Part 10 out of 33
The garrison of Nimes was composed of one battalion of the 13th
Regiment of the line, and another battalion of the 79th Regiment,
which not being up to its full war-strength had been sent to Nimes to
complete its numbers by enlistment. But after the battle of Waterloo
the citizens had tried to induce the soldiers to desert, so that of
the two battalions, even counting the officers, only about two
hundred men remained.
When the news of the proclamation of Napoleon II reached Nimes,
Brigadier-General Malmont, commandant of the department, had him
proclaimed in the city without any disturbance being caused thereby.
It was not until some days later that a report began to be circulated
that a royal army was gathering at Beaucaire, and that the populace
would take advantage of its arrival to indulge in excesses. In the
face of this two-fold danger, General Malmont had ordered the regular
troops, and a part of the National Guard of the Hundred Days, to be
drawn up under arms in the rear of the barracks upon an eminence on
which he had mounted five pieces of ordnance. This disposition was
maintained for two days and a night, but as the populace remained
quiet, the troops returned to the barracks and the Guards to their
But on Monday a concourse of people, who had heard that the army from
Beaucaire would arrive the next day, made a hostile demonstration
before the barracks, demanding with shouts and threats that the five
cannons should be handed over to them. The general and the officers
who were quartered in the town, hearing of the tumult, repaired at
once to the barracks, but soon came out again, and approaching the
crowd tried to persuade it to disperse, to which the only answer they
received was a shower of bullets. Convinced by this, as he was well
acquainted with the character of the people with whom he had to deal,
that the struggle had begun in earnest and must be fought out to the
bitter end, the general retreated with his officers, step by step, to
the barracks, and having got inside the gates, closed and bolted
He then decided that it was his duty to repulse force by force, for
everyone was determined to defend, at no matter what cost, a position
which, from the first moment of revolt, was fraught with such peril.
So, without waiting for orders, the soldiers, seeing that some of
their windows had been broken by shots from without, returned the
fire, and, being better marksmen than the townspeople, soon laid many
low. Upon this the alarmed crowd retired out of musket range, and
entrenched themselves in some neighbouring houses.
About nine o'clock in the evening, a man bearing something resembling
a white flag approached the walls and asked to speak to the general.
He brought a message inquiring on what terms the troops would consent
to evacuate Nimes. The general sent back word that the conditions
were, that the troops should be allowed to march out fully armed and
with ail their baggage; the five guns alone would be left behind.
When the forces reached a certain valley outside the city they would
halt, that the men might be supplied with means sufficient to enable
them either to rejoin the regiments to which they belonged, or to
return to their own homes.
At two o'clock A. M. the same envoy returned, and announced to the
general that the conditions had been accepted with one alteration,
which was that the troops, before marching out, should lay down their
arms. The messenger also intimated that if the offer he had brought
were not quickly accepted--say within two hours--the time for
capitulation would have gone by, and that he would not be answerable
for what the people might then do in their fury. The general
accepted the conditions as amended, and the envoy disappeared.
When the troops heard of the agreement, that they should be disarmed
before being allowed to leave the town, their first impulse was to
refuse to lay down their weapons before a rabble which had run away
from a few musket shots; but the general succeeded in soothing their
sense of humiliation and winning their consent by representing to
them that there could be nothing dishonourable in an action which
prevented the children of a common fatherland from shedding each
The gendarmerie, according to one article of the treaty, were to
close in at, the rear of the evacuating column; and thus hinder the
populace from molesting the troops of which it was composed. This
was the only concession obtained in return for the abandoned arms,
and the farce in question was already drawn up in field order,
apparently waiting to escort the troops out of the city.
At four o'clock P.M. the troops got ready, each company stacking its
arms in the courtyard before: marching out; but hardly had forty or
fifty men passed the gates than fire was opened on them at such close
range that half of them were killed or disabled at the first volley.
Upon this, those who were still within the walls closed the courtyard
gates, thus cutting off all chance of retreat from their comrades.
In the event; however, it turned out that several of the latter
contrived to escape with their lives and that they lost nothing
through being prevented from returning; for as soon as the mob saw
that ten or twelve of their victims had slipped through their hands
they made a furious attack on the barracks, burst in the gates, and
scaled the walls with such rapidity, that the soldiers had no time to
repossess themselves of their muskets, and even had they succeeded in
seizing them they would have been of little use, as ammunition was
totally wanting. The barracks being thus carried by assault, a
horrible massacre ensued, which lasted for three hours. Some of the
wretched men, being hunted from room to room, jumped out of the first
window they could reach, without stopping to measure its height from
the ground, and were either impaled on the bayonets held in readiness
below, or, falling on the pavement, broke their limbs and were
The gendarmes, who had really been called out to protect the retreat
of the garrison, seemed to imagine they were there to witness a
judicial execution, and stood immovable and impassive while these
horrid deeds went on before their eyes. But the penalty of this
indifference was swiftly exacted, for as soon as the soldiers were
all done with, the mob, finding their thirst for blood still
unslacked, turned on the gendarmes, the greater number of whom were
wounded, while all lost their horses, and some their lives.
The populace was still engaged at its bloody task when news came that
the army from Beaucaire was within sight of the town, and the
murderers, hastening to despatch some of the wounded who still showed
signs of life, went forth to meet the long expected reinforcements.
Only those who saw the advancing army with their own eyes can form
any idea of its condition and appearance, the first corps excepted.
This corps was commanded by M. de Barre, who had put himself at its
head with the noble purpose of preventing, as far as he could,
massacre and pillage. In this he was seconded by the officers under
him, who were actuated by the same philanthropic motives as their
general in identifying themselves with the corps. Owing to their
exertions, the men advanced in fairly regular order, and good
discipline was maintained. All the men carried muskets.
But the first corps was only a kind of vanguard to the second, which
was the real army, and a wonderful thing to see and hear. Never were
brought together before or since so many different kinds of howl, so
many threats of death, so many rags; so many odd weapons, from the
matchlock of the time of the Michelade to the steel-tipped goad of
the bullock drovers of La Camargue, so that when the Nimes mob; which
in all conscience was howling and ragged enough, rushed out to offer
a brotherly welcome to the strangers, its first feeling was one of
astonishment and dismay as it caught sight of the motley crew which
held out to it the right hand of fellowship.
The new-comers soon showed that it was through necessity and not
choice that their outer man presented such a disreputable appearance;
for they were hardly well within the gates before demanding that the
houses of the members of the old Protestant National Guard should be
pointed out to them.
This being done, they promptly proceeded to exact from each household
a musket, a coat, a complete kit, or a sum of money, according to
their humour, so that before evening those who had arrived naked and
penniless were provided with complete uniforms and had money in their
pockets. These exactions were levied under the name of a
contribution, but before the day was ended naked and undisguised
Someone asserted that during the assault on the barracks a certain
individual had fired out of a certain house on the assailants. The
indignant people now rushed to the house indicated, and soon left
nothing of it in existence but its walls. A little later it was
clearly proved that the individual accused was quite innocent of the
crime laid to his charge.
The house of a rich merchant lay in the path of the advancing army.
A cry arose that the owner was a Bonapartist, and nothing more was
needed. The house was broken into and pillaged, and the furniture
thrown out of the windows.
Two days later it turned out that not only was the merchant no
Bonapartist, but that his son had been one of those who had
accompanied the Duc d'Angouleme to Cette when he left the country.
The pillagers excused themselves by saying they had been misled by a
resemblance between two names, and this excuse, as far as appears,
was accepted as valid by the authorities.
It was not long before the populace of Nimes began to think they
might as well follow the example set them by their brothers from
Beaucaire. In twenty-four hours free companies were formed, headed
by Trestaillons, Trupheny, Graffan, and Morinet. These bands
arrogated to themselves the title of National Guard, and then what
took place at Marseilles in the excitement of the moment was repeated
at Nimes with deliberation and method, inspired by hate and the
desire of vengeance. A revolt broke out which followed the ordinary
course: first pillage, then fire, then murder, laid waste the city.
M. V_____'s house, which stood in the middle of the town, was sacked
and then burnt to the ground, without a hand being raised to prevent
M. T_____'s house, on the road to Montpellier, was sacked and wrecked
and a bonfire made of the furniture, round which the crowd danced; as
if it had been an occasion of public rejoicing. Then cries were
raised for the proprietor, that he might be killed, and as he could
not be found the baffled fury of the mob vented itself on the dead.
A child three months buried was dragged from its grave, drawn by the
feet through the sewers and wayside puddles, and then flung on a
dung-heap; and, strange to say, while incendiarism and sacrilege thus
ran riot, the mayor of the place slept so sound that when he awoke he
was "quite astonished," to use his own expression, to hear what had
taken place during the night.
This expedition completed, the same company which had brought this
expedition to a successful issue next turned their attention to a
small country house occupied by a widow, whom I had often begged to
take refuge with us. But, secure in her insignificance, she had
always declined our offers, preferring to live solitary and retired
in her own home. But the freebooters sought her out, burst in her
doors, drove her away with blows and insults, destroyed her house and
burnt her furniture. They then proceeded to the vault in which lay
the remains of her family, dragged them out of their coffins and
scattered them about the fields. The next day the poor
woman-ventured back, collected the desecrated remains with pious
care, and replaced them in the vault. But this was counted to her as
a crime; the company returned, once more cast forth the contents of
the coffins, and threatened to kill her should she dare to touch them
again. She was often seen in the days that followed shedding bitter
tears and watching over the sacred relics as they lay exposed on the
The name of this widow was Pepin, and the scene of the sacrilege was
a small enclosure on the hill of the Moulins-a-Vent.
Meantime the people in the Faubourg des Bourgades had invented a new
sort of game, or rather, had resolved to vary the serious business of
the drama that was being enacted by the introduction of comic scenes.
They had possessed themselves of a number of beetles such as
washerwomen use, and hammered in long nails, the points of which
projected an inch on the other side in the form of a fleur-de-lis.
Every Protestant who fell into their hands, no matter what his age or
rank, was stamped with the bloody emblem, serious wounds being
inflicted in many cases.
Murders were now becoming common. Amongst other names of victims
mentioned were Loriol, Bigot, Dumas, Lhermet, Heritier, Domaison,
Combe, Clairon, Begomet, Poujas, Imbert, Vigal, Pourchet, Vignole.
Details more or less shocking came to light as to the manner in which
the murderers went to work. A man called Dalbos was in the custody
of two armed men; some others came to consult with them. Dalbos
appealed for mercy to the new-comers. It was granted, but as he
turned to go he was shot dead. Another of the name of Rambert tried
to escape by disguising himself as a woman, but was recognised and
shot down a few yards outside his own door. A gunner called Saussine
was walking in all security along the road to Uzes, pipe in mouth,
when he was met by five men belonging to Trestaillon's company, who
surrounded him and stabbed him to the heart with their knives. The
elder of two brothers named Chivas ran across some fields to take
shelter in a country house called Rouviere, which, unknown to him,
had been occupied by some of the new National Guard. These met him
on the threshold and shot him dead.
Rant was seized in his own house and shot. Clos was met by a
company, and seeing Trestaillons, with whom he had always been
friends, in its ranks, he went up to him and held out his hand;
whereupon Trestaillons drew a pistol from his belt and blew his
brains out. Calandre being chased down the rue des Soeurs-Grises,
sought shelter in a tavern, but was forced to come out, and was
killed with sabres. Courbet was sent to prison under the escort of
some men, but these changed their minds on the way as to his
punishment, halted, and shot him dead in the middle of the street.
A wine merchant called Cabanot, who was flying from Trestaillons, ran
into a house in which there was a venerable priest called Cure
Bonhomme. When the cut-throat rushed in, all covered with blood, the
priest advanced and stopped him, crying:
"What will happen, unhappy man, when you come to the confessional
with blood-stained hands?"
"Pooh!" replied Trestaillons, "you must put on your wide gown; the
sleeves are large enough to let everything pass."
To the short account given above of so many murders I will add the
narrative of one to which I was an eye-witness, and which made the
most terrible impression on me of, anything in my experience.
It was midnight. I was working beside my wife's bed; she was just
becoming drowsy, when a noise in the distance caught our attention.
It gradually became more distinct, and drums began to beat the
'generale' in every direction. Hiding my own alarm for fear of
increasing hers, I answered my wife, who was asking what new thing
was about to happen, that it was probably troops marching in or out
of garrison. But soon reports of firearms, accompanied by an uproar
with which we were so familiar that we could no longer mistake its
meaning, were heard outside. Opening my window, I heard
bloodcurdling imprecations, mixed with cries of "Long live the king!"
going on. Not being able to remain any longer in this uncertainty, I
woke a captain who lived in the same house. He rose, took his arms,
and we went out together, directing our course towards the point
whence the shouts seemed to come. The moon shone so bright that we
could see everything almost as distinctly as in broad daylight.
A concourse of people was hurrying towards the Cours yelling like
madmen; the greater number of them, half naked, armed with muskets,
swords, knives, and clubs, and swearing to exterminate everything,
waved their weapons above the heads of men who had evidently been
torn from their houses and brought to the square to be put to death.
The rest of the crowd had, like ourselves, been drawn thither by
curiosity, and were asking what was going on. "Murder is abroad,"
was the answer; "several people have been killed in the environs, and
the patrol has been fired on." While this questioning was going on
the noise continued to increase. As I had really no business to be
on a spot where such things were going on, and feeling that my place
was at my wife's side, to reassure her for the present and to watch
over her should the rioters come our way, I said good-bye to the
captain, who went on to the barracks, and took the road back to the
suburb in which I lived.
I was not more than fifty steps from our house when I heard loud
talking behind me, and, turning, saw gun barrels glittering in the
moonlight. As the speakers seemed to be rapidly approaching me, I
kept close in the shadow of the houses till I reached my own door,
which I laid softly to behind me, leaving myself a chink by which I
could peep out and watch the movements of the group which was drawing
near. Suddenly I felt something touch my hand; it was a great
Corsican dog, which was turned loose at night, and was so fierce that
it was a great protection to our house. I felt glad to have it at my
side, for in case of a struggle it would be no despicable ally.
Those approaching turned out to be three armed men leading a fourth,
disarmed and a prisoner. They all stopped just opposite my door,
which I gently closed and locked, but as I still wished to see what
they were about, I slipped into the garden, which lay towards the
street, still followed by my dog. Contrary to his habit, and as if
he understood the danger, he gave a low whine instead of his usual
savage growl. I climbed into a fig tree the branches of which
overhung the street, and, hidden by the leaves, and resting my hands
on the top of the wall, I leaned far enough forward to see what the
men were about.
They were still on the same spot, but there was a change in their
positions. The prisoner was now kneeling with clasped hands before
the cut-throats, begging for his life for the sake of his wife and
children, in heartrending accents, to which his executioners replied
in mocking tones, "We have got you at last into our hands, have we?
You dog of a Bonapartist, why do you not call on your emperor to come
and help you out of this scrape?" The unfortunate man's entreaties
became more pitiful and their mocking replies more pitiless. They
levelled their muskets at him several times, and then lowered them,
saying; "Devil take it, we won't shoot yet; let us give him time to
see death coming," till at last the poor wretch, seeing there was no
hope of mercy, begged to be put out of his misery.
Drops of sweat stood on my forehead. I felt my pockets to see if I
had nothing on me which I could use as a weapon, but I had not even a
knife. I looked at my dog; he was lying flat at the foot of the
tree, and appeared to be a prey to the most abject terror. The
prisoner continued his supplications, and the assassins their threats
and mockery. I climbed quietly down out of the fig tree, intending
to fetch my pistols. My dog followed me with his eyes, which seemed
to be the only living things about him. Just as my foot touched the
ground a double report rang out, and my dog gave a plaintive and
prolonged howl. Feeling that all was over, and that no weapons could
be of any use, I climbed up again into my perch and looked out. The
poor wretch was lying face downwards writhing in his blood; the
assassins were reloading their muskets as they walked away.
Being anxious to see if it was too late to help the man whom I had
not been able to save, I went out into the street and bent over him.
He was bloody, disfigured, dying, but was yet alive, uttering dismal
groans. I tried to lift him up, but soon saw that the wounds which
he had received from bullets fired at close range were both mortal,
one being in the head, and the other in the loins. Just then a
patrol, of the National Guard turned round the corner of the street.
This, instead of being a relief, awoke me to a sense of my danger,
and feeling I could do nothing for the wounded man, for the death
rattle had already begun, I entered my house, half shut the door, and
"Qui vive?" asked the corporal.
"Idiot!" said someone else, "to ask 'Qui vive?' of a dead man!"
"He is not dead," said a third voice; "listen to him singing"; and
indeed the poor fellow in his agony was giving utterance to dreadful
"Someone has tickled him well," said a fourth, "but what does it
matter? We had better finish the job."
Five or six musket shots followed, and the groans ceased.
The name of the man who had just expired was Louis Lichaire; it was
not against him, but against his nephew, that the assassins had had a
grudge, but finding the nephew out when they burst into the house,
and a victim being indispensable, they had torn the uncle from the
arms of his wife, and, dragging him towards the citadel, had killed
him as I have just related.
Very early next morning I sent to three commissioners of police, one
after the other, for permission to have the corpse carried to the
hospital, but these gentlemen were either not up or had already gone
out, so that it was not until eleven o'clock and after repeated
applications that they condescended to give me the needed
Thanks to this delay, the whole town came to see the body of the
unfortunate man. Indeed, the day which followed a massacre was
always kept as a holiday, everyone leaving his work undone and coming
out to stare at the slaughtered victims. In this case, a man wishing
to amuse the crowd took his pipe out of his mouth and put it between
the teeth of the corpse--a joke which had a marvellous success, those
present shrieking with laughter.
Many murders had been committed during the night; the companies had
scoured the streets singing some doggerel, which one of the bloody
wretches, being in poetic vein, had composed, the chorus of which
"Our work's well done,
We spare none!"
Seventeen fatal outrages were committed, and yet neither the reports
of the firearms nor the cries of the victims broke the peaceful
slumbers of M, le Prefet and M. le Commissaire General de la Police.
But if the civil authorities slept, General Lagarde, who had shortly
before come to town to take command of the city in the name of the
king, was awake. He had sprung from his bed at the first shot,
dressed himself, and made a round of the posts; then sure that
everything was in order, he had formed patrols of chasseurs, and had
himself, accompanied by two officers only, gone wherever he heard
cries for help. But in spite of the strictness of his orders the
small number of troops at his disposition delayed the success of his
efforts, and it was not until three o'clock in the morning that he
succeeded in securing Trestaillons. When this man was taken he was
dressed as usual in the uniform of the National Guard, with a cocked
hat and captain's epaulets. General Lagarde ordered the gens d'armes
who made the capture to deprive him of his sword and carbine, but it
was only after a long struggle that they could carry out this order,
for Trestaillons protested that he would only give up his carbine
with his life. However, he was at last obliged to yield to numbers,
and when disarmed was removed to the barracks; but as there could be
no peace in the town as long as he was in it, the general sent him to
the citadel of Montpellier next morning before it was light.
The disorders did not, however, cease at once. At eight o'clock A.M.
they were still going on, the mob seeming to be animated by the
spirit of Trestaillons, for while the soldiers were occupied in a
distant quarter of the town a score of men broke into the house of a
certain Scipion Chabrier, who had remained hidden from his enemies
for a long time, but who had lately returned home on the strength of
the proclamations published by General Lagarde when he assumed the
position of commandant of the town. He had indeed been sure that the
disturbances in Nimes were over, when they burst out with redoubled
fury on the 16th of October; on the morning of the 17th he was
working quietly at home at his trade of a silk weaver, when, alarmed
by the shouts of a parcel of cut-throats outside his house, he tried
to escape. He succeeded in reaching the "Coupe d'Or," but the
ruffians followed him, and the first who came up thrust him through
the thigh with his bayonet. In consequence of this wound he fell
from top to bottom of the staircase, was seized and dragged to the
stables, where the assassins left him for dead, with seven wounds in
This was, however, the only murder committed that day in the town,
thanks to the vigilance and courage of General Lagarde.
The next day a considerable crowd gathered, and a noisy deputation
went to General Lagarde's quarters and insolently demanded that
Trestaillons should be set at liberty. The general ordered them to
disperse, but no attention was paid to this command, whereupon he
ordered his soldiers to charge, and in a moment force accomplished
what long-continued persuasion had failed to effect. Several of the
ringleaders were arrested and taken to prison.
Thus, as we shall see, the struggle assumed a new phase: resistance
to the royal power was made in the name of the royal power, and both
those who broke or those who tried to maintain the public peace used
the same cry, "Long live the king!"
The firm attitude assumed by General Lagarde restored Nimes to a
state of superficial peace, beneath which, however, the old enmities
were fermenting. An occult power, which betrayed itself by a kind of
passive resistance, neutralised the effect of the measures taken by
the military commandant. He soon became cognisant of the fact that
the essence of this sanguinary political strife was an hereditary
religious animosity, and in order to strike a last blow at this, he
resolved, after having received permission from the king, to grant
the general request of the Protestants by reopening their places of
worship, which had been closed for more than four months, and
allowing the public exercise of the Protestant religion, which had
been entirely suspended in the city for the same length of time.
Formerly there had been six Protestant pastors resident in Nimes, but
four of them, had fled; the two who remained were MM. Juillerat and
Olivier Desmonts, the first a young man, twenty-eight years of age,
the second an old man of seventy.
The entire weight of the ministry had fallen during this period of
proscription on M. Juillerat, who had accepted the task and
religiously fulfilled it. It seemed as if a special providence had
miraculously protected him in the midst of the many perils which
beset his path. Although the other pastor, M. Desmonts, was
president of the Consistory, his life was in much less danger; for,
first, he had reached an age which almost everywhere commands
respect, and then he had a son who was a lieutenant in, one of the
royal corps levied at Beaucaire, who protected him by his name when
he could not do so by his presence. M. Desmonts had therefore little
cause for anxiety as to his safety either in the streets of Nimes or
on the road between that and his country house.
But, as we have said, it was not so with M. Juillerat. Being young
and active, and having an unfaltering trust in God, on him alone
devolved all the sacred duties of his office, from the visitation of
the sick and dying to the baptism of the newly born. These latter
were often brought to him at night to be baptized, and he consented,
though unwillingly, to make this concession, feeling that if he
insisted on the performance of the rite by day he would compromise
not only his own safety but that of others. In all that concerned
him personally, such as consoling the dying or caring for the
wounded, he acted quite openly, and no danger that he encountered on
his way ever caused him to flinch from the path of duty.
One day, as M. Juillerat was passing through the rue des Barquettes
on his way to the prefecture to transact some business connected with
his ministry, he saw several men lying in wait in a blind alley by
which he had to pass. They had their guns pointed at him. He
continued his way with tranquil step and such an air of resignation
that the assassins were overawed, and lowered their weapons as he
approached, without firing a single shot. When M. Juillerat reached
the prefecture, thinking that the prefect ought to be aware of
everything connected with the public order, he related this incident
to M. d'Arbaud-Jouques, but the latter did not think the affair of
enough importance to require any investigation.
It was, as will be seen, a difficult enterprise to open once again
the Protestant places of worship, which had been so long closed, in
present circumstances, and in face of the fact that the civil
authorities regarded such a step with disfavour, but General Lagarde
was one of those determined characters who always act up to their
convictions. Moreover, to prepare people's minds for this stroke of
religious policy, he relied on the help of the Duc d'Angouleme, who
in the course of a tour through the South was almost immediately
expected at Nimes.
On the 5th of November the prince made his entry into the city, and
having read the reports of the general to the King Louis XVIII, and
having received positive injunctions from his uncle to pacify the
unhappy provinces which he was about to visit, he arrived full of the
desire to displays whether he felt it or not, a perfect impartiality;
so when the delegates from the Consistory were presented to him, not
only did he receive them most graciously, but he was the first to
speak of the interests of their faith, assuring them that it was only
a few days since he had learned with much regret that their religious
services had been; suspended since the 16th of July. The delegates
replied that in such a time of agitation the closing of their places
of worship was, a measure of prudence which they had felt ought to be
borne, and which had been borne, with resignation. The prince
expressed his approval of this attitude with regard to the past, but
said that his presence was a guarantee for the future, and that on
Thursday the 9th inst. the two meeting-houses should be reopened and
restored to their proper use. The Protestants were alarmed at,
having a favour accorded to them which was much more than they would
have dared to ask and for which they were hardly prepared. But the
prince reassured them by saying that all needful measures would be
taken to provide against any breach of the public peace, and at the
same time invited M. Desmonts, president, and M. Roland-Lacoste,
member of the Consistory, to dine with him.
The next deputation to arrive was a Catholic one, and its object was
to ask that Trestaillons might be set at liberty. The prince was so
indignant at this request that his only answer was to turn his back
on those who proffered it.
The next day the duke, accompanied by General Lagarde, left for
Montpellier; and as it was on the latter that the Protestants placed
their sole reliance for the maintenance of those rights guaranteed
for the future by the word of the prince, they hesitated to take any
new step in his absence, and let the 9th of November go by without
attempting to resume public worship, preferring to wait for the
return of their protector, which took place on Saturday evening the
11th of November.
When the general got back, his first thought was to ask if the
commands of the prince had been carried out, and when he heard that
they had not, without waiting to hear a word in justification of the
delay, he sent a positive order to the president of the Consistory to
open both places of worship the next morning.
Upon this, the president carrying self-abnegation and prudence to
their extreme limits, went to the general's quarters, and having
warmly thanked him, laid before him the dangers to which he would
expose himself by running counter to the opinions of those who had
had their own way in the city for the last four months. But General
Lagarde brushed all these considerations aside: he had received an
order from the prince, and to a man of his military cast of mind no
course was open but to carry that order out.
Nevertheless, the president again expressed his doubts and fears.
"I will answer with my head," said the general, "that nothing
happens." Still the president counselled prudence, asking that only
one place of worship at first be opened, and to this the general gave
This continued resistance to the re-establishment of public worship
on the part of those who most eagerly desired it enabled the general
at last to realise the extent of the danger which would be incurred
by the carrying out of this measure, and he at once took all possible
precautions. Under the pretext that he was going to-have a general
review, he brought the entire civil and military forces of Nimes
under his authority, determined, if necessary, to use the one to
suppress the other. As early as eight o'clock in the morning a guard
of gens d'armes was stationed at the doors of the meeting-house,
while other members of the same force took up their positions in the
adjacent streets. On the other hand, the Consistory had decided that
the doors were to be opened an hour sooner than usual, that the bells
were not to be rung, and that the organ should be silent.
These precautions had both a good and a bad side. The gens d'armes
at the door of the meetinghouse gave if not a promise of security at
least a promise of support, but they showed to the citizens of the
other party what was about to be done; so before nine o'clock groups
of Catholics began to form, and as it happened to be Sunday the
inhabitants of the neighbouring villages arriving constantly by twos
and threes soon united these groups into a little army. Thus the
streets leading to the church being thronged, the Protestants who
pushed their way through were greeted with insulting remarks, and
even the president of the Consistory, whose white, hair and dignified
expression had no effect upon the mob, heard the people round him
saying, "These brigands of Protestants are going again to their
temple, but we shall soon give them enough of it."
The anger of the populace soon grows hot; between the first bubble
and the boiling-point the interval is short. Threats spoken in a low
voice were soon succeeded by noisy objurgations. Women, children,
and men brake out into yells, "Down with the broilers!" (for this was
one of the names by which the Protestants were designated). "Down
with the broilers! We do not want to see them using our churches:
let them give us back our churches; let them give us back our
churches, and go to the desert. Out with them! Out with them! To
the desert! To the desert!"
As the crowd did not go beyond words, however insulting, and as the
Protestants were long inured to much worse things, they plodded along
to their meeting-house, humble and silent, and went in, undeterred by
the displeasure they aroused, whereupon the service commenced.
But some Catholics went in with them, and soon the same shouts which
had been heard without were heard also within. The general, however,
was on the alert, and as soon as the shouts arose inside the gens
d'armes entered the church and arrested those who had caused the
disturbance. The crowds tried to rescue them on their way to prison,
but the general appeared at the head of imposing forces, at the sight
of which they desisted. An apparent cam succeeded the tumult, and
the public worship went on without further interruption.
The general, misled by appearances, went off himself to attend a
military mass, and at eleven o'clock returned to his quarters for
lunch. His absence was immediately perceived and taken advantage of.
In the: twinkling of an eye, the crowds, which had dispersed,
gathered together in even greater numbers and the Protestants, seeing
themselves once more in danger, shut the doors from within, while the
gens d'armes guarded them without. The populace pressed so closely
round the gens d'armes, and assumed such a threatening attitude, that
fearing he and his men would not be able to hold their own in such a
throng, the captain ordered M. Delbose, one of his officers, to ride
off and warn the general. He forced his way through the crowd with
great trouble, and went off at a gallop. On seeing this, the people
felt there was no time to be lost; they knew of what kind the general
was, and that he would be on the spot in a quarter of an hour. A
large crowd is invincible through its numbers; it has only to press
forward, and everything gives way, men, wood, iron. At this moment
the crowd, swayed by a common impulse, swept forward, the gens
d'armes and their horses were crushed against the wall, doors gave
way, and instantly with a tremendous roar a living wave flooded the
church. Cries of terror and frightful imprecations were heard on all
sides, everyone made a weapon of whatever came to hand, chairs and
benches were hurled about, the disorder was at its height; it seemed
as if the days of the Michelade and the Bagarre were about to return,
when suddenly the news of a terrible event was spread abroad, and
assailants and assailed paused in horror. General Lagarde had just
As the crowd had foreseen, no sooner did the messenger deliver his
message than the general sprang on his horse, and, being too brave,
or perhaps too scornful, to fear such foes, he waited for no escort,
but, accompanied by two or three officers, set off at full gallop
towards the scene of the tumult. He had passed through the narrow
streets which led to the meeting-house by pushing the crowd aside
with his horse's chest, when, just as he got out into the open
square, a young man named Boisson, a sergeant in the Nimes National
Guard, came up and seemed to wish to speak to him. The general
seeing a man in uniform, bent down without a thought of danger to
listen to what he had to say, whereupon Boisson drew a pistol out and
fired at him. The ball broke the collar-bone and lodged in the neck
behind the carotid artery, and the general fell from his horse.
The news of this crime had a strange and unexpected effect; however
excited and frenzied the crowd was, it instantly realised the
consequences of this act. It was no longer like the murder of
Marshal Brune at Avignon or General Ramel at Toulouse, an act of
vengeance on a favourite of Napoleon, but open and armed rebellion
against the king. It was not a simple murder, it was high treason.
A feeling of the utmost terror spread through the town; only a few
fanatics went on howling in the church, which the Protestants,
fearing still greater disasters, had by this time resolved to
abandon. The first to come out was President Olivier Desmonts,
accompanied by M. Vallongues, who had only just arrived in the city,
but who had immediately hurried to the spot at the call of duty.
M. Juillerat, his two children in his arms, walked behind them,
followed by all the other worshippers. At first the crowd,
threatening and ireful, hooted and threw stones at them, but at the
voice of the mayor and the dignified aspect of the president they
allowed them to pass. During this strange retreat over eighty
Protestants were wounded, but not fatally, except a young girl called
Jeannette Cornilliere, who had been so beaten and ill-used that she
died of her injuries a few days later.
In spite of the momentary slackening of energy which followed the
assassination of General Lagarde, the Catholics did not remain long
in a state of total inaction. During the rest of the day the excited
populace seemed as if shaken by an earthquake. About six o'clock in
the evening, some of the most desperate characters in the town
possessed themselves of a hatchet, and, taking their way to the
Protestant church, smashed the doors, tore the pastors' gowns, rifled
the poor-box, and pulled the books to pieces. A detachment of troops
arrived just in time to prevent their setting the building on fire.
The next day passed more quietly. This time the disorders were of
too important a nature for the prefect to ignore, as he had ignored
so many bloody acts in the past; so in due time a full report was
laid before the king. It became know the same evening that General
Lagarde was still living, and that those around him hoped that the
wound would not prove mortal. Dr. Delpech, who had been summoned
from Montpellier, had succeeded in extracting the bullet, and though
he spoke no word of hope, he did not expressly declare that the case
Two days later everything in the town had assumed its ordinary
aspect, and on the 21st of November the king issued the following
"Louis, by the grace of God, King of France and of Navarre,
"To all those to whom these presents shall come, greeting:
"An abominable crime has cast a stain on Our city of Nimes.
A seditious mob has dared to oppose the opening of the Protestant
place of worship, in contempt of the constitutional charter, which
while it recognises the Catholic religion as the religion of the
State, guarantees to the other religious bodies protection and
freedom of worship. Our military commandant, whilst trying to
disperse these crowds by gentle means before having resort to force,
was shot down, and his assassin has till now successfully evaded the
arm of the law. If such an outrage were to remain unpunished, the
maintenance of good government and public order would be impossible,
and Our ministers would be guilty of neglecting the law.
"Wherefore We have ordered and do order as follows:
"Art. 1. Proceedings shall be commenced without delay by Our
attorney, and the attorney-general, against the perpetrator of the
murderous attack on the person of Sieur Lagarde, and against the
authors, instigators, and accomplices of the insurrection which took
place in the city of Nimes on the 12th of the present month.
"Art. 2. A sufficient number of troops shall be quartered in the
said city, and shall remain there at the cost of the inhabitants,
until the assassin and his accomplices have been produced before a
court of law.
"Art. 3. All those citizens whose names are not entitled to be on
the roll of the National Guard shall be disarmed.
"Our Keeper of the Seals, Our Minister of War, Our Minister of the
Interior, and Our Minister of Police, are entrusted with the
execution of this edict.
"Given at Paris at Our Castle of the Tuileries on the 2lst of
November in the year of grace 1815, and of Our reign the 21st.
Boissin was acquitted.
This was the last crime committed in the South, and it led
fortunately to no reprisals.
Three months after the murderous attempt to which he had so nearly
fallen a victim, General Lagarde left Nimes with the rank of
ambassador, and was succeeded as prefect by M. d'Argont.
During the firm, just, and independent administration of the latter,
the disarming of the citizens decreed by the royal edict was carried
out without bloodshed.
Through his influence, MM. Chabot-Latour, Saint-Aulaire, and Lascour
were elected to the Chamber of Deputies in place of MM. De Calviere,
De Vogue, and De Trinquelade.
And down to the present time the name of M. d'Argont is held in
veneration at Nimes, as if he had only quitted the city yesterday.
by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
Some royal names are predestined to misfortune: in France, there is
the name "Henry". Henry I was poisoned, Henry II was killed in a
tournament, Henry III and Henry IV were assassinated. As to Henry V,
for whom the past is so fatal already, God alone knows what the
future has in store for him.
In Scotland, the unlucky name is "Stuart". Robert I, founder of the
race, died at twenty-eight of a lingering illness. Robert II, the
most fortunate of the family, was obliged to pass a part of his life,
not merely in retirement, but also in the dark, on account of
inflammation of the eyes, which made them blood-red. Robert III
succumbed to grief, the death of one son and the captivity of other.
James I was stabbed by Graham in the abbey of the Black Monks of
Perth. James II was killed at the siege of Roxburgh, by a splinter
from a burst cannon. James III was assassinated by an unknown hand
in a mill, where he had taken refuge during the battle of Sauchie.
James IV, wounded by two arrows and a blow from a halberd, fell
amidst his nobles on the battlefield of Flodden. James V died of
grief at the loss of his two sons, and of remorse for the execution
of Hamilton. James VI, destined to unite on his head the two crowns
of Scotland and England, son of a father who had been assassinated,
led a melancholy and timorous existence, between the scaffold of his
mother, Mary Stuart, and that of his son, Charles I. Charles II
spent a portion of his life in exile. James II died in it. The
Chevalier Saint-George, after having been proclaimed King of Scotland
as James VIII, and of England and Ireland as James III, was forced to
flee, without having been able to give his arms even the lustre of a
defeat. His son, Charles Edward, after the skirmish at Derby and the
battle of Culloden, hunted from mountain to mountain, pursued from
rock to rock, swimming from shore to shore, picked up half naked by a
French vessel, betook himself to Florence to die there, without the
European courts having ever consented to recognise him as a
sovereign. Finally, his brother, Henry Benedict, the last heir of
the Stuarts, having lived on a pension of three thousand pounds
sterling, granted him by George III, died completely forgotten,
bequeathing to the House of Hanover all the crown jewels which James
II had carried off when he passed over to the Continent in 1688--a
tardy but complete recognition of the legitimacy of the family which
had succeeded his.
In the midst of this unlucky race, Mary Stuart was the favourite of
misfortune. As Brantome has said of her, "Whoever desires to write
about this illustrious queen of Scotland has, in her, two very, large
subjects, the one her life, the other her death," Brantome had known
her on one of the most mournful occasions of her life--at the moment
when she was quitting France for Scotland.
It was on the 9th of August, 1561, after having lost her mother and
her husband in the same year, that Mary Stuart, Dowager of France and
Queen of Scotland at nineteen, escorted by her uncles, Cardinals
Guise and Lorraine, by the Duke and Duchess of Guise, by the Duc
d'Aumale and M. de Nemours, arrived at Calais, where two galleys were
waiting to take her to Scotland, one commanded by M. de Mevillon and
the other by Captain Albize. She remained six days in the town. At
last, on the 15th of the month, after the saddest adieus to her
family, accompanied by Messieurs d'Aumale, d'Elboeuf, and Damville,
with many nobles, among whom were Brantome and Chatelard, she
embarked in M. Mevillon's galley, which was immediately ordered to
put out to sea, which it did with the aid of oars, there not being
sufficient wind to make use of the sails.
Mary Stuart was then in the full bloom of her beauty, beauty even
more brilliant in its mourning garb--a beauty so wonderful that it
shed around her a charm which no one whom she wished to please could
escape, and which was fatal to almost everyone. About this time,
too, someone made her the subject of a song, which, as even her
rivals confessed, contained no more than the truth. It was, so it
was said, by M. de Maison-Fleur, a cavalier equally accomplished in
arms and letters: Here it is:--
"In robes of whiteness, lo,
Full sad and mournfully,
Went pacing to and fro
A shaft in hand she bore
>From Cupid's cruel store,
And he, who fluttered round,
Bore, o'er his blindfold eyes
And o'er his head uncrowned,
A veil of mournful guise,
Whereon the words were wrought:
'You perish or are caught.'"
Yes, at this moment, Mary Stuart, in her deep mourning of white, was
more lovely than ever; for great tears were trickling down her
cheeks, as, weaving a handkerchief, standing on the quarterdeck, she
who was so grieved to set out, bowed farewell to those who were so
grieved to remain.
At last, in half an hour's time, the harbour was left behind; the
vessel was out at sea. Suddenly, Mary heard loud cries behind her: a
boat coming in under press of sail, through her pilot's ignorance had
struck upon a rock in such a manner that it was split open, and after
having trembled and groaned for a moment like someone wounded, began
to be swallowed up, amid the terrified screams of all the crew.
Mary, horror-stricken, pale, dumb, and motionless, watched her
gradually sink, while her unfortunate crew, as the keel disappeared,
climbed into the yards and shrouds, to delay their death-agony a few
minutes; finally, keel, yards, masts, all were engulfed in the
ocean's gaping jaws. For a moment there remained some black specks,
which in turn disappeared one after another; then wave followed upon
wave, and the spectators of this horrible tragedy, seeing the sea
calm and solitary as if nothing had happened, asked themselves if it
was not a vision that had appeared to them and vanished.
"Alas!" cried Mary, falling on a seat and leaning both arms an the
vessel's stern, "what a sad omen for such a sad voyage!" Then, once
more fixing on the receding harbour her eyes, dried for a moment by
terror, and beginning to moisten anew, "Adieu, France!" she murmured,
"adieu, France!" and for five hours she remained thus, weeping and
murmuring, "Adieu, France! adieu, France!"
Darkness fell while she was still lamenting; and then, as the view
was blotted out and she was summoned to supper, "It is indeed now,
dear France," said she, rising, "that I really lose you, since
jealous night heaps mourning upon mourning, casting a black veil
before my sight. Adieu then, one last time, dear France; for never
shall I see you more."
With these words, she went below, saying that she was the very
opposite of Dido, who, after the departure of AEneas, had done
nothing but look at the waves, while she, Mary, could not take her
eyes off the land. Then everyone gathered round her to try to divert
and console her. But she, growing sadder, and not being able to
respond, so overcome was she with tears, could hardly eat; and,
having had a bed got ready on the stern deck, she sent for the
steersman, and ordered him if he still saw land at daybreak, to come
and wake her immediately. On this point Mary was favoured; for the
wind having dropped, when daybreak came the vessel was still within
sight of France.
It was a great joy when, awakened by the steersman, who had not
forgotten the order he had received, Mary raised herself on her
couch, and through the window that she had had opened, saw once more
the beloved shore. But at five o'clock in the morning, the wind
having freshened, the vessel rapidly drew farther away, so that soon
the land completely disappeared. Then Mary fell back upon her bed,
pale as death, murmuring yet once again--"Adieu, France! I shall see
thee no more."
Indeed, the happiest years of her life had just passed away in this
France that she so much regretted. Born amid the first religious
troubles, near the bedside of her dying father, the cradle mourning
was to stretch for her to the grave, and her stay in France had been
a ray of sunshine in her night. Slandered from her birth, the report
was so generally spread abroad that she was malformed, and that she
could not live to grow up, that one day her mother, Mary of Guise,
tired of these false rumours, undressed her and showed her naked to
the English ambassador, who had come, on the part of Henry VIII, to
ask her in marriage for the Prince of Wales, himself only five years
old. Crowned at nine months by Cardinal Beaton, archbishop of St.
Andrews, she was immediately hidden by her mother, who was afraid of
treacherous dealing in the King of England, in Stirling Castle. Two
years later, not finding even this fortress safe enough, she removed
her to an island in the middle of the Lake of Menteith, where a
priory, the only building in the place, provided an asylum for the
royal child and for four young girls born in the same year as
herself, having like her the sweet name which is an anagram of the
word "aimer," and who, quitting her neither in her good nor in her
evil fortune, were called the "Queen's Marys". They were Mary
Livingston, Mary Fleming, Mary Seyton, and Mary Beaton. Mary stayed
in this priory till Parliament, having approved her marriage with the
French dauphin, son of Henry II, she was taken to Dumbarton Castle,
to await the moment of departure. There she was entrusted to M. de
Breze, sent by Henry II to-fetch her. Having set out in the French
galleys anchored at the mouth of the Clyde, Mary, after having been
hotly pursued by the English fleet, entered Brest harbour, 15th
August, 1548, one year after the death of Francis! Besides the
queen's four Marys, the vessels also brought to France three of her
natural brothers, among whom was the Prior of St. Andrews, James
Stuart, who was later to abjure the Catholic faith, and with the
title of Regent, and under the name of the Earl of Murray, to become
so fatal to poor Mary. From Brest, Mary went to St. Germain-en-
Laye, where Henry II, who had just ascended the throne, overwhelmed
her with caresses, and then sent her to a convent where the heiresses
of the noblest French houses were brought up. There Mary's happy
qualities developed. Born with a woman's heart and a man's head,
Mary not only acquired all the accomplishments which constituted the
education of a future queen, but also that real knowledge which is
the object of the truly learned.
Thus, at fourteen, in the Louvre, before Henry II, Catherine de
Medici, and the whole court, she delivered a discourse in Latin of
her own composition, in which she maintained that it becomes women to
cultivate letters, and that it is unjust and tyrannical to deprive
flowery of their perfumes, by banishing young girls from all but
domestic cares. One can imagine in what manner a future queen,
sustaining such a thesis, was likely to be welcomed in the most
lettered and pedantic court in Europe. Between the literature of
Rabelais and Marot verging on their decline, and that of Ronsard and
Montaigne reaching their zenith, Mary became a queen of poetry, only
too happy never to have to wear another crown than that which
Ronsard, Dubellay, Maison-Fleur, arid Brantome placed daily on her
head. But she was predestined. In the midst of those fetes which a
waning chivalry was trying to revive came the fatal joust of
Tournelles: Henry II, struck by a splinter of a lance for want of a
visor, slept before his time with his ancestors, and Mary Stuart
ascended the throne of France, where, from mourning for Henry, she
passed to that for her mother, and from mourning for her mother to
that for her husband. Mary felt this last loss both as woman and as
poet; her heart burst forth into bitter tears and plaintive
harmonies. Here are some lines that she composed at this time:--
"Into my song of woe,
Sung to a low sad air,
My cruel grief I throw,
For loss beyond compare;
In bitter sighs and tears
Go by my fairest years.
Was ever grief like mine
Imposed by destiny?
Did ever lady pine,
In high estate, like me,
Of whom both heart and eye
Within the coffin lie?
Who, in the tender spring
And blossom of my youth,
Taste all the sorrowing
Of life's extremest ruth,
And take delight in nought
Save in regretful thought.
All that was sweet and gay
Is now a pain to see;
The sunniness of day
Is black as night to me;
All that was my delight
Is hidden from my sight.
My heart and eye, indeed,
One face, one image know,
The which this morrnful weed
On my sad face doth show,
Dyed with the violet's tone
That is the lover's own.
Tormented by my ill,
I go from place to place,
But wander as I will
My woes can nought efface;
My most of bad and good
I find in solitude.
But wheresoe'er I stay,
In meadow or in copse,
Whether at break of day
Or when the twilight drops,
My heart goes sighing on,
Desiring one that's gone.
If sometimes to the skies
My weary gaze I lift,
His gently shining eyes
Look from the cloudy drift,
Or stooping o'er the wave
I see him in the grave.
Or when my bed I seek,
And-sleep begins to steal,
Again I hear him speak,
Again his touch I feel;
In work or leisure, he
Is ever near to me.
No other thing I see,
However fair displayed,
By which my heart will be
A tributary made,
Not having the perfection
Of that, my lost affection.
Here make an end, my verse,
Of this thy sad lament,
Whose burden shall rehearse
Pure love of true intent,
Which separation's stress
Will never render less."
"It was then," says Brantorne, "that it was delightful to see her;
for the whiteness of her countenance and of her veil contended
together; but finally the artificial white yielded, and the snow-like
pallor of her face vanquished the other. For it was thus," he adds,
"that from the moment she became a widow, I always saw her with her
pale hue, as long as I had the honour of seeing her in France, and
Scotland, where she had to go in eighteen months' time, to her very
great regret, after her widowhood, to pacify her kingdom, greatly
divided by religious troubles. Alas! she had neither the wish nor
the will for it, and I have often heard her say so, with a fear of
this journey like death; for she preferred a hundred times to dwell
in France as a dowager queen, and to content herself with Touraine
and Poitou for her jointure, than to go and reign over there in her
wild country; but her uncles, at least some of them, not all, advised
her, and even urged her to it, and deeply repented their error."
Mary was obedient, as we have seen, and she began her journey under
such auspices that when she lost sight of land she was like to die.
Then it was that the poetry of her soul found expression in these
"Farewell, delightful land of France,
The best beloved!
Foster-nurse of my young years!
Farewell, France, and farewell my happy days!
The ship that separates our loves
Has borne away but half of me;
One part is left thee and is throe,
And I confide it to thy tenderness,
That thou may'st hold in mind the other part."'
[Translator's note.-It has not been found possible to make a rhymed
version of these lines without sacrificing the simplicity which is
their chief charm.]
This part of herself that Mary left in France was the body of the
young king, who had taken with him all poor Mary's happiness into his
Mary had but one hope remaining, that the sight of the English fleet
would compel her little squadron to turn back; but she had to fulfil
her destiny. This same day, a fog, a very unusual occurrence in
summer-time, extended all over the Channel, and caused her to escape
the fleet; for it was such a dense fog that one could not see from
stern to mast. It lasted the whole of Sunday, the day after the
departure, and did not lift till the following day, Monday, at eight
o'clock in the morning. The little flotilla, which all this time had
been sailing haphazard, had got among so many reefs that if the fog
had lasted some minutes longer the galley would certainly have
grounded on some rock, and would have perished like the vessel that
had been seen engulfed on leaving port. But, thanks to the fog's
clearing, the pilot recognised the Scottish coast, and, steering his
four boats with great skill through ail the dangers, on the 20th
August he put in at Leith, where no preparation had been made for the
queen's reception. Nevertheless, scarcely had she arrived there than
the chief persons of the town met together and came to felicitate
her. Meanwhile, they hastily collected some wretched nags, with
harness all falling in pieces, to conduct the queen to Edinburgh.
At sight of this, Mary could not help weeping again; for she thought
of the splendid palfreys and hackneys of her French knights and
ladies, and at this first view Scotland appeared to-her in all its
poverty. Next day it was to appear to her in all its wildness.
After having passed one night at Holyrood Palace, "during which,"
says Brantome, "five to six hundred rascals from the town, instead of
letting her sleep, came to give her a wild morning greeting on
wretched fiddles and little rebecks," she expressed a wish to hear
mass. Unfortunately, the people of Edinburgh belonged almost
entirely to the Reformed religion; so that, furious at the queen's
giving such a proof of papistry at her first appearance, they entered
the church by force, armed with knives, sticks and stones, with the
intention of putting to death the poor priest, her chaplain. He left
the altar, and took refuge near the queen, while Mary's brother, the
Prior of St. Andrews, who was more inclined from this time forward to
be a soldier than an ecclesiastic, seized a sword, and, placing
himself between the people and the queen, declared that he would kill
with his own hand the first man who should take another step. This
firmness, combined with the queen's imposing and dignified air,
checked the zeal of the Reformers.
As we have said, Mary had arrived in the midst of all the heat of the
first religious wars. A zealous Catholic, like all her family on the
maternal side, she inspired the Huguenots with the gravest fears:
besides, a rumour had got about that Mary, instead of landing at
Leith, as she had been obliged by the fog, was to land at Aberdeen.
There, it was said, she would have found the Earl of Huntly, one of
the peers who had remained loyal to the Catholic faith, and who, next
to the family of Hamilton, was, the nearest and most powerful ally of
the royal house. Seconded by him and by twenty thousand soldiers
from the north, she would then have marched upon Edinburgh, and have
re-established the Catholic faith throughout Scotland. Events were
not slow to prove that this accusation was false.
As we have stated, Mary was much attached to the Prior of St.
Andrews, a son of James V and of a noble descendant of the Earls of
Mar, who had been very handsome in her youth, and who, in spite of
the well-known love for her of James V, and the child who had
resulted, had none the less wedded Lord Douglas of Lochleven, by whom
she had had two other sons, the elder named William and the younger
George, who were thus half-brothers of the regent. Now, scarcely had
she reascended the throne than Mary had restored to the Prior of St.
Andrews the title of Earl of Mar, that of his maternal ancestors, and
as that of the Earl of Murray had lapsed since the death of the
famous Thomas Randolph, Mary, in her sisterly friendship for James
Stuart, hastened to add, this title to those which she had already
bestowed upon him.
But here difficulties and complications arose; for the new Earl of
Murray, with his character, was not a man to content himself with a
barren title, while the estates which were crown property since the
extinction of the male branch of the old earls, had been gradually
encroached upon by powerful neighbours, among whom was the famous
Earl of Huntly, whom we have already mentioned: the result was that,
as the queen judged that in this quarter her orders would probably
encounter opposition, under pretext of visiting her possessions in
the north, she placed herself at the head of a small army, commanded
by her brother, the Earl of Mar and Murray.
The Earl of Huntly was the less duped by the apparent pretext of this
expedition, in that his son, John Cordon, for some abuse of his
powers, had just been condemned to a temporary imprisonment. He,
notwithstanding, made every possible submission to the queen, sending
messengers in advance to invite-her to rest in his castle; and
following up the messengers in person, to renew his invitation viva
voce. Unfortunately, at the very moment when he was about to join
the queen, the governor of Inverness, who was entirely devoted to
him, was refusing to allow Mary to enter this castle, which was a
royal one. It is true that Murray, aware that it does not do to
hesitate in the face of such rebellions, had already had him executed
for high treason.
This new act of firmness showed Huntly that the young queen was not
disposed to allow the Scottish lords a resumption of the almost
sovereign power humbled by her father; so that, in spite of the
extremely kind reception she accorded him, as he learned while in
camp that his son, having escaped from prison, had just put himself
at the head of his vassals, he was afraid that he should be thought,
as doubtless he was, a party to the rising, and he set out the same
night to assume command of his troops, his mind made up, as Mary only
had with her seven to eight thousand men, to risk a battle, giving
out, however, as Buccleuch had done in his attempt to snatch James V
from the hands of the Douglases, that it was not at the queen he was
aiming, but solely at the regent, who kept her under his tutelage and
perverted her good intentions.
Murray, who knew that often the entire peace of a reign depends on
the firmness one displays at its beginning, immediately summoned all
the northern barons whose estates bordered on his, to march against
Huntly. All obeyed, for the house of Cordon was already so powerful
that each feared it might become still more so; but, however, it was
clear that if there was hatred for the subject there was no great
affection for the queen, and that the greater number came without
fixed intentions and with the idea of being led by circumstances.
The two armies encountered near Aberdeen. Murray at once posted the
troops he had brought from Edinburgh, and of which he was sure, on
the top of rising ground, and drew up in tiers on the hill slope all
his northern allies. Huntly advanced resolutely upon them, and
attacked his neighbours the Highlanders, who after a short resistance
retired in disorder. His men immediately threw away their lances,
and, drawing their swords, crying, "Cordon, Cordon!" pursued the
fugitives, and believed they had already gained the battle, when they
suddenly ran right against the main body of Murray's army, which
remained motionless as a rampart of iron, and which, with its long
lances, had the advantage of its adversaries, who were armed only
with their claymores. It was then the turn of the Cordons to draw
back, seeing which, the northern clans rallied and returned to the
fight, each soldier having a sprig of heather in his cap that his
comrades might recognise him. This unexpected movement determined
the day: the Highlanders ran down the hillside like a torrent,
dragging along with them everyone who could have wished to oppose
their passage. Then Murray seeing that the moment had come for
changing the defeat into a rout, charged with his entire cavalry:
Huntly, who was very stout and very heavily armed, fell and was
crushed beneath the horses' feet; John Cordon, taken prisoner in his
flight, was executed at Aberdeen three days afterwards; finally, his
brother, too young to undergo the same fate at this time, was shut up
in a dungeon and executed later, the day he reached the age of
Mary had been present at the battle, and the calm and courage she
displayed had made a lively impression on her wild defenders, who all
along the road had heard her say that she would have liked to be a
man, to pass her days on horseback, her nights under a tent, to wear
a coat of mail, a helmet, a buckler, and at her side a broadsword.
Mary made her entry into Edinburgh amid general enthusiasm; for this
expedition against the Earl of Huntly, who was a Catholic, had been
very popular among the inhabitants, who had no very clear idea of the
real motives which had caused her to undertake it: They were of the
Reformed faith, the earl was a papist, there was an enemy the less;
that is all they thought about. Now, therefore; the Scotch, amid
their acclamations, whether viva voce or by written demands,
expressed the wish that their queen, who was without issue by Francis
II, should re-marry: Mary agreed to this, and, yielding to the
prudent advice of those about her, she decided to consult upon this
marriage Elizabeth, whose heir she was, in her title of granddaughter
of Henry VII, in the event of the Queen of England's dying without
posterity. Unfortunately, she had not always acted with like
circumspection; for at the death of Mary Tudor, known as Bloody.
Mary, she had laid claim to the throne of Henry VIII, and, relying on
the illegitimacy of Elizabeth's birth, had with the dauphin assumed
sovereignty over Scotland, England, and Ireland, and had had coins
struck with this new title, and plate engraved with these new
Elizabeth was nine years older than Mary--that is to say, that at
this time she had not yet attained her thirtieth year; she was not
merely her rival as queen, then, but as woman. As regards education,
she could sustain comparison with advantage; for if she had less
charm of mind, she had more solidity of judgment: versed in politics,
philosophy, history; rhetoric, poetry and music, besides English, her
maternal tongue, she spoke and wrote to perfection Greek, Latin,
French, Italian and Spanish; but while Elizabeth excelled Mary on
this point, in her turn Mary was more beautiful, and above all more
attractive, than her rival. Elizabeth had, it is true, a majestic
and agreeable appearance, bright quick eyes, a dazzlingly white
complexion; but she had red hair, a large foot,--[Elizabeth bestowed
a pair of her shoes on the University of Oxford; their size would
point to their being those of a man of average stature.]--and a
powerful hand, while Mary, on the contrary, with her beautiful ashy-
fair hair,--[Several historians assert that Mary Stuart had black
hair; but Brantome, who had seen it, since, as we have said, he
accompanied her to Scotland, affirms that it was fair. And, so
saying, he (the executioner) took off her headdress, in a
contemptuous manner, to display her hair already white, that while
alive, however, she feared not to show, nor yet to twist and frizz as
in the days when it was so beautiful and so fair.]--her noble open
forehead, eyebrows which could be only blamed for being so regularly
arched that they looked as if drawn by a pencil, eyes continually
beaming with the witchery of fire, a nose of perfect Grecian outline,
a mouth so ruby red and gracious that it seemed that, as a flower
opens but to let its perfume escape, so it could not open but to give
passage to gentle words, with a neck white and graceful as a swan's,
hands of alabaster, with a form like a goddess's and a foot like a
child's, Mary was a harmony in which the most ardent enthusiast for
sculptured form could have found nothing to reproach.
This was indeed Mary's great and real crime: one single imperfection
in face or figure, and she would not have died upon the scaffold.
Besides, to Elizabeth, who had never seen her, and who consequently
could only judge by hearsay, this beauty was a great cause of
uneasiness and of jealousy, which she could not even disguise, and
which showed itself unceasingly in eager questions. One day when she
was chatting with James Melville about his mission to her court,
Mary's offer to be guided by Elizabeth in her choice of a husband,--a
choice which the queen of England had seemed at first to wish to see
fixed on the Earl of Leicester,--she led the Scotch ambassador into a
cabinet, where she showed him several portraits with labels in her
own handwriting: the first was one of the Earl of Leicester. As this
nobleman was precisely the suitor chosen by Elizabeth, Melville asked
the queen to give it him to show to his mistress; but Elizabeth
refused, saying that it was the only one she had. Melville then
replied, smiling, that being in possession of the original she might
well part with the copy; but Elizabeth would on no account consent.
This little discussion ended, she showed him the portrait of Mary
Stuart, which she kissed very tenderly, expressing to Melville a
great wish to see his mistress. "That is very easy, madam," he
replied: "keep your room, on the pretext that you are indisposed, and
set out incognito for Scotland, as King James V set out for France
when he wanted to see Madeleine de Valois, whom he afterwards
"Alas!" replied Elizabeth, "I would like to do so, but it is not so
easy as you think. Nevertheless, tell your queen that I love her
tenderly, and that I wish we could live more in friendship than we
have done up to the present". Then passing to a subject which she
seemed to have wanted to broach for a long time, "Melville," she
continued, "tell me frankly, is my sister as beautiful as they say?"
"She has that reputation," replied Melville; "but I cannot give your
Majesty any idea of hex beauty, having no point of comparison."
"I will give you one," the queen said. "Is she more beautiful than
"Madam," replied Melville, "you are the most beautiful woman in
England, and Mary Stuart is the most beautiful woman in Scotland."
"Then which of the two is the taller?" asked Elizabeth, who was not
entirely satisfied by this answer, clever as it was.
"My mistress, madam," responded Melville; "I am obliged to confess
"Then she is too tall," Elizabeth said sharply, "for I am tall
enough. And what are her favourite amusements?" she continued.
"Madam," Melville replied, "hunting, riding, performing on the lute
and the harpischord."
"Is she skilled upon the latter?" Elizabeth inquired. "Oh yes,
madam," answered Melville; "skilled enough for a queen."
There the conversation stopped; but as Elizabeth was herself an
excellent musician, she commanded Lord Hunsdon to bring Melville to
her at a time when she was at her harpischord, so that he could hear
her without her seeming to have the air of playing for him. In fact,
the same day, Hunsdon, agreeably to her instructions, led the
ambassador into a gallery separated from the queen's apartment merely
by tapestry, so that his guide having raised it. Melville at his
leisure could hear Elizabeth, who did not turn round until she had
finished the piece, which, however, she was playing with much skill.
When she saw Melville, she pretended to fly into a passion, and even
wanted to strike him; but her anger calmed down by little and little
at the ambassador's compliments, and ceased altogether when he
admitted that Mary Stuart was not her equal. But this was not all:
proud of her triumph, Elizabeth desired also that Melville should see
her dance. Accordingly, she kept back her despatches for two days
that he might be present at a ball that she was giving. These
despatches, as we have said, contained the wish that Mary Stuart
should espouse Leicester; but this proposal could not be taken
seriously. Leicester, whose personal worth was besides sufficiently
mediocre, was of birth too inferior to aspire to the hand of the
daughter of so many kings; thus Mary replied that such an alliance
would not become her. Meanwhile, something strange and tragic came
Among the lords who had followed Mary Stuart to Scotland was, as we
have mentioned, a young nobleman named Chatelard, a true type of the
nobility of that time, a nephew of Bayard on his mother's side, a
poet and a knight, talented and courageous, and attached to Marshal
Damville, of whose household he formed one. Thanks to this high
position, Chatelard, throughout her stay in France, paid court to
Mary Stuart, who, in the homage he rendered her in verse, saw nothing
more than those poetical declarations of gallantry customary in that
age, and with which she especially was daily overwhelmed. But it
happened that about the time when Chatelard was most in love with the
queen she was obliged to leave France, as we have said. Then Marshal
Damville, who knew nothing of Chatelard's passion, and who himself,
encouraged by Mary's kindness, was among the candidates to succeed
Francis II as husband, set out for Scotland with the poor exile,
taking Chatelard with him, and, not imagining he would find a rival
in him, he made a confidant of him, and left him with Mary when he
was obliged to leave her, charging the young poet to support with her
the interests of his suit. This post as confidant brought Mary and
Chatelard more together; and, as in her capacity as poet, the queen
treated him like a brother, he made bold in his passion to risk all
to obtain another title. Accordingly, one evening he got into Mary
Stuart's room, and hid himself under the bed; but at the moment when
the queen was beginning to undress, a little dog she had began to
yelp so loudly that her women came running at his barking, and, led
by this indication, perceived Chatelard. A woman easily pardons a
crime for which too great love is the excuse: Mary Stuart was woman
before being queen--she pardoned.
But this kindness only increased Chatelard's confidence: he put down
the reprimand he had received to the presence of the queen's women,
and supposed that if she had been alone she would have forgiven him
still more completely; so that, three weeks after, this same scene
was repeated. But this time, Chatelard, discovered in a cupboard,
when the queen was already in bed, was placed under arrest.
The moment was badly chosen: such a scandal, just when the queen was
about to re-marry, was fatal to Mary, let alone to Chatelard. Murray
took the affair in hand, and, thinking that a public trial could
alone save his sister's reputation, he urged the prosecution with
such vigour, that Chatelard, convicted of the crime of lese-majeste,
was condemned to death. Mary entreated her brother that Chatelard
might be sent back to France; but Murray made her see what terrible
consequences such a use of her right of pardon might have, so that
Mary was obliged to let justice take its course: Chatelard was led to
execution. Arrived on the scaffold, which was set up before the
queen's palace, Chatelard, who had declined the services of a priest,
had Ronsard's Ode on Death read; and when the reading, which he
followed with evident pleasure, was ended, he turned--towards the
queen's windows, and, having cried out for the last time, "Adieu,
loveliest and most cruel of princesses!" he stretched out his neck to
the executioner, without displaying any repentance or uttering any
complaint. This death made all the more impression upon Mary, that
she did not dare to show her sympathy openly.
Meanwhile there was a rumour that the queen of Scotland was
consenting to a new marriage, and several suitors came forward,
sprung from the principal reigning families of Europe: first, the
Archduke Charles, third son of the Emperor of Germany; then the Duke
of Anjou, who afterwards became Henry III. But to wed a foreign
prince was to give up her claims to the English crown. So Mary
refused, and, making a merit of this to Elizabeth, she cast her eyes
on a relation of the latter's, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, son of the
Earl of Lennox. Elizabeth, who had nothing plausible to urge against
this marriage, since the Queen of Scotland not only chose an
Englishman for husband, but was marrying into her own family, allowed
the Earl of Lennox and his son to go to the Scotch court, reserving
it to herself, if matters appeared to take a serious turn, to recall
them both--a command which they would be constrained to obey, since
all their property was in England.
Darnley was eighteen years of age: he was handsome, well-made,
elegant; he talked in that attractive manner of the young nobles of
the French and English courts that Mary no longer heard since her
exile in Scotland; she let herself be deceived by these appearances,
and did not see that under this brilliant exterior Darnley hid utter
insignificance, dubious courage, and a fickle and churlish character.
It is true that he came to her under the auspices of a man whose
influence was as striking as the risen fortune which gave him the
opportunity to exert it. We refer to David Rizzio.
David Rizzio, who played such a great part in the life of Mary
Stuart, whose strange favour for him has given her enemies, probably
without any cause, such cruel weapons against her, was the son of a
Turin musician burdened with a numerous family, who, recognising in
him a pronounced musical taste, had him instructed in the first
principles of the art. At the age of fifteen he had left his
father's house and had gone on foot to Nice, where the Duke of Savoy
held his court; there he entered the service of the Duke of Moreto,
and this lord having been appointed, some years afterwards, to the
Scottish embassy, Rizzio followed him to Scotland. As this young man
had a very fine voice, and accompanied on the viol and fiddle songs
of which both the airs and the words were of his own composition, the
ambassador spoke of him to Mary, who wished to see him. Rizzio, full
of confidence in himself, and seeing in the queen's desire a road to
success, hastened to obey her command, sang before her, and pleased
her. She begged him then of Moreto, making no more of it than if she
had asked of him a thoroughbred dog or a well-trained falcon. Moreta
presented him to her, delighted at finding such an opportunity to pay
his court; but scarcely was Rizzio in her service than Mary
discovered that music was the least of his gifts, that he possessed,
besides that, education if not profound at least varied, a supple
mind, a lively imagination, gentle ways, and at the same time much
boldness and presumption. He reminded her of those Italian artists
whom she had seen at the French court, and spoke to her the tongue of
Marot and Ronsard, whose most beautiful poems he knew by heart: this
was more than enough to please Mary Stuart. In a short time he
became her favourite, and meanwhile the place of secretary for the
French despatches falling vacant, Rizzio was provided for with it.
Darnley, who wished to succeed at all costs, enlisted Rizzio in his
interests, unconscious that he had no need of this support; and as,
on her side, Mary, who had fallen in love with him at first sight,
fearing some new intrigue of Elizabeth's, hastened on this union so
far as the proprieties permitted, the affair moved forward with
wonderful rapidity; and in the midst of public rejoicing, with the
approbation of the nobility, except for a small minority, with Murray
at its head, the marriage was solemnised under the happiest auspices,
29th July 1565. Two days before, Darnley and his father, the Earl of
Lennox, had received a command to return to London, and as they had
not obeyed it, a week after the celebration of the marriage they
learned that the Countess of Lennox, the only one of the family
remaining in Elizabeth's power, had been arrested and taken to the
Tower. Thus Elizabeth, in spite of her dissimulation, yielding to
that first impulse of violence that she always had such trouble to
overcome, publicly displayed her resentment.
However, Elizabeth was not the woman to be satisfied with useless
vengeance: she soon released the countess, and turned her eyes
towards Murray, the most discontented of the nobles in opposition,
who by this marriage was losing all his personal influence. It was
thus easy for Elizabeth to put arms in his hand. In fact, when he
had failed in his first attempt to seize Darnley, he called to his
aid the Duke of Chatellerault, Glencairn, Argyll, and Rothes, and
collecting what partisans they could, they openly rebelled against
the queen. This was the first ostensible act of that hatred which
was afterwards so fatal to Mary.
The queen, on her side, appealed to her nobles, who in response
hastened to rally to her, so that in a month's time she found herself
at the head of the finest army that ever a king of Scotland had
raised. Darnley assumed the command of this magnificent assembly,
mounted on a superb horse, arrayed in gilded armour; and accompanied
by the queen, who, in a riding habit, with pistols at her saddle-bow,
wished to make the campaign with him, that she might not quit his
side for a moment. Both were young, both were handsome, and they
left Edinburgh amidst the cheers of the people and the army.
Murray and his accomplices did not even try to stand against them,
and the campaign consisted of such rapid and complex marches and
counter-marches, that this rebellion is called the Run-about Raid-
that is to say, the run in every sense of the word. Murray and the
rebels withdrew into England, where Elizabeth, while seeming to
condemn their unlucky attempt, afforded them all the assistance they
Mary returned to Edinburgh delighted at the success of her two first
campaigns, not suspecting that this new good fortune was the last she
would have, and that there her short-lived prosperity would cease.
Indeed, she soon saw that in Darnley she had given herself not a
devoted and very attentive husband, as she had believed, but an
imperious and brutal master, who, no longer having any motive for
concealment, showed himself to her just as he was, a man of
disgraceful vices, of which drunkenness and debauchery was the least.
Accordingly, serious differences were not long in springing up in
this royal household.
Darnley in wedding Mary had not become king, but merely the queen's
husband. To confer on him authority nearly equalling a regent's, it
was necessary that Mary should grant him what was termed the crown
matrimonial--a crown Francis II had worn during his short royalty,
and that Mary, after Darnley's conduct to herself, had not the
slightest intention of bestowing on him. Thus, to whatever
entreaties he made, in whatever form they were wrapped, Mary merely
replied with an unvaried and obstinate refusal. Darnley, amazed at
this force of will in a young queen who had loved him enough to raise
him to her, and not believing that she could find it in herself,
sought in her entourage for some secret and influential adviser who
might have inspired her with it. His suspicions fell on Rizzio.
In reality, to whatever cause Rizzio owed his power (and to even the
most clear-sighted historians this point has always remained
obscure), be it that he ruled as lover, be it that he advised as
minister, his counsels as long as he lived were always given for the
greater glory of the queen. Sprung from so low, he at least wished
to show himself worthy, of having risen so high, and owing everything
to Mary, he tried to repay her with devotion. Thus Darnley was not
mistaken, and it was indeed Rizzio who, in despair at having helped
to bring about a union which he foresaw must become so unfortunate,
gave Mary the advice not to give up any of her power to one who
already possessed much more than he deserved, in possessing her
Darnley, like all persons of both weak and violent character,
disbelieved in the persistence of will in others, unless this will
was sustained by an outside influence. He thought that in ridding
himself of Rizzio he could not fail to gain the day, since, as he
believed, he alone was opposing the grant of this great desire of
his, the crown matrimonial. Consequently, as Rizzio was disliked by
the nobles in proportion as his merits had raised him above them, it
was easy for Darnley to organise a conspiracy, and James Douglas of
Morton, chancellor of the kingdom, consented to act as chief.
This is the second time since the beginning of our narrative that we
inscribe this name Douglas, so often pronounced, in Scottish history,
and which at this time, extinct in the elder branch, known as the
Black Douglases, was perpetuated in the younger branch, known as the
Red Douglases. It was an ancient, noble, and powerful family, which,
when the descent in the male line from Robert Bruce had lapsed,
disputed the royal title with the first Stuart, and which since then
had constantly kept alongside the throne, sometimes its support,
sometimes its enemy, envying every great house, for greatness made it
uneasy, but above all envious of the house of Hamilton, which, if not
its equal, was at any rate after itself the next most powerful.
During the whole reign of James V, thanks to the hatred which the
king bore them, the Douglases had: not only lost all their influence,
but had also been exiled to England. This hatred was on account of
their having seized the guardianship of the young prince and kept him
prisoner till he was fifteen. Then, with the help of one of his
pages, James V had escaped from Falkland, and had reached Stirling,
whose governor was in his interests. Scarcely was he safe in the
castle than he made proclamation that any Douglas who should approach
within a dozen miles of it would be prosecuted for high treason.
This was not all: he obtained a decree from Parliament, declaring
them guilty of felony, and condemning them to exile; they remained
proscribed, then, during the king's lifetime, and returned to
Scotland only upon his death. The result was that, although they had
been recalled about the throne, and though, thanks to the past
influence of Murray, who, one remembers, was a Douglas on the
mother's side, they filled the most important posts there, they had
not forgiven to the daughter the enmity borne them by the father.
This was why James Douglas, chancellor as he was, and consequently
entrusted with the execution of the laws, put himself at the head of
a conspiracy which had for its aim the violation of all laws; human
Douglas's first idea had been to treat Rizzio as the favourites of
James III had been treated at the Bridge of Lauder--that is to say,
to make a show of having a trial and to hang him afterwards. But
such a death did not suffice for Darnley's vengeance; as above
everything he wished to punish the queen in Rizzio's person, he
exacted that the murder should take place in her presence.
Douglas associated with himself Lord Ruthven, an idle and dissolute
sybarite, who under the circumstances promised to push his devotion
so far as to wear a cuirass; then, sure of this important accomplice,
he busied himself with finding other agents.
However, the plot was not woven with such secrecy but that something
of it transpired; and Rizzio received several warnings that he
despised. Sir James Melville, among others, tried every means to
make him understand the perils a stranger ran who enjoyed such
absolute confidence in a wild, jealous court like that of Scotland.
Rizzio received these hints as if resolved not to apply them to
himself; and Sir James Melville, satisfied that he had done enough to
ease his conscience, did not insist further. Then a French priest,
who had a reputation as a clever astrologer, got himself admitted to
Rizzio, and warned him that the stars predicted that he was in deadly
peril, and that he should beware of a certain bastard above all.
Rizzio replied that from the day when he had been honoured with his
sovereign's confidence, he had sacrificed in advance his life to his
position; that since that time, however, he had had occasion to
notice that in general the Scotch were ready to threaten but slow to
act; that, as to the bastard referred to, who was doubtless the Earl
of Murray, he would take care that he should never enter Scotland far
enough for his sword to reach him, were it as long as from Dumfries
to Edinburgh; which in other words was as much as to say that Murray
should remain exiled in England for life, since Dumfries was one of
the principal frontier towns.
Meanwhile the conspiracy proceeded, and Douglas and Ruthven, having
collected their accomplices and taken their measures, came to Darnley
to finish the compact. As the price of the bloody service they
rendered the king, they exacted from him a promise to obtain the
pardon of Murray and the nobles compromised with him in the affair of
the "run in every sense". Darnley granted all they asked of him, and
a messenger was sent to Murray to inform him of the expedition in
preparation, and to invite him to hold himself in readiness to
reenter Scotland at the first notice he should receive. Then, this
point settled, they made Darnley sign a paper in which he
acknowledged himself the author and chief of the enterprise. The
other assassins were the Earl of Morton, the Earl of Ruthven, George
Douglas the bastard of Angus, Lindley, and Andrew, Carew. The
remainder were soldiers, simple murderers' tools, who did not even
know what was afoot. Darnley reserved it for himself to appoint the
Two days after these conditions were agreed upon, Darnley having been
notified that the queen was alone with Rizzio, wished to make himself
sure of the degree of her favour enjoyed by the minister. He
accordingly went to her apartment by a little door of which he always
kept the key upon him; but though the key turned in the lock, the
door did not open. Then Darnley knocked, announcing himself; but
such was the contempt into which he had fallen with the queen, that
Mary left him outside, although, supposing she had been alone with
Rizzio, she would have had time to send him away. Darnley, driven to
extremities by this, summoned Morton, Ruthven, Lennox, Lindley, and
Douglas's bastard, and fixed the assassination of Rizzio for two days
They had just completed all the details, and had, distributed the
parts that each must play in this bloody tragedy, when suddenly, and
at the moment when they least expected it, the door opened and, Mary
Stuart appeared on the threshold.
"My lords," said she, "your holding these secret counsels is useless.
I am informed of your plots, and with God's help I shall soon apply a
With these words, and before the conspirators hid had time to collect
themselves, she shut the door again, and vanished like a passing but
threatening vision. All remained thunderstruck. Morton was the
first to find his tongue.
"My lords," said he, "this is a game of life and death, and the
winner will not be the cleverest or the strongest, but the readiest.
If we do not destroy this man, we are lost. We must strike him down,
this very evening, not the day after to-morrow."
Everyone applauded, even Ruthven, who, still pale and feverish from
riotous living, promised not to be behindhand. The only point
changed, on Morton's suggestion, was that the murder should take
place next day; for, in the opinion of all, not less than a day's
interval was needed to collect the minor conspirators, who numbered
not less than five hundred.
The next day, which was Saturday, March 9th, 1566, Mary Stuart, who
had inherited from her father, James V, a dislike of ceremony and the
need of liberty, had invited to supper with her six persons, Rizzio
among the number. Darnley, informed of this in the morning,
immediately gave notice of it to the conspirators, telling them that
he himself would let them into the palace between six and seven
o'clock in the evening. The conspirators replied that they would be
The morning had been dark and stormy, as nearly all the first days of
spring are in Scotland, and towards evening the snow and wind
redoubled in depth and violence. So Mary had remained shut up with
Rizzio, and Darnley, who had gone to the secret door several times,
could hear the sound of instruments and the voice of the favourite,
who was singing those sweet melodies which have come down to our
time, and which Edinburgh people still attribute to him. These songs
were for Mary a reminder of her stay in France, where the artists in
the train of the Medicis had already brought echoes from Italy; but
for Darnley they were an insult, and each time he had withdrawn
strengthened in his design.
At the appointed time, the conspirators, who had been given the
password during the day, knocked at the palace gate, and were
received there so much the more easily that Darnley himself, wrapped
in a great cloak, awaited them at the postern by which they were
admitted. The five hundred soldiers immediately stole into an inner
courtyard, where they placed themselves under some sheds, as much to
keep themselves from the cold as that they might not be seen on the
snow-covered ground. A brightly lighted window looked into this
courtyard; it was that of the queen's study: at the first signal give
them from this window, the soldiers were to break in the door and go
to the help of the chief conspirators.
These instructions given, Darnley led Morton, Ruthven, Lennox,
Lindley, Andrew Carew, and Douglas's bastard into the room adjoining
the study, and only separated from it by a tapestry hanging before
the door. From there one could overhear all that was being said, and
at a single bound fall upon the guests.
Darnley left them in this room, enjoining silence; then, giving them
as a signal to enter the moment when they should hear him cry, "To
me, Douglas!" he went round by the secret passage, so that seeing him
come in by his usual door the queen's suspicions might not be roused
by his unlooked-for visit.
Mary was at supper with six persons, having, say de Thou and
Melville, Rizzio seated on her right; while, on the contrary,
Carapden assures us that he was eating standing at a sideboard. The
talk was gay and intimate; for all were giving themselves up to the
ease one feels at being safe and warm, at a hospitable board, while
the snow is beating against the windows and the wind roaring in the
chimneys. Suddenly Mary, surprised that the most profound silence
had succeeded to the lively and animated flow of words among her
guests since the beginning of supper, and suspecting, from their
glances, that the cause of their uneasiness was behind her, turned
round and saw Darnley leaning on the back of her chair. The queen
shuddered; for although her husband was smiling when looking at
Rizzio, this smile lead assumed such a strange expression that it was
clear that something terrible was about to happen. At the same
moment, Mary heard in the next room a heavy, dragging step drew near
the cabinet, then the tapestry was raised, and Lord Ruthven, in
armour of which he could barely support the weight, pale as a ghost,
appeared on the threshold, and, drawing his sword in silence, leaned
The queen thought he was delirious.
"What do you want, my lord?" she said to him; "and why do you come to
the palace like this?"
"Ask the king, madam," replied Ruthven in an indistinct voice. "It is
for him to answer."
"Explain, my lord," Mary demanded, turning again towards Darnley;
"what does such a neglect of ordinary propriety mean?"
"It means, madam," returned Darnley, pointing to Rizzio, "that that
man must leave here this very minute."
"That man is mine, my lord," Mary said, rising proudly, "and
consequently takes orders only from me."
"To me, Douglas!" cried Darnley.
At these words, the conspirators, who for some moments had drawn
nearer Ruthven, fearing, so changeable was Darnley's character, lest
he had brought them in vain and would not dare to utter the signal
--at these words, the conspirators rushed into the room with such
haste that they overturned the table. Then David Rizzio, seeing that
it was he alone they wanted, threw himself on his knees behind the
queen, seizing the hem of her robe and crying in Italian, "Giustizia!
giustizia!" Indeed, the queen, true to her character, not allowing
herself to be intimidated by this terrible irruption, placed herself
in front of Rizzio and sheltered him behind her Majesty. But she
counted too much on the respect of a nobility accustomed to struggle
hand to hand with its kings for five centuries. Andrew Carew held a
dagger to her breast and threatened to kill her if she insisted on
defending any longer him whose death was resolved upon. Then
Darnley, without consideration for the queen's pregnancy, seized her
round the waist and bore her away from Rizzio, who remained on his
knees pale and trembling, while Douglas's bastard, confirming the
prediction of the astrologer who had warned Rizzio to beware of a
certain bastard, drawing the king's own dagger, plunged it into the
breast of the minister, who fell wounded, but not dead. Morton
immediately took him by the feet and dragged him from the cabinet
into the larger room, leaving on the floor that long track of blood
which is still shown there; then, arrived there, each rushed upon him
as upon a quarry, and set upon the corpse, which they stabbed in
fifty-six places. Meanwhile Darnley held the queen, who, thinking
that all was not over, did not cease crying for mercy. But Ruthven
came back, paler than at first, and at Darnley's inquiry if Rizzio
were dead, he nodded in the affirmative; then, as he could not bear
further fatigue in his convalescent state, he sat down, although the
queen, whom Darnley had at last released, remained standing on the
same spot. At this Mary could not contain herself.
"My lord," cried she, "who has given you permission to sit down in my
presence, and whence comes such insolence?"
"Madam," Ruthven answered, "I act thus not from insolence, but from
weakness; for, to serve your husband, I have just taken more exercise
than my doctors allow". Then turning round to a servant, "Give me a
glass of wine," said he, showing Darnley his bloody dagger before
putting it back in its sheath, "for here is the proof that I have
well earned it". The servant obeyed, and Ruthven drained his glass
with as much calmness as if he had just performed the most innocent
"My lord," the queen then said, taking a step towards him, "it may be
that as I am a woman, in spite of my desire and my will, I never find
an opportunity to repay you what you are doing to me; but," she
added, energetically striking her womb with her hand, "he whom I bear
there, and whose life you should have respected, since you respect my
Majesty so little, will one day revenge me for all these insults".
Then, with a gesture at once superb and threatening, she withdrew by
Darnley's door, which she closed behind her.
At that moment a great noise was heard in the queen's room. Huntly,
Athol, and Bothwell, who, we are soon about to see, play such an
important part in the sequel of this history, were supping together
in another hall of the palace, when suddenly they had heard outcries
and the clash of arms, so that they had run with all speed. When
Athol, who came first, without knowing whose it was, struck against
the dead body of Rizzio, which was stretched at the top of the
staircase, they believed, seeing someone assassinated, that the lives
of the king and queen were threatened, and they had drawn their
swords to force the door that Morton was guarding. But directly
Darnley understood what was going on, he darted from the cabinet,
followed by Ruthven, and showing himself to the newcomers--
"My lords," he said, "the persons of the queen and myself are safe,
and nothing has occurred here but by our orders. Withdraw, then; you
will know more about it in time. As to him," he added, holding up
Rizzio's head by the hair, whilst the bastard of Douglas lit up the
face with a torch so that it could be recognised, "you see who it is,
and whether it is worth your while to get into trouble for him".
And in fact, as soon as Huntly, Athol, and Bothwell had recognised
the musician-minister, they sheathed their swords, and, having
saluted the king, went away.
Mary had gone away with a single thought in her heart, vengeance.
But she understood that she could not revenge herself at one and the
same time on her husband and his companions: she set to work, then,
with all the charms of her wit and beauty to detach the kind from his
accomplices. It was not a difficult task: when that brutal rage
which often carried Darnley beyond all bounds was spent, he was
frightened himself at the crime he had committed, and while the
assassins, assembled by Murray, were resolving that he should have
that greatly desired crown matrimonial, Darnley, as fickle as he was
violent, and as cowardly as he was cruel, in Mary's very room, before
the scarcely dried blood, made another compact, in which he engaged
to deliver up his accomplices. Indeed, three days after the event
that we have just related, the murderers learned a strange piece of
news--that Darnley and Mary, accompanied by Lord Seyton, had escaped
together from Holyrood Palace. Three days later still, a
proclamation appeared, signed by Mary and dated from Dunbar, which
summoned round the queen, in her own name and the king's, all the
Scottish lords and barons, including those who had been compromised
in the affair of the "run in every sense," to whom she not only
granted full and complete pardon, but also restored her entire
confidence. In this way she separated Murray's cause from that of
Morton and the other assassins, who, in their turn, seeing that there
was no longer any safety for them in Scotland, fled to England, where
all the queen's enemies were always certain to find a warm welcome,
in spite of the good relations which reigned in appearance between
Mary and Elizabeth. As to Bothwell, who had wanted to oppose the
assassination, he was appointed Warden of all the Marches of the
Unfortunately for her honour, Mary, always more the woman than the
queen, while, on the contrary, Elizabeth was always more the queen
than the woman, had no sooner regained her power than her first royal
act was to exhume Rizzio, who had been quietly buried on the
threshold of the chapel nearest Holyrood Palace, and to have him
removed to the burial-place of the Scottish kings, compromising
herself still more by the honours she paid him dead than by the
favour she had granted him living.
Such an imprudent demonstration naturally led to fresh quarrels
between Mary and Darnley: these quarrels were the more bitter that,
as one can well understand, the reconciliation between the husband
and wife, at least on the latter's side, had never been anything but
a pretence; so that, feeling herself in a stronger position still on
account of her pregnancy, she restrained herself no longer, and,
leaving Darnley, she went from Dunbar to Edinburgh Castle, where on
June 19th, 1566, three months after the assassination of Rizzio, she
gave birth to a son who afterwards became James VI.
Directly she was delivered, Mary sent for James Melville, her usual
envoy to Elizabeth, and charged him to convey this news to the Queen
of England, and to beg her to be godmother to the royal child at the
same time. On arriving in London, Melville immediately presented
himself at the palace; but as there was a court ball, he could not
see the queen, and contented himself with making known the reason for
his journey to the minister Cecil, and with begging him to ask his
mistress for an audience next day. Elizabeth was dancing in a
quadrille at the moment when Cecil, approaching her, said in a low
voice, "Queen Mary of Scotland has just given birth to a son". At
these words she grew frightfully pale, and, looking about her with a
bewildered air, and as if she were about to faint, she leaned against
an arm-chair; then, soon, not being able to stand upright, she sat
down, threw back her head, and plunged into a mournful reverie. Then
one of the ladies of her court, breaking through the circle which had
formed round the queen, approached her, ill at ease, and asked her of
what she was thinking so sadly. "Ah! madam," Elizabeth replied
impatiently, "do you not know that Mary Stuart has given birth to a
son, while I am but a barren stock, who will die without offspring?"
Yet Elizabeth was too good a politician, in spite of her liability to
be carried away by a first impulse, to compromise herself by a longer
display of her grief. The ball was not discontinued on that account,
and the interrupted quadrille was resumed and finished.
The next day, Melville had his audience. Elizabeth received him to
perfection, assuring him of all the pleasure that the news he brought
had caused her, and which, she said, had cured her of a complaint
from which she had suffered for a fortnight. Melville replied that
his mistress had hastened to acquaint her with her joy, knowing that
she had no better friend; but he added that this joy had nearly cost
Mary her life, so grievous had been her confinement. As he was
returning to this point for the third time, with the object of still
further increasing the queen of England's dislike to marriage--
"Be easy, Melville," Elizabeth answered him; "you need not insist
upon it. I shall never marry; my kingdom takes the place of a
husband for me, and my subjects are my children. When I am dead, I
wish graven on my tombstone: 'Here lies Elizabeth, who reigned so