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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

The Bewitched Whistle

My Lady's Remorse

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

Loch Leven Castle

The Fall Of Bothwell


Mary's infatuation.--Excuses for her.--Mary's deep
depression.--Interposition of the King of France.--Bothwell at Edinburgh
Castle.--He is hated by the people.--The opposing parties.--How far
Mary was responsible.--Melrose.--Ruins of the abbey.--Mary's
proclamation.--The prince's lords.--Bothwell alarmed.--Borthwick
Castle.--Bothwell's retreat.--He is besieged.--Makes his
escape.--Bothwell at Dunbar.--Proclamation.--Approaching
contest.--Mary's appeal.--Approach of the prince's lords.--Carberry
Hill.--Efforts of Le Croc to effect an accommodation.--Bothwell's
challenge.--Morton.--Mary sends for Grange.--Proposition of
Grange.--Dismissal of Bothwell.--Question of Mary's guilt.--The
supposition against her.--The supposition in her
favor.--Uncertainty.--The box of love letters.--Their genuineness
suspected.--Disposal of Mary.--Return to Edinburgh.--The
banner.--Rudeness of the populace.--Bothwell's retreat.--He is
pursued.--Bothwell's narrow escape.--He turns pirate.--Bothwell
in prison.--His miserable end.

The course which Mary pursued after her liberation from Dunbar in
yielding to Bothwell's wishes, pardoning his violence, receiving him
again into favor, and becoming his wife, is one of the most
extraordinary instances of the infatuation produced by love that has
ever occurred. If the story had been fiction instead of truth, it
would have been pronounced extravagant and impossible. As it was, the
whole country was astonished and confounded at such a rapid
succession of desperate and unaccountable crimes. Mary herself seems
to have been hurried through these terrible scenes in a sort of
delirium of excitement, produced by the strange circumstances of the
case, and the wild and uncontrollable agitations to which they gave

Such was, however, at the time, and such continues to be still, the
feeling of interest in Mary's character and misfortunes, that but few
open and direct censures of her conduct were then, or have been
since, expressed. People execrated Bothwell, but they were silent in
respect to Mary. It was soon plain, however, that she had greatly
sunk in their regard, and that the more they reflected upon the
circumstances of the case, the deeper she was sinking. When the
excitement, too, began to pass away from her own mind, it left behind
it a gnawing inquietude and sense of guilt, which grew gradually more
and more intense, until, at length, she sunk under the stings of
remorse and despair.

Her sufferings were increased by the evidences which were continually
coming to her mind of the strong degree of disapprobation with which
her conduct began soon every where to be regarded. Wherever Scotchmen
traveled, they found themselves reproached with the deeds of violence
and crime of which their country had been the scene. Mary's relatives
and friends in France wrote to her, expressing their surprise and
grief at such proceedings. The King of France had sent, a short time
before, a special embassador for the purpose of doing something, if
possible, to discover and punish the murderers of Darnley. His name
was Le Croc. He was an aged and venerable man, of great prudence and
discretion, well qualified to discover and pursue the way of escape
from the difficulties in which Mary had involved herself, if any such
way could be found. He arrived before the day of Mary's marriage, but
he refused to take any part, or even to be present, at the ceremony.

In the mean time, Bothwell continued in Edinburgh Castle for a while,
under the protection of a strong guard. People considered this guard
as intended to prevent Mary's escape, and many thought that she was
detained, after all, against her will, and that her admissions that
she was free were only made at the instigation of Bothwell, and from
fear of his terrible power. The other nobles and the people of
Scotland began to grow more and more uneasy. The fear of Bothwell
began to be changed into hatred, and the more powerful nobles
commenced forming plans for combining together, and rescuing, as they
said, Mary out of his power.

Bothwell made no attempts to conciliate them. He assumed an air and
tone of defiance. He increased his forces. He conceived the plan of
going to Stirling Castle to seize the young prince, who was residing
there under the charge of persons to whom his education had been
intrusted. He said to his followers that James should never do any
thing to avenge his father's death, if he could once get him into his
hands. The other nobles formed a league to counteract these designs.
They began to assemble their forces, and every thing threatened an
outbreak of civil war.

The marriage took place about the middle of May, and within a
fortnight from that time the lines began to be pretty definitely
drawn between the two great parties, the queen and Bothwell on one
side, and the insurgent nobles on the other, each party claiming to
be friends of the queen. Whatever was done on Bothwell's side was, of
course, in the queen's name, though it is very doubtful how far she
was responsible for what was done, or how far, on the other hand, she
merely aided, under the influence of a species of compulsion, in
carrying into execution Bothwell's measures. We must say, in
narrating the history, that the queen did this and that, and must
leave the reader to judge whether it was herself, or Bothwell acting
through her, who was the real agent in the transactions described.

Stirling Castle, where the young prince was residing, is northwest of
Edinburgh. The confederate lords were assembling in that vicinity.
The border country between England and Scotland is of course south.
In the midst of this border country is the ancient town of Melrose,
where there was, in former days, a very rich and magnificent abbey,
the ruins of which, to this day, form one of the most attractive
objects of interest in the whole island of Great Britain. The region
is now the abode of peace, and quietness, and plenty, though in
Mary's day it was the scene of continual turmoil and war. It is now
the favorite retreat of poets and philosophers, who seek their
residences there on account of its stillness and peace. Sir Walter
Scott's Abbotsford is a few miles from Melrose.

About a fortnight after Mary's marriage, she issued a proclamation
ordering the military chiefs in her kingdom to assemble at Melrose,
with their followers, to accompany her on an expedition through the
border country, to suppress some disorders there. The nobles
considered this as only a scheme of Bothwell's to draw them away from
the neighborhood of Stirling, so that he might go and get possession
of the young prince. Rumors of this spread around the country, and
the forces, instead of proceeding to Melrose, began to assemble in
the neighborhood of Stirling, for the protection of the prince. The
lords under whose banners they gathered assumed the name of the
prince's lords, and they called upon the people to take up arms in
defense of young James's person and rights. The prince's lords soon
began to concentrate their forces about Edinburgh, and Bothwell was
alarmed for his safety. He had reason to fear that the governor of
Edinburgh Castle was on their side, and that he might suddenly sally
forth with a body of his forces down the High Street to Holyrood, and
take him prisoner. He accordingly began to think it necessary to

Now Bothwell had, among his other possessions, a certain castle
called Borthwick Castle, a few miles south of Edinburgh. It was
situated on a little swell of land in a beautiful valley. It was
surrounded with groves of trees, and from the windows and walls of
the castle there was an extended view over the beautiful and fertile
fields of the valley. This castle was extensive and strong. It
consisted of one great square tower, surrounded and protected by
walls and bastions, and was approached by a draw-bridge. In the
sudden emergency in which Bothwell found himself placed, this
fortress seemed to be the most convenient and the surest retreat. On
the 6th of June, he accordingly left Edinburgh with as large a force
as he had at command, and rode rapidly across the country with the
queen, and established himself at Borthwick.

The prince's lords, taking fresh courage from the evidence of
Bothwell's weakness and fear, immediately marched from Stirling,
passed by Edinburgh, and almost immediately after Bothwell and the
queen had got safely, as they imagined, established in the place of
their retreat, they found their castle surrounded and hemmed in on
all sides by hostile forces, which filled the whole valley. The
castle was strong, but not strong enough to withstand a siege from
such an army. Bothwell accordingly determined to retreat to his
castle of Dunbar, which, being on a rocky promontory, jutting into
the sea, and more remote from the heart of the country, was less
accessible, and more safe than Borthwick. He contrived, though with
great difficulty, to make his escape with the queen, through the
ranks of his enemies. It is said that the queen was disguised in male
attire. At any rate, they made their escape, they reached Dunbar,
and Mary, or Bothwell in her name, immediately issued a proclamation,
calling upon all her faithful subjects to assemble in arms, to
deliver her from her dangers. At the same time, the prince's lords
issued their proclamation, calling upon all faithful subjects to
assemble with them, to aid them in delivering the queen from the
tyrant who held her captive.

The faithful subjects were at a loss which proclamation to obey. By
far the greater number joined the insurgents. Some thousands,
however, went to Dunbar. With this force the queen and Bothwell
sallied forth, about the middle of June, to meet the prince's lords,
or the insurgents, as they called them, to settle the question at
issue by the kind of ballot with which such questions were generally
settled in those days.

Mary had a proclamation read at the head of her army, now that she
supposed she was on the eve of battle, in which she explained the
causes of the quarrel. The proclamation stated that the marriage was
Mary's free act, and that, although it was in some respects an
extraordinary one, still the circumstances were such that she could
not do otherwise than she had done. For ten days she had been in
Bothwell's power in his castle at Dunbar, and not an arm had been
raised for her deliverance. Her subjects ought to have interposed
then, if they were intending really to rescue her from Bothwell's
power. They had done nothing then, but now, when she had been
compelled, by the cruel circumstances of her condition, to marry
Bothwell--when the act was done, and could no longer be recalled,
they had taken up arms against her, and compelled her to take the
field in her own defense.

The army of the prince's lords, with Mary's most determined enemies
at their head, advanced to meet the queen's forces. The queen finally
took her post on an elevated piece of ground called Carberry Hill.
Carberry is an old Scotch name for gooseberry. Carberry Hill is a few
miles to the eastward of Edinburgh, near Dalkeith. Here the two
armies were drawn up, opposite to each other, in hostile array.

Le Croc, the aged and venerable French embassador, made a great
effort to effect an accommodation and prevent a battle. He first went
to the queen and obtained authority from her to offer terms of peace,
and then went to the camp of the prince's lords and proposed that
they should lay down their arms and submit to the queen's authority,
and that she would forgive and forget what they had done. They
replied that they had done no wrong, and asked for no pardon; that
they were not in arms against the queen's authority, but in favor of
it. They sought only to deliver her from the durance in which she was
held, and to bring to punishment the murderers of her husband,
whoever they might be. Le Croc went back and forth several times,
vainly endeavoring to effect an accommodation, and finally, giving up
in despair, he returned to Edinburgh, leaving the contending parties
to settle the contest in their own way.

Bothwell now sent a herald to the camp of his enemies, challenging
any one of them to meet him, and settle the question of his guilt or
innocence by single combat. This proposition was not quite so absurd
in those days as it would be now, for it was not an uncommon thing,
in the Middle Ages, to try in this way questions of crime. Many
negotiations ensued on Bothwell's proposal. One or two persons
expressed themselves ready to accept the challenge. Bothwell objected
to them on account of their rank being inferior to his, but said he
would fight Morton, if Morton would accept his challenge. Morton had
been his accomplice in the murder of Darnley, but had afterward
joined the party of Bothwell's foes. It would have been a singular
spectacle to see one of these confederates in the commission of a
crime contending desperately in single combat to settle the question
of the guilt or innocence of the other.

The combat, however, did not take place. After many negotiations on
the subject, the plan was abandoned, each party charging the other
with declining the contest. The queen and Bothwell, in the mean time,
found such evidences of strength on the part of their enemies, and
felt probably, in their own hearts, so much of that faintness and
misgiving under which human energy almost always sinks when the tide
begins to turn against it, after the commission of wrong, that they
began to feel disheartened and discouraged. The queen sent to the
opposite camp with a request that a certain personage, the Laird of
Grange, in whom all parties had great confidence, should come to her,
that she might make one more effort at reconciliation. Grange, after
consulting with the prince's lords, made a proposition to Mary, which
she finally concluded to accept. It was as follows:

They proposed that Mary should come over to their camp, not saying
very distinctly whether she was to come as their captive or as their
queen. The event showed that it was in the former capacity that they
intended to receive her, though they were probably willing that she
should understand that it was in the latter. At all events, the
proposition itself did not make it very clear what her position would
be; and the poor queen, distracted by the difficulties which
surrounded her, and overwhelmed with agitation and fear, could not
press very strongly for precise stipulations. In respect to Bothwell,
they compromised the question by agreeing that, as he was under
suspicion in respect to the murder of Darnley, he should not
accompany the queen, but should be dismissed upon the field; that is,
allowed to depart, without molestation, wherever he should choose to
go. This plan was finally adopted. The queen bade Bothwell farewell,
and he went away reluctantly and in great apparent displeasure. He
had, in fact, with his characteristic ferocity, attempted to shoot
Grange pending the negotiation. He mounted his horse, and, with a few
attendants, rode off and sought a retreat once more upon his rock at

From all the evidence which has come down to us, it seems impossible
to ascertain whether Mary desired to be released from Bothwell's
power, and was glad when the release came, or whether she still loved
him, and was planning a reunion, so soon as a reunion should be
possible. One party at that time maintained, and a large class of
writers and readers since have concurred in the opinion, that Mary
was in love with Bothwell before Darnley's death; that she connived
with him in the plan for Darnley's murder; that she was a consenting
party to the abduction, and the spending of the ten days at Dunbar
Castle, in his power; that the marriage was the end at which she
herself, as well as Bothwell, had been all the time aiming; and then,
when at last she surrendered herself to the prince's lords at
Carberry Hill, it was only yielding unwillingly to the necessity of a
temporary separation from her lawless husband, with a view of
reinstating him in favor and power at the earliest opportunity.

Another party, both among her people at the time and among the
writers and readers who have since paid attention to her story, think
that she never loved Bothwell, and that, though she valued his
services as a bold and energetic soldier, she had no collusion with
him whatever in respect to Darnley's murder. They think that, though
she must have felt in some sense relieved of a burden by Darnley's
death, she did not in any degree aid in or justify the crime, and
that she had no reason for supposing that Bothwell had any share in
the commission of it. They think, also, that her consenting to marry
Bothwell is to be accounted for by her natural desire to seek
shelter, under some wing or other, from the terrible storms which
were raging around her; and being deserted, as she thought, by every
body else, and moved by his passionate love and devotion, she
imprudently gave herself to him; that she lamented the act as soon as
it was done, but that it was then too late to retrieve the step; and
that, harassed and in despair, she knew not what to do, but that she
hailed the rising of her nobles as affording the only promise of
deliverance, and came forth from Dunbar to meet them with the secret
purpose of delivering herself into their hands.

The question which of these two suppositions is the correct one has
been discussed a great deal, without the possibility of arriving at
any satisfactory conclusion. A parcel of letters were produced by
Mary's enemies, some time after this, which they said were Mary's
letters to Bothwell before her husband Darnley's death. They say they
took the letters from a man named Dalgleish, one of Bothwell's
servants, who was carrying them from Holyrood to Dunbar Castle, just
after Mary and Bothwell fled to Borthwick. They were contained in a
small gilded box or coffer, with the letter F upon it, under a crown;
which mark naturally suggests to our minds Mary's first husband,
Francis, the king of France. Dalgleish said that Bothwell sent him
for this box, charging him to convey it with all care to Dunbar
Castle. The letters purport to be from Mary to Bothwell, and to have
been written before Darnley's death. They evince a strong affection
for the person to whom they are addressed, and seem conclusively to
prove the unlawful attachment between the parties, provided that
their genuineness is acknowledged. But this genuineness is denied.
Mary's friends maintain that they are forgeries, prepared by her
enemies to justify their own wrong. Many volumes have been written on
the question of the genuineness of these love letters, as they are
called, and there is perhaps now no probability that the question
will ever be settled.

Whatever doubt there may be about these things, there is none about
the events which followed. After Mary had surrendered herself to her
nobles they took her to the camp, she herself riding on horseback,
and Grange walking by her side. As she advanced to meet the nobles
who had combined against her, she said to them that she had concluded
to come over to them, not from fear, or from doubt what the issue
would have been if she had fought the battle, but only because she
wanted to spare the effusion of Christian blood, especially the blood
of her own subjects. She had therefore decided to submit herself to
their counsels, trusting that they would treat her as their rightful
queen. The nobles made little reply to this address, but prepared to
return to Edinburgh with their prize.

The people of Edinburgh, who had heard what turn the affair had
taken, flocked out upon the roads to see the queen return. They lined
the waysides to gaze upon the great cavalcade as it passed. The
nobles who conducted Mary thus back toward her capital had a banner
prepared, or allowed one to be prepared, on which was a painting
representing the dead body of Darnley, and the young prince James
kneeling near him, and calling on God to avenge his cause. Mary came
on, in the procession, after this symbol. They might perhaps say that
it was not intended to wound her feelings, and was not of a nature to
do it, unless she considered herself as taking sides with the
murderers of her husband. She, however, knew very well that she was
so regarded by great numbers of the populace assembled, and that the
effect of such an effigy carried before her was to hold her up to
public obloquy. The populace did, in fact, taunt and reproach her as
she proceeded, and she rode into Edinburgh, evincing all the way
extreme mental suffering by her agitation and her tears.

She expected that they were at least to take her to Holyrood; but no,
they turned at the gate to enter the city. Mary protested earnestly
against this, and called, half frantic, on all who heard her to come
to her rescue. But no one interfered. They took her to the provost's
house, and lodged her there for the night, and the crowd which had
assembled to observe these proceedings gradually dispersed. There
seemed, however, in a day or two, to be some symptoms of a reaction
in favor of the fallen queen; and, to guard against the possibility
of a rescue, the lords took Mary to Holyrood again, and began
immediately to make arrangements for some more safe place of
confinement still.

In the mean time, Bothwell went from Carberry Hill to his castle at
Dunbar, revolving moodily in his mind his altered fortunes. After
some time he found himself not safe in this place of refuge, and so
he retreated to the north, to some estates he had there, in the
remote Highlands. A detachment of forces was sent in pursuit of him.
Now there are, north of Scotland, some groups of dismal islands, the
summits of submerged mountains and rocks, rising in dark and sublime,
but gloomy grandeur, from the midst of cold and tempestuous seas.
Bothwell, finding himself pursued, undertook to escape by ship to
these islands. His pursuers, headed by Grange, who had negotiated at
Carberry for the surrender of the queen, embarked in other vessels,
and pressed on after him. At one time they almost overtook him, and
would have captured him and all his company were it not that they got
entangled among some shoals. Grange's sailors said they must not
proceed. Grange, eager to seize his prey, insisted on their making
sail and pressing forward. The consequence was, they ran the vessels
aground, and Bothwell escaped in a small boat. As it was, however,
they seized some of his accomplices, and brought them back to
Edinburgh. These men were afterward tried, and some of them were
executed; and it was at their trial, and through the confessions they
made, that the facts were brought to light which have been related in
this narrative.

Bothwell, now a fugitive and an exile, but still retaining his
desperate and lawless character, became a pirate, and attempted to
live by robbing the commerce of the German Ocean. Rumor is the only
historian, in ordinary cases, to record the events in the life of a
pirate; and she, in this case, sent word, from time to time, to
Scotland, of the robberies and murders that the desperado committed;
of an expedition fitted out against him by the King of Denmark, of
his being taken and carried into a Danish port; of his being held in
imprisonment for a long period there, in a gloomy dungeon; of his
restless spirit chafing itself in useless struggles against his
fate, and sinking gradually, at last under the burdens of remorse for
past crimes, and despair of any earthly deliverance; of his insanity,
and, finally, of his miserable end.

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