Page images
PDF
EPUB

The Queen's hatred was implacable against her husband only. She persuaded him to publish a declaration, disclaiming all connexion with the assassins, and disavowing any participation in their crime; and having thus exposed himself to universal contempt, she threw him off with indignation and disdain. He was permitted, however, to have apartments in the castle of Edin burgh, which Mary had chosen as the most secure place during her approaching confinement.

[ocr errors]

James the Sixth was born in the castle of Edinburgh, on the 19th June 1566. Sir James Melville was despatched to announce the happy tidings to Elizabeth, who was greatly affected. Next day, she resumed her gayety and dissimulation; she thanked Melville for his haste in conveying to her the agreeable information, and professed the greatest regard for the Queen his mistress. The birth of a son to Mary gave additional courage to her partisans in England. Even men of the most opposite parties began to cry aloud for a settlement of the succession. Elizabeth determined to oppose the discussion in Parliament of so delicate a subject; but her policy and address would have been unavailing, had not Mary's indiscretion or crimes thrown her from the summit of prosperity, and plunged her into infamy and ruin.

James Earl of Bothwell, of considerable family and power in Scotland, but a man of no talents, and very profligate, had distinguished himself by his attachment to the Queen, and his opposition to the Earl of Murray and the Reformers. He had been the chief instrument in Mary's release from Rizzio's murderers; and she in return gratified him with particular marks of confidence, and elevated him to offices of power and trust. Surmises were, however, circulated, very disadvantageous to the Queen's character: Her manner of expressing her gratitude to Bothwell was universally blamed; and so strongly marked was her aversion to her husband, that he left the court, and retired to Glasgow. A disorder which seized him soon after, was ascribed to a dose of poison which it was reported had been given him. Henry himself seems to have had no suspicions of personal danger; for he readily accompanied the Queen to Edinburgh, that she might be able to attend upon him without being absent from her son.

Henry was lodged, for the benefit of retirement and air, as was pretended, in a solitary house, called Kirk of Field,* situate on

* The old College, founded by the citizens in 1582, was erected on the

a rising ground not far from the palace of Holyroodhouse. Mary attended him assiduously, and even slept several nights in the A.D. apartment under his chamber. But, on the 9th of Fe1567. § bruary, she suddenly left the Kirk of Field, to be present at the marriage of one of her servants in the palace.

About two o'clock next morning, the whole city was much alarmed by the noise of a tremendous explosion. The consternation of the inhabitants was extreme, when they were informed that the King's residence was blown up by gunpowder, and that his dead body was found in a neighbouring enclosure. The Earl of Bothwell was generally considered as the author of this horrid murder; and suspicions were propagated that the Queen herself was privy to the crime.

Her conduct immediately after the murder evinced unaccountable apathy. Several days elapsed before any steps were taken to discover the murderers. She delayed complying with the earnest entreaties of the Earl of Lennox and the voice of the nation, to bring Bothwell to a legal and impartial trial. She permitted him to enjoy all the dignity and power, the confidence and the familiarity of a favourite. She committed to him the government of Edinburgh castle; which, with the posts he already held, gave him the entire command of the South of Scotland. She was carried off by him, seemingly with her consent, and lived with him for some time in a state of supposed violation; and, as soon as he procured a sentence of divorce from his wife, a noble and amiable young lady, the Queen of Scots publicly married this reputed ravisher and regicide.

The news of these transactions filled Europe with astonishment, and threw an odium not only on the principal actors in the guilty scene, but also on the whole Scottish nation. The Scots were universally reproached as men void of humanity and of courageregardless of their Queen, of their reputation, and of the honour of their country, in suffering such atrocious acts to pass with impunity. These merited reproaches, with Bothwell's attempt to seize the young Prince's person, roused the Scottish nobles from their lethargy.

A considerable body of them, headed by the Earl of Atholl, a

site of the Collegiate Church of Kirk of Field, which had been dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It had a provost and ten prebends.

R

› known Catholic, assembled at Stirling, for the defence of the Prince's person, and for punishing the late King's murderers. To shelter Bothwell and herself from the impending storm, the Queen issued a proclamation, requiring her subjects to take arms and assemble around her standard, for the defence of her husband. She likewise circulated a manifesto, vindicating her government from the severe reproaches cast upon it, and ex. pressing the most anxious concern for the safety and happiness of the Prince her son.

Neither of these measures produced any considerable effect. The associated lords had assembled an army before the Queen and Bothwell were prepared to face them. Lord Hume, with a body of eight hundred horse, suddenly surrounded the castle of Borthwick, where the Queen was: But she escaped to Dunbar; and as Bothwell had many dependants in that quarter, he speedily collected such a force as emboldened him to offer his enemies battle.

The two armies met at Carberry, about six miles from Edinburgh. Mary soon became sensible that her troops were disaffected to her cause, and were averse to encounter their countrymen. After several bravadocs of Bothwell, to vindicate his innocence, by single combat, with any of his adversaries, the Queen surrendered herself, upon some general promises, into the hands of the confederates; who conducted her to Edinburgh, amidst the insults of the populace. Overwhelmed with her calamities, she resigned ⚫ herself to tears and lamentations.

Meantime, Bothwell, having fled to Dunbar, hastily fitted-out some ships, and sailed for the Orkney Islands; where he subsisted for some time by piracy. Kirkaldy of Grange pursued him thi ther, took several of his ships, and seized some of his servants, who disclosed all the circumstances of the King's murder. Bothwell, having escaped in a boat, sailed over to Denmark; where he was thrown into prison, and died unlamented.

The Queen, now in the hands of an enraged faction, experienced the most severe treatment. Aware of their danger should she regain her liberty and power, the confederated lords sent her next day under a strong guard to Lochleven castle, with a warrant to William Douglas, the proprietor of that fortress, to detain her as his prisoner. The mistress of the house was the Earl of Murray's mother; who pretended to have been lawfully married to the

Queen's father; and therefore she hated the unfortunate captive, and treated her with harshness and severity.

When the news of these events reached England, Elizabeth determined to interfere, in order to alleviate Mary's calamities. She despatched an ambassador, to negotiate with the Queen and her enemies: But her good offices were of little benefit to Mary, as the ambassador was denied all access to her, and the confederates eluded every proposal in her behalf. In this forlorn situation, without a counsellor or even a friend, it was natural for a woman to listen to any proposal that might shield her from immediate danger. The confederates took advantage of her distress and a larm. Their councils embraced the most severe expedients: The Protestant preachers, deeply impressed with the enormity of her guilt, and conceiving themselves authorized from the Old Testament Scriptures, inflamed the minds of the people against their unhappy Sovereign.

Under all the existing circumstances, it was deemed most eligible to establish a regency. The high honour of that office was claimed by the Earl of Lennox, who was grandfather to the young Prince. The Duke of Chatelherault urged his pretensions to the But the greatest number of the associated lords gave their suffrages to elevate the Earl of Murray to the regency.

crown.

Lord Lindsay was appointed to acquaint the Queen with the general determination. She signed three instruments,―resigning the crown to her son, appointing Murray regent, and nominating a council to administer the laws till his arrival in Scotland. Mary took not the trouble to read these deeds,-persuaded that they would be considered invalid, because extorted from her during her confinement. In consequence of her resignation, the young Prince was proclaimed by the title of James the Sixth. He was crowned at Stirling; and the Earl of Morton, in his name, took the coronation-oath; in which a promise to extirpate heresy was not forgotten. At this ceremony, the English ambassador declined to assist,

CHAPTER VI.

State of parties. Queen escapes-her army is defeated-she retires into England. Insidious conduct of Elizabeth. Conferences and proceedings of the English and Scottish commissioners. Murder of the Regent Murray -his character.

A.D.

JAMES the SIXTH.-Though the Earl of Murray, after his

1567. S return from banishment, was pardoned, and readmitted to his place in the Privy Council, he did not entirely regain the Queen's confidence. He therefore took little part in the management of public affairs, and appeared very seldom at court. Soon after the King's murder, he obtained liberty to quit the kingdom, and retired to France; where he remained till recalled by a message from the confederated lords, after Mary had subscribed the instruments by which she resigned the crown and appointed him Regent.

He arrived in Scotland soon after, and was formally invested with the regency. He visited his unfortunate sister; but his behaviour to her at that interview extinguished in her breast all affection for him. He summoned a Parliament, which ratified the Queen's resignation, and confirmed his appointment to the regency. Sir James Balfour was bribed to surrender the castle of Edinburgh, and the garrison of the castle of Dunbarton was compelled to capitulate.

Notwithstanding the apparent unanimity of all ranks in the Regent's administration, there were many secret murmurs and cabals in the kingdom. The Duke of Chatelherault, disappointed of the regency, bore no good will to Murray; and his views were embraced by his numerous friends and adherents. The rigour of the Queen's sufferings moved many who blamed her imprudence or detested her conduct, to commiserate her present condition. A party of the nobility, influenced by these different motives, met at Hamilton, and concerted measures for supporting her interests.

While the nation seemed thus returning to sentiments of loyalty, the Queen was employed in devising means for her escape; and she succeeded in regaining her liberty, in a manner no less surprising to her friends than unexpected by her enemies: She engaged, by her address and influence, her keeper's brother, George Douglas; who, having uninterrupted access to the castle, conducted her in disguise into a small boat, and rowed her ashore. He

« PreviousContinue »