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forget the same; still she repeats these words,—“I could wish to be dead.” And Lethington, who so soon devised a mode for releasing her from her troubles, says in a letter to the same person,
a heart-break for her to think that he should be her husband; and how to be free of him she sees no outlet.' * This knowledge of Mary Stuart's private feelings,' says Mignet, originated a number of fatal ideas in the minds of those that surrounded her ;' and of the introduction of these fatal ideas, Mary herself has given an account in the Protestation she wrote and sent to the Earls of Huntley and Argyle, to sign at the Westminster Conference. Of course it was written to defend herself from guilt, but how far it exonerates her is another matter. The murderers of Rizzio-Morton, Ruthven, and Lindsey-were connected by ties of friendship and kindred with many members of the Privy Council. It occurred to these that there was one acceptable service by which they might procure for them the Queen's pardon. If they had been banished for one murder, they might be recalled to another. Lethington, clever and absolutely unscrupulous, first introduced the idea to her mind. This extraordinary conference is thus described by Mignet. Our readers must remember that the facts are taken from Mary's own admission; and it should be noted at the same time that Murray always denied the part attributed to
• He communicated his plan to Bothwell, who joined in it with all the ardour of his headstrong ambition, and made it known to Argyle and Huntley. According to the statement of the Queen's friends he mentioned it also to Murray, who offered no objection to the scheme. After having concerted the matter among themselves, the new confederates repaired to Mary Stuart. Lethington addressed her in their name. He reminded the Queen of the great and intolerable injuries that she had received from her husband, laying much stress upon the ingratitude which he had displayed towards her, and upon the offences of which he was daily guilty. He then added, that if Her Majesty would be pleased to pardon the Earl of Morton, and the Lords Ruthven and Lindsey, they, in concert with the rest of the nobility, would find means to separate her from her husband by a divorce, so that she would no longer be involved in disagreement with him. This proposition caused her no surprise. She at first gave her consent, upon condition that the divorce should be legal, and should be no prejudice to the rights of her son. But a divorce was not so easily obtained, since it would be necessary to allege as the reason for it their near relationship, in reference to which the Pope had granted them a dispensation, or to bring Darnley to trial for adultery, or else to prosecute him on the charge of treason,
* These difficulties could not escape Mary's notice, and she knew that she would be exposed either to the delays of an uncertain negotiation, or to the scandal of a disgraceful trial. She accordingly affected scruples, and said that she would willingly retire into France, and leave Darnley in Scotland until he acknowledged his faults. But Lethington replied to her, that the nobles of her kingdom would not allow her to do so; and he even ventured,
in mysterious terms, to inform her of their dark designs. “Madam," he said, “ soucy ye not, we are here of the principal of your Grace's nobility and counsel, that shall find the means well to make your Majesty quit of his without prejudice of your son; and albeit that my Lord of Murray here present be little less scrupulous for a Protestant than your Grace is for a Papist, I am assured he will look through his fingers thereto, and will behold our doings and say nothing of the same.” 'The Queen understood the full meaning of this insinuation, and replied that it was her pleasure nothing should be done by which any spot might be laid upon her honour, but she displayed no great indignation at the idea, and contented herself with saying, “ Better permit the matter to remain in the state it is, abiding till God in his goodness put remedy thereto." Lethington took no heed of this sligbt opposition, and answered, “Madam, let us guide the business among us, and your Grace shall see nothing but good, and approved by Parliament." '-Ibid. vol. i. p. 245.
The conversation from this extract is Mary's own recording, and cery shortly after it took place, the banished lords were recalled; men whom she knew to be capable of any violence, and naturally anxious by any service to restore themselves to her favour. A month after this meeting, the baptism of the young prince took place with great pomp, on the 17th of December, at Stirling Castle. Elizabeth was godmother, (or gossip, as she calls it,) and presented a golden font for the occasion, the fate of which was to be presently after melted down to furnish money for carrying on the war. Mary conducted herself towards the assembled guests with infinite grace and amiability. Bothwell, though a Protestant, had the ordering of the Catholic service, and Darnley, solitary and sullen, remained under the same roof, but did not show himself nor take any part. The King was contemned in his own court; the father had no place at the baptism of his son. After the excitement which any occasion called out, Mary again sunk into despondency, and Du Croc writes, 'I can't pretend to foretel
how all may turn, but I will say that matters cannot subsist • long as they are, without being accompanied with sundry bad consequences.' How can we doubt, that at this period she was making up her mind to her share in the tragedy that so soon followed. Morton, Ruthven, and Lindsey, by what Mr. F. Tytler calls-a judicious extension of mercy,'were pardoned, and returned, and, about the same time, (Dec. 23,) she restored the Archbishop of S. Andrew's consistorial jurisdiction, which had been suppressed since the Reformation, a measure to which subsequent events give a dark significancy. Their pardon was declared early in January, an event which naturally filled Darnley with alarm. They were the men who had been once his accomplices, and he had denounced and deserted them. He at once left the Court, and went to his father, the Earl of Lennox, at Glasgow, where he fell ill. It at first looked like the effects of poison, but
presently proved to be small-pox. While he lay helpless, the plot against his life went on, Bothwell being the principal actor in it. He sought an interview with Morton immediately on his return, and pressed him to join the plot, assuring him that the Queen had given her consent. But Morton, grown wary by
, experience, refused without her hand writ for a warrant. On this, Bothwell returned to the Queen in the hope of persuading her to write what was required, but he failed; upon which Lethington sent a messenger with directions " to show to the Earl of Morton that the Queen' will hear no speech of that matter appointed to him:” an oracular sentence, which is accepted by some as her indignant condemnation of the plot, with how much justice, connected with subsequent events, our readers can judge. But she would certainly, in any case, know better than to commit herself in so needlessly formal a manner. On the 20th of January, Mary writes to the Archbishop of Glasgow at Paris, detailing a conspiracy which she affects to have discovered of Darnley's attempt to gain the person of the young prince his son, and goes on as follows:
• His behaviour and thankfulness to us is equally well known to God and the world, especially our own indifferent subjects see it, and in their hearts, we doubt not, condemn the same. Always we perceive him occupied and busy enough to have inquisition of our doings; which, God willing, shall always be such as none shall have occasion to be offended with them, or to report of us in any ways but honourably, however be, bis father, and their fautors speak, which we know want no good will to make us have ado, if their power were equivalent to their minds. But God moderates their forces well enough, and takes the means of the execution of their pretences from them.-Ibid. p. 251.
This letter is written on the 20th of January. Next day she departed for Glasgow, accompanied as far as Callender by Bothwell and his brother-in-law, Huntley having engaged Bothwell's confidential servant, who goes by the name of French Paris, and whose subsequent confession is so remarkable, as her chamberlain. On Thursday, the 23d, she arrived at Glasgow. Darnley, having heard of her approach, was seized with an undefinable fear, and sent a gentleman to meet her, he was still infirm,' he said, “and did not presume to come to her until he knew her wishes, and was assured of the removal of her displeasure.' To this Mary briefly replied, that there is no medicine against fear, and, passing on towards Glasgow, came into Darnley's bedchamber. Here, though nothing had transpired to change her opinion since the previous Monday, she employed all her art to bring about a reconciliation, to reassure his mind, to remove his suspicions, and gain his confidence. “At heart,' says Mignet, • Darnley had always been strongly attached to her, and his un
Morion's Confession, Laing, vol. ii. p. 28.
requited affection and wounded pride had been the causes of • his withdrawal from Court. He was ready now to confess his errors, and to promise everything that she required. He entreated her not to leave him again, and when she asked him to accompany her in a litter to Craigmillar, he gladly consented, on condition that the harmony of former times might be restored. We have a very full and minute account of this interview; strangely circumstantial, indeed; and from whose hand ? From Mary's own, in a letter to Bothwell full of most graphic detail, most vividly given. Our readers all know the Silver Casket' and its contents. Yet we must pause in our narrative upon this first mention of it. How little did she think when, too excited by guilty love, guilty consciousness, and the weight of a wicked deed in the very act of its performance, to sleep, she traced those passionate, impure, most treacherous lines, that what was then done in secret, at dead of night, with injunctions for immediate destruction, should remain to bring damning evidence against her, to be treated of in Parliaments and read in Councils, to be translated, canvassed, word by word critically analysed, to stand for ever a witness against her which could not then, and cannot now be escaped from or evaded !-feebly denied, indeed, in her own day, and more confidently, as distance and time drew their veil over this perplexed and stormy period; but, as the science of historic investigation advances, only the more firmly established by every attempt to disprove their genuineness: till the only resource of those who will not believe that these letters were from Mary's hand, is indiscriminate, unsupported denial and assertion, which might as justly be applied, and would be as conclusive, against the most universally received fact in history. Our limits will not allow us to do more than assert our full conviction of their genuineness, as literal translations, that is, in English and Scotch, of Mary's original French, of which, perhaps, we should explain, nothing remains but the opening sentence which heads each letter. But for any who wish to pursue the question and judge for themselves, we would recommend the perusal of Laing's Dissertation on the Darnley Murder, where all these letters and papers may be found, together with the confessions of the principal actors in the murder, and very clear, masterly conclusions upon them. One point of evidence, however, he does not dwell upon, being, we think, insensible to the literary merits, (they possess no other,) of these papers. They are full of nature and feeling, such as it is. We might almost say it is impossible that they should be forgeries, though people have not scrupled to attribute them to one plotter after another, as if any man of business in that period of epistolary stiffness and form
ality, could assume at the moment a clever, excited, passionate woman's style; and was equal to the task of expressing the conflicting emotions of a mind in a course of sin, and on the verge of committing a great crime.
These papers consist first of eight letters to Bothwell, four of which were written previous to the murder,-two from Glasgow and two from Kirkfield, -and three from Stirling after the murder, which relate to the concerted scheme for her abduction by him previous to their marriage; and an eighth letter from Linlithgow immediately preceding that event; of two contracts of marriage between them-one supposed to be written before her husband's death, the other signed by her and Bothwell, but written by Huntley previous to Bothwell's divorce from his present wife; and a series of twelve sonnets addressed by Mary to Bothwell. Of these remarkable documents Laing observes :
• The very disappearance of the originals demonstrates that they were genuine. During the administration of the four regents they were carefully preserved. From Murray they passed successively to Lennox and Morton, on whose execution they were conveyed secretly to Ruthven, created Earl of Gowrie, one of the confederates, from whom Elizabeth's solicitude to obtain the custody of the casket attests her conviction that the letters were authentic. It appears, however, that they were retained by Gowrie for the vindication of the confederates. As the young king was informed that they were then (1582) in his hands, as Mary was solicitous to get them delivered up or destroyed, and as the Duke of Lennox, his favourite, who was entirely in her interest, had applied to detain them, their disappearance on the attainder and execution of Gowrie (1584) must be ascribed to the desire of her son to suppress those documents of his mother's guilt, which, if spurious, would neither have been preserved by the four regents nor destroyed by James.'— Laing, vol. i. p. 332.
M. Mignet has no doubt whatever of the authenticity of the letters, and quotes largely from them. Some extracts from the • Long letter' must be given in continuation of our narrative. It must have filled several sheets, taking up nine octavo pages of print. We must give the French opening by which it is known and the words of which must be so familiar to all controversialists on the subject.
• Estant party du lieu ou j'avois laissé mon cæur, il se peult aysement juger quelle estoit ma contenance, veu ce qui peult un corps sans cæur, qui a esté cause que jusque à la disnée je n'ay pas tenu grand propos, aussi personne ne s'est voulu advancer jugeant bien qu'il n'y faisait bon.'-Ibid. vol. ii. p. 146.
After describing her journey, and the messenger sent her from Darnley, she says-(we quote indiscriminately from the Scotch or English translation, as the sense seems to be best rendered):—
· He said he was so glad to see me that he welcomed to die for gladness. He found great fault that I was pensive. I departed to supper. This