Make your own free website on Tripod.com

List Of Contents | Contents of Mary Stuart, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

under the care of Sir Amyas Paulet, her last gaoler: there she found
for her sole lodging two low and damp rooms, where little by little
what strength remained to her was so exhausted that there were days
on which she could not walk, on account of the pain in all her limbs.
Then it was that she who had been the queen of two kingdoms, who was
born in a gilded cradle and brought up in silk and velvet, was forced
to humble herself to ask of her gaoler a softer bed and warmer
coverings.  This request, treated as an affair of state, gave rise to
negotiations which lasted a month, after which the prisoner was at
length granted what she asked.  And yet the unhealthiness, cold, and
privations of all kinds still did not work actively enough on that
healthy and robust organisation.  They tried to convey to Paulet what
a service he would render the Queen of England in cutting short the
existence of her who, already condemned in her rival's mind, yet
delayed to die.  But Sir Amyas Paulet, coarse and harsh as he was to
Mary Stuart, declared that, so long as she was with him she would
have nothing to fear from poison or dagger, because he would taste
all the dishes served to his prisoner, and that no one should
approach her but in his presence.  In fact, some assassins, sent by
Leicester, the very same who had aspired for a moment to the hand of
the lovely Mary Stuart, were driven from the castle directly its
stern keeper had learned with what intentions they had entered it.
Elizabeth had to be patient, then, in contenting herself with
tormenting her whom she could not kill, and still hoping that a fresh
opportunity would occur for bringing her to trial.  That opportunity,
so long delayed, the fatal star of Mary Stuart at length brought.

A young Catholic gentleman, a last scion of that ancient chivalry
which was already dying out at that time, excited by the
excommunication of Pius V, which pronounced Elizabeth fallen from her
kingdom on earth and her salvation in heaven, resolved to restore
liberty to Mary, who thenceforth was beginning to be looked upon, no
longer as a political prisoner, but as a martyr for her faith.
Accordingly, braving the law which Elizabeth had had made in 1585,
and which provided that, if any attempt on her person was meditated
by, or for, a person who thought he had claims to the crown of
England, a commission would be appointed composed of twenty-five
members, which, to the exclusion of every other tribunal, would be
empowered to examine into the offence, and to condemn the guilty
persons, whosoever they might be.  Babington, not at all discouraged
by the example of his predecessors, assembled five of his friends,
Catholics as zealous as himself, who engaged their life and honour in
the plot of which he was the head, and which had as its aim to
assassinate Elizabeth, and as a result to place Mary Stuart on the
English throne.  But this scheme, well planned as it was, was
revealed to Walsingham, who allowed the conspirators to go as far as
he thought he could without danger, and who, the day before that
fixed for the assassination, had them arrested.

This imprudent and desperate attempt delighted Elizabeth, for,
according to the letter of the law, it finally gave her rival's life
into her hands.  Orders were immediately given to Sir Amyas Paulet to
seize the prisoner's papers and to move her to Fotheringay Castle.
The gaoler, then, hypocritically relaxing his usual severity,
suggested to Mary Stuart that she should go riding, under the pretext
that she had need of an airing.  The poor prisoner, who for three
years had only seen the country through her prison bars, joyfully
accepted, and left Tutbury between two guards, mounted, for greater
security, on a horse whose feet were hobbled.  These two guards took
her to Fotheringay Castle, her new habitation, where she found the
apartment she was to lodge in already hung in black.  Mary Stuart had
entered alive into her tomb.  As to Babington and his accomplices,
they had been already beheaded.

Meanwhile, her two secretaries, Curle and Nau, were arrested, and all
her papers were seized and sent to Elizabeth, who, on her part,
ordered the forty commissioners to assemble, and proceed without
intermission to the trial of the prisoner.  They arrived at
Fotheringay the 14th October 1586; and next day, being assembled in
the great hall of the castle, they began the examination.

At first Mary refused to appear before them, declaring that she did
not recognise the commissioners as judges, they not being her peers,
and not acknowledging the English law, which had never afforded her
protection, and which had constantly abandoned her to the rule of
force.  But seeing that they proceeded none the less, and that every
calumny was allowed, no one being there to refute it, she resolved to
appear before the commissioners.  We quote the two interrogatories to
which Mary Stuart submitted as they are set down in the report of M.
de Bellievre to M. de Villeroy.  M. de Bellievre, as we shall see
later, had been specially sent by King Henry III to Elizabeth.
[Intelligence for M. Villeroy of what was done in England by M. de
Bellievre about the affairs of the Queen of Scotland, in the months
of November and December 1586 and January 1587.]

The said lady being seated at the end of the table in the said hall,
and the said commissioners about her--

The Queen of Scotland began to speak in these terms:

"I do not admit that any one of you here assembled is my peer or my
judge to examine me upon any charge.  Thus what I do, and now tell
you, is of my own free will, taking God to witness that I am innocent
and pure in conscience of the accusations and slanders of which they
wish to accuse me.  For I am a free princess and born a queen,
obedient to no one, save to God, to whom alone I must give an account
of my actions.  This is why I protest yet again that my appearance
before you be not prejudicial either to me, or to the kings, princes
and potentates, my allies, nor to my son, and I require that my
protest be registered, and I demand the record of it."

Then the chancellor, who was one of the commissioners, replied in his
turn, and protested against the protestation; then he ordered that
there should be read over to the Queen of Scotland the commission in
virtue of which they were proceeding--a commission founded on the
statutes and law of the kingdom.

But to this Mary Stuart made answer that she again protested; that
the said statutes and laws were without force against her, because
these statutes and laws are not made for persons of her condition.

To this the chancellor replied that the commission intended to
proceed against her, even if she refused to answer, and declared that
the trial should proceed; for she was doubly subject to indictment,
the conspirators having not only plotted in her favour, but also with
her consent: to which the said Queen of Scotland responded that she
had never even thought of it.

Upon this, the letters it was alleged she had written to Babington
and his answers were read to her.

Mary Stuart then affirmed that she had never seen Babington, that she
had never had any conference with him, had never in her life received
a single letter from him, and that she defied anyone in the world to
maintain that she had ever done anything to the prejudice of the said
Queen of England; that besides, strictly guarded as she was, away
from all news, withdrawn from and deprived of those nearest her,
surrounded with enemies, deprived finally of all advice, she had been
unable to participate in or to consent to the practices of which she
was accused; that there are, besides, many persons who wrote to her
what she had no knowledge of, and that she had received a number of
letters without knowing whence they came to her.

Then Babington's confession was read to her; but she replied that she
did not know what was meant; that besides, if Babington and his
accomplices had said such things, they were base men, false and
liars.

"Besides," added she, "show me my handwriting and my signature, since
you say that I wrote to Babington, and not copies counterfeited like
these which you have filled at your leisure with the falsehoods it
has pleased you to insert."

Then she was shown the letter that Babington, it was said, had
written her.  She glanced at it; then said, "I have no knowledge of
this letter".  Upon this, she was shown her reply, and she said
again, "I have no more knowledge of this answer.  If you will show me
my own letter and my own signature containing what you say, I will
acquiesce in all; but up to the present, as I have already told you,
you have produced nothing worthy of credence, unless it be the copies
you have invented and added to with what seemed good to you."

With these words, she rose, and with her eyes full of tears--

"If I have ever," said she, "consented to such intrigues, having for
object my sister's death, I pray God that He have neither pity nor
mercy on me.  I confess that I have written to several persons, that
I have implored them to deliver me from my wretched prisons, where I
languished, a captive and ill-treated princess, for nineteen years
and seven months; but it never occurred to me, even in thought, to
write or even to desire such things against the queen.  Yes, I also
confess to having exerted myself for the deliverance of some
persecuted Catholics, and if I had been able, and could yet, with my
own blood, protect them and save them from their pains, I would have
done it, and would do it for them with all my power, in order to save
them from destruction."

Then, turning to the secretary, Walsingham--

"But, my lord," said she, "from the moment I see you here, I know
whence comes this blow: you have always been my greatest enemy and my
son's, and you have moved everyone against me and to my prejudice."

Thus accused to his face, Walsingham rose.

"Madam," he replied, "I protest before God, who is my witness, that
you deceive yourself, and that I have never done anything against you
unworthy of a good man, either as an individual or as a public

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >



Other sites:

db3nf.com screen-capture.net floresca.net simonova.net flora-source.com flora-source.com sourcecentral.com sourcecentral.com geocities.com