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The Reign of Queen Elizabeth. (Continued) page 5

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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.

The trial was precisely such as might be expected under the circumstances. The Court was surrounded by the retainers of Bothwell, the jury was selected from those in his interest, the judges were all under the awe of his power, and the Earl of Lennox, who was approaching, accompanied by his friends, was forbidden to enter the Court with more than six of them. It would have been madness to proceed, especially as the hagbutters of Bothwell, who crowded round the door, would have suffered no material witness to enter, if any such daring mortal could be found. Lennox demanded more time, and liberty to bring forward his friends and proofs; it was refused: the jury, without hearing any evidence, pronounced a unanimous acquittal of Bothwell. On this being decided Bothwell challenged any gentleman who dared to accuse him of the king's murder. Sir William Drury wrote at once to Cecil to pray the queen that he might accept the challenge, being perfectly sure of Bothwell's guilt, but it does not appear that the queen consented, for nothing came of it.

The public of Scotland were greatly scandalised at these proceedings, and the people of Edinburgh openly expressed their disgust in the streets; the very market-women calling out to Mary as she rode through the city, "God preserve your grace, if you be innocent of the king's death." Drury wrote to Cecil that not only had Bothwell insulted the public sense by riding to the trial on Darnley's favourite horse, but that he was assured that Mary sent him an encouraging message and token during the trial. In fact, so completely had this unfortunate princess now become infatuated by her passion for the murderer of her husband, that nothing could open her eyes, so that the people declared that Bothwell had bewitched her with love philtres. As if to defy the public opinion, Mary called a Parliament, appointed Bothwell to bear the crown and sceptre before her as she rode thither, and passed a bill fully confirming his acquittal at the trial. To win the clergy, she abolished all laws restricting the free enjoyment of religious liberty, and made provision for the poorer members of the ministry. The Assembly, however, unwarped by such favour, presented to her an address praying for a searching inquiry into the king's murder, which she took in very ill part.

Rumours now arose that Bothwell was about to divorce his wife, the sister of Huntley, to whom he had only been married six months, and to marry the queen; but in the face of this Mary conferred on him the castle and lordship of Dunbar, with extension of his powers as high admiral. As the rumours of the queen's intended marriage with Bothwell grew, Murray, her brother, stole away out of the contact with danger or responsibility, and retired to France. But, nevertheless, she did not lack warning. Her ambassador at the Court of France entreated her, in the most serious manner, to punish her husband's murderers, and not allow the world to use such freedom with her character as it did. "Lord Herries," according to Melville, "went to her and told her what bruits were passing through the country of the Earl of Bothwell murdering the king, and how she was to marry him; requesting her Majesty, most humbly upon his knees, to remember upon her honour and dignity, and upon the surety of the prince, which would be all in danger of tincell, in case she married the said earl, with many other great persuasions to eschew such utter wrack and inconvenients as that would bring on. Her Majesty marvelled of such bruits without purpose, and said there was no such thing in her mind."

She had equally strong letters from her friends in England, which Melville showed to her, and was advised by Maitland of Lethington to get away from Court for fear of Bothwell. Bothwell, however, soon put the matter beyond doubt. He invited the principal nobility to a tavern, kept by one Ansley, and there he drew out of his pocket a bond, expressing his innocence of the murder of Darnley, as established by the bench and the legislature, and his intention to marry the queen, and containing, it is said, her written warrant, empowering him to propose the matter to the nobility. The company was composed partly of his friends and accomplices. The rest were taken with confusion, but they had all now been deeply drinking, and they found the house surrounded by 200 of Bothwell's hagbutters. Under this constraint, eight bishops, nine earls, and seven lords, subscribed the paper. The Earl of Eglinton contrived, notwithstanding the hagbutters, to make his escape, but there yet remain to the copy of this bond in the State Paper Office the signatures of the Earls of Morton, Argyll, Huntley, Cassillis, Sutherland, Glencairn, Rothes, and Caithness; and those of the Lords Hume, Boyd, Seaton, Sinclair, and even Herries, who had strongly dissuaded the queen from this very measure.

But the daring ambition of the man now roused even his old accomplices to conspire against him, for the safety of the young prince and Government. Morton, Argyll, Atholl, and Kirkaldy of Grange were at the head of this plot; and they wrote to Bedford the day after the supper at Ansley's, saying it was high time that his dangerous career was checked, and engaging by Elizabeth's aid to avenge the murder of the king. Kirkaldy, who was the scribe, added, that the queen had been heard to say that "she cared not to lose France, England, and her own country for him, and would go with him to the world's end in a white petticoat, before she would leave him."

An anonymous letter, but undoubtedly from some of this party, soon followed, declaring that the queen had concerted with Bothwell the seizure of her person. "This is to advertise you," it says, "that the Earl Bothwell's wife is going to part with her husband; and a great part of our lords have subscribed the marriage between the queen and him. The queen rode to Stirling this last Monday, and returns this Thursday. I doubt not but you have heard how the Earl of Bothwell has gathered many of his friends, and, as some say, to ride into Liddesdale, but I believe it is not, for he is minded to meet the queen this day, called Thursday, and to take her by the way, and to bring her to Dunbar. Judge you if it be with her will or no?"

The correctness of this information was immediately proved. On Monday, the 21st of April, the very day foretold, Mary rode to Stirling to visit her son, where the Earl of Mar, entertaining strong suspicions of her intentions, refused to allow her access to him with more than two attendants, to her great indignation. On her return, as had been foreseen in the letter quoted, Bothwell met her at the head of 1,000 horse, at Almond Bridge, six miles from Edinburgh; and, according to Melville, who was in the queen's train, taking the queen's bridle, he boasted that "he would marry the queen, who could or who would not; yea, whether she would herself or not." He says that Captain Blackadder, one of Bothwell's men, told him that it was with the queen's own consent. Whether this were so or not, has been argued eagerly on both sides, but it is probable from what we have seen that Mary really was a consenting party. The Royal retinue was suffered to continue its journey with the exception of Melville, Maitland, and Huntley, who were conducted along with the queen to the castle of Dunbar, the recent present of Mary to Bothwell. The queen seems to have made no loud outcries against the apparently forcible abduction, and the country was so convinced of the real nature of the affair, that there was no attempt to rescue her.

The divorce of Bothwell from his wife was now hastened, and after detaining the queen five days at the castle of Dunbar, he conducted her to Edinburgh, and led her to the castle, where she was received with a salute of artillery, Bothwell holding her train as she dismounted. Melville and Kirkaldy of Grange had not only informed Elizabeth of all that would take place, but when it had occurred, entreated her to aid the coalition of nobles, now become anxious to avenge the king's murder and rescue the queen. But Elizabeth, who was no doubt pleased with the degradation of the Queen of Scots, and with the destruction of her authority, so far from acceding, blamed them for using such language regarding their queen.

The ministers of the Church were ordered to proclaim the banns of marriage betwixt the queen and Bothwell, but they declined; and Craig, the colleague of Knox, who was absent, declared that he had no command from her Majesty, who was held in disgraceful constraint by Bothwell. This brought to him the justice-clerk with a letter under the queen's own hand, declaring that the assertions he had made were false, and commanding him to obey. Craig still refused till he had seen the queen herself; and, before the Privy Council, charged Bothwell with murder, rape, and adultery. No punishment followed so daring a charge, and the preacher having done his duty, obeyed the Royal mandate, and published the banns, at the same time exclaiming, "I take heaven and earth to witness that I abhor and detest this marriage, as odious and slanderous to the world; and I would exhort the faithful to pray earnestly that a union against all reason and good conscience may yet be overruled by God to the conform of this unhappy realm."

Nothing moved by these public expressions of censure and disgust, the queen appeared, on the 12th of May, at the high court of Edinburgh, and informed the chancellor, the judges, and the nobility that, though she was at first incensed against the Earl of Bothwell for the forcible detention of her person, she had now quite forgiven him for his subsequent good conduct. That day she created Both-well Duke of Orkney and Shetland, and with her own hand placed the coronet on his head. On the loth they were married, at four o'clock in the morning, in the Presence-Chamber of Holyrood. The ceremony was performed by the Bishop of Orkney, according to the Protestant form, Craig being present; and afterwards, privately, according to the Romish rite. Mary, strangely enough, was married in her widow's weeds. Melville describes Bothwell that day, as seen by him, drinking after supper, and using very vile language, his companions being the justice-clerk, and Huntley, the Chancellor, and brother of Both well's divorced wife.

But the misery of such a marriage was swift in showing itself. The queen herself appeared unhappy. De Croc, soon after the marriage, relates that the queen sent for him; and on his perceiving something strange in her behaviour, he writes, "She attempted to excuse it, and said, 'If you see me melancholy it is because I do not choose to be cheerful - because I never will be so, and wish for nothing but death.'" In fact, though Bothwell studied to appear respectful, and refused to be covered in her presence - which she would playfully resent, and, snatching his cap, place it on his head - yet his nature was so brutal and overbearing, that she must soon have felt that she was fallen under a vulgar and intolerable tyranny, for which she had forfeited the respect of her people and of the whole world. Still, amidst it all, she made an appearance of contentment, put off her mourning, assumed a gay dress, and rode abroad with Bothwell. But this was only assumed.

Bothwell could not rest till he had the young prince in his hands; and though Mary had resigned her own life and honour to him, she refused to put that of her child into his power. The paroxysms of agony into which his importunity wrought Mary were such that she tempted to destroy herself. One day, says De Croc, when she and Bothwell were in the room, with the Count D'Aumale, she called aloud for a knife to kill herself; the people in the ante-room heard it. He adds, "I believe that if God does not support her, she will entirely fall into despair. On the occasions when I have seen her I have given her advice, and consoled her as well as I was able. Her husband will not be able to contain her long, for he is too much hated in the kingdom, and the people will always be convinced that the death of the king was his work."

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