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Chapter 9
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 glory.
"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