Изображения страниц

instrument. The queen was then far advanced in her pregnancy, when, as she was one evening at supper in a private apartment of her palace, along with the countess of Argyle, while her secretary Rizzio, and some other of her domestics were in. waiting, the earl of Morton, with one hundred and sixty men, took possession of the palace; a few ruffians in arms broke into the apartment, Darnley himself showing the way by a private staircase; they overturned the table at which the queen sat, and seizing the secretary Rizzio, who clung for protection to the garments of his mistress, they stabbed him to the heart, and thence dragging him into the ante-chamber, laid him dead with numberless wounds.

The purpose of this shocking outrage was extremely evident. From the queen's situation no. thing less was to be expected than an abortion, and probably the death both of the mother and her child; should this not take place, the odium incurred by Darnley, as the ostensible head and promoter of this conspiracy, must at least be the cause of a total and incurable rupture between him and Mary, a justifiable pretence for those meditated schemes against his life, and even a probable presumption of Mary's acquiescence in any attempts to get rid of a man, against whom she had now so much cause of hatred and disgust. Confiding in the plausibility of these appearances, which to the public eye would, at least with the queen's enemies, induce a strong suspicion of her guilt, the murder of Darnley was immediately resolved on, and a very short time after, the house in

which he slept was in the middle of the night blown up with gunpowder.

In this murder, planned by Murray, Morton, and Lethington, the earl of Bothwell, there is undoubted reason to believe, was likewise an associate. This nobleman, who had all along shown the greatest appearance of zeal and attachment to the interests of Mary, had from that cause alone, with little personal merit, attained a very great degree of her favour and esteem. The voice of the public imputed to him the murder of Darnley; but the good opinion which the queen had of him from his former services, and the just grounds she had to fix that crime upon those who were truly its chief authors and contrivers, exempted this nobleman, in her mind, from all suspicion of guilt.

To satisfy the public opinion, however, Bothwell was tried by his peers for the murder of Darnley, and no evidence being brought against him, he was absolved by the verdict of a jury. The queen, who had never believed him guilty, had now, as she thought, a perfect assurance of his innocence. He stood high in her favour; and, prompted by ambition, began to aspire at the dangerous honour of obtaining her hand in marriage. These views, being known to Murray and his associates, seemed to afford, at length, a most promising means for accomplishing the ruin of Mary, and throwing into their hands the government of the kingdom. It now, therefore, became their great object to bring about the marriage of Bothwell with the queen; a formal deed, or bond,

was for that purpose framed by the earl of Morton and the chief nobility of his party, recommending Bothwell in the strongest terms as the most proper person she could choose for a husband. Mary gave into the snare; she married Bothwell, a measure which is the most indefensible part of her conduct; for however she might have been persuaded of his innocence, of which this request of her chief nobility was certainly a very strong testimony, yet the public voice still pointed him out as an associate in the murder of her husband; and to marry this man was a measure as indecent as it was ruinous and impolitic.

The plan of Murray, of Morton, and their allies had now succeeded to their utmost wish, and it was unnecessary any longer to keep on the mask. Bothwell, their instrument in the murder of Darnley, had, by their means, become the husband of Mary. They had thus brought about what to the world would be a strong presumption of her being an accomplice in that murder; and the same Morton and his associates, who had signed that infamous bond, asserting Bothwell's innocence, and recommending him in the strongest terms as a suitable husband to their queen, now formed an association, within a few weeks of their marriage, to make them both prisoners in their palace. On receiving intelligence of this design, Bothwell found means to escape over seas to Denmark; but Mary delivered herself without reserve into the hands of her enemies, who immediately confined her, under a strong guard, in the castle of Loch Leven *.

* These black deeds, and the whole of this infernal policy, is

Morton and the associated lords had now the sole government of the kingdom. They were, however, desirous of giving their authority a legal

thus laid open by Camden, a contemporary author, a person under the patronage, and intrusted with the papers of Secretary Cecil himself.


Murray," he says, who had taken arms because of Mary's match with Darnley, "fled into England; and there being frustrate of all hope of aid, he dealt by letters with Morton, a man of a deep and subtile reach, who was his inward friend, and as it were his right hand; that seeing the marriage could not be annulled, yet, at least, the love between them as man and wife might, by close contrivances, be dissolved.-Morton, being a man skilled in kindling discontents, insinuateth himself into the young king's mind by soothing flatteries, and persuadeth him to put on the crown of Scotland, even against the queen's will, and to free himself from the command of a woman. By this counsel he hoped not only to alienate the queen, but also the nobility and commons quite from the king. And to alienate the queen, first he incenseth the king by sundry slanders to the murder of David Rizzio, a Piemontois; lest he, being a subtile fellow, might prevent their designs. Then the more to alienate her, he persuadeth the king to be present himself at the murther. The king, now considering the foulness of the late act, and seeing the queenwas very angry, repented him of his rashness, humbly fled with tears and lamentations to her clemency, and craving pardon for his fault, freely confessed, that, through the persuasion of Murray and Morton, he had undertaken the fact. And from that time forward he bore such hatred to Murray (for Morton, Reuven, and the other were fled into England for the murther of David, with Murray's letters of commendation to the earl of Bedford), that he cast in his mind to make him away. But whereas, through youthly heat, he could neither conceal his thoughts, nor durst execute them (such was his observance towards the queen his wife), he told her that it would be for the good of the commonwealth and the security of the royal family, if Murray were made away. She, detesting the matter, terrified him with threats from such purposes, hoping again to reconcile them. But he, stomaching the power which the bastard had with the

sanction; and for that purpose a deed was prepared, by which the queen should resign all concern in the government in favour of her son, then

queen his sister, through impatience communicated the same design to others. When this came to Murray's ears, he, to prevent the same, under colour of duty, contriveth more secret plots against the young king's life, using Morton's counsel though he were absent. These two, above all things, thought it best utterly to alienate the queen's mind from the king, their love being not yet well renewed; and to draw Bothwell into their society, who was lately reconciled to Murray, and was in great grace with the queen; putting him in hope of divorce from his wife, and marriage with the queen as soon as she was a widow. To the performance hereof, and to defend him against all men, they bound themselves under their hands and seals; supposing that if the matter succeeded, they could with one and the same labour make away the king, weaken the queen's reputation amongst the nobility and commons, tread down Bothwell, and draw unto themselves the whole managing of the state. Bothwell, being a wicked-minded man, blinded with ambition, and thereby desperately bold to attempt, soon laid hold on the hope propounded, and lewdly committed the murther; whilst Murray, scarce fifteen hours before, had withdrawn himself farther off to his own house, lest he should come within suspicion; and he might from thence, if need were, relieve the conspirators, and the whole suspicion might light upon the queen. A rumour was forthwith spread all over Britain, laying the fact and fault upon Morton, Murray, and other confederates; they, insulting over the weak sex of the queen, lay it upon her. No sooner was he returned to the court, but he and the conspirators commended Bothwell to the queen for an husband, as most worthy of her love, for the dignity of his house, for his notable service of the English, and his singular fidelity. Now, the confederates' whole care and labour was that Bothwell might be acquitted of the murther of the king. A parliament, therefore is forthwith summoned for no other cause; and proclamations set forth that such as were suspected of the murther should be apprehended. And whereas Lenox, the murdered king's

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »