mary was willing to waive her claims during Elizabeth's life.

Elizabeth, however, was not willing to do this decidedly. She wished

to reserve the right to herself of marrying if she chose. She also

wished to keep Mary dependent upon her as long as she could. Hence,

while she would not absolutely refuse to comply with Mary's

proposition, she would not really accede to it, but kept the whole

matter in suspense by endless procrastination, difficulties, and


I have said that, after Elizabeth, Mary's claim to the British crown

was almost unquestioned. There was another lady about as nearly

related to the English royal line as Mary. Her name was Margaret

Stuart. Her title was Lady Lennox. She had a son named Henry Stuart,

whose title was Lord Darnley. It was a question whether Mary or

Margaret were best entitled to consider herself the heir to the

British crown after Elizabeth. Mary, therefore, had two obstacles in

the way of the accomplishment of her wishes to be Queen of England:

one was the claim of Elizabeth, who was already in possession of the

throne, and the other the claims of Lady Lennox, and, after her, of

her son Darnley. There was a plan of disposing of this last

difficulty in a very simple manner. It was, to have Mary marry Lord

Darnley, and thus unite these two claims. This plan had been

proposed, but there had been no decision in respect to it. There was

one objection: that Darnley being Mary's cousin, their marriage was

forbidden by the laws of the Catholic Church. There was no way of

obviating this difficulty but by applying to the pope to grant them a

special dispensation.

In the mean time, a great many other plans were formed for Mary's

marriage. Several of the princes and potentates of Europe applied for

her hand. They were allured somewhat, no doubt, by her youth and

beauty, and still more, very probably, by the desire to annex her

kingdom to their dominions. Mary, wishing to please Elizabeth,

communicated often with her, to ask her advice and counsel in regard

to her marriage. Elizabeth's policy was to embarrass and perplex the

whole subject by making difficulties in respect to every plan

proposed. Finally, she recommended a gentleman of her own court to

Mary--Robert Dudley, whom she afterward made Earl of Leicester--one

of her special favorites. The position of Dudley, and the

circumstances of the case, were such that mankind have generally

supposed that Elizabeth did not seriously imagine that such a plan

could be adopted, but that she proposed it, as perverse and

intriguing people often do, as a means of increasing the difficulty.

Such minds often attempt to prevent doing what can be done by

proposing and urging what they know is impossible.

In the course of these negotiations, Queen Mary once sent Melville,

her former page of honor in France, as a special embassador to Queen

Elizabeth, to ascertain more perfectly her views. Melville had

followed Mary to Scotland, and had entered her service there as a

confidential secretary; and as she had great confidence in his

prudence and in his fidelity, she thought him the most suitable

person to undertake this mission. Melville afterward lived to an

advanced age, and in the latter part of his life he wrote a narrative

of his various adventures, and recorded, in quaint and ancient

language, many of his conversations and interviews with the two

queens. His mission to England was of course a very important event

in his life, and one of the most curious and entertaining passages in

his memoirs is his narrative of his interviews with the English

queen. He was, at the time, about thirty-four years of age. Mary was

about twenty-two.

Sir James Melville was received with many marks of attention and

honor by Queen Elizabeth. His first interview with her was in a

garden near the palace. She first asked him about a letter which Mary

had recently written to her, and which, she said, had greatly

displeased her; and she took out a reply from her pocket, written in

very sharp and severe language, though she said she had not sent it

because it was not severe enough, and she was going to write another.

Melville asked to see the letter from Mary which had given Elizabeth

so much offense; and on reading it, he explained it, and disavowed,

on Mary's part, any intention to give offense, and thus finally

succeeded in appeasing Elizabeth's displeasure, and at length induced

her to tear up her angry reply.

Elizabeth then wanted to know what Mary thought of her proposal of

Dudley for her husband. Melville told her that she had not given the

subject much reflection, but that she was going to appoint two

commissioners, and she wished Elizabeth to appoint two others, and

then that the four should meet on the borders of the two countries,

and consider the whole subject of the marriage. Elizabeth said that

she perceived that Mary did not think much of this proposed match.

She said, however, that Dudley stood extremely high in her regard,

that she was going to make him an earl, and that she should marry him

herself were it not that she was fully resolved to live and die a

single woman. She said she wished very much to have Dudley become

Mary's husband both on account of her attachment to him, and also on

account of his attachment to her, which she was sure would prevent

his allowing her, that is, Elizabeth, to have any trouble out of

Mary's claim to her crown as long as she lived.

Elizabeth also asked Melville to wait in Westminster until the day

appointed for making Dudley an earl. This was done, a short time

afterward, with great ceremony. Lord Darnley, then a very tall and

slender youth of about nineteen, was present on the occasion. His

father and mother had been banished from Scotland, on account of some

political offenses, twenty years before, and he had thus himself been

brought up in England. As he was a near relative of the queen, and a

sort of heir-presumptive to the crown, he had a high position at the

court, and his office was, on this occasion, to bear the sword of

honor before the queen. Dudley kneeled before Elizabeth while she put

upon him the badges of his new dignity. Afterward she asked Melville

what he thought of him. Melville was polite enough to speak warmly in

his favor. "And yet," said the queen, "I suppose you prefer yonder

long lad," pointing to Darnley. She knew something of Mary's

half-formed design of making Darnley her husband. Melville, who did

not wish her to suppose that Mary had any serious intention of

choosing Darnley, said that "no woman of spirit would choose such a

person as he was, for he was handsome, beardless, and lady-faced; in

fact, he looked more like a woman than a man."

Melville was not very honest in this, for he had secret instructions

at this very time to apply to Lady Lennox, Darnley's mother, to send

her son into Scotland, in order that Mary might see him, and be

assisted to decide the question of becoming his wife, by ascertaining

how she was going to like him personally. Queen Elizabeth, in the

mean time, pressed upon Melville the importance of Mary's deciding

soon in favor of the marriage with Leicester. As to declaring in

favor of Mary's right to inherit the crown after her, she said the

question was in the hands of the great lawyers and commissioners to

whom she had referred it, and that she heartily wished that they

might come to a conclusion in favor of Mary's claim. She should urge

the business forward as fast as she could; but the result would

depend very much upon the disposition which Mary showed to comply

with her wishes in respect to the marriage. She said she should

never marry herself unless she was compelled to it on account of

Mary's giving her trouble by her claims upon the crown, and forcing

her to desire that it should go to her direct descendants. If Mary

would act wisely, and as she ought, and follow her counsel, she

would, in due time, have all her desire.

Some time more elapsed in negotiations and delays. There was a good

deal of trouble in getting leave for Darnley to go to Scotland. From

his position, and from the state of the laws and customs of the two

realms, he could not go without Elizabeth's permission. Finally, Mary

sent word to Elizabeth that she would marry Leicester according to

her wish, if she would have her claim to the English crown, after

Elizabeth, acknowledged and established by the English government, so

as to have that question definitely and finally settled. Elizabeth

sent back for answer to this proposal, that if Mary married

Leicester, she would advance him to great honors and dignities, but

that she could not do any thing at present about the succession. She

also, at the same time, gave permission to Darnley to go to Scotland.

It is thought that Elizabeth never seriously intended that Mary

should marry Leicester, and that she did not suppose Mary herself

would consent to it on any terms. Accordingly, when she found Mary

was acceding to the plan, she wanted to retreat from it herself, and

hoped that Darnley's going to Scotland, and appearing there as a new

competitor in the field, would tend to complicate and embarrass the

question in Mary's mind, and help to prevent the Leicester

negotiation from going any further. At any rate, Lord Darnley--then a

very tall and handsome young man of nineteen--obtained suddenly

permission to go to Scotland. Mary went to Wemys Castle, and made

arrangements to have Darnley come and visit her there.

[Illustration: WEMY'S CASTLE--The Scene of Mary's first Interview

with Darnley.]

Wemys Castle is situated in a most romantic and beautiful spot on the

sea-shore, on the northern side of the Frith of Forth. Edinburgh is

upon the southern side of the Frith, and is in full view from the

windows of the castle, with Salisbury Crags and Arthur's Seat on the

left of the city. Wemys Castle was, at this time, the residence of

Murray, Mary's brother. Mary's visit to it was an event which

attracted a great deal of attention. The people flocked into the

neighborhood and provisions and accommodations of every kind rose

enormously in price. Every one was eager to get a glimpse of the

beautiful queen. Besides, they knew that Lord Darnley was expected,

and the rumor that he was seriously thought of as her future husband

had been widely circulated, and had awakened, of course, a universal

desire to see him.

Mary was very much pleased with Darnley. She told Melville, after

their first interview, that he was the handsomest and best

proportioned "long man" she had ever seen. Darnley was, in fact, very

tall, and as he was straight and slender, he appeared even taller

than he really was. He was, however, though young, very easy and

graceful in his manners, and highly accomplished. Mary was very much

pleased with him. She had almost decided to make him her husband

before she saw him, merely from political considerations, on account

of her wish to combine his claim with hers in respect to the English

crown. Elizabeth's final answer, refusing the terms on which Mary had

consented to marry Leicester, which came about this time, vexed her,

and determined her to abandon that plan. And now, just in such a

crisis, to find Darnley possessed of such strong personal

attractions, seemed to decide the question. In a few days her

imagination was full of pictures of joy and pleasure, in

anticipations of union with such a husband.

The thing took the usual course of such affairs. Darnley asked Mary

to be his wife. She said no, and was offended with him for asking it.

He offered her a present of a ring. She refused to accept it. But the

no meant yes, and the rejection of the ring was only the prelude to

the acceptance of something far more important, of which a ring is

the symbol. Mary's first interview with Darnley was in February. In

April, Queen Elizabeth's embassador sent her word that he was

satisfied that Mary's marriage with Darnley was all arranged and


Queen Elizabeth was, or pretended to be, in a great rage. She sent

the most urgent remonstrances to Mary against the execution of the

plan. She forwarded, also, very decisive orders to Darnley, and to

the Earl of Lennox his father, to return immediately to England.

Lennox replied that he could not return, for "he did not think the

climate would agree with him!" Darnley sent back word that he had

entered the service of the Queen of Scots, and henceforth should

obey her orders alone. Elizabeth, however, was not the only one who

opposed this marriage. The Earl of Murray, Mary's brother, who had

been thus far the great manager of the government under Mary, took at

once a most decided stand against it. He enlisted a great number of

Protestant nobles with him, and they held deliberations, in which

they formed plans for resisting it by force. But Mary, who, with all

her gentleness and loveliness of spirit, had, like other women, some

decision and energy when an object in which the heart is concerned is

at stake, had made up her mind. She sent to France to get the consent

of her friends there. She dispatched a commissioner to Rome to obtain

the pope's dispensation; she obtained the sanction of her own

Parliament; and, in fact, in every way hastened the preparations for

the marriage.

Murray, on the other hand, and his confederate lords, were determined

to prevent it. They formed a plan to rise in rebellion against Mary,

to waylay and seize her, to imprison her, and to send Darnley and his

father to England, having made arrangements with Elizabeth's

ministers to receive them at the borders. The plan was all well

matured, and would probably have been carried into effect, had not

Mary, in some way or other, obtained information of the design. She

was then at Stirling, and they were to waylay her on the usual route

to Edinburgh. She made a sudden journey, at an unexpected time, and

by a new and unusual road, and thus evaded her enemies. The violence

of this opposition only stimulated her determination to carry the

marriage into effect without delay. Her escape from her rebellious

nobles took place in June, and she was married in July. This was six

months after her first interview with Darnley. The ceremony was

performed in the royal chapel at Holyrood. They show, to this day,

the place where she is said to have stood, in the now roofless


Mary was conducted into the chapel by Lennox and another nobleman, in

the midst of a large company of lords and ladies of the court, and of

strangers of distinction, who had come to Edinburgh to witness the

ceremony. A vast throng had collected also around the palace. Mary was

led to the altar, and then Lord Darnley was conducted in. The marriage

ceremony was performed according to the Catholic ritual. Three rings,

one of them a diamond ring of great value, were put upon her finger.

After the ceremony, largess was proclaimed, and money distributed

among the crowd, as had been done in Paris at Mary's former marriage,

five years before. Mary then remained to attend the celebration of

mass, Darnley, who was not a Catholic, retiring. After the mass, Mary

returned to the palace, and changed the mourning dress which she had

continued to wear from the time of her first husband's death to that

hour, for one more becoming a bride. The evening was spent in

festivities of every kind.

We have said that Darnley was personally attractive in respect both

to his countenance and his manners; and, unfortunately, this is all

that can be said in his favor. He was weak-minded, and yet

self-conceited and vain. The sudden elevation which his marriage with

a queen gave him, made him proud, and he soon began to treat all

around him in a very haughty and imperious manner. He seems to have

been entirely unaccustomed to exercise any self-command, or to submit

to any restraints in the gratification of his passions. Mary paid him

a great many attentions, and took great pleasure in conferring upon

him, as her queenly power enabled her to do, distinctions and honors;

but, instead of being grateful for them, he received them as matters

of course, and was continually demanding more. There was one title

which he wanted, and which, for some good reason, it was necessary to

postpone conferring upon him. A nobleman came to him one day and

informed him of the necessity of this delay. He broke into a fit of

passion, drew his dagger, rushed toward the nobleman, and attempted

to stab him. He commenced his imperious and haughty course of

procedure even before his marriage, and continued it afterward,

growing more and more violent as his ambition increased with an

increase of power. Mary felt these cruel acts of selfishness and

pride very keenly, but, womanlike, she palliated and excused them,

and loved him still.

She had, however, other trials and cares pressing upon her

immediately. Murray and his confederates organized a formal and open

rebellion. Mary raised an army and took the field against them. The

country generally took her side. A terrible and somewhat protracted

civil war ensued, but the rebels were finally defeated and driven out

of the country. They went to England and claimed Elizabeth's

protection, saying that she had incited them to the revolt, and

promised them her aid. Elizabeth told them that it would not do for

her to be supposed to have abetted a rebellion in her cousin Mary's

dominions, and that, unless they would, in the presence of the

foreign embassadors at her court, disavow her having done so, she

could not help them or countenance them in any way. The miserable

men, being reduced to a hard extremity, made this disavowal.

Elizabeth then said to them, "Now you have told the truth. Neither I,

nor any one else in my name, incited you against your queen; and your

abominable treason may set an example to my own subjects to rebel

against me. So get you gone out of my presence, miserable traitors as

you are."

Thus Mary triumphed over all the obstacles to her marriage with the

man she loved; but, alas! before the triumph was fully accomplished,

the love was gone. Darnley was selfish, unfeeling, and incapable of

requiting affection like Mary's. He treated her with the most

heartless indifference, though she had done every thing to awaken his

gratitude and win his love. She bestowed upon him every honor which

it was in her power to grant. She gave him the title of king. She

admitted him to share with her the powers and prerogatives of the

crown. There is to this day, in Mary's apartments at Holyrood House,

a double throne which she had made for herself and her husband, with

their initials worked together in the embroidered covering, and each

seat surmounted by a crown. Mankind have always felt a strong

sentiment of indignation at the ingratitude which could requite such

love with such selfishness and cruelty.