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HE eight letters, twelve sonnets, and
two marriage-contracts, which either in their subscriptions, in their composition, or in both, have been attributed to the pen of the unfortunate Mary, and on which principally is founded all the slander that has been raised against her, have been as singular in their fortune as they are in their nature. Suspected for forgeries by numbers, at the time of their original appearance; and condemned equally by numbers, for certain forgeries; they gained by degrees upon the good opinion of the public, till they nearly came at last into the full possession of it. In this kind of pre-eminence they continued to our own days. . They carried a commanding boldness in their air and manner.
And nothing imposes more readily upon the easy faith of the world, than the bold testimony of a confident witness.
The most important of these papers, tha letters, had however been very strongly encountered at first by a Defence of Mary's Honour, which was published by her worthy adherent, Lesley, bishop of Ross, and which was at once lively, convincing, and pointed. But this was instantly suppressed by the violence of Queen Elizabeth. No vindication of Mary was suffered to appear. Many were published on the continent; yet none of them durst venture upon English ground. And at the same time the Detection of Mary's Doings by Buchanan, that daring effort of fabricated calumny, in which the principal of the two contracts, all the sonnets, and all the letters were originally published, received every recommendation that could be lent it by authority. It was presented in form to Elizabeth herself. It was circulated with industry by her ministers. In that period of our government, fuch artifices of tyranny would carry a peculiar efficacy with them. They could not fail of success. The reputation of Mary was assaulted on every side, in vigorous and artful appeals to the public. She was debarred from all counter appeals in her own defence. From the malicious partiality