Mary Stuart HTML version

Chapter 8
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 historians.
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 proofs.
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 Scotland.
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