Page images

: By her means, when about six years old, Mary was conveyed to France, where she was with great care educated. Her study was chiefly directed to learning the modern languages; to these she added the Latin, in which she spoke an oration of her own composing, in the great guard-room at the Louvre, before the royal family and nobility of France. She was naturally inclined to poetry, and so great a proficient in the art, that her compositions were much valued by M. Ronsard, who was himself esteemed an eminent poet.

She had a good taste for music, and played well upon several instruments, was a fine dancer, and sat a horse gracefully; but her chief delight seemed to be, when she was employed among her women at needle-work*.

The furniture of some of the apartments, worked by Mary Queen of Scots, are still shown at Chatsworth, with a respect becoming her memory. She was removed from Bol. ton Castie to Chatsworth, under the care of the Countess of Shrewsbury, and she remained here upwards of seventeen years, when she was conveyed to Tutbury, and from thence to Fotheringay, where, we are assured, she was beheaded. But as every proceeding of Elizabeth, relative to this unfortunate princess, was private, dark, ambiguous, vindictive, and cruel, we can believe that any sinister methods were used by her to. blind the public, who were partial to her royal prisoner on account of her misfortunes; for, when the British queen could · propose to her secretary, Davison, to have her murdered privately, might she not also contrive to have her beheaded at Tutbury, and report it was at Fotheringay, and bury her at Peterborough, to elude and evade her friends, or to prevent visiters and their resentments. When the historians of her life were so ill informed as not to know her long imprisonment was at Chatsworth, might they not have been equally de

In 1558, she was married to the Dauphin, afterwards Francis II. over whom her beauty and understanding

luded by the report of her death at Fotheringay. “When I visited Tutbury,” said a gentleman of our acquaintance, “ they showed me, in the castle, the place of her execution; and I read her name on various parts of a wall, composed of a white marble, that formed the room; and what served more to strengthen this traditional opinion, there was living in the village one Robert Berkin, a taylor, aged 100 years, healthful, straight, fresh-coloured, and active; he said, when he was young, he knew a man of the same parish, that was aged 100 years, who remembered the plague at Turbury Castle, and by him he understood, that the queen came there from Chatsworth, and was therein executed. Mr. Hardy, a pupil of Sir Joshua Reynolds, drew his portrait, at my request, and amazingly well and like. The ages of these two men came within twenty-six years of the period of her murder, and so bloody a tale must have been recent in all their memories, and strong upon all tongues.”

Though we give these remarks, which have never been published, by way of illustration, we leave the reader to decide on the probability of the circumstance. But to return to Chatsworth, it was, beyond doubt, the place of her long im. prisonment, though she here had the indulgence of walking and riding about the country. Here we learn of her visit to Buxton, and may read on a pane of glass a classical distich adapted by her to her misfortunes.

“ Buxtona, quæ calidæ celebrare nomine lymphæ,

Forte mihi post hac non aduenda vale."

6. Thy baths, bleak Buxton, shall thy fame renew,

To which, with grief, I sigh-a long adieu.".

She also called that curious incrusted pillar in Poole's Hole by her name, which is now shown, and called the Queen of


gave her great influence. He dying in 1560, she returned to her native country; leaving the most refined and gay court in Europe, for the most turbulent and austere.

Soon after she was addressed with proposals of mar. riage from Charles, archduke of Austria. But Queen Elizabeth, hearing of it, desired she would not marry with any foreign prince, but chuse a husband out of her own nobility, and recommended to her the Earl of Leicest:r, threatening, upon refusal, to deprive hur of the successsion to the crown of England; the arms and title of which, the ambition of her uncles, the Guises, had made her imprudently assume while Queen

Scot's Pillar; and which will remain, as long as nature lasts, a cold monument of her fame and misfortunes. Count Tal. lard, who was here a prisoner, said, when he returned to France, “ he should not reckon the days he spent at Chats. worth in his captivity." Happy had it been for the royal Stuart to have been able to say the same.

Colley Cibber, on a visit to the Duke of Devonshire, left two remarkable memorandums behind him: “that though he was very near breaking his neck, by the badness of the roads, in getting to Chatsworth, yet he was much nearer breaking his heart to leave it;" which was a well-turned compliment to his Grace, and perhaps better than the subsequent verses, written in the Bowling Green-House, to the miseries of this unfortunate queen.

[ocr errors]

“ When Scotland's queen, her native realm expelld,

In ancient Chatsworth was a captive held,
Had then the pile to such new charıns arriy'd,
Happier the captive, than the queen, had liv'd.
What tears in pity of her fate could rise,
That found the fugitive a paradise !"


of France. Yet she now wished to obtain the good graces of Elizabeth, who did not in reality wish her to marry at all; which Mary at length discovering, and being much in love with her cousin Henry, Lord Darnley, married him in 1565. By this husband she had one son, who was afterwards James VI. of Scotland, and I. of England. This union proved most unfortunate: the beauty of Darnley was his only merit: he was weak and cruel, and by the most capricious and teasing conduct, made Mary bitterly repent the honour she had done him. Indifferent towards her, yet ambitious of power, he wished to extort from her the matrimonial crown, and was furiously jealous of the influence any other possessed. Bursting into her apartment, with some lords devoted to his purpose, he seized and murdered Rizzio, an Italian musician, whom he had himself first distinguished, and then in a few days openly declared he had no knowledge of the action. He threatened frequently to leave the kingdom, though it appears he had no serious intentions, but merely to distress Mary, who dreaded the censures of foreign courts, and the manner in which it might be misrepresented: and absented himself from her, till an illness which happened to him, being made known to Mary, whose feelings were warm and impetuous, she forgot her wrongs, and flew to his succour, nursing him herself with great tenderness, and in his promises of repentance and amendment, seemed to forget his faults. On his convalescence, he was removed to Kirkafield, a retired situation, which was recommended on account of quiet and good air. Here one night, in 1567, during the absence of the queen, who was gone to be present at the marriage of one of her servants, he was murdered, by his apartment being blown up with gunpowder.

That Mary did not bring the conspirators to justice, has been alleged against her; but she had little power amidst the nobility; and it appears highly probable, if not an absolute fact, that the Lord Bothwell, who was first accused, had for his judges those who had instigated him to take part in the plot, the Earls of Murray and Morton, who suggested to him the seizure and marriage of the queen. He accordingly got her into his power, and the outcries of the people, against the indignities and injuries she suffered, as well as the sonnet attributed to her afterwards by the conspirators themselves, which the letters contradict, show that she was taken without her own consent; and the marriage, which took place on her' return to Edinburgh, was Rot only necessary to her wounded honour; but, as she was yet in his power, and her nobles signed a paper to recommend it to her, she had no means to resist a step so fatal to her reputation and her future peace. Bothwell, who was a protestant by profession, would not permit the marriage to be solemnized according to her faith, which Mary was very tenacious of, but in her, present humbled state could not insist on. Factions and different interests prevailing among the great, every thing ran into disorder and confusion, loyalty and obedience to the royal authority were no longer regarded, but despised and abused. The Earl of Bothwell was forced to fly into Denmark to save his lite. The queen was reproached as his accomplice in the murder of Darnley, carried prisoner to Loch

« PreviousContinue »