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I will that ye do nothing whereby any spot may be laid to my honour or conscience; and therefore I pray you rather let the matter be in the state it is, abiding that God of his goodness put remedy thereto, than that ye, believing to do me service, may possibly turn to my hurt or displeasure.'
Madam,' said Lethington, let us guide the matter among us, and your grace shall see nothing but good, and approved by parliament.'*
Of this extraordinary conversation, which we have laid fully before the reader, it is certainly difficult, as Mr. Tytler observes, to determine the precise import. It appears to us that Lethington, in his second proposal, intended to hint at a murder, but in terms so dark and ambiguous that he might be able, if he found it misliked, to shelter himself within the terms of his first design. In either case Mary's answer is clear and peremptory: an express command to do nothing that might affect her honour or conscience, and a threat of her displeasure. Upon this Lethington appears to avail himself of the subterfuge he had provided, and reverts to his first project of divorce, promising the Queen that she shall see nothing but good, and approved by parliament,' which an assassination could never be. So far therefore as this conversation goes, it must at its close have left Mary under the impression that her advisers would endeavour to frame a scheme of divorce, without injury to her son, and with the approbation of her parliament.
Lethington, however, had private motives of his own for preferring a scheme of murder to a scheme of divorce. The latter, with approbation of parliament, and with a public recognition of the young prince's rights, could only be obtained by uniting his efforts with a majority of other nobles and statesmen, and thus giving them an equal or superior claim to the favour of the Queen. Nor would they certainly have approved a divorce without some pledge or intimation as to the Queen's re-marriage, and the choice of her future husband ; and it appears probable that the larger number—at all events the great party of the Hamiltons—would have insisted, as afterwards at Lochleven, on a son of the Duke of Chastelherault. If, on the other hand, Darnley were removed by murder, especially in such a inanner as to implicate the fair fame of the Queen, it would bind her indissolubly in interest to the statesmen who planned, or the suitor who perpetrated it, and enable them ever afterwards to maintain the leading part in her councils. But besides and above these motives of crooked policy, there was also, it would seem, an impulse of savage vengeance. Darnley's conduct after the death of Riccio had touched to the quick his betrayed confederates: “the consequence,' says * See Anderson's Collections, vol. iv., part ii., p. 189.
Mr. Tytler, speaking of May, 1566, “was the utmost indignation and a thirst for revenge, upon the part of Morton, Murray, Lethington, and their associates, which, there is reason to believe, increased in intensity till it was assuaged only in his death.' Bothwell, whose temper always inclined him to violence rather than to cabals, was easily induced to concur in these views for his own aggrandisement, as also Huntly and Argyle; but Murray -honourably, shall we say, or only cautiously—appears to have stood aloof from the rest; content that liis schemes of vengeance should be wrought out by other hands. The Queen's rising passion for Bothwell, which could be no secret to any of the statesmen at Craigmillar, might embolden them to act not only without her previous knowledge, but against her express command. They might suppose that, when once the deed was done, they should easily succeed, either in disarining her resentment, or diverting her suspicions from themselves.
According to the ferocious custom of those times, a band' or agreement for the murder of Darnley was prepared : it is said to have been written by Sir James Balfour, then a follower of Bothwell, and signed by Lethington, Huntly, Argyle, and Balfour himsef, the instrument being then deposited in Bothwell's hands. It declared their determination that the King, as ' a young fool, and proud tyrant, should not reign nor bear rule' over them ; that therefore he must be cut off, and that they should all stand by each other and defend the deed.*
From Craigmillar, the Queen, utterly unconscious of these infamous designs that were soon so deeply to affect her own peace and fame, proceeded to Stirling for the baptism of her infant son. She had requested her good sister' of England to be the godmother. Elizabeth despatched the Earl of Bedford as her ambassador, and appointed the Countess of Argyle (Mary's natural sister) as her representative. The ceremony took place on the 17th of December, with much magnificence. It was performed by the Archbishop of St. Andrew's, according to the Roman Catholic ritual, and the Royal infant received the names of Charles James. But the King, although he was then living in the palace, was absent from the ceremony. Let us here again borrow the words of an impartial eye-witness:
'The King,' writes the French ambassador, 'had still given out that he would depart two days before the baptism; but when the time came on he made no sign of removing at all, only he still kept close within his own apartment. . .. . His bad deportment is incurable; nor can
* The existence of this band' is proved mainly by the confession of the Laird of Ormiston, taken at Edinburgh Castle, December 13, 1573, previous to his execution as an accessary to the murder. Ormiston saw the band' in the hands of Bothwell, who showed him the signatures. See also Lord Herries's answer at York.-Goodall, Appendix, vol. ii. p. 212.
there be any good expected from him..... The Queen behaved herself admirably well all the time of the baptism, and showed so much ear. nestness to entertain all the goodly company in the best manner, that this inade her forget, in a good measure, her former ailments. But I am of the mind that she will give us some trouble as yet ; nor can I be brought to think otherwise, so long as she continues so pensive and melancholy. She sent for me yesterday, and I found her laid on a bed weeping sore, and she complained of a grievous pain in her side.'*
On the 24th of December the Queen set out to pass the Christmas festivities at Drummond Castle. She had signed on the day before an Act confirming or enlarging the consistorial jurisdiction of the Archbishop of St. Andrew's, probably with a view to her own desired divorce.t Another Act, which about this time the Queen granted to the renewed entreaties of Bothwell and his confederates, including, on this occasion, Murray, and seconded by Bedford the English ambassador, was a pardon to the Earl of Morton and the other exiles in England, for the murder of Riccio, to the number of seventy-six persons. Besides their bitter hatred of Darnley, Bothwell trusted to find them grateful friends to himself for his intercession, and ready auxiliaries in his flagitious schemes. Accordingly when in January, 1567, Morton was on his road to Edinburgh, and had taken up his residence at Whittingham, the seat of his kinsman Archibald Douglas, he was joined there by Lethington and Bothwell. The object of their visit was immediately explained in the presence of Douglas, Bothwell declaring their determination to murder the King, and adding, as an inducement to Morton to join the plot, that it had the Queen's consent. This proposal was however de. clined by Morton, not so much from any feelings of horror-which indeed would scarcely have beseemed the planner of Riccio's death,
but because, he said, he was unwilling to meildle with new trouble when he had scarcely got rid of the old. Again in a second interview, Bothwell and Lethington renewed their importunities, and again they urged that all was done at the Queen's desire. • Bring me then,' said Morton, 'the Queen's hand-writ of this matter for a warrant, and then I shall give you an answer.' This hand-writing Bothwell and Lethington were never able to produce. I
* Monsieur de Croc to Archbishop Beatoun, December 23, 1566. Sir John Forster writes to Cecil, December 11th ; The Earl 'of Bothwell is appointed to receive the ambassadors ; and all things for the christening are at his Lordship's appointment.'
+ Compare Whitaker (vol. iii. p. 370, &c.) and William Tytler (vol. ii. p. 401) with a note in Laing's Appendix, No. 2. It is a branch of this controversy more pero plexing than important, how far the Archbishop's consistorial jurisdiction had or had not been curtailed by the Reformation.
The authority for these interviews is the confession of the Earl of Morton, June 2, 1581, the day before his execution. It is observed by Robertson as a proof of the ferocity of these times, that Morton, in this his dying confession, speaks of David's slaughter' as coolly as if it had been an innocent or praiseworthy deed.
Soon afterwards they sent back Archibald Douglas with this message :-Show the Earl Morton that the Queen will hear no speech of that matter appointed unto him.' * This seems to indicate that, so far from their former fictions of the Queen's consent, they durst not even name the project in her presence; nor
enthood prstenot even name the priest in het buite can we concur with Mr. Laing in thinking that what Morton demanded was a formal warrant under the Queen's hand, commanding the murder, which even a guilty party to the crime would be restrained in prudence from granting. The words of Morton to Lethington and Bothwell seem rather to import, that if he should see the Queen's approbation of which they spoke, confirmed in her own hand-writing, he should consider that a proof of their word and an authority for his conduct. And if, as is affirmed by Mary's accusers, there had been expressions in her letters to Bothwell previous to the murder, clearly proving her participation, Bothwell would no doubt have shown them to Morton in the hopes of obtaining a co-operation of which he was evidently most desirous.
The pardon granted by the Queen to Morton and his brother exiles was most unwelcome to the King, who regarded these his old confederates as now his mortal enemies. In token of his displeasure he abruptly left the Court at Stirling, and took up his residence with his father Lennox at Glasgow. Soon afterwards he was seized with an illness so sudden and so violent, that it gave rise to rumours of poison, but unjustly, for ere long the symptoms of the small-pox became clear and manifest. The Queen immediately despatched her own physician to attend him, but in other respects showed as little concern for his danger as he had for hers at Jedburgh: nor indeed, considering his conduct since his marriage and her own growing passion for Bothwell, can it be supposed that she offered up any very ardent vows for his recovery. From Drummond Castle she removed to Tullibardine, and from Tullibardine to Stirling, where she remained a fortnight, and where Lethington was married to one of her Marys. $ Meanwhile, the King, after several days of imminent danger, was gradually recovering, but still remained in a feeble and languishing condition. During his convalescence he appears to have reverted to his foolish schemes; or at least his former conduct exposed him to the imputation of them. It was reported, though
* Letter of Archibald Douglas to Queen Mary, April, 1586. + Laing's Dissertation, vol. i., p. 28.
Earl of Bedford to Cecil, January 9, 1567. S When in 1548 Mary, then a beautiful infant in her ninth year,' was sent to France, there embarked with her four Marys, children of a like age and name with herself, selected as her playmates from the families of Fleming, Beatoun, Seyton, and Livingston. (Tytler's History, vol. vi., p. 53.) See also the fine old ballad of "The Queen's Marie,' in the Border Minstrelsy, with Sir Walter Scott's illustrations. (Vol. iii. p. 294. Edition, 1833.)
we believe without foundation, that he entertained a project for crowning the young prince and seizing the government. The Queen was also informed, on more certain authority, that he had resumed his design to quit the kingdom; that an English vessel was already hired for this purpose, and lay in the river Clyde ready to receive him.* It was this,'observes Robertson, that Mary chiefly dreaded.' His flight at this period would not only have tarnished her good name abroad, and exposed her to foreign interference, but would, by removing Darnley beyond the sphere of her influence, have lost all chance of either persuading or compelling his acquiescence in any proceedings before Parliament and before the consistorial courts, for a divorce. Bothwell also, conscious of his meditated crimes, would have seen them baffled, or at least delayed, by Darnley's departure, and might easily urge the Queen to prevent it without using any views or arguments except her own. Mary resolved to employ the same means as she had before, in October, against the very same design-affectionate entreaties and dutiful expressions to her husband. It seemed necessary, however, as the only safeguard against a third and more effectual scheme of flight, that he might be brought to fix his residence at or near her own Court. With such views did she set forth (January 22nd, 1567) to visit him at Glasgow. There seems no reason whatever to believe that any overtures of reconciliation on her part at this time could be sincere; nothing had occurred to make them so, and only two days before she had written to her ambassador in France, inveighing against the King's conduct in terms of much severity. Ť
On the 23rd of January the Queen arrived at Glasgow : and it is from thence that the two first of her alleged letters to Bothwell are said to have been written. We shall hereafter advert to the much debated question of their authenticity; at present we will only observe that the first contains the following words as to the real object of her journey :- In the end I asked himn whether he would go in the English ship? He doth disavow it, and sweareth so, but confesseth to have spoken with the men.' It would seem, however, that Darnley's wayward temper had been softened by his sickness. When Mary first came to see him in his chamber, he hastened, after the first greetings, to profess his deep repentance for his errors, pleading his youth and his ill-advisers. After some further conversation Mary proposed that he should return with her to Craigmillar, adding that, as he was still but little able to travel, she had provided a litter for the journey. Darnley declared his readiness to accompany her, if she would consent that they should live together as before. She promised that it should
* Keith, Pref. viii., and Robertson's History, book iv.