Queen Mary's Bower, Chatsworth

Letter W.

When the widowed Mary, Queen of Scots, left France, where she had dwelt since her fifth year—where she had shared in the education of the French King's own daughters, in one of the convents of the kingdom, and been the idol of the French Court and people, it is said that, as the coast of the happy land faded from her view, she continued to exclaim, "Farewell, France! farewell, dear France—I shall never see thee more!" And her first view of Scotland only increased the poignancy of these touching regrets. So little pains had been taken to "cover over the nakedness and poverty of the land," that tears sprang into her eyes, when, fresh from the elegant luxurious Court of Paris, she saw the wretched ponies, with bare, wooden saddles, or dirty and ragged trappings, which had been provided to carry her and her ladies from the water-side to Holyrood. And then the palace itself; how different from the palaces in which she had lived in France! Dismal and small, it consisted only of what is now the north wing. The state-room and the bed-chamber which were used by her yet remain, with the old furniture, and much of the needle-work there is said to have been the work of her hands. During her long and melancholy imprisonment in England, the art of needle-work and reading were almost her only mode of relieving the dreary hours.

From the moment Mary of Scotland took the fatal resolution of throwing herself upon the supposed kindness and generosity of Elizabeth, her fate was sealed, and it was that of captivity, only to be ended by death. She was immediately cut off from all communication with her subjects, except such as it was deemed proper to allow; and was moved about from place to place, the better to ensure her safety. The hapless victim again and again implored Elizabeth to deal generously and justly with her. "I came," said she, in one of her letters, "of mine own accord; let me depart again with yours: and if God permit my cause to succeed, I shall be bound to you for it." But her rival was unrelenting, and, in fact, increased the rigours of her confinement. Whilst a prisoner at Chatsworth, she had been permitted the indulgence of air and exercise; and the bower of Queen Mary is still shown in the noble grounds of that place, as a favourite resort of the unfortunate captive. But even this absolutely necessary indulgence was afterwards denied; she was wholly confined to the Castle of Fotheringay, and a standing order was issued that "she should be shot if she attempted to escape, or if others attempted to rescue her."

Queen Mary's Bower, at Chatsworth.

Burns, in his "Lament of Mary, Queen of Scots," touchingly expresses the weary feelings that must have existed in the breast of the Royal captive:—

"Oh, soon to me may summer suns

Nae mair light up the morn!

Nae mair to me the autumn winds

Wave o'er the yellow corn!

And in the narrow house of death,

Let winter round me rave;

And the next flowers that deck the spring,

Bloom on my peaceful grave."