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List Of Contents | Contents of Mary Stuart, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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MARY STUART

1587

by Alexandre Dumas, Pere




CHAPTER I

Some royal names are predestined to misfortune: in France, there is
the name "Henry".  Henry I was poisoned, Henry II was killed in a
tournament, Henry III and Henry IV were assassinated.  As to Henry V,
for whom the past is so fatal already, God alone knows what the
future has in store for him.

In Scotland, the unlucky name is "Stuart".  Robert I, founder of the
race, died at twenty-eight of a lingering illness.  Robert II, the
most fortunate of the family, was obliged to pass a part of his life,
not merely in retirement, but also in the dark, on account of
inflammation of the eyes, which made them blood-red.  Robert III
succumbed to grief, the death of one son and the captivity of other.
James I was stabbed by Graham in the abbey of the Black Monks of
Perth.  James II was killed at the siege of Roxburgh, by a splinter
from a burst cannon.  James III was assassinated by an unknown hand
in a mill, where he had taken refuge during the battle of Sauchie.
James IV, wounded by two arrows and a blow from a halberd, fell
amidst his nobles on the battlefield of Flodden.  James V died of
grief at the loss of his two sons, and of remorse for the execution
of Hamilton.  James VI, destined to unite on his head the two crowns
of Scotland and England, son of a father who had been assassinated,
led a melancholy and timorous existence, between the scaffold of his
mother, Mary Stuart, and that of his son, Charles I.  Charles II
spent a portion of his life in exile.  James II died in it.  The
Chevalier Saint-George, after having been proclaimed King of Scotland
as James VIII, and of England and Ireland as James III, was forced to
flee, without having been able to give his arms even the lustre of a
defeat.  His son, Charles Edward, after the skirmish at Derby and the
battle of Culloden, hunted from mountain to mountain, pursued from
rock to rock, swimming from shore to shore, picked up half naked by a
French vessel, betook himself to Florence to die there, without the
European courts having ever consented to recognise him as a
sovereign.  Finally, his brother, Henry Benedict, the last heir of
the Stuarts, having lived on a pension of three thousand pounds
sterling, granted him by George III, died completely forgotten,
bequeathing to the House of Hanover all the crown jewels which James
II had carried off when he passed over to the Continent in 1688--a
tardy but complete recognition of the legitimacy of the family which
had succeeded his.

In the midst of this unlucky race, Mary Stuart was the favourite of
misfortune.  As Brantome has said of her, "Whoever desires to write
about this illustrious queen of Scotland has, in her, two very, large
subjects, the one her life, the other her death," Brantome had known
her on one of the most mournful occasions of her life--at the moment
when she was quitting France for Scotland.

It was on the 9th of August, 1561, after having lost her mother and
her husband in the same year, that Mary Stuart, Dowager of France and
Queen of Scotland at nineteen, escorted by her uncles, Cardinals
Guise and Lorraine, by the Duke and Duchess of Guise, by the Duc
d'Aumale and M. de Nemours, arrived at Calais, where two galleys were
waiting to take her to Scotland, one commanded by M. de Mevillon and
the other by Captain Albize.  She remained six days in the town.  At
last, on the 15th of the month, after the saddest adieus to her
family, accompanied by Messieurs d'Aumale, d'Elboeuf, and Damville,
with many nobles, among whom were Brantome and Chatelard, she
embarked in M. Mevillon's galley, which was immediately ordered to
put out to sea, which it did with the aid of oars, there not being
sufficient wind to make use of the sails.

Mary Stuart was then in the full bloom of her beauty, beauty even
more brilliant in its mourning garb--a beauty so wonderful that it
shed around her a charm which no one whom she wished to please could
escape, and which was fatal to almost everyone.  About this time,
too, someone made her the subject of a song, which, as even her
rivals confessed, contained no more than the truth.  It was, so it
was said, by M. de Maison-Fleur, a cavalier equally accomplished in
arms and letters: Here it is:--

"In robes of whiteness, lo,
Full sad and mournfully,
Went pacing to and fro
Beauty's divinity;
A shaft in hand she bore
>From Cupid's cruel store,
And he, who fluttered round,
Bore, o'er his blindfold eyes
And o'er his head uncrowned,
A veil of mournful guise,
Whereon the words were wrought:
'You perish or are caught.'"

Yes, at this moment, Mary Stuart, in her deep mourning of white, was
more lovely than ever; for great tears were trickling down her
cheeks, as, weaving a handkerchief, standing on the quarterdeck, she
who was so grieved to set out, bowed farewell to those who were so
grieved to remain.

At last, in half an hour's time, the harbour was left behind; the
vessel was out at sea.  Suddenly, Mary heard loud cries behind her: a
boat coming in under press of sail, through her pilot's ignorance had
struck upon a rock in such a manner that it was split open, and after
having trembled and groaned for a moment like someone wounded, began
to be swallowed up, amid the terrified screams of all the crew.
Mary, horror-stricken, pale, dumb, and motionless, watched her
gradually sink, while her unfortunate crew, as the keel disappeared,
climbed into the yards and shrouds, to delay their death-agony a few
minutes; finally, keel, yards, masts, all were engulfed in the
ocean's gaping jaws.  For a moment there remained some black specks,
which in turn disappeared one after another; then wave followed upon
wave, and the spectators of this horrible tragedy, seeing the sea
calm and solitary as if nothing had happened, asked themselves if it
was not a vision that had appeared to them and vanished.

"Alas!" cried Mary, falling on a seat and leaning both arms an the
vessel's stern, "what a sad omen for such a sad voyage!"  Then, once
more fixing on the receding harbour her eyes, dried for a moment by
terror, and beginning to moisten anew, "Adieu, France!" she murmured,
"adieu, France!" and for five hours she remained thus, weeping and
murmuring, "Adieu, France! adieu, France!"

Darkness fell while she was still lamenting; and then, as the view
was blotted out and she was summoned to supper, "It is indeed now,
dear France," said she, rising, "that I really lose you, since
jealous night heaps mourning upon mourning, casting a black veil
before my sight.  Adieu then, one last time, dear France; for never
shall I see you more."

With these words, she went below, saying that she was the very
opposite of Dido, who, after the departure of AEneas, had done
nothing but look at the waves, while she, Mary, could not take her
eyes off the land.  Then everyone gathered round her to try to divert
and console her.  But she, growing sadder, and not being able to
respond, so overcome was she with tears, could hardly eat; and,
having had a bed got ready on the stern deck, she sent for the
steersman, and ordered him if he still saw land at daybreak, to come
and wake her immediately.  On this point Mary was favoured; for the
wind having dropped, when daybreak came the vessel was still within
sight of France.

It was a great joy when, awakened by the steersman, who had not
forgotten the order he had received, Mary raised herself on her
couch, and through the window that she had had opened, saw once more
the beloved shore.  But at five o'clock in the morning, the wind
having freshened, the vessel rapidly drew farther away, so that soon
the land completely disappeared.  Then Mary fell back upon her bed,
pale as death, murmuring yet once again--"Adieu, France! I shall see
thee no more."

Indeed, the happiest years of her life had just passed away in this
France that she so much regretted.  Born amid the first religious
troubles, near the bedside of her dying father, the cradle mourning
was to stretch for her to the grave, and her stay in France had been
a ray of sunshine in her night.  Slandered from her birth, the report
was so generally spread abroad that she was malformed, and that she
could not live to grow up, that one day her mother, Mary of Guise,
tired of these false rumours, undressed her and showed her naked to
the English ambassador, who had come, on the part of Henry VIII, to
ask her in marriage for the Prince of Wales, himself only five years
old.  Crowned at nine months by Cardinal Beaton, archbishop of St.
Andrews, she was immediately hidden by her mother, who was afraid of
treacherous dealing in the King of England, in Stirling Castle.  Two
years later, not finding even this fortress safe enough, she removed
her to an island in the middle of the Lake of Menteith, where a
priory, the only building in the place, provided an asylum for the
royal child and for four young girls born in the same year as
herself, having like her the sweet name which is an anagram of the
word "aimer," and who, quitting her neither in her good nor in her
evil fortune, were called the "Queen's Marys".  They were Mary
Livingston, Mary Fleming, Mary Seyton, and Mary Beaton.  Mary stayed
in this priory till Parliament, having approved her marriage with the
French dauphin, son of Henry II, she was taken to Dumbarton Castle,
to await the moment of departure.  There she was entrusted to M. de
Breze, sent by Henry II to-fetch her.  Having set out in the French
galleys anchored at the mouth of the Clyde, Mary, after having been
hotly pursued by the English fleet, entered Brest harbour, 15th
August, 1548, one year after the death of Francis!  Besides the
queen's four Marys, the vessels also brought to France three of her
natural brothers, among whom was the Prior of St. Andrews, James
Stuart, who was later to abjure the Catholic faith, and with the
title of Regent, and under the name of the Earl of Murray, to become
so fatal to poor Mary.  From Brest, Mary went to St.  Germain-en-
Laye, where Henry II, who had just ascended the throne, overwhelmed

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