Part 10 out of 10
enthusiasm of the moment and by the delicacy evinced in her hasty
retreat. Often as the shouts died away, as often were they renewed,
till wood and hill rung again; and many a deep path was made that
morning on the cross of the sword, that the hand should not part with
the weapon, till Mary Stewart was restored to her rights. But what
are promises, what the hopes of mortals? In ten days, these gallant
and devoted votaries were slain, were captives, or had fled.
Mary flung herself into the nearest seat, and still blushing, yet half
smiling, exclaimed, "_Ma mignone_, what will they think of
me?--to show myself to them with my bare feet hastily thrust into the
slippers--only this loose mantle about me--my hair loose on my
shoulders--my arms and neck so bare--Oh, the best they can suppose is,
that her abode in yonder dungeon has turned their Queen's brain! But
my rebel subjects saw me exposed when I was in the depth of
affliction, why should I hold colder ceremony with these faithful and
loyal men?--Call Fleming, however--I trust she has not forgotten the
little mail with my apparel--We must be as brave as we can,
"Nay, madam, our good Lady Fleming was in no case to remember any
"You jest, Catherine," said the Queen, somewhat offended; "it is not
in her nature surely, to forget her duty so far as to leave us without
a change of apparel?"
"Roland Graeme, madam, took care of that," answered Catherine; "for he
threw the mail, with your highness's clothes and jewels, into the
boat, ere he ran back to lock the gate--I never saw so awkward a page
as that youth--the packet well-nigh fell on my head."
"He shall make thy heart amends, my girl," said Queen Mary, laughing,
"for that and all other offences given. But call Fleming, and let us
put ourselves into apparel to meet our faithful lords."
Such had been the preparations, and such was the skill of Lady
Fleming, that the Queen appeared before her assembled nobles in such
attire as became, though it could not enhance, her natural dignity.
With the most winning courtesy, she expressed to each individual her
grateful thanks, and dignified not only every noble, but many of the
lesser barons by her particular attention.
"And whither now, my lords?" she said; "what way do your counsels
determine for us?"
"To Draphane Castle," replied Lord Arbroath, "if your Majesty is so
pleased; and thence to Dunbarton, to place your Grace's person in
safety, after which we long to prove if these traitors will abide us
in the field."
"And when do we journey?"
"We propose," said Lord Seyton, "if your Grace's fatigue will permit,
to take horse after the morning's meal."
"Your pleasure, my Lords, is mine," replied the Queen; "we will rule
our journey by your wisdom now, and hope hereafter to have the
advantage of governing by it our kingdom.--You will permit my ladies
and me, my good lords, to break our fasts along with you--We must be
half soldiers ourselves, and set state apart."
Low bowed many a helmeted head at this gracious proffer, when the
Queen, glancing her eyes through the assembled leaders, missed both
Douglas and Roland Graeme, and inquired for them in a whisper to
"They are in yonder oratory, madam, sad enough," replied Catherine;
and the Queen observed that her favourite's eyes were red with
"This must not be," said the Queen. "Keep the company amused--I
will seek them, and introduce them myself."
She went into the oratory, where the first she met was George Douglas,
standing, or rather reclining, in the recess of a window, his back
rested against the wall, and his arms folded on his breast. At the
sight of the Queen he started, and his countenance showed, for an
instant, an expression of intense delight, which was instantly
exchanged for his usual deep melancholy.
"What means this?" she said; "Douglas, why does the first deviser and
bold executor of the happy scheme for our freedom, shun the company of
his fellow-nobles, and of the Sovereign whom he has obliged?"
"Madam," replied Douglas, "those whom you grace with your presence
bring followers to aid your cause, wealth to support your state,--can
offer you halls in which to feast, and impregnable castles for your
defence. I am a houseless and landless man--disinherited by my mother,
and laid under her malediction--disowned by my name and kindred--who
bring nothing to your standard but a single sword, and the poor life
of its owner."
"Do you mean to upbraid me, Douglas," replied the Queen, "by showing
what you have lost for my sake?"
"God forbid, madam!" interrupted the young man, eagerly; "were it to
do again, and had I ten times as much rank and wealth, and twenty
times as many friends to lose, my losses would be overpaid by the
first step you made, as a free princess, upon the soil of your native
"And what then ails you, that you will not rejoice with those who
rejoice upon the same joyful occasion?" said the Queen.
"Madam," replied the youth," though exheridated and disowned, I am yet
a Douglas: with most of yonder nobles my family have been in feud for
ages--a cold reception amongst them, were an insult, and a kind one
yet more humiliating."
"For shame, Douglas," replied the Queen, "shake off this unmanly
gloom!--I can make thee match for the best of them in title and
fortune, and, believe me, I will.--Go then amongst them, I command
"That word," said Douglas, "is enough--I go. This only let me say,
that not for wealth or title would I have done that which I have
done--Mary Stewart will not, and the Queen cannot, reward me."
So saying, he left the oratory, mingled with the nobles, and placed
himself at the bottom of the table. The Queen looked after him, and
put her kerchief to her eyes.
"Now, Our Lady pity me," she said, "for no sooner are my prison cares
ended, than those which beset me as a woman and a Queen again thicken
around me.--Happy Elizabeth! to whom political interest is every
thing, and whose heart never betrays thy head.--And now must I seek
this other boy, if I would prevent daggers-drawing betwixt him and the
Roland Graeme was in the same oratory, but at such a distance from
Douglas, that he could not overhear what passed betwixt the Queen and
him. He also was moody and thoughtful, but cleared his brow at the
Queen's question, "How now, Roland? you are negligent in your
attendance this morning. Are you so much overcome with your night's
"Not so, gracious madam," answered Graeme; "but I am told the page of
Lochleven is not the page of Niddrie Castle; and so Master Henry
Seyton hath in a manner been pleased to supersede my attendance."
"Now, Heaven forgive me," said the Queen, "how soon these
cock-chickens begin to spar!--with children and boys, at least, I may
be a queen.--I will have you friends.--Some one send me Henry Seyton
hither." As she spoke the last words aloud, the youth whom she had
named entered the apartment. "Come hither," she said, "Henry Seyton--I
will have you give your hand to this youth, who so well aided in the
plan of my escape."
"Willingly, madam," answered Seyton, "so that the youth will grant
me, as a boon, that he touch not the hand of another Seyton whom he
knows of. My hand has passed current for hers with him before now--and
to win my friendship, he must give up thoughts of my sister's love."
"Henry Seyton," said the Queen, "does it become you to add any
condition to my command?"
"Madam," said Henry, "I am the servant of your Grace's throne, son to
the most loyal man in Scotland. Our goods, our castles, our blood, are
yours: Our honour is in our own keeping. I could say more, but--"
"Nay, speak on, rude boy," said the Queen; "what avails it that I am
released from Lochleven, if I am thus enthralled under the yoke of my
pretended deliverers, and prevented from doing justice to one who has
deserved as well of me as yourself?"
"Be not in this distemperature for me, sovereign Lady," said Roland;
"this young gentleman, being the faithful servant of your Grace, and
the brother of Catherine Seyton, bears that about him which will charm
down my passion at the hottest."
"I warn thee once more," said Henry Seyton, haughtily, "that you make
no speech which may infer that the daughter of Lord Seyton can be
aught to thee beyond what she is to every churl's blood in Scotland."
The Queen was again about to interfere, for Roland's complexion rose,
and it became somewhat questionable how long his love for Catherine
would suppress the natural fire of his temper. But the interposition
of another person, hitherto unseen, prevented Mary's interference,
There was in the oratory a separate shrine, enclosed with a high
screen of pierced oak, within which was placed an image of Saint
Bennet, of peculiar sanctity. From this recess, in which she had been
probably engaged in her devotions, issued suddenly Magdalen Graeme,
and addressed Henry Seyton, in reply to his last offensive
expressions,--"And of what clay, then, are they moulded these Seytons,
that the blood of the Graemes may not aspire to mingle with theirs?
Know, proud boy, that when I call this youth my daughter's child, I
affirm his descent from Malise Earl of Strathern, called Malise with
the Bright Brand; and I trow the blood of your house springs from no
"Good mother," said Seyton, "methinks your sanctity should make you
superior to these worldly vanities; and indeed it seems to have
rendered you somewhat oblivious touching them, since, to be of gentle
descent, the father's name and lineage must be as well qualified as
"And if I say he comes of the blood of Avenel by the father's side,"
replied Magdalen Graeme, "name I not blood as richly coloured as thine
"Of Avenel?" said the Queen; "is my page descended of Avenel?"
"Ay, gracious Princess, and the last male heir of that ancient
house--Julian Avenel was his father, who fell in battle against the
"I have heard the tale of sorrow," said the Queen; "it was thy
daughter, then, who followed that unfortunate baron to the field, and
died on his body? Alas! how many ways does woman's affection find to
work out her own misery! The tale has oft been told and sung in hall
and bower--And thou, Roland, art that child of misfortune, who was
left among the dead and dying? Henry Seyton, he is thine equal in
blood and birth."
"Scarcely so," said Henry Seyton, "even were he legitimate; but if the
tale be told and sung aright, Julian Avenel was a false knight, and
his leman a frail and credulous maiden."
"Now, by Heaven, thou liest!" said Roland Graeme, and laid his hand on
his sword. The entrance of Lord Seyton, however, prevented violence.
"Save me, my lord," said the Queen, "and separate these wild and
"How, Henry," said the Baron, "are my castle, and the Queen's
presence, no checks on thine insolence and impetuosity?--And with whom
art thou brawling?--unless my eyes spell that token false, it is with
the very youth who aided me so gallantly in the skirmish with the
Leslies--Let me look, fair youth, at the medal which thou wearest in
thy cap. By Saint Bennet, it is the same!--Henry, I command thee to
forbear him, as thou lovest my blessing----"
"And as you honour my command," said the Queen; "good service hath
he done me."
"Ay, madam," replied young Seyton, "as when he carried the billet
enclosed in the sword-sheath to Lochleven--marry, the good youth knew
no more than a pack-horse what he was carrying."
"But I who dedicated him to this great work," said Magdalen
Graeme--"I, by whose advice and agency this just heir hath been
unloosed from her thraldom--I, who spared not the last remaining hope
of a falling house in this great action--I, at least, knew and
counselled; and what merit may be mine, let the reward, most gracious
Queen, descend upon this youth. My ministry here is ended; you are
free--a sovereign Princess, at the head of a gallant army, surrounded
by valiant barons--My service could avail you no farther, but might
well prejudice you; your fortune now rests upon men's hearts and men's
swords. May they prove as trusty as the faith of women!"
"You will not leave us, mother," said the Queen--"you whose practices
in our favour were so powerful, who dared so many dangers, and wore so
many disguises, to blind our enemies and to confirm our friends--you
will not leave us in the dawn of our reviving fortunes, ere we have
time to know and to thank you?"
"You cannot know her," answered Magdalen Graeme, "who knows not
herself--there are times, when, in this woman's frame of mine, there
is the strength of him of Gath--in this overtoiled brain, the wisdom
of the most sage counsellor--and again the mist is on me, and my
strength is weakness, my wisdom folly. I have spoken before princes
and cardinals--ay, noble Princess, even before the princes of thine
own house of Lorraine; and I know not whence the words of persuasion
came which flowed from my lips, and were drunk in by their ears.--And
now, even when I most need words of persuasion, there is something
which chokes my voice, and robs me of utterance."
"If there be aught in my power to do thee pleasure," said the Queen,
"the barely naming it shall avail as well as all thine eloquence."
"Sovereign Lady," replied the enthusiast, "it shames me that at this
high moment something of human frailty should cling to one, whose vows
the saints have heard, whose labours in the rightful cause Heaven has
prospered. But it will be thus while the living spirit is shrined in
the clay of mortality--I will yield to the folly," she said, weeping
as she spoke, "and it shall be the last." Then seizing Roland's hand,
she led him to the Queen's feet, kneeling herself upon one knee, and
causing him to kneel on both. "Mighty Princess," she said, "look on
this flower--it was found by a kindly stranger on a bloody field of
battle, and long it was ere my anxious eyes saw, and my arms pressed,
all that was left of my only daughter. For your sake, and for that of
the holy faith we both profess, I could leave this plant, while it was
yet tender, to the nurture of strangers--ay, of enemies, by whom,
perchance, his blood would have been poured forth as wine, had the
heretic Glendinning known that he had in his house the heir of Julian
Avenel. Since then I have seen him only in a few hours of doubt and
dread, and now I part with the child of my love--for ever--for
ever!--Oh, for every weary step I have made in your rightful cause, in
this and in foreign lands, give protection to the child whom I must no
more call mine!"
"I swear to you, mother," said the Queen, deeply affected, "that, for
your sake and his own, his happiness and fortunes shall be our
"I thank you, daughter of princes," said Magdalen, and pressed her
lips, first to the Queen's hand, then to the brow of her grandson.
"And now," she said, drying her tears, and rising with dignity, "Earth
has had its own, and Heaven claims the rest.--Lioness of Scotland, go
forth and conquer! and if the prayers of a devoted votaress can avail
thee, they will rise in many a land, and from many a distant shrine. I
will glide like a ghost from land to land, from temple to temple; and
where the very name of my country is unknown, the priests shall ask
who is the Queen of that distant northern land, for whom the aged
pilgrim was so fervent in prayer. Farewell! Honour be thine, and
earthly prosperity, if it be the will of God--if not, may the penance
thou shalt do here ensure thee happiness hereafter!--Let no one speak
or follow me--my resolution is taken--my vow cannot be cancelled."
She glided from their presence as she spoke, and her last look was
upon her beloved grandchild. He would have risen and followed, but the
Queen and Lord Seyton interfered.
"Press not on her now," said Lord Seyton, "if you would not lose her
for ever. Many a time have we seen the sainted mother, and often at
the most needful moment; but to press on her privacy, or to thwart her
purpose, is a crime which she cannot pardon. I trust we shall yet see
her at her need--a holy woman she is for certain, and dedicated wholly
to prayer and penance; and hence the heretics hold her as one
distracted, while true Catholics deem her a saint."
"Let me then hope," said the Queen, "that you, my lord, will aid me in
the execution of her last request."
"What! in the protection of my young second?--cheerfully--that is, in
all that your majesty can think it fitting to ask of me.--Henry, give
thy hand upon the instant to Roland Avenel, for so I presume he must
now be called."
"And shall be Lord of the Barony," said the Queen, "if God prosper
our rightful arms."
"It can only be to restore it to my kind protectress, who now holds
it," said young Avenel. "I would rather be landless, all my life, than
she lost a rood of ground by me."
"Nay," said the Queen, looking to Lord Seyton, "his mind matches his
birth--Henry, thou hast not yet given thy hand."
"It is his," said Henry, giving it with some appearance of courtesy,
but whispering Roland at the same time,--"For all this, thou hast not
"May it please your Grace," said Lord Seyton, "now that these passages
are over, to honour our poor meal. Time it were that our banners were
reflected in the Clyde. We must to horse with as little delay as may
Chapter the Thirty-Seventh.
Ay, sir--our ancient crown, in these wild times,
Oft stood upon a cast--the gamester's ducat,
So often staked, and lost, and then regain'd,
Scarce knew so many hazards.
THE SPANISH FATHER.
It is not our object to enter into the historical part of the reign of
the ill-fated Mary, or to recount how, during the week which succeeded
her flight from Lochleven, her partisans mustered around her with
their followers, forming a gallant army, amounting to six thousand
men. So much light has been lately thrown on the most minute details
of the period, by Mr. Chalmers, in his valuable history of Queen Mary,
that the reader may be safely referred to it for the fullest
information which ancient records afford concerning that interesting
time. It is sufficient for our purpose to say, that while Mary's
head-quarters were at Hamilton, the Regent and his adherents had, in
the King's name, assembled a host at Glasgow, inferior indeed to that
of the Queen in numbers, but formidable from the military talents of
Murray, Morton, the Laird of Grange, and others, who had been trained
from their youth in foreign and domestic wars.
In these circumstances, it was the obvious policy of Queen Mary to
avoid a conflict, secure that were her person once in safety, the
number of her adherents must daily increase; whereas, the forces of
those opposed to her must, as had frequently happened in the previous
history of her reign, have diminished, and their spirits become
broken. And so evident was this to her counsellors, that they resolved
their first step should be to place the Queen in the strong castle of
Dunbarton, there to await the course of events, the arrival of
succours from France, and the levies which were made by her adherents
in every province of Scotland. Accordingly, orders were given, that
all men should be on horseback or on foot, apparelled in their armour,
and ready to follow the Queen's standard in array of battle, the
avowed determination being to escort her to the Castle of Dunbarton in
defiance of her enemies.
The muster was made upon Hamilton-Moor, and the march commenced in all
the pomp of feudal times. Military music sounded, banners and pennons
waved, armour glittered far and wide, and spears glanced and twinkled
like stars in a frosty sky. The gallant spectacle of warlike parade
was on this occasion dignified by the presence of the Queen herself,
who, with a fair retinue of ladies and household attendants, and a
special guard of gentlemen, amongst whom young Seyton and Roland were
distinguished, gave grace at once and confidence to the army, which
spread its ample files before, around, and behind her. Many churchmen
also joined the cavalcade, most of whom did not scruple to assume
arms, and declare their intention of wielding them in defence of Mary
and the Catholic faith. Not so the Abbot of Saint Mary's. Roland had
not seen this prelate since the night of their escape from Lochleven,
and he now beheld him, robed in the dress of his order, assume his
station near the Queen's person. Roland hastened to pull off his
basnet, and beseech the Abbot's blessing.
"Thou hast it, my son!" said the priest; "I see thee now under thy
true name, and in thy rightful garb. The helmet with the holly branch
befits your brows well--I have long waited for the hour thou shouldst
"Then you knew of my descent, my good father?" said Roland.
"I did so, but it was under seal of confession from thy grandmother;
nor was I at liberty to tell the secret, till she herself should make
"Her reason for such secrecy, my father?" said Roland Avenel.
"Fear, perchance of my brother--a mistaken fear, for Halbert would
not, to ensure himself a kingdom, have offered wrong to an orphan;
besides that, your title, in quiet times, even had your father done
your mother that justice which I well hope he did, could not have
competed with that of my brother's wife, the child of Julian's elder
"They need fear no competition from me," said Avenel. "Scotland is
wide enough, and there are many manors to win, without plundering my
benefactor. But prove to me, my reverend father, that my father was
just to my mother--show me that I may call myself a legitimate Avenel,
and make me your bounden slave for ever."
"Ay," replied the Abbot, "I hear the Seytons hold thee cheap for that
stain on thy shield. Something, however, I have learnt from the late
Abbot Boniface, which, if it prove sooth, may redeem that reproach."
"Tell me that blessed news," said Roland, "and the future service of
"Rash boy!" said the Abbot, "I should but madden thine impatient
temper, by exciting hopes that may never be fulfilled--and is this a
time for them? Think on what perilous march we are bound, and if thou
hast a sin unconfessed, neglect not the only leisure which Heaven may
perchance afford thee for confession and absolution."
"There will be time enough for both, I trust, when we reach
Dunbarton," answered the page.
"Ay," said the Abbot, "thou crowest as loudly as the rest--but we are
not yet at Dunbarton, and there is a lion in the path."
"Mean you Murray, Morton, and the other rebels at Glasgow, my reverend
father? Tush! they dare not look on the royal banner."
"Even so," replied the Abbot, "speak many of those who are older, and
should be wiser, than thou.--I have returned from the southern shires,
where I left many a chief of name arming in the Queen's interest--I
left the lords here wise and considerate men--I find them madmen on my
return--they are willing, for mere pride and vain-glory, to brave the
enemy, and to carry the Queen, as it were in triumph, past the walls
of Glasgow, and under the beards of the adverse army.--Seldom does
Heaven smile on such mistimed confidence. We shall be encountered, and
that to the purpose."
"And so much the better," replied Roland; "the field of battle was my
"Beware it be not thy dying bed," said the Abbot. "But what avails it
whispering to young wolves the dangers of the chase? You will know,
perchance, ere this day is out, what yonder men are, whom you hold in
"Why, what are they?" said Henry Seyton, who now joined them: "have
they sinews of wire, and flesh of iron?--Will lead pierce and steel
cut them?--If so, reverend father, we have little to fear."
"They are evil men," said the Abbot, "but the trade of war demands no
saints.--Murray and Morton are known to be the best generals in
Scotland. No one ever saw Lindesay's or Ruthven's back--Kirkaldy of
Grange was named by the Constable Montmorency the first soldier in
Europe--My brother, too good a name for such a cause, has been far and
wide known for a soldier."
"The better, the better!" said Seyton, triumphantly; "we shall have
all these traitors of rank and name in a fair field before us. Our
cause is the best, our numbers are the strongest, our hearts and limbs
match theirs--Saint Bennet, and set on!"
The Abbot made no reply, but seemed lost in reflection; and his
anxiety in some measure communicated itself to Roland Avenel, who
ever, as their line of march led over a ridge or an eminence, cast an
anxious look towards the towers of Glasgow, as if he expected to see
symptoms of the enemy issuing forth. It was not that he feared the
fight, but the issue was of such deep import to his country, and to
himself, that the natural fire of his spirit burned with a less
lively, though with a more intense glow. Love, honour, fame, fortune,
all seemed to depend on the issue of one field, rashly hazarded
perhaps, but now likely to become unavoidable and decisive.
When, at length, their march came to be nearly parallel with the city
of Glasgow, Roland became sensible that the high grounds before them
were already in part occupied by a force, showing, like their own, the
royal banner of Scotland, and on the point of being supported by
columns of infantry and squadrons of horse, which the city gates had
poured forth, and which hastily advanced to sustain those troops who
already possessed the ground in front of the Queen's forces. Horseman
after horseman galloped in from the advanced guard, with tidings that
Murray had taken the field with his whole army; that his object was to
intercept the Queen's march, and his purpose unquestionable to hazard
a battle. It was now that the tempers of men were subjected to a
sudden and a severe trial; and that those who had too presumptuously
concluded that they would pass without combat, were something
disconcerted, when, at once, and with little time to deliberate, they
found themselves placed in front of a resolute enemy.--Their chiefs
immediately assembled around the Queen, and held a hasty council of
war. Mary's quivering lip confessed the fear which she endeavoured to
conceal under a bold and dignified demeanour. But her efforts were
overcome by painful recollections of the disastrous issue of her last
appearance in arms at Carberry-hill; and when she meant to have asked
them their advice for ordering the battle, she involuntarily inquired
whether there were no means of escaping without an engagement?
"Escaping?" answered the Lord Seyton; "when I stand as one to ten of
your Highness's enemies, I may think of escape--but never while I
stand with three to two!"
"Battle! battle!" exclaimed the assembled lords; "we will drive the
rebels from their vantage ground, as the hound turns the hare on the
"Methinks, my noble lords," said the Abbot, "it were as well to
prevent his gaining that advantage.--Our road lies through yonder
hamlet on the brow, and whichever party hath the luck to possess it,
with its little gardens and enclosures, will attain a post of great
"The reverend father is right," said the Queen. "Oh, haste thee,
Seyton, haste, and get thither before them--they are marching like the
Seyton bowed low, and turned his horse's head.--"Your Highness honours
me," he said; "I will instantly press forward, and seize the pass."
"Not before me, my lord, whose charge is the command of the vanguard,"
said the Lord of Arbroath.
"Before you, or any Hamilton in Scotland," said the Seyton, "having
the Queen's command--Follow me, gentlemen, my vassals and kinsmen--
Saint Bennet, and set on!"
"And follow me," said Arbroath, "my noble kinsmen, and brave
men-tenants, we will see which will first reach the post of danger.
For God and Queen Mary!"
"Ill-omened haste, and most unhappy strife," said the Abbot, who saw
them and their followers rush hastily and emulously to ascend the
height without waiting till their men were placed in order.--"And you,
gentlemen," he continued, addressing Roland and Seyton, who were each
about to follow those who hastened thus disorderly to the conflict,
"will you leave the Queen's person unguarded?"
"Oh, leave me not, gentlemen!" said the Queen--"Roland and Seyton, do
not leave me--there are enough of arms to strike in this fell combat--
withdraw not those to whom I trust for my safety."
"We may not leave her Grace," said Roland, looking at Seyton, and
turning his horse.
"I ever looked when thou wouldst find out that," rejoined the fiery
Roland made no answer, but bit his lip till the blood came, and
spurring his horse up to the side of Catherine Seyton's palfrey, he
whispered in a low voice, "I never thought to have done aught to
deserve you; but this day I have heard myself upbraided with
cowardice, and my sword remained still sheathed, and all for the love
"There is madness among us all," said the damsel; "my father, my
brother, and you, are all alike bereft of reason. Ye should think only
of this poor Queen, and you are all inspired by your own absurd
jealousies--The monk is the only soldier and man of sense amongst you
all.--My lord Abbot," she cried aloud, "were it not better we should
draw to the westward, and wait the event that God shall send us,
instead of remaining here in the highway, endangering the Queen's
person, and cumbering the troops in their advance?"
"You say well, my daughter," replied the Abbot; "had we but one to
guide us where the Queen's person may be in safety--Our nobles hurry
to the conflict, without casting a thought on the very cause of the
"Follow me," said a knight, or man-at-arms, well mounted, and attired
completely in black armour, but having the visor of his helmet closed,
and bearing no crest on his helmet, or device upon his shield.
"We will follow no stranger," said the Abbot, "without some warrant
of his truth."
"I am a stranger and in your hands," said the horseman; "if you wish
to know more of me, the Queen herself will be your warrant."
The Queen had remained fixed to the spot, as if disabled by fear, yet
mechanically smiling, bowing, and waving her hand, as banners were
lowered and spears depressed before her, while, emulating the strife
betwixt Seyton and Arbroath, band on band pressed forward their march
towards the enemy. Scarce, however, had the black rider whispered
something in her ear, than she assented to what he said; and when he
spoke aloud, and with an air of command, "Gentlemen, it is the Queen's
pleasure that you should follow me," Mary uttered, with something like
eagerness, the word "Yes."
All were in motion in an instant; for the black horseman, throwing off
a sort of apathy of manner, which his first appearance indicated,
spurred his horse to and fro, making him take such active bounds and
short turns, as showed the rider master of the animal; and getting the
Queen's little retinue in some order for marching, he led them to the
left, directing his course towards a castle, which, crowning a gentle
yet commanding eminence, presented an extensive view over the country
beneath, and in particular, commanded a view of those heights which
both armies hastened to occupy, and which it was now apparent must
almost instantly be the scene of struggle and dispute.
"Yonder towers," said the Abbot, questioning the sable horseman, "to
whom do they belong?--and are they in the hands of friends?"
"They are untenanted," replied the stranger, "or, at least, they have
no hostile inmates.--But urge these youths. Sir Abbot, to make more
haste--this is but an evil time to satisfy their idle curiosity, by
peering out upon the battle in which they are to take no share."
"The worse luck mine," said Henry Seyton, who overheard him--"I would
rather be under my father's banner at this moment than be made
Chamberlain of Holyrood, for this my present duty of peaceful ward
well and patiently discharged."
"Your place under your father's banner will shortly be right
dangerous," said Roland Avenel, who, pressing his horse towards the
westward, had still his look reverted to the armies; "for I see yonder
body of cavalry, which presses from the eastward, will reach the
village ere Lord Seyton can gain it."
"They are but cavalry," said Seyton, looking attentively; "they cannot
hold the village without shot of harquebuss."
"Look more closely," said Roland; "you will see that each of these
horseman who advance so rapidly from Glasgow, carries a footman behind
"Now, by Heaven, he speaks well!" said the black cavalier; "one of you
two must go carry the news to Lord Seyton and Lord Arbroath, that they
hasten not their horsemen on before the foot, but advance more
"Be that my errand," said Roland, "for I first marked the stratagem of
"But, by your leave," said Seyton, "yonder is my father's banner
engaged, and it best becomes me to go to the rescue."
"I will stand by the Queen's decision," said Roland Avenel.
"What new appeal?--what new quarrel?" said Queen Mary--"Are
there not in yonder dark host enemies enough to Mary Stewart, but must
her very friends turn enemies to each other?"
"Nay, madam," said Roland, "the young master of Seyton and I did but
dispute who should leave your person to do a most needful message to
the host. He thought his rank entitled him, and I deemed that the
person of least consequence, being myself, were better perilled--"
"Not so," said the Queen; "if one must leave me, be it Seyton."
Henry Seyton bowed till the white plumes on his helmet mixed with the
flowing mane of his gallant war-horse, then placed himself firm in the
saddle, shook his lance aloft with an air of triumph and
determination, and striking his horse with the spurs, made towards his
father's banner, which was still advancing up the hill, and dashed his
steed over every obstacle that occurred in his headlong path.
"My brother! my father!" exclaimed Catherine, with an expression of
agonized apprehension--"they are in the midst of peril, and I in
"Would to God," said Roland, "that I were with them, and could
ransom every drop of their blood by two of mine!"
"Do I not know thou dost wish it?" said Catherine--"Can a woman say to
a man what I have well-nigh said to thee, and yet think that he could
harbour fear or faintness of heart?--There is that in yon distant
sound of approaching battle that pleases me even while it affrights
me. I would I were a man, that I might feel that stern delight,
without the mixture of terror!"
"Ride up, ride up, Lady Catherine Seyton," cried the Abbot, as they
still swept on at a rapid pace, and were now close beneath the walls
of the castle--"ride up, and aid Lady Fleming to support the
Queen--she gives way more and more."
They halted and lifted Mary from the saddle, and were about to support
her towards the castle, when she said faintly, "Not there--not
there--these walls will I never enter more!"
"Be a Queen, madam," said the Abbot, "and forget that you are a
"Oh, I must forget much, much more," answered the unfortunate Mary, in
an under tone, "ere I can look with steady eyes on these well-known
scenes!--I must forget the days which I spent here as the bride of the
"This is the Castle of Crookstone," said the Lady Fleming, "in which
the Queen held her first court after she was married to Darnley."
"Heaven," said the Abbot, "thy hand is upon us!--Bear yet up, madam
--your foes are the foes of Holy Church, and God will this day decide
whether Scotland shall be Catholic or heretic."
A heavy and continued fire of cannon and musketry, bore a tremendous
burden to his words, and seemed far more than they to recall the
spirits of the Queen.
"To yonder tree," she said, pointing to a yew-tree which grew on a
small mount close to the castle; "I know it well--from thence you may
see a prospect wide as from the peaks of Schehallion."
And freeing herself from her assistants, she walked with a determined,
yet somewhat wild step, up to the stem of the noble yew. The Abbot,
Catherine, and Roland Avenel followed her, while Lady Fleming kept
back the inferior persons of her train. The black horseman also
followed the Queen, waiting on her as closely as the shadow upon the
light, but ever remaining at the distance of two or three yards---he
folded his arms on his bosom, turned his back to the battle, and
seemed solely occupied by gazing on Mary, through the bars of his
closed visor. The Queen regarded him not, but fixed her eyes upon the
"Ay, fair and stately tree," she said, as if at the sight of it she
had been rapt away from the present scene, and had overcome the horror
which had oppressed her at the first approach to Crookstone, "there
thou standest, gay and goodly as ever, though thou hearest the sounds
of war, instead of the vows of love. All is gone since I last greeted
thee--love and lover--vows and vower--king and kingdom.--How goes the
field, my Lord Abbot?--with us, I trust--yet what but evil can Mary's
eyes witness from this spot?"
Her attendants eagerly bent their eyes on the field of battle, but
could discover nothing more than that it was obstinately contested.
The small enclosures and cottage gardens in the village, of which they
had a full and commanding view, and which shortly before lay, with
their lines of sycamore and ash-trees, so still and quiet in the mild
light of a May sun, were now each converted into a line of fire,
canopied by smoke; and the sustained and constant report of the
musketry and cannon, mingled with the shouts of meeting combatants,
showed that as yet neither party had given ground.
"Many a soul finds its final departure to heaven or hell, in these
awful thunders," said the Abbot; "let those that believe in the Holy
Church, join me in orisons for victory in this dreadful combat."
"Not here--not here," said the unfortunate Queen; "pray not here,
father, or pray in silence--my mind is too much torn between the past
and the present, to dare to approach the heavenly throne--Or, if we
will pray, be it for one whose fondest affections have been her
greatest crimes, and who has ceased to be a queen, only because she
was a deceived and a tender-hearted woman."
"Were it not well," said Roland, "that I rode somewhat nearer the
hosts, and saw the fate of the day?"
"Do so, in the name of God," said the Abbot; "for if our friends are
scattered, our flight must be hasty--but beware thou approach not too
nigh the conflict; there is more than thine own life depends on thy
"Oh, go not too nigh," said Catherine; "but fail not to see how the
Seytons fight, and how they bear themselves."
"Fear nothing, I will be on my guard," said Roland Avenel; and without
waiting farther answer, rode towards the scene of conflict, keeping,
as he rode, the higher and unenclosed ground, and ever looking
cautiously around him, for fear of involving himself in some hostile
party. As he approached, the shots rung sharp and more sharply on his
ear, the shouts came wilder and wilder, and he felt that thick beating
of the heart, that mixture of natural apprehension, intense curiosity,
and anxiety for the dubious event, which even the bravest experience
when they approach alone to a scene of interest and of danger.
At length he drew so close, that from a bank, screened by bushes and
underwood, he could distinctly see where the struggle was most keenly
maintained. This was in a hollow way, leading to the village, up which
the Queen's vanguard had marched, with more hasty courage than
well-advised conduct, for the purpose of possessing themselves of that
post of advantage. They found their scheme anticipated, and the hedges
and enclosures already occupied by the enemy, led by the celebrated
Kirkaldy of Grange and the Earl of Morton; and not small was the loss
which they sustained while struggling forward to come to close with
the men-at-arms on the other side. But, as the Queen's followers were
chiefly noblemen and barons, with their kinsmen and followers, they
had pressed onward, contemning obstacles and danger, and had, when
Roland arrived on the ground, met hand to hand at the gorge of the
pass with the Regent's vanguard, and endeavoured to bear them out of
the village at the spear-point; while their foes, equally determined
to keep the advantage which they had attained, struggled with the like
obstinacy to drive back the assailants. Both parties were on foot,
and armed in proof; so that, when the long lances of the front ranks
were fixed in each other's shields, corslets, and breastplates, the
struggle resembled that of two bulls, who fixing their frontlets hard
against each other, remain in that posture for hours, until the
superior strength or obstinacy of the one compels the other to take to
flight, or bears him down to the earth. Thus locked together in the
deadly struggle, which swayed slowly to and fro, as one or other party
gained the advantage, those who fell were trampled on alike by friends
and foes; those whose weapons were broken, retired from the front
rank, and had their place supplied by others; while the rearward
ranks, unable otherwise to share in the combat, fired their pistols,
and hurled their daggers, and the points and truncheons of the broken
weapons, like javelins against the enemy.
"God and the Queen!" resounded from the one party; "God and the King!"
thundered from the other; while, in the name of their sovereign,
fellow-subjects on both sides shed each other's blood, and, in the
name of their Creator, defaced his image. Amid the tumult was often
heard the voices of the captains, shouting their commands; of leaders
and chiefs, crying their gathering words; of groans and shrieks from
the falling and the dying.
The strife had lasted nearly an hour. The strength of both parties
seemed exhausted; but their rage was unabated, and their obstinacy
unsubdued, when Roland, who turned eye and ear to all around him, saw
a column of infantry, headed by a few horsemen, wheel round the base
of the bank where he had stationed himself, and, levelling their long
lances, attack the Queen's vanguard, closely engaged as they were in
conflict on their front. The very first glance showed him that the
leader who directed this movement was the Knight of Avenel, his
ancient master; and the next convinced him, that its effects would be
decisive. The result of the attack of fresh and unbroken forces upon
the flank of those already wearied with a long and obstinate struggle,
was, indeed, instantaneous.
The column of the assailants, which had hitherto shown one dark,
dense, and united line of helmets, surmounted with plumage, was at
once broken and hurled in confusion down the hill, which they had so
long endeavoured to gain. In vain were the leaders heard calling upon
their followers to stand to the combat, and seen personally resisting
when all resistance was evidently vain. They were slain, or felled to
the earth, or hurried backwards by the mingled tide of flight and
pursuit. What were Roland's feelings on beholding the rout, and
feeling that all that remained for him was to turn bridle, and
endeavour to ensure the safety of the Queen's person! Yet, keen as
his grief and shame might be, they were both forgotten, when, almost
close beneath the bank which he occupied, he saw Henry Seyton forced
away from his own party in the tumult, covered with dust and blood,
and defending himself desperately against several of the enemy who had
gathered around him, attracted by his gay armour. Roland paused not a
moment, but pushing his steed down the bank, leaped him amongst the
hostile party, dealt three or four blows amongst them, which struck
down two, and made the rest stand aloof; then reaching Seyton his
hand, he exhorted him to seize fast on his horse's mane.
"We live or die together this day," said he; "keep but fast hold till
we are out of the press, and then my horse is yours."
Seyton heard and exerted his remaining strength, and, by their joint
efforts, Roland brought him out of danger, and behind the spot from
whence he had witnessed the disastrous conclusion of the fight. But no
sooner were they under shelter of the trees, than Seyton let go his
hold, and, in spite of Roland's efforts to support him, fell at length
on the turf. "Trouble yourself no more with me," he said; "this is my
first and my last battle--and I have already seen too much to wish to
see the close. Hasten to save the Queen--and commend me to
Catherine--she will never more be mistaken for me nor I for her--the
last sword-stroke has made an eternal distinction."
"Let me aid you to mount my horse," said Roland, eagerly, "and you
may yet be saved--I can find my own way on foot--turn but my horse's
head westward, and he will carry you fleet and easy as the wind."
"I will never mount steed more," said the youth; "farewell--I love
thee better dying, than ever I thought to have done while in life--I
would that old man's blood were not on my hand!--_Sancte Benedicte,
ora pro me_--Stand not to look on a dying man, but haste to save
These words were spoken with the last effort of his voice, and scarce
were they uttered ere the speaker was no more. They recalled Roland to
a sense of the duty which he had well-nigh forgotten, but they did not
reach his ears only.
"The Queen--where is the Queen?" said Halbert Glendinning, who,
followed by two or three horsemen, appeared at this instant. Roland
made no answer, but, turning his horse, and confiding in his speed,
gave him at once rein and spur, and rode over height and hollow
towards the Castle of Crookstone. More heavily armed, and mounted upon
a horse of less speed, Sir Halbert Glendinning followed with couched
lance, calling out as he rode, "Sir, with the holly-branch, halt, and
show your right to bear that badge--fly not thus cowardly, nor
dishonour the cognizance thou deservest not to wear!--Halt, sir
coward, or by Heaven, I will strike thee with my lance on the back,
and slay thee like a dastard--I am the Knight of Avenel--I am Halbert
But Roland, who had no purpose of encountering his old master, and
who, besides, knew the Queen's safety depended on his making the best
speed he could, answered not a word to the defiances and reproaches
which Sir Halbert continued to throw out against him; but making the
best use of his spurs, rode yet harder than before, and had gained
about a hundred yards upon his pursuer, when, coming near to the
yew-tree where he had left the Queen, he saw them already getting to
horse, and cried out as loud as he could, "Foes! foes!--Ride for it,
fair ladies--Brave gentlemen, do your devoir to protect them!"
So saying, he wheeled his horse, and avoiding the shock of Sir Halbert
Glendinning, charged one of that Knight's followers, who was nearly on
a line with him, so rudely with his lance, that he overthrew horse and
man. He then drew his sword and attacked the second, while the black
man-at-arms, throwing himself in the way of Glendinning, they rushed
on each other so fiercely, that both horses were overthrown, and the
riders lay rolling on the plain. Neither was able to arise, for the
black horseman was pierced through with Glendinning's lance, and the
Knight of Avenel, oppressed with the weight of his own horse and
sorely bruised besides, seemed in little better plight than he whom he
had mortally wounded.
"Yield thee, Sir Knight of Avenel, rescue or no rescue," said Roland,
who had put a second antagonist out of condition to combat, and
hastened to prevent Glendinning from renewing the conflict.
"I may not choose but yield," said Sir Halbert, "since I can no longer
fight; but it shames me to speak such a word to a coward like thee!"
"Call me not coward," said Roland, lifting his visor, and helping his
prisoner to rise, "since but for old kindness at thy hands, and yet
more at thy lady's, I had met thee as a brave man should."
"The favourite page of my wife!" said Sir Halbert, astonished; "Ah!
wretched boy, I have heard of thy treason at Lochleven."
"Reproach him not, my brother," said the Abbot, "he was but an agent
in the hands of Heaven."
"To horse, to horse!" said Catherine Seyton; "mount and begone, or we
are all lost. I see our gallant army flying for many a league--To
horse, my Lord Abbot--To horse, Roland--my gracious Liege, to horse!
Ere this, we should have ridden many a mile."
"Look on these features," said Mary, pointing to the dying knight, who
had been unhelmed by some compassionate hand; "look there, and tell me
if she who ruins all who love her, ought to fly a foot farther to save
her wretched life!"
The reader must have long anticipated the discovery which the Queen's
feelings had made before her eyes confirmed it. It was the features of
the unhappy George Douglas, on which death was stamping his mark.
"Look--look at him well," said the Queen, "thus has it been with all
who loved Mary Stewart!--The royalty of Francis, the wit of Chastelar,
the power and gallantry of the gay Gordon, the melody of Rizzio, the
portly form and youthful grace of Darnley, the bold address and
courtly manners of Bothwell--and now the deep-devoted passion of the
noble Douglas--nought could save them!--they looked on the wretched
Mary, and to have loved her was crime enough to deserve early death!
No sooner had the victim formed a kind thought of me, than the
poisoned cup, the axe and block, the dagger, the mine, were ready to
punish them for casting away affection on such a wretch as I
am!--Importune me not--I will fly no farther--I can die but once, and
I will die here."
While she spoke, her tears fell fast on the face of the dying man, who
continued to fix his eyes on her with an eagerness of passion, which
death itself could hardly subdue.--"Mourn not for me," he said
faintly, "but care for your own safety--I die in mine armour as a
Douglas should, and I die pitied by Mary Stewart!"
He expired with these words, and without withdrawing his eyes from her
face; and the Queen, whose heart was of that soft and gentle mould,
which in domestic life, and with a more suitable partner than Darnley,
might have made her happy, remained weeping by the dead man, until
recalled to herself by the Abbot, who found it necessary to use a
style of unusual remonstrance. "We also, madam," he said, "we, your
Grace's devoted followers, have friends and relatives to weep for. I
leave a brother in imminent jeopardy--the husband of the Lady
Fleming--the father and brothers of the Lady Catherine, are all in
yonder bloody field, slain, it is to be feared, or prisoners. We
forget the fate of our nearest and dearest, to wait on our Queen, and
she is too much occupied with her own sorrows to give one thought to
"I deserve not your reproach, father," said the Queen, checking her
tears; "but I am docile to it--where must we go--what must we do?"
"We must fly, and that instantly," said the Abbot; "whither is not so
easily answered, but we may dispute it upon the road--Lift her to her
saddle, and set forward."
[Footnote: I am informed in the most polite manner, by D. MacVean,
Esq. of Glasgow, that I have been incorrect in my locality, in giving
an account of the battle of Langside. Crookstone Castle, he observes,
lies four miles west from the field of battle, and rather in the rear
of Murray's army. The real place from which Mary saw the rout of her
last army, was Cathcart Castle, which, being a mile and a half east
from Langside, was, situated in the rear of the Queen's own army. I
was led astray in the present case, by the authority of my deceased
friend, James Grahame the excellent and amiable author of the Sabbath,
in his drama on the subject of Queen Mary; and by a traditionary
report of Mary having seen the battle from the Castle of Crookstone,
which seemed so much to increase the interest of the scene, that I
have been unwilling to make, in this particular instance, the fiction
give way to the fact, which last is undoubtedly in favour of Mr.
It is singular how tradition, which is sometimes a sure guide to
truth, is, in other cases, prone to mislead us. In the celebrated
field of battle at Killiecrankie, the traveller is struck with one of
those rugged pillars of rough stone, which indicate the scenes of
ancient conflict. A friend of the author, well acquainted with the
circumstances of the battle, was standing near this large stone, and
looking on the scene around, when a highland shepherd hurried down
from the hill to offer his services as cicerone, and proceeded to
inform him, that Dundee was slain at that stone, which was raised to
his memory. "Fie, Donald." answered my friend, "how can you tell such
a story to a stranger? I am sure you know well enough that Dundee was
killed at a considerable distance from this place, near the house of
Fascally, and that this stone was here long before the battle, in
1688."--"Oich! oich!" said Donald, no way abashed, "and your honour's
in the right, and I see you ken a' about it. And he wasna killed on
the spot neither, but lived till the next morning; but a' the Saxon
gentlemen like best to hear he was killed at the great stane." It is
on the same principle of pleasing my readers, that I retain Crookstone
Castle instead of Cathcart.
If, however, the author has taken a liberty in removing the actual
field of battle somewhat to the eastward, he has been tolerably strict
in adhering to the incidents of the engagement, as will appear from it
comparison of events in the novel, with the following account from an
"The Regent was out on foot and all his company, except the Laird of
Grange, Alexander Hume of Manderston, and some borderers to the number
of two hundred. The Laird of Grange had already viewed the ground, and
with all imaginable diligence caused every horseman to take behind him
a footman of the Regent's, to guard behind them, and rode with speed
to the head of Langside-hill, and set down the footmen with their
culverings at the head of a straight lane, where there were some
cottage houses and yards of great advantage. Which soldiers with their
continual shot killed divers of the vaunt guard, led by the Hamiltons,
who, courageously and fiercely ascending up the hill, were already out
of breath, when the Regent's vaunt guard joined with them. Where the
worthy Lord Hume fought on foot with his pike in his hand very
manfully, assisted by the Laird of Cessford, his brother-in-law, who
helped him up again when he was strucken to the ground by many strokes
upon his face, through the throwing pistols at him after they had been
discharged. He was also wounded with staves, and had many strokes of
spears through his legs; for he and Grange, at the joining, cried to
let their adversaries first lay down their spears, to bear up theirs;
which spears were so thick fixed in the others' jacks, that some of
the pistols and great staves that were thrown by them which were
behind, might be seen lying upon the spears.
"Upon the Queen's side the Earl of Argyle commanded the battle, and
the Lord of Arbroth the vaunt guard. But the Regent committed to the
Laird of Grange the special care, as being an experimented captain, to
oversee every danger, and to ride to every wing, to encourage and make
help where greatest need was. He perceived, at the first joining, the
right wing of the Regent's vaunt guard put back and like to fly,
whereof the greatest part were commons of the barony of Renfrew;
whereupon he rode to them, and told them that their enemy was already
turning their backs, requesting them to stay and debate till he should
bring them fresh men forth of the battle. Whither at full speed he did
ride alone, and told the Regent that the enemy were shaken and flying
away behind the little village, and desired a few number of fresh men
to go with him. Where he found enough willing, as the Lord Lindesay,
the Laird of Lochleven, Sir James Balfour, and all the Regent's
servants, who followed him with diligence, and reinforced that wing
which was beginning to fly; which fresh men with their loose weapons
struck the enemies in their flank and faces, which forced them
incontinent to give place and turn back after long fighting and
pushing others to and fro with their spears. There were not many
horsemen to pursue after them, and the Regent cried to save and not to
kill, and Grange was never cruel, so that there were few slain and
taken. And the only slaughter was at the first rencounter by the shot
of the soldiers, which Grange had planted at the lane head behind some
It is remarkable that, while passing through the small town of
Renfrew, some partisans, adherents of the House of Lennox, attempting
to arrest Queen Mary and her attendants, were obliged to make way for
her not without slaughter.]
They set off accordingly--Roland lingered a moment to command the
attendants of the Knight of Avenel to convey their master to the
Castle of Crookstone, and to say that he demanded from him no other
condition of liberty, than his word, that he and his followers would
keep secret the direction in which the Queen fled. As he turned his
rein to depart, the honest countenance of Adam Woodcock stared upon
him with an expression of surprise, which, at another time, would have
excited his hearty mirth. He had been one of the followers who had
experienced the weight of Roland's arm, and they now knew each other,
Roland having put up his visor, and the good yeoman having thrown away
his barret-cap, with the iron bars in front, that he might the more
readily assist his master. Into this barret-cap, as it lay on the
ground, Roland forgot not to drop a few gold pieces, (fruits of the
Queen's liberality,) and with a signal of kind recollection and
enduring friendship, he departed at full gallop to overtake the Queen,
the dust raised by her train being already far down the hill.
"It is not fairy-money," said honest Adam, weighing and handling the
gold--"And it was Master Roland himself, that is a certain thing--the
same open hand, and, by our Lady!" (shrugging his shoulders)--"the same
ready fist!--My Lady will hear of this gladly, for she mourns for him
as if he were her son. And to see how gay he is! But these light lads
are as sure to be uppermost as the froth to be on the top of the
quart-pot--Your man of solid parts remains ever a falconer." So
saying, he went to aid his comrades, who had now come up in greater
numbers, to carry his master into the Castle of Crookstone.
Chapter the Thirty-Eighth.
My native land, good night!
Many a bitter tear was shed, during the hasty flight of Queen Mary,
over fallen hopes, future prospects, and slaughtered friends. The
deaths of the brave Douglas, and of the fiery but gallant young
Seyton, seemed to affect the Queen as much as the fall from the
throne, on which she had so nearly been again seated. Catherine Seyton
devoured in secret her own grief, anxious to support the broken
spirits of her mistress; and the Abbot, bending his troubled thoughts
upon futurity, endeavoured in vain to form some plan which had a
shadow of hope. The spirit of young Roland--for he also mingled in the
hasty debates held by the companions of the Queen's flight--continued
unchecked and unbroken.
"Your Majesty," he said, "has lost a battle--Your ancestor, Bruce,
lost seven successively, ere he sat triumphant on the Scottish throne,
and proclaimed with the voice of a victor, in the field of
Bannockburn, the independence of his country. Are not these heaths,
which we may traverse at will, better than the locked, guarded, and
lake-moated Castle of Lochleven?--We are free--in that one word
there is comfort for all our losses."
He struck a bold note, but the heart of Mary made no response.
"Better," she said, "I had still been in Lochleven, than seen the
slaughter made by rebels among the subjects who offered themselves to
death for my sake. Speak not to me of farther efforts--they would only
cost the lives of you, the friends who recommend them! I would not
again undergo what I felt, when I saw from yonder mount the swords of
the fell horsemen of Morton raging among the faithful Seytons and
Hamiltons, for their loyalty to their Queen--I would not again feel
what I felt when Douglas's life-blood stained my mantle for his love
to Mary Stewart--not to be empress of all that Britain's seas enclose.
Find for me some place where I can hide my unhappy head, which brings
destruction on all who love it--it is the last favour that Mary asks
of her faithful followers."
In this dejected mood, but still pursuing her flight with unabated
rapidity, the unfortunate Mary, after having been joined by Lord
Herries and a few followers, at length halted, for the first time, at
the Abbey of Dundrennan, nearly sixty miles distant from the field of
battle. In this remote quarter of Galloway, the Reformation not having
yet been strictly enforced against the monks, a few still lingered in
their cells unmolested; and the Prior, with tears and reverence,
received the fugitive Queen at the gate of his convent.
"I bring you ruin, my good father," said the Queen, as she was lifted
from her palfrey.
"It is welcome," said the Prior, "if it comes in the train of duty."
Placed on the ground, and supported by her ladies, the Queen looked
for an instant at her palfrey, which, jaded and drooping its head,
seemed as if it mourned the distresses of its mistress.
"Good Roland," said the Queen, whispering, "let Rosabelle be cared for
--ask thy heart, and it will tell thee why I make this trifling
request even in this awful hour."
She was conducted to her apartment, and in the hurried consultation of
her attendants, the fatal resolution of the retreat to England was
finally adopted. In the morning it received her approbation, and a
messenger was despatched to the English warden, to pray him for
safe-conduct and hospitality, on the part of the Queen of Scotland. On
the next day the Abbot Ambrose walked in the garden of the Abbey with
Roland, to whom he expressed his disapprobation of the course pursued.
"It is madness and ruin," he said; "better commit herself to the
savage Highlanders or wild Bordermen, than to the faith of Elizabeth.
A woman to a rival woman--a presumptive successor to the keeping of a
jealous and childless Queen!--Roland, Herries is true and loyal, but
his counsel has ruined his mistress."
"Ay, ruin follows us every where," said an old man, with a spade in
his hand, and dressed like a lay-brother, of whose presence, in the
vehemence of his exclamation, the Abbot had not been aware--"Gaze not
on me with such wonder!--I am he who was the Abbot Boniface at
Kennaquhair, who was the gardener Blinkhoolie at Lochleven, hunted
round to the place in which I served my noviciate, and now ye are come
to rouse me up again!--A weary life I have had for one to whom peace
was ever the dearest blessing!"
"We will soon rid you of our company, good father," said the Abbot;
"and the Queen will, I fear, trouble your retreat no more."
"Nay, you said as much before," said the querulous old man, "and yet I
was put forth from Kinross, and pillaged by troopers on the
road.--They took from me the certificate that you wot of--that of the
Baron--ay, he was a moss-trooper like themselves--You asked me of it,
and I could never find it, but they found it--it showed the marriage
of--of--my memory fails me--Now see how men differ! Father Nicholas
would have told you an hundred tales of the Abbot Ingelram, on whose
soul God have mercy!--He was, I warrant you, fourscore and six, and I
am not more than--let me see----"
"Was not Avenel the name you seek, my good father?" said Roland,
impatiently, yet moderating his tone for fear of alarming or offending
the infirm old man.
"Ay, right--Avenel, Julian Avenel--You are perfect in the name--I kept
all the special confessions, judging it held with my vow to do so--I
could not find it when my successor, Ambrosius, spoke on't--but the
troopers found it, and the Knight who commanded the party struck his
breast, till the target clattered like an empty watering-can."
"Saint Mary!" said the Abbot, "in whom could such a paper excite
such interest! What was the appearance of the knight, his arms, his
"Ye distract me with your questions--I dared hardly look at him--they
charged me with bearing letters for the Queen, and searched my mail--
This was all along of your doings at Lochleven."
"I trust in God," said the Abbot to Roland, who stood beside him,
shivering and trembling "with impatience," the paper has fallen into
the hands of my brother--I heard he had been with his followers on the
scout betwixt Stirling and Glasgow.--Bore not the Knight a holly-bough
on his helmet?--Canst thou not remember?"
"Oh, remember--remember," said the old man pettishly; "count as many
years as I do, if your plots will let you, and see what, and how much,
you remember.--Why, I scarce remember the pear-mains which I graffed
here with my own hands some fifty years since."
At this moment a bugle sounded loudly from the beach.
"It is the death-blast to Queen Mary's royalty," said Ambrosius; "the
English warden's answer has been received, favourable doubtless, for
when was the door of the trap closed against the prey which it was set
for?--Droop not, Roland--this matter shall be sifted to the
bottom--but we must not now leave the Queen--follow me--let us do our
duty, and trust the issue with God--Farewell, good Father--I will
visit thee again soon."
He was about to leave the garden, followed by Roland, with
half-reluctant steps. The Ex-Abbot resumed his spade.
"I could be sorry for these men," he said, "ay, and for that poor
Queen, but what avail earthly sorrows to a man of fourscore?--and it
is a rare dropping morning for the early colewort."
"He is stricken with age," said Ambrosius, as he dragged Roland down
to the sea-beach; "we must let him take his time to collect
himself--nothing now can be thought on but the fate of the Queen."
They soon arrived where she stood, surrounded by her little train, and
by her side the sheriff of Cumberland, a gentleman of the house of
Lowther, richly dressed and accompanied by soldiers. The aspect of the
Queen exhibited a singular mixture of alacrity and reluctance to
depart. Her language and gestures spoke hope and consolation to her
attendants, and she seemed desirous to persuade even herself that the
step she adopted was secure, and that the assurance she had received
of kind reception was altogether satisfactory; but her quivering lip,
and unsettled eye, betrayed at once her anguish at departing from
Scotland, and her fears of confiding herself to the doubtful faith of
"Welcome, my Lord Abbot," she said, speaking to Ambrosius, "and you,
Roland Avenel, we have joyful news for you--our loving sister's
officer proffers us, in her name, a safe asylum from the rebels who
have driven us from our home--only it grieves me we must here part
from you for a short space."
"Part from us, madam!" said the Abbot. "Is your welcome in England,
then, to commence with the abridgment of your train, and dismissal of
"Take it not thus, good Father," said Mary; "the Warden and the
Sheriff, faithful servants of our Royal Sister, deem it necessary to
obey her instructions in the present case, even to the letter, and can
only take upon them to admit me with my female attendants. An express
will instantly be despatched from London, assigning me a place of
residence; and I will speedily send to all of you whenever my Court
shall be formed."
"Your Court formed in England! and while Elizabeth lives and reigns?"
said the Abbot--"that will be when we shall see two suns in one
"Do not think so," replied the Queen; "we are well assured of our
sister's good faith. Elizabeth loves fame--and not all that she has
won by her power and her wisdom will equal that which she will acquire
by extending her hospitality to a distressed sister!--not all that she
may hereafter do of good, wise, and great, would blot out the reproach
of abusing our confidence.--Farewell, my page--now my knight--farewell
for a brief season. I will dry the tears of Catherine, or I will weep
with her till neither of us can weep longer."--She held out her hand
to Roland, who flinging himself on his knees, kissed it with much
emotion. He was about to render the same homage to Catherine, when the
Queen, assuming an air of sprightliness, said, "Her lips, thou foolish
boy! and, Catherine, coy it not--these English gentlemen should see,
that, even in our cold clime, Beauty knows how to reward Bravery and
"We are not now to learn the force of Scottish beauty, or the mettle
of Scottish valour," said the Sheriff of Cumberland, courteously--"I
would it were in my power to bid these attendants upon her who is
herself the mistress of Scottish beauty, as welcome to England as my
poor cares would make them. But our Queen's orders are positive in
case of such an emergence, and they must not be disputed by her
subject.--May I remind your Majesty that the tide ebbs fast?"
The Sheriff took the Queen's hand, and she had already placed her foot
on the gangway, by which she was to enter the skiff, when the Abbot,
starting from a trance of grief and astonishment at the words of the
Sheriff, rushed into the water, and seized upon her mantle.
"She foresaw it!--She foresaw it!"--he exclaimed--"she foresaw your
flight into her realm; and, foreseeing it, gave orders you should be
thus received. Blinded, deceived, doomed--Princess! your fate is
sealed when you quit this strand.--Queen of Scotland, thou shalt not
leave thine heritage!" he continued, holding a still firmer grasp upon
her mantle; "true men shall turn rebels to thy will, that they may
save thee from captivity or death. Fear not the bills and bows whom
that gay man has at his beck--we will withstand him by force. Oh, for
the arm of my warlike brother!--Roland Avenel, draw thy sword."
The Queen stood irresolute and frightened; one foot upon the plank,
the other on the sand of her native shore, which she was quitting for
"What needs this violence, Sir Priest?" said the Sheriff of
Cumberland; "I came hither at your Queen's command, to do her service;
and I will depart at her least order, if she rejects such aid as I can
offer. No marvel is it if our Queen's wisdom foresaw that such chance
as this might happen amidst the turmoils of your unsettled State; and,
while willing to afford fair hospitality to her Royal Sister, deemed
it wise to prohibit the entrance of a broken army of her followers
into the English frontier."
"You hear," said Queen Mary, gently unloosing her robe from the
Abbot's grasp, "that we exercise full liberty of choice in leaving
this shore; and, questionless, the choice will remain free to us in
going to France, or returning to our own dominions, as we shall
determine--Besides, it is too late--Your blessing, Father, and God
"May He have mercy on thee, Princess, and speed thee also!" said the
Abbot, retreating. "But my soul tells me I look on thee for the last
time!" The sails were hoisted, the oars were plied, the vessel went
freshly on her way through the firth, which divides the shores of
Cumberland from those of Galloway; but not till the vessel diminished
to the size of a child's frigate, did the doubtful, and dejected, and
dismissed followers of the Queen cease to linger on the sands; and
long, long could they discern the kerchief of Mary, as she waved the
oft-repeated signal of adieu to her faithful adherents, and to the
shores of Scotland.
If good tidings of a private nature could have consoled Roland for
parting with his mistress, and for the distresses of his sovereign, he
received such comfort some days subsequent to the Queen's leaving
Dundrennan. A breathless post--no other than Adam Woodcock--brought
despatches from Sir Halbert Glendinning to the Abbot, whom he found
with Roland, still residing at Dundrennan, and in vain torturing
Boniface with fresh interrogations. The packet bore an earnest
invitation to his brother to make Avenel Castle for a time his
residence. "The clemency of the Regent," said the writer, "has
extended pardon both to Roland and to you, upon condition of your
remaining a time under my wardship. And I have that to communicate
respecting the parentage of Roland, which not only you will willingly
listen to, but which will be also found to afford me, as the husband
of his nearest relative, some interest in the future course of his
The Abbot read this letter, and paused, as if considering what were
best for him to do. Meanwhile, Woodcock took Roland side, and
addressed him as follows:--"Now, look, Mr. Roland, that you do not let
any papestrie nonsense lure either the priest or you from the right
quarry. See you, you ever bore yourself as a bit of a gentleman. Read
that, and thank God that threw old Abbot Boniface in our way, as two
of the Seyton's men were conveying him towards Dundrennan here.--We
searched him for intelligence concerning that fair exploit of yours at
Lochleven, that has cost many a man his life, and me a set of sore
bones--and we found what is better for your purpose than ours."
The paper which he gave, was, indeed, an attestation by Father Philip,
subscribing himself unworthy Sacristan, and brother of the House of
Saint Mary's, stating, "that under a vow of secrecy he had united, in
the holy sacrament of marriage, Julian Avenel and Catherine Graeme;
but that Julian having repented of his union, he, Father Philip, had
been sinfully prevailed on by him to conceal and disguise the same,
according to a complot devised betwixt him and the said Julian Avenel,
whereby the poor damsel was induced to believe that the ceremony had
been performed by one not in holy orders, and having no authority to
that effect. Which sinful concealment the undersigned conceived to be
the cause why he was abandoned to the misguiding of a water-fiend,
whereby he had been under a spell, which obliged him to answer every
question, even touching the most solemn matters, with idle snatches of
old songs, besides being sorely afflicted with rheumatic pains ever
after. Wherefore he had deposited this testificate and confession with
the day and date of the said marriage, with his lawful superior
Boniface, Abbot of Saint Mary's, _sub sigillo confessionis_."
It appeared by a letter from Julian, folded carefully up with the
certificate, that the Abbot Boniface had, in effect, bestirred himself
in the affair, and obtained from the Baron a promise to avow his
marriage; but the death of both Julian and his injured bride, together
with the Abbot's resignation, his ignorance of the fate of their
unhappy offspring, and above all, the good father's listless and
inactive disposition, had suffered the matter to become totally
forgotten, until it was recalled by some accidental conversation with
the Abbot Ambrosius concerning the fortunes of the Avenel family. At
the request of his successor, the quondam Abbot made search for it;
but as he would receive no assistance in looking among the few records
of spiritual experiences and important confessions, which he had
conscientiously treasured, it might have remained for ever hidden
amongst them, but for the more active researches of Sir Halbert
"So that you are like to be heir of Avenel at last, Master Roland,
after my lord and lady have gone to their place," said Adam; "and as I
have but one boon to ask, I trust you will not nick me with nay."
"Not if it be in my power to say yes, my trusty friend."
"Why then, I must needs, if I live to see that day, keep on feeding
the eyases with unwashed flesh," said Woodcock sturdily, as if
doubting the reception that his request might meet with.
"Thou shalt feed them with what you list for me," said Roland,
laughing; "I am not many months older than when I left the Castle, but
I trust I have gathered wit enough to cross no man of skill in his own
"Then I would not change places with the King's falconer," said Adam
Woodcock, "nor with the Queen's neither--but they say she will be
mewed up and never need one.--I see it grieves you to think of it, and
I could grieve for company; but what help for it?--Fortune will fly
her own flight, let a man hollo himself hoarse."
The Abbot and Roland journeyed to Avenel, where the former was
tenderly received by his brother, while the lady wept for joy to find
that in her favourite orphan she had protected the sole surviving
branch of her own family. Sir Halbert Glendinning and his household
were not a little surprised at the change which a brief acquaintance
with the world had produced in their former inmate, and rejoiced to
find, in the pettish, spoiled, and presuming page, a modest and
unassuming young man, too much acquainted with his own expectations
and character, to be hot or petulant in demanding the consideration
which was readily and voluntarily yielded to him. The old Major Domo
Wingate was the first to sing his praises, to which Mistress Lilias
bore a loud echo, always hoping that God would teach him the true
To the true gospel the heart of Roland had secretly long inclined, and
the departure of the good Abbot for France, with the purpose of
entering into some house of his order in that kingdom, removed his
chief objection to renouncing the Catholic faith. Another might have
existed in the duty which he owed to Magdalen Graeme, both by birth
and from gratitude. But he learned, ere he had been long a resident
in Avenel, that his grandmother had died at Cologne, in the
performance of a penance too severe for her age, which she had taken
upon herself in behalf of the Queen and Church of Scotland, as soon as
she heard of the defeat at Langside. The zeal of the Abbot Ambrosius
was more regulated; but he retired into the Scottish convent of
------, and so lived there, that the fraternity were inclined to claim
for him the honours of canonization. But he guessed their purpose, and
prayed them, on his death-bed, to do no honours to the body of one as
sinful as themselves; but to send his body and his heart to be buried
in Avenel burial-aisle, in the monastery of Saint Mary's, that the
last Abbot of that celebrated house of devotion might sleep among its
[Footnote: This was not the explanation of the incident of searching
for the heart, mentioned in the introduction to the tale, which the
author originally intended. It was designed to refer to the heart of
Robert Bruce. It is generally known that that great monarch, being on
his death-bed, bequeathed to the good Lord James of Douglas, the task
of carrying his heart to the Holy Land, to fulfil in a certain degree
his own desire to perform a crusade. Upon Douglas's death, fighting
against the Moors in Spain, a sort of military hors d'oeuvre to which
he could have pleaded no regular call of duty, his followers brought
back the Bruce's heart, and deposited it in the Abbey church of
Melrose, the Kennaquhair of the tale.
This Abbey has been always particularly favoured by the Bruce. We have
already seen his extreme anxiety that each of the reverend brethren
should be daily supplied with a service of boiled almonds, rice and
milk, pease, or the like, to be called the King's mess, and that
without the ordinary service of their table being either disturbed in
quantity or quality. But this was not the only mark of the benignity
of good King Robert towards the monks of Melrose, since, by a charter
of the dale 29th May, 1326, he conferred on the Abbot of Melrose the
sum of two thousand pounds sterling, for rebuilding: the church of St.
Mary's, ruined by the English; and there is little or no doubt that
the principal part of the remains which now display such exquisite
specimens of Gothic architecture, at its very purest period, had their
origin in this munificent donation. The money was to be paid out of
crown lands, estates forfeited to the King, and other property or
demesnes of the crown.
A very curious letter written to his son about three weeks before his
death, has been pointed out to me by my friend Mr. Thomas Thomson,
Deputy-Register for Scotland. It enlarges so much on the love of the
royal writer to the community of Melrose, that it is well worthy of
being inserted in a work connected in some degree with Scottish
LITERA DOMINI REGIS ROBERTI AD FILIUM SUUM DAVID.
"Robertius dei gratia Rex Scottorum, David precordialissimo filio suo,
ac ceteris successoribus suis; Salutem, et sic ejus precepta tenere,
ut cum sua benedictione possint regnare. Fili carissime, digne censeri
videtur filius, qui, paternos in bonis mores imitans, piam ejus
nititur exequi voluntatem; nec proprie sibi sumit nomen heredis, qui
salubribus predecessoris affectibus non adherit: Cupientes igitur, ut
piam affectionem et scinceram delectionem, quam erga monasterium de
Melros, ubi cor nostrum ex speciali devotione disposuimus tumularidum,
et erga Religiosos ibidem Deo servientes, ipsorum vita sanctissima nos
ad hoc excitante, concepimus; Tu ceterique successores mei pia
scinceritate prosequarimi, ut, ex vestre dilectionis affectu dictis
Religiosis nostri causa post mortem nostrum ostenso, ipsi pro nobis ad
orandum ferveucius et forcius animentur: Vobis precipimus quantum
possumus, instanter supplicamus, et ex toto corde injungimus, Quatinus
assignacionibus quas eisdem yiris Religiosis et fabrica Ecclesie sue
de novo fecimus ac eciam omnibus aliis donacionibus nostris, ipsos
libere gaudere permittatis, Easdem potius si necesse fuerit
augmentantes quam diminuentes, ipsorum peticiones auribus benevolis
admittentes, ac ipsos contra suos invasores et emuios pia defensione
protegentes. Hanc autem exhortacionem supplicacionem et preceptum tu,
fili ceterique successores nostri prestanti animo complere curetis,
si nostram benedictionem habere velitis, una cum benedictione filii
summi Regis, qui filios docuit patrum voluntates in bono perficere,
asserens in mundum se venisse non ut suam voluntatem faceret sed
paternam. In testimonium autem nostre devotionis ergra locum predictum
sic a nobis dilectum et electum concepte, presentem literam Religiosis
predictis dimittimus, nostris successoribus in posterum ostendendam.
Data apud Cardros, undecimo die Maij, Anno Regni nostri vicesimo
If this charter be altogether genuine, and there is no appearance of
forgery, it gives rise to a curious doubt in Scottish History. The
letter announces that the King had already destined his heart to be
deposited at Melrose. The resolution to send it to Palestine, under
the charge of Douglas, must have been adopted betwixt 11th May 1329,
the date of the letter, and 7th June of the same year, when the Bruce
died; or else we must suppose that the commission of Douglas extended
not only to taking the Bruce's heart to Palestine, but to bring it
safe back to its final place of deposit in the Abbey of Melrose.
It would not be worth inquiring: by what caprice the author was
induced to throw the incident of the Bruce's heart entirely out of the
story, save merely to say, that he found himself unable to fill up the
canvass he had sketched, and indisposed to prosecute the management of
the supernatural machinery with which his plan, when it was first
rough-hewn, was connected and combined.]
Long before that period arrived, Roland Avenel was wedded to Catherine
Seyton, who, after two years' residence with her unhappy mistress, was
dismissed upon her being subjected to closer restraint than had been
at first exercised. She returned to her father's house, and as Roland
was acknowledged for the successor and lawful heir of the ancient
house of Avenel, greatly increased as the estate was by the providence
of Sir Halbert Gleninning, there occurred no objections to the match
on the part of her family. Her mother was recently dead when she first
entered the convent; and her father, in the unsettled times which
followed Queen Mary's flight to England, was not averse to an alliance
with a youth, who, himself loyal to Queen Mary, still held some
influence, through means of Sir Halbert Glendinning, with the party in
Roland and Catherine, therefore, were united, spite of their differing
faiths; and the White Lady, whose apparition had been infrequent when
the house of Avenel seemed verging to extinction, was seen to sport by
her haunted well, with a zone of gold around her bosom as broad as the
baldrick of an Earl.
END OF THE ABBOT.