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Mary Stuart by Alexandre Dumas, Pere

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as they were not disheartened, and returned unceasingly to the
charge, January 6th, MM. de Bellievre and de Chateauneuf were at last
sent for by the queen.

As on the first occasion, they were introduced with all the
ceremonial in use at that time, and found Elizabeth in an audience-
chamber. The ambassadors approached her, greeted her, and M. de
Bellievre began to address to her with respect, but at the same time
with firmness, his master's remonstrances. Elizabeth listened to
them with an impatient air, fidgeting in her seat; then at last,
unable to control herself, she burst out, rising and growing red with

"M. de Bellievre," said she, "are you really charged by the king, my
brother, to speak to me in such a way?"

"Yes, madam," replied M. de Bellievre, bowing; "I am expressly
commanded to do so."

"And have you this command under his hand?" continued Elizabeth.

"Yes, madam," returned the ambassador with the same calmness; "and
the king, my master, your good brother, has expressly charged me, in
letters signed by his own hand, to make to your Majesty the
remonstrances which I have had the honour to address to you."

"Well," cried Elizabeth, no longer containing herself, "I demand of
you a copy of that letter, signed by you; and reflect that you will
answer for each word that you take away or add."

"Madam," answered M. de Bellievre, "it is not the custom of the kings
of France, or of their agents, to forge letters or documents; you
will have the copies you require to-morrow morning, and I pledge
their accuracy on my honour."

"Enough, sir, enough!" said the queen, and signing to everyone in the
room to go out, she remained nearly an hour with MM. de Chateauneuf
and de Bellievre. No one knows what passed in that interview, except
that the queen promised to send an ambassador to the King of France,
who, she promised, would be in Paris, if not before, at least at the
same time as M. de Bellievre, and would be the bearer of her final
resolve as to the affairs of the Queen of Scotland; Elizabeth then
withdrew, giving the French envoys to understand that any fresh
attempt they might make to see her would be useless.

On the 13th of January the ambassadors received their passports, and
at the same time notice that a vessel of the queen's was awaiting
them at Dover.

The very day of their departure a strange incident occurred. A
gentleman named Stafford, a brother of Elizabeth's ambassador to the
King of France, presented himself at M. de Trappes's, one of the
officials in the French chancellery, telling him that he was
acquainted with a prisoner for debt who had a matter of the utmost
importance to communicate to him, and that he might pay the greater
attention to it, he told him that this matter was connected with
the service of the King of France, and concerned the affairs of Queen
Mary of Scotland. M. de Trappes, although mistrusting this overture
from the first, did not want, in case his suspicions deceived him, to
have to reproach himself for any neglect on such a pressing occasion.
He repaired, then, with; Mr. Stafford to the prison, where he who
wished to converse with him was detained. When he was with him, the
prisoner told him that he was locked up for a debt of only twenty
crowns, and that his desire to be at liberty was so great that if
M. de Chateauneuf would pay that sum for him he would undertake to
deliver the Queen of Scotland from her danger, by stabbing Elizabeth:
to this proposal, M. de Trappes, who saw the pitfall laid for the
French ambassador, was greatly astonished, and said that he was
certain that M. de Chateauneuf would consider as very evil every
enterprise having as its aim to threaten in any way the life of Queen
Elizabeth or the peace of the realm; then, not desiring to hear more,
he returned to M. de Chateauneuf and related to him what had just
happened. M. de Chateauneuf, who perceived the real cause of this
overture, immediately said to Mr. Stafford that he thought it strange
that a gentleman like himself should undertake with another gentleman
such treachery, and requested him to leave the Embassy at once, and
never to set foot there again. Then Stafford withdrew, and,
appearing to think himself a lost man, he implored M. de Trappes to
allow him to cross the Channel with him and the French envoys. M.
de Trappes referred him to M. de Chateauneuf, who answered Mr.
Stafford directly that he had not only forbidden him his house, but
also all relations with any person from the Embassy, that he must
thus very well see that his request could not be granted; he added
that if he were not restrained by the consideration he desired to
keep for his brother, the Earl of Stafford, his colleague, he would
at once denounce his treason to Elizabeth. The same day Stafford was

After this conference, M. de Trappes set out to rejoin his travelling
companions, who were some hours in advance of him, when, on reaching
Dover he was arrested in his turn and brought hack to prison in
London. Interrogated the same day, M. de Trappes frankly related
what had passed, appealing to M. de Chateauneuf as to the truth of
what he said.

The day following there was a second interrogatory, and great was his
amazement when, on requesting that the one of the day before should
be shown him, he was merely shown, according to custom in English
law, counterfeit copies, in which were avowals compromising him as
well as M. de Chateauneuf: he objected and protested, refused to
answer or to sign anything further, and was taken back to the Tower
with redoubled precaution, the object of which was the appearance of
an important accusation.

Next day, M. de Chateauneuf was summoned before the queen, and there
confronted with Stafford, who impudently maintained that he had
treated of a plot with M. de Trappes and a certain prisoner for debt
--a plot which aimed at nothing less than endangering the Queen's
life. M. de Chateauneuf defended himself with the warmth of
indignation, but Elizabeth had too great an interest in being
unconvinced even to attend to the evidence. She then said to M. de
Chateauneuf that his character of ambassador alone prevented her
having him arrested like his accomplice M. de Trappes; and
immediately despatching, as she had promised, an ambassador to King
Henry III, she charged him not to excuse her for the sentence which
had just been pronounced and the death which must soon follow, but to
accuse M. de Chateauneuf of having taken part in a plot of which the
discovery alone had been able to decide her to consent to the death
of the Queen of Scotland, certain as she was by experience, that so
long as her enemy lived her existence would be hourly threatened.

On the same day, Elizabeth made haste to spread, not only in London,
but also throughout England, the rumour of the fresh danger from
which she had just escaped, so that, when, two days after the
departure of the French envoys, the Scottish ambassadors, who, as one
sees, had not used much speed, arrived, the queen answered them that
their request came unseasonably, at a time when she had just had
proof that, so long as Mary Stuart existed, her own (Elizabeth's)
life was in danger. Robert Melville wished to reply to this; but
Elizabeth flew into a passion, saying that it was he, Melville, who
had given the King of Scotland the bad advice to intercede for his
mother, and that if she had such an adviser she would have him
beheaded. To which Melville answered--

"That at the risk of his life he would never spare his master good
advice; and that, on the contrary, he who would counsel a son to let
his mother perish, would deserve to be beheaded."

Upon this reply, Elizabeth ordered the Scotch envoys to withdrew,
telling them that she would let them have her answer.

Three or four days passed, and as they heard nothing further, they
asked again for a parting audience to hear the last resolve of her to
whom they were sent: the queen then decided to grant it, and all
passed, as with M. de Bellievre, in recriminations and complaints.
Finally, Elizabeth asked them what guarantee they would give for her
life in the event of her consenting to pardon the Queen of Scotland.
The envoys responded that they were authorised to make pledges in the
name of the King of Scotland, their master, and all the lords of his
realm, that Mary Stuart should renounce in favour of her son all her
claims upon the English crown, and that she should give as security
for this undertaking the King of France, and all the princes and
lords, his relations and friends.

To this answer, the queen, without her usual presence of mind, cried,
"What are you saying, Melville? That would be to arm my enemy with
two claims, while he has only one".

"Does your Majesty then regard the king, my master, as your enemy?"
replied Melville. "He believed himself happier, madam, and thought
he was your ally."

"No, no," Elizabeth said, blushing; "it is a way of speaking: and if
you find a means of reconciling everything, gentlemen, to prove to
you, on the contrary, that I regard King James VI as my good and
faithful ally, I am quite ready to incline to mercy. Seek, then, on
your side" added she, "while I seek on mine."

With these words, she went out of the room, and the ambassadors
retired, with the light of the hope of which she had just let them
catch a glimpse.

The same evening, a gentleman at the court sought out the Master of
Gray, the head of the Embassy, as if to pay him a civil visit, and
while conversing said to him, "That it was very difficult to
reconcile the safety of Queen Elizabeth with the life of her
prisoner; that besides, if the Queen of Scotland were pardoned, and
she or her son ever came to the English throne, there would be no
security for the lords commissioners who had voted her death; that
there was then only one way of arranging everything, that the King of
Scotland should himself give up his claims to the kingdom of England;
that otherwise, according to him, there was no security for Elizabeth
in saving the life of the Scottish queen". The Master of Gray then,
looking at him fixedly, asked him if his sovereign had charged him to
come to him with this talk. But the gentleman denied it, saying that
all this was on his own account and in the way of opinion.

Elizabeth received the envoys from Scotland once more, and then told

"That after having well considered, she had found no way of saving
the life of the Queen of Scotland while securing her own, that
accordingly she could not grant it to them". To this declaration,
the Master of Gray replied: "That since it was thus, he was, in this
case, ordered by his master to say that they protested in the name of
King James that all that had been done against his mother was of no
account, seeing that Queen Elizabeth had no authority over a queen,
as she was her equal in rank and birth; that accordingly they
declared that immediately after their return, and when their master
should know the result of their mission, he would assemble his
Parliament and send messengers to all the Christian princes, to take
counsel with them as to what could be done to avenge her whom they
could not save."

Then Elizabeth again flew into a passion, saying that they had
certainly not received from their king a mission to speak to her in
such a way; but they thereupon offered to give her this protest in
writing under their signatures; to which Elizabeth replied that she
would send an ambassador to arrange all that with her good friend and
ally, the King of Scotland. But the envoys then said that their
master would not listen to anyone before their return. Upon which
Elizabeth begged them not to go away at once, because she had not yet
come to her final decision upon this matter. On the evening
following this audience, Lord Hingley having come to see the Master
of Gray, and having seemed to notice some handsome pistols which came
from Italy, Gray, directly he had gone, asked this nobleman's cousin
to take them to him as a gift from him. Delighted with this pleasant
commission, the young man wished to perform it the same evening, and
went to the queen's palace, where his relative was staying, to give
him the present which he had been told to take to him. But hardly
had he passed through a few rooms than he was arrested, searched, and
the arms he was taking were found upon him. Although these were not
loaded, he was immediately arrested; only he was not taken to the
Tower, but kept a prisoner in his own room.

Next day there was a rumour that the Scotch ambassadors had wanted to
assassinate the queen in their turn, and that pistols, given by the
Master of Gray himself, had been found on the assassin.

This bad faith could not but open the envoys' eyes. Convinced at
last that they could do nothing for poor Mary Stuart, they left her
to her fate, and set out next day for Scotland.

Scarcely were they gone than Elizabeth sent her secretary, Davison,
to Sir Amyas Paulet. He was instructed to sound him again with
regard to the prisoner; afraid, in spite of herself, of a public
execution, the queen had reverted to her former ideas of poisoning or
assassination; but Sir Amyas Paulet declared that he would let no one
have access to Mary but the executioner, who must in addition be the
bearer of a warrant perfectly in order, Davison reported this answer
to Elizabeth, who, while listening to him, stamped her foot several
times, and when he had finished, unable to control herself, cried,
"God's death! there's a dainty fellow, always talking of his fidelity
and not knowing how to prove it!"

Elizabeth was then obliged to make up her mind. She asked Davison
for the warrant; he gave it to her, and, forgetting that she was the
daughter of a queen who had died on the scaffold, she signed it
without any trace of emotion; then, having affixed to it the great
seal of England, "Go," said she, laughing, "tell Walsingham that all
is ended for Queen Mary; but tell him with precautions, for, as he is
ill, I am afraid he will die of grief when he hears it."

The jest was the more atrocious in that Walsingham was known to be
the Queen of Scotland's bitterest enemy.

Towards evening of that day, Saturday the 14th, Beale, Walsingham's
brother-in-law, was summoned to the palace! The queen gave into his
hands the death warrant, and with it an order addressed to the Earls
of Shrewsbury, Kent, Rutland, and other noblemen in the neighbourhood
of Fotheringay, to be present at the execution. Beale took with him
the London executioner, whom Elizabeth had had dressed in black
velvet for this great occasion; and set out two hours after he had
received his warrant.


Queen Mary had known the decree of the commissioners these two
months. The very day it had been pronounced she had learned the news
through her chaplain, whom they had allowed her to see this once
only. Mary Stuart had taken advantage of this visit to give him
three letters she had just written-one for Pope Sixtus V, the other
to Don Bernard Mendoza, the third to the Duke of Guise.
Here is that last letter:--

14th December, 1586

"My Good Cousin, whom I hold dearest in the world, I bid you
farewell, being prepared to be put to death by an unjust judgment,
and to a death such as no one of our race, thanks to God, and never a
queen, and still less one of my rank, has ever suffered. But, good
cousin, praise the Lord; for I was useless to the cause of God and of
His Church in this world, prisoner as I was; while, on the contrary,
I hope that my death will bear witness to my constancy in the faith
and to my willingness to suffer for the maintenance and the
restoration of the Catholic Church in this unfortunate island. And
though never has executioner dipped his hand in our blood, have no
shame of it, my friend; for the judgment of heretics who have no
authority over me, a free queen, is profitable in the sight of God to
the children of His Church. If I adhered, moreover, to what they
propose to me, I should not suffer this stroke. All of our house
have been persecuted by this sect, witness your good father, through
whose intercession I hope to be received with mercy by the just
judge. I commend to you, then, my poor servants, the discharge of my
debts, and the founding of some annual mass for my soul, not at your
expense, but that you may make the arrangements, as you will be
required when you learn my wishes through my poor and faithful
servants, who are about to witness my last tragedy. God prosper you,
your wife, children, brothers and cousins, and above all our chief,
my good brother and cousin, and all his. The blessing of God and
that which I shall give to my children be on yours, whom I do not
commend less to God than my own son, unfortunate and ill-treated as
he is. You will receive some rings from me, which will remind you to
pray God for the soul of your poor cousin, deprived of all help and
counsel except that of the Lord, who gives me strength and courage to
alone to resist so many wolves howling after me. To God be the

"Believe particularly what will be told you by a person who will give
you a ruby ring from me; for I take it on my conscience that the
truth will be told you of what I have charged him to tell, and
especially in what concerns my poor servants and the share of any. I
commend this person to you for his simple sincerity and honesty, that
he may be placed in some good place. I have chosen him as the least
partial and as the one who will most simply bring you my commands.
Ignore, I beg you, that he told you anything in particular; for envy
might injure him. I have suffered a great deal for two years and
more, and have not been able to let you know, for an important
reason. God be praised for all, and give you grace to persevere in
the service of His Church as long as you live, and never may this
honour pass from our race, while so many men and women are ready to
shed their blood to maintain the fight for the faith, all other
worldly considerations set aside. And as to me, I esteem myself born
on both father's and mother's sides, that I should offer up my blood
for this cause, and I have no intention of degenerating. Jesus,
crucified for us, and all the holy martyrs, make us by their
intercession worthy of the voluntary offering we make of our bodies
to their glory!

"From Fotheringay, this Thursday, 24th November.

"They have, thinking to degrade me, pulled down my canopy of state,
and since then my keeper has come to offer to write to their queen,
saying this deed was not done by his order, but by the advice of some
of the Council. I have shown them instead of my arms on the said
canopy the cross of Our Lord. You will hear all this; they have been
more gentle since.--Your affectionate cousin and perfect friend,

"MARY, Queen of Scotland, Dowager of France"

>From this day forward, when she learned the sentence delivered by the
commissioners, Mary Stuart no longer preserved any hope; for as she
knew Elizabeth's pardon was required to save her, she looked upon
herself thenceforward as lost, and only concerned herself with
preparing to die well. Indeed, as it had happened to her sometimes,
from the cold and damp in her prisons, to become crippled for some
time in all her limbs, she was afraid of being so when they would
come to take her, which would prevent her going resolutely to the
scaffold, as she was counting on doing. So, on Saturday the 14th
February, she sent for her doctor, Bourgoin, and asked him, moved by
a presentiment that her death was at hand, she said, what she must do
to prevent the return of the pains which crippled her. He replied
that it would be good for her to medicine herself with fresh herbs.
"Go, then," said the queen," and ask Sir Amyas Paulet from me
permission to seek them in the fields."

Bourgoin went to Sir Amyas, who, as he himself was troubled with
sciatica, should have understood better than anyone the need of the
remedies for which the queen asked. But this request, simple as it
was, raised great difficulties. Sir Amyas replied that he could do
nothing without referring to his companion, Drury; but that paper and
ink might be brought, and that he, Master Bourgoin, could then make a
list of the needful plants, which they would try to procure.
Bourgoin answered that he did not know English well enough, and that
the village apothecaries did not know enough Latin, for him to risk
the queen's life for some error by himself or others. Finally, after
a thousand hesitations, Paulet allowed Bourgoin to go out, which he
did, accompanied by the apothecary Gorjon; so that the following day
the queen was able to begin to doctor herself.

Mary Stuart's presentiments had not deceived her: Tuesday, February
17th, at about two o'clock in the afternoon, the Earls of Kent and
Shrewsbury, and Beale sent word to the queen that they desired to
speak with her. The queen answered that she was ill and in bed, but
that if notwithstanding what they had to tell her was a matter of
importance, and they would give her a little time, she would get up.
They made answer that the communication they had to make admitted of
no delay, that they begged her then to make ready; which the queen
immediately did, and rising from her bed and cloaking herself, she
went and seated herself at a little table, on the same spot where she
was wont to be great part of the day.

Then the two earls, accompanied by Beale, Arnyas Paulet, and Drue
Drury, entered. Behind them, drawn by curiosity, full of terrible
anxiety, came her dearest ladies and most cherished servants. These
were, of womenkind, the Misses Renee de Really, Gilles Mowbray,
Jeanne Kennedy, Elspeth Curle, Mary Paget, and Susan Kercady; and of
men-kind, Dominique Bourgoin her doctor, Pierre Gorjon her
apothecary, Jacques Gervais her surgeon, Annibal Stewart her footman,
Dither Sifflart her butler, Jean Laudder her baker, and Martin Huet
her carver.

Then the Earl of Shrewsbury, with head bared like all those present,
who remained thus as long as they were in the queen's room, began to
say in English, addressing Mary--

"Madam, the Queen of England, my august mistress, has sent me to you,
with the Earl of Kent and Sir Robert Beale, here present, to make
known to you that after having honourably proceeded in the inquiry
into the deed of which you are accused and found guilty, an inquiry
which has already been submitted to your Grace by Lord Buckhurst, and
having delayed as long as it was in her power the execution of the
sentence, she can no longer withstand the importunity of her
subjects, who press her to carry it out, so great and loving is their
fear for her. For this purpose we have come the bearers of a
commission, and we beg very humbly, madam, that it may please you to
hear it read."

"Read, my lord; I am listening," replied Mary Stuart, with the
greatest calmness. Then Robert Beale unrolled the said commission,
which was on parchment, sealed with the Great Seal in yellow wax, and
read as follows:

"Elizabeth, by the grace of God, Queen of England, France, and
Ireland, etc., to our beloved and faithful cousins, George, Earl of
Shrewsbury, Grand Marshal of England; Henry, Earl of Kent; Henry,
Earl of Derby; George, Earl of Cumberland; Henry, Earl of Pembroke,
greeting: [The Earls of Cumberland, Derby, and Pembroke did not
attend to the queen's orders, and were present neither at the reading
of the sentence nor at the execution.]

"Considering the sentence by us given, and others of our Council,
nobility, and judges, against the former Queen of Scotland, bearing
the name of Mary, daughter and heiress of James v, King of Scotland,
commonly called Queen of Scotland and Dowager of France, which
sentence all the estates of our realm in our last Parliament
assembled not only concluded, but, after mature deliberation,
ratified as being just and reasonable; considering also the urgent
prayer and request of our subjects, begging us and pressing us to
proceed to the publication thereof, and to carry it into execution
against her person, according as they judge it duly merited, adding
in this place that her detention was and would be daily a certain and
evident danger, not only to our life, but also to themselves and
their posterity, and to the public weal of this realm, as much on
account of the Gospel and the true religion of Christ as of the peace
and tranquillity of this State, although the said sentence has been
frequently delayed, so that even until this time we abstained from
issuing the commission to execute it: yet, for the complete
satisfaction of the said demands made by the Estates of our
Parliament, through which daily we hear that all our friends and
subjects, as well as the nobility, the wisest, greatest, and most
pious, nay, even those of inferior condition, with all humility and
affection from the care they have of our life, and consequently from
the fear they have of the destruction of the present divine and happy
state of the realm if we spare the final execution, consenting and
desiring the said execution; though the general and continual
demands, prayers, counsels, and advice were in such things contrary
to our natural inclination; yet, being convinced of the urgent weight
of their continual intercessions tending to the safety of our person,
and also to the public and private state of our realm, we have at
last consented and suffered that justice have its course, and for its
execution, considering the singular confidence we have in your
fidelity and loyalty together for the love and affection that you
have toward us, particularly to the safe-guarding of our person and
our country of which you are very noble and chief members; we summon,
and, for the discharge of it we enjoin you, that at sight of these
presents you go to the castle of Fotheringay, where the former Queen
of Scotland is, in the care of our friend and faithful servant and
counsellor, Sir Amyas Paulet, and there take into your keeping and do
that by your command execution be done on her person, in the presence
of yourselves and the said Sir Amyas Paulet, and of all the other
officers of justice whom you command to be there: in the meantime we
have for this end and this execution given warrant in such a way and
manner, and in such a time and place, and by such persons, that you
five, four, three, or two, find expedient in your discretion;
notwithstanding all laws, statutes, and ordinances whatsoever,
contrary to these presents, sealed with our Great Seal of England,
which will serve for each of you, and all those who are present, or
will make by your order anything pertaining to the execution
aforesaid full and sufficient discharge for ever.

"Done and given in our house at Greenwich, the first day of February
(10th February New Style), in the twenty-ninth year of our reign."

Mary listened to this reading with great calmness and great dignity;
then, when it was ended, making the sign of the cross--

"Welcome," said she, "to all news which comes in the name of God!
Thanks, Lord, for that You deign to put an end to all the ills You
have seen me suffer for nineteen years and more."

"Madam," said the Earl of Kent, "have no ill-will towards us on
account of your death; it was necessary to the peace of the State and
the progress of the new religion."

"So," cried Mary with delight, "so I shall have the happiness of
dying for the faith of my fathers; thus God deigns to grant me the
glory of martyrdom. Thanks, God," added she, joining her hands with
less excitement but with more piety, "thanks that You have deigned to
destine for me such an end, of which I was not worthy. That, O my
God, is indeed a proof of Your love, and an assurance that You will
receive me in the number of Your servants; for although this sentence
had been notified to me, I was afraid, from the manner in which they
have dealt with me for nineteen years, of not yet being so near as I
am to such a happy end, thinking that your queen would not dare to
lay a hand on me, who, by the grace of God, am a queen as she is, the
daughter of a queen as she is, crowned as she is, her near relative,
granddaughter of King Henry VII, and who has had the honour of being
Queen of France, of which I am still Dowager; and this fear was so
much the greater," added she, laying her hand on a New Testament
which was near her on the little table, "that, I swear on this holy
book, I have never attempted, consented to, or even desired the death
of my sister, the Queen of England."

"Madam," replied the Earl of Kent, taking a step towards her and
pointing to the New Testament; "this book on which you have sworn is
not genuine, since it is the papist version; consequently, your oath
cannot be considered as any more genuine than the book on which it
has been taken."

"My lord," answered the queen, "what you say may befit you, but not
me, who well know that this book is the true and faithful version of
the word of the Lord, a version made by a very wise divine, a very
good man, and approved by the Church."

"Madam," the Earl of Kent returned, "your Grace stopped at what you
were taught in your youth, without inquiry as to whether it was good
or bad: it is not surprising, then, that you have remained in your
error, for want of having heard anyone who could make known the truth
to you; this is why, as your Grace has but a few hours longer to
remain in this world, and consequently has no time to lose, with your
permission we shall send for the Dean of Peterborough, the most
learned man there is on the subject of religion, who, with his word,
will prepare you for your salvation, which you risk to our great
grief and that of our august queen, by all the papistical follies,
abominations, and childish nonsense which keep Catholics away from
the holy word of God and the knowledge of the truth."

"You mistake, my lord," replied the queen gently, "if you have
believed that I have grown up careless in the faith of my fathers,
and without seriously occupying myself with a matter so important as
religion. I have, on the contrary, spent my life with learned and
wise men who taught me what one must learn on this subject, and I
have sustained myself by reading their works, since the means of
hearing them has been taken from me. Besides, never having doubted
in my lifetime, doubt is not likely to seize me in my death-hour.
And there is the Earl of Shrewsbury, here present, who will tell you
that, since my arrival in England, I have, for an entire Lent, of
which I repent, heard your wisest doctors, without their arguments
having made any impression on my mind. It will be useless, then, my
lord," she added, smiling, "to summon to one so hardened as I the
Dean of Peterborough, learned as he is. The only thing I ask you in
exchange, my lord, and for which I shall be grateful to you beyond
expression, is that you will send me my almoner, whom you keep shut
up in this house, to console me and prepare me for death, or, in his
stead, another priest, be he who he may; if only a poor priest from a
poor village, I being no harder to please than God, and not asking
that he have knowledge, provided that he has faith."

"It is with regret, madam," replied the Earl of Kent, "that I find
myself obliged to refuse your Grace's, request; but it would be
contrary to our religion and our conscience, and we should be
culpable in doing it; this is why we again offer you the venerable
Dean of Peterborough, certain that your Grace will find more
consolation and content in him than in any bishop, priest, or vicar
of the Catholic faith."

"Thank you, my lord," said the queen again, "but I have nothing to-do
with him, and as I have a conscience free of the crime for which I am
about to die, with God's help, martyrdom will take the place of
confession for me. And now, I will remind you, my lord, of what you
told me yourself, that I have but a few hours to live; and these few
hours, to profit me, should be passed in prayer and meditation, and
not in idle disputes."

With these words, she rose, and, bowing to the earls, Sir Robert
Beale, Amyas, and Drury, she indictated, by a gesture full of
dignity, that she wished to be alone and in peace; then, as they
prepared to go out--

"Apropos, my lords," said she, "for what o'clock should I make ready
to die?"

"For eight o'clock to-morrow, madam," answered the Earl of
Shrewsbury, stammering.

"It is well," said Mary; "but have you not some reply to make me,
from my sister Elizabeth, relative to a letter which I wrote to her
about a month ago?"

"And of what did this letter treat, if it please you, madam? "asked
the Earl of Kent.

"Of my burial and my funeral ceremony, my lord: I asked to be
interred in France, in the cathedral church of Rheims, near the late
queen my mother."

"That may not be, madam," replied the Earl of Kent; "but do not
trouble yourself as to all these details: the queen, my august
mistress, will provide for them as is suitable. Has your grace
anything else to ask us?"

"I would also like to know," said Mary, "if my servants will be
allowed to return, each to his own country, with the little that I
can give him; which will hardly be enough, in any case, for the long
service they have done me, and the long imprisonment they have borne
on my account."

"We have no instructions on that head, madam," the Earl of Kent said,
"but we think that an order will be given for this as for the other
things, in accordance with your wishes. Is this all that your Grace
has to say to us?"

"Yes, my lord," replied the queen, bowing a second time, "and now you
may withdraw."

"One moment, my lords, in Heaven's name, one moment!" cried the old
physician, coming forward and throwing himself on his knees before
the two earls.

"What do you want?" asked Lord Shrewsbury.

"To point out to you, my lords," replied the aged Bourgoin, weeping,
"that you have granted the queen but a very short time for such an
important matter as this of her life. Reflect, my lords, what rank
and degree she whom you have condemned has held among the princes of
this earth, and consider if it is well and seemly to treat her as an
ordinary condemned person of middling estate. And if not for the
sake of this noble queen, my lords, do this for the sake of us her
poor servants, who, having had the honour of living near her so long,
cannot thus part from her so quickly and without preparation.
Besides, my lords, think of it, a woman of her state and position
ought to have some time in which to set in order her last affairs.
And what will become of her, and of us, if before dying, our mistress
has not time to regulate her jointure and her accounts and to put in
order her papers and her title-deeds? She has services to reward and
offices of piety to perform. She should not neglect the one or the
other. Besides, we know that she will only concern herself with us,
and, through this, my lords, neglect her own salvation. Grant her,
then, a few more days, my lords; and as our mistress is too proud to
ask of you such a favour, I ask you in all our names, and implore you
not to refuse to poor servants a request which your august queen
would certainly not refuse them, if they had the good fortune to be
able to lay it at her feet."

"Is it then true, madam," Sir Robert Beale asked, "that you have not
yet made a will?"

"I have not, sir," the queen answered.

"In that case, my lords," said Sir Robert Beale, turning to the two
earls, "perhaps it would be a good thing to put it off for a day or

"Impossible, sir," replied the Earl of Shrewsbury: "the time is
fixed, and we cannot change anything, even by a minute, now."

"Enough, Bourgoin, enough," said the queen; "rise, I command you."

Bourgoin obeyed, and the Earl of Shrewsbury, turning to Sir Amyas
Paulet, who was behind him--

"Sir Amyas," said he, "we entrust this lady to your keeping: you will
charge yourself with her, and keep her safe till our return."

With these words he went out, followed by the Earl of Kent, Sir
Robert Beale, Amyas Paulet, and Drury, and the queen remained alone
with her servants.

Then, turning to her women with as serene a countenance as if the
event which had just taken place was of little importance

"Well, Jeanne," said she, speaking to Kennedy, "have I not always
told you, and was I not right, that at the bottom of their hearts
they wanted to do this? and did I not see clearly through all their
procedure the end they had in view, and know well enough that I was
too great an obstacle to their false religion to be allowed to live?
Come," continued she, "hasten supper now, that I may put my affairs
in order". Then, seeing that instead of obeying her, her servants
were weeping and lamenting, "My children," said she, with a sad
smile, but without a tear in her eye, "it is no time for weeping,
quite the contrary; for if you love me, you ought to rejoice that the
Lord, in making me die for His cause, relieves me from the torments I
have endured for nineteen years. As for me, I thank Him for allowing
me to die for the glory of His faith and His Church. Let each have
patience, then, and while the men prepare supper, we women will pray
to God."

The men immediately went out, weeping and sobbing, and the queen and
her women fell on their knees. When they had recited some prayers,
Mary rose, and sending for all the money she had left, she counted it
and divided it into portions, which she put into purses with the name
of the destined recipient, in her handwriting, with the money.

At that moment, supper being served, she seated herself at table with
her women as usual, the other servants standing or coming and going,
her doctor waiting on her at table as he was accustomed since her
steward had been taken from her. She ate no more nor less than
usual, speaking, throughout supper, of the Earl of Kent, and of the
way in which he betrayed himself with respect to religion, by his
insisting on wanting to give the queen a pastor instead of a priest.
"Happily," she added, laughing, "one more skilful than he was needed
to change me". Meanwhile Bourgoin was weeping behind the queen, for
he was thinking that he was serving her for the last time, and that
she who was eating, talking, and laughing thus, next day at the same
hour would be but a cold and insensible corpse.

When the meal was over, the queen sent for all her servants; then;
before the table was cleared of anything, she poured out a cup of
wine, rose and drank to their health, asking them if they would not
drink to her salvation. Then she had a glass given to each one: all
kneeled down, and all, says the account from which we borrow these
details, drank, mingling their tears with the wine, and asking pardon
of the queen for any wrongs they had done her. The queen granted it
heartily, and asked them to do as much for her, and to forget her
impatient ways, which she begged them to put down to her
imprisonment. Then, having given them a long discourse, in which she
explained to them their duties to God, and exhorted them to persevere
in the Catholic faith, she begged them, after her death, to live
together in peace and charity, forgetting all the petty quarrels and
disputes which they had had among one another in the past.

This speech ended, the queen rose from table, and desired to go into
her wardrobe-room, to see the clothes and jewels she wished to
dispose of; but Bourgoin observed that it would be better to have all
these separate objects brought into her chamber; that there would be
a double advantage in this, she would be less tired for one thing,
and the English would not see them for another. This last reason
decided her, and while the servants were supping, she had brought
into her ante-room, first of all, all her robes, and took the
inventory from her wardrobe attendant, and began to write in the
margin beside each item the name of the person it was to be given to.
Directly, and as fast as she did it, that person to whom it was given
took it and put it aside. As for the things which were too personal
to her to be thus bestowed, she ordered that they should be sold, and
that the purchase-money should be used for her servants' travelling
expenses, when they returned to their own countries, well knowing how
great the cost would be and that no one would have sufficient means.
This memorandum finished, she signed it, and gave it as a discharge
to her wardrobe attendant.

Then, that done, she went into her room, where had been brought her
rings, her jewels, and her most valuable belongings; inspected them
all, one after the other, down to the very least; and distributed
them as she had done her robes, so that, present or absent, everyone
had something. Then she furthermore gave, to her most faithful
people, the jewels she intended for the king and queen of France, for
the king her son, for the queen-mother, for Messieurs de Guise and de
Lorraine, without forgetting in this distribution any prince or
princess among her relatives. She desired, besides, that each should
keep the things then in his care, giving her linen to the young lady
who looked after it, her silk embroideries to her who took charge of
them, her silver plate to her butler, and so on with the rest.

Then, as they were asking her for a discharge, "It is useless," said
she; "you owe an account to me only, and to-morrow, therefore, you
will no longer owe it to anyone"; but, as they pointed out that the
king her son could claim from them, "You are right," said she; and
she gave them what they asked.

That done, and having no hope left of being visited by her confessor,
she wrote him this letter:

"I have been tormented all this day on account of my religion, and
urged to receive the consolations of a heretic: you will learn,
through Bourgoin and the others, that everything they could say on
this matter has been useless, that I have faithfully made
protestation of the faith in which I wish to die. I requested that
you should be allowed to receive my confession and to give me the
sacrament, which has been cruelly refused, as well as the removal of
my body, and the power to make my will freely; so that I cannot write
anything except through their hands, and with the good pleasure of
their mistress. For want of seeing you, then, I confess to you my
sins in general, as I should have done in particular, begging you, in
God's name, to watch and pray this night with me, for the remission
of my sins, and to send me your absolution and forgiveness for all
the wrongs I have done you. I shall try to see you in their
presence, as they permitted it to my steward; and if it is allowed,
before all, and on my knees, I shall ask your blessing. Send me the
best prayers you know for this night and for to-morrow morning; for
the time is short, and I have not the leisure to write; but be calm,
I shall recommend you like the rest of my servants, and your
benefices above all will be secured to you. Farewell, for I have not
much more time. Send to me in writing everything you can find, best
for my salvation, in prayers and exhortations, I send you my last
little ring."

Directly she had written this letter the queen began to make her
will, and at a stroke, with her pen running on and almost without
lifting it from the paper, she wrote two large sheets, containing
several paragraphs, in which no one was forgotten, present as absent,
distributing the little she had with scrupulous fairness, and still
more according to need than according to service. The executors she
chose were: the Duke of Guise, her first cousin; the Archbishop of
Glasgow, her ambassador; the Bishop of Ross, her chaplain in chief;
and M. du Ruysseau, her chancellor, all four certainly very worthy of
the charge, the first from his authority; the two bishops by piety
and conscience, and the last by his knowledge of affairs. Her will
finished, she wrote this letter to the King of France:

SIR MY BROTHER-IN-LAW,--Having, by God's permission and for my sins,
I believe, thrown myself into the arms of this queen, my cousin,
where I have had much to endure for more than twenty years, I am by
her and by her Parliament finally condemned to death; and having
asked for my papers, taken from me, to make my will, I have not been
able to obtain anything to serve me, not even permission to write my
last wishes freely, nor leave that after my death my body should be
transported, as was my dearest desire, into your kingdom, where I had
had the honour of being queen, your sister and your ally. To-day,
after dinner, without more respect, my sentence has been declared to
me, to be executed to-morrow, like a criminal, at eight o'clock in
the morning. I have not the leisure to give you a full account of
what has occurred; but if it please you to believe my doctor and
these others my distressed servants, you will hear the truth, and
that, thanks to God, I despise death, which I protest I receive
innocent of every crime, even if I were their subject, which I never
was. But my faith in the Catholic religion and my claims to the
crown of England are the real causes for my condemnation, and yet
they will not allow me to say that it is for religion I die, for my
religion kills theirs; and that is so true, that they have taken my
chaplain from me, who, although a prisoner in the same castle, may
not come either to console me, or to give me the holy sacrament of
the eucharist; but, on the contrary, they have made me urgent
entreaties to receive the consolations of their minister whom they
have brought for this purpose. He who will bring you this letter,
and the rest of my servants, who are your subjects for the most part,
will bear you witness of the way in which I shall have performed my
last act. Now it remains to me to implore you, as a most Christian
king, as my brother-in-law, as my ancient ally, and one who has so
often done me the honour to protest your friendship for me, to give
proof of this friendship, in your virtue and your charity, by helping
me in that of which I cannot without you discharge my conscience--
that is to say, in rewarding my good distressed servants, by giving
them their dues; then, in having prayers made to God for a queen who
has been called most Christian, and who dies a Catholic and deprived
of all her goods. As to my son, I commend him to you as much as he
shall deserve, for I cannot answer for him; but as to my servants, I
commend them with clasped hands. I have taken the liberty of sending
you two rare stones good for the health, hoping that yours may be
perfect during a long life; you will receive them as coming from your
very affectionate sister-in-law, at the point of death and giving
proof of her, good disposition towards you.

"I shall commend my servants to you in a memorandum, and will order
you, for the good of my soul, for whose salvation it will be
employed, to pay me a portion of what you owe me, if it please you,
and I conjure you for the honour of Jesus, to whom I shall pray to-
morrow at my death, that you leave me the wherewithal to found a mass
and to perform the necessary charities.

"This Wednesday, two hours after midnight--
Your affectionate and good sister,

"MARY, R...."

Of all these recommendations, the will and the letters, the queen at
once had copies made which she signed, so that, if some should be
seized by the English, the others might reach their destination.
Bourgoin pointed out to her that she was wrong to be in such a hurry
to close them, and that perhaps in two or three hours she would
remember that she had left something out. But the queen paid no
attention, saying she was sure she had not forgotten anything, and
that if she had, she had only time now to pray and to look to her
conscience. So she shut up all the several articles in the drawers
of a piece of furniture and gave the key to Bourgoin; then sending
for a foot-bath, in which she stayed for about ten minutes, she lay
down in bed, where she was not seen to sleep, but constantly to
repeat prayers or to remain in meditation.

Towards four o'clock in the morning, the queen, who was accustomed,
after evening prayers, to have the story of some male or female saint
read aloud to her, did not wish to depart from this habit, and, after
having hesitated among several for this solemn occasion, she chose
the greatest sinner of all, the penitent thief, saying humbly--

"If, great sinner as he was, he has yet sinned less than I, I desire
to beg of him, in remembrance of the passion of Jesus Christ; to,
have pity on me in the hour of my death, as Our Lord had pity on

Then, when the reading was over, she had all her handkerchiefs
brought, and chose the finest, which was of delicate cambric all
embroidered in gold, to bandage her eyes with.

At daybreak, reflecting that she had only two hours to live, she rose
and began dressing, but before she had finished, Bourgoin came into
her room, and, afraid lest the absent servants might murmur against
the queen, if by chance they were discontented at the will, and might
accuse those who had been present of having taken away from their
share to add to their own, he begged Mary to send for them all and to
read it in their presence; to which Mary agreed, and consented to do
so at once.

All the servants were then summoned, and the queen read her
testament, saying that it was done of her own free, full and entire
will, written and signed with her own hand, and that accordingly she
begged those present to give all the help in their power in seeing it
carried out without change or omission; then, having read it over,
and having received a promise from all, she gave it to Bourgoin,
charging him to send it to M. de Guise, her chief executor, and at
the same time to forward her letters to the king and her principal
papers and memorandums: after this, she had the casket brought in
which she had put the purses which we mentioned before; she opened
them one after another, and seeing by the ticket within for whom each
was intended, she distributed them with her own hand, none of the
recipients being aware of their contents. These gifts varied from
twenty to three hundred crowns; and to these sums she added seven
hundred livres for the poor, namely, two hundred for the poor of
England and five hundred for the poor of France; then she gave to
each man in her suite two rose nobles to be distributed in alms for
her sake, and finally one hundred and fifty crowns to Bourgoin to be
divided among them all when they should separate; and thus twenty-six
or twenty-seven people had money legacies.

The queen performed all this with great composure and calmness, with
no apparent change of countenance; so that it seemed as if she were
only preparing for a journey or change of dwelling; then she again
bade her servants farewell, consoling them and exhorting them to live
in peace, all this while finishing dressing as well and as elegantly
as she could.

Her toilet ended, the queen went from her reception-room to her ante-
room, where there was an altar set up and arranged, at which, before
he had been taken from her, her chaplain used to say mass; and
kneeling on the steps, surrounded by all her servants, she began the
communion prayers, and when they were ended, drawing from a golden
box a host consecrated by Pius V, which she had always scrupulously
preserved for the occasion of her death, she told Bourgoin to take
it, and, as he was the senior, to take the priest's place, old age
being holy and sacred; and in this manner in spite of all the
precautions taken to deprive her of it, the queen received the holy
sacrament of the eucharist.

This pious ceremony ended, Bourgoin told the queen that in her will
she had forgotten three people--Mesdemoiselles Beauregard, de
Montbrun, and her chaplain. The queen was greatly astonished at this
oversight, which was quite involuntary, and, taking back her will,
she wrote her wishes with respect to them in the first empty margin;
then she kneeled down again in prayer; but after a moment, as she
suffered too much in this position, she rose, and Bourgoin having had
brought her a little bread and wine, she ate and drank, and when she
had finished, gave him her hand and thanked him for having been
present to help her at her last meal as he was accustomed; and
feeling stronger, she kneeled down and began to pray again.

Scarcely had she done so, than there was a knocking at the door: the
queen understood what was required of her; but as she had not
finished praying, she begged those who were come to fetch her to wait
a moment, and in a few minutes' she would be ready.

The Earls of Kent and Shrewsbury, remembering the resistance she had
made when she had had to go down to the commissioners and appear
before the lawyers, mounted some guards in the ante-room where they
were waiting themselves, so that they could take her away by force if
necessary, should she refuse to come willingly, or should her
servants want to defend her; but it is untrue that the two barons
entered her room, as some have said. They only set foot there once,
on the occasion which we have related, when they came to apprise her
of her sentence.

They waited some minutes, nevertheless, as the queen had begged them;
then, about eight o'clock, they knocked again, accompanied by the
guards; but to their great surprise the door was opened immediately,
and they found Mary on her knees in prayer. Upon this, Sir Thomas
Andrew, who was at the time sheriff of the county of Nottingham,
entered alone, a white wand in his hand, and as everyone stayed on
their knees praying, he crossed the room with a slow step and stood
behind the queen: he waited a moment there, and as Mary Stuart did
not seem to see him--

"Madam," said he, "the earls have sent me to you."

At these words the queen turned round, and at once rising in the
middle of her prayer, "Let us go," she replied, and she made ready to
follow him; then Bourgoin, taking the cross of black wood with an
ivory Christ which was over the altar, said--

"Madam, would you not like to take this little cross?"

"Thank you for having reminded me," Mary answered; "I had intended
to, but I forgot". Then, giving it to Annibal Stewart, her footman,
that he might present it when she should ask for it, she began to
move to the door, and on account of the great pain in her limbs,
leaning on Bourgoin, who, as they drew near, suddenly let her go,

"Madam, your Majesty knows if we love you, and all, such as we are,
are ready to obey you, should you command us to die for you; but I,
I have not the strength to lead you farther; besides, it is not
becoming that we, who should be defending you to the last drop of our
blood, should seem to be betraying you in giving you thus into the
hands of these infamous English."

"You are right, Bourgoin," said the queen; "moreover, my death would
be a sad sight for you, which I ought to spare your age and your
friendship. Mr. Sheriff," added she, "call someone to support me,
for you see that I cannot walk."

The sheriff bowed, and signed to two guards whom he had kept hidden
behind the door to lend him assistance in case the queen should
resist, to approach and support her; which they at once did; and Mary
Stuart went on her way, preceded and followed by her servants weeping
and wringing their hands. But at the second door other guards
stopped them, telling them they must go no farther. They all cried
out against such a prohibition: they said that for the nineteen years
they had been shut up with the queen they had always accompanied her
wherever she went; that it was frightful to deprive their mistress of
their services at the last moment, and that such an order had
doubtless been given because they wanted to practise some shocking
cruelty on her, of which they desired no witnesses. Bourgoin, who
was at their head, seeing that he could obtain nothing by threats or
entreaties, asked to speak with the earls; but this claim was not
allowed either, and as the servants wanted to pass by force, the
soldiers repulsed them with blows of their arquebuses; then, raising
her voice--

"It is wrong of you to prevent my servants following me," said the
queen, "and I begin to think, like them, that you have some ill
designs upon me beyond my death."

The sheriff replied, "Madam, four of your servants are chosen to
follow you, and no more; when you have come down, they will be
fetched, and will rejoin you."

"What!" said the queen, "the four chosen persons cannot even follow
me now?"

"The order is thus given by the earls," answered the sheriff, "and,
to my great regret, madam, I can do nothing."

Then the queen turned to them, and taking the cross from Annibal
Stewart, and in her other hand her book of Hours and her
handkerchief, "My children," said she, "this is one more grief to add
to our other griefs; let us bear it like Christians, and offer this
fresh sacrifice to God."

At these words sobs and cries burst forth on all sides: the unhappy
servants fell on their knees, and while some rolled on the ground,
tearing their hair, others kissed her hands, her knees, and the hem
of her gown, begging her forgiveness for every possible fault,
calling her their mother and bidding her farewell. Finding, no
doubt, that this scene was lasting too long, the sheriff made a sign,
and the soldiers pushed the men and women back into the room and shut
the door on them; still, fast as was the door, the queen none the
less heard their cries and lamentations, which seemed, in spite of
the guards, as if they would accompany her to the scaffold.

At the stair-head, the queen found Andrew Melville awaiting her: he
was the Master of her Household, who had been secluded from her for
some time, and who was at last permitted to see her once more to say
farewell. The queen, hastening her steps, approached him, and
kneeling down to receive his blessing, which he gave her, weeping--

"Melville," said she, without rising, and addressing him as "thou"
for the first time, "as thou hast been an honest servant to me, be
the same to my son: seek him out directly after my death, and tell
him of it in every detail; tell him that I wish him well, and that I
beseech God to send him His Holy Spirit."

"Madam," replied Melville, "this is certainly the saddest message
with which a man can be charged: no matter, I shall faithfully fulfil
it, I swear to you."

"What sayest thou, Melville?" responded the queen, rising; "and what
better news canst thou bear, on the contrary, than that I am
delivered from all my ills? Tell him that he should rejoice, since
the sufferings of Mary Stuart are at an end; tell him that I die a
Catholic, constant in my religion, faithful to Scotland and France,
and that I forgive those who put me to death. Tell him that I have
always desired the union of England and Scotland; tell him, finally,
that I have done nothing injurious to his kingdom, to his honour, or
to his rights. And thus, good Melville, till we meet again in

Then, leaning on the old man, whose face was bathed in tears, she
descended the staircase, at the foot of which she found the two
earls, Sir Henry Talbot, Lord Shrewsbury's son, Amyas Paulet, Drue
Drury, Robert Beale, and many gentlemen of the neighbourhood: the
queen, advancing towards them without pride, but without humility,
complained that her servants had been refused permission to follow
her, and asked that it should be granted. The lords conferred
together; and a moment after the Earl of Kent inquired which ones she
desired to have, saying she might be allowed six. So the queen chose
from among the men Bourgoin, Gordon, Gervais, and Didier; and from
the women Jeanne Kennedy and Elspeth Curle, the ones she preferred to
all, though the latter was sister to the secretary who had betrayed
her. But here arose a fresh difficulty, the earls saying that this
permission did not extend to women, women not being used to be
present at such sights, and when they were, usually upsetting
everyone with cries and lamentations, and, as soon as the
decapitation was over, rushing to the scaffold to staunch the blood
with their handkerchiefs--a most unseemly proceeding.

"My lords," then said the queen, "I answer and promise for my
servants, that they will not do any of the things your honours fear.
Alas! poor people! they would be very glad to bid me farewell; and I
hope that your mistress, being a maiden queen, and accordingly
sensitive for the honour of women, has not given you such strict
orders that you are unable to grant me the little I ask; so much the
more," added she in a profoundly mournful tone, "that my rank should
be taken into consideration; for indeed I am your queen's cousin,
granddaughter of Henry VII, Queen Dowager of France and crowned Queen
of Scotland."

The lords consulted together for another moment, and granted her
demands. Accordingly, two guards went up immediately to fetch the
chosen individuals.

The queen then moved on to the great hall, leaning on two of Sir
Amyas Paulet's gentlemen, accompanied and followed by the earls and
lords, the sheriff walking before her, and Andrew Melville bearing
her train. Her dress, as carefully chosen as possible, as we have
said, consisted of a coif of fine cambric, trimmed with lace, with a
lace veil thrown back and falling to the ground behind. She wore a
cloak of black stamped satin lined with black taffetas and trimmed in
front with sable, with a long train and sleeves hanging to the
ground; the buttons were of jet in the shape of acorns and surrounded
with pearls, her collar in the Italian style; her doublet was of
figured black satin, and underneath she wore stays, laced behind, in
crimson satin, edged with velvet of the same colour; a gold cross
hung by a pomander chain at her neck, and two rosaries at her girdle:
it was thus she entered the great hall where the scaffold was

It was a platform twelve feet wide, raised about two feet from the
floor, surrounded with barriers and covered with black serge, and on
it were a little chair, a cushion to kneel on, and a block also
covered in black. Just as, having mounted the steps, she set foot on
the fatal boards, the executioner came forward, and; asking
forgiveness for the duty he was about to perform, kneeled, hiding
behind him his axe. Mary saw it, however, and cried--

"Ah! I would rather have been beheaded in the French way, with a

"It is not my fault, madam," said the executioner, "if this last wish
of your Majesty cannot be fulfilled; but, not having been instructed
to bring a sword, and having found this axe here only, I am obliged
to use it. Will that prevent your pardoning me, then?"

"I pardon you, my friend," said Mary, "and in proof of it, here is my
hand to kiss."

The executioner put his lips to the queen's hand, rose and approached
the chair. Mary sat down, and the Earls of Kent and Shrewsbury
standing on her left, the sheriff and his officers before her, Amyas
Paulet behind, and outside the barrier the lords, knights, and
gentlemen, numbering nearly two hundred and fifty, Robert Beale for
the second time read the warrant for execution, and as he was
beginning the servants who had been fetched came into the hall and
placed themselves behind the scaffold, the men mounted upon a bench
put back against the wall, and the women kneeling in front of it; and
a little spaniel, of which the queen was very fond, came quietly, as
if he feared to be driven away, and lay down near his mistress.

The queen listened to the reading of the warrant without seeming to
pay much attention, as if it had concerned someone else, and with a
countenance as calm and even as joyous as if it had been a pardon and
not a sentence of death; then, when Beale had ended, and having
ended, cried in a loud voice, "God save Queen Elizabeth!" to which no
one made any response, Mary signed herself with the cross, and,
rising without any change of expression, and, on the contrary,
lovelier than ever--

"My lords," said she, "I am a queen-born sovereign princess, and not
subject to law,--a near relation of the Queen of England, and her
rightful heir; for a long time I have been a prisoner in this
country, I have suffered here much tribulation and many evils that no
one had the right to inflict, and now, to crown all, I am about to
lose my life. Well, my lords, bear witness that I die in the
Catholic faith, thanking God for letting me die for His holy cause,
and protesting, to-day as every day, in public as in private, that I
have never plotted, consented to, nor desired the queen's death, nor
any other thing against her person; but that, on the contrary, I have
always loved her, and have always offered her good and reasonable
conditions to put an end to the troubles of the kingdom and deliver
me from my captivity, without my having ever been honoured with a
reply from her; and all this, my lords, you well know. Finally, my
enemies have attained their end, which was to put me to death:
I do not pardon them less for it than I pardon all those who have
attempted anything against me. After my, death, the authors of it
will be known. But I die without accusing anyone, for fear the Lord
should hear me and avenge me."

Upon this, whether he was afraid that such a speech by so great a
queen should soften the assembly too much, or whether he found that
all these words were making too much delay, the Dean of Peterborough
placed himself before Mary, and, leaning on the barrier--

"Madam," he said, "my much honoured mistress has commanded me to come
to you--" But at these words, Mary, turning and interrupting him

"Mr. Dean," she answered in a loud voice, "I have nothing to do with
you; I do not wish to hear you, and beg you to withdraw."

"Madam," said the dean, persisting in spite of this resolve expressed
in such firm and precise terms, "you have but a moment longer: change
your opinions, abjure your errors, and put your faith in Jesus Christ
alone, that you may be saved through Him."

"Everything you can say is useless," replied the queen, "and you will
gain nothing by it; be silent, then, I beg you, and let me die in

And as she saw that he wanted to go on, she sat down on the other
side of the chair and turned her back to him; but the dean
immediately walked round the scaffold till he faced her again; then,
as he was going to speak, the queen turned about once more, and sat
as at first. Seeing which the Earl of Shrewsbury said--

"Madam, truly I despair that you are so attached to this folly of
papacy: allow us, if it please you, to pray for you."

"My lord," the queen answered, "if you desire to pray for me, I thank
you, for the intention is good; but I cannot join in your prayers,
for we are not of the same religion."

The earls then called the dean, and while the queen, seated in her
little chair, was praying in a low tone, he, kneeling on the scaffold
steps, prayed aloud; and the whole assembly except the queen and her
servants prayed after him; then, in the midst of her orison, which
she said with her Agnus Dei round her neck, a crucifix in one hand,
and her book of Hours in the other, she fell from her seat on to, her
knees, praying aloud in Latin, whilst the others prayed in English,
and when the others were silent, she continued in English in her
turn, so that they could hear her, praying for the afflicted Church
of Christ, for an end to the persecution of Catholics, arid for the
happiness of her son's reign; then she said, in accents full of faith
and fervour, that she hoped to be saved by the merits of Jesus
Christ, at the foot of whose cross she was going to shed her blood.

At these words the Earl of Kent could no longer contain himself, and
without respect for the sanctity of the moment--

"Oh, madam," said he, "put Jesus Christ in your heart, and reject
all this rubbish of popish deceptions."

But she, without listening, went on, praying the saints to intercede
with God for her, and kissing the crucifix, she cried--

"Lord! Lord! receive me in Thy arms out stretched on the cross, and
forgive me all my sins!"

Thereupon,--she being again seated in the chair, the Earl of Kent
asked her if she had any confession to make; to which she replied
that, not being guilty of anything, to confess would be to give
herself, the lie.

"It is well," the earl answered; "then, madam, prepare."

The queen rose, and as the executioner approached to assist her

"Allow me, my friend," said she; I know how to do it better than you,
and am not accustomed to undress before so many spectators, nor to be
served by such valets."

And then, calling her two women, she began to unpin her coiffure, and
as Jeanne Kennedy and Elspeth Curle, while performing this last
service for their mistress, could not help weeping bitterly--

"Do not weep," she said to them in French; "for I have promised and
answered for you."

With these words, she made the sign of the cross upon the forehead of
each, kissed them, and recommended them to pray for her.

Then the queen began to undress, herself assisting, as she was wont
to do when preparing for bed, and taking the gold cross from her
neck, she wished to give it to Jeanne, saying to the executioner--

"My friend, I know that all I have upon me belongs to you; but this
is not in your way: let me bestow it, if you please, on this young
lady, and she will give you twice its value in money."

But the executioner, hardly allowing her to finish, snatched it from
her hands with--

"It is my right."

The queen was not moved much by this brutality, and went on taking
off her garments until she was simply in her petticoat.

Thus rid of all her garb, she again sat down, and Jeanne Kennedy
approaching her, took from her pocket the handkerchief of gold-
embroidered cambric which she had prepared the night before, and
bound her eyes with it; which the earls, lords; and gentlemen looked
upon with great surprise, it not being customary in England, and as
she thought that she was to be beheaded in the French way--that is to
say, seated in the chair--she held herself upright, motionless, and
with her neck stiffened to make it easier for the executioner, who,
for his part, not knowing how to proceed, was standing, without
striking, axe in hand: at last the man laid his hand on the queen's
head, and drawing her forward, made her fall on her knees: Mary then
understood what was required of her, and feeling for the block with
her hands, which were still holding her book of Hours and her
crucifix, she laid her neck on it, her hands joined beneath her chin,
that she might pray till the last moment: the executioner's assistant
drew them away, for fear they should be cut off with her head; and as
the queen was saying, "In manes teas, Domine," the executioner raised
his axe, which was simply an axe far chopping wood, and struck the
first blow, which hit too high, and piercing the skull, made the
crucifix and the book fly from the condemned's hands by its violence,
but which did not sever the head. However, stunned with the blow,
the queen made no movement, which gave the executioner time to
redouble it; but still the head did not fall, and a third stroke was
necessary to detach a shred of flesh which held it to the shoulders.

At last, when the head was quite severed, the executioner held it up
to show to the assembly, saying

"God save Queen Elizabeth!"

"So perish all Her Majesty's enemies!" responded the Dean of

"Amen," said the Earl of Kent; but he was the only one: no other
voice could respond, for all were choked with sobs.

At that moment the queen's headdress falling, disclosed her hair, cut
very short, and as white as if she had been aged seventy: as to her
face, it had so changed during her death-agony that no one would have
recognised it had he not known it was hers. The spectators cried out
aloud at this sign; for, frightful to see, the eyes were open, and
the lids went on moving as if they would still pray, and this
muscular movement lasted for more than a quarter of an hour after the
head had been cut off.

The queen's servants had rushed upon the scaffold, picking up the
book of Hours and the crucifix as relics; and Jeanne Kennedy,
remembering the little dog who had come to his mistress, looked about
for him on all sides, seeking him and calling him, but she sought and
called in vain. He had disappeared.

At that moment, as one of the executioners was untying the queen's
garters, which were of blue satin embroidered in silver, he saw the
poor little animal, which had hidden in her petticoat, and which he
was obliged to bring out by force; then, having escaped from his
hands, it took refuge between the queen's shoulders and her head,
which the executioner had laid down near the trunk. Jeanne took him
then, in spite of his howls, and carried him away, covered with
blood; for everyone had just been ordered to leave the hall.
Bourgoin and Gervais stayed behind, entreating Sir Amyas Paulet to
let them take the queen's heart, that they might carry it to France,
as they had promised her; but they were harshly refused and pushed
out of the hall, of which all the doors were closed, and there there
remained only the executioner and the corpse.

Brantome relates that something infamous took place there!


Two hours after the execution, the body and the head were taken into
the same hall in which Mary Stuart had appeared before the
commissioners, set down on a table round which the judges had sat,
and covered over with a black serge cloth; and there remained till
three o'clock in the afternoon, when Waters the doctor from Stamford
and the surgeon from Fotheringay village came to open and embalm
them--an operation which they carried out under the eyes of Amyas
Paulet and his soldiers, without any respect for the rank and sex of
the poor corpse, which was thus exposed to the view of anyone who
wanted to see it: it is true that this indignity did not fulfil its
proposed aim; for a rumour spread about that the queen had swollen
limbs and was dropsical, while, on the contrary, there was not one of
the spectators but was obliged to confess that he had never seen the
body of a young girl in the bloom of health purer and lovelier than
that of Mary Stuart, dead of a violent death after nineteen years of
suffering and captivity.

When the body was opened, the spleen was in its normal state, with
the veins a little livid only, the lungs yellowish in places, and the
brain one-sixth larger than is usual in persons of the same age and
sex; thus everything promised a long life to her whose end had just
been so cruelly hastened.

A report having been made of the above, the body was embalmed after a
fashion, put in a leaden coffin and that in another of wood, which
was left on the table till the first day of August--that is, for
nearly five months--before anyone was allowed to come near it; and
not only that, but the English having noticed that Mary Stuart's
unhappy servants, who were still detained as prisoners, went to look
at it through the keyhole, stopped that up in such a way that they
could not even gaze at the coffin enclosing the body of her whom they
had so greatly loved.

However, one hour after Mary Stuart's death, Henry Talbot, who had
been present at it, set out at full speed for London, carrying to
Elizabeth the account of her rival's death; but at the very first
lines she read, Elizabeth, true to her character, cried out in grief
and indignation, saying that her orders had been misunderstood, that
there had been too great haste, and that all this was the fault of
Davison the Secretary of State, to whom she had given the warrant to
keep till she had made up her mind, but not to send to Fotheringay.
Accordingly, Davison was sent to the Tower and condemned to pay a
fine of ten thousand pounds sterling, for having deceived the queen.
Meanwhile, amid all this grief, an embargo was laid on all vessels in
all the ports of the realm, so that the news of the death should not
reach abroad, especially France, except through skilful emissaries
who could place the execution in the least unfavourable light for
Elizabeth. At the same time the scandalous popular festivities which
had marked the announcement of the sentence again celebrated the
tidings of the execution. London was illuminated, bonfires lit, and
the enthusiasm was such that the French Embassy was broken into and
wood taken to revive the fires when they began to die down.

Crestfallen at this event, M. de Chateauneuf was still shut up at the
Embassy, when, a fortnight later, he received an invitation from
Elizabeth to visit her at the country house of the Archbishop of
Canterbury. M. de Chateauneuf went thither with the firm resolve to
say no word to her on what had happened; but as soon as she saw him,
Elizabeth, dressed in black, rose, went to him, and, overwhelming him
with kind attentions, told him that she was ready to place all the
strength of her kingdom at Henry III's disposal to help him put down
the League. Chateauneuf received all these offers with a cold and
severe expression, without saying, as he had promised himself, a
single word about the event which had put both the queen and himself
into mourning. But, taking him by the hand, she drew him aside, and
there, with deep sighs, said--

"Ah! sir, since I saw you the greatest misfortune which could befall
me has happened: I mean the death of my good sister, the Queen of
Scotland, of which I swear by God Himself, my soul and my salvation,
that I am perfectly innocent. I had signed the order, it is true;
but my counsellors have played me a trick for which I cannot calm
myself; and I swear to God that if it were not for their long service
I would have them beheaded. I have a woman's frame, sir, but in this
woman's frame beats a man's heart."

Chateauneuf bowed without a response; but his letter to Henry III and
Henry's answer prove that neither the one nor the other was the dupe
of this female Tiberius.

Meanwhile, as we have said, the unfortunate servants were prisoners,
and the poor body was in that great hall waiting for a royal
interment. Things remained thus, Elizabeth said, to give her time to
order a splendid funeral for her good sister Mary, but in reality
because the queen dared not place in juxtaposition the secret and
infamous death and the public and royal burial; then, was not time
needed for the first reports which it pleased Elizabeth to spread to
be credited before the truth should be known by the mouths of the
servants? For the queen hoped that once this careless world had made
up its mind about the death of the Queen of Scots, it would not take
any further trouble to change it. Finally, it was only when the
warders were as tired as the prisoners, that Elizabeth, having
received a report stating that the ill-embalmed body could no longer
be kept, at last ordered the funeral to take place.

Accordingly, after the 1st of August, tailors and dressmakers arrived
at Fotheringay Castle, sent by Elizabeth, with cloth and black silk
stuffs, to clothe in mourning all Mary's servants. But they refused,
not having waited for the Queen of England's bounty, but having made
their funeral garments at their own expense, immediately after their
mistress's death. The tailors and dressmakers, however, none the
less set so actively to work that on the 7th everything was finished.

Next day, at eight o'clock in the evening, a large chariot, drawn by
four horses in mourning trappings, and covered with black velvet like
the chariot, which was, besides, adorned with little streamers on
which were embroidered the arms of Scotland, those of the queen, and
the arms of Aragon, those of Darnley, stopped at the gate of
Fotheringay Castle. It was followed by the herald king, accompanied
by twenty gentlemen on horseback, with their servants and lackeys,
all dressed in mourning, who, having alighted, mounted with his whole
train into the room where the body lay, and had it brought down and
put into the chariot with all possible respect, each of the
spectators standing with bared head and in profound silence.

This visit caused a great stir among the prisoners, who debated a
while whether they ought not to implore the favour of being allowed
to follow their mistress's body, which they could not and should not
let go alone thus; but just as they were about to ask permission to
speak to the herald king, he entered the room where they were
assembled, and told them that he was charged by his mistress, the
august Queen of England, to give the Queen of Scotland the most
honourable funeral he could; that, not wishing to fail in such a high
undertaking, he had already made most of the preparations for the
ceremony, which was to take place on the 10th of August, that is to
say, two days later,--but that the leaden shell in which the body was
enclosed being very heavy, it was better to move it beforehand, and
that night, to where the grave was dug, than to await the day of the
interment itself; that thus they might be easy, this burial of the
shell being only a preparatory ceremony; but that if some of them
would like to accompany the corpse, to see what was done with it,
they were at liberty, and that those who stayed behind could follow
the funeral pageant, Elizabeth's positive desire being that all, from
first to last, should be present in the funeral procession. This
assurance calmed the unfortunate prisoners, who deputed Bourgoin,
Gervais, and six others to follow their mistress's body: these were
Andrew Melville, Stewart, Gorjon, Howard, Lauder, and Nicholas

At ten o'clock at night they set out, walking behind the chariot,
preceded by the herald, accompanied by men on foot, who carried
torches to light the way, and followed by twenty gentlemen and their
servants. In this manner, at two o'clock in the morning, they
reached Peterborough, where there is a splendid cathedral built by an
ancient Saxon king, and in which, on the left of the choir, was
already interred good Queen Catharine of Aragon, wife of Henry VIII,
and where was her tomb, still decked with a canopy bearing her arms.

On arriving, they found the cathedral all hung with black, with a
dome erected in the middle of the choir, much in the way in which
'chapelles ardentes' are set up in France, except that there were no
lighted candles round it. This dome was covered with black velvet,
and overlaid with the arms of Scotland and Aragon, with streamers
like those on the chariot yet again repeated. The state coffin was
already set up under this dome: it was a bier, covered like the rest
in black velvet fringed with silver, on which was a pillow of the
same supporting a royal crown.

To the right of this dome, and in front of the burial-place of Queen
Catharine of Aragon, Mary of Scotland's sepulchre had been dug: it
was a grave of brick, arranged to be covered later with a slab or a
marble tomb, and in which was to be deposited the coffin, which the
Bishop of Peterborough, in his episcopal robes, but without his
mitre, cross, or cope, was awaiting at the door, accompanied by his
dean and several other clergy. The body was brought into the
cathedral, without chant or prayer, and was let down into the tomb
amid a profound silence. Directly it was placed there, the masons,
who had stayed their hands, set to work again, closing the grave
level with the floor, and only leaving an opening of about a foot and
a half, through which could be seen what was within, and through
which could be thrown on the coffin, as is customary at the obsequies
of kings, the broken staves of the officers and the ensigns and
banners with their arms. This nocturnal ceremony ended, Melville,
Bourgoin, and the other deputies were taken to the bishop's palace,
where the persons appointed to take part in the funeral procession
were to assemble, in number more than three hundred and fifty, all
chosen, with the exception of the servants, from among the
authorities, the nobility, and Protestant clergy.

The day following, Thursday, August the 9th, they began to hang the
banqueting halls with rich and sumptuous stuffs, and that in the
sight of Melville, Bourgoin, and the others, whom they had brought
thither, less to be present at the interment of Queen Mary than to
bear witness to the magnificence of Queen Elizabeth. But, as one may
suppose, the unhappy prisoners were indifferent to this splendour,
great and extraordinary as it was.

On Friday, August 10th, all the chosen persons assembled at the
bishop's palace: they ranged themselves in the appointed order, and
turned their steps to the cathedral, which was close by. When they
arrived there, they took the places assigned them in the choir, and
the choristers immediately began to chant a funeral service in
English and according to Protestant rites. At the first words of
this service, when he saw it was not conducted by Catholic priests,
Bourgoin left the cathedral, declaring that he would not be present
at such sacrilege, and he was followed by all Mary's servants, men
and women, except Melville and Barbe Mowbray, who thought that
whatever the tongue in which one prayed, that tongue was heard by the
Lord. This exit created great scandal; but the bishop preached none
the less.

The sermon ended, the herald king went to seek Bourgoin and his
companions, who were walking in the cloisters, and told them that the
almsgiving was about to begin, inviting them to take part in this
ceremony; but they replied that being Catholics they could not make
offerings at an altar of which they disapproved. So the herald king
returned, much put out at the harmony of the assembly being disturbed
by this dissent; but the alms-offering took place no less than the
sermon. Then, as a last attempt, he sent to them again, to tell them
that the service was quite over, and that accordingly they might
return for the royal ceremonies, which belonged only to the religion
of the dead; and this time they consented; but when they arrived, the
staves were broken, and the banners thrown into the grave through the
opening that the workmen had already closed.

Then, in the same order in which it had come, the procession returned
to the palace, where a splendid funeral repast had been prepared. By
a strange contradiction, Elizabeth, who, having punished the living
woman as a criminal, had just treated the dead woman as a queen, had
also wished that the honours of the funeral banquet should be for the
servants, so long forgotten by her. But, as one can imagine, these
ill accommodated themselves to that intention, did not seem
astonished at this luxury nor rejoiced at this good cheer, but, on
the contrary, drowned their bread and wine in tears, without
otherwise responding to the questions put to them or the honours
granted them. And as soon as the repast was ended, the poor servants
left Peterborough and took the road back to Fotheringay, where they
heard that they were free at last to withdraw whither they would.
They did not need to be told twice; for they lived in perpetual fear,
not considering their lives safe so long as they remained in England.
They therefore immediately collected all their belongings, each
taking his own, and thus went out of Fotheringay Castle on foot,
Monday, 13th August, 1587.

Bourgoin went last: having reached the farther side of the
drawbridge, he turned, and, Christian as he was, unable to forgive
Elizabeth, not for his own sufferings, but for his mistress's, he
faced about to those regicide walls, and, with hands outstretched to
them, said in a loud and threatening voice, those words of David:
"Let vengeance for the blood of Thy servants, which has been shed, O
Lord God, be acceptable in Thy sight". The old man's curse was
heard, and inflexible history is burdened with Elizabeth's

We said that the executioner's axe, in striking Mary Stuart's head,
had caused the crucifix and the book of Hours which she was holding
to fly from her hands. We also said that the two relics had been
picked up by people in her following. We are not aware of what
became of the crucifix, but the book of Hours is in the royal
library, where those curious about these kinds of historical
souvenirs can see it: two certificates inscribed on one of the blank
leaves of the volume demonstrate its authenticity. These are they:


"We the undersigned Vicar Superior of the strict observance of the
Order of Cluny, certify that this book has been entrusted to us by
order of the defunct Dom Michel Nardin, a professed religious priest
of our said observance, deceased in our college of Saint-Martial of
Avignon, March 28th, 1723, aged about eighty years, of which he has
spent about thirty among us, having lived very religiously: he was a
German by birth, and had served as an officer in the army a long

"He entered Cluny, and made his profession there, much detached from
all this world's goods and honours; he only kept, with his superior's
permission, this book, which he knew had been in use with Mary
Stuart, Queen of England and Scotland, to the end of her life.

"Before dying and being parted from his brethren, he requested that,
to be safely remitted to us, it should be sent us by mail, sealed.
Just as we have received it, we have begged M. L'abbe Bignon,
councillor of state and king's librarian, to accept this precious
relic of the piety of a Queen of England, and of a German officer of
her religion as well as of ours.

"Vicar-General Superior."


"We, Jean-Paul Bignon, king's librarian, are very happy to have an
opportunity of exhibiting our zeal, in placing the said manuscript in
His Majesty's library.

"8th July, 1724."


This manuscript, on which was fixed the last gaze of the Queen of
Scotland, is a duodecimo, written in the Gothic character and
containing Latin prayers; it is adorned with miniatures set off with
gold, representing devotional subjects, stories from sacred history,
or from the lives of saints and martyrs. Every page is encircled
with arabesques mingled with garlands of fruit and flowers, amid
which spring up grotesque figures of men and animals.

As to the binding, worn now, or perhaps even then, to the woof, it is
in black velvet, of which the flat covers are adorned in the centre
with an enamelled pansy, in a silver setting surrounded by a wreath,
to which are diagonally attached from one corner of the cover to the
other, two twisted silver-gilt knotted cords, finished by a tuft at
the two ends.

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