Open main menu
This page needs to be proofread.

postern gate to the lake-side, and thence in a boat to the mainland, where George Douglas, Lord Seton and others were awaiting her. Thence they rode to Seton's castle of Niddry, and next day to Hamilton palace, round which an army of 6000 men was soon assembled, and whither the new French ambassador to Scotland hastened to pay his duty. The queen's abdication was revoked, messengers were dispatched to the English and French courts, and word was sent to Murray at Glasgow that he must resign the regency, and should be pardoned in common with all offenders against the queen. But on the day when Mary arrived at Hamilton Murray had summoned to Glasgow the feudatories of the Crown to take arms against the insurgent enemies of the infant king. Elizabeth sent conditional oHers of help to her kinswoman, provided she would accept of English intervention and abstain from seeking foreign assistance; but the messenger came too late. Mary's followers had failed to retake Dunbar Castle from the regent, and made for Dumbarton instead, marching two miles south of Glasgow, by the village of Langside. Here Murray, with 4500 men, under leaders of high distinction, met the 6000 of the queen's army, whose ablest man, Herries, was as much distrusted by Mary as by every one else, while the Hamiltons could only be trusted to think of their own interests, and were suspected of treasonable designs on all who stood between their house and the monarchy. On the 13th of May the battle or skirmish of Langside determined the result of the campaign in three-quarters of an hour. Kirkaldy of Grange, who commanded the regent's cavalry, seized and kept the place of vantage from the beginning, and at the first sign of wavering on the other side shattered at a single charge the forces of the queen with a loss of one man to three hundred. Mary fled 6o miles from the field of her last battle before she halted at Sanquhar, and for three days of fiight, according to her own account, had to sleep on the hard ground, live on oatmeal and sour milk, and fare at night like the owls, in hunger, cold and fear. On the third day from the rout of Langside she crossed the Solway and landed at Workington in Cumberland, May 16, 1568. On the zoth Lord Scrope and Sir Francis Knollys were sent from court to carry messages and letters of comfort from Elizabeth to Mary at Carlisle. On the 11th of June Knollys wrote to Cecil at once the best description and the noblest panegyric extant of the queen of Scots-enlarging, with a brave man's sympathy, on her indifference to form and ceremony, her daring grace and openness of manner, her frank display of a great desire to be avenged of her enemies, her readiness to expose herself to all perils in hope of victory, her delight to hear of hardihood and courage, commending by name all her enemies of approved valour, sparing no cowardice in her friends, but above all things athirst for victory by any means at any price, so that for its sake pain and peril seemed pleasant to her, and wealth and all things, if compared with it, contemptible and vile. What was to be done with such a princess, whether she were to be nourished in one's bosom, above all whether it could be advisable or safe to try any diplomatic tricks upon such a lady, Knollys left for the minister to judge. It is remarkable that he should not have discovered in her the qualities so obvious to modern champions of her character-easiness, gullibility, incurable innocence and invincible ignorance of evil, incapacity to suspect or resent anything, readiness to believe and forgive all things. On the I5lZl'1 of July, after various delays interposed by her reluctance to leave the neighbourhood of the border, where on her arrival she had received the welcome and the homage of the leading Catholic houses of Northumberland and Cumberland, she was removed to Bolton Castle in North Yorkshire. During her residence here a conference was held at York between her own and Elizabeth's commissioners and those appointed to represent her son as a king of Scots. These latter, of whom Murray himself was the chief, privately laid before the English commissioners the contents of the famous casket. On the 24th of October the place of the conference was shifted from York to London, where the inquiry was to be held before Queen Elizabeth in council. Mary was already aware that the chief of the English commissioners, the duke of Norfolk, was secretly an aspirant to the peril of her hand; and on the zrst of October she gave the first sign of assent to the suggestion of a divorce from Bothwell. On the 26th of October the charge of complicity in the murder of Darnley was distinctly brought forward against her in spite of Norfolk's reluctance and Murray's previous hesitation. Elizabeth, by the mouth of her chief justice, formally rebuked the audacity of the subjects who durst bring such a charge against their sovereign, and challenged them to advance their proofs. They complied by the production of an indictment under five heads, supported by the necessary evidence of documents. The number of English commissioners was increased, and they were bound to preserve secrecy as to the matters revealed. Further evidence was supplied by Thomas Crawford, a retainer of the house of Lennox, tallying so exactly with the text of the casket letters as to have been cited in proof that the latter must needs be a forgery. Elizabeth, on the close of the evidence, invited Mary to reply to the proofs alleged before she could be admitted to her presence; but Mary simply desired her commissioners to withdraw from the conference. She declined with scorn the proposal made by Elizabeth through Knollys, that she should sign a second abdication in favour of her son. On the 10th of January, 1 569, the judgment given at the conference acquitted Murray and his adherents of rebellion, while affirming that nothing had been proved against Mary-a verdict accepted by Murray as equivalent to a practical recognition of his office as regent for the infant king. This position he was not long to hold; and the fierce exultation of Mary at the news of his murder gave to those who believed in her complicity with the murderer, on whom a pension was bestowed by her unblushing gratitude, fresh reason to fear, if her liberty of correspondence and intrigue were not restrained, the likelihood of a similar fate for Elizabeth. On the 26th of January I 569 she had been removed from Bolton Castle to Tutbury in Staffordshire, where proposals were conveyed to her, at the instigation of Leicester, for a marriage with the duke of Norfolk, to which she gave a graciously conditional assent; but the discovery of these proposals consigned Norfolk to the Tower, and on the outbreak of an insurrection in the north Mary, by Lord Hunsdon's advice, was again removed to Coventry, when a body of her intending deliverers was within a day's ride of Tutbury. On the 23rd of January following Murray was assassinated; and a second northern insurrection was crushed in a single sharp fight by Lord Hunsdon. In October Cecil had an interview with Mary at Chatsworth, when the conditions of her possible restoration to the throne in compliance with French demands were debated at length. The queen of Scots, with dauntless dignity, refused to yield the castles of Edinburgh and Dumbarton into English keeping, or to deliver up her fugitive English partisans then in Scotland; upon other points they came to terms, and the articles were signed the 16th of October. On the same day Mary Wrote to Elizabeth, requesting with graceful earnestness the favour of an interview which might reassure her against the suggestion that this treaty was a mere pretence. On the 28th of November she was removed to Sheffield Castle, where she remained for the next fourteen years in charge of the earl of Shrewsbury. The detection of a plot, in which Norfolk was implicated, for the invasion of England by Spain on behalf of Mary, who was then to take him as the fourth and most contemptible of her husbands, made necessary the reduction of her household and the stricter confinement of her person. On the 28th of May 1572 a demand from both houses of parliament for 'her execution as well as Norfolk's was generously rejected by Elizabeth; but after the punishment of the traitorous pretender to her hand, on whom she had lavished many eloquent letters of affectionate protestation, she fell into ' ' a passion of sickness ” which convinced her honest keeper of her genuine grief for the ducal caitiif. A treaty projected on the news of the massacre of St Bartholomew, by which Mary should be sent back to Scotland for immediate execution, was broken off by the death of the earl of Mar, who had succeeded Lennox as regent; nor was it found possible to come to acceptable terms on a like understanding with his successor Morton, who in 1577 sent a proposal to Mary for her restoration, which she declined, in