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life and peaceable reign to Elizabeth. She decla ved that she hoped for mercy only through the death of Christ, at the foot of whose image she now willingly shed her blood ; and lifting up and kissing the crucifix, she thus addressed it : “As thy arms, O Jesus, were extended on the cross ; so with the outstretched arms of thy mercy receive me, and. forgive my sins."
She then prepared for the block, by taking off her veil and upper garments; and one of the executioners rudely endeavouring to assist, she gently checked him, and said with a smile, that she had not been accustomed to undress before so many spectators, nor to be served by such valets.
With calm but undaunted fortitude, she laid her neck on the block: and while one executioner held her hands, the other, at the second stroke, cut off her head, which falling out of its attire, discovered her hair already grown quite grey with cares and sorrows. The executioner held it up still streaming with blood, and the dean crying out, “ So perish all queen Elizabeth's enemies," the earl of Kent alone answered, Amen. The rest of the spectators continued silent, and drowned in tears ; being incapable at that moment of any other sentiments but those of pity or admiration.
None of her women were suffered to come near her dead body, which was carried into a room adjoining to the place of execution, where it lay for some days, covered with a coarse cloth torn from a billiard table. The block, the scaffold, the aprons of the executioners, and every thing stained with her blood, were reduced to ashes. Not long after, Elizabeth appointed her body to be buried in the cathedral of Peterborough with royal magnificence, But this vulgar artifice was employed in vain ; the pageantry of a pompous funeral did not efface the memory of those injuries which laid Mary in her
grave. James, soon after his accession to the English throne, ordered her body to be removed to Westminster Abbey, and to be deposited among the monarchs of England.
Such was the tragical death of Mary Queen of Scots, after a life of forty-four years and two months, almost nineteen years of which she passed in captivity. The political parties which were formed in the kingdom during her reign have subsisted, under various denominations, ever since that time. The rancour with which they were at first animated, hath descended to succeeding ages, and their prejudices as well as their rage, have been perpetuated, and even augmented. Among historians, who were under the dominion of all those passions, and who have either ascribed to her every virtuous and amiable quality, or have imputed to her all the vices of which the human heart is susceptible, we search in vain for Mary's real character.
She neither merited the exaggerated prai ses of the one, nor the undistinguishing censure of the other.
To all the charms of beauty, and the utmost elegance of external form, she added those accomplishments which render their impression irresistible. Polite, affable, insinuating, sprightly, and capable of speaking and of writing with equal ease and dignity. Sudden, however, and violent in all her attachments ; because her heart was warm and unsuspicious. Impatient of contradiction; because she had been accustomed from herinfancy to be treated as a queen.
No stranger, on some occasions, to dissimulation; which, in that perfidious court where she received her education, was reckoned among the necessary arts of government. Not insensible of flattery, or unconscious of that pleasure with which almost every woman beholds the influence of her own beauty. Formed with the qualities which we love, not with the talents that we admire ; she was an agreeable woman, rather than an illustrious queen. The vivacity of her spirit not sufficiently tempered with sound judgment, and the warmth of her heart, which was not at all times under the restraint of discretion, betrayed her both into errors and into crimes. To say that she was always unfortunate, will not account for that long and almost uninterrupted succession of calamities which befell her; we must likewise add, that she was often imprudent. Her passion for Darnly was rash, youthful, and excessive; and though the sudden transition to the opposite extreme, was the natural effect of her ill-requited love, and of his ingratitude, insolence, and brutality; yet neither these, nor Bothwell's artful address and important services, can justify her attachment to that nobleman. Even the manners of the age, licentious as they were, are no apology for this unhappy passion; nor can they induce us to look on that tragical and infamous scene which followed upon it, with less abhorrence. Humanity will draw a veil over this part
of her character which it cannot approve, and may, perhaps, prompt some to impute some of her actions to her situation, more than to her dispositions; and to lament the unhappiness of the former, rather than accuse the perverseness of the latter. Mary's sufferings exceed, both in degree and in duration, those tragical distresses which fancy has feigned to excite sorrow and commiseration ; and while we survey them, we are apt altogether to forget her frailties, we think of her faults with less indignation, and approve of our tears, as if they were shed for a person who had attained much mearer to pure virtue.
With regard to the queen's person, a circumstance not to be omitted in writing the history of a female reign, all contemporary authors agree in as
tribing to Mary the utmost beauty of countenance, and elegance of shape, of which the human form is capable. Her hair was black, though according to the fashion of that age, she frequently wore borrowed locks, and of different colours. Her eyes were a dark grey; her complexion was exquisitely fine ; and her hands and arms remarkably delicate, both as to shape and colour. Her stature was of an height that rose to the majestic. She danced, she walked, and rode with equal grace. Her taste for music was just, and she both sung and played upon the lute with uncommon skill. Towards the end of her life she began to grow fat, and her long confinement, and the coldness of the houses in which she was imprisoned, brought on a rheumatism, which often deprived her of the use of her limbs. No man, says Brantome, ever beheld her person without admiration and love, or will read her history without sorrow.
MARY having remained above two years in a state of widowhood, her subjects became impatient for her marriage, and wished the crown to descend in the right line from the ancient monarchs. The person to whom Mary began to turn her thoughts was Henry Stewart Lord Darnly, eldest son of the Earl of Lennox. That nobleman, having been driven out of Scotland under the regency of the Duke of Chatelherault, had lived in banishment for twenty years. His wife, Lady Margaret Douglas, was Mary's most dangerous rival in her claim upon the English succession. She was the daughter of Margaret, the eldest sister of Henry VIII. by the Earl of Angus, whom that queen married after the death of her husband James IV.
From the time that Mary became sensible of the difficulties which would attend her marrying a foreign prince, she entered into a still closer connexion with the Earl of Lennox, and invited him to return into Scotland. This she endeavoured to conceal from Elizabeth; but a transaction of so much importance did not escape the notice of that discerning princess. Darnly was in no situation to excite her jealousy or her fears. His father's estates lay in England, and by means of this pledge she hoped to keep the negociation entirely in her own hands.
After two years fruitless negociation concerning the marriage of the Scotish queen, in which Elizabeth displayed the utmost envy and deceit, Darnly arrived in Scotland ; and an affair which had been the object of so many political intrigues, and had moved and interested so many princes, was at last decided by the sudden liking of two young per
Lord Darnly was at this time in the first bloom and vigour of youth. In beauty and gracefulness of person he surpassed all his contemporaries; he excelled eminently in those arts which add case and elegance to external form, and which enable it not only to dazzle, but to please. Mary was of an age, and of a temper, to feel the full power of these accomplishments. The impression which Lord Darnly made upon her was visible from the time of their first interview. The whole business of the court was to amuse and entertain this illustrious guest; and in all those scenes of gaiety, Darnly, whose qualifications were altogether superficial and showy, appeared to great advantage His conquest of the Queen's heart became complete; and inclination now prompted her to conclude a marriage, the first thoughts of which had been suggested by considerations merely political: