« ÎnapoiContinuați »
domestics, the king suddenly entered the apart. ment by a private passage. At his back was Ruthven, clad in complete armour, and with that ghastly and horrid look wbich long sickness had given him. Three or four of bis most trusty accomplices followed him. Such an unusual appearance alarmed those who were present. Rizio instantly appreliended that he was the victim at whom the blow was aimed ; and in the utmost consternation retired behind the queen, of whom he laid hold, hoping that the reverence due to her person might prove some protection to him. The conspirators had proceeded too far to be restrained by any consideration of that kind. Numbers of armed men rushed into the chamber. Ruthven drew his dagger, and with a furious mien and voice commanded Rizio to leave a place of which he was unworthy, and which he had occupied too long. Mary employed tears, and entreaties, and threatenings, to save her favourite. But, notwithstanding all these, he was torn from her by violence, and before he could be dragged through the next apartment, the rage of his enemies put an end to his life, piercing his body with fifty-six wounds. Robertson.
DEATH OF QUEEN MARY OF SCOTLAND.
On Tuesday, the 7th of February, the earls of Shrewsbury and Kent arrived at Fotheringay, and, demanding access to the queen, read in her presence the warrant for execution, and required her to prepare to die next morning. Mary heard themi to the end without enjotion, and crossing herself in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, ' That soul,' said she, “is not worthy of the joys of Heaven, which repines because the body must endure the stroke of the executioner ; and though I did not expect that the queen of England would set the first example of violating the sacred person of a sovereign prince, I willingly submit to that which Providence has decreed to be my lot; and laying her hand on a Bible, which happened to be near her, she solemnly protested that she was innocent of that conspiracy which Babington had carried on against Elizabeth's life. She then mentioned the requests contained in lier letter to Elizabeth, but obtained no satisfactory answer. She entreated, with particular earnestness, that now, in her last moments, her almoner might be suffered to attend her, and that she might enjoy the consolation of those pious institutions prescribed by her religiou. Even this favonr, which is usually granted to the vilest criminal, was absolutely denied.
Her attendants, during this conversation, were bathed in tears, and though overawed by the presence of the two earls, with difficulty suppressed their anguish; but no sooner did Kent and Shrewsbury withdraw, than they ran to their mistress, and burst out into the most passionate expressions of tenderness and sorrow. Mary, however, not only retained perfect composure of mind, but endeavoured to moderate their excessive grief; and falling on her knees, with all her domestics around her, she thanked Heaven that her sufferings were now so near an end, and prayed that she might be
enabled to endure what still remained with decency and with fortitude. The greater part of the evening she employed in settling her worldly affairs. She wrote her testament with her own hand. Her money, her jewels, and her clothes, she distributed among her servants, according to their rank or merit. She wrote a short letter to the king of France, and another to the duke of Guise, full of tender but magnanimous sentiments, and recommended her soul to their prayers, and her afflicted servants to their protection. At supper she ate temperately, as usual, and conversed not only with ease, but with cheerfulness; she drank to every one of her servants, and asked their forgiveness, if ever she had failed in any part of her duty towards them. At her wonted time she went to bed, and slept calmly a few hours. Early in the morning she retired into her closet, and employed a considerable tine in devotion. At eight o'clock the high sheriff and his officers entered her chamber, and found her still kneeling at the altar. She immediately started up, and with a majestic mien, and a countenance undismayed, and even cheerful, advanced towards the place of execution, leaning on two of Paulet's attendants. She was dressed in a mourning habit, but with an elegance and splendour which she had long laid aside, except on a few festival days. An Agnus Dei hung by a pomander chain at her neck; her beads at her girdle; and in her hand she carried a crucifix of ivory. At the foot of the stairs the two earls, attended by several gentlemen froin the neighbouring counties, received her: and there sir Andrew Melvil, the master of her household, wlio had been secluded for some weeks from her presence, was permitted to take his last farewell. At the sight of a mistress whom he tenderly loved, in such a situation, he melted into tears; and as he was bewailing her condition, and complaining of his own hard fate, in being appointed to carry the account of such a mournful event into Scotland, Mary replied, “Weep not, good Melvil, there is at present great cause for rejoicing. Thou shalt this day see Mary Stewart delivered from all her cares, and such an end put to her tedious sufferings as she has long expected. Bear witness that I die constant in my religion; firm in my fidelity towards Scotland; and unchanged in my affection to France. Commend me to my son. Tell him I have done nothing injurious to his kingdom, to his honour, or to his rights; and God forgive all those who have thirsted, without cause, for my blood.'
With much difficulty, and after many entreaties, she prevailed on the two earis to allow Melvil, together with three of her men servants and two of her maids, to attend her to the scaffold. It was erected in the same hall where she had been tried, raised a little above the floor, and covered, as well as the chair, the cushion, and block, with black cloth. Mary mounted the steps with alacrity, beheld all this apparatus of death with an unaltered countenance, and signing herself with the cross, she sat down in the chair. Beale read the warrant for execution with a loud voice, to which she listened with a careless air, and like one occupied in other thoughts. Then the dean of Peterborough began a devout discourse, snitable to her present condition, and offered up prayers to Heaven in her behalf: but she declared that she could not in conscience hearken to the one, nor join with the other; and falling on her knees, repeated a Latin prayer. When the dean had finished his devotions, she, with an audible voice, and in the English tongue, recommended unto God the afflicted state of the church, and prayed for prosperity to her son, and for a long life and peaceable reign to Elizabeth. She declared that she hoped for mercy only through the death of Christ, at the foot of whose image she now willingly shed her blood; and lifting up and kissing the crucifix, she thus addressed it: “ As thy arins, O Jesus, were extended on the cross; so with the outstretched arms of thy mercy receive me, and forgive my sins.
She then prepared for the block, by taking off her veil and upper garments; and one of the executioners rudely endeavouring to assist, she gently checked him, and said with a smile, that she had not been accustomed to undress before so many spectators, nor to be served by such valets. With calm but undaunted fortitude, she laid her neck on the block; and while one executioner held her hands, the other, at the second stroke, cut off her head, which, falling out of its attire, discovered her hair already grown quite grey with cares and
The executioner held it up still streaming with blood, and the dean crying out, “So perish all queen Elizabeth's enemies,' the earl of Kent alone answered, Amen. The rest of the spectators continued silent, and drowned in tears; being incapable at that moment of any other sentiments but those of pity or admiration.