Abbildungen der Seite

1567.] BAPTISM OF THE YOUNG PRINCE. 39 sured herself that his life was in no danger, returned the same day to Jedburgh. Her bodily exertion, combined with mental uneasiness, threw her the next day into a fever, and for some days her life was despaired of. The vigour of her constitution, however, triumphed over her disorder.

After her recovery the queen took up her abode at the castle of Craigmillar, near Edinburgh ; here the measure of a divorce was discussed by Maitland and others : and she made no objection to it on any ground but her unwillingness to prejudice her son. On the 17th of December, the ceremony of the young prince's baptism was performed at Stirling; and though the king was in the castle, either owing to his own caprice or to the coldness of the queen, he was not present at it. On the other hand, Bothwell was appointed to receive the French and English ambassadors, and to regulate the ceremonial of the christening. Through his influence, Morton and the other murderers of Riz

were pardoned on the 24th, on which day the king left the court and retired to his father's house at Glasgow, where in a few days he was attacked by the smallpox. The queen, when she heard of his illness, sent her own physician to attend him.

On the 20th of January, 1567, Bothwell and Lethington went to Morton's residence at Wittingham, and Bothwell proposed the murder of the king to him, saying, “ it was the queen's mind that he should be taken away.” Morton objected, being, as he said, but just come out of trouble on a similar account : but he finally agreed, provided he should have the queen's handwriting for his warrant. This, however, they were unable to procure.

From the time of Rizzio's murder up to the present date, the queen had shown no affection to her husband; and on the 20th she wrote to her ambassador at Paris complaining of him and his father. The next day she set out for Glasgow. While there she feigned the utmost fondness for the king, yet her letters at the same time to Bothwell display the most ardent love for that nobleman. Her object was to get her husband into her power: in this she succeeded, and brought him back with her to Edinburgh on the 31st of January. Pretending that the situation and noise of Holyrood House would be injurious to him in his delicate state, she placed him in a lone house without the city, named the Kirk of Field, and had a chamber fitted up for herself under him, in which she sometimes slept. On Sunday night, the 9th of February, she stayed with him till ten o'clock; and then recollecting that she had promised to give a mask at the palace on the occasion of the marriage of one of her servants, she took leave of him. At two in the morning a loud explosion was heard, and daylight revealed the Kirk of Field in ruins. The dead body of the king was found at a little distance in the fields, without any marks of violence; and the house, it appeared, had been blown up with gunpowder.

On the 12th a proclamation was issued, offering a reward of £1000 for the discovery of the murderers. A paper was found fixed on the gates of the Tolbooth on the 16th, naming Bothwell and his accomplices, and accusing the queen of being privy to it; and voices speaking to the same effect were heard in the silence of the night. The council called on the accuser to appear: a second placard announced that he would, and that with four witnesses, if Bothwell and two of the queen's servants, who were named, were taken into custody. The council made no reply. Lennox wrote to Mary, urging that the persons accused should be brought to trial. She evaded compliance; and, though every tongue named Bothwell as the murderer, she continued to give him daily proofs of her fa

She bestowed on him, on the 15th, the superiority of the port of Leith; and, on the 19th of March, made him governor of the castle of Edinburgh. Still the popular voice was so strong, and a letter from Archbishop Beaton, her envoy at Paris, showed her so plainly the ill report there was of her on the Continent, that she saw no way of eluding the demand for a trial. It was therefore fixed for the 12th of April; thus giving Lennox but fourteen instead of forty days,



41 the usual time, to prepare for the prosecution. The accused, in the mean time, were at liberty; and Bothwell himself actually sat as a member of the privy council which arranged the manner of the trial!

It was evident that anything but impartial justice was intended. Lennox, feeling his weakness, had applied to Elizabeth for aid; and that princess, in a letter which does her honour, entreated of Mary not to precipitate the proceedings in this manner: “For the love of God, madam,” says she, “ use such sincerity and prudence in this matter, which concerns you so nearly, that the whole world may have reason to declare you innocent of so enormous a crime ; which, if you committed, you would be justly cast out of the ranks of princesses, and not without reason made the reproach of the vulgar; and sooner than that should befall you, I would wish you an honourable grave rather than a spotted life. You see, madam, that I treat you as my daughter,” etc. All was in vain : Lennox did not venture to appear. No witness or evidence was produced: for Bothwell came to his trial so well attended by armed men, that it had been dangerous to do so; and he was, of course, acquitted. Mary then affected to regard him as fully cleared; and, when she went to open the parliament, he bore the sword of state before her. Lennox fled into England. Still numerous placards showed that the public were by no means satisfied of Bothwell's innocence.

The strongest possible proof of Bothwell's influence over the queen's mind was given at this time. Mary, a bigoted Catholic, who never for a moment had swerved from her purpose of destroying the Protestant religion, and who had lately subscribed the treaty of Bayonne, assented to an act of parliament repealing all laws adverse to the Reformers, and giving their religion the safeguard of law. Bothwell's object evidently was to gain the support of the Protestants, whose creed he had always professed. He now went a step farther: on the day of the dissolution of parliament he invited all the nobles to sup at a tavern. He had the house filled and surrounded with his armed dependants; after supper he opened to them his design of marrying the queen; he said he had her own consent; and he wished them to subscribe a bond recommending the marriage, and pledging themselves to maintain it. Some were already in the secret, some were gained by promises, others yielded to fear, and all subscribed the bond.

Three days after, on the 22d of April, Mary went to Stirling to visit her son; and, as she was on her return, she was met near Linlithgow by Bothwell at the head of a large body of armed men. He dispersed her train, took the bridle of her horse, and led her and some of her attendants, among whom were Huntley, Lethington, and Melvill, to Dunbar. The person who conducted Melvill told him it was done with the queen's consent, and her own letters prove that it had been all arranged between her and Bothwell. It may increase our disgust at this proceeding, to know that Bothwell was at this time the husband of Huntley's sister : but means had been devised to dissolve the union. The queen had restored the Archbishop of St. Andrew's to his jurisdiction; and, to quiet her Catholic scruples, Bothwell had commenced a suit for a divorce, on the ground of consanguinity, in his court, while Lady Jane Gordon was prosecuting a collusive one against him for adultery in the Protestant court; and sentence was easily procured in both courts. A report was also put forth that Bothwell had offered personal violence to the queen at Dunbar; and when Craig, a minister at Edinburgh, was commanded to publish the banns (for she now was going to marry Bothwell), he refused on that ground; and, when obliged to do so, he declared from the pulpit that “he abhorred and detested the marriage, as hateful in the sight of the world.”

Mary was conducted to Edinburgh by Bothwell on the 3d of May. She there appeared before the court of session, and declared that, though Bothwell's in: solence in seizing her had at first excited her indignation, his subsequent conduct had been so respectful that she forgave him, and was resolved to raise him 1567.]



to the highest honours. She then created him Earl of Orkney; on the 15th she was married to him publicly, according to the rites of the Protestant Church, by the Bishop of Orkney, and afterward in private, according to those of that of Rome.

We need not inform our readers that the question of Mary's participation in Bothwell's crime (for of his guilt no one has ever doubted) is one which has been disputed from her own time down to the present. After duly weighing the evidence, our own most decided conviction is, that she was guilty of the murder of her husband, and that she went to Glasgow for the sole purpose of luring him to his destruction.*

But her guilt was not to go unpunished: the Ref ormation had exalted the moral sense of the people and the dead silence which prevailed when she appear ed in public showed what were their thoughts. Both well, too, was not kind : he surrounded her with his creatures, and exercised the whole royal authority. His great object was to get the young prince into his power (doubtless for the worst of purposes): but the firmness of the Earl of Mar, who had charge of the

** The suffering innocence of Mary,” says Laing, “is a theme appropriated to tragedy and romance, and her vindication consists entirely of popular arguments and the misrepresentation of facts; of declamation, fiction, invective, ribaldry, and the grossest abuse. But the sober voice of impartial history, from Thuanus to Hume and Robertson, has deduced her guilt from the moral evidence which her conduct affords, and from a calm and accurate investi. gation of facts.” Any one who reads this writer's dissertation on the murder of Darnley, and rises with a doubt on his mind of Ma. ry's guilt, may rest assured that, whatever may be his talents, history is not his vocation. I

f In the affair of Darnley's murder, as in almost every other transaction implicating her character, the Queen of Scots has her apologists as well as accusers. The greater number of historians undoubtedly incline to the opinion that she was privy to his death; and from all the circumstances, her aversion to her husband, and her evident partiality to Bothwell, &c., most readers, also, probably come to a similar conclusion. At the same time, there are those who wholly deny the charge, and entirely exculpate Mary from any previous knowledge of, or participation in, this dreadful transaction.-For a statement of the arguments advanced by such writers as take the side of the queen, see Bell's Life of Mary, ii., 20, et seq., 21, 22, Harpers' Family Library.- Am. Edm

« ZurückWeiter »