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Scottish Women in Bygone Days
Sports and Pastimes of Mary Queen of Scots


WHEN James V. lay dying after the defeat of Solway Moss, his daughter Mary was born. A messenger was sent from Linlithgow to acquaint the King that his wife had borne him a child. "Is it a man child or a woman ?" asked the King. "It is a fair daughter," was the answer. "Adieu, farewell," replied the King; it came with a lass and it will pass with a lass." So saying, he commended himself to the mercy of Almighty God, and, so says his historian, "he spake little then from that time forth, but turned his back unto his lords, and his face into the wall. [History of Scotland. Lindsay of Pitscottie.]

If he, heart-broken and weary, found rest, there was little rest in the country he had left—a foreign wife, a helpless baby, a ruthless enemy across the border—a people that were slowly but surely throwing off their old religion and turning to the new faith. Henry the Eighth was busy planning to secure the person of the infant, as a treaty had been concluded shortly after James’s death, to the effect that when Mary was ten years old she was to marry Edward Tudor, son of Henry. Henry hoped to secure Mary, wishing her to be brought up in England, but to this the Scottish nobles would not agree, and from one castle to another she was hurried for safety. At last, a sure asylum was found for her on the island of Inchmahome in the Lake of Menteith; there she lived until she was six years old. The garden and box hedge, said to be planted by the royal child, are still there. While she played and worked in her garden under the shelter of the Abbey, her lords disputed with the English, and, finally, relations between the two countries were broken off. A new treaty had been made regarding Mary’s marriage; this time she was to be the bride, not of Edward Tudor but of Francis the Dauphin of France.

The Scottish nobles rightly considered that a marriage with the hereditary foe of England would be particularly displeasing to Henry, and as they were now at loggerheads with the English, their aim was how most effectively to annoy Henry and his people, so they concluded a treaty with the French people, which was to unite France and Scotland by the marriage of the Dauphin of France with the Queen of Scotland.

Henry, however, was not one who accepted defeat easily, nor had he a pleasant way with those who opposed his wishes. He was soon busy with many plots whose object was to secure the person of the royal child. The Scottish nobles were afraid that he might succeed, so after deliberation and thought they decided to send Mary to France, to be educated in the French court, for well they knew that once she and her suite had reached France her safety was assured.

Accordingly, she was taken from Inchmahome to Dunbarton, and from there she, in company with her governors, the Lords Erskine and Livingston, and accompanied by Lord James, her natural brother, afterwards the Regent Moray, and with her four Marys, children of a like name and age with herself, selected as her playmates from the families of Fleming, Beaton, Seton and Livingston, she embarked. Six days later the little squadron cast anchor in the harbour of Roscoff, Brittany.

Mary had been sent to France for safety and that she might be brought up in "the feir of God," as one historian wrote, but men see differently, each person regards things from his own point of view, and Knox is equally explicit that she was brought up "to the end that in hir youth she should drink of that lycour that should remain with hir, all her lifetyme, for a plague to this realme, and for her final destruction."

If Knox thought her education defective, her uncle, the Cardinal, on the other hand, wrote to the Queen-Mother, "Your daughter improves and increases every day in stature, goodness, beauty and wisdom and worth. She is so perfect and accomplished in all things, honoured and virtuous, that the like of her is not to be seen in the realm, whether noble damsel, maiden of low degree, or in the middle station. The King has taken such a liking for her that he spends much of his time in chatting with her, sometimes by the hour together, and she knows as well how to entertain him with pleasant and sensible subjects of conversation as if she were a woman of five and twenty."

The Duke of Guise, her soldier uncle, is reputed to have said, "My niece, there is one trait in which, above all others, I recognize my own blood in you; you are as brave as my bravest men-at-arms. If women went into battle now, as they did in ancient times, I think you would know how to die well."

Prophetic words, for his niece not only led in battle, but died bravely.

In France she was happy, she learnt easily and was famed for her beauty, charm and bearing. From an early description we learn: "Her main course of study was directed towards the attainment of the best European languages. So graceful was her French that the judgment of the most learned men recognised her command of the language; nor did she neglect Spanish or Italian.... Her penmanship was clear, and (what is rare in a woman) swift. Her excellence in singing arose from a natural, not an acquired, ability to modulate her voice: the instruments she played were the cittern, the harp, and the harpsichord. Being very agile, she danced admirably to a musical accompaniment, yet with beauty and comeliness, for the silent and gentle movement of her limbs kept time to the harmony of the chords. She devoted herself to learning to ride so far as it is necessary for travelling or for her favourite exercise of hunting... Several tapestries worked by her with wonderful skill are yet to be seen in France, dedicated to the altars of God, especially in the monastery in which she was nurtured on her first arrival in the kingdom.

Mary was early noted for her learning; her clear writing and easy style were acknowledged by her contemporaries. A historian, commenting upon one of her letters addressed to the French Ambassador during the time of her captivity in England, says :—" It was written with that elegance, fluency and force of expression peculiar to her, and which place her compositions ahead of all English prose literature before the time of Bolingbroke."

It was fortunate for Mary that she was a skilled needle-woman, for sewing must have filled in many dreary hours in her long captivity.

After the Dauphin’s death, Mary returned to Scotland. She was a beautiful and young widow only eighteen years of age. We are told that, as they left France, the first day she sat on deck straining her eyes to watch the receding land in which she had been happy and beloved. As it faded away, she cried, " Farewell, France, beloved France, I shall never see thee more." As the vessel approached the Scottish coast a dark mist appeared. "The very face of heaven," writes John Knox, "the time of her arrival did manifestly speak what comfort was brought into this country with her—to wit, sorrow, dolour, darkness and all impiety."

And to Mary the gloom may well have seemed an ill omen.

Poor Mary! Nevertheless her subjects welcomed her with enthusiasm, and she was conducted, in such state as Scotland had to offer, to Holyrood. When she wished to sleep she was awakened by a serenade, not of troubadours singing gay ditties, but of her worthy citizens singing psalms under her window.

Brantôme, who accompanied her, very frankly gives us his view of the entertainment, in the following words:

"In the evening, when she wished to go to bed, five or six hundred rascals of the town came under her window, to give her a serenade with bad violins and small rebecks, of which there is no lack in that country, and began to sing psalms, so badly sung and so out of tune that nothing could be worse. Oh! What music! and what repose for her night !

Knox, on the contrary, says that "a company of the most honest, with instruments of music and with musicians, gave their salutations at her chamber window." Honest men no doubt, and it is to be hoped their psalms and hymns cheered the young Queen, who must have felt bewildered and forlorn in a strange land.

Next day she was duly presented with a large Bible and treated to a few more psalms. She gracefully, if not gratefully, accepted the Bible, and thanked her subjects for their loving thoughts.

In spite of this singular reception she was welcomed, and soon her wit and grace, her beauty and goodness of heart attracted round her a band of admirers. Bonfires blazed, and the crowds huzzaed.

Many things must have astonished Queen Mary in her northern kingdom, not only the zeal of the Reformers, but their intolerance. Shortly after her arrival in Edinburgh, she took part in a triumphant progress from Holyrood to the Castle. Five black slaves, magnificently apparelled, received her at the west gate of the city, twelve of the chief citizens bore a canopy, under which she rode in state; and a public banquet was given to the Queen and the noble strangers by whom she was accompanied. The pageants exhibited on this occasion marked the character of the times, and Mary, as she watched, must have wished herself back in France, far removed from "her loyal and gentle subjects." An interlude was performed, in which Korah, Dathan, and Abiram were destroyed as they offered strange fire upon the altar; and it required the interference of Huntly to prevent an indecent parody of the Mass, in which the effigy of a priest was to have been burnt as he elevated the Host. The populace, on the whole, were delighted with the display, arguing that these dramas contained a wholesome signification of God’s vengeance against idolaters; to some, however, these displays appeared an unwise incitement to persecution: while those against whom they were directed, although they noticed them, prudently ignored them and hid their feelings.

Mary had been educated in a gay and cultured court, she came back to a country in the throes of the Reformation, to a people whose leaders frowned upon sports and plays and masques as "a’ airts and pairts of the devil."

The very observance of Yule (Christmas), Pasch (Easter) and the various saints’ days on which they used to act "Robin Hood", "An Abbot of Unreason", and other games, had been repressed by the zealous Reformers. [Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland. Vol. II.] They decreed that such festivals "were idolatrous, superstitious and slanderous." "All sic unprofitable sports" were to be cried down. In all time coming no manner of person was to be chosen "Robert Hude ", nor Little John, nor Queens of May within boroughs, the choosers of such to tine their freedom for the space of five years, and be otherwise punished at the Queen’s grace’s will, and the acceptor of sik-like office to be banished forth of the realm. "And if any women, or others, about summer trees (maypoles) singing, make perturbation for scaffery (extortion) of money, or otherwise, (they) shall be taken, handled, and put upon the cuck-stools."

Thus did the Reformers suppress the plays, known as Mysteries. The plays were popular, and the Reformers had their work cut out. From John Knox’s own writings we find that even in the "good old days "—days in which the Reformers were repressing and exhorting the people—church-going was not as popular with the masses as was play-acting. The worthy Mr. Wishart, at Haddington, preached apparently to an empty church, while to the play the people flocked. Knox recounts how Wishart in his last sermon, preaching at Haddington, said: "I have heard of thee, Haddingtoun, that in thee wold have bein at ane vane play two or three thousand people; and now to be here, to hear the messenger of the eternal God, of all thy toune nor parishe can not be nombered a hundreth souls." [Sayings of Knox. Vol. I. page 38.]

Mary, by re-introducing the Masques and by her perseverance in keeping the feast days of the church in which she had been reared, and of which she was a devoted follower, drew upon her head the wrath of the sanctimonious men who had forbidden such acts as "devices of the devil."

Knox blamed her for encouraging the Masques or Triumphs. [Knox’s History of the Reformation. Vol. II.] They were, in spite of Knox’s denunciations, very popular, and no entertainment was complete without a Masque. The Queen herself and her four Marys, frequently took part in them, either acting in dumb show, or reciting Buchanan’s verses, or singing Rizzio’s songs. No matter how shocked the stern Knox might be, the people were delighted with these Masques; some were given indoors and some out of doors—one at least was given near the little lake at Arthur’s Seat. When the French King sent the Order of St. Michael to Darnley, we read that "Mary and her four Marys, disguised in men’s apparel," presented the French Ambassador and suite with Scottish daggers in black velvet sheaths as remembrances of the day. A Masque was given at Holyrood in which Mary and Darnley and eight others, including Rizzio, took part.

Soon after Mary’s marriage with Bothwell, pageants and tourneys were organized to amuse the people, to divert them and to give them something new to think of, to make them forget the evil whispers that were being so eagerly circulated against the personal character of Mary and Bothwell. The Queen cast aside "the mourning weed" she had hitherto worn, and assumed a gay dress.

When one of her Marys, Mary Livingston, was married to John Sempill, the Queen gave the wedding and entertained the guests to a feast and a masque, and amongst the Court expenses we get the item: "To the painter for the masque on Fastens-even to Mary Livingston’s marriage.’‘ [Inventories of Mary Queen of Scots. Bannatyne Club.] Another masque was given on a similar occasion when another of her ladies was married.

Mary was young and gay, and, living as she did in turbulent times, surrounded as she was by gloomy reformers and ambitious statesmen, she turned with delight to such innocent diversions as she could snatch. Unfortunately, those diversions were frowned upon by the Reformers, and the consequence was that the people, too, learnt to disapprove and criticize. Dancing—feast days—masques—all came under the ban.

Randolph, writing to his mistress, disapproves of the Easter festivities. " Organs," he writes in April, 1565, "were wont to be common music, but she wanted now neither trumpet, drum nor fife, bagpipes nor tabor..." instead "upon Monday she and divers of her women apparelled themselves like burghers’ wives, went upon their feet up and down the town, and of every man they met they took some pledge for money towards the banquet."

Frequently the Queen and her Marys donned masculine attire, but this apparently caused neither surprise nor disapproval. At the "Maskery or Mumschawe" given one Sunday evening in honour of the French Ambassador, not only was "the Queen’s Grace" and all her Marys and ladies in men’s clothes, but not one word of indignation was expressed either at their clothes or their Sunday evening’s entertainment.

Fifty years afterwards, the question of how far one sex is forbidden by Scripture to assume the dress of the other would appear to have been discussed in relation to the magnificent masques so common at Whitehall in the reign of James VI.

At the baptism of James VI. at Stirling on the 18th December, 1566, a kind of rude attempt at theatrical representation was exhibited to the courtiers. We are informed by Sir James Melville, that "a Frenchman called Bastien devised a number of men formed like satyrs, with long tails, and whips in their hands, running before the meat, which was brought through the great hall upon a trim engine, marching, as appeared, it alone, with musicians, clothed like maidens, playing upon all sorts of instruments and singing of music. But the satyrs were not content only to redd (clear) room, but put their hands behind them to their tails, which they wagged with their hands, in such sort as the Englishmen supposed of May, and such others on the Sabbath day be discharged. Two years later, a resolution was carried that such individuals as after due admonition persisted in frequenting May plays, should not be admitted to the Communion of the Church, without yielding satisfaction for the spiritual offence.

Mary danced and acted and shocked the Reformers. John Knox was not one to let even a young and beautiful Queen sin with impunity and without an admonition. He dealt as faithfully with her as with the most lowly born and greatest sinners in the land. One day, as he left the royal apartments and his Sovereign in tears, he had to pass through an ante-room in which he saw a circle of ladies sitting near in gorgeous apparel. He cannot let the chance pass: "O fair ladies," said he, between jest and earnest, "how pleasant were this life of yours, if it should ever abide, and then in the end that ye might pass to heaven with all this gay gear! But fie upon that knave Death, that will come whether ye will or not; and when he has laid on his arrest, the foul worms will be busy with this flesh, be it never so fair and so tender, and the silly soul, I fear, shall be so feeble that it can neither carry with it gold, garnishing, targeting (target-like trimming), pearl nor precious stones." He was still in full song when the Laird of Dun came out of the Queen’s cabinet, and peremptorily requested Knox to go home.

With such men as Knox and his brethren ever at hand to admonish them, the ladies attending the Queen would require some diversion—something to make them forget their harsh surroundings.

Mary played cards and chess, the game which her son James condemned as "over wise and philosophic as a folly"; she played backgammon or tables, and billiards. Randolph writes to Cecil that he had played billiards with the beautiful Mary Beaton against the Queen and Darnley while they were at St. Andrews. Many years later, when Mary was a prisoner at Fotheringay, just after her trial, when she had been condemned to the scaffold, her gaoler, Amyas Paulet, ever cruel and stern, causes her billiard table to be removed, saying: "This is no time for you to indulge in exercise or amusement."

If Mary felt his insolent cruelty she did not shew it; she was able to look him calmly in the face and answer with her usual courage: "I have never made use of it since it was put up, since you have kept me sufficiently employed in other ways."

If she had few diversions in prison, she had her books and fancy-work. When at Tutbury, Nicholas White asked her how she passed her time indoors when the bad weather prevented her having out-of-door exercise. She replied that "all that day she wrought with her needle, and that the diversity of the colours made the work seem less tedious."

Puppets were another diversion of her Court days. Of outdoor sports she had many. In 1567 we read that "the Queen exercised openly in the fields at golf."

As an instance of her indifference to Darnley’s fate, her adversaries affirmed that, a few days after his murder, she was seen playing golf and pall-mall, croquet as we should now call it, in the fields beside Seton.

Golf was played in Scotland in 1457, when it was forbidden by Parliament as an unprofitable pastime, which drew people away from archery and other warlike sports. The prohibition was renewed in 1471 and again in 1491. [Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland. Vol. II.]

Mary was a wonderful horsewoman and could endure hardships with equanimity. Randolph writes to his mistress, Elizabeth, describing Mary’s feats when she went to the Highlands. "I assure you I never saw her merrier, never dismayed, nor never thought that so much be in her as that I find . . . She was hardy as well as brave and she repented nothing but that she was not a man, to know what life it was to lie all night in the fields or to walk on the causeway with a jack and knapsack, a Glasgow buckler and a broad sword..."

Her journey is cumbersome and marvellous long, the weather extreme foul and cold." But the dauntless Mary meets all her troubles with a smile. Mary’s courage is her first and last characteristic.

Queen Elizabeth, always anxious to hear about her sister Queen, and preferring to hear little good, asks Sir James Melville what kind of exercises she (Mary) used. To which he replied, "I said . . . that the Queen was but new come back from the highland hunting; and when she had leisure from the affairs of her country, she read upon good books, the histories of divers countries, and sometimes would play upon lute and virginals. She speirt," goes on Melville, "if she played well. I said, reasonably for a Queen."

Queen Elizabeth that day played the virginals herself, and then asked whether Queen Mary or she played best, and the pawky Melville says, "In that I gave her the praise."

"She enquired at me," he says later, "whether she or the Queen danced best. I said the Queen danced not so high and disposedly as she did." He does not venture upon a straightforward answer. From many sources we learn that Mary was fond of dancing. As usual, Knox has something to complain of. He writes disprovingly about the Queen and James Stuart, Prior of Coldingham, who likewise was a dancer. ". . . the Queen would dance," said Knox; "nay, once when on good news from Paris, she was merry excessively, dancing till after midnight; she had on this occasion the bad example of the Prior to encourage her." The Prior, amongst other accomplishments, was a dancer of repute. Randolph comments thus to Cecil: "The Prior hath not least favour with the Queen by his leaping and dancing." Again Knox shakes his head at dancing women.

When Darnley came to Scotland he was introduced to the Queen at Wemyss Castle on the Firth of Forth, where she was then staying. He found immediate favour with the Queen, and, anxious to propitiate the Protestants, he at once put himself under the guidance of Moray and went to hear Knox preach. As an antidote to Knox he returned with the Queen to the palace, where he was introduced to the beauties of the Court and, as the evening wore on, at the suggestion of Moray, Damley danced a galliard with the Queen.

The reformers, as usual, thundered forth rebukes against "the balling and dancing and banquetting at the court." In 1564, Knox remarks, "The Queen making a progress in Fife, caused so much banquetting as to produce a scarcity of wild-fowl." Partridges, he chronicles, were sold for a crown a-piece. "Even the price of food went up as a result of the feasting."

Mary practised archery and was a good shot. We read of a match at Tranent where she was victorious and won a dinner. At St. Andrews, in the Priory gardens, Mary, with the Master of Lindsay, shoots against the Earl of Moray and Mary Livingston, whose skill is reported to have been as good as that of her mistress.

Mary Stuart’s ancestors had all been lovers of the sport of archery.

When James I. was a prisoner in England, he saw and admired the dexterity of the English archers, and he was himself an excellent archer. When he returned to Scotland he endeavoured to revive the exercise of archery among his own subjects, by whom it had been too much neglected. With this view, he ridiculed their awkward manner of handling their bows, in his humorous poem of "Christ’s Kirk on the Green." In his first Parliament he made the following law—this was immediately after his return to Scotland in 1424:

"That all men busk (prepare) them to be archers from they be 12 years of age, and that in ilk ten pounds’ worth of land there be made bow-marks, and specially near parish kirks, where upon holy days men may come, and at the least shoot thrice about, and have usage of archery; and whoso uses not the said archery, the lord of the land shall raise (levy) of him a wether; and if the lord raise not the said pain (penalty), the king’s sheriff, or his ministers, shall raise it to the king."

King James I. died before this law could be put into execution; both he and his descendants were skilled archers. Mary’s father, James V., was proficient in archery.

Pitscottie tells the following story illustrative of the period:

"In this year there came an ambassador out of England, named Lord William (Howard), with a bishop with him, in company with many other gentlemen, to the number of three-score of horse in train, which was all able men and waled (picked) men for all kind of games and pastimes, as shooting, leaping, riding, and wrestling. But they were well sayed (essayed or tried) ere they passed out of Scotland, (and) that by their own provocation; but ever they tint (lost) : till at last, the Queen of Scotland, the King’s mother, favoured the Englishmen so because she was the King of England’s sister; and, therefore, she took an enterprise of archery upon the Englishmen’s hands contrary the King’s grace her son, and any six in Scotland that he would wale, either gentlemen or yeomen, that the said Englishmen should shoot against them, either at pricks, rovers, or at butts, as the Scots pleased. The King, hearing this of his mother, was contented of her bonspiel, and garred her pawn a hundred crowns and a tun of wine upon the Englishmen’s hands; and he incontinent laid down so meikle for the Scotsmen. The field and the ground was in St. Andrews, and the men chosen, three landed gentlemen and three yeomen, to shoot against the Englishmen, to wit, David Wemyss of that ilk, David Arnot of that ilk, Mr. John Wedderburn, vicar of Dundee; the yeomen, John Thomson of Leith, Stephen Taburner, with one Baillie, a piper, that shot felon (terribly) near and warred the Englishmen of times by near shooting, but the rest of the archers shot far and wight (strong) and warred (worsted) the Englishmen of the enterprise, and won the hundred crowns and the tun of wine from the Queen’s grace, and so made the King very merry that his men had won the game."

In France one of Mary’s childish amusements had been "riding La Chasse." In Scotland she hunted the hare, and was such a fast rider that she was always ahead of her followers. She visited Atholl and Argyll for "Royal Hunting"; at one hunt "were killed three hundred and sixty deer, five wolves and some wild goats."

Mary had a frame of iron, and seemed incapable of fatigue, she galloped ninety miles after the defeat at Langside without a pause except to change horses.

This endurance on horseback was inherited. Her grandfather, James IV., in penitence for having been concerned in the death of his father, wore an iron chain to which he added a link every year. He also made pilgrimages to the shrines of favourite saints. In the year 1507, on the 30th of August, he rode from Stirling to Elgin, by way of Perth and Aberdeen, being about 187 miles; and on the subsequent day, which was the festival of the saint, he rode to St. Duthac, being about fifty miles more, and arrived in time to attend the celebration of the Mass, and to receive Holy Sacrament.

In captivity, and crippled by rheumatism and ill-health, Mary writes, " I can still use my cross-bow against a deer and gallop after the hounds." Indomitable spirit, it was a hard fate that sent one so cultured and so full of the joy of life to reign over a stern and poor people, a people in the throes of a Reformation, in which she had no part, a people who later suffered one so brave and resourceful to spend so many years a prisoner in the hands of a relentless foe.

To the end she kept her jailers anxious and ever watchful of what she would do. When a prisoner at Carlisle and before she "was crippled by rheumatism," Sir Francis Knollys advised "that her windows should be carefully fastened, otherwise escape would be easy to a lady of her agility and spirit."

Mary had a fondness for dogs, which was inherited by more than one generation of her descendants. We read of blue velvet for collars for the Queen’s little dogs. [Inventories of Mary Queen of Scots.]

In ordering her household, a daily ration of two loaves was set apart for them. They were under the charge of a keeper, and some of them were occasionally sent to France.

In January, 1561-2, there are payments from the Treasury of £12 to Anthone Guidio for keeping of the Queenis Grace doggis, and in March, 1564-5, £33 for services to the "boy that keepes the doggis, and to a boy of the Queen’s French tailor."

In prison she manifests the same solicitude for her dogs. "If my uncle," she wrote from her prison at Sheffield, in 1574, to the Archbishop of Glasgow, her ambassador at Paris—" If my uncle, the Cardinal of Guise, has gone to Lyons, I am sure he will send me a couple of pretty little dogs, and you will buy me as many more; for except in reading and working, my only pleasure is in all the little animals that I can get. They must be well stowed so as to keep them warm." [Lettres de Marie Stuart. Prince Labanoff.]

She herself sends a little dog to a French friend. A dog, her chosen companion, followed her to the scaffold at Fotheringay, and, nestling among the clothes which she threw off as she bared her neck for the blow, lay there till all was over and the clothes began to be gathered up, when it crept between the severed head and body, and would not leave them until it was taken away by force.

She could watch a game as well as take part in one. We read she watched a football match for two hours, and another time she watched "Running the Ring"; these pastimes always amused and interested her.

"The football" in olden days was a favourite sport throughout Scotland, but especially upon the Borders. Sir John Carmichael, of Carmichael, warden of the middle marches, was killed in 1600 by a band of the Armstrongs, returning from a football match. Sir Robert Carey, in his "Memoirs," tells of a great meeting appointed by the Scottish riders to be held at Kelso, for the purpose of playing at football, but which terminated in an incursion upon England.

Another sport she indulged in at St. Andrews was hawking. Knox informs us that it was at the hawking near Kinross that she appointed him to meet her.

Mary was a Queen of whom any nation might have been proud. She enjoyed sport and she enjoyed with her usual kind-heartedness seeing other people happy. If she herself had trials and troubles—if she had little peace—she did for her country what none of her predecessors had done. She allowed during her reign neither foreign foe nor foreign friend to set foot within her kingdom.

Historians all agree that she was the most beautiful woman of her age; she was fitter for a cultured court than for a rude country; she lived bravely and she died proudly.

Her courage was invincible; her charm was irresistible, difficult to describe, for charm is an elusive quality, it is hardly possible to say how it comes—suffice it to say, that Mary Stuart possessed it. She was never one to bow dolefully to circumstances; she faced the world and her enemies with a gallant air.

Her misfortune was, not how she lived, but the era in which she lived. The bulk of her subjects were heart and soul with the Reforming party, whereas she, by instinct, tradition and education, was a firm upholder of the old Faith, the church in which she had been cradled, the church to which the Stuarts had owned allegiance.

To preserve her faith was her object, the church was her beacon, and with an unfaltering hand she steered towards the light.

It was her misfortune to live during the time of a tragic cleavage in religious thought, a period when there was right and conscience on both sides, but a time when the leaders on both sides lacked wisdom and charity in the furtherance of their doctrines. Mary had principles and she was steadfastly true to them, but her principles were in direct opposition to the general principles held by the leaders of thought in Scotland.

She came to Scotland full of goodwill, determined to reign wisely, and by toleration to win the approval of her subjects. Even her gay enthusiasm must have been damped by the gloom and suspicion which surrounded her; but she suppressed her fears and held her head high. Seldom in her chequered career did her courage or faith forsake her. She found it hard to learn that it is not easy to combine sincerity and diplomacy. Whatever faults she had, she was a real, living, breathing woman—impulsive perhaps, but with a tenacity of will and a depth of purpose seldom equalled, and with sympathy for those who claimed it, together with a charm that would have conquered had she lived in any other age.

Many years later, in the eighteenth century, Boswell was, on one occasion, lamenting to Johnson, that by the passing of the Union Scotland was no more an independent country. He was silenced by the learned Doctor: "Sir, never talk of your independency, who could let your Queen remain twenty years in captivity, and then be put to death without even a pretence of justice, without even attempting to rescue her; and such a Queen too! as any man of any gallantry of spirit would have sacrificed his life for."


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