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THE MYSTERY OF MARY STUART




BY THE SAME AUTHOR.


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[Illustration: Mary Stuart

From the portrait in the collection of the Earl of Morton.

Walker & Cockerell. ph. sc.]




THE MYSTERY OF MARY STUART


BY ANDREW LANG


WITH ILLUSTRATIONS


_NEW EDITION_


LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO.
89 PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON
NEW YORK AND BOMBAY
1901

All rights reserved




PREFACE


In revising this book I have corrected a number of misreadings in the
Arabic numerals of dates of years. I owe much to Mr. David Bruce-Gardyne
and Mr. Hay Fleming. In deference to other criticisms offered privately, I
have somewhat modified certain phrases about the hypothetical forged
letter, as quoted by Moray and Lennox (pp. 211-236). That such a letter
once existed is, of course, an inference on which readers must form their
own opinion. The passage as to the site of Darnley's house, Kirk o' Field
(pp. 124-131), ought to have been banished to an Appendix. On any theory
the existence of the town wall, shown in the contemporary chart opposite
p. 130, is a difficulty. The puzzle is caused by the chart of 1567,
reduced in the design given at p. 130. In all published forms the drawing
is given as it is here. But it reverses the points of the compass, east
and west. Mr. A. H. Millar has suggested to me that if reflected in a
mirror some errors of the chart disappear, whence one infers that it was
drawn in reverse for an engraving. I have, therefore, corrected the text
in this sense. But difficulties remain: there is a town wall, running
south to north, of which we have no other knowledge; and Hamilton House
(if the chart is reversed) is placed east instead of west of Kirk o'
Field, where it actually stood. The original design contains only the name
of Hamilton House. In our chart the house is copied from the picture of it
as part of the University buildings, in the map of 1647.




INTRODUCTION


Mr. Carlyle not unjustly described the tragedy of Mary Stuart as but a
personal incident in the true national History of Scotland. He asked for
other and more essential things than these revelations of high life. Yet
he himself wrote in great detail the story of the Diamond Necklace of
Marie Antoinette. The diamonds of the French, the silver Casket of the
Scottish Queen, with all that turned on them, are of real historical
interest, for these trifles brought to the surface the characters and
principles of men living in an age of religious revolution. Wells were
sunk, as it were, deep into human personality, and the inner
characteristics of the age leaped upwards into the light.

For this reason the Mystery of Mary Stuart must always fascinate:
moreover, curiosity has never ceased to be aroused by this problem of
Mary's guilt or innocence. Hume said, a hundred and fifty years ago, that
the Scottish Jacobite who believed in the Queen's innocence was beyond the
reach of reason or argument. Yet from America, Russia, France, and Germany
we receive works in which the guilt of Mary is denied, and the arguments
of Hume, Robertson, Laing, Mignet, and Froude are contested. Every inch of
the ground has been inspected as if by detectives on the scene of a recent
murder; and one might suppose that the Higher Criticism had uttered its
last baseless conjecture and that every syllable of the fatal Casket
Letters, the only external and documentary testimony to Mary's guilt, must
have been weighed, tested, and analysed. But this, as we shall see, is
hardly the fact. There are 'points as yet unseized by Germans.' Mary was
never tried by a Court of Justice during her lifetime. Her cause has been
in process of trial ever since. Each newly discovered manuscript, like the
fragmentary biography by her secretary, Nau, and the Declaration of the
Earl of Morton, and the newly translated dispatches of the Spanish
ambassadors, edited by Major Martin Hume (1894), has brought fresh light,
and has modified the tactics of the attack and defence.

As Herr Cardauns remarks, at the close of his 'Der Sturz der Maria
Stuart,' we cannot expect finality, and our verdicts or hypotheses may be
changed by the emergence of some hitherto unknown piece of evidence.
Already we have seen too many ingenious theories overthrown. From the
defence of Mary by Goodall (1754) to the triumphant certainties of
Chalmers (1818), to the arguments of MM. Philippson and Sepp, of Mr.
Hosack, and of Sir John Skelton (1880-1895), increasing knowledge of
facts, new emergence of old MSS. have, on the whole, weakened the
position of the defence. Mr. Henderson's book 'The Casket Letters and Mary
Stuart' (First Edition 1889) is the last word on the matter in this
country. Mr. Henderson was the first to publish in full Morton's sworn
Declaration as to the discovery, inspection, and safe keeping of the fatal
Casket and its contents. Sir John Skelton's reply[1] told chiefly against
minor points of criticism and palaeography.

The present volume is not a Defence of Mary's innocence. My object is to
show, how the whole problem is affected by the discovery of the Lennox
Papers, which admit us behind the scenes, and enable us to see how Mary's
prosecutors, especially the Earl of Lennox, the father of her murdered
husband, got up their case. The result of criticism of these papers is
certainly to reinforce Mr. Hosack's argument, that there once existed a
forged version of the long and monstrous letter to Bothwell from Glasgow,
generally known as 'Letter II.' In this book, as originally written, I had
myself concluded that Letter II., as it stands, bears evidence of
garbling. The same is the opinion of Dr. Bresslau, who accepts the other
Casket Papers as genuine. The internal chronology of Letter II. is
certainly quite impossible, and in this I detected unskilled dove-tailing
of genuine and forged elements. But I thought it advisable to rewrite the
first half of the Letter, in modern English, as if it were my own
composition, and while doing this I discovered the simple and ordinary
kind of accident which may explain the dislocation of the chronology, and
remove the evidence to unskilled dove-tailing and garbling. In the same
spirit of rather reluctant conscientiousness, I worked out the scheme of
dates which makes the Letter capable of being fitted into the actual
series of events. Thus I am led, though with diffidence, to infer that,
though a forged version of Letter II. probably once existed, the Letter
may be, at least in part, a genuine composition by the Queen. The fact,
however, does not absolutely compel belief, and, unless new manuscripts
are discovered, may always be doubted by admirers of Mary.

Sir John Skelton, in his 'Maitland of Lethington,' regarded the supposed
falsification of Letter II. as an argument against all the Casket Letters
('false in one thing, false in all'). But it is clear that forgery may be
employed to strengthen the evidence, even of a valid cause. If Mary's
enemies deemed that the genuine evidence which they had collected was
inadequate, and therefore added evidence which was not genuine, that
proves their iniquity, but does not prove Mary's innocence. Portions of
the Letter II., and of some of the other Letters, have all the air of
authenticity, and suffice to compromise the Queen.

This inquiry, then, if successfully conducted, does not clear Mary, but
solves some of the darkest problems connected with her case. I think that
a not inadequate theory of the tortuous and unintelligible policy of
Maitland of Lethington, and of his real relations with Mary, is here
presented. I also hope that new light is thrown on Mary's own line of
defence, and on the actual forgers or contaminators of her Letters, if the
existence of such forgery or contamination is held to be possible.

By study of dates it is made clear, I think, that the Lords opposing Mary
took action, as regards the Letters, on the very day of their discovery.
This destroys the argument which had been based on the tardy appearance of
the papers in the dispatches of the period, an argument already shaken by
the revelations of the Spanish Calendar.

Mary's cause has, hitherto, been best served by her accusers, most injured
by her defenders. For political and personal reasons her enemies, her
accomplices, or the conscious allies of her accomplices, perpetually
stultified themselves and gave themselves the lie. Their case was
otherwise very badly managed. Their dates were so carelessly compiled as
to make their case chronologically impossible. Their position, as stated,
probably by George Buchanan and Makgill, in 'The Book of Articles,' and
the 'Detection,' is marred by exaggerations and inconsistencies. Buchanan
was by no means a critical historian, and he was here writing as an
advocate, mainly from briefs furnished by Lennox, his feudal chief, the
father of the murdered Darnley. These briefs we now possess, and the
generosity of Father Pollen, S.J., has allowed me to use these hitherto
virgin materials.

The Lennox Papers also enable us to add new and dramatically appropriate
anecdotes of Mary and Darnley, while, by giving us some hitherto unknown
myths current at the moment, they enable us to explain certain
difficulties which have puzzled historians. The whole subject throws a
lurid light on the ethics and the persons of the age which followed the
Reformation in Scotland. Other novelties may be found to emerge from new
combinations of facts and texts which have long been familiar, and
particular attention has been paid to the subordinate persons in the play,
while a hitherto disregarded theory of the character of Bothwell is
offered; a view already, in part, suggested by Mignet.

The arrangement adopted is as follows:

First, in two preliminary chapters, the characters and the scenes of the
events are rapidly and broadly sketched. We try to make the men and women
live and move in palaces and castles now ruinous or untenanted.

Next the relations of the characters to each other are described, from
Mary's arrival in Scotland to her marriage with Darnley; the murder of
Riccio, the interval of the eleven predicted months that passed ere beside
Riccio lay 'a fatter than he,' Darnley: the slaying of Darnley, the
marriage with Bothwell, the discovery of the Casket, the imprisonment at
Loch Leven, the escape thence, and the flight into England.

Next the External History of the Casket Letters, the first hints of their
existence, their production before Elizabeth's Commission at Westminster,
and Mary's attitude towards the Letters, with the obscure intrigues of the
Commission at York, and the hasty and scuffling examinations at
Westminster and Hampton Court, are described and explained.

Next the Internal Evidence of the Letters themselves is criticised.

Finally, the later history of the Letters, with the disappearance of the
original alleged autograph texts, closes the subject.

Very minute examination of details and dates has been deemed necessary.
The case is really a police case, and investigation cannot be too anxious,
but certain points of complex detail are relegated to Appendices.

In writing the book I have followed, as Socrates advises, where the
_Logos_ led me. Several conclusions or theories which at first beguiled
me, and seemed convincing, have been ruined by the occurrence of fresher
evidence, and have been withdrawn. I have endeavoured to search for, and
have stated, as fully as possible, the objections which may be urged to
conclusions which are provisional, and at the mercy of criticism, and of
fresh or neglected evidence.

The character of Mary, _son naturel_, as she says, or is made to say in
the most incriminating Letter, is full of fascination, excellence and
charm. Her terrible expiation has won the pity of gentle hearts, and
sentiment has too often clouded reason, while reaction against sentiment
has been no less mischievous. But History, the search for truth, should be
as impersonal as the judge on the bench. I am not unaccustomed to be
blamed for 'destroying our illusions,' but to cultivate and protect
illusion has never been deemed the duty of the historian. Mary, at worst,
and even admitting her guilt (guilt monstrous and horrible to contemplate)
seems to have been a nobler nature than any of the persons most closely
associated with her fortunes. She fell, if fall she did, like the
Clytaemnestra to whom a contemporary poet compares her, under the almost
demoniacal possession of passion; a possession so sudden, strange and
overpowering that even her enemies attributed it to 'unlawful arts.'

I have again to acknowledge the almost, or quite, unparalleled kindness of
Father Pollen in allowing me to use his materials. He found transcripts of
what I style the 'Lennox MSS.' among the papers of the late learned Father
Stevenson, S.J. These he collated with the originals in the University
Library at Cambridge. It is his intention, I understand, to publish the
whole collection, which was probably put together for the use of Dr.
Wilson, when writing, or editing, the 'Actio,' published with Buchanan's
'Detection.' Father Pollen has also read most of my proof-sheets, but he
is not responsible for any of my provisional conclusions. I have also
consulted, on various points, Mr. George Neilson, Dr. Hay Fleming, Mr. A.
H. Millar, and others.

Miss Dorothy Alston made reduced drawings, omitting the figures, of the
contemporary charts of Edinburgh, and of Kirk o' Field. Mr. F. Compton
Price supplied the imitations of Mary's handwriting, and the facsimiles in
Plates A B, B A, &c.

For leave to photograph and publish the portrait of Darnley and his
brother I have to acknowledge the gracious permission of his Majesty, the
King.

The Duke of Hamilton has kindly given permission to publish photographs of
the Casket at Hamilton Palace (see Chapter XVIII.).

The Earl of Morton has been good enough to allow his admirable portraits
of Mary (perhaps of 1575) and of the Regent Morton to be reproduced.

Mr. Oliphant, of Rossie, has placed at my service his portrait of Mary as
a girl, a copy, probably by Sir John Medina, of a contemporary French
likeness.

To the kindness of the Right Hon. A. J. Balfour and Miss Balfour we owe
the photographs of the famous tree at Whittingham, Mr. Balfour's seat,
where Morton, Lethington, and Bothwell conspired to murder Darnley.

The Lennox Papers are in the Cambridge University Library.


_The Suppressed Confessions of Hepburn of Bowton_

Too late for notice in the body of this book, the following curious piece
of evidence was observed by Father Ryan, S.J., in the Cambridge MS. of
the deposition of Hepburn of Bowton. This kinsman and accomplice of
Bothwell was examined on December 8, 1567, before Moray, Atholl,
Kirkcaldy, Lindsay, and Bellenden, Lord Justice Clerk. The version of his
confession put in at the Westminster Conference, December 1568, will be
found in Anderson, ii. 183-188, and in Laing, ii. 256-259. The MS. is in
Cotton Caligula, C.I. fol. 325. It is attested as a 'true copy' by
Bellenden. But if we follow the Cambridge MS. it is _not_ a true copy. A
long passage, following 'and lay down with him,' at the end, is omitted.
That passage I now cite:

'Farther this deponar sayis that he inquirit at my lord quhat securitie he
had for it quhilk wes done, because their wes sic ane brute and murmo{r}
in the toun And my lord ansuerit that diuerse noblemen had subscrivit the
deid with him And schew the same band[2] to the deponar, quhairat wes the
subscriptionis of the erles of huntlie, ergile, boithuile altogether, and
the secretares subscriptioun far beneth the rest. And insafar as the
deponar remembers this was the effect of it, it contenit sum friuose
[frivolous?] and licht caussis aganis the king sic as hys behavio{r}
contrar the quene, quhilk band wes in ane of twa silver cofferis and wes
in dunbar, and the deponar saw the same there the tyme that they wer thare
after the quenis revissing And understandis that the band wes with the
remanent letters, and putt in the castell be george dalgleis. Inquirit
quha deuisit that the king suld ludge at the kirk of feild?

'Answeris S{r} James balfo{r} can better tell nor he And knew better and
befoir the deponer yof. And quhen the Quene wes in glasgow my lord
Boithuile send the deponar to S{r} James balfo{r} desiring that he wald
cum and meit my lord at the kirk of feild To quhome Schir James ansuerit,
"will my lord cum thair? gif he cum it wer gude he war quiet." And yit
they met not at that place than nor at natyme thairefter to the deponers
knawledge.

'Thair wes xiiii keyis quhilkis this deponer efter the murtho{r} keist in
the grevvell hoill [? quarrel-hoill, _i.e._ quarry hole] betuix the abbay
and leith. And towardes the makers of the keyis they were maid betuix
Leuestoun and S{r} James balfo{r} and thai twa can tell. Item deponis that
Ilk ane that wer of the band and siclike the erle of Morton and Sy{r}
James balfo{r} suld haif send twa men to the committing of the murther.
And the erle boithuile declarit to the deponar are nyt or twa afore the
murtho{r} falland in talking of thame that wer in the kingis chalmer My
lord said that Sandy Durham wes ane gude fallowe and he wald wische that
he weir out of the same.

'This is the trew copy, etc.'

Perhaps few will argue that this passage has been fraudulently inserted in
the Cambridge MS. If not, Bellenden lied when he attested the mutilated
deposition to be a true copy. His own autograph signature attests the
Cambridge copy. Moray, who heard Bowton make his deposition, was a partner
to the fraud. The portion of the evidence burked by Moray is corroborated,
as regards the signatures of the band for Darnley's murder, by Ormistoun,
much later (Dec. 13, 1573) in Laing, ii. 293. Ormistoun, however, probably
by an error of memory, says that he saw what Bothwell affirmed to be the
signature of Sir James Balfour, in addition to those spoken of by Bowton,
namely Argyll, Bothwell, Huntly, and Lethington. This statement as to
Balfour Bowton withdrew in his dying confession as published. Bowton's
remark that Lethington's signature came 'far beneath the rest' sounds
true. Space would be left above for the signatures of men of higher rank
than the secretary.

Bowton saw the band at Dunbar (April-May, 1567, during Mary's detention
there), 'in one of two silver coffers.' He only 'understands' that the
band was 'with the remanent letters, and put in the Castle by George
Dalgleish.' If 'the remanent letters' are the Casket Letters, and if
Bowton, at Dunbar, had seen them with the band, and read them, his
evidence would have been valuable as to the Letters. But as things are, we
have merely his opinion, or 'understanding,' that certain letters were
kept with the band, as Drury, we know, asserted that it was in the Casket
with the other papers, and was destroyed, while the Letters attributed to
Mary 'were kept to be shown.' Of course, if this be true, Morton lied
when he said that the contents of the Casket had neither been added to
nor diminished.

Next, Bowton denied that, to his knowledge, Bothwell and Balfour met at
the Kirk o' Field, while Mary was at Glasgow, or at any other time. If
Bowton is right, and he was their go-between, Paris lied in his Deposition
where he says that Bothwell and Sir James had passed a whole night in Kirk
o' Field, while Mary was at Glasgow.[3]

Bowton's confession that Morton 'should have sent two men to the
committing of the murder,' explains the presence of Archibald Douglas,
Morton's cousin, with Binning, his man. These two represented Morton.
Finally, Bowton's confession in the Cambridge MS. joins the copy of his
confession put in at Westminster, on the point of the fourteen false keys
of Kirk o' Field, thrown by Bowton into a gravel hole. Unless then the
Cambridge MS. is rejected, the Lord Justice Clerk and Moray deliberately
suppressed evidence which proved that Moray was allied with two of
Darnley's murderers in prosecuting his sister for that crime. Such
evidence, though extant, Moray, of course, dared not produce, but must
burke at Westminster.

I have shown in the text (p. 144) that, even on Bowton's evidence as
produced at Westminster, Moray was aware that Bothwell had allies among
the nobles, but that, as far as the evidence declares, he asked no
questions. But the Cambridge MS. proves his full knowledge, which he
deliberately suppressed. The Cambridge MS. must either have been furnished
to Lennox, before the sittings at Westminster; or must have been the
original, or a copy of the original, later supplied to Dr. Wilson while
preparing Buchanan's 'Detection,' the 'Actio,' and other documents for the
press in November 1571.[4] It will be observed that when Lethington was
accused of Darnley's murder, in September 1569, Moray could not well have
prosecuted him to a conviction, as his friends, Atholl and Kirkcaldy,
having been present at Bowton's examination, knew that Moray knew of
Lethington's guilt, yet continued to be his ally. The Cambridge copy of
the deposition of Hay of Tala contains no reference to the guilt of Morton
or Lethington; naturally, for Morton was present at Hay's examination.
Finally, the evidence of Binning, in 1581, shows that representatives of
Lethington and Balfour, as well as of Morton, were present at the murder,
as Bowton, in his suppressed testimony, says had been arranged.

It is therefore clear that Moray, in arraigning his sister with the aid of
her husband's assassins, could suppress authentic evidence. Mary's
apologists will argue that he was also capable of introducing evidence
less than authentic.




CONTENTS


PAGE

INTRODUCTION vii

I. DRAMATIS PERSONAE 1

II. THE MINOR CHARACTERS 28

III. THE CHARACTERS BEFORE RICCIO'S MURDER 45

IV. BEFORE THE BAPTISM OF THE PRINCE 71

V. BETWEEN THE BAPTISM AND THE MURDER 105

VI. THE MURDER OF DARNLEY 123

VII. THE CONFESSIONS OF PARIS 154

VIII. MARY'S CONDUCT AFTER THE MURDER 171

IX. THE EMERGENCE OF THE CASKET LETTERS 193

X. THE CASKET LETTERS 208

XI. THE LETTERS AT THE CONFERENCE OF YORK 237

XII. THE LETTERS AT WESTMINSTER AND HAMPTON COURT 266

XIII. MARY'S ATTITUDE AFTER THE CONFERENCE 283

XIV. INTERNAL EVIDENCE OF THE LETTERS 290

XV. THE SIX MINOR CASKET LETTERS 322

XVI. THE CASKET SONNETS 344

XVII. CONCLUSIONS AS TO THE LETTERS AND THE POSSIBLE FORGERS 346

XVIII. LATER HISTORY OF CASKET AND LETTERS 365


_APPENDICES_

A. THE SUPPOSED BODY OF BOTHWELL 371

B. THE BURNING OF LYON KING OF ARMS 374

C. THE DATE OF MARY'S VISIT TO GLASGOW 379



Online LibraryAndrew LangThe Mystery of Mary Stuart → online text (page 1 of 30)