Mary Queen of Scots - Jacob Abbott - ebook

Mary Queen of Scots ebook

Jacob Abbott



One of those stories that can drop you deep into your soul and feel the moments of the life of Mary Queen. Always considered a threat by the Protestants and the English throne. She didn’t have any one to trust, not even her own people. This book explains well the ambiguous personal life of a great but extremely unfortunate woman.

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THE history of the life of every individual who has, for any reason, attracted extensively the attention of mankind, has been written in a great variety of ways by a multitude of authors, and persons sometimes wonder why we should have so many different accounts of the same thing. The reason is, that each one of these accounts is intended for a different set of readers, who read with ideas and purposes widely dissimilar from each other. Among the twenty millions of people in the United States, there are perhaps two millions, between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five, who wish to become acquainted, in general, with the leading events in the history of the Old World, and of ancient times, but who, coming upon the stage in this land and at this period, have ideas and conceptions so widely different from those of other nations and of other times, that a mere republication of existing accounts is not what they require. The story must be told expressly for them. The things that are to be explained, the points that are to be brought out, the comparative degree of prominence to be given to the various particulars, will all be different, on account of the difference in the situation, the ideas, and the objects of these new readers, compared with those of the various other classes of readers which former authors have had in view. It is for this reason, and with this view, that the present series of historical narratives is presented to the public. The author, having had some opportunity to become acquainted with the position, the ideas, and the intellectual wants of those whom he addresses, presents the result of his labors to them, with the hope that it may be found successful in accomplishing its design.



Palace where Mary was born.–Its situation.–Ruins.–The room.–Visitors.–Mary’s father in the wars.–His death.–Regency.–Catholic religion.–The Protestants.–England and France.–The Earl of Arran.–The regency.–Arran regent.–New plan.–End of the war.–King Henry VIII.–Janet Sinclair.–King Henry’s demands.–Objections to them.–Plans for Mary.–Linlithgow.–Plan of the palace.–Fountain.–The lion’s den.–Explanation of the engraving.–The coronation.–Stirling Castle.–Its situation.–Rocky hill.–The coronation scene.–Linlithgow and Stirling.–The Highlands and the Highlanders.–Religious disturbances.–Lake Menteith.–Mary’s companions.–The four Maries.–Angry disputes.–Change of plan.–Henry’s anger.–Henry’s sickness and death.–War renewed.–Danger in Edinburgh.–Aid from France.–New plan.–Going to France.–Dumbarton Castle.–Rock of Dumbarton.–Journey to Dumbarton.–The four Maries.–Departure from Scotland.

TRAVELERS who go into Scotland take a great interest in visiting, among other places, a certain room in the ruins of an old palace, where Queen Mary was born. Queen Mary was very beautiful, but she was very unfortunate and unhappy. Every body takes a strong interest in her story, and this interest attaches, in some degree, to the room where her sad and sorrowful life was begun.

The palace is near a little village called Linlithgow. The village has but one long street, which consists of ancient stone houses. North of it is a little lake, or rather pond: they call it, in Scotland, a loch. The palace is between the village and the loch; it is upon a beautiful swell of land which projects out into the water. There is a very small island in the middle of the loch and the shores are bordered with fertile fields. The palace, when entire, was square, with an open space or court in the center. There was a beautiful stone fountain in the center of this court, and an arched gateway through which horsemen and carriages could ride in. The doors of entrance into the palace were on the inside of the court.

The palace is now in ruins. A troop of soldiers came to it one day in time of war, after Mary and her mother had left it, and spent the night there: they spread straw over the floors to sleep upon. In the morning, when they went away, they wantonly set the straw on fire, and left it burning, and thus the palace was destroyed. Some of the lower floors were of stone; but all the upper floors and the roof were burned, and all the wood-work of the rooms, and the doors and window-frames. Since then the palace has never been repaired, but remains a melancholy pile of ruins.

The room where Mary was born had a stone floor. The rubbish which has fallen from above has covered it with a sort of soil, and grass and weeds grow up all over it. It is a very melancholy sight to see. The visitors who go into the room walk mournfully about, trying to imagine how Queen Mary looked, as an infant in her mother’s arms, and reflecting on the recklessness of the soldiers in wantonly destroying so beautiful a palace. Then they go to the window, or, rather, to the crumbling opening in the wall where the window once was, and look out upon the loch, now so deserted and lonely; over their heads it is all open to the sky.

Mary’s father was King of Scotland. At the time that Mary was born, he was away from home engaged in war with the King of England, who had invaded Scotland. In the battles Mary’s father was defeated, and he thought that the generals and nobles who commanded his army allowed the English to conquer them on purpose to betray him. This thought overwhelmed him with vexation and anguish. He pined away under the acuteness of his sufferings, and just after the news came to him that his daughter Mary was born, he died. Thus Mary became an orphan, and her troubles commenced, at the very beginning of her days. She never saw her father, and her father never saw her. Her mother was a French lady; her name was Mary of Guise. Her own name was Mary Stuart, but she is commonly called Mary Queen of Scots.

As Mary was her father’s only child, of course, when he died, she became Queen of Scotland, although she was only a few days old. It is customary, in such a case, to appoint some distinguished person to govern the kingdom, in the name of the young queen, until she grows up: such a person is called a regent. Mary’s mother wished to be the regent until Mary became of age.

It happened that in those days, as now, the government and people of France were of the Catholic religion. England, on the other hand, was Protestant. There is a great difference between the Catholic and the Protestant systems. The Catholic Church, though it extends nearly all over the world, is banded together, as the reader is aware, under one man–the pope–who is the great head of the Church, and who lives in state at Rome. The Catholics have, in all countries, many large and splendid churches, which are ornamented with paintings and images of the Virgin Mary and of Christ. They perform great ceremonies in these churches, the priests being dressed in magnificent costumes, and walking in processions, with censers of incense burning as they go. The Protestants, on the other hand, do not like these ceremonies; they regard such outward acts of worship as mere useless parade, and the images as idols. They themselves have smaller and plainer churches, and call the people together in them to hear sermons, and to offer up simple prayers.

In the time of Mary, England was Protestant and France was Catholic, while Scotland was divided, though most of the people were Protestants. The two parties were very much excited against each other, and often persecuted each other with extreme cruelty. Sometimes the Protestants would break into the Catholic churches, and tear down and destroy the paintings and the images, and the other symbols of worship, all which the Catholics regarded with extreme veneration; this exasperated the Catholics, and when they became powerful in their turn, they would seize the Protestants and imprison them, and sometimes burn them to death, by tying them to a stake and piling fagots of wood about them, and then setting the heap on fire.

Queen Mary’s mother was a Catholic, and for that reason the people of Scotland were not willing that she should be regent. There were one or two other persons, moreover, who claimed the office. One was a certain nobleman called the Earl of Arran. He was a Protestant. The Earl of Arran was the next heir to the crown, so that if Mary had died in her infancy, he would have been king. He thought that this was a reason why he should be regent, and govern the kingdom until Mary became old enough to govern it herself. Many other persons, however, considered this rather a reason why he should not be regent; for they thought he would be naturally interested in wishing that Mary should not live, since if she died he would himself become king, and that therefore he would not be a safe protector for her. However, as the Earl of Arran was a Protestant, and as Mary’s mother was a Catholic, and as the Protestant interest was the strongest, it was at length decided that Arran should be the regent, and govern the country until Mary should be of age.

It is a curious circumstance that Mary’s birth put an end to the war between England and Scotland, and that in a very singular way. The King of England had been fighting against Mary’s father, James, for a long time, in order to conquer the country and annex it to England; and now that James was dead, and Mary had become queen, with Arran for the regent, it devolved on Arran to carry on the war. But the King of England and his government, now that the young queen was born, conceived of a new plan. The king had a little son, named Edward, about four years old, who, of course, would become King of England in his place when he should himself die. Now he thought it would be best for him to conclude a peace with Scotland, and agree with the Scottish government that, as soon as Mary was old enough, she should become Edward’s wife, and the two kingdoms be united in that way.

The name of this King of England was Henry the Eighth. He was a very headstrong and determined man. This, his plan, might have been a very good one; it was certainly much better than an attempt to get possession of Scotland by fighting for it; but he was very far from being as moderate and just as he should have been in the execution of his design. The first thing was to ascertain whether Mary was a strong and healthy child; for if he should make a treaty of peace, and give up all his plans of conquest, and then if Mary, after living feebly a few years, should die, all his plans would fail. To satisfy him on this point, they actually had some of the infant’s clothes removed in the presence of his embassador, in order that the embassador might see that her form was perfect, and her limbs vigorous and strong. The nurse did this with great pride and pleasure, Mary’s mother standing by. The nurse’s name was Janet Sinclair. The embassador wrote back to Henry, the King of England, that little Mary was “as goodly a child as he ever saw.” So King Henry VIII. was confirmed in his design of having her for the wife of his son.

King Henry VIII. accordingly changed all his plans. He made a peace with the Earl of Arran. He dismissed the prisoners that he had taken, and sent them home kindly. If he had been contented with kind and gentle measures like these, he might have succeeded in them, although there was, of course, a strong party in Scotland opposed to them. Mary’s mother was opposed to them, for she was a Catholic and a French lady, and she wished to have her daughter become a Catholic as she grew up, and marry a French prince. All the Catholics in Scotland took her side. Still Henry’s plans might have been accomplished, perhaps, if he had been moderate and conciliating in the efforts which he made to carry them into effect.

But Henry VIII. was headstrong and obstinate. He demanded that Mary, since she was to be his son’s wife, should be given up to him to be taken into England, and educated there, under the care of persons whom he should appoint. He also demanded that the Parliament of Scotland should let him have a large share in the government of Scotland, because he was going to be the father-in-law of the young queen. The Parliament would not agree to either of these plans; they were entirely unwilling to allow their little queen to be carried off to another country, and put under the charge of so rough and rude a man. Then they were unwilling, too, to give him any share of the government during Mary’s minority. Both these measures were entirely inadmissible; they would, if adopted, have put both the infant Queen of Scotland and the kingdom itself completely in the power of one who had always been their greatest enemy.

Henry, finding that he could not induce the Scotch government to accede to these plans, gave them up at last, and made a treaty of marriage between his son and Mary, with the agreement that she might remain in Scotland until she was ten years old, and that then she should come to England and be under his care.

All this time, while these grand negotiations were pending between two mighty nations about her marriage, little Mary was unconscious of it all, sometimes reposing quietly in Janet Sinclair’s arms, sometimes looking out of the windows of the Castle of Linlithgow to see the swans swim upon the lake, and sometimes, perhaps, creeping about upon the palace floor, where the earls and barons who came to visit her mother, clad in armor of steel, looked upon her with pride and pleasure. The palace where she lived was beautifully situated, as has been before remarked, on the borders of a lake. It was arranged somewhat in the following manner:

There was a beautiful fountain in the center of the court-yard, where water spouted out from the mouths of carved images, and fell into marble basins below. The ruins of this fountain and of the images remain there still. The den at d was a round pit, like a well, which you could look down into from above: it was about ten feet deep. They used to keep lions in such dens near the palaces and castles in those days. A lion in a den was a sort of plaything in former times, as a parrot or a pet lamb is now: this was in keeping with the fierce and warlike spirit of the age. If they had a lion there in Mary’s time, Janet often, doubtless, took her little charge out to see it, and let her throw down food to it from above. The den is there now. You approach it upon the top of a broad embankment, which is as high as the depth of the den, so that the bottom of the den is level with the surface of the ground, which makes it always dry. There is a hole, too, at the bottom, through the wall, where they used to put the lion in.

The foregoing plan of the buildings and grounds of Linlithgow is drawn as maps and plans usually are, the upper part toward the north. Of course the room a, where Mary was born, is on the western side. The adjoining engraving represents a view of the palace on this western side. The church is seen at the right; and the lawn, where Janet used to take Mary out to breathe the air, is in the fore-ground. The shore of the lake is very near, and winds beautifully around the margin of the promontory on which the palace stands. Of course the lion’s den, and the ancient avenue of approach to the palace, are round upon the other side, and out of sight in this view. The approach to the palace, at the present day, is on the southern side, between the church and the trees on the right of the picture.

Mary remained here at Linlithgow for a year or two; but when she was about nine months old, they concluded to have the great ceremony of the coronation performed, as she was by that time old enough to bear the journey to Stirling Castle, where the Scottish kings and queens were generally crowned. The coronation of a queen is an event which always excites a very deep and universal interest among all persons in the realm; and there is a peculiar interest felt when, as was the case in this instance, the queen to be crowned is an infant just old enough to bear the journey. There was a very great interest felt in Mary’s coronation. The different courts and monarchs of Europe sent embassadors to be present at the ceremony, and to pay their respects to the infant queen; and Stirling became, for the time being, the center of universal attraction.

Stirling is in the very heart of Scotland. It is a castle, built upon a rock, or, rather, upon a rocky hill, which rises like an island out of the midst of a vast region of beautiful and fertile country, rich and verdant beyond description. Beyond the confines of this region of beauty, dark mountains rise on all sides; and wherever you are, whether riding along the roads in the plain, or climbing the declivities of the mountains, you see Stirling Castle, from every point, capping its rocky hill, the center and ornament of the broad expanse of beauty which surrounds it.

Stirling Castle is north of Linlithgow, and is distant about fifteen or twenty miles from it. The road to it lies not far from the shores of the Frith of Forth, a broad and beautiful sheet of water. The castle, as has been before remarked, was on the summit of a rocky hill. There are precipitous crags on three sides of the hill, and a gradual approach by a long ascent on the fourth side. At the top of this ascent you enter the great gates of the castle, crossing a broad and deep ditch by means of a draw-bridge. You enter then a series of paved courts, with towers and walls around them, and finally come to the more interior edifices, where the private apartments are situated, and where the little queen was crowned.

It was an occasion of great pomp and ceremony, though Mary, of course, was unconscious of the meaning of it all. She was surrounded by barons and earls, by embassadors and princes from foreign courts, and by the principal lords and ladies of the Scottish nobility, all dressed in magnificent costumes. They held little Mary up, and a cardinal, that is, a great dignitary of the Roman Catholic Church, placed the crown upon her head. Half pleased with the glittering show, and half frightened at the strange faces which she saw every where around her, she gazed unconsciously upon the scene, while her mother, who could better understand its import, was elated with pride and joy.

Linlithgow and Stirling are in the open and cultivated part of Scotland. All the northern and western part of the country consists of vast masses of mountains, with dark and somber glens among them, which are occupied solely by shepherds and herdsmen with their flocks and herds. This mountainous region was called the Highlands, and the inhabitants of it were the Highlanders. They were a wild and warlike class of men, and their country was seldom visited by either friend or foe. At the present time there are beautiful roads all through the Highlands, and stage-coaches and private carriages roll over them every summer, to take tourists to see and admire the picturesque and beautiful scenery; but in the days of Mary the whole region was gloomy and desolate, and almost inaccessible.

Mary remained in Linlithgow and Stirling for about two years, and then, as the country was becoming more and more disturbed by the struggles of the great contending parties–those who were in favor of the Catholic religion and alliance with France on the one hand, and of those in favor of the Protestant religion and alliance with England on the other hand–they concluded to send her into the Highlands for safety.

It was not far into the country of the Highlands that they concluded to send her, but only into the borders of it. There was a small lake on the southern margin of the wild and mountainous country, called the Lake of Menteith. In this lake was an island named Inchmahome, the word inchbeing the name for island in the language spoken by the Highlanders. This island, which was situated in a very secluded and solitary region, was selected as Mary’s place of residence. She was about four years old when they sent her to this place. Several persons went with her to take care of her, and to teach her. In fact, every thing was provided for her which could secure her improvement and happiness. Her mother did not forget that she would need playmates, and so she selected four little girls of about the same age with the little queen herself, and invited them to accompany her. They were daughters of the noblemen and high officers about the court. It is very singular that these girls were all named Mary. Their names in full were as follows:

Mary Beaton, Mary Fleming, Mary Livingstone, Mary Seaton.

These, with Mary Stuart, which was Queen Mary’s name, made five girls of four or five years of age, all named Mary.

Mary lived two years in this solitary island. She had, however, all the comforts and conveniences of life, and enjoyed herself with her four Maries very much. Of course she knew nothing, and thought nothing of the schemes and plans of the great governments for having her married, when she grew up, to the young English prince, who was then a little boy of about her own age, nor of the angry disputes in Scotland to which this subject gave rise. It did give rise to very serious disputes. Mary’s mother did not like the plan at all. As she was herself a French lady and a Catholic, she did not wish to have her daughter marry a prince who was of the English royal family, and a Protestant. All the Catholics in Scotland took her side. At length the Earl of Arran, who was the regent, changed to that side; and finally the government, being thus brought over, gave notice to King Henry VIII. that the plan must be given up, as they had concluded, on the whole, that Mary should not marry his son.

King Henry was very much incensed. He declared that Mary should marry his son, and he raised an army and sent it into Scotland to make war upon the Scotch again, and compel them to consent to the execution of the plan. He was at this time beginning to be sick, but his sickness, instead of softening his temper, only made him the more ferocious and cruel. He turned against his best friends. He grew worse, and was evidently about to die; but he was so irritable and angry that for a long time no one dared to tell him of his approaching dissolution, and he lay restless, and wretched, and agitated with political animosities upon his dying bed. At length some one ventured to tell him that his end was near. When he found that he must die, he resigned himself to his fate. He sent for an archbishop to come and see him, but he was speechless when the prelate came, and soon afterward expired.

The English government, however, after his death, adhered to his plan of compelling the Scotch to make Mary the wife of his son. They sent an army into Scotland. A great battle was fought, and the Scotch were defeated. The battle was fought at a place not far from Edinburgh, and near the sea. It was so near the sea that the English fired upon the Scotch army from their ships, and thus assisted their troops upon the shore. The armies had remained several days near each other before coming to battle, and during all this time the city of Edinburgh was in a state of great anxiety and suspense, as they expected that their city would be attacked by the English if they should conquer in the battle. The English army did, in fact, advance toward Edinburgh after the battle was over, and would have got possession of it had it not been for the castle. There is a very strong castle in the very heart of Edinburgh, upon the summit of a rocky hill.

These attempts of the English to force the Scotch government to consent to Mary’s marriage only made them the more determined to prevent it. A great many who were not opposed to it before, became opposed to it now when they saw foreign armies in the country destroying the towns and murdering the people. They said they had no great objection to the match, but that they did not like the mode of wooing. They sent to France to ask the French king to send over an army to aid them, and promised him that if he would do so they would agree that Mary should marry his son. His son’s name was Francis.

The French king was very much pleased with this plan. He sent an army of six thousand men into Scotland to assist the Scotch against their English enemies. It was arranged, also, as little Mary was now hardly safe among all these commotions, even in her retreat in the island of Inchmahome, to send her to France to be educated there, and to live there until she was old enough to be married. The same ships which brought the army from France to Scotland, were to carry Mary and her retinue from Scotland to France. The four Maries went with her.

They bade their lonely island farewell, and traveled south till they came to a strong castle on a high, rocky hill, on the banks of the River Clyde. The name of this fortress is Dumbarton Castle. Almost all the castles of those times were built upon precipitous hills, to increase the difficulties of the enemies in approaching them. The Rock of Dumbarton is a very remarkable one. It stands close to the bank of the river. There are a great many ships and steam-boats continually passing up and down the Clyde, to and from the great city of Glasgow, and all the passengers on board gaze with great interest, as they sail by, on the Rock of Dumbarton, with the castle walls on the sides, and the towers and battlements crowning the summit. In Mary’s time there was comparatively very little shipping on the river, but the French fleet was there, waiting opposite the castle to receive Mary and the numerous persons who were to go in her train.

The tourists, who stand upon the deck gazing at this exciting scene of life and motion, have their attention strongly attracted, about half way up the river, by this Castle of Dumbarton, which crowns a rocky hill, rising abruptly from the water’s edge, on the north side of the stream. It attracts sometimes the more attention from American travelers, on account of its being the first ancient castle they see. This it likely to be the case if they proceed to Scotland immediately on landing at Liverpool.]

Mary was escorted from the island where she had been living, across the country to Dumbarton Castle, with a strong retinue. She was now between five and six years of age. She was, of course, too young to know any thing about the contentions and wars which had distracted her country on her account, or to feel much interest in the subject of her approaching departure from her native land. She enjoyed the novelty of the scenes through which she passed on her journey. She was pleased with the dresses and the arms of the soldiers who accompanied her, and with the ships which were floating in the river, beneath the walls of the Castle of Dumbarton, when she arrived there. She was pleased, too, to think that, wherever she was to go, her four Maries were to go with her. She bade her mother farewell, embarked on board the ship which was to receive her, and sailed away from her native land, not to return to it again for many years.



Departure.–Stormy voyage.–Journey to Paris.–Release of prisoners.–Barabbas.–St. Germain.–Celebrations.–The convent.–Character of the nuns.–Interest in Mary.–Leaving the convent.–Amusements.–Visit of Mary’s mother.–Queen dowager.–Rouen.–A happy meeting.–Rejoicings.–A last farewell.–Visit to a mourner.–The queen dowager’s return.–The regency.–A page of honor.–Sir James Melville.–Mary’s character.–Her diligence.–Devices and mottoes.–Festivities.–Water parties.–Hunting.–An accident.–Restraint.–Queen Catharine.–Her character.–Embroidery.–Mary’s admiration of Queen Catharine.–The latter suspicious.–Unguarded remark.–Catharine’s mortification.–The dauphin.–Origin of the title.–Character of Francis.–Mary’s beauty.–Torch-light procession.–An angel.–Mary a Catholic.–Her conscientiousness and fidelity.

THE departure of Mary from Scotland, little as she was, was a great event both for Scotland and for France. In those days kings and queens were even of greater relative importance than they are now, and all Scotland was interested in the young queen’s going away from them, and all France in expecting her arrival. She sailed down the Clyde, and then passed along the seas and channels which lie between England and Ireland. These seas, though they look small upon the map, are really spacious and wide, and are often greatly agitated by winds and storms. This was the case at the time Mary made her voyage. The days and nights were tempestuous and wild, and the ships had difficulty in keeping in each other’s company. There was danger of being blown upon the coasts, or upon the rocks or islands which lie in the way. Mary was too young to give much heed to these dangers, but the lords and commissioners, and the great ladies who went to attend her, were heartily glad when the voyage was over. It ended safely at last, after several days of tossing upon the stormy billows, by their arrival upon the northern coast of France. They landed at a town called Brest.

The King of France had made great preparations for receiving the young queen immediately upon her landing. Carriages and horses had been provided to convey herself and the company of her attendants, by easy journeys, to Paris. They received her with great pomp and ceremony at every town which she passed through. One mark of respect which they showed her was very singular. The king ordered that every prison which she passed in her route should be thrown open, and the prisoners set free. This fact is a striking illustration of the different ideas which prevailed in those days, compared with those which are entertained now, in respect to crime and punishment. Crime is now considered as an offense against the community, and it would be considered no favor to the community, but the reverse, to let imprisoned criminals go free. In those days, on the other hand, crimes were considered rather as injuries committed by the community, and against the king; so that, if the monarch wished to show the community a favor, he would do it by releasing such of them as had been imprisoned by his officers for their crimes. It was just so in the time of our Savior, when the Jews had a custom of having some criminal released to them once a year, at the Passover, by the Roman government, as an act of favor. That is, the government was accustomed to furnish, by way of contributing its share toward the general festivities of the occasion, the setting of a robber and a murderer at liberty!

The King of France has several palaces in the neighborhood of Paris. Mary was taken to one of them, named St. Germain. This palace, which still stands, is about twelve miles from Paris, toward the northwest. It is a very magnificent residence, and has been for many centuries a favorite resort of the French kings. Many of them were born in it. There are extensive parks and gardens connected with it, and a great artificial forest, in which the trees were all planted and cultivated like the trees of an orchard. Mary was received at this palace with great pomp and parade; and many spectacles and festivities were arranged to amuse her and the four Maries who accompanied her, and to impress her strongly with an idea of the wealth, and power, and splendor of the great country to which she had come.

She remained here but a short time, and then it was arranged for her to go to a convent to be educated. Convents were in those days, as in fact they are now, quite famous as places of education. They were situated sometimes in large towns, and sometimes in secluded places in the country; but, whether in town or country, the inmates of them were shut up very strictly from all intercourse with the world. They were under the care of nuns who had devoted themselves for life to the service. These nuns were some of them unhappy persons, who were weary of the sorrows and sufferings of the world, and who were glad to retire from it to such a retreat as they fancied the convent would be. Others became nuns from conscientious principles of duty, thinking that they should commend themselves to the favor of God by devoting their lives to works of benevolence and to the exercises of religion. Of course there were all varieties of character among the nuns; some of them were selfish and disagreeable, others were benevolent and kind.

At the convent where Mary was sent there were some nuns of very excellent and amiable character, and they took a great interest in Mary, both because she was a queen, and because she was beautiful, and of a kind and affectionate disposition. Mary became very strongly attached to these nuns, and began to entertain the idea of becoming a nun herself, and spending her life with them in the convent. It seemed pleasant to her to live there in such a peaceful seclusion, in company with those who loved her, and whom she herself loved, but the King of France, and the Scottish nobles who had come with her from Scotland, would, of course, be opposed to any such plan. They intended her to be married to the young prince, and to become one of the great ladies of the court, and to lead a life of magnificence and splendor. They became alarmed, therefore, when they found that she was imbibing a taste for the life of seclusion and solitude which is led by a nun. They decided to take her immediately away.

Mary bade farewell to the convent and its inmates with much regret and many tears; but, notwithstanding her reluctance, she was obliged to submit. If she had not been a queen, she might, perhaps, have had her own way. As it was, however, she was obliged to leave the convent and the nuns whom she loved, and to go back to the palaces of the king, in which she afterward continued to live, sometimes in one and sometimes in another, for many years. Wherever she went, she was surrounded with scenes of great gayety and splendor. They wished to obliterate from her mind all recollections of the convent, and all love of solitude and seclusion. They did not neglect her studies, but they filled up the intervals of study with all possible schemes of enjoyment and pleasure, to amuse and occupy her mind and the minds of her companions. Her companions were her own four Maries, and the two daughters of the French king.

When Mary was about seven years of age, that is, after she had been two years in France, her mother formed a plan to come from Scotland to see her. Her mother had remained behind when Mary left Scotland, as she had an important part to perform in public affairs, and in the administration of the government of Scotland while Mary was away. She wanted, however, to come and see her. France, too, was her own native land, and all her relations and friends resided there. She wished to see them as well as Mary, and to revisit once more the palaces and cities where her own early life had been spent. In speaking of Mary’s mother we shall call her sometimes the queen dowager. The expression queen dowager is the one usually applied to the widow of a king, as queen consort is used to denote the wife of a king.

This visit of the queen dowager of Scotland to her little daughter in France was an event of great consequence, and all the arrangements for carrying it into effect were conducted with great pomp and ceremony. A large company attended her, with many of the Scottish lords and ladies among them. The King of France, too, went from Paris toward the French coast, to meet the party of visitors, taking little Mary and a large company of attendants with him. They went to Rouen, a large city not far from the coast, where they awaited the arrival of Mary’s mother, and where they received her with great ceremonies of parade and rejoicing. The queen regent was very much delighted to see her little daughter again. She had grown two years older, and had improved greatly in every respect, and tears of joy came into her mother’s eyes as she clasped her in her arms. The two parties journeyed in company to Paris and entered the city with great rejoicings. The two queens, mother and daughter, were the objects of universal interest and attention. Feasts and celebrations without end were arranged for them, and every possible means of amusement and rejoicing were contrived in the palaces of Paris, of St. Germain’s, and of Fontainebleau. Mary’s mother remained in France about a year. She then bade Mary farewell, leaving her at Fontainebleau. This proved to be a final farewell, for she never saw her again.

After taking leave of her daughter, the queen dowager went, before leaving France, to see her own mother, who was a widow, and who was living at a considerable distance from Paris in seclusion, and in a state of austere and melancholy grief, on account of the loss of her husband. Instead of forgetting her sorrows, as she ought to have done, and returning calmly and peacefully to the duties and enjoyments of life, she had given herself up to inconsolable grief, and was doing all she could to perpetuate the mournful influence of her sorrows. She lived in an ancient and gloomy mansion, of vast size, and she had hung all the apartments in black, to make it still more desolate and gloomy, and to continue the influence of grief upon her mind. Here the queen dowager found her, spending her time in prayers and austerities of every kind, making herself and all her family perfectly miserable. Many persons, at the present day, act, under such circumstances, on the same principle and with the same spirit, though they do not do it perhaps in precisely the same way.

One would suppose that Mary’s mother would have preferred to remain in France with her daughter and her mother and all her family friends, instead of going back to Scotland, where she was, as it were, a foreigner and a stranger. The reason why she desired to go back was that she wished to be made queen regent, and thus have the government of Scotland in her own hands. She would rather be queen regent in Scotland than a simple queen mother in France. While she was in France, she urged the king to use all his influence to have Arran resign his regency into her hands, and finally obtained writings from him and from Queen Mary to this effect. She then left France and went to Scotland, going through England on the way. The young King of England, to whom Mary had been engaged by the government when she was an infant in Janet Sinclair’s arms, renewed his proposals to the queen dowager to let her daughter become his wife; but she told him that it was all settled that she was to be married to the French prince, and that it was now too late to change the plan.

There was a young gentleman, about nineteen or twenty years of age, who came from Scotland also, not far from this time, to wait upon Mary as her page of honor. A page is an attendant above the rank of an ordinary servant, whose business it is to wait upon his mistress, to read to her, sometimes to convey her letters and notes, and to carry her commands to the other attendants who are beneath him in rank and whose business it is actually to perform the services which the lady requires. A page of honor is a young gentleman who sustains this office in a nominal and temporary manner for a princess or a queen.

The name of Mary’s page of honor, who came to her now from Scotland, was Sir James Melville. The only reason for mentioning him thus particularly, rather than the many other officers and attendants by whom Mary was surrounded was, that the service which he thus commenced was continued in various ways through the whole period of Mary’s life. We shall often hear of him in the subsequent parts of this narrative. He followed Mary to Scotland when she returned to that country, and became afterward her secretary, and also her embassador on many occasions. He was now quite young, and when he landed at Brest he traveled slowly to Paris in the care of two Scotchmen, to whose charge he had been intrusted. He was a young man of uncommon talents and of great accomplishments, and it was a mark of high distinction for him to be appointed page of honor to the queen, although he was about nineteen years of age and she was but seven.

After the queen regent’s return to Scotland, Mary went on improving in every respect more and more. She was diligent, industrious, and tractable. She took a great interest in her studies. She was not only beautiful in person, and amiable and affectionate in heart, but she possessed a very intelligent and active mind, and she entered with a sort of quiet but earnest enthusiasm into all the studies to which her attention was called. She paid a great deal of attention to music, to poetry, and to drawing. She used to invent little devices for seals, with French and Latin mottoes, and, after drawing them again and again with great care, until she was satisfied with the design, she would give them to the gem-engravers to be cut upon stone seals, so that she could seal her letters with them. These mottoes and devices can not well be represented in English, as the force and beauty of them depended generally upon a double meaning in some word of French or Latin, which can not be preserved in the translation. We shall, however, give one of these seals, which she made just before she left France, to return to Scotland, when we come to that period of her history.

The King of France, and the lords and ladies who came with Mary from Scotland, contrived a great many festivals and celebrations in the parks, and forests, and palaces, to amuse the queen and the four Maries who were with her. The daughters of the French king joined, also, in these pleasures. They would have little balls, and parties, and pic-nics, sometimes in the open air, sometimes in the little summer-houses built upon the grounds attached to the palaces. The scenes of these festivities were in many cases made unusually joyous and gay by bon-fires and illuminations. They had water parties on the little lakes, and hunting parties through the parks and forests. Mary was a very graceful and beautiful rider, and full of courage. Sometimes she met with accidents which were attended with some danger. Once, while hunting the stag, and riding at full speed with a great company of ladies and gentlemen behind her and before her, her dress got caught by the bough of a tree, and she was pulled to the ground. The horse went on. Several other riders drove by her without seeing her, as she had too much composure and fortitude to attract their attention by outcries and lamentations. They saw her, however, at last, and came to her assistance. They brought back her horse, and, smoothing down her hair, which had fallen into confusion, she mounted again, and rode on after the stag as before.

Notwithstanding all these means of enjoyment and diversion, Mary was subjected to a great deal of restraint. The rules of etiquette are very precise and very strictly enforced in royal households, and they were still more strict in those days than they are now. The king was very ceremonious in all his arrangements, and was surrounded by a multitude of officers who performed every thing by rule. As Mary grew older, she was subjected to greater and greater restraint. She used to spend a considerable portion of every day in the apartments of Queen Catharine, the wife of the King of France and the mother of the little Francis to whom she was to be married. Mary and Queen Catharine did not, however, like each other very well. Catharine was a woman of strong mind and of an imperious disposition; and it is supposed by some that she was jealous of Mary because she was more beautiful and accomplished and more generally beloved than her own daughters, the princesses of France. At any rate, she treated Mary in rather a stern and haughty manner, and it was thought that she would finally oppose her marriage to Francis her son.

And yet Mary was at first very much pleased with Queen Catharine, and was accustomed to look up to her with great admiration, and to feel for her a very sincere regard. She often went into the queen’s apartments, where they sat together and talked, or worked upon their embroidery, which was a famous amusement for ladies of exalted rank in those days. Mary herself at one time worked a large piece, which she sent as a present to the nuns in the convent where she had resided; and afterward, in Scotland, she worked a great many things, some of which still remain, and may be seen in her ancient rooms in the palace of Holyrood House. She learned this art by working with Queen Catharine in her apartments. When she first became acquainted with Catharine on these occasions, she used to love her society. She admired her talents and her conversational powers, and she liked very much to be in her room. She listened to all she said, watched her movements, and endeavored in all things to follow her example.

Catharine, however, thought that this was all a pretense, and that Mary did not really like her, but only wished to make her believe that she did so in order to get favor, or to accomplish some other selfish end. One day she asked her why she seemed to prefer her society to that of her youthful and more suitable companions. Mary replied, in substance, “The reason was, that though with them she might enjoy much, she could learn nothing; while she always learned from Queen Catharine’s conversation something which would be of use to her as a guide in future life.” One would have thought that this answer would have pleased the queen, but it did not. She did not believe that it was sincere.

On one occasion Mary seriously offended the queen by a remark which she made, and which was, at least, incautious. Kings and queens, and, in fact, all great people in Europe, pride themselves very much upon the antiquity of the line from which they have descended. Now the family of Queen Catharine had risen to rank and distinction within a moderate period; and though she was, as Queen of France, on the very pinnacle of human greatness, she would naturally be vexed at any remark which would remind her of the recentness of her elevation. Now Mary at one time said, in conversation in the presence of Queen Catharine, that she herself was the descendant of a hundred kings. This was perhaps true, but it brought her into direct comparison with Catharine in a point in which the latter was greatly her inferior, and it vexed and mortified Catharine very much to have such a thing said to her by such a child.

Mary associated thus during all this time, not only with the queen and the princesses, but also with the little prince whom she was destined to marry. His name was Francis, but he was commonly called the dauphin, which was the name by which the oldest son of the King of France was then, and has been since designated. The origin of this custom was this. About a hundred years before the time of which we are speaking, a certain nobleman of high rank, who possessed estates in an ancient province of France called Dauphiny, lost his son and heir. He was overwhelmed with affliction at the loss, and finally bequeathed all his estates to the king and his successors, on condition that the oldest son should bear the title of Dauphin. The grant was accepted, and the oldest son was accordingly so styled from that time forward, from generation to generation.

The dauphin, Francis, was a weak and feeble child, but he was amiable and gentle in his manners, and Mary liked him. She met him often in their walks and rides, and she danced with him at the balls and parties given for her amusement. She knew that he was to be her husband as soon as she was old enough to be married, and he knew that she was to be his wife. It was all decided, and nothing which either of them could say or do would have any influence on the result. Neither of them, however, seem to have had any desire to change the result. Mary pitied Francis on account of his feeble health, and liked his amiable and gentle disposition; and Francis could not help loving Mary, both on account of the traits of her character and her personal charms.

As Mary advanced in years, she grew very beautiful. In some of the great processions and ceremonies, the ladies were accustomed to walk, magnificently dressed and carrying torches in their hands. In one of these processions Mary was moving along with the rest, through a crowd of spectators, and the light from her torch fell upon her features and upon her hair in such a manner as to make her appear more beautiful than usual. A woman, standing there, pressed up nearer to her to view her more closely, and, seeing how beautiful she was, asked her if she was not an angel. In those days, however, people believed in what is miraculous and supernatural more easily than now, so that it was not very surprising that one should think, in such a case, that an angel from Heaven had come down to join in the procession.

Mary grew up a Catholic, of course: all were Catholics around her. The king and all the royal family were devoted to Catholic observances. The convent, the ceremonies, the daily religious observances enjoined upon her, the splendid churches which she frequented, all tended in their influence to lead her mind away from the Protestant religion which prevailed in her native land, and to make her a Catholic: she remained so throughout her life. There is no doubt that she was conscientious in her attachment to the forms and to the spirit of the Roman Church. At any rate, she was faithful to the ties which her early education imposed upon her, and this fidelity became afterward the source of some of her heaviest calamities and woes.



Hastening the wedding.–Reasons for it.–Attempt to poison Mary.–The Guises.–Catharine’s jealousy.–Commissioners from Scotland.–Preliminaries.–Stipulations.–Plan of Henry to evade them.–Marriage settlement.–Secret papers.–Their contents.–Ceremonies.–The betrothal.–The Louvre.–Notre Dame.–View of the interior.–Amphitheater.–Covered gallery.–The procession.–Mary’s dress.–Appearance of Mary.–Wedding ring.–Movement of the procession.–Largess.–Confusion.–The choir.–Mass.–Return of the procession.–Collation.–Ball.–Evening’s entertainments.–A tournament.–Rank of the combatants.–Lances.–Rapid evolutions.–Tourner.–Francis’s feebleness.–Mary’s love for him.–He retires to the country.–Rejoicings in Scotland.–Mons Meg.–Large ball.–Celebration of Mary’s marriage.

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