Mary At Lochleven Her Abdication And Murray's Regency

Scotland was now in the most unfortunate condition in which a country

could possibly be. Like a ship without a pilot, it was left at the mercy

of a hundred contrary opinions; and it was not long before there sprung

out of these two opposing currents or distinct parties, known by the name

of the Queen's and the Prince's. Morton and his friends calling themselves

the Prince's Lords, continued at Edinburgh; whilst the Queen's nobles
assembled at Hamilton Palace in very considerable force, having among

them, besides the Hamiltons, Huntly, (who had been allowed by Sir James

Balfour to escape from the Castle of Edinburgh, in which he had taken

shelter some time before), Argyle, (who, though he had at first joined

with Morton and Mar at Stirling, when they announced their determination

to keep the Prince out of Bothwell's hands, never intended taking up arms

against the Queen), Rothes, Caithness, Crawfurd, Boyd, Herries,

Livingston, Seaton, Ogilvie, and others. Morton laboured to effect a

coalition with these Lords; but though he employed the mediation of the

General Assembly, they would not consent to any proposals he made them.

Buchanan himself is forced to allow, that affairs took a very different

turn from what was expected. "For popular envy being abated, partly by

time, and partly by the consideration of the uncertainty of human affairs,

commiseration succeeded; nay, some of the nobility did then no less bewail

the Queen's calamity than they had before execrated her cruelty." The

truth is, that Mary's friends were at this time much more numerous than

her enemies; but unfortunately they were not sufficiently unanimous in

their councils, to be able to take any decisive steps in her behalf.

Morton earnestly laboured to increase the popularity of his faction by

every means in his power. To please the multitude, he apprehended several

persons, whom he accused of being implicated in the murder of Darnley; and

though he probably knew them to be innocent, they were all condemned and

executed, with the exception of Sebastian, the Queen's servant, who was

seized with the view of casting suspicion on Mary herself, but who

contrived to escape. Thus, they who blamed Mary for being too remiss

in seeking out and punishing the murderers, were able to console

themselves with the reflection, that, under the new order of things,

persons were iniquitously executed for the sake of appearances, by those

who had themselves been Bothwell's accomplices. Against Bothwell himself,

Morton, for his own sake, proceeded with more caution. It was not till

the 26th of June, that letters were addressed to the keeper of the Castle

at Dunbar, ordering him to deliver up his charge, because he had received

and protected Bothwell; and, on the same day, a proclamation was issued,

offering the moderate reward of a thousand crowns to any one who should

apprehend the Earl. It is singular that these Lords, who were so

fully convinced of his criminality, not only allowed him to depart

unmolested from Carberry Hill, but took no steps, for ten days afterwards,

towards securing his person.

The precise period at which Bothwell left Dunbar, the efforts he made to

regain his authority in Scotland, and in general, most of the particulars

of his subsequent fate, are not accurately known. He entered, no doubt,

into correspondence with the noblemen assembled at Hamilton; but probably

received from them little encouragement, as it was the Queen's cause, not

his, in which they were interested. He then retired to the North, where he

possessed estates as Duke of Orkney, and some influence with his kinsman,

the Bishop of Murray. As soon as his flight thither was known, Grange and

Tullibardin were sent in pursuit of him, with several vessels which were

fitted out on purpose. Hearing of their approach, Bothwell fled towards

the Orkney and Shetland Islands, and, being closely followed, was there

very nearly captured. His pursuers were at one time within gun-shot of his

ship, and it must have been taken, had not the vessels of Grange and

Tullibardin, in the very heat of the chase, both struck upon a sunken

rock, which Bothwell, either because his pilot was better acquainted with

the seas, or because his ship was lighter, avoided. They were, however,

fortunate enough to seize some of his accomplices, who were brought to

Edinburgh, and having been tried and condemned, made the confessions which

have been already referred to, and by which the particulars of the murder

became known. Bothwell himself proceeded to Denmark, imagining that the

King of that country, Frederick II., who was distantly related to Mary,

through her great-grandmother Margaret of Denmark, the spouse of James

III., might be disposed to interest himself in his behalf. But finding

that the circumstances under which he had left Scotland, would prevent him

from appearing at the Danish Court with so much eclat as he desired, he

ventured on enriching his treasury, by making a seizure of one or two

merchantmen, trading in the North Seas. These practices were discovered; a

superior force was fitted out against him; and he was carried into a

Danish port, not as an exiled prince, but as a captive pirate. He was

there thrown into prison without ceremony; and though he lost no time in

letting his name and rank be known to the government, it does not appear

that the discovery operated greatly in his favour. He was retained in

durance for many years, the King of Denmark neither choosing to surrender

him to Elizabeth or his enemies in Scotland, nor thinking it right to

offend them by restoring him to liberty, so long at least as Mary herself

remained a prisoner. Broken down by misfortune, and perhaps assailed by

remorse, Bothwell is believed to have been in a state of mental

derangement for several years before his death. There can be no doubt

that he died miserably; and he seems, even in this life, to have paid the

penalty of his crimes, if any earthly penalty could atone for the misery

he brought on the innocent victim of his lawless ambition and systematic

villany. His character may be summed up in the words of our great poet:--

"Tetchy and wayward was thy infancy;

Thy schooldays frightful, desp'rate, wild, and furious;

Thy prime of manhood daring, bold, and venturous;

Thy age confirmed, proud, subtle, sly, and bloody."

In the meantime, foreign courts were not inattentive to the state of

affairs in Scotland. An ambassador arrived from Mary's friends in France;

but finding, to his astonishment, that she was imprisoned, and that some

of the nobility had usurped the government, he refused to acknowledge

their authority, and immediately left the country. Elizabeth's messenger,

who came about the same time, was less scrupulous; and, indeed, few things

could have given that Queen greater satisfaction, than the turn which

Scottish affairs had recently taken. In the letters she sent by her

ambassador Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, are discovered all that duplicity,

affected sincerity, and real heartlessness, which so constantly

distinguish the despatches of Cecil and his mistress. After taking it for

granted, in direct opposition to the declarations of the rebel Lords

themselves, that Mary had given her consent to the hasty marriage with

Bothwell, and that she was consequently implicated in all his guilt,

Elizabeth proceeds with no little contradiction, to assure her good sister

that she considers her imprisonment entirely unjustifiable. But the

insincerity of her desire, that the Queen of Scots should recover her

liberty, is evinced by the very idle conditions she suggests should first

be imposed upon her. These are, that the murderers of Darnley should be

immediately prosecuted and punished, and that the young Prince should be

preserved free from all danger;--just as if Mary could punish murderers

before they were discovered or taken, unless, indeed, she chose to follow

the example of her Lords, and condemn the innocent; and as if she had lost

the natural affection of a mother, and would have delivered her only son

to be butchered, as his father had been. In short, Morton and his

colleagues had no difficulty in perceiving, that though Elizabeth thought

it necessary, for the sake of appearances, to pretend to be displeased

with them, yet that they had, in truth, never stood higher in her good

graces. They well knew, as they had observed in the case of Murray, and

experienced in their own, that Elizabeth seldom said what she meant, or

meant what she said.

But to put her conduct on the present occasion in a still clearer light,

the reader will be somewhat surprised to learn, that Throckmorton brought

with him into Scotland two distinct sets of "Instructions," both bearing

the same date (June 30th 1567), the one of which was to be shown to Mary,

and the other to the rebel Lords. In the former, she expresses the

greatest indignation at the Queen's imprisonment, and threatens vengeance

on all her enemies. In the latter, the Lords are spoken of in a much more

confidential and friendly manner. They are told, that Elizabeth thought it

requisite to send an ambassador; but that he came to solicit nothing that

was not for the general weal of the realm; and that, if she were allowed

to mediate between their Queen and them, "they should have no just cause

to mislike her doings," because she would consent to nothing that was not

"for their security hereafter, and for quietness to the realm." Nay, she

even desired Throckmorton to assure them, that she "meant not to allow of

such faults as she hears by report are imputed to the Queen of Scots,

but had given him strictly in charge to lay before, and to reprove her,

in her name, for the same."--"And in the end also," she adds, "we mean not

with any such partiality to deal for her, but that her princely state

being preserved, she should conform herself to all reasonable devices that

may bring a good accord betwixt her and her nobility and people." Thus she

was to take upon herself to reprove Mary for faults which "she heard by

report were imputed to her;" and to insist, though she herself was of

opinion that she had been unlawfully imprisoned, that she should enter

into negotiations with her rebel subjects, which would compromise her

dignity, and even impugn her character.

When Throckmorton came into Scotland, in July 1567, although he was

allowed no more access to the Queen than had been granted to the French

ambassador, yet, as his instructions authorized him to treat with the

Lords of Secret Council, he of course remained. From them he received an

explanation of their late proceedings, containing some of the most glaring

contradictions ever exhibited in a State paper. They do not throw out the

most distant suspicion of the Queen being implicated in Bothwell's guilt;

on the contrary, they continue to express their conviction that she became

his wife very unwillingly, and only after force had been used; but they

allege, as their reason for imprisoning her, the change which took place

in her mind an hour or two after she parted with her husband at Carberry

Hill. They state, that, immediately after, Bothwell, "caring little or

nothing for her Majesty" left her to save himself, and that after she,

caring as little for him, had parted company from him, and voluntarily

come with them to Edinburgh, they all at once, and most unexpectedly,

"found her passion so prevail in maintenance of him and his cause, that

she would not with patience hear speak any thing to his reproof, or

suffer his doings to be called in question; but, on the contrary, offered

to give over the realm and all, so that she might be suffered to enjoy

him, with many threatenings to be revenged on every man who had dealt in

the matter." This was surely a very sudden and inexplicable change of

mind; for, in the very same letter, with an inconsistency which might

almost have startled themselves, these veracious Lords declare, that "the

Queen, their Sovereign, had been led captive, and, by fear, force, and

other extraordinary and more unlawful means, compelled to become

bed-fellow to another wife's husband;" that even though they had not

interfered, "she would not have lived with him half a year to an end;" and

that at Carberry Hill, a separation voluntary on both sides took place.

Was it, therefore, for a moment to be credited, that during the short

interval of a few hours, which elapsed between this separation and Mary's

imprisonment in Loch-Leven, she could either have so entirely altered her

sentiments regarding Bothwell, or, if they had in truth never been

unfavourable, so foolishly and unnecessarily betrayed them, as to convince

her nobility, that to secure their own safety, and force her to live apart

from him, no plan would be of any avail, but that of shutting her up in a

strong and remote castle? And even if this expedient appeared advisable at

the moment, did they think that, if Mary was now restored to liberty, she

would set sail for Denmark, and join Bothwell in his prison there? No;

they did not go so far; for, in conclusion, they assured Throckmorton,

that, "knowing the great wisdom wherewith God hath endowed her," they

anticipated that within a short time her mind would be settled, and that

as soon as "by a just trial they had made the truth appear, she would

conform herself to their doings."

"By the above answer," says Keith, "I make no doubt but my readers will be

ready enough to prognosticate what shall be the upshot of Sir Nicholas

Throckmorton's negotiations with the rebels in favour of our Queen." There

can be no doubt that the same motives (whatever these might be) which led

to Mary's imprisonment, would have equal force in keeping her there. The

whole history of this conspiracy may be explained in a few words. When

Morton and the other Lords took up arms at Stirling, they were, to a

certain extent, sincere; they believed (especially those of them who had

been his accomplices) that Bothwell was the murderer of Darnley, and that

he was anxiously endeavouring to get the young Prince into his power. This

they determined to prevent, and having won over Sir James Balfour, the

governor of the Castle, they advanced to Edinburgh. Bothwell retired to

Dunbar, taking the Queen along with him. But the Lords knew that Mary

entertained no affection for her husband, and they therefore hoped to

create a division between them. They accomplished this object at Carberry

Hill, and reconducted the Queen to Edinburgh. There, though not sorry

that she had parted from her husband, Mary did not express any high

approbation of the conduct of Lords who, when she was first seized by

Bothwell, did not draw a sword in her defence, and now that she had become

his wife, according to their own express recommendation recorded in the

bond they had given him, openly rebelled against the authority with which

they had induced her to intrust him. Morton recollected at the same time

his share in Rizzio's assassination, and the disastrous consequences which

ensued, as soon as Mary made her escape from the thraldom in which he had

then kept her for several days. He determined not to expose himself to a

similar risk now, especially as he had an army at his command; if he

disbanded it, he might be executed as a traitor,--if he remained at the

head of it, he might become Regent of Scotland. These were the secret

motives by which his conduct was regulated;--having taken one step he

thought he might venture to go on with another; he commenced with

defending the son, and ended by dethroning the mother.

Four different plans were now in agitation, by adopting any of which it

was thought the troubles of the kingdom might be brought to a conclusion.

The first was suggested by the Queen's friends assembled at Hamilton;

their proposal was, to restore the Queen to her liberty and throne, having

previously bound her, by an express agreement, to pardon the rebel Lords,

to watch over the safety of the Prince, to consent to a divorce from

Bothwell, and to punish all persons implicated in the murder of Darnley.

The other three schemes came from Morton and his party, and were worthy of

the source from which they came. The first was, to make the Queen

resign all government and regal authority in favour of her son, under whom

a Council of the nobility should govern the realm, whilst she herself

should retire to France or England, and never again return to her own

country. The second was, to have the Queen tried, to condemn her, to

keep her in prison for life, and to crown the Prince. The third was, to

have her tried, condemned, and executed,--a measure which would have

disgraced Scotland in even its most barbarous times, and which nothing but

the violence of party feeling could now have suggested. The English

ambassador, knowing the wishes of his mistress, did not hesitate to assure

her that there was no probability of any of the more lenient proposals

being adopted; and he took care to remind the Lords, that "it would be

convenient for them so to proceed, as that by their doings they should not

wipe away the Queen's infamy, and the Lord Bothwell's detestable murder,

and by their outrageous dealings bring all the slander upon themselves."

At Morton's request, he likewise suggested to Elizabeth, that it would be

proper to send a supply of ten or twelve thousand crowns to aid the Lords

in their present increased expenditure; and this he said was the more

necessary, because Lethington and others had reminded him that,

notwithstanding all her Majesty's fair words, Murray, Morton, and the

rest, "had in their troubles found cold relief and small favour at her

Majesty's hands." No wonder that, in moments when his better nature

prevailed, Throckmorton felt disgusted with the double part he was obliged

to act, and spoke "honestly and plainly" of it to Melville. "Yea," says

Sir James, "he detested the whole counsel of England for the time, and

told us friendly what reasoning they held among themselves to that end;

namely, how that one of their finest counsellors (Cecil) proposed openly

to the rest, that it was needful for the welfare of England, to foster and

nourish the civil wars, as well in France and in Flanders, as in Scotland;

whereby England might reap many advantages, and be sought after by all

parties, and in the meantime live in rest, and gather great riches. This

advice and proposition was well liked by most part of the Council; yet an

honest counsellor stood up and said, it was a very worldly advice, and had

little or nothing to do with a Christian commonweal."

The Earl of Murray was in the meantime anxiously watching the progress of

affairs in Scotland, and, though still in France, had so contrived, that

he possessed as much influence in the counsels of the nation as Morton

himself. The Lords indeed had long been in close correspondence with him.

Letters from them were forwarded to him by Cecil, who exchanged frequent

communications with Murray; and, on the 26th of June, four days before

Throckmorton left London for Scotland, Cecil wrote to the English

ambassador at Paris, that "Murray's return into Scotland was much desired,

for the weal both of England and Scotland." But as Murray had

attempted to ingratiate himself at the French Court, by exaggerating his

fidelity to Mary, he found it impossible to disengage himself immediately

from the connexions he had there made, not anticipating so sudden a

revolution in the state of affairs at home. He sent, however, an agent

into Scotland, of the name of Elphinston, whom he commissioned to attend

to his interests, and whom the Lords allowed to visit the Queen at

Loch-Leven, though they refused every body else. It is not likely that

Morton, who had thus a second time been engaged in setting up a ladder for

Murray to ascend by, was altogether pleased to find that he could not

obtain the first place for himself. As soon as he determined to force Mary

to abdicate the Crown, he saw that he would be obliged to yield the

Regency to Murray, supported as that nobleman was, both by his numerous

friends in England and Scotland, and the earnest recommendations of Knox

and the other preachers, who, in their anxiety to see their old patron

once more Lord of the ascendant, "took pieces of Scripture, and inveighed

vehemently against the Queen, and persuaded extremities against her, by

application of the text." Morton, however, consoled himself with the

reflection, that he was in great favour with Murray, and that, by acting

in concert with him, he would enjoy a scarcely inferior degree of power

and honour.

Preparatory to extorting from her an abdication, the Lords anxiously

circulated a report, that the Queen was devotedly and almost insanely

attached to Bothwell. They did not venture, it is true, to put this

attachment to the test, by publicly offering her reasonable terms of

accommodation, which, if she had refused, all men would have acknowledged

her infatuation, and deserted her cause;--they brought her to no

trial,--they proved her guilty of no crime; all they did was to endeavour

to impose upon the vulgar. They asserted that Mary would not agree to

prosecute the perpetrators of the murder, after she had already prosecuted

them,--and that she would not consent to abandon a husband whom she had

already abandoned, and with whom, they themselves had declared, only a few

weeks before, she could not, under any circumstances, have lived for many

months. Throckmorton, who was willing enough to propagate all the absurd

falsehoods they told him, wrote to Elizabeth,--"she avoweth constantly

that she will live and die with him; and saith, that if it were put to her

choice to relinquish her Crown and kingdom, or the Lord Bothwell, she

would leave her kingdom and dignity, to go as a simple damsel with him;

and that she will never consent that he shall fare worse, or have more

harm than herself." But the numerous party in favour of the Queen

openly avowed their disbelief of these reports; and Elizabeth herself, who

began to fear that, in sending Throckmorton to the rebel Lords, she had

countenanced the weaker side, wrote to her ambassador on the 29th of

August in the following terms, which, as they are used by an enemy so

determined as Elizabeth, speak volumes in favour of Mary:--"We cannot

perceive, that they, with whom they have dealt, can answer the doubts

moved by the Hamiltons, who, howsoever they may be carried for their

private respects, yet those things which they move will be allowed by all

reasonable persons. For if they may not, being noblemen of the realm, be

suffered to hear the Queen, their Sovereign, declare her mind concerning

the reports which are made of her by such as keep her in captivity, how

should they believe the reports, or obey them which do report it?"

That Mary refused to return to her throne, unless Bothwell was placed upon

it beside her, is an assertion so ridiculous, that no time need be lost in

refuting it. That she may not have chosen to submit to an immediate

divorce from one whom all her nobility had recommended to her as a

husband, and by whom she might possibly have a child, is within the verge

of probability. She would naturally be anxious to avoid doing any thing

which would be equivalent with acknowledging her belief of his guilt, and

might have appeared to implicate her in the suspicion attached to him. She

had not married Bothwell till he had been judicially acquitted; and were

she to consent to be divorced from him before he was again tried, she

would seem to confess, that she had previously sanctioned a procedure

possessing the show of justice, without the substance. There can be

no doubt, however, that if Bothwell's guilt had been distinctly proved to

her, and if she could have disunited herself from him without injury to

her reputation or her prospects, she would have been the very last person

to have objected either to see Darnley's death revenged, or herself freed

from an alliance into which she had been forced against her will.

But the Lords of Secret Council, conscious as they were of the injustice

of their proceedings, had gone too far to recede, and were determined not

to rest satisfied with any half-measures. On the 24th of July 1567, Lord

Lindsay and Sir Robert Melville (brother to Sir James), were commissioned

to pass to Loch-Leven, and to carry with them deeds or instruments of

abdication. These instruments were three in number. By the first,

Mary was made to resign the Crown in favour of her son,--by the second, to

constitute the Earl of Murray Regent during his nonage,--and, by the

third, to appoint a Council to administer the Government until Murray's

return home, and, if he should refuse to accept of the regency, until her

son's majority. It was of course well known to the rebels, that the Queen

would not willingly affix her signature to deeds by which she was to

surrender all power, and to reduce herself at once to the station of a

subject, without receiving in return any promise of liberty, or the

enjoyment of a single worldly good. Yet they had the effrontery to aver,

that rather than submit to a separation from one with whom "she could not

have lived half-a-year to an end," she preferred becoming a landless and

crownless pensioner, on the bounty of such men as Morton and his


Were we to single out the day in Mary's whole life in which it might be

fairly concluded that she suffered the most intense mental anguish, we

should fix on the 25th of July 1567, the day on which the Commissioners

had their audience. Shut up in a gloomy edifice, which, though dignified

with the name of a castle, was little else than a square tower of three

stories; and instead of a numerous assemblage of obsequious nobles,

attended by only three or four female servants;--it must have required a

more than common spirit of queenly fortitude to support so great a reverse

of fortune. But the misery of her situation was now to be increased a

hundred fold, by a blow the severest she had yet experienced. When the

report first reached her, that it was in contemplation to force her to

abdicate her crown, she indignantly refused to believe so lawless an

attempt possible. Mary had been all her life fond of power, and proud of

her illustrious birth and rank; and there were few subjects on which she

dwelt with greater pleasure, than her unsullied descent from a "centenary

line of kings." Was she now, without a struggle, to surrender the crown of

the Stuarts into the hands of the bastard Murray, or the blood-stained

Morton? Was she to submit to the bitter mockery, introduced in the very

preamble to the instrument of demission, which stated, that, ever since

her arrival in her realm, she had "employed her body, spirit, whole senses

and forces, to govern in such sort, that her royal and honourable estate

might stand and continue with her and her posterity, and that her loving

and kind lieges might enjoy the quietness of true subjects;" but that,

being now wearied with the fatigues of administration, she wished to lay

down her sceptre? Even though prepared to lay it down, was she also

to countenance falsehood, and practise dissimulation?

When the commissioners arrived at Lochleven, Sir Robert Melville, knowing

that Lindsay was personally disagreeable to his Sovereign, came to her at

first alone. Opening to her his errand, and, addressing her with respect,

and professions of attachment (for she had often employed him before about

her person, or as her ambassador to foreign courts), he urged every

argument he could think of to persuade her to affix her signature to the

deeds. She listened to him with calm dignity and unshaken resolution. She

heard him describe the distracted state of Scotland--the impossibility of

ever prevailing on all parties to submit again to her sway--the virulence

of her enemies, and the apparent lukewarmness of her friends. She allowed

him to proceed from these more general topics, to others more intimately

connected with her own person. She listened to his assurance, that, if she

continued obstinate, it was determined to bring her to trial,--to blacken

her character, by accusing her of incontinency, not only with Bothwell,

but with others, and of the murder of her late husband, and, upon whatever

evidence, to condemn and execute her. But she remained unmoved, and

preserved the same composure of manner, though not without many a secret

throb of pain, at the discovery of the utter ingratitude and perfidy of

those whom she had so often befriended and advanced. As a last expedient,

Melville produced a letter from Throckmorton, in which the ambassador

advised her to consult her personal safety, by consenting to an

abdication--a somewhat singular advice to be given by one who affected to

have come into Scotland for the express purpose of securing her

restoration to the throne. But she only remarked on this letter, that

it convinced her of the insincerity of Elizabeth's promises of assistance.

Melville now saw that there was no alternative, and that Lindsay must be

called in to his assistance. Notorious for being one of the most

passionate men in Scotland, Lindsay burst into the Queen's presence, with

the instruments in his hands, and rage sparkling in his eyes. Mary, for

the first time, became agitated, for she recollected the evening of

Rizzio's murder, when Lindsay stood beside the gaunt form of Ruthven,

instigating him to the commission of that deed of cruelty. With fearful

oaths and imprecations, this unmannered barbarian, entitled to be called a

man only because he bore the external form of one, vowed, that unless she

subscribed the deeds without delay, he would sign them himself with her

blood, and seal them on her heart. Mary had a bold and masculine

spirit; but, trembling under the prospect of immediate destruction, and

imagining that she saw Lindsay's dagger already drawn, she became

suddenly pale and motionless, and would have fallen in a swoon, had not a

flood of tears afforded her relief. Melville, moved perhaps to contrition

by the depth of her misery, whispered in her ear, that instruments signed

in captivity could not be considered valid, if she chose to revoke them

when she regained her liberty. This suggestion may have had some weight;

but almost before she had time to attend to it, Lindsay's passion again

broke forth, and, pointing to the lake which surrounded her confined

residence, he swore that it should become her immediate grave, if she

hesitated one moment longer. Driven to distraction, and scarcely knowing

what she did, Mary seized a pen, and without reading a line of the

voluminous writings before her, she affixed her name to each of them, as

legibly as her tears would permit. The Commissioners then took their

departure, secretly congratulating themselves, that, by a mixture of

cunning and ferocity, they had gained their end. Mary, no longer a Queen,

was left alone to the desolate solitude of her own gloomy thoughts.

As soon as Lord Lindsay returned to Edinburgh, and notified the success of

his mission, it was determined by Morton and his associates that the

Prince should be crowned with as little delay as possible. Sir James

Melville, who was considered a moderate man by both parties, was sent to

the Lords at Hamilton, to invite their concurrence and presence on the

occasion. He was received courteously; but the nobility there would not

agree to countenance proceedings which they denounced as treasonable. On

the contrary, perceiving the turn which matters were about to take, they

retired from Hamilton to Dumbarton, where they prepared for more active

opposition. They signed a bond of mutual defence and assistance, in which

they declared, that owing to the state of captivity in which the Queen was

detained at Loch-Leven, her Majesty's subjects were prevented from having

free access to her, and that it therefore became their duty to endeavour

to procure her freedom, by all lawful means, however strong the opposition

that might be offered. This bond was signed by many persons of rank and

influence, among whom were the Archbishop of St Andrews, the Earls of

Argyle and Huntly, and the Lords Ross, Fleming, and Herries.

On the 29th of July 1567, James was publicly crowned at Stirling. He was

anointed by Adam, Bishop of Orkney, in the parish church, and the Earl of

Morton took the oath of coronation in the Prince's name, who was little

more than a year old. On returning in procession to the Castle, the Earl

of Athol carried the crown, Morton the sceptre, Glencairn the sword, and

Mar the new made King. All public writs were thenceforth issued, and the

government was established, in the name and authority of James VI.

The infant King was in the power of his mother's deadliest enemies; and of

course they resolved that neither her religion nor modes of thinking

should be transmitted to her son. Buchanan was appointed his principal

tutor, and if early precept can ever counteract natural affection, there

is good reason to suppose, that, together with her crown, the filial love

of her child was taken from Mary.

Only a few days after the coronation, the Earl of Murray returned to

Scotland. He came by the way of London, where he concocted his future

measures with Cecil and Elizabeth. He had some difficulty in fixing on the

course which would be most expedient for him to pursue. He knew that the

regency was about to be offered to him; but he also knew how unlawfully

his sister's abdication had been obtained, and that there was a strong

party in Scotland who were still bent on supporting her authority. Were he

at once to place himself at the head of a faction which might afterwards

turn out to be the weaker of the two, he incurred the risk of falling from

his temporary eminence lower than ever. He resolved therefore, with his

usual caution, to feel his way before he took any decisive step. Sir James

Melville was sent to meet him at Berwick; and from him he learned that

even Morton's Lords had by this time split into two parties, and that

while one-half were of opinion that Murray should accept of the regency

without delay, and give his approval to all that had been done in his

absence, the other, among whom were Mar, Athol, Lethington, Tullibardin,

and Grange, prayed him to bear himself gently and humbly towards the

Queen, and to get as much into her favour as possible, as her Majesty was

of "a clear wit, and princely inclination," and the time might come when

they would all wish her at liberty to rule over them. Murray, who

adopted on this occasion Elizabeth's favourite maxim,--"Video et taceo,"

disclosed his mind to no one, until he ascertained for himself the precise

state of affairs, and of public feeling in Scotland.

To be the better informed, he determined on visiting the Queen personally

at Loch-Leven. He was accompanied by Athol, Morton, and Lindsay. When Mary

saw her brother, a crowd of recollections rushing into her mind, she burst

into tears, and it was some time before she could enter into conversation

with him. At length she desired that the others would retire, and they had

then a long private conference, of which the particulars are not fully

known. Mary had flattered herself that she might place some reliance on

Murray's affection and gratitude, but she had egregiously mistaken his

character. Having, by this time, secretly resolved to accept the regency

at all hazards, his only desire was to impress her with a belief, that he

assumed that office principally with the view of saving her from a severer

fate, and that he was actually conferring a favour on her by taking her

sceptre into his own hands. Reduced already to despair, the Queen

listened, with tears in her eyes, to Murray's representations, and at

length became convinced of his sincerity, and thanked him for his promises

of protection. Thus the Earl and his friends were able to give out, that

Mary confirmed, by word of mouth, what she had formerly signed with her

hand, and that she entreated her brother to accept the Government.

Besides, if she were ever restored to the throne, she would not be

disposed to treat with severity one who had been artful enough to persuade

her, that, in usurping her authority, he was doing her a service.

On the 22d of August 1567, James, Earl of Murray, was proclaimed Regent;

and, in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, before the Justice Clerk and others, he

took the oaths, and accepted the charge. He first, however, made a long

discourse, in which, with overacted humility, he stated his own

insufficiency, and expressed a desire that the office had been conferred

on some more worthy nobleman. But his scruples were easily conquered;

and, under the title of Regent, he became, in fact, King of Scotland,

until James VI. should attain the age of seventeen. He proceeded to

establish himself in his Government by prudent and vigorous measures. He

made himself master of the Castles of Edinburgh and Dunbar, and other

places of strength; he contrived either to bring over to his own side, or

to overawe and keep quiet, most of the Queen's Lords; and he severely

chastised such districts as continued disaffected. A Parliament was

summoned in December, at which the imprisoning and dethroning of the Queen

were declared lawful, and, what is remarkable, the reason assigned for

these measures had never been hinted at before Murray's return,--that

there was certain proof that she was implicated in the murder of Darnley.

This proof was stated to consist in certain "private letters, written

wholly with the Queen's own hand." They were not produced at the time, but

will come to be examined more particularly afterwards. All that need be

remarked here, is the sudden change introduced by the Regent into the

nature of the allegations against Mary. It had been always given out

previously, that she was kept in Loch-Leven, because she evinced a

determination to be again united to Bothwell; but now, an entirely new and

more serious cause was assigned for her detention.