Page images

matters of gravity sometimes, and cast in merry purposes, lest otherwise I should be wearied, she being well informed of that Queen's natural temper. Therefore, in declaring my observations of the customs of Dutchland, Poland and Italy, the buskins of the women was not forgot, and what country weed I thought best becoming gentlewomen. The Queen said she had cloaths of every sort; which every day thereafter, so long as I was there, she changed. One day she had the English weed, another the French, and another the Italian, and so forth. She asked me which of them became her best. I answered In my judgment, the Italian dress; which answer I found pleased her well; for she delighted to shew her golden coloured hair, wearing a caul and bonnet as they do in Italy. Her hair was more reddish than yellow, curled in appearance naturally. She desired to know of me, what colour of hair was reputed best; and which of them two was fairest. I answered, The fairness of them both was not their worst faults. But she was earnest with me to declare which of them I judged fairest. I said, She was the fairest Queen in England, and mine the fairest Queen in Scotland. Yet she appeared earnest. I answered, They were both the fairest ladies in their countries; that her Majesty was whiter, but my Queen was very lovely. She enquired which of them was of highest stature. I said, My Queen. Then, saith she, she is too high; for I myself am neither too high nor too low. Then she asked what kind of exercises she used. I answered, That when I received my dispatch, the Queen was lately come from the Highland hunting; that when her more serious affairs permitted, she was taken up with reading of histories that sometimes she recreated herself in

playing a lute and virginals. She asked if she played well. I said, reasonably for a Queen.

That same day after dinner my lord of Hunsdean drew me up to a quiet gallery, that I might hear some musick (but he said that he durst not avow it) where I might hear the Queen play upon the virginals. After I had hearkened awhile, I took by the tapistry that hung before the door of the chamber, and seeing her back was toward the door, I entred within the chamber, and stood a pretty space hearing her play excellently well. But she left off immediately, so soon as she turned her about and saw me. She appeared to be surprized to see me, and came forward, seeming to strike me with her hand; alledging she used not to play before men, but when she was solitary, to shun melancholy. She asked how I came there. I answered, As I was walking with my lord of Hunsdean as we passed by the chamber-door, I heard such melody as ravished me, whereby I was drawn in ere I knew how; excusing my fault of homeliness, as being brought up in the court of France, where such freedom was allowed; declaring myself willing to endure what kind of punishment her Majesty should be pleased to inflict on me for so great an offence. Then she sat down low upon a cushion, and I upon my knees by her; but with her own hand she gave me a cushion, to lay under my knee; which at first I refused, but she compelled me to take it. She then called for my lady Strafford out of the next chamber; for the Queen was alone. She enquired whether my Queen or she played best. In that I found myself obliged to give her the praise.

She said my French was good, and asked if I could speak Italian; which she spoke reasonably well. I told

her Majesty I had no time to learn the language perfectly, not having been above two months in Italy. Then she spake to me in Dutch, which was not good; and would know what kind of books I most delighted in, whether theology, history, or love matters. I said, I liked well of all the sorts. Here I took occasion

to press earnestly my dispatch. She said I was weary sooner of her company, than she was of mine. I told her Majesty That though I had no reason of being weary, I knew my mistress her affairs called me home: yet I was stayed two days longer, till I might see her dance, as I was afterwards informed. Which being over, she enquired of me, whether she or my Queen danced best. I answered, The Queen danced not so high and disposedly as she did. Then again she wished, that she might see the Queen at some convenient place of meeting. I offered to convey her secretly to Scotland by post, clothed like a page; and under this disguise she might see the Queen, as James V had gone in disguise to France with his own ambassador, to seek the duke of Vendome's sister, who should have been his wife; telling her, that her chamber might be kept in her absence as though she were sick that none needed to be privy thereto, except my lady Strafford, and one of the grooms of her chamber. She appeared to like that kind of language, only answered it with a sigh, saying, Alas! if I might do it thus. She used all the means she could to oblige me to persuade the Queen of the great love she did bear unto her and that she was fully minded to put away all jealousies and suspicions, and in times coming to entertain a stricter friendship than formerly. She promised that my dispatch should be delivered to me very shortly at London, by Secretary

Cecil for now she was at Hampton-Court, where she gave me my answer by mouth herself, and her secretary by writing.


[KNOX: History of the Reformation]

Mary Queen of Scots, having married Darnley, found him absolutely useless for carrying out her political designs. She distrusted all the Scottish lords, and gave her confidence to her secretary, the Italian David Rizzio. Darnley entered into a "band" with several of the nobles to murder the secretary.

Now the matter was stayed by a marvellous tragedy, for by the lords-upon the Saturday before, which was the ninth of March, about supper-time-David Rizzio, the Italian, named the French Secretary, was slain in the gallery, below stairs-the king1 staying in the room with the queen, told her, that the design was only to take order with that villain-after that he had been taken violently from the queen's presence, who requested most earnestly for the saving of his life; which act was done by the earl of Morton, the lord Ruthven, the lord Lindsay, the master of Ruthven, with divers other gentlemen. They first purposed to have hanged him, and had provided cords for the same purpose; but the great haste which they had, moved them to despatch him with whingers or daggers, wherewith they gave him three and fifty strokes. They sent away and put forth all such persons as they suspected. The earls Bothwell and Huntly, hearing the noise and clamour, came suddenly to the close, intending to have made work, if they had had a party strong enough; but the earl 1 Darnley.

Morton commanded them to pass to their chamber, or else they should do worse: at the which words they retired immediately, and so passed forth at a back window they two alone, and with great fear came forth of the town to Edmondstone, on foot, and from there to Crichton. This David Rizzio was so foolish, that not only he had drawn unto him the managing of all affairs, the king being set aside, but also all his equipage and train did surpass the king's; and at the parliament that was to be, he was ordained to be chancellor; which made the lords conspire against him. They made a bond to stand to the religion and liberties of the country and to free themselves of the slavery of the villain David Rizzio. The king and his father1, subscribed to the bond, for they durst not trust the king's word without his signet.

There was a French priest, called John Daniot, who advised David Rizzio to make his fortune, and begone, for the Scots would not suffer him long. His answer was, that the Scots would brag but not fight. Then he advised him to beware of the bastard: to this he answered, that the bastard should never live in Scotland, in his time he meant the earl Murray-but it happened, that one George Douglas, bastard son to the earl of Angus, gave him the first stroke. The queen, when she heard he was dead, left weeping, and declared she would study revenge, which she did.

Immediately it was noised in the town of Edinburgh, that there was murder committed within the king's palace, wherefore the provost caused to ring the bell, or "sonner le tocsin," as the French speak-and straightway passed to the palace, having about four or five hundred men in warlike manner; and as they stood 1 The Earl of Lennox.

« PreviousContinue »