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The Complete Celebrated Crimes by Alexander Dumas, Pere

Part 13 out of 33

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Renfrew and Ayr, she reached the Abbey of Dundrennan, in Galloway,
and certain of being, for the time at least, sheltered from every
danger, she gave the order to stop. The prior respectfully received
her at the gate of the convent.

"I bring you misfortune and ruin, father," said the queen, alighting
from her horse.

"They are welcome," replied the prior, "since they come accompanied
by duty."

The queen gave Rosabelle to the care of one of the men-at-arms who
had accompanied her, and leaning on Mary Seyton, who had not left her
for a moment, and on Lord Herries, who had rejoined her on the road,
she entered the convent.

Lord Herries had not concealed her position from Mary Stuart: the day
had been completely lost, and with the day, at least for the present,
all hope of reascending the throne of Scotland. There remained but
three courses for the queen to take to withdraw into France, Spain or
England. On the advice of Lord Herries, which accorded with her own
feeling, she decided upon the last; and that same night she wrote
this double missive in verse and in prose to Elizabeth:

"MY DEAR SISTER,--I have often enough begged you to receive my
tempest-tossed vessel into your haven during the storm. If at this
pass she finds a safe harbour there, I shall cast anchor there for
ever: otherwise the bark is in God's keeping, for she is ready and
caulked for defence on her voyage against all storms. I have dealt
openly with you, and still do so: do not take it in bad part if I
write thus; it is not in defiance of you, as it appears, for in
everything I rely on your friendship."

"This sonnet accompanied the letter:--

"One thought alone brings danger and delight;
Bitter and sweet change places in my heart,
With doubt, and then with hope, it takes its part,
Till peace and rest alike are put to flight.

Therefore, dear sister, if this card pursue
That keen desire by which I am oppressed,
To see you, 'tis because I live distressed,
Unless some swift and sweet result ensue.

Beheld I have my ship compelled by fate
To seek the open sea, when close to port,
And calmest days break into storm and gale;
Wherefore full grieved and fearful is my state,
Not for your sake, but since, in evil sort,
Fortune so oft snaps strongest rope and sail."

Elizabeth trembled with joy at receiving this double letter; for the
eight years that her enmity had been daily increasing to Mary Stuart,
she had followed her with her eyes continually, as a wolf might a
gazelle; at last the gazelle sought refuge in the wolf's den.
Elizabeth had never hoped as much: she immediately despatched an
order to the Sheriff of Cumberland to make known to Mary that she was
ready to receive her. One morning a bugle was heard blowing on the
sea-shore: it was Queen Elizabeth's envoy come to fetch Queen Mary

Then arose great entreaties to the fugitive not to trust herself thus
to a rival in power, glory, and beauty; but the poor dispossessed
queen was full of confidence in her she called her good sister, and
believed herself going, free and rid of care, to take at Elizabeth's
court the place due to her rank and her misfortunes: thus she
persisted, in spite of all that could be said. In our time, we have
seen the same infatuation seize another royal fugitive, who like Mary
Stuart confided himself to the generosity of his enemy England: like
Mary Stuart, he was cruelly punished for his confidence, and found in
the deadly climate of St. Helena the scaffold of Fotheringay.

Mary Stuart set out on her journey, then, with her little following.
Arrived at the shore of Solway Firth, she found there the Warden of
the English Marches: he was a gentleman named Lowther, who received
the queen with the greatest respect, but who gave her to understand
that he could not permit more than three of her women to accompany
her. Mary Seyton immediately claimed her privilege: the queen held
out to her her hand.

"Alas! mignonne," said she, "but it might well be another's turn: you
have already suffered enough for me and with me."

But Mary, unable to reply, clung to her hand, making a sign with her
head that nothing in the world should part her from her mistress.
Then all who had accompanied the queen renewed their entreaties that
she should not persist in this fatal resolve, and when she was
already a third of the way along the plank placed for her to enter
the skiff, the Prior of Dundrennan, who had offered Mary Stuart such
dangerous and touching hospitality, entered the water up to his
knees, to try to detain her; but all was useless: the queen had made
up her mind.

At that, moment Lowther approached her. "Madam," said he, "accept
anew my regrets that I cannot offer a warm welcome in England to all
who would wish to follow you there; but our queen has given us
positive orders, and we must carry them out. May I be permitted to
remind your Majesty that the tide serves?"

"Positive orders!" cried the prior. "Do you hear, madam? Oh! you
are lost if you quit this shore! Back, while there is yet time! Back;
madam, in Heaven's name! To me, sir knights, to me!" he cried,
turning to Lord Herries and the other lords who had accompanied Mary
Stuart; "do not allow your queen to abandon you, were it needful to
struggle with her and the English at the same time. Hold her back,
my lords, in Heaven's name! withhold her!"

"What means this violence, sir priest?" said the Warden of the
Marches. "I came here at your queen's express command; she is free
to return to you, and there is no need to have recourse to force for
that". Then, addressing the queen--

"Madam," said he, "do you consent to follow me into England in full
liberty of choice? Answer, I entreat you; for my honour demands that
the whole world should be aware that you have followed me freely."

"Sir," replied Mary Stuart, "I ask your pardon, in the name of this
worthy servant of God and his queen, for what he may have said of
offence to you. Freely I leave Scotland and place myself in your
hands, trusting that I shall be free either to remain in England with
my royal sister, or to return to France to my worthy relatives".
Then, turning to the priest, "Your blessing, father, and God protect

"Alas! alas!" murmured the abbot, obeying the queen, "it is not we
who are in need of God's protection, but rather you, my daughter.
May the blessing of a poor priest turn aside from you the misfortunes
I foresee! Go, and may it be with you as the Lord has ordained in
His wisdom and in His mercy!"

Then the queen gave her hand to the sheriff, who conducted her to the
skiff, followed by Mary Seyton and two other women only. The sails
were immediately unfurled, and the little vessel began to recede from
the shores of Galloway, to make her way towards those of Cumberland.
So long as it could be seen, they who had accompanied the queen
lingered on the beach, waving her signs of adieu, which, standing on
the deck of the shallop which was bearing her, away, she returned
with her handkerchief. Finally, the boat disappeared, and all burst
into lamentations or into sobbing. They were right, for the good
Prior of Dundrennan's presentiments were only too true, and they had
seen Mary Stuart for the last time.


On landing on the shores of England, the Queen of Scotland found
messengers from Elizabeth empowered to express to her all the regret
their mistress felt in being unable to admit her to her presence, or
to give her the affectionate welcome she bore her in her heart. But
it was essential, they added, that first of all the queen should
clear herself of the death of Darnley, whose family, being subjects
of the Queen of England, had a right to her protection and justice.

Mary Stuart was so blinded that she did not see the trap, and
immediately offered to prove her innocence to the satisfaction of her
sister Elizabeth; but scarcely had she in her hands Mary Stuart's
letter, than from arbitress she became judge, and, naming
commissioners to hear the parties, summoned Murray to appear and
accuse his sister. Murray, who knew Elizabeth's secret intentions
with regard to her rival, did not hesitate a moment. He came to
England, bringing the casket containing the three letters we have
quoted, some verses and some other papers which proved that the queen
had not only been Bothwell's mistress during the lifetime of Darnley,
but had also been aware of the assassination of her husband. On
their side, Lord Herries and the Bishop of Ross, the queen's
advocates, maintained that these letters had been forged, that the
handwriting was counterfeited, and demanded, in verification, experts
whom they could not obtain; so that this great controversy, remained
pending for future ages, and to this hour nothing is yet
affirmatively settled in this matter either by scholars or

After a five months' inquiry, the Queen of England made known to the
parties, that not having, in these proceedings, been able to discover
anything to the dishonour of accuser or accused, everything would
remain in statu quo till one or the other could bring forward fresh

As a result of this strange decision, Elizabeth should have sent back
the regent to Scotland, and have left Mary Stuart free to go where
she would. But, instead of that, she had her prisoner removed from
Bolton Castle to Carlisle Castle, from whose terrace, to crown her
with grief, poor Mary Stuart saw the blue mountains of her own

However, among the judges named by Elizabeth to examine into Mary
Stuart's conduct was Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk. Be it that he
was convinced of Mary's innocence, be it that he was urged by the
ambitious project which since served as a ground for his prosecution,
and which was nothing else than to wed Mary Stuart, to affiance his
daughter to the young king, and to become regent of Scotland, he
resolved to extricate her from her prison. Several members of the
high nobility of England, among whom were the Earls of Westmoreland
and Northumberland, entered into the plot and under, took to support
it with all their forces. But their scheme had been communicated to
the regent: he denounced it to Elizabeth, who had Norfolk arrested.
Warned in time, Westmoreland and Northumberland crossed the frontiers
and took refuge in the Scottish borders which were favourable to
Queen Mary. The former reached Flanders, where he died in exile; the
latter, given up to Murray, was sent to the castle of Lochleven,
which guarded him more faithfully than it had done its royal
prisoner. As to Norfolk, he was beheaded. As one sees, Mary
Stuart's star had lost none of its fatal influence.

Meanwhile the regent had returned to Edinburgh, enriched with
presents from Elizabeth, and having gained, in fact, his case with
her, since Mary remained a prisoner. He employed himself immediately
in dispersing the remainder of her adherents, and had hardly shut the
gates of Lochleven Castle upon Westmoreland than, in the name of the
young King James VI, he pursued those who had upheld his mother's
cause, and among them more particularly the Hamiltons, who since the
affair of "sweeping the streets of Edinburgh," had been the mortal
enemies of the Douglases personally; six of the chief members of this
family were condemned to death, and only obtained commutation of the
penalty into an eternal exile on the entreaties of John Knox, at that
time so powerful in Scotland that Murray dared not refuse their

One of the amnestied was a certain Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh, a man
of ancient Scottish times, wild and vindictive as the nobles in the
time of James I. He had withdrawn into the highlands, where he had
found an asylum, when he learned that Murray, who in virtue of the
confiscation pronounced against exiles had given his lands to one of
his favourites, had had the cruelty to expel his sick and bedridden
wife from her own house, and that without giving her time to dress,
and although it was in the winter cold. The poor woman, besides,
without shelter, without clothes, and without food, had gone out of
her mind, had wandered about thus for some time, an object of
compassion but equally of dread; for everyone had been afraid of
compromising himself by assisting her. At last, she had returned to
expire of misery and cold on the threshold whence she had been

On learning this news, Bothwellhaugh, despite the violence of his
character, displayed no anger: he merely responded, with a terrible
smile, "It is well; I shall avenge her."

Next day, Bothwellhaugh left his highlands, and came down, disguised,
into the plain, furnished with an order of admission from the
Archbishop of St. Andrews to a house which this prelate--who, as one
remembers, had followed the queen's fortunes to the last moment--had
at Linlithgow. This house, situated in the main street, had a wooden
balcony looking on to the square, and a gate which opened out into
the country. Bothwellhaugh entered it at night, installed himself on
the first floor, hung black cloth on the walls so that his shadow
should not be seen from without, covered the floor with mattresses so
that his footsteps might not be heard on the ground floor, fastened a
racehorse ready saddled and bridled in the garden, hollowed out the
upper part of the little gate which led to the open country so that
he could pass through it at a gallop, armed himself with a loaded
arquebuse, and shut himself up in the room.

All these preparations had been made, one imagines, because Murray
was to spend the following day in Linlithgow. But, secret as they
were, they were to be rendered useless, for the regent's friends
warned him that it would not be safe for him to pass through the
town, which belonged almost wholly to the Hamiltons, and advised him
to go by it. However, Murray was courageous, and, accustomed not to
give way before a real danger, he chid nothing but laugh at a peril
which he looked upon as imaginary, and boldly followed his first
plan, which was not to go out of his way. Consequently, as the
street into which the Archbishop of St. Andrews' balcony looked was
on his road, he entered upon it, not going rapidly and preceded by
guards who would open up a passage for him, as his friends still
counselled, but advancing at a foot's pace, delayed as he was by the
great crowd which was blocking up the streets to see him. Arrived in
front of the balcony, as if chance had been in tune with the
murderer, the crush became so great that Murray was obliged to halt
for a moment: this rest gave Bothwellhaugh time to adjust himself for
a steady shot. He leaned his arquebuse on the balcony, and, having
taken aim with the necessary leisure and coolness, fired.
Bothwellhaugh had put such a charge into the arquebuse, that the
ball, having passed through the regent's heart, killed the horse of a
gentleman on his right. Murray fell directly, saying, "My God! I am

As they had seen from which window the shot was fired, the persons in
the regent's train had immediately thrown themselves against the
great door of the house which looked on to the street, and had
smashed it in; but they only arrived in time to see Bothwellhaugh fly
through the little garden gate on the horse he had got ready: they
immediately remounted the horses they had left in the street, and,
passing through the house, pursued him. Bothwellhaugh had a good
horse and the lead of his enemies; and yet, four of them, pistol in
hand, were so well mounted that they were beginning to gain upon him.
Then Bothwellhaugh; seeing that whip and spur were not enough, drew
his dagger and used it to goad on his horse. His horse, under this
terrible stimulus, acquired fresh vigour, and, leaping a gully
eighteen feet deep, put between his master and his pursuers a barrier
which they dared not cross.

The murderer sought an asylum in France, where he retired under the
protection of the Guises. There, as the bold stroke he had attempted
had acquired him a great reputation, some days before the Massacre of
St. Bartholomew, they made him overtures to assassinate Admiral
Coligny. But Bothwellhaugh indignantly repulsed these proposals,
saying that he was the avenger of abuses and not an assassin, and
that those who had to complain of the admiral had only to come and
ask him how he had done, and to do as he.

As to Murray, he died the night following his wound, leaving the
regency to the Earl of Lennox, the father of Darnley: on learning the
news of his death, Elizabeth wrote that she had lost her best friend.

While these events were passing in Scotland, Mary Stuart was still a
prisoner, in spite of the pressing and successive protests of Charles
IX and Henry III. Taking fright at the attempt made in her favour,
Elizabeth even had her removed to Sheffield Castle, round which fresh
patrols were incessantly in motion.

But days, months, years passed, and poor Mary, who had borne so
impatiently her eleven months' captivity in Lochleven Castle, had
been already led from prison to prison for fifteen or sixteen years,
in spite of her protests and those of the French and Spanish
ambassadors, when she was finally taken to Tutbury Castle and placed
under the care of Sir Amyas Paulet, her last gaoler: there she found
for her sole lodging two low and damp rooms, where little by little
what strength remained to her was so exhausted that there were days
on which she could not walk, on account of the pain in all her limbs.
Then it was that she who had been the queen of two kingdoms, who was
born in a gilded cradle and brought up in silk and velvet, was forced
to humble herself to ask of her gaoler a softer bed and warmer
coverings. This request, treated as an affair of state, gave rise to
negotiations which lasted a month, after which the prisoner was at
length granted what she asked. And yet the unhealthiness, cold, and
privations of all kinds still did not work actively enough on that
healthy and robust organisation. They tried to convey to Paulet what
a service he would render the Queen of England in cutting short the
existence of her who, already condemned in her rival's mind, yet
delayed to die. But Sir Amyas Paulet, coarse and harsh as he was to
Mary Stuart, declared that, so long as she was with him she would
have nothing to fear from poison or dagger, because he would taste
all the dishes served to his prisoner, and that no one should
approach her but in his presence. In fact, some assassins, sent by
Leicester, the very same who had aspired for a moment to the hand of
the lovely Mary Stuart, were driven from the castle directly its
stern keeper had learned with what intentions they had entered it.
Elizabeth had to be patient, then, in contenting herself with
tormenting her whom she could not kill, and still hoping that a fresh
opportunity would occur for bringing her to trial. That opportunity,
so long delayed, the fatal star of Mary Stuart at length brought.

A young Catholic gentleman, a last scion of that ancient chivalry
which was already dying out at that time, excited by the
excommunication of Pius V, which pronounced Elizabeth fallen from her
kingdom on earth and her salvation in heaven, resolved to restore
liberty to Mary, who thenceforth was beginning to be looked upon, no
longer as a political prisoner, but as a martyr for her faith.
Accordingly, braving the law which Elizabeth had had made in 1585,
and which provided that, if any attempt on her person was meditated
by, or for, a person who thought he had claims to the crown of
England, a commission would be appointed composed of twenty-five
members, which, to the exclusion of every other tribunal, would be
empowered to examine into the offence, and to condemn the guilty
persons, whosoever they might be. Babington, not at all discouraged
by the example of his predecessors, assembled five of his friends,
Catholics as zealous as himself, who engaged their life and honour in
the plot of which he was the head, and which had as its aim to
assassinate Elizabeth, and as a result to place Mary Stuart on the
English throne. But this scheme, well planned as it was, was
revealed to Walsingham, who allowed the conspirators to go as far as
he thought he could without danger, and who, the day before that
fixed for the assassination, had them arrested.

This imprudent and desperate attempt delighted Elizabeth, for,
according to the letter of the law, it finally gave her rival's life
into her hands. Orders were immediately given to Sir Amyas Paulet to
seize the prisoner's papers and to move her to Fotheringay Castle.
The gaoler, then, hypocritically relaxing his usual severity,
suggested to Mary Stuart that she should go riding, under the pretext
that she had need of an airing. The poor prisoner, who for three
years had only seen the country through her prison bars, joyfully
accepted, and left Tutbury between two guards, mounted, for greater
security, on a horse whose feet were hobbled. These two guards took
her to Fotheringay Castle, her new habitation, where she found the
apartment she was to lodge in already hung in black. Mary Stuart had
entered alive into her tomb. As to Babington and his accomplices,
they had been already beheaded.

Meanwhile, her two secretaries, Curle and Nau, were arrested, and all
her papers were seized and sent to Elizabeth, who, on her part,
ordered the forty commissioners to assemble, and proceed without
intermission to the trial of the prisoner. They arrived at
Fotheringay the 14th October 1586; and next day, being assembled in
the great hall of the castle, they began the examination.

At first Mary refused to appear before them, declaring that she did
not recognise the commissioners as judges, they not being her peers,
and not acknowledging the English law, which had never afforded her
protection, and which had constantly abandoned her to the rule of
force. But seeing that they proceeded none the less, and that every
calumny was allowed, no one being there to refute it, she resolved to
appear before the commissioners. We quote the two interrogatories to
which Mary Stuart submitted as they are set down in the report of M.
de Bellievre to M. de Villeroy. M. de Bellievre, as we shall see
later, had been specially sent by King Henry III to Elizabeth.
[Intelligence for M. Villeroy of what was done in England by M. de
Bellievre about the affairs of the Queen of Scotland, in the months
of November and December 1586 and January 1587.]

The said lady being seated at the end of the table in the said hall,
and the said commissioners about her--

The Queen of Scotland began to speak in these terms:

"I do not admit that any one of you here assembled is my peer or my
judge to examine me upon any charge. Thus what I do, and now tell
you, is of my own free will, taking God to witness that I am innocent
and pure in conscience of the accusations and slanders of which they
wish to accuse me. For I am a free princess and born a queen,
obedient to no one, save to God, to whom alone I must give an account
of my actions. This is why I protest yet again that my appearance
before you be not prejudicial either to me, or to the kings, princes
and potentates, my allies, nor to my son, and I require that my
protest be registered, and I demand the record of it."

Then the chancellor, who was one of the commissioners, replied in his
turn, and protested against the protestation; then he ordered that
there should be read over to the Queen of Scotland the commission in
virtue of which they were proceeding--a commission founded on the
statutes and law of the kingdom.

But to this Mary Stuart made answer that she again protested; that
the said statutes and laws were without force against her, because
these statutes and laws are not made for persons of her condition.

To this the chancellor replied that the commission intended to
proceed against her, even if she refused to answer, and declared that
the trial should proceed; for she was doubly subject to indictment,
the conspirators having not only plotted in her favour, but also with
her consent: to which the said Queen of Scotland responded that she
had never even thought of it.

Upon this, the letters it was alleged she had written to Babington
and his answers were read to her.

Mary Stuart then affirmed that she had never seen Babington, that she
had never had any conference with him, had never in her life received
a single letter from him, and that she defied anyone in the world to
maintain that she had ever done anything to the prejudice of the said
Queen of England; that besides, strictly guarded as she was, away
from all news, withdrawn from and deprived of those nearest her,
surrounded with enemies, deprived finally of all advice, she had been
unable to participate in or to consent to the practices of which she
was accused; that there are, besides, many persons who wrote to her
what she had no knowledge of, and that she had received a number of
letters without knowing whence they came to her.

Then Babington's confession was read to her; but she replied that she
did not know what was meant; that besides, if Babington and his
accomplices had said such things, they were base men, false and

"Besides," added she, "show me my handwriting and my signature, since
you say that I wrote to Babington, and not copies counterfeited like
these which you have filled at your leisure with the falsehoods it
has pleased you to insert."

Then she was shown the letter that Babington, it was said, had
written her. She glanced at it; then said, "I have no knowledge of
this letter". Upon this, she was shown her reply, and she said
again, "I have no more knowledge of this answer. If you will show me
my own letter and my own signature containing what you say, I will
acquiesce in all; but up to the present, as I have already told you,
you have produced nothing worthy of credence, unless it be the copies
you have invented and added to with what seemed good to you."

With these words, she rose, and with her eyes full of tears--

"If I have ever," said she, "consented to such intrigues, having for
object my sister's death, I pray God that He have neither pity nor
mercy on me. I confess that I have written to several persons, that
I have implored them to deliver me from my wretched prisons, where I
languished, a captive and ill-treated princess, for nineteen years
and seven months; but it never occurred to me, even in thought, to
write or even to desire such things against the queen. Yes, I also
confess to having exerted myself for the deliverance of some
persecuted Catholics, and if I had been able, and could yet, with my
own blood, protect them and save them from their pains, I would have
done it, and would do it for them with all my power, in order to save
them from destruction."

Then, turning to the secretary, Walsingham--

"But, my lord," said she, "from the moment I see you here, I know
whence comes this blow: you have always been my greatest enemy and my
son's, and you have moved everyone against me and to my prejudice."

Thus accused to his face, Walsingham rose.

"Madam," he replied, "I protest before God, who is my witness, that
you deceive yourself, and that I have never done anything against you
unworthy of a good man, either as an individual or as a public

This is all that was said and done that day in the proceedings, till
the next day, when the queen was again obliged to appear before the

And, being seated at the end of the table of the said hall, and the
said commissioners about her, she began to speak in a loud voice.

"You are not unaware, my lords and gentlemen, that I am a sovereign
queen, anointed and consecrated in the church of God, and cannot, and
ought not, for any reason whatever, be summoned to your courts, or
called to your bar, to be judged by the law and statutes that you lay
down; for I am a princess and free, and I do not owe to any prince
more than he owes to me; and on everything of which I am accused
towards my said sister, I cannot, reply if you do not permit me to be
assisted by counsel. And if you go further, do what you will; but
from all your procedure, in reiterating my protestations, I appeal to
God, who is the only just and true judge, and to the kings and
princes, my allies and confederates."

This protestation was once more registered, as she had required of
the commissioners. Then she was told that she had further written
several letters to the princes of Christendom, against the queen and
the kingdom of England.

"As to that," replied Mary Stuart, "it is another matter, and I do
not deny it; and if it was again to do, I should do as I have done,
to gain my liberty; for there is not a man or woman in the world, of
less rank than I, who would not do it, and who would not make use of
the help and succour of their friends to issue from a captivity as
harsh as mine was. You charge me with certain letters from
Babington: well, I do not deny that he has written to me and that I
have replied to him; but if you find in my answers a single word
about the queen my sister, well, yes, there will be good cause to
prosecute me. I replied to him who wrote to me that he would set me
at liberty, that I accepted his offer, if he could do it without
compromising the one or the other of us: that is all.

"As to my secretaries," added the queen, "not they, but torture spoke
by their mouths: and as to the confessions of Babington and his
accomplices, there is not much to be made of them; for now that they
are dead you can say all that seems good to you; and let who will
believe you."

With these words, the queen refused to answer further if she were not
given counsel, and, renewing her protestation, she withdrew into her
apartment; but, as the chancellor had threatened, the trial was
continued despite her absence.

However, M. de Chateauneuf, the French ambassador to London, saw
matters too near at hand to be deceived as to their course:
accordingly, at the first rumour which came to him of bringing Mary
Stuart to trial, he wrote to King Henry III, that he might intervene
in the prisoner's favour. Henry III immediately despatched to Queen
Elizabeth an embassy extraordinary, of which M. de Bellievre was the
chief; and at the same time, having learned that James VI, Mary's
son, far from interesting himself in his mother's fate, had replied
to the French minister, Courcelles, who spoke to him of her, "I can
do nothing; let her drink what she has spilled," he wrote him the
following letter, to decide the young prince to second him in the
steps he was going to take:

"21st November, 1586.

"COURCELLES, I have received your letter of the 4th October last, in
which I have seen the discourse that the King of Scotland has held
with you concerning what you have witnessed to him of the good
affection I bear him, discourse in which he has given proof of
desiring to reciprocate it entirely; but I wish that that letter had
informed me also that he was better disposed towards the queen his
mother, and that he had the heart and the desire to arrange
everything in a way to assist her in the affliction in which she now
is, reflecting that the prison where she has been unjustly detained
for eighteen years and more has induced her to lend an ear to many
things which have been proposed to her for gaining her liberty, a
thing which is naturally greatly desired by all men, and more still
by those who are born sovereigns and rulers, who bear being kept
prisoners thus with less patience. He should also consider that if
the Queen of England, my good sister, allows herself to be persuaded
by the counsels of those who wish that she should stain herself with
Queen Mary's blood, it will be a matter which will bring him to great
dishonour, inasmuch as one will judge that he will have refused his
mother the good offices that he should render her with the said Queen
of England, and which would have perhaps been sufficient to move her,
if he would have employed them, as warmly, and as soon as his natural
duty commanded him. Moreover, it is to be feared for him, that, his
mother dead, his own turn may come, and that one may think of doing
as much for him, by some violent means, to make the English
succession easier to seize for those who are likely to have it after
the said Queen Elizabeth, and not only to defraud the said King of
Scotland of the claim he can put forward, but to render doubtful even
that which he has to his own crown. I do not know in what condition
the affairs of my said sister-in-law will be when you receive this
letter; but I will tell you that in every case I wish you to rouse
strongly the said King of Scotland, with remonstrances, and
everything else which may bear on this subject, to embrace the
defence and protection of his said mother, and to express to him, on
my part, that as this will be a matter for which he will be greatly
praised by all the other kings and sovereign princes, he must be
assured that if he fails in it there will be great censure for him,
and perhaps notable injury to himself in particular. Furthermore, as
to the state of my own affairs, you know that the queen, madam and
mother, is about to see very soon the King of Navarre, and to confer
with him on the matter of the pacification of the troubles of this
kingdom, to which, if he bear as much good affection as I do for my
part, I hope that things may come to a good conclusion, and that my
subjects will have some respite from the great evils and calamities
that the war occasions them: supplicating the Creator, Courcelles,
that He may have you in His holy keeping.

"Written at St. Germain-en-Laye, the 21st day
of November 1586.(Signed) HENRI,

"And below, BRULART."

This letter finally decided James VI to make a kind of demonstration
in his mother's favour: he sent Gray, Robert Melville, and Keith to
Queen Elizabeth. But although London was nearer Edinburgh than was
Paris, the French envoys reached it before the Scotch.

It is true that on reaching Calais, the 27th of November, M. de
Bellievre had found a special messenger there to tell him not to lose
an instant, from M. de Chateauneuf, who, to provide for every
difficulty, had chartered a vessel ready in the harbour. But however
great the speed these noble lords wished to make, they were obliged
to await the wind's good-will, which did not allow them to put to sea
till Friday 28th at midnight; next day also, on reaching Dover at
nine o'clock, they were so shaken by sea-sickness that they were
forced to stay a whole day in the town to recover, so that it was not
till Sunday 30th that M. de Bellievre was able to set out in the
coach that M. Chateauneuf sent him by M. de Brancaleon, and take the
road to London, accompanied by the gentlemen of his suite, who rode
on post-horses; but resting only a few hours on the way to make up
for lost time, they at last arrived in London, Sunday the 1st of
December at midday. M. de Bellievre immediately sent one of the
gentlemen of his suite, named M. de Villiers, to the Queen of
England, who was holding her court at Richmond Castle: the decree had
been secretly pronounced already six days, and submitted to
Parliament, which was to deliberate upon it with closed doors.

The French ambassadors could not have chosen a worse moment to
approach Elizabeth; and to gain time she declined to receive M. de
Villiers, returning the answer that he would himself know next day
the reason for this refusal. And indeed, next day, the rumour spread
in London that the French Embassy had contagion, and that two of the
lords in it having died of the plague at Calais, the queen, whatever
wish she might have to be agreeable to Henry III, could not endanger
her precious existence by receiving his envoys. Great was the
astonishment of M. de Bellievre at learning this news he protested
that the queen was led into error by a false report, and insisted on
being received. Nevertheless, the delays lasted another six days;
but as the ambassadors threatened to depart without waiting longer,
and as, upon the whole, Elizabeth, disquieted by Spain, had no desire
to embroil herself with France, she had M. de Bellievre informed on
the morning of the 7th of December that she was ready to receive him
after dinner at Richmond Castle, together with the noblemen of his

At the appointed time the French ambassadors presented themselves at
the castle gates, and, having been brought to the queen, found her
seated on her throne and surrounded by the greatest lords in her
kingdom. Then MM. de Chateauneuf and de Bellievre, the one the
ambassador in ordinary and the other the envoy extraordinary, having
greeted her on the part of the King of France, began to make her the
remonstrances with which they were charged. Elizabeth replied, not
only in the same French tongue, but also in the most beautiful speech
in use at that time, and, carried away by passion, pointed out to the
envoys of her brother Henry that the Queen of Scotland had always
proceeded against her, and that this was the third time that she had
wished to attempt her life by an infinity of ways; which she had
already borne too long and with too much patience, but that never had
anything so profoundly cut her to the heart as her last conspiracy;
that event, added she with sadness, having caused her to sigh more
and to shed more tears than the loss of all her relations, so much
the more that the Queen of Scotland was her near relative and closely
connected with the King of France; and as, in their remonstrances,
MM. de Chateauneuf and de Bellievre had brought forward several
examples drawn from history, she assumed, in reply to them on this
occasion, the pedantic style which was usual with her, and told them
that she had seen and read a great many books in her life, and a
thousand more than others of her sex and her rank were wont to, but
that she had never found in them a single example of a deed like that
attempted on her--a deed pursued by a relative, whom the king her
brother could not and ought not to support in her wickedness, when it
was, on the contrary, his duty to hasten the just punishment of it:
then she added, addressing herself specially to M. de Bellievre, and
coming down again from the height of her pride to a gracious
countenance, that she greatly regretted he was not deputed for a
better occasion; that in a few days she would reply to King Henry her
brother, concerning whose health she was solicitous, as well as that
of the queen mother, who must experience such great fatigue from the
trouble she took to restore peace to her son's kingdom; and then, not
wishing to hear more, she withdrew into her room.

The envoys returned to London, where they awaited the promised reply;
but while they were expecting it unavailingly, they heard quietly the
sentence of death given against Queen Mary, which decided them to
return to Richmond to make fresh remonstrances to Queen Elizabeth.
After two or three fruitless journeys, they were at last, December
15th, admitted for the second time to the royal presence.

The queen did not deny that the sentence had been pronounced, and as
it was easy to see that she did not intend in this case to use her
right of pardon, M. de Bellievre, judging that there was nothing to
be done, asked for a safe-conduct to return to his king: Elizabeth
promised it to him within two or three days.

On the following Tuesday, the 17th of the same month of December,
Parliament as well as the chief lords of the realm were convoked at
the Palace of Westminster, and there, in full court and before all,
sentence of death was proclaimed and pronounced against Mary Stuart:
then this same sentence, with great display and great solemnity, was
read in the squares and at the cross-roads of London, whence it
spread throughout the kingdom; and upon this proclamation the bells
rang for twenty-four hours, while the strictest orders were given to
each of the inhabitants to light bonfires in front of their houses,
as is the custom in France on the Eve of St. John the Baptist.

Then, amid this sound of bells, by the light of these bonfires, M.
de Bellievre, wishing to make a last effort, in order to have nothing
with which to reproach himself, wrote the following letter to Queen

"MADAM:--We quitted your Majesty yesterday, expecting, as it had
pleased you to inform us, to receive in a few days your reply
touching the prayer that we made you on behalf of our good master,
your brother, for the Queen of Scotland, his sister in-law and
confederate; but as this morning we have been informed that the
judgment given against the said queen has been proclaimed in London,
although we had promised ourselves another issue from your clemency
and the friendship your bear to the said lord king your good brother,
nevertheless, to neglect no part of our duty, and believing in so
doing to serve the intentions of the king our master, we have not
wanted to fail to write to you this present letter, in which we
supplicate you once again, very humbly, not to refuse his Majesty the
very pressing and very affectionate prayer that he has made you, that
you will be pleased to preserve the life of the said lady Queen of
Scotland, which the said lord king will receive as the greatest
pleasure your Majesty could do him; while, on the contrary, he could
not imagine anything which would cause him more displeasure, and
which would wound him more, than if he were used harshly with regard
to the said lady queen, being what she is to him: and as, madam, the
said king our master, your good brother, when for this object he
despatched us to your Majesty, had not conceived that it was
possible, in any case, to determine so promptly upon such an
execution, we implore you, madam, very humbly, before permitting it
to go further, to grant us some time in which we can make known to
him the state of the affairs of the said Queen of Scotland, in order
that before your Majesty takes a final resolution, you may know what
it may please his very Christian Majesty to tell you and point out to
you on the greatest affair which, in our memory, has been submitted
to men's judgment. Monsieur de Saint-Cyr, who will give these
presents to your Majesty, will bring us, if it pleases you, your good

"London, this 16th day of December 1586.



The same day, M. de Saint-Cyr and the other French lords returned to
Richmond to take this letter; but the queen would not receive them,
alleging indisposition, so that they were obliged to leave the letter
with Walsingham, her first Secretary of State, who promised them to
send the queen's answer the following day.

In spite of this promise, the French lords waited two days more: at
last, on the second day, towards evening, two English gentlemen
sought out M. de Fellievre in London, and, viva voce, without any
letter to confirm what they were charged to say, announced to him, on
behalf of their queen, that in reply to the letter that they had
written her, and to do justice to the desire they had shown to obtain
for the condemned a reprieve during which they would make known the
decision to the King of France, her Majesty would grant twelve days.
As this was Elizabeth's last word, and it was useless to lose time in
pressing her further, M. de Genlis was immediately despatched to his
Majesty the King of France, to whom, besides the long despatch of M.
de Chateauneuf and de Bellievre which he was charged to remit, he was
to say 'viva voce' what he had seen and heard relative to the affairs
of Queen Mary during the whole time he had been in England.

Henry III responded immediately with a letter containing fresh
instructions for MM. de Chateauneuf and de Bellievre; but in spite of
all the haste M. de Genlis could make, he did not reach London till
the fourteenth day--that is to say, forty-eight hours after the
expiration of the delay granted; nevertheless, as the sentence had
not yet been put into execution, MM. de Bellievre and de Chateauneuf
set out at once for Greenwich Castle, some miles from London, where
the queen was keeping Christmas, to beg her to grant them an
audience, in which they could transmit to her Majesty their king's
reply; but they could obtain nothing for four or five days; however,
as they were not disheartened, and returned unceasingly to the
charge, January 6th, MM. de Bellievre and de Chateauneuf were at last
sent for by the queen.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

14th December, 1586

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

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

"From Fotheringay, this Thursday, 24th November.

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

"MARY, Queen of Scotland, Dowager of France"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"What do you want?" asked Lord Shrewsbury.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"MARY, R...."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"My lord," the queen answered, "if you desire to pray for me, I thank
you, for the intention is good; but I cannot join in your prayers,

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