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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

This was the young Henry Lord Darnley


none could deny that such a declaration as Mary required had its hazardous side for Elizabeth. Henry VIII's settlement of the succession, on which Elizabeth's own accession rested, excluded the Scotch line: in virtue of it the descendants of the younger sister, who were natives of England, possessed a greater right. And how if the Queen of Scots, when recognised as heir to England, afterwards gave her hand to a Catholic prince hostile to Elizabeth? The dangers indicated above would then be doubled, the followers of the ancient Church would have attached themselves to the royal couple, and formed a compact party in opposition to Elizabeth's arrangements, which would never have attained stability.

To meet this very objection, it was suggested that Mary might marry a Protestant, in fact Robert Dudley Earl of Leicester, who was looked upon as the favourite of the Queen of England herself. Elizabeth could have been quite secure of him: she herself recommended him. Mary was at the first moment unpleasantly affected by the idea that she was expected to take as a husband one who was a born subject of England; but she was by no means decidedly against it, always supposing that in that case Elizabeth would recognise her right of inheritance in a valid form for herself and her issue by this marriage. Above all men Murray was in favour of this. He said, although his power must be diminished by the Queen's union with Leicester, yet he wished for it, in so

far as it was bound up with the confirmation of the heirship; for that was the hope by which he had kept Mary firm to the existing system, and separated her from her old friends all these years past. Such was without doubt the case: it is this point of view that renders Mary's policy and conduct during the last years intelligible. If he, so Murray continued, could not make his promise good, Mary would think he had deceived her: should she afterwards marry a Catholic prince, what would be their position?[210] Once more was the request brought before Queen Elizabeth. But even under these circumstances she could not be induced to grant it. She said, if Mary trusted her and married Leicester, she should never repent it: but these words, which contained no definite engagement, had rather an opposite effect on Mary. In the hope of the recognition of her heirship she had hitherto endured the absolute constraint of her position: she would even have agreed to the choice of a husband by which she feared to be disparaged and controlled: for how could she have concealed from herself, that by it she would have fallen into a permanent dependence on the policy of England? With all her compliances and advances she had nevertheless gained nothing. Her vexation relieved itself by a violent outburst of tears: but during this inward storm she decided at the same time to drop her union with Elizabeth, and thus leave herself free for an opposite policy.

She had refused the Archduke because his possessions were too small to secure her ends, too distant for him to be able to help her. Then another suitor presented himself for her hand, who would not indeed bring her any increase of power, but would strengthen her claims, which seemed to her very desirable. This was the young Henry Lord Darnley, through his mother likewise a descendant of Henry VII's daughter who had married in Scotland, and through his father Matthew Earl of Lennox related to that family of the Stuarts which was descended from Alexander, a younger son of James Stuart the ancestor of the Scotch kings. In his descent there lay a double recommendation for him. It was remarked also that he had in his favour in Scotland itself the numerous and important Stuarts (Lord Athol too belonged to them); but mainly that a scion of this marriage would not find in England any rival of similar claims, which might be easily the case if young Darnley should marry into a family of the English nobility and bring it his rights.[211] Darnley was a youth remarkable for his fine figure, tall and well built; he made a great impression on the Queen at his very first appearance. In July 1565 the marriage was celebrated and Henry Darnley proclaimed King: the heralds named his name first, when they delivered the royal proclamations.

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