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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

Might prepare yet more trouble


But

this apparent quiet concealed a discord destined to produce still greater complications. The Queen had only learnt afterwards the share which Darnley had taken in Riccio's murder: it was her husband who had instigated this insult to her royal honour: how could she ever again repose confidence in him? And he no longer found support in the lords whom he had deserted at the moment of the crisis. He was very far now from obtaining the matrimonial crown or even any real influence: he saw himself excluded from affairs more than ever, and despised. When his son was baptised at Stirling, the father could not appear, though he was in the palace: he was afraid of being insulted in public. His condition filled him with shame: he often thought of leaving the kingdom, and made preparations for doing so. But he was not able to state and prove his grievances: he had to acknowledge before the assembled Privy Council that he had no complaints worth mentioning.

The Queen on her side had sometimes let drop her wish to be rid of such a husband. She could not however think seriously of having her marriage with him dissolved, as this could only be done by declaring it null and void, and by that step her son, of whom she had just been delivered, and who was to inherit all her rights, would have been at the same time declared illegitimate. She was told that means would be found to carry the matter through without prejudice to her son. She warned her friends not to undertake

anything which, though meant to help her, might prepare yet more trouble.

How men stood to each other is clear from the fact that on the one side Darnley and his father linked themselves with the Catholic party--they were said to have adopted a plan of seizing the government, in the Queen's despite, in the name of her new-born son[221]--while on the other side the rest of the barons pledged themselves not to recognise him but only the Queen. A league was already concluded between some of them, originating with Sir James Balfour (who had been marked out for death by the halter in Holyrood), to rid the world by force of a tyrant and enemy of the nobility, against whom men must secure their lives.

Thus all was in preparation for a fresh catastrophe; a new personal relation of the Queen brought it to pass.

Among the nobles of Scotland James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, was especially distinguished for a fine figure, for youthful strength, intrepid manly courage, proved in a thousand adventures, and decided character. Though professedly a Protestant, he had attached himself to the Regent without wavering, and assured the Queen of his assistance while she was still in France. Can we wonder if Mary, under the pressure of the party combinations around, needing before all things a friend personally devoted to her, sought for support in this tried and energetic man? As she in general prized nothing more


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