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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

I would not say that every word of the latter is genuine


highly than bold and valiant

deeds, she had often told him how much she admired him; but yet more than this,--we cannot doubt that she let herself be drawn into a passionate connexion with him. Who does not know the sonnets and the love-intoxicated letters she is believed to have addressed to him? I would not say that every word of the latter is genuine; through the several translations--from the French original (which is lost) into the Scotch idiom, from this into Latin, and then back into French as we now have them--they may have suffered much alteration: we have no right to lay stress on every expression, and interpret it by the light of later events: but in the main they are without doubt genuine: they contain circumstances which no one else could then know and which have since been proved to be true; no human being could have invented them.[222] It does not seem as if Mary's fondness for Bothwell was returned by him in the same degree: in her letters and poems she is constantly combating a rival, to whom his heart seems to give the preference. This was Bothwell's own wife whom he had only shortly before married: she stayed with him for a time in the neighbourhood of the court, but he took care that the Queen knew nothing of her being there. As he was before all things ambitious and desirous of power, he only cared for the Queen's love and the possession of her person so far as it would enable him to share her authority and to obtain the supreme power in Scotland. But for this another thing was necessary;
the King must be removed out of the way. As Darnley had once joined Riccio's political enemies in the Holyrood assassination, so Bothwell now united himself with Darnley's enemies with a view to his murder, for which they were already quite prepared. Morton was asked to join the enterprise this time also: but he demanded a declaration from the Queen that she was not against it: and this Bothwell could not obtain.

But, it may be said, was not the Queen in collusion with him? Did she not purposely bring back her husband, who had fallen sick at Glasgow, to Edinburgh, and did she not lodge him in a lonely house there not far from the palace under the pretence that the purer air would contribute to his recovery, but in fact to deliver him over all the more surely to destruction? Such has been always the general belief: even her partisans, the zealous Catholics, at that time inclined to believe that the Queen at least connived in the plot.[223] But there was yet another view taken at the time, according to which the better relations that had begun between husband and wife were not due to hypocrisy but were genuine, and a complete reconciliation and reunion was to have been expected: the returning inclination towards her husband was contending in the Queen with her passion for Bothwell; and he was driven on, by the apprehension that his prey and the prize of his ambition would escape him, to hasten the execution of his scheme.[224] And psychologically the event might be best explained in this way. But the statement has not sufficiently good evidence for it to be maintained historically. A poet might, I think, so apprehend it: for it is one of the advantages of poetic representation, that it can take up even a slightly supported tradition, and following it can infer the depths of the heart, those abysmal depths in which the storms of passion rage, and those actions are begotten which laugh laws and morality to scorn, and yet are deeply rooted in the souls of men. The informations on which our historical representation must be based do not reach so far: on a scrupulous examination they do not allow us to attain a definite conviction as to the degree of complicity. Only there can be no doubt as to the fact that this time too ambition and the lust of power played a great part. If Bothwell once said he would prevent Darnley from setting his foot on the necks of the Scotch, he thereby only expressed the feeling of the other nobles. Yet he executed his murderous plot without their joining in it and by means of his own servants.[225] In the house before mentioned he caused a quantity of gunpowder to be laid under the chamber in which Darnley slept, in order to blow him into the air: alarmed at the noise made by opening the door, the young sovereign sprang from his bed; while trying to save himself, he was strangled together with the page who was with him: the powder was then fired and the house laid in ruins.[226]


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