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The Reign of Queen Elizabeth. (Continued) page 4

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But the conspirators were watching assiduously for an opportunity to destroy him. Morton, Maitland, and Balfour had now gathered into the plot the Earls of Huntley, Argyll, and Caithness, Archibald Douglas, the Archbishop of St. Andrew's, and many other lords and leading men of the bench and bar. Murray alone seemed to stand aloof; though, from the evidence existing, there can be no question that he was privy to the whole.

Darnley during this time received a warning of his danger from the Earl of Orkney, who, finding opportunity, told him that if he did not get quickly out of that place it would cost him his life. Darnley told this to the queen, who questioned the earl, and he then denied having said so. This was precisely what Morton stated would take place, when on his death-bed, confessing a knowledge of the plot, he was asked why he had not revealed it. He replied, that there was nobody to tell it to; that it was no use telling it to the queen, for he was assured that she was in the plot; and that if he had told Darnley, he was such a fool that he would immediately tell it to the queen. The circumstance, however, startled the conspirators, and determined them to expedite the terrible business. The desired opportunity arrived. The queen agreed to be present on the evening of the 9th of February at the marriage of Sebastiani and Margaret Car wood, two of her servants, which was to be celebrated with a masque. The queen remained with the king the greater part of the day, which was passed in the most apparent cordiality, and Mary declared her intention of remaining all night at Kirk-of-Field.

It is said that whilst she was talking there with the king, Hay of Tallo, John Hepburn of Bolton, Pourie, Dalgleish, and others in the pay of Both well, entered the room below the king's and deposited bags of gunpowder. These men, who were afterwards examined under torture, and confessed to strangling the king, could not in this instance, as we shall see, have told the truth. However, Mary, still sitting with her husband, suddenly recollected her promise to attend the marriage, and taking leave of Darnley, kissed him, and taking a ring from her finger placed it on his own. Darnley, according to the evidence of these ruffians, retired to his bedchamber on the departure of the queen. He seemed much changed since his illness, had become thoughtful and repentant of his past conduct, and this state of mind will account for the change in the queen's manner towards him. But still he was melancholy; complained that he had no friends, and was impressed with the conviction that he should be murdered. From those feelings he sought refuge in religion, and before retiring to rest he repeated the fifty-fifth psalm, which he often sung. After he fell asleep Taylor, his page, continued still to sit by his side.

It was now that the hired assassins executed their appointed task. How Darnley and his page were murdered is yet a disputed point. The house was blown up with gunpowder, but the bodies of the king and his page were found in the orchard adjoining the garden wall, the king only in his night-dress, his pelisse lying by his side, and no marks of fire upon the body. There is a story of the murderers going to commence their operations, and the king hearing their false keys in the lock of his apartment, and rushing down in his shirt and pelisse, endeavouring to escape; of his being seized and strangled, and his cries being heard by some women in the nearest house. On the other hand, the ruffians who did it, swore that only gunpowder was employed, and that the king's bed-clothes must have defended him from the action of the fire, and the crushing effect of the fall. "Why, indeed, should they have taken the trouble to strangle Darnley, when the gunpowder was sufficient to destroy him? It was also stated that two of his servants had perished in the ruins, and two others had escaped with very little hurt. How does the presence of so many attendants agree with the strangling story?

However doubtful may be other matters, there is no question of the presence of Bothwell at the tragedy. He attended the queen from Kirk-of-Field to Holyrood, but about midnight quitted the palace, changed his rich dress, and in disguise joined the murderers, who were waiting for him. About two o'clock two of them entered the house and lit a slow burning match, the other end of which was placed amongst the powder. They remained some time expecting the catastrophe, till Bothwell grew so impatient, that he was with difficulty withheld from entering the house to ascertain whether the match still burnt. This was done by one of the fellows, who looked through a window and perceived the match a-light. The explosion soon after took place, and with a concussion which seemed to shake the whole city. Bothwell hurried away and got to bed before a servant rushed in with the news. He then started up with well-acted astonishment, and rushed forth shouting, "Treason! treason!" Huntley and some others of the conspirators then proceeded to the queen's chamber, and informed her of what had taken place. She seemed petrified with horror, gave herself up to the most violent expression of grief, and shutting herself up in her chamber, continued as if paralysed by so horrible and diabolical a tragedy.

But how far had Mary been cognisant of this conspiracy? Was she wholly or only partially innocent of participation in it? These are questions which have been, and continue to be, agitated by different historians with much zeal. We are disposed to believe the queen entirely innocent of any direct guilt in the matter. Her character was that of open, warm, and forgiving sincerity. Much as she had been tortured and humiliated by Darnley's conduct, she had refused to be divorced from him when it was proposed to banish him from the kingdom. She had hastened to forgive the past, and to renew her kindly intercourse with him, and to the last moment maintained a conduct towards him in keeping with her own warm-hearted character.

But we are not so clear that even now she was not strongly, though perhaps unconsciously, influenced by Bothwell. It was at his suggestion that she had taken him to Kirk-of-Field instead of to some more stately mansion, where the concerted explosion would not be so easily affected; and her conduct from this period bore more and more the marks of one of those paralysing and infatuated passions, which have converted into tragedy the story of so many lives.

Multitudes in the morning rushed to Kirk-of-Field to examine the ruins, but Bothwell hastening thither with a guard drove them back, and carried the king's body into a neighbouring house, where it was in the custody of one Alexander Drurem, who refused Melville a sight of him. Melville then went to the palace to inquire after the queen. Bothwell came out to him^ and said that her Majesty was sorrowful but quiet, and he told him a clumsy story of the strangest accident that ever chanced - that the thunder came out of the sky and burnt the king's house, and killed the king, but so wonderfully that there was not the least mark upon him, desiring him to go and look at him.

The public were impatient to have the affair thoroughly investigated, and were amazed at the apparent apathy of the queen and Court. Two days, however, passed before any step was taken, when a reward of 2,000 was offered for the discovery of the assassins. In the night a paper was affixed to the door of the Tolbooth denouncing Bothwell, James Balfour, and David Chambers, as the perpetrators of the king's murder. Voices at the dead of night also were heard in the streets accusing the same persons, and calling for their punishment. But to the astonishment of the public, the queen, who had hitherto acted with so much spirit and energy, now remained perfectly quiescent. She was surrounded by the conspirators; Bothwell, whom all judged to be the leader of the assassins, was in the highest favour; and after remaining several days in her chamber, Mary removed to the house of Lord Seaton, at a little distance from the castle, accompanied by Bothwell, Huntley, Argyll, Maitland, and others of the well-known conspirators. Darnley was privately buried in the Royal Chapel of Holyrood, none of the nobility attending.

The demands of the indignant public for inquiry continued. The city was placarded with the names of Bothwell, James Balfour, David Chambers, black John Spens, Signers Francisco, Joseph Rizzio - the brother of David - Bartiani, and John de Bourdeaux, as the leading murderers. The Earl of Lennox, the father of Darnley, called on the queen to bring them to trial; but he demanded in vain. Bothwell, the man whom the whole public denounced, continued the first in favour with the queen. At this time Lutyni, an Italian, and companion of Joseph Rizzio, who had been on his way to the Continent, and had been recalled by the queen's warrant, on a charge of theft, and was believed to be concerned in the plot, was examined by Bothwell and dismissed, the queen presenting him with thirty crowns to assist him on his journey. Nine days after the explosion, Sir William Drury wrote to Cecil from Berwick, informing him that Dolu, the queen's treasurer, had arrived in the town with Bartiani, who was denounced in the placards and eight others. Francisco, another of the denounced, was expected to pass that way in a day or two; and other foreigners had left Scotland by sea.

Morton and Murray kept still away from Court, and Lennox, when demanded by Mary to repair thither, dismissed her messenger without reply. The people, astonished at this state of things, talked loudly, and hinted a variety of means of coming at the truth, if it were desired. The smith, said a placard affixed to the Iron, who furnished the false keys to the Kirk-of-Field house, was ready to name his employers; and the person who furnished James Balfour with the powder was well known. Other placards and drawings pointed broadly at the queen and Bothwell. The only effect of all this was, that whilst there was no attempt to inquire after the authors of the murder, there was a sharp search after the authors of the placards. Bothwell himself rode into the city in great fury, surrounded by fifty guards, declaring, with furious oaths and gestures, that if he knew who were the authors of the placards, he would wash his hands in their heart's blood. At the same time the queen was attended, as guard, by Captain Cullen, a notorious creature of Bothwell's, and his company; and Mary, it was repeated, so far from being overwhelmed by grief, was leading a gay life at Seaton with the conspirator lords. She and Bothwell amused themselves with shooting at the butts against Huntley and Seaton; and so incongruous was this conduct of the queen with the recent terrible death of her husband, and the rumours busy all over the country, that public feeling was shocked;, and the very evening after Bothwell's furious appearance in the city, there were displayed two placards, one with the initials M.R, and a hand holding a sword, the other with the initials of Bothwell, and above them a mallet, alluding to the only wound discovered on the king as if perpetrated by such an implement.

Everything demonstrated the necessity of the queen exerting herself to discover the murderers of her husband. Sir Harry Killigrew arrived from Elizabeth, bearing a message of condolence, but at the same time urging the absolute necessity of the trial of Bothwell. Killigrew found the capital in a most excited state, clamorous for inquiry, and loud in its censures of the queen. At the same time a letter arrived from Bishop Beaton, her ambassador in France, stating in plainest terms that she was publicly accused there of being herself the chief mover of the whole dark business, and telling her that if she did not exert herself to take a rigorous vengeance she had better have lost life and all. Mary promised Killigrew that Bothwell should be brought to strict trial; but so soon as he was gone means were taken to secure Bothwell more completely from, any effectual inquiry. The Earl of Mar was induced to give up the possession of the castle of Edinburgh to Bothwell, Morton had his lands and his castle of Tantallan restored to him, and, in return, supported Both-well with all his influence. The castle of Blackness, the Inch, and the superiority of Leith were conferred on Bothwell; and Murray, who neither liked to play the second to the aspiring favourite, nor to run any risk of exposure in those inquiries which must sooner or later ensue, requested permission to visit France.

Mary could not possibly be happy in such circumstances. Whatever might be the state of her conscience, her character was fearfully implicated, and on all sides came calls for inquiry, which she did not seem to have the power or the will to make. She was observed to be no longer the same woman. She was oppressed with melancholy, often surprised in tears, and the ravages of her internal feelings were marked in a deep change from her former health and beauty. The climax to her trouble was put by the queen-mother of France and her uncle, the cardinal, sending her the most cutting message of reproach; calling on her without delay to avenge the death of the king, and to clear her own reputation, or regard them as no longer her friends, but the proclaimers of her utter disgrace. There was no possibility of putting off a show of inquiry any longer, but every means was adopted to make it a mere mockery. Bothwell was now so completely lord of the Court, and had so many offices and means of injury in his hands, that no one was to be found hardy enough to oppose him. The Earl of Lennox, who had hitherto demanded inquiry in vain, was now suddenly summoned to appear and make his charge against Bothwell on the 12th of April; but Lennox, appalled at the prospect of meeting his antagonist backed by all the power of the State, without the utmost preparation, prayed for more time, that he might collect his friends and his evidence. It was refused, and he then wrote to Elizabeth, who sent a despatch, urging on Mary the reasonableness of the request of Lennox. She stated that Lennox represented that there was a combination to screen Bothwell, and prevent justice being attained, and exhorted her, as she valued her reputation, to see that a fair trial was given.

The letter of Elizabeth was forwarded by the provost of Berwick, who arrived with it on the morning of the trial, but Bothwell and his accomplice Maitland pretended that the queen was asleep, to prevent her seeing the letter, or being known to see it, before the trial. The provost, indeed, from the moment he entered the city, was quite satisfied that no justice was intended. The palace and the castle were entirely in the hands and surrounded by the retainers of Bothwell and his accomplices. The provost, though known as the envoy of the Queen of England, was rudely treated, and called an English villain, who had come to prevent the trial. When Bothwell and Maitland came out of the palace, he handed them his despatches, with which they returned, but soon came out again, and without deigning him an answer, mounted and were riding away. But the provost, who resolved to assert his proper dignity, pressed up to them and called for his answer. They assured him that the queen was asleep, and could not be disturbed. Such conduct and such an excuse, when an envoy from the Queen of England had come express on most important business, showed a determination to pursue a concerted course at all risks. Moreover, a servant of De Croc, the French ambassador, at the very moment that Bothwell and Lethington rode out, saw Mary standing at an upper window of the palace with the wife of Lethington, and pointed her out; to the provost, who observed her give a friendly nod to Bothwell as he went away.

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Pictures for The Reign of Queen Elizabeth. (Continued) page 4

Murder of Rizzio
Murder of Rizzio >>>>
Holyrood House
Holyrood House >>>>
Lord Darnley
Lord Darnley >>>>
Queen Elizabeth and her Parliament
Queen Elizabeth and her Parliament >>>>
Surrender of Mary Queen of Scots at Carberry Hill
Surrender of Mary Queen of Scots at Carberry Hill >>>>
Mary Stuart
Mary Stuart >>>>
Mary Queen of Scots in Imprisonment
Mary Queen of Scots in Imprisonment >>>>
Queen Mary protesting
Queen Mary protesting >>>>
Memento Mori Watch of Mary Queen of Scots
Memento Mori Watch of Mary Queen of Scots >>>>
Assassination of the Regent Murray
Assassination of the Regent Murray >>>>
Queen Elizabeths Kitchen
Queen Elizabeths Kitchen >>>>

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