« ZurückWeiter »
his saddle and bridle be cared for! But where shall we find another case of a Queen exclaiming, Strangle my husband in his bed,
spare, spare the curtains and the coverlet!' 6. No good answer has ever been returned to the following argument of our author's grandfather:
* It is obvious, that whoever were the perpetrators of this horrid affair (the murder of Darnley), one part of their plan, and a striking one, was to leave no room to doubt but that Lord Darnley must have died a violent death, and to proclaim to the whole world that he was murdered, and the murder conducted by persons in power. . . . Mary's supposed wishes might easily have been accomplished by Darnley's death without suspicion of violence. Darnley was at all times in her power; he had long been in a languishing state of health after a dangerous malady. This was most favourable for her purpose. His sudden death, under these circumstances, would have been nowise surprising.
. . As it is agreed by all the historians that he was suffocated, why not rest upon that? When Darnley's breath was stopped, her purpose was effected. Why, contrary to every consideration which common sense could dictate, should the Queen think of proclaiming this murder in the face of day to all the world, attended with every circumstance of horror, and such as to fix suspicion on herself? "* We may add, that no persons could have derived any possible advantage from such publicity and such suspicions, unless Lethington and his confederates of the band,'—and we learn, accordingly, from other quarters, that Lethington bad been the first deviser of the whole design.
7. The dying confession of Bothwell. On parting from the Queen at Carberry Hill, that daring ruffian had returned to Dunbar, from whence he sailed with several ships of war, and failing to make head in the north of Scotland, proceeded to the Orkneys, and was reduced to become a pirate for subsistence. A richly-laden vessel being attacked by him off the coast of Norway, the Norwegians came with armed boats to its defence, and after a desperate struggle Bothwell and his crew were taken prisoners. He was removed to a castle in Denmark, where he languished several years in close captivity; and where, it is alleged, though the fact be controverted, that he lost his senses from despair. His body became greatly swollen in the summer of 1575, and he died early in the ensuing year. If, however, his reason had wandered, it
appears in his last days to have returned-a common * Dissertation by William Tytler, Esq., vol. ii. p. 82—85, ed. 1790. The fact elicited since this author wrote, that the Queen's private “medecinar' had been sent to attend Darnley soon after his illness seized him, is important, as proving the opportunities of poison.
† That Bothwell became insane is asserted by De Thou, and the Summarium de Morte Mariæ,' published 1587, but denied by Blackwood and Turner in 1558. (Mr. Laing's Appendix, No. xxxi.)
case in the annals of insanity-and his remorse, we are assured, impelled him to a confession of his crimes, in which he acknowledged the murder of Darnley, but declared that the Queen had no participation in it. Some men might be suspected, while re vealing their own guilt, of seeking to shelter the guilt of their accomplices; but no such chivalrous motive can be believed of the selfish and reckless Bothwell, and we can only ascribe to him that penitence which in the hour of death can pierce even the most hardened hearts. The value of such a testimony to Mary's innocence was immediately discerned both by herself and by her enemies. On the 1st June, 1576, she writes as follows to Archbishop Beatoun, still her ambassador in France:
• On m'a donné avis de la mort du Comte de Bothwell, et qu'avant son décès il fit une ample confession de ses fautes, et se déclara auteur et coupable de l'assassinat du feu Roi mon mari, dont il me décharge bien expressément, jurant sur la damnation de son âme pour mon innocence. Et d'autant s'il était ainsi ce témoignage m'importerait beaucoup contre les fausses calomnies de mes ennemis, je vous prie d'en rechercher la vérité par quelque moyen que ce soit. Ceux qui assistèrent à ladite déclaration, depuis par eux signée et scellée en forme de testament, sont Otto Braw du Château d'Elcambre, Paris Braw du Château de Vascut, M. Gullunstarne du Château de Fulcenstere, l'Evêque de Skon, et quatre Baillis de la ville.' On the 30th July Beatoun replies from Paris, that the intelligence of Bothwell's dying declaration has reached him also; that the Queen-Mother has written to the French ambassador in Denmark to obtain a formal copy, and that he would wish to send an agent of his own, named Monceaux, but is prevented by want of money. And he adds, in another letter of January 4, 1577 :• Monceaux n'a voulu entreprendre le voyage sans avoir argent comptant. On the 6th of the same January, Mary writes again :
J'ai eu avis que le Roi de Dannemarc a envoyée à cette Reine (Elizabeth) la testament du feu Comte de Bothwell, et qu'elle l'a supprimé secrètement le plus qu'il lui a été possible. Il me semble que le voyage de Monceaux n'est nécessaire pour ce regard, puisque la ReineMère a envoyé, comme vous dites.'
We hear no further of Bothwell's confession since it was suppressed by Elizabeth; but on Mary's execution it was confidently appealed to as one proof of her innocence, by Blackwood and Turner, and was allowed as an undoubted fact by Camden in his · Annals. Mr. Laing, however, has denied the reality of any such confession, on the ground that a pretended copy which was afterwards circulated is a palpable forgery, alluding, as it does, to Lord Robert Stuart, maintenant Comte des Isles Orchades,'
which he was not created until August, 1581; so that Bothwell could never have called him so in 1576. But the appearance of a fabrication, where the original has been withheld, is no proof against the authority of that original. When Mary's partisans found the influence of Elizabeth exerted with the King of Denmark to prevent the appearance of this unwelcome document, what could be more natural than an attempt at counterfeiting it, adding also the names of those whom Bothwell accused as his accomplices, but adding them not according to the truth, or to his statement, but according to their own interests or partialities when they devised the forgery? To this we must add what Mr. Laing has entirely overlooked, that the forged document does not purport to be a copy or transcript of the original confession, but only a vague abridgment of it; for the forged document concludes in these words : Tout ceci plus à plein a été écrit en Latin et Danois .... et viendra quelque jour en lumière pour averer l'innocence de la Reine d'Ecosse.' We thought it possible that the original, or an authentic copy, might still be found among the Danish archives, and might become a valuable addition to our
With this view one of the commissioners of the State-Paper Office took an opportunity three years ago of calling the attention of Lord Palmerston to this subject, and suggesting that our minister at the court of Denmark might be instructed to inquire as to the preservation of this document. Although this suggestion came from a quarter opposed to Lord Palmerston in politics, it was received by his Lordship with the utmost courtesy and readiness: and he wrote accordingly to Copenhagen; but the answer of Sir Henry Wynn gave little hope that a paper of that remote period could be now recovered. Perhaps, however, the document sent to Queen Elizabeth—whether original or copy—may yet lurk in some of the recesses of our own State-Paper Office.
Mr. Laing has said that the suffering innocence of Mary is a theme appropriated to tragedy and romance, a remark not strictly accurate, since the great dramatic poem founded on her fortunes proceeds upon the theory not of her innocence but of her guilt. But undoubtedly he is right in thinking that the influence of poetry, or of feelings akin to poetry, has been favourable to this unfortunate princess. Even the most thorough conviction of her guilt could scarcely steel the breast against some compassion for her fate. Who might not sigh as such a tale is
* Dissertation, vol. ii. p. 66,
told-how near and close allied are human sins and human sorrows—how fatal through our own errors may become the bright gifts of beauty, warm affections, and a throne! Who that stands, as we have stood, on the green knoll of Fotheringay, with the neighbouring scenes yet unchanged; the same small village clustered around us; the same glassy river rolling by ; but no remains of the strong and grated castle beyond the swelling mounds and the darker verdure on the grass; who that sees the quiet flock now feed on the very spot once all astir with the din of preparation, the mock-trial, and the bloody death, could forget that fatal 8th of February, when, amidst wailing attendants, and relenting foes, the victim alone appeared stedfast and serene, and meekly knelt down to pray forgiveness on all those who have thirsted, without cause, for my blood,' and for a long life and peaceable reign to Elizabeth! Some feelings of compassion at such an ending are not, we trust and believe, incompatible with zeal for historic truth. But if we are warned against poetry and pity on one side, shall nothing be said of prejudice upon the other? Have we not in the case of Mary reversed, as it were, the Divine decree, and visited the sins, not of the fathers upon the children, but of the children upon the parent? Have we not, because defending our liberties against Charles the First, and our faith against James the Second, often considered the whole line from which they sprung as partakers of their fault or of our animosity? Yet surely even the old, and, if you will, bigoted principle of Mary's partisans—the 'UNG ROY, UNG FOY, UNG LOY,' which was both the motto and maxim of Seyton-might shame some men who took perhaps a better part but from less good motives—who held forth Liberty as a cloak for their own licence, and the Reformation as a pretext for Church plunder. Between these opposite extremes we would seek a more excellent way; and if we might presume, in the place of many abler men, to pass sentence on Queen Mary, we would, even in the 'poetry' with which every attempt at her defence is taunted, assume the images called forth by the mighty mind of Dante, and compare the different degrees in his terrible abyss. Let not Mary, then, be hurled with Eccelin or Bothwell into the crimson Bulicame-the seething River of Blood; nor like Lethington be rooted in the thorny forest, and torn by the Harpies' talons ; nor yet like Morton be weighed down by the deceiver's gilded robes :
• Ma dentro tutte piombo e gravi tanto
Che Federigo le mettea di paglia.' But since we must still condemn her, though in less degree, let her wander beside the guilty but gentle shade of Francesca. She, too, might allege, not in pardon but in pity
• Amor, • Amor, che al cor gentil ratto s' apprende,
Prese costui della bella persona
Che mi fu tolta.' In conclusion, we must again thank the author before us for the pleasure and instruction we have derived from his pages. The son of Lord Woodhouselee, and the grandson of William Tytler, had an hereditary claim to the public favour; but this claim he has now established and augmented by merits of his own.
Art. II.--1. Recollections of a Tour in the North of Europe.
By the Marquis of Londonderry. London. 2 vols. 8vo. 1838. 2. Miscellaneous Observations in Russia. By the Rev. R.
Pinkerton, D.D. 8vo. 1833. 3. Domestic Scenes in Russia. By the Rev. R. Lister Venables.
London. 12mo. 1899. 4. Excursions in the Interior of Russia. By Robert Bremner,
Esq. 2 vols. 8vo. 1839. GIBBON says loftily that the name of Russia was first “di.
vulged' to the western world in the ninth century, when an embassy from Constantinople to Lewis, the son of Charlemagne, was accompanied by certain envoys of the Czar; but seven hundred years more elapsed before the intercourse was practically established. We are pleased to reflect that the merit belongs to countrymen of our own, who made the discovery of a maritime passage to the mouths of their northern rivers. In the year 1553 sundry grave citizens of London and men of great wisdom, perceiving the wares and commodities of England to be in small request with the countries and people about us, began to think with themselves how this mischief was to be avoided.' Instigated by Sebastian Cabot, who, continueth Richard Eden in his Decades,
had long had this secret in his mind, these associates fitted out three ships and a pinnace for no less an object than the discovery of * the mighty empire of Cathay and various other regions.' Letters missive from the right noble Prince Edward VI.' (then dying) were prepared for all the kings and other potentates inhabiting the north-eastern part of the world;' and Sir Hugh Willoughby, knight, and Richard Chancellor, were named the commanders. The little fleet sailed on the tenth day of May from Ratcliffe, upon the ebbe,' and as it passed by Greenwich, where the court then lay,' so great was the excitement, that the courtiers came