Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

99

royal infant, and whom Melvill conjured to save him “ from the hands of those who had slain his father,” prevented him from accomplishing his boast, “that he would warrant him from avenging the death of his father.”

The insolence of Bothwell, the danger of the prince, and the reproaches of foreign nations, at length roused the Scottish nobles. Argyle, Athol, Morton, Lindsay, Glencairn, Mar, Lethington, and others, met at Stirling, and entered into an association for the defence of the prince. The queen, on her side, put forth a proclamation on the 28th of May, calling on her subjects to arm, and meet her husband on an appointed day. They came, however, but slowly and ill affected; and Mary, fearing for her safety, was conducted by Bothwell to Borthwick Castle, from which, however, he was soon forced to fly to Dunbar, on the appearance of Lord Home with a body of troops. Mary accompanied his flight in male attire. Having collected what troops she could, she advanced to Carberry Hill

, near Edinburgh, on the 15th of June; and the lords led their forces out against her. Le Croc, the French ambassador, vainly sought to mediate. She offered pardon. “We will be satisfied,” said Morton,“ with the punishment of the murderer of the late king.” “As to pardon,” said Glencairn, have not come here to ask pardon for any offence we have done, but rather to grant pardon to those who have offended.” Finding such to be their temper, and failing in her efforts to rouse her own troops to action, Mary took a farewell (a final one)* of Bothwell, and surrendered to a chief named Kirkcaldy, of Grange, who had assured her of the obedience of the lords provided she dismissed Bothwell, and would engage to govern by their advice. The lords received her with great respect, and conducted her to Edinburgh. The unhappy woman was assailed as she went along with maledictions and the foulest epithets; for the populace had not a doubt of her guilt. When she

* They had been exactly a month married. So little did they gain by their crime !

we

1567.) MARY A PRISONER AT LOCHLEVIN.

45

66

rose in the morning, the first object that met her view was the white flag, which had waved the day before at Carberry Hill, displayed before her window, and on which was portrayed the body of her husband beneath a tree, as it had been found, and her infant son on his knees, saying, Judge, and avenge my cause, oh Lord !"*

Mary had pledged herself to give up Bothwell; yet that very night a letter from her to him was brought by the bearer to the lords, in which she called him her “dear heart, whom she would never forget nor abandon for absence.” They saw she was not to be trusted; and the next day, June 16, they sent her a prisoner to the castle of Lochlevin,t situated on a small island in a lake: its owner, William Douglas, was related to Morton, and married to Murray's mother. The lords soon had convincing proof of the queen's guilt. Bothwell sent one of his servants to fetch him a casket which he had left in the castle of Edinburgh: the messenger was seized, and the casket was found to contain letters and sonnets in the queen's handwriting, which proved her guilt beyond contradiction. Nothing could prevail on the infatuated woman to give up the partner of her crime. “She avoweth constantly," writes Throgmorton, “ 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.”

*“The women be most furious and impudent against the queen, and yet the men be mad enough,” writes Throgmorton to Elizabeth, July 14.

"She spoke,” says Le Croc (Raum., ii., 103), “ on her arrival at Edinburgh of nothing but hanging and crucifying them all, and proceeds constantly in the same fashion, which drives every one to extremity. For they feared lest in the moment of her liberation she would hasten to Bothwell and begin everything anew ; for this reason she was brought in the night to Lochlevin.” At this time, he adds, Lethington swore to him “by his God that they as yet were in alliance neither with Elizabeth nor any foreign power."

To restore Mary to power was therefore out of the question. Some would have been content if she had resigned her crown to her son, and retired to France or England; others required her trial and condemnation, but would have been satisfied with her perpetual imprisonment; a third party, more stern, demanded her capital punishment as the penalty due to her crimes, and as the only mode of assuring the safety of the realm. It was finally concluded to be content for the present with her resignation. Lord Lindsay, a man of rough, brutal manners, was sent to her on the 25th of July, and, under the threat of instant death if she refused, he made her sign her own abdication, and consent to the coronation of her son, an appointment of Murray to the regency, and that of certain others if he should refuse. She subscribed with tears : but Lethington and some of her other friends had secretly directed Sir Robert Melvill to assure her that her resignation was void, and might be revoked when she was at liberty.

Four days after, July 29, the prince was crowned at Stirling by the title of James VI. On the 11th of August Murray returned from France, whither he had retired some months before. He visited his unhappy sister, and she burst into tears at the sight of him. He spoke the truth freely and plainly. 6 Sometimes,” says Melvill,“ she wept bitterly, sometimes she acknowledged her misgovernment; some things she did confess plainly, some things she did excuse, some things she did extenuate.” He could only then leave her to God's mercy: but next morning he as. sured her of life, and of the preservation of her honour, as far as in him lay. Liberty, he said, it was not in his power to give her: nor would it be good for her to have it at present. She then took him in her arms and kissed him. On the 22d he was proclaimed regent.

It may be asked, How did the Queen of England act all this time? The reply is, greatly to her honour. Elizabeth had high notions of the majesty of sovereigns, and she was little pleased with the example of 1567.]

FATE OF BOTHWELL.

47

subjects rising up against them. She, moreover, regarded Mary as a kinswoman, and as the presumptive heiress of the crown. On the intelligence, therefore, of her captivity, she despatched Throgmorton to Sentland, to exert himself in her behalf; she menaced, and she even proposed to the French government to put a stop to all traffic with the rebels, as she styled them, and their abettors. “No counsel,” writes Ce. cil,“ can stop her majesty from manifesting her mis-, liking of the proceedings against the Queen of Scots." She ran the risk of seeing the lords throw themselves into the arms of France; and when the Hamiltons, Huntley, and others confederated against the regent and in favour of the queen, she gave them encouragement through Throgmorton.

We must now relate the fate of Bothwell. He fled to his dukedom of Orkney, where he hired some ships, with the intention of passing over to Denmark: but Kirkcaldy of Grange and Murray of Tullibardine, who were sent in pursuit of him, captured all his vessels but one, in which he escaped to Norway. There (as he had no papers to produce, and his ship had once been commanded by a noted pirate) he was detained a prisoner; and when his portfolio, containing the proclamations of the council for his apprehension, etc., was found, he was sent to Copenhagen. He was imprisoned in the castle of Malmö, in Scania, where he died, bereft of reason, in 1576.

On the 15th of December, 1567, the Scottish parliament met, and all the late proceedings were pronounced lawful and were confirmed. The contents of the casket were produced and read, and Mary was declared to have been accessory to the murder of her husband. The acts of 1560, in favour of the Protestrant religion, were ratified, and it was now finally established.

But, though Huntley and several of Mary's partisans attended this parliament and supported the measures introduced, their jealousy of the regent soon arrayed them again in arms. They opened a communication with Mary, who appointed the Duke of Chatelherault

to be her lieutenant. Murray, in the mean time, visited her again; and she proposed, in order to quiet all fears respecting Bothwell, to marry his half-brother, George Douglas, son to the Lady of Lochlevin, a youth eighteen years of age. Murray objected to his humble birth, so far beneath her rank. It was all, however, merely a scheme of Mary's to conceal her real design. She had flattered Douglas to induce him to aid her escape. On the 25th of March, 1568, having changed clothes with the laundress who used to come from a village near the lake, she got into the boat, and had nearly reached the shore, when one of the boatmen went to raise her“ muffler," saying, “let us see what sort of a dame this is !” She put up her hand to prevent him; its whiteness raised their suspicions; they refused to land her, and carried her back to the island, but did not betray her. On the 2d of May she was more fortunate. While Lady Douglas and her eldest son were at supper, a youth called the little Douglas stole the keys of the castle. Mary hastened to a boat that lay ready; Douglas locked the castle gate on the outside, and flung the keys into the lake as they rowed across it. On the shore Mary was met by George Douglas, Lord Seaton, and others. She mounted a horse, and rode to Lord Seaton's house of Niddry; and, having rested there for three hours, she mounted again and rode to Hamilton, where she was received by the nobles of her party, at the head of three thousand of their followers. Her first act was to protest against the instruments she had been compelled to sign when in prison, and which were pronounced illegal by the nobles present, many of whom had declared the direct contrary in the late parliament.

Murray was, in the mean time, at Glasgow, with only his ordinary train; and some of his friends advised him to fly to Stirling: but he was too prudent to take such a course. He amused the queen for a few days by negotiation, during which time he assembled a force of about four thousand men, with which he resolved to give her battle. Though the royal

« ZurückWeiter »