Mary Stuart HTML version

Chapter 4
Meanwhile Bothwell had levied some troops, and thought himself in a position to
hold the country: accordingly, he set out with his army, without even waiting for
the Hamiltons, who were assembling their vassals, and June 15th, 1567, the two
opposed forces were face to face. Mary, who desired to try to avoid bloodshed,
immediately sent the French ambassador to the Confederate lords to exhort
them to lay aside their arms; but they replied "that the queen deceived herself in
taking them for rebels; that they were marching not against her, but against
Bothwell." Then the king's friends did what they could to break off the
negotiations and give battle: it was already too late; the soldiers knew that they
were defending the cause of one man, and that they were going to fight for a
woman's caprice, and not for the good of the country: they cried aloud, then, that
"since Bothwell alone was aimed at, it was for Bothwell to defend his cause". And
he, vain and blustering as usual, gave out that he was ready to prove his
innocence in person against whomsoever would dare to maintain that he was
guilty. Immediately everyone with any claim to nobility in the rival camp accepted
the challenge; and as the honour was given to the bravest, Kirkcaldy of Grange,
Murray of Tullibardine, and Lord Lindsay of Byres defied him successively. But,
be it that courage failed him, be it that in the moment of danger he did not himself
believe in the justice of his cause, he, to escape the combat, sought such strange
pretexts that the queen herself was ashamed; and his most devoted friends
Then Mary, perceiving the fatal humour of men's minds, decided not to run the
risk of a battle. She sent a herald to Kirkcaldy of Grange, who was commanding
an outpost, and as he was advancing without distrust to converse with the queen,
Bothwell, enraged at his own cowardice, ordered a soldier to fire upon him; but
this time Mary herself interposed, forbidding him under pain of death to offer the
least violence. In the meanwhile, as the imprudent order given by Bothwell
spread through the army, such murmurs burst forth that he clearly saw that his
cause was for ever lost.
That is what the queen thought also; for the result of her conference with Lord
Kirkcaldy was that she should abandon Bothwell's cause, and pass over into the
camp of the Confederates, on condition that they would lay down their arms
before her and bring her as queen to Edinburgh. Kirkcaldy left her to take these
conditions to the nobles, and promised to return next day with a satisfactory
answer. But at the moment of leaving Bothwell, Mary was seized again with that
fatal love for him that she was never able to surmount, and felt herself overcome
with such weakness, that, weeping bitterly, and before everyone, she wanted
Kirkcaldy to be told that she broke off all negotiations; however, as Bothwell had
understood that he was no longer safe in camp, it was he who insisted that things
should remain as they were; and, leaving Mary in tears, he mounted, and setting
off at full speed, he did not stop till he reached Dunbar.
Next day, at the time appointed, the arrival of Lord Kirkcaldy of Grange was
announced by the trumpeters preceding him. Mary mounted directly and went to