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Memoirs and Adventures of Sir William Kirkaldy of Grange
Chapter XVII. The Broken Treaty, Lochleven


“Laird of Grange,” said Mary, on Kirkaldy again approaching her, “I render myself unto you upon the same conditions you rehearsed to me in the name of the Lords.”

Kirkaldy bowed respectfully: Mary held out her hand —he kissed it beneath his barred helmet, and, taking her palfrey by the bridle, led the way down the hill of Car-berry towards the embattled lines of the confederates. While the sad and solitary Bothwell was riding a fugitive towards Dunbar, Kirkaldy must have felt at that time no ordinary exultation. By his able diplomacy, after M. du Crocq had failed, he had brought about an accommodation, by which an expected battle had given place to a quiet treaty; and by his means he hoped to see Mary freed for ever from Bothwell, and restored in peace, that very night, to her ancient palace and regal authority. He was miserably disappointed.

On her arrival among them, the subtle Morton, the rough Glencairn, the politic Home, the haughty Sanquhar, and ferocious Lindesay, leaped from their horses, and Melville crowded round her with an air of respect and duty; but the serried lines of their soldiers viewed her with glances of menace and hostility, which soon found utterance in the most hitter invectives and obscene reproaches. Morton addressed her first.

This famous noble was a man of a handsome but somewhat diminutive figure; his complexion was dark, his eyes deep hazel, and a magnificent beard—the great characteristic of all his portraits—swept over his breastplate.

"Here, madam,” he said, “is the place where your grace should be—among those who will serve, honour, and obey you, as much as ever the nobles of this realm did any of your royal predecessors.”

“My lords,” replied the agitated queen, "I came not unto you because I had any fear for my life, or despaired of obtaining a victory; but because I abhorred the shedding of Christian blood, more especially that of my own people. For that reason have I yielded myself unto ye, hereafter to be guided by your counsel, and trusting you will treat me as a princess—one who was born your queen.”

It was seven o’clock in the evening, and the setting sun was gilding the beechen woods and glittering turrets of Pinkie. The green hill of Carberry, which had so lately bristled with Bothwell’s bands of spearmen, was now deserted. Defiling across the old and narrow bridge of Musselburgh—the centre of which was then defended by an arch and gate—the confederates marched westward to Edinburgh by the road which passed through the village of Niddry, and by the towers of Craigmillar, and entered the city by one of its southern ports, passing the ill-omened ruins of the house and kirk of St Mary-in-the-Field. On the march, the soldiers treated Mary with the utmost insolence and indignity, pouring upon her unceasingly a torrent of epithets the most opprobrious and revolting to a female. Wherever she turned, an emblematic banner of white taffety, representing the dead body of Darnley, was waved before her eyes. She wept: her young heart was wrung with intense anguish : she uttered only the most mournful complaints, and could scarcely be kept from falling from her horse.

This celebrated and obnoxious standard belonged to Captain Lambie’s band of jackmen.

Exasperated by their brutality, Kirkaldy, whose protection the queen often and particularly entreated, drew his sword, and repeatedly struck "such as did speak irreverent language, which the nobility well allowed of.” The rear-guard were particularly furious in their virulence and abuse.

It was between eight and nine when they entered Edinburgh. Instead of conveying Mary to Holyrood, as Kirkaldy had promised and she expected, they led her through the dark and narrow wynds of the crowded city, surrounded by a fierce, bigoted, and petulant mob, who loaded the air with hootings and insulting cries. The innumerable windows of the lofty houses, and the outside-stair heads—then the distinguishing features of a Scottish Melville street—were crowded with spectators, who railed at her in unison with the rabble below. Mary called aloud to all gentlemen, who in those days were easily distinguished by the richness of their attire and superiority of their air, "I am your queen—your native princess. 0 suffer me not to be abused thus!”

But alas for Scottish gallantry!—the age of chivalry had passed away! Mary’s face was pale from fear and grief; her eyes were swollen with tears; her auburn liam hung in disorder about her shoulders ; her fair form was poorly attired in a short riding tunicle; she was exhausted with fatigue, and covered by the summer dust of the roadway, agitated by the march of so many men: in short, she was hardly recognisable; yet thus, like some vile criminal led to execution, she was conducted to the house of Sir Simon Preston of Craigmillar, lord provost of the city. The soldiers of the confederates were long of passing through the gates; the crowd was so dense, and the streets were so narrow, that they filed through "man by man.”

The mansion of the provost was situated at the head of Peebles Wynd, and opened off a stair called The Black Turnpike: it gave access to the edifice, which was a strong pile of unknown origin, but erroneously, by local tradition, ascribed to Kenneth II.

Here Mary was thrust into a small stone chamber, only thirteen feet square by eight high, and locked up without a single attendant. It was then ten o’clock; the city was almost dark, but tumult and noise yet reigned without. There she passed the night!

“A woman, young, beautiful, and in distress, is naturally an object of compassion,” observes the elegant Robertson. “The comparison of their present misery with their former splendour, naturally softens us in favour of illustrious sufferers: but the people beheld the deplorable situation of their sovereign with insensibility; and so strong was their persuasion of her guilt, and so great the violence of their indignation, that the sufferings of their queen did not in any degree mitigate their resentment, or procure her that sympathy which is seldom denied to unfortunate princes.”

At dawn on the following day there was a scuffle in the streets, and the hapless queen was roused by the dash of swords, and the war-cry of “a Home! a HomeI” As morning brightened, the same yells of “murderess! lewd adulteress!” and the same hootings met her ears; the same odious banner, the pennon of Lambie’s mercenary band, was displayed before her weeping eyes, till, overcome by despair, a delirium, a madness seized her; she rent her clothes, and, heedless of the gazing crowd, appeared at a little window which overlooked the street, .with her bosom bare, and her bright hair dishevelled.

“Good people!” she exclaimed in accents of agony; “good people! either satisfy your hatred and cruelty by taking my miserable life, or relieve me from the hands of these inhuman and infamous traitors!”

To the honour of the citizens this piercing appeal was not preferred altogether in vain. Many of them pitied her, believing that the affection she was said to hear Bothwell was caused by the love-philtres of his old paramour, the lady of Buccleuch, “who knew the art that none may name.” Animated by a faint ray of returning loyalty, many of the more respectable burghers began to take arms and throng the streets in their harness, while some of the base rabble now reviled the lords, and clamoured for the queen as loudly as they had done against her.

Dreading their number and noise, and urged by "Kirkaldy, to whose honour she had surrendered herself, and who abhorred every idea of the treacherous violation of plighted faith,” the confederates removed the queen, amid the adverse railings of a bigoted mob, to the palace of Holyrood, where she was still kept captive, helpless, abandoned to their power. With a treachery which for ever disgraced their cause, they forthwith resolved to imprison her in the desolate and insulated castle of Lochleven. Accordingly, at midnight on the 16th June, two of the most savage of the confederate barons, William lord Buthven, and that stern misanthrope Lindesay, clad in complete armour, entered her apartment, deprived her of all her jewels and ornaments, compelled her to put on a kirtle of coarse russet, and by force conveyed her from the palace to the lonely peel of Lochleven. One of her most stanch defenders remarks:—

“It is with pleasure we find that, among this infernal band, there was found one man with honesty and courage sufficient to tax them with the iniquity of their proceedings. This was Kirkaldy of the Grange, who had at first pledged his honour for the behaviour of the rest,

and now began to expostulate boldly with them on the abominable perfidy of their conduct. That the measure of their iniquity might be thoroughly filled up, the associated nobles had now at hand an artifice to allay the resentment of this gallant soldier, whose high courage and pure integrity they equally dreaded.”

After giving him several vague and false excuses, and exhorting hhn to rely on the honesty of their motives, finding him still doubtful and inflexible, to overcome his honourable scruples they showed him a letter, universally believed to have been a forgery, but by them said to have been written by the queen, and intercepted on its way to Bothwell. It is strange that the acute Kirkaldy saw not through this affair, it being impossible for Mary, who was strictly watched, either to write or despatch a letter to the earl. In that produced by the unscrupulous Morton and his compeers, she was made to style Bothwell her a dear heart, whom she would never abandon, though she was necessitated to be absent from him—that she had sent him away only for his own safety—to be comforted, to be upon his guard,” and a great deal more to the same purpose. By holograph papers of the queen, yet preserved in the Register House of Edinburgh, her handwriting appears so plain, and easy of imitation, that all the unseemly billets-doux attributed to her are easily accounted for. Kirkaldy, who had confidently hoped that, by gentle and courteous treatment, all might yet be well with Mary, was silenced, confounded, and staggered in his expectations and belief, when this document was shown him by the wily Morton. Considering how closely she was watched, it is amazing how he believed this letter to be genuine; but a soldier of strict honour seldom suspects guile in others. His opposition to the coercive measures gave way—he had little more to urge in Mary’s behalf.

"As she hath in effect abandoned the Earl of Bothwell,” said he to the assembled lords, "it is no wonder that she may yet give .him a few fair words; and I doubt not, if she were discreetly treated, and humbly admonished of the trouble this man hath brought upon her, she would by degrees be brought not only to leave but detest him.” "Our lives and estates are in danger,” replied the confederates, “and we must secure her; but when the time comes, that she is known to detest and have abandoned Bothwell, then we will reason further upon the matter.”

Still Grange was so indignant, that he would have withdrawn with his vassals, but for that unfortunate letter: he however agreed that, "while Bothwell was alive, the queen should be detained in strict custody.”

She had sent him a letter lamenting her hard usage, and complaining of the broken promises of her nobles.

He wrote to her in reply, rehearsing all that he had done in her cause, and stating that he could no longer oppose the confederates, in the face of that unhappy intercepted letter. “I marvel,” he continued, “that your majesty considered not that the said earl could never be your lawful husband, being so lately before married to another, whom he hath deserted without any just ground, even though he had not been so hated for the murder of the king, your husband. I therefore entreat you to dismiss him entirely irom your mind, as otherwise you can never obtain the love or respect of your subjects, nor have that obedience paid which your grace might expect.”

Kirkaldy appears to have been almost the only man in his faction who viewed Mary’s failings with leniency. Love and policy, he was aware, had united her to Damley; and gratitude for faithful services had made her reward the daring Bothwell, the end of whose ambitious schemes and chicanery she could not have foreseen. He knew, also, that her love of gaiety and amusement seduced her from the graver cares of ruling a fierce and military people, and that, though she had every capacity for public matters, with the thoughtlessness natural to a young and beautiful woman, she did not attend to them. He knew well the slight tenure on which Bothwell’s influence depended; and, indeed, no sooner was she freed from the terrors of his presence, than she appears never to have mentioned his name, or recalled the memory of the unfortunate ties which bound her to him. His respectful letter contained many dutiful and tender admonitions, which made her “bitterly to weep;” and now, since he had failed, she abandoned herself to fate, and, despairing, (as before related,) set out with her two stem and steel-clad conductors to the melancholy castle of Lochleven, situated on an islet in the middle of a sheet of water, surrounded by lofty mountains, and kept by her greatest enemy, the haughty mistress of her father James V., the mother of the Earl of Murray.

There she was illegally compelled, under terror of death, to sign an abdication on the 24th July, appointing her brother (who during these late broils had been abroad) regent during the minority of her infant son—the grand aim and ultimatum of all the plots and mal-practices of the subtle, ambitious, and unfeeling Morton, Lindesay, and their brother confederates.

Two days after they had sent her to Lochleven, some of those disinterested warriors, whose only aims were the safety of the Reformed religion, and a government formed on a solid basis, pillaged the palace of Holyrood, like a fortress carried by storm, bearing off all its valuable movables, seized the jewels of the queen, and melted down the whole of her plate, carrying otf even a beautiful cupboard of great antiquity. While this traitorous sack was going on in one part of the edifice, Glencairn and his vassals were as busily employed in another, destroying the magnificent chapel royal, which they despoiled of its rich furniture, stripped of its ornaments, and, after defacing every thing within their reach, left a perfect ruin.


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