« PreviousContinue »
time about affairs in Scotland, Queen Mary left France to land at Leith, 19th August, 1561. Hunting and other graver duties frequently led her afterwards to the West. Early in July, 1563, the Royal Household Book shows her to have been in Glasgow about a fortnight, during which time she visited her kinsman, Lord Claud Hamilton, at Paisley Abbey, and other members of the family at Hamilton. She next passed to Dumbarton and Rossdhu, and on the 19th set out for Inverary on a visit to her half-sister, the Countess of Argyll, daughter of James V., by Elizabeth, daughter of John Lord Carmichael. This Lady would not appear to have been blessed with the sweetest of tempers, inasmuch as her domestic troubles were reported to have given the Queen an opportunity for requesting the good offices of John Knox. The story is told in “Calderwood,” vol. ii., p. 5. In this year of her visit, at the third conference between Queen Mary and Knox, Her Majesty requested him again to use his good offices on behalf of her sister, the Lady Argyll, who, she confessed, was not so circumspect in everything as she could wish; "yet,” she added, “her husband faileth in many things.” “I brought them to concord,” said Knox, "that her friends were fully content; and she promised before them she should never complain to any creature, till I should first be made acquainted with the quarrel, either out of her own mouth, or by an assured messenger.” “Well,” said the Queen, “it is worse than you believe. Do this much for my sake, as once again to reconcile them, and if she behave not herself as becometh, she shall find no favour of me; but in no case let my Lord know that I employed you." Knox, in consequence, wrote to the Earl on the Countess' behalf, exhorting him to bear with the imperfections of his wife, seeing that he was not able to convince her of any crime since the last reconciliation, but his letter was not well received.
In this same year of grace, 1563, Queen Mary began to manifest increased feelings of respect for Matthew Earl of Lennox, then living under the prutection of England with his Countess Margaret, daughter of Margaret Tudor, mother of James V., by her second marriage with the Earl of Angus. Their son, Henry Lord Darnley, had thus a common ancestry with the Queen, and might in certain
contingencies be looked upon as a rival in the English succession. Marriage negotiations, which had been commenced almost upon the death of the Dauphin, were carried on with the most fruitless result till the summer of 1565, when the Queen put an end to all further suspense by announcing that she had resolved to unite herself in marriage with her cousin, Henry Lord Darnley. Darnley, a lusty,
. well-made young fellow, but totally devoid of judgment or dignity, met the Queen for the first time at Wemyss Castle, Fifeshire, 16th February, 1564. He was then 19 years of age, and the Queen in her 23rd year. The tradition of a courtship and residence at Cruikston Castle, Renfrewshire, rests on no foundation worth examining. The fabric would appear to have been even then in ruins, while all the letters known to exist from the Earl and Countess of that date are dated from Houston or Inchinnan. (See D. Semple's “Tree of Crocston, 1876.) The illstarred marriage between Mary and Darnley was solemnised in the chapel of Holyrood House on the morning of 29th July, 1565. Up to this date Darnley had signed simply as “Lord Henry DARNLEY," as King Henry of Scotland he afterwards signed "HENRY R.” In conformity with other high honours bestowed upon him at marriage, a special seal was engraved for his use, bearing the familiar Scottish lion surmounted by a crown, and the less known initials, recalling the fact now not generally remembered that for a few months a Henry bore the title of King in Scotland. A coinage also was issued bearing the joint names of Mary and Darnley; but too much suspicion can hardly be entertained regarding what is known as the “Cruikston Dollar," or "Mary Ryall.” The coin, well enough known to collectors, bears, not a yew-tree, either of Cruikston or elsewhere, but palmtree, as may be ascertained from the records of Privy Council authorising its issue, 22nd December, 1565. Immediately after her marriage, Mary took active steps to break up the faction headed by her natural brother the Earl of Murray, which had manifested great opposition to the match, and was generally believed to look to the English Court for direction and support. Darnley for a time aided her in this attempt, but with characteristic folly and ingratitude he afterwards allied himself with her opponents, and finally alienated all affection the Queen may ever have felt for him by consenting to, if not originating, that scheme of hostility to her government which led to the murder of her favourite, David Rizzio. From this period revenge dignified as far as such a passion can be dignified, and illconcealed by either her levity or despondency, seemed to take possession of the mind of Mary; nor did the birth of a Prince, which took place on the 19th of June following, very seriously change the current of her thoughts. From playing false with Mary, Darnley, to secure the crown matrimonial, began to play false with his fellow-conspirators. The poor misguided youth was now encompassing his own destruction as swiftly as possible. The Queen was not likely to stop short in extreme measures of retaliation; nor were Morton, Maitland, Lindsay, or the grim Ruthven, the men to place themselves in the power of a fickle, soft-spoken and rather loose-living lad. At this crisis in his history he is smitten down with disease, brought on, it has often been said, through his own excesses, and he thereupon resolved upon a journey to Glasgow, that he might consult physicians and be at the same time beyond such personal danger from the Queen's friends or foes as he feared equally at Holyrood and Stirling. This brought the Queen to Glasgow, where the mysterious “Casket Letters" were alleged to have been sent by her Majesty to Bothwell-letters, whether genuine or not, which proved full of evil consequences in her after career.
Sick in mind and body, alienated from all friends at Court he ever had, and excluded, it is thought, at the Queen's express desire, from the ceremonies incident to the baptism of his son, Prince James, Darnley withdrew from his sullen seclusion at Stirling on or about Christmas-Day, 1566, and arrived at Glasgow certainly before the closing day of the year. His father, the Earl of Lennox, would not appear to have been in the City at the time; nor was even the Castle open to receive the King; so that it is inferred, but only inferred, that he took up his residence in the humble dwelling close at hand, long after known as Darnley's Cottage, and removed from Cathedral Square in quite recent years. Openly disclaiming any knowledge of the “Bond” entered into at Whittingham by Bothwell, Archibald Douglas, Secretary Lethington, and others, for the "removal" of Darnley, but in suspicious compliance with the spirit of its design, Queen Mary left Edinburgh on the 21st January, 1567, and, proceeding by way of Callendar, reached the bedside of her sick husband in Glasgow on the afternoon of the 23rd. That the design of the Queen was the removal of her husband to the east country is evident enough from the circumstance that she brought a “litter” with her for the purpose of facilitating the journey, or, as her defenders put it, for the purpose of making the journey less hurtful to the invalid than it would otherwise have been. Craigmillar was the place first suggested, but this came to be changed to Kirk-of-Field, Edinburgh, where the tragedy was to be consummated, and which Bothwell was at the moment preparing for the reception of the victim. Hearing that the Queen had been speaking of him with unusual severity, Darnley sent Captain Crawford, of Jordanhill, a trusted friend of his own, and of the Lennox family (and afterwards Lord Provost of Glasgow) to meet Her Majesty four miles from the city, with a message excusing himself for not waiting upon her in person. 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 was no medicine against fear, and that he (Darnley) need have no fear if he did not feel himself faulty. The Queen then passed with her escort, being joined at this point by the Lairds of Luss, Houstoun, and Caldwell, with forty horse. The narrative at this point rests in a great measure on letters said to be her own, and afterwards referred to; but for conversations between the Queen and her sick husband in his Glasgow lodgings, much reliance came to be placed on a deposition made by Captain Crawford before the informal Commission at York in December, 1568, when Mary was a prisoner in Bolton Castle—a deposition, however, it may be proper to explain, not only sworn to as accurate, but based on conversations taken down at the time, and still existing as endorsed by Cecil. Crawford reports that Darnley asked what he thought of the Queen's taking him to Craigmillar ? “They treat your Majesty,” said Crawford, "too like a prisoner. Why should you not be taken to one of your
own houses in Edinburgh?” “It struck me much the same way," answered Darnley, "and I have fears enough ; but may God judge between us, I have her promise only to trust to, yet I have put myself in her hands, and I shall go with her though she should murder me.” (Crawford's “Deposition,” State Paper Office.) On another occasion Crawford heard Darnley say to the Queen, “ If you promise me on your honour to live with me as my wife, and not to leave me any more, I will go with you to the end of the world, and care for nothing; if not I shall stay where I am." “It shall be as you have spoken,” she replied, and thereupon gave him her hand and faith. The Queen remained in Glasgow from the 23rd to 27th January, and between these dates, mostly in the evening, four of the eight celebrated “Casket Letters ” purport to have been written by the Queen to Bothwell. That these letters may have been obtained surreptitiously, or even stolen from the page Dalgleish when conveying them from Edinburgh Castle to his master Bothwell; that they were irregularly, and therefore improperly, used in evidence against the Queen at York (and about this there cannot be much doubt), and that they were improperly destroyed as implicating the memory of his mother by King James after ascending the English throne-all this may be true, but not necessary to discuss here. It is not even necessary in a light sketch of this kind to discuss their authenticity—whether they were written by the Queen in French, or forged originally in Latin or Scots by Buchanan at the instance of Murray and other Lords, whether they were ever intended for, or sent to Bothwell at all, or whether some of them at least were not letters from Mary intended for her husband Darnley, and therefore removed from the region of censure. It is sufficient that the letters, genuine or not, existed at one time, and exercised a powerful influence in the Queen's condemnation. Buchanan describes the casket in his “Detection” as “ane small gilt cofer not fully ane foot long, beying garnishit in sondry places, with the Romaine letter F under ane Kyngly crowne (presumed to be the arms of Mary's first husband, the Dauphin, Francis II.) quhairin were certain letters and writynges well knawin, and by othes to be affirmit, to have been written with the quene of Scottes awne