Mary's Childhood


Palace where Mary was born.--Its situation.--Ruins.--The

room.--Visitors.--Mary's father in the wars.--His

death.--Regency.--Catholic religion.--The Protestants.--England

and France.--The Earl of Arran.--The regency.--Arran

regent.--New plan.--End of the war.--King Henry VIII.--Janet

Sinclair.--King Henry's demands.--Objections to them.--Plans for

Mary.--Linlithgow.--Plan of the pal
ce.--Fountain.--The lion's

den.--Explanation of the engraving.--The coronation.--Stirling

Castle.--Its situation.--Rocky hill.--The coronation scene.--Linlithgow

and Stirling.--The Highlands and the Highlanders.--Religious

disturbances.--Lake Menteith.--Mary's companions.--The four

Maries.--Angry disputes.--Change of plan.--Henry's anger.--Henry's

sickness and death.--War renewed.--Danger in Edinburgh.--Aid from

France.--New plan.--Going to France.--Dumbarton Castle.--Rock of

Dumbarton.--Journey to Dumbarton.--The four Maries.--Departure from


Travelers who go into Scotland take a great interest in visiting,

among other places, a certain room in the ruins of an old palace,

where Queen Mary was born. Queen Mary was very beautiful, but she was

very unfortunate and unhappy. Every body takes a strong interest in

her story, and this interest attaches, in some degree, to the room

where her sad and sorrowful life was begun.

The palace is near a little village called Linlithgow. The village

has but one long street, which consists of ancient stone houses.

North of it is a little lake, or rather pond: they call it, in

Scotland, a loch. The palace is between the village and the loch;

it is upon a beautiful swell of land which projects out into the

water. There is a very small island in the middle of the loch and the

shores are bordered with fertile fields. The palace, when entire,

was square, with an open space or court in the center. There was a

beautiful stone fountain in the center of this court, and an arched

gateway through which horsemen and carriages could ride in. The doors

of entrance into the palace were on the inside of the court.

The palace is now in ruins. A troop of soldiers came to it one day in

time of war, after Mary and her mother had left it, and spent the

night there: they spread straw over the floors to sleep upon. In the

morning, when they went away, they wantonly set the straw on fire,

and left it burning, and thus the palace was destroyed. Some of the

lower floors were of stone; but all the upper floors and the roof

were burned, and all the wood-work of the rooms, and the doors and

window-frames. Since then the palace has never been repaired, but

remains a melancholy pile of ruins.

The room where Mary was born had a stone floor. The rubbish which has

fallen from above has covered it with a sort of soil, and grass and

weeds grow up all over it. It is a very melancholy sight to see. The

visitors who go into the room walk mournfully about, trying to

imagine how Queen Mary looked, as an infant in her mother's arms,

and reflecting on the recklessness of the soldiers in wantonly

destroying so beautiful a palace. Then they go to the window, or,

rather, to the crumbling opening in the wall where the window once

was, and look out upon the loch, now so deserted and lonely; over

their heads it is all open to the sky.

Mary's father was King of Scotland. At the time that Mary was born,

he was away from home engaged in war with the King of England, who

had invaded Scotland. In the battles Mary's father was defeated, and

he thought that the generals and nobles who commanded his army

allowed the English to conquer them on purpose to betray him. This

thought overwhelmed him with vexation and anguish. He pined away

under the acuteness of his sufferings, and just after the news came

to him that his daughter Mary was born, he died. Thus Mary became an

orphan, and her troubles commenced, at the very beginning of her

days. She never saw her father, and her father never saw her. Her

mother was a French lady; her name was Mary of Guise. Her own name

was Mary Stuart, but she is commonly called Mary Queen of Scots.

As Mary was her father's only child, of course, when he died, she

became Queen of Scotland, although she was only a few days old. It

is customary, in such a case, to appoint some distinguished person to

govern the kingdom, in the name of the young queen, until she grows

up: such a person is called a regent. Mary's mother wished to be

the regent until Mary became of age.

It happened that in those days, as now, the government and people of

France were of the Catholic religion. England, on the other hand, was

Protestant. There is a great difference between the Catholic and the

Protestant systems. The Catholic Church, though it extends nearly all

over the world, is banded together, as the reader is aware, under one

man--the pope--who is the great head of the Church, and who lives in

state at Rome. The Catholics have, in all countries, many large and

splendid churches, which are ornamented with paintings and images of

the Virgin Mary and of Christ. They perform great ceremonies in these

churches, the priests being dressed in magnificent costumes, and

walking in processions, with censers of incense burning as they go.

The Protestants, on the other hand, do not like these ceremonies;

they regard such outward acts of worship as mere useless parade, and

the images as idols. They themselves have smaller and plainer

churches, and call the people together in them to hear sermons, and

to offer up simple prayers.

In the time of Mary, England was Protestant and France was Catholic,

while Scotland was divided, though most of the people were

Protestants. The two parties were very much excited against each

other, and often persecuted each other with extreme cruelty.

Sometimes the Protestants would break into the Catholic churches, and

tear down and destroy the paintings and the images, and the other

symbols of worship, all which the Catholics regarded with extreme

veneration; this exasperated the Catholics, and when they became

powerful in their turn, they would seize the Protestants and imprison

them, and sometimes burn them to death, by tying them to a stake and

piling fagots of wood about them, and then setting the heap on fire.

Queen Mary's mother was a Catholic, and for that reason the people of

Scotland were not willing that she should be regent. There were one

or two other persons, moreover, who claimed the office. One was a

certain nobleman called the Earl of Arran. He was a Protestant. The

Earl of Arran was the next heir to the crown, so that if Mary had

died in her infancy, he would have been king. He thought that this

was a reason why he should be regent, and govern the kingdom until

Mary became old enough to govern it herself. Many other persons,

however, considered this rather a reason why he should not be regent;

for they thought he would be naturally interested in wishing that

Mary should not live, since if she died he would himself become king,

and that therefore he would not be a safe protector for her. However,

as the Earl of Arran was a Protestant, and as Mary's mother was a

Catholic, and as the Protestant interest was the strongest, it was at

length decided that Arran should be the regent, and govern the

country until Mary should be of age.

It is a curious circumstance that Mary's birth put an end to the war

between England and Scotland, and that in a very singular way. The

King of England had been fighting against Mary's father, James, for a

long time, in order to conquer the country and annex it to England;

and now that James was dead, and Mary had become queen, with Arran

for the regent, it devolved on Arran to carry on the war. But the

King of England and his government, now that the young queen was

born, conceived of a new plan. The king had a little son, named

Edward, about four years old, who, of course, would become King of

England in his place when he should himself die. Now he thought it

would be best for him to conclude a peace with Scotland, and agree

with the Scottish government that, as soon as Mary was old enough,

she should become Edward's wife, and the two kingdoms be united in

that way.

The name of this King of England was Henry the Eighth. He was a very

headstrong and determined man. This, his plan, might have been a very

good one; it was certainly much better than an attempt to get

possession of Scotland by fighting for it; but he was very far from

being as moderate and just as he should have been in the execution of

his design. The first thing was to ascertain whether Mary was a

strong and healthy child; for if he should make a treaty of peace,

and give up all his plans of conquest, and then if Mary, after living

feebly a few years, should die, all his plans would fail. To satisfy

him on this point, they actually had some of the infant's clothes

removed in the presence of his embassador, in order that the

embassador might see that her form was perfect, and her limbs

vigorous and strong. The nurse did this with great pride and

pleasure, Mary's mother standing by. The nurse's name was Janet

Sinclair. The embassador wrote back to Henry, the King of England,

that little Mary was "as goodly a child as he ever saw." So King

Henry VIII. was confirmed in his design of having her for the wife of

his son.

King Henry VIII. accordingly changed all his plans. He made a peace

with the Earl of Arran. He dismissed the prisoners that he had taken,

and sent them home kindly. If he had been contented with kind and

gentle measures like these, he might have succeeded in them, although

there was, of course, a strong party in Scotland opposed to them.

Mary's mother was opposed to them, for she was a Catholic and a

French lady, and she wished to have her daughter become a Catholic as

she grew up, and marry a French prince. All the Catholics in Scotland

took her side. Still Henry's plans might have been accomplished,

perhaps, if he had been moderate and conciliating in the efforts

which he made to carry them into effect.

But Henry VIII. was headstrong and obstinate. He demanded that Mary,

since she was to be his son's wife, should be given up to him to be

taken into England, and educated there, under the care of persons

whom he should appoint. He also demanded that the Parliament of

Scotland should let him have a large share in the government of

Scotland, because he was going to be the father-in-law of the young

queen. The Parliament would not agree to either of these plans; they

were entirely unwilling to allow their little queen to be carried off

to another country, and put under the charge of so rough and rude a

man. Then they were unwilling, too, to give him any share of the

government during Mary's minority. Both these measures were entirely

inadmissible; they would, if adopted, have put both the infant Queen

of Scotland and the kingdom itself completely in the power of one who

had always been their greatest enemy.

Henry, finding that he could not induce the Scotch government to

accede to these plans, gave them up at last, and made a treaty of

marriage between his son and Mary, with the agreement that she might

remain in Scotland until she was ten years old, and that then she

should come to England and be under his care.

All this time, while these grand negotiations were pending between

two mighty nations about her marriage, little Mary was unconscious

of it all, sometimes reposing quietly in Janet Sinclair's arms,

sometimes looking out of the windows of the Castle of Linlithgow to

see the swans swim upon the lake, and sometimes, perhaps, creeping

about upon the palace floor, where the earls and barons who came to

visit her mother, clad in armor of steel, looked upon her with pride

and pleasure. The palace where she lived was beautifully situated, as

has been before remarked, on the borders of a lake. It was arranged

somewhat in the following manner:


a. Room where Mary was born. b. Entrance through great gates.

c. Bow-window projecting toward the water. d. Den where they kept

a lion. t.t. Trees.]

There was a beautiful fountain in the center of the court-yard, where

water spouted out from the mouths of carved images, and fell into

marble basins below. The ruins of this fountain and of the images

remain there still. The den at d was a round pit, like a well,

which you could look down into from above: it was about ten feet

deep. They used to keep lions in such dens near the palaces and

castles in those days. A lion in a den was a sort of plaything in

former times, as a parrot or a pet lamb is now: this was in keeping

with the fierce and warlike spirit of the age. If they had a lion

there in Mary's time, Janet often, doubtless, took her little charge

out to see it, and let her throw down food to it from above. The den

is there now. You approach it upon the top of a broad embankment,

which is as high as the depth of the den, so that the bottom of the

den is level with the surface of the ground, which makes it always

dry. There is a hole, too, at the bottom, through the wall, where

they used to put the lion in.

The foregoing plan of the buildings and grounds of Linlithgow is

drawn as maps and plans usually are, the upper part toward the north.

Of course the room a, where Mary was born, is on the western side.

The adjoining engraving represents a view of the palace on this

western side. The church is seen at the right; and the lawn, where

Janet used to take Mary out to breathe the air, is in the

fore-ground. The shore of the lake is very near, and winds

beautifully around the margin of the promontory on which the palace

stands. Of course the lion's den, and the ancient avenue of approach

to the palace, are round upon the other side, and out of sight in

this view. The approach to the palace, at the present day, is on the

southern side, between the church and the trees on the right of the


[Illustration: PALACE OF LINLITHGOW--Queen Mary's Birth-place.]

Mary remained here at Linlithgow for a year or two; but when she was

about nine months old, they concluded to have the great ceremony of

the coronation performed, as she was by that time old enough to bear

the journey to Stirling Castle, where the Scottish kings and queens

were generally crowned. The coronation of a queen is an event which

always excites a very deep and universal interest among all persons in

the realm; and there is a peculiar interest felt when, as was the case

in this instance, the queen to be crowned is an infant just old enough

to bear the journey. There was a very great interest felt in Mary's

coronation. The different courts and monarchs of Europe sent

embassadors to be present at the ceremony, and to pay their respects

to the infant queen; and Stirling became, for the time being, the

center of universal attraction.

Stirling is in the very heart of Scotland. It is a castle, built upon

a rock, or, rather, upon a rocky hill, which rises like an island out

of the midst of a vast region of beautiful and fertile country, rich

and verdant beyond description. Beyond the confines of this region of

beauty, dark mountains rise on all sides; and wherever you are,

whether riding along the roads in the plain, or climbing the

declivities of the mountains, you see Stirling Castle, from every

point, capping its rocky hill, the center and ornament of the broad

expanse of beauty which surrounds it.

Stirling Castle is north of Linlithgow, and is distant about fifteen

or twenty miles from it. The road to it lies not far from the shores

of the Frith of Forth, a broad and beautiful sheet of water. The

castle, as has been before remarked, was on the summit of a rocky

hill. There are precipitous crags on three sides of the hill, and a

gradual approach by a long ascent on the fourth side. At the top of

this ascent you enter the great gates of the castle, crossing a

broad and deep ditch by means of a draw-bridge. You enter then a

series of paved courts, with towers and walls around them, and

finally come to the more interior edifices, where the private

apartments are situated, and where the little queen was crowned.

It was an occasion of great pomp and ceremony, though Mary, of

course, was unconscious of the meaning of it all. She was surrounded

by barons and earls, by embassadors and princes from foreign courts,

and by the principal lords and ladies of the Scottish nobility, all

dressed in magnificent costumes. They held little Mary up, and a

cardinal, that is, a great dignitary of the Roman Catholic Church,

placed the crown upon her head. Half pleased with the glittering

show, and half frightened at the strange faces which she saw every

where around her, she gazed unconsciously upon the scene, while her

mother, who could better understand its import, was elated with pride

and joy.

Linlithgow and Stirling are in the open and cultivated part of

Scotland. All the northern and western part of the country consists

of vast masses of mountains, with dark and somber glens among them,

which are occupied solely by shepherds and herdsmen with their

flocks and herds. This mountainous region was called the Highlands,

and the inhabitants of it were the Highlanders. They were a wild and

warlike class of men, and their country was seldom visited by either

friend or foe. At the present time there are beautiful roads all

through the Highlands, and stage-coaches and private carriages roll

over them every summer, to take tourists to see and admire the

picturesque and beautiful scenery; but in the days of Mary the whole

region was gloomy and desolate, and almost inaccessible.

Mary remained in Linlithgow and Stirling for about two years, and

then, as the country was becoming more and more disturbed by the

struggles of the great contending parties--those who were in favor of

the Catholic religion and alliance with France on the one hand, and

of those in favor of the Protestant religion and alliance with

England on the other hand--they concluded to send her into the

Highlands for safety.

It was not far into the country of the Highlands that they concluded

to send her, but only into the borders of it. There was a small

lake on the southern margin of the wild and mountainous country,

called the Lake of Menteith. In this lake was an island named

Inchmahome, the word inch being the name for island in the language

spoken by the Highlanders. This island, which was situated in a very

secluded and solitary region, was selected as Mary's place of

residence. She was about four years old when they sent her to this

place. Several persons went with her to take care of her, and to

teach her. In fact, every thing was provided for her which could

secure her improvement and happiness. Her mother did not forget that

she would need playmates, and so she selected four little girls of

about the same age with the little queen herself, and invited them to

accompany her. They were daughters of the noblemen and high officers

about the court. It is very singular that these girls were all named

Mary. Their names in full were as follows:

Mary Beaton,

Mary Fleming,

Mary Livingstone,

Mary Seaton.

These, with Mary Stuart, which was Queen Mary's name, made five girls

of four or five years of age, all named Mary.

Mary lived two years in this solitary island. She had, however, all

the comforts and conveniences of life, and enjoyed herself with her

four Maries very much. Of course she knew nothing, and thought

nothing of the schemes and plans of the great governments for having

her married, when she grew up, to the young English prince, who was

then a little boy of about her own age, nor of the angry disputes in

Scotland to which this subject gave rise. It did give rise to very

serious disputes. Mary's mother did not like the plan at all. As she

was herself a French lady and a Catholic, she did not wish to have

her daughter marry a prince who was of the English royal family, and

a Protestant. All the Catholics in Scotland took her side. At length

the Earl of Arran, who was the regent, changed to that side; and

finally the government, being thus brought over, gave notice to King

Henry VIII. that the plan must be given up, as they had concluded, on

the whole, that Mary should not marry his son.

King Henry was very much incensed. He declared that Mary should

marry his son, and he raised an army and sent it into Scotland to

make war upon the Scotch again, and compel them to consent to the

execution of the plan. He was at this time beginning to be sick, but

his sickness, instead of softening his temper, only made him the more

ferocious and cruel. He turned against his best friends. He grew

worse, and was evidently about to die; but he was so irritable and

angry that for a long time no one dared to tell him of his

approaching dissolution, and he lay restless, and wretched, and

agitated with political animosities upon his dying bed. At length

some one ventured to tell him that his end was near. When he found

that he must die, he resigned himself to his fate. He sent for an

archbishop to come and see him, but he was speechless when the

prelate came, and soon afterward expired.

The English government, however, after his death, adhered to his plan

of compelling the Scotch to make Mary the wife of his son. They sent

an army into Scotland. A great battle was fought, and the Scotch were

defeated. The battle was fought at a place not far from Edinburgh,

and near the sea. It was so near the sea that the English fired upon

the Scotch army from their ships, and thus assisted their troops upon

the shore. The armies had remained several days near each other

before coming to battle, and during all this time the city of

Edinburgh was in a state of great anxiety and suspense, as they

expected that their city would be attacked by the English if they

should conquer in the battle. The English army did, in fact, advance

toward Edinburgh after the battle was over, and would have got

possession of it had it not been for the castle. There is a very

strong castle in the very heart of Edinburgh, upon the summit of a

rocky hill.[A]

[Footnote A: See the view of Edinburgh, page 179.]

These attempts of the English to force the Scotch government to

consent to Mary's marriage only made them the more determined to

prevent it. A great many who were not opposed to it before, became

opposed to it now when they saw foreign armies in the country

destroying the towns and murdering the people. They said they had no

great objection to the match, but that they did not like the mode of

wooing. They sent to France to ask the French king to send over an

army to aid them, and promised him that if he would do so they would

agree that Mary should marry his son. His son's name was Francis.

The French king was very much pleased with this plan. He sent an army

of six thousand men into Scotland to assist the Scotch against their

English enemies. It was arranged, also, as little Mary was now hardly

safe among all these commotions, even in her retreat in the island of

Inchmahome, to send her to France to be educated there, and to live

there until she was old enough to be married. The same ships which

brought the army from France to Scotland, were to carry Mary and her

retinue from Scotland to France. The four Maries went with her.

They bade their lonely island farewell, and traveled south till they

came to a strong castle on a high, rocky hill, on the banks of the

River Clyde. The name of this fortress is Dumbarton Castle. Almost

all the castles of those times were built upon precipitous hills, to

increase the difficulties of the enemies in approaching them. The

Rock of Dumbarton is a very remarkable one. It stands close to the

bank of the river. There are a great many ships and steam-boats

continually passing up and down the Clyde, to and from the great city

of Glasgow, and all the passengers on board gaze with great interest,

as they sail by, on the Rock of Dumbarton, with the castle walls on

the sides, and the towers and battlements crowning the summit. In

Mary's time there was comparatively very little shipping on the

river, but the French fleet was there, waiting opposite the castle to

receive Mary and the numerous persons who were to go in her train.[B]

[Footnote B: Travelers who visit Scotland from this country at the

present day, usually land first, at the close of the voyage across

the Atlantic, at Liverpool, and there take a Glasgow steamer.

Glasgow, which is the great commercial city of Scotland, is on the

River Clyde. This river flows northward to the sea. The steamer, in

ascending the river, makes its way with difficulty along the narrow

channel, which, besides being narrow and tortuous, is obstructed by

boats, ships, steamers, and every other variety of water-craft, such

as are always going to and fro in the neighborhood of any great

commercial emporium.

The tourists, who stand upon the deck gazing at this exciting scene

of life and motion, have their attention strongly attracted, about

half way up the river, by this Castle of Dumbarton, which crowns a

rocky hill, rising abruptly from the water's edge, on the north side

of the stream. It attracts sometimes the more attention from American

travelers, on account of its being the first ancient castle they see.

This it likely to be the case if they proceed to Scotland immediately

on landing at Liverpool.]

Mary was escorted from the island where she had been living, across

the country to Dumbarton Castle, with a strong retinue. She was now

between five and six years of age. She was, of course, too young to

know any thing about the contentions and wars which had distracted

her country on her account, or to feel much interest in the subject

of her approaching departure from her native land. She enjoyed the

novelty of the scenes through which she passed on her journey. She

was pleased with the dresses and the arms of the soldiers who

accompanied her, and with the ships which were floating in the river,

beneath the walls of the Castle of Dumbarton, when she arrived there.

She was pleased, too, to think that, wherever she was to go, her four

Maries were to go with her. She bade her mother farewell, embarked on

board the ship which was to receive her, and sailed away from her

native land, not to return to it again for many years.