Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

important, then, for the new Regent and his partisans to forge what they could not find! Nay, we even think we can discern the precise place where the principal interpolation was effected,-in the second half of the first letter. This letter, being, as is alleged, written in great haste, and late at night, seems to have degenerated, at its close, to a scrawl unlike the Queen's usual hand. It contains these phrases : • Excuse me if I write ill; you must guess onehalf.' And again, "Excuse my evil writing. We find, also, that this letter, which is of great length, extended over several detached pages or loose pieces of paper, on which some memoranda of the Queen had been already noted. Was it not easy, then, even for the least skilful forger, while preserving the earlier pages of the letter, to subtract the last, and substitute others, presenting nearly the same hasty and half illegible characters, but containing, besides, some distinct allusions to the murder ? Such allusions we accordingly find, heaped together in this part of the first letter, full, frequent, and repeated-palpable interpolations, as we think them-while scarce any such appear elsewhere, either in the sonnets or in the remaining correspondence. ·

But further still, it is only this explanation that can, as we conceive, render clear the subsequent conferences at York and Westminster. In these it will strike any impartial inquirer that there appeared a strange reluctance and hesitation on both sides—both apparently labouring under some uneasy consciousness. There was neither on the one side a free and ready production of the documents, nor yet on the other a constant and clear denial of them. From hence, as Mr. Tytler remarks, some points in these conferences may be justly urged against Mary's character, and others as justly in its favour. Now if the letters were either wholly authentic or wholly fabricated, we surely should not find the same timidity in both the contending parties. We can only explain it by the general authenticity but partial interpolation of these papers--Mary, unwilling to acknowledge the expressions of her guilty passion—and Murray unable to establish the expressions of her murderous conniyance.

It might not be difficult, we fear, to give other instances of such interpolations and suppressions in that age, even on much less temptation, and from statesmen of far higher honour than was ever ascribed to Morton or to Murray.-In 1586 the Earl of Leicester wrote a despatch from the Netherlands to Queen Elizabeth, so imprudently expressed for his own interest, that the Lords of the Council, on receiving it, resolved to keep it back from her Majesty: but in a few days, “finding her Majesty in such hard terms for your Lordship not writing to herself .. they conferred of the letter again, and blotting out some things VOL. LXVII. NO. CXXXIV.

which

which they thought would be offensive, and mending some other parts as they thought best,'— laid it before their Royal Mistress.*— Nay more, we can bring a similar case home to Morton himselfthe very man accused of tampering with Mary's letters--and this case shall rest upon his own avowal. In 1571 a letter from the King of Denmark, relating to Bothwell and addressed to the Regent Lennox, fell into the hands of Morton. Queen Elizabeth requested to see it, but the Scottish Earl, finding in it some things more likely to injure than further'the cause, withheld the original, and gave a copy in which he omitted what he thought ‘not meet to be shown !'t

There are two other documents which Mary's advocates no less loudly denounce as fabrications—the two dying confessions of the Frenchman, Paris, when executed as an accessary to the murder. Mr. Tytler's grandfather, in his Dissertation, has devoted a chapter to prove that these confessions were forged by Mary's enemies. We must own that we have not been convinced by his arguments. On the contrary, we hold with Robertson that these confessions are remarkable for a simplicity and naïveté which it is almost impossible to imitate ; and that they abound with a number of minute facts and particulars which the most dexterous forger could not have easily assembled and connected together with any appearance of probability. But though we do not doubt that these confessions were really spoken by the man whose name they bear, we are far from believing that this man always spoke the truth. His first confession was made on the 9th of August, 1569— sans être interrogé, et de son propre mouvement,' as we find in the preamble,-and it appears an honest narrative of all he knew respecting the murder, dashed only with frequent flatteries and compliments to Murray, then Lord-Regent, which denote his hopes of pardon.I At the conclusion he states,

voilà tout ce que je sais touchant ce fait.' In this confession there is abundant evidence against Bothwell as the author of the crime, but none against the Queen. It was, however, not against Bothwell, but against his mistress, that proofs were sought for by the party then in power. After this confession, therefore, they seem to have tampered with the prisoner's hopes of mercy, provided he should give evidence suited to their ends-perhaps even they may, as Robertson hints, have used or threatened the vio

* Thomas Duddeley to the Earl of Leicester, February 11, 1586, printed in the Hardwicke State Papers, vol. i. p. 296-301.

+ See the letter in Goodall, vol. ii. p. 382; dated March 24, 1571.

1 Thus, for instance, he puts into his own mouth as a soliloquy at the time of Darnley's murder; "Oh, Monsieur de Morra, tu es homme de bien, plut à Dieu que tu scus mon cæur, &c, Mr. Laing justly observes, Such an artful intermixture of truth and flattery was extremely natural to one in Paris's situation.'--yol. ii. p. 33. *

lence

z_and and spomiries. n as a parand or

rtress's narratiewe even fung

lence of torture and thus on the next day Paris made a second confession, not freely and spontaneously, like the first, but when pressed and urged with inquiries. This second confession is filled with criminations of the Queen as a party to the murder, but with some particulars most improbable, and others clearly false, as has been not only shown by Whitaker and William Tytler, but admitted by Robertson himself. In consequence, probably, of these criminations, the execution of Paris was deferred for some days further, while the pleasure of the LordRegent and council was taken; but the decision was unfavourable, and the miserable man 'sufferit death by order of law' on the 16th of the same month. Surely under such circumstances there appears the strongest reason for assigning a very different degree of weight and authority to the two confessions.

We pass over the subsequent events in Mary's life-the crowning of the baby prince as King—and the proclamation of Murray às Regent—nay, we even resist the temptation of inserting Mr. Tytler's narrative of Mary's romantic escape from the island fortress of Lochleven, to which the private archives of the House of Medici have supplied some new and interesting facts. In like manner we forbear to tell how, on her escape, the nobles gathered round her banner-how that banner fell for ever on the field of Langside-how Mary fled into England from reliance on Elizabeth's friendship—and how, in after years, that reliance was requited. But we must again advert to our controversy on Darnley's murder.

In corroboration, or at least in countenance, of the views we have taken of that question, we may appeal in some degree even to adverse authority. Dr. Robertson, though preferring and adopting the theory of Mary's guilt, distinctly admits, at the end of his Dissertation, that the theory of her innocence as regarding the murder would also be compatible with the proofs he has produced :- In my opinion,' says he, “there are only two conclusions which can be drawn from these facts; one, that Bothwell, prompted by his ambition or love, encouraged by the Queen's known aversion to her husband, and presuming on her attachment to himself, struck the blow without having concerted it with her.' The other conclusion is, that which Murray and his adherents laboured to establish, that she was of the foreknowledge, council, and devise of the said murder.' The same alternative is also laid down by a most discerning and impartial historian of our own time~Mr. Hallam. * We will venture, however, to mention a few additional reasons, why of these two conclusions we adopt the former. 1. The previous high character of Mary in France, during her * Constitutional History, vol. iii. p. 413. z 2

early

early years. There every testimony seems to concur in her praise. Throckmorton, an eye-witness, and no partial one, writes as follows to the council of England :

'During her husband's life there was no great account made of her, for that being under band of marriage and subjection of her husband, who carried the burden and care of all her matters, there was offered no great occasion to know what was in her. But since her husband's death she hath showed, and so continueth, that she is both of great wisdom for her years, modesty, and also of great judgment in the wise handling herself and her matters. And already it appeareth that some such as made no great account of her, do now, seeing her wisdom, both honour and pity her.'*

Without a long and needless array of testimonies we may mention that the shrewd and sarcastic Brantome, who had many opportunities of observing Mary, both in France and on her passage to Scotland, extols her for those very qualities most essential to the present controversy—a kindness, and gentleness of heart-an unwillingness of inflicting pain, and a horror of seeing it inflicted :

Cette Reine etait du tout bonne et douce... Alors qu'elle était dans sa galere elle ne voulut jamais permettre que l'on battit le moins du monde un seul forçat; et le commanda tres expressement au comité, ayant une compassion extreme de leur misere, et le cæur lui en faisait mal.'+

2. The subsequent conduct of Mary during her captivity in England. Here again we forbear from any length of details or accumulation of testimonies—we will give only one-very different, certainly, from Brantome, but perhaps not less in point. Here is the opinion upon Queen Mary of the great founder and high-priest of the Methodists :--The circumstances of her death are equal to those of an ancient martyr.'I Shall we say, then, that her repeated and solemn declarations of innocence of any share in her husband's death are deserving of no weight? Shall we hastily affix upon a woman, obtaining such high praise both before and since, the brand of an atrocious murder-a murder heightened by every circumstance of domestic treachery and false blandishments intended to betray-a murder not in haste

uent come forbear will sinaps not

* Throckmorton's despatch, Dec. 31, 1560: first printed from the State-Paper Office by Mr. Tytler. T'he device assumed by Mary on her first husband's death is curious, as a specimen of the quaint conceits of that time. It was a stalk of liquorice

duquel la racine est douce et tout le reste hors de terre, amer, avec ces mots Dulce meum terra tegit, la terre cache ma douceur! (De Coste, Eloges et Vies des Reines, vol, ii. p. 257.) Catherine de Medici, on her widowhood, selected as her device a mountain of quick-lime, with rain-drops falling on it (in allusion to her tears); and the motto, Artlurem extinció testantur vivere flammá !-Brantome, Euvres, vol. ii. p. 58. Ed. 17.10. + Brantome, Euvres, vol. ii. p. 116, Ed. 1710.

Wesley's Journal, May 11, 1701.

and

and sudden anger, but calmly planned and plotted--the murder not merely of a hateful husband, but of his innocent page, who slept in the same apartment, and must have perished by the same explosion? Shall we believe that a woman, who through life held fast the belief-however erroneously, yet still sincerely and devoutly-of one form of Christian faith, would add to such a crime as murder the horrible blasphemy of declaring that it was not chance but God' that had led her that night to Edinburgh, and saved her from the same death? A guilty passion might, though not justify, yet explain her conjugal infidelity; but can it also render probable all these added atrocities?

3. Darnley's own mother, the Countess of Lennox, was at first vehemently prepossessed against Mary as one of the authors of his murder; but became convinced of her innocence, and entered into friendly correspondence with her during several years before she died. *

4. The bitter complaints against Darnley which Mary made to Archbishop Beatoun at Paris, in her letter of the 20th January, 1566, seem scarcely compatible with any sinister design on her part to be executed a few days afterwards, since she must have felt the utter inutility of such reproaches against one who was so soon to be removed; and have feared that they might afterwards afford a ground for suspicions against her.

5. It seems to us that in this controversy several of the arguments employed by Mary's adversaries recoil upon themselves. Thus it is alleged against her as a strong ground of suspicion, that on arriving with the King at Kirk of Field, she directed a new bed of black-figured velvet to be removed from his apartment lest it should be soiled by the bath, and an old purple travelling bed to be placed in its stead. † By her order, also, on the Saturday before the murder, a coverlet,—'which was probably valuable,' says Mr. Laing—was removed from her own bed; and, Mr. Laing is pleased to add, this single circumstance is decisive of her guilt.' Now we would really put it to the common sense of any reader whether such facts as these do not rather tend to her innocence ? Can we conceive any woman---much less a sovereign-pausing on the verge of an atrocious murder to secure some household furniture from damage, and incurring the risk of suspicion on that account? There is a precedent of King Frederick the Second— Thiebault, we think, tells the story-who, seeing his nephew and presumptive heir fall from his horse in battle, cried out, • There is the Prince of Prussia killed! Let

* See a letter in the Appendix to Mr. William Tytler's Dissertation, vol. ii. p. 404, ed. 1790,

† Laing's Dissertation, vol. i. p. 32. Vol. ii. p. 36. .

« НазадПродовжити »