List Of Contents | Contents of Mary Stuart, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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This is all that was said and done that day in the proceedings, till
the next day, when the queen was again obliged to appear before the

And, being seated at the end of the table of the said hall, and the
said commissioners about her, she began to speak in a loud voice.

"You are not unaware, my lords and gentlemen, that I am a sovereign
queen, anointed and consecrated in the church of God, and cannot, and
ought not, for any reason whatever, be summoned to your courts, or
called to your bar, to be judged by the law and statutes that you lay
down; for I am a princess and free, and I do not owe to any prince
more than he owes to me; and on everything of which I am accused
towards my said sister, I cannot, reply if you do not permit me to be
assisted by counsel.  And if you go further, do what you will; but
from all your procedure, in reiterating my protestations, I appeal to
God, who is the only just and true judge, and to the kings and
princes, my allies and confederates."

This protestation was once more registered, as she had required of
the commissioners.  Then she was told that she had further written
several letters to the princes of Christendom, against the queen and
the kingdom of England.

"As to that," replied Mary Stuart, "it is another matter, and I do
not deny it; and if it was again to do, I should do as I have done,
to gain my liberty; for there is not a man or woman in the world, of
less rank than I, who would not do it, and who would not make use of
the help and succour of their friends to issue from a captivity as
harsh as mine was.  You charge me with certain letters from
Babington: well, I do not deny that he has written to me and that I
have replied to him; but if you find in my answers a single word
about the queen my sister, well, yes, there will be good cause to
prosecute me.  I replied to him who wrote to me that he would set me
at liberty, that I accepted his offer, if he could do it without
compromising the one or the other of us: that is all.

"As to my secretaries," added the queen, "not they, but torture spoke
by their mouths: and as to the confessions of Babington and his
accomplices, there is not much to be made of them; for now that they
are dead you can say all that seems good to you; and let who will
believe you."

With these words, the queen refused to answer further if she were not
given counsel, and, renewing her protestation, she withdrew into her
apartment; but, as the chancellor had threatened, the trial was
continued despite her absence.

However, M. de Chateauneuf, the French ambassador to London, saw
matters too near at hand to be deceived as to their course:
accordingly, at the first rumour which came to him of bringing Mary
Stuart to trial, he wrote to King Henry III, that he might intervene
in the prisoner's favour.  Henry III immediately despatched to Queen
Elizabeth an embassy extraordinary, of which M. de Bellievre was the
chief; and at the same time, having learned that James VI, Mary's
son, far from interesting himself in his mother's fate, had replied
to the French minister, Courcelles, who spoke to him of her, "I can
do nothing; let her drink what she has spilled," he wrote him the
following letter, to decide the young prince to second him in the
steps he was going to take:

"21st November, 1586.

"COURCELLES, I have received your letter of the 4th October last, in
which I have seen the discourse that the King of Scotland has held
with you concerning what you have witnessed to him of the good
affection I bear him, discourse in which he has given proof of
desiring to reciprocate it entirely; but I wish that that letter had
informed me also that he was better disposed towards the queen his
mother, and that he had the heart and the desire to arrange
everything in a way to assist her in the affliction in which she now
is, reflecting that the prison where she has been unjustly detained
for eighteen years and more has induced her to lend an ear to many
things which have been proposed to her for gaining her liberty, a
thing which is naturally greatly desired by all men, and more still
by those who are born sovereigns and rulers, who bear being kept
prisoners thus with less patience.  He should also consider that if
the Queen of England, my good sister, allows herself to be persuaded
by the counsels of those who wish that she should stain herself with
Queen Mary's blood, it will be a matter which will bring him to great
dishonour, inasmuch as one will judge that he will have refused his
mother the good offices that he should render her with the said Queen
of England, and which would have perhaps been sufficient to move her,
if he would have employed them, as warmly, and as soon as his natural
duty commanded him.  Moreover, it is to be feared for him, that, his
mother dead, his own turn may come, and that one may think of doing
as much for him, by some violent means, to make the English
succession easier to seize for those who are likely to have it after
the said Queen Elizabeth, and not only to defraud the said King of
Scotland of the claim he can put forward, but to render doubtful even
that which he has to his own crown.  I do not know in what condition
the affairs of my said sister-in-law will be when you receive this
letter; but I will tell you that in every case I wish you to rouse
strongly the said King of Scotland, with remonstrances, and
everything else which may bear on this subject, to embrace the
defence and protection of his said mother, and to express to him, on
my part, that as this will be a matter for which he will be greatly
praised by all the other kings and sovereign princes, he must be
assured that if he fails in it there will be great censure for him,
and perhaps notable injury to himself in particular.  Furthermore, as
to the state of my own affairs, you know that the queen, madam and
mother, is about to see very soon the King of Navarre, and to confer
with him on the matter of the pacification of the troubles of this
kingdom, to which, if he bear as much good affection as I do for my
part, I hope that things may come to a good conclusion, and that my
subjects will have some respite from the great evils and calamities
that the war occasions them: supplicating the Creator, Courcelles,
that He may have you in His holy keeping.

"Written at St. Germain-en-Laye, the 21st day
of November 1586.(Signed) HENRI,

"And below, BRULART."

This letter finally decided James VI to make a kind of demonstration
in his mother's favour: he sent Gray, Robert Melville, and Keith to
Queen Elizabeth.  But although London was nearer Edinburgh than was
Paris, the French envoys reached it before the Scotch.

It is true that on reaching Calais, the 27th of November, M. de
Bellievre had found a special messenger there to tell him not to lose
an instant, from M. de Chateauneuf, who, to provide for every
difficulty, had chartered a vessel ready in the harbour.  But however
great the speed these noble lords wished to make, they were obliged
to await the wind's good-will, which did not allow them to put to sea
till Friday 28th at midnight; next day also, on reaching Dover at
nine o'clock, they were so shaken by sea-sickness that they were
forced to stay a whole day in the town to recover, so that it was not
till Sunday 30th that M.  de Bellievre was able to set out in the
coach that M. Chateauneuf sent him by M.  de Brancaleon, and take the
road to London, accompanied by the gentlemen of his suite, who rode
on post-horses; but resting only a few hours on the way to make up
for lost time, they at last arrived in London, Sunday the 1st of
December at midday.  M. de Bellievre immediately sent one of the
gentlemen of his suite, named M.  de Villiers, to the Queen of
England, who was holding her court at Richmond Castle: the decree had
been secretly pronounced already six days, and submitted to
Parliament, which was to deliberate upon it with closed doors.

The French ambassadors could not have chosen a worse moment to
approach Elizabeth; and to gain time she declined to receive M. de
Villiers, returning the answer that he would himself know next day
the reason for this refusal.  And indeed, next day, the rumour spread
in London that the French Embassy had contagion, and that two of the
lords in it having died of the plague at Calais, the queen, whatever
wish she might have to be agreeable to Henry III, could not endanger
her precious existence by receiving his envoys.  Great was the
astonishment of M. de Bellievre at learning this news he protested
that the queen was led into error by a false report, and insisted on
being received.  Nevertheless, the delays lasted another six days;
but as the ambassadors threatened to depart without waiting longer,
and as, upon the whole, Elizabeth, disquieted by Spain, had no desire
to embroil herself with France, she had M. de Bellievre informed on
the morning of the 7th of December that she was ready to receive him
after dinner at Richmond Castle, together with the noblemen of his

At the appointed time the French ambassadors presented themselves at
the castle gates, and, having been brought to the queen, found her
seated on her throne and surrounded by the greatest lords in her
kingdom.  Then MM. de Chateauneuf and de Bellievre, the one the
ambassador in ordinary and the other the envoy extraordinary, having
greeted her on the part of the King of France, began to make her the
remonstrances with which they were charged.  Elizabeth replied, not
only in the same French tongue, but also in the most beautiful speech
in use at that time, and, carried away by passion, pointed out to the
envoys of her brother Henry that the Queen of Scotland had always
proceeded against her, and that this was the third time that she had
wished to attempt her life by an infinity of ways; which she had
already borne too long and with too much patience, but that never had
anything so profoundly cut her to the heart as her last conspiracy;
that event, added she with sadness, having caused her to sigh more

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