Edinburgh Bookshelf

Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time


YAMES V. TO ABDICATION OF QUEEN MARK 77 blood that had been left on its blade. This the discoverers, not unreasonably, believed to have remained there from the flight of the murderers of Rizzio. A flat stone, with some nearly obliterated carving upon it, is pointed out in the passage leading from the present quadrangle to the Chapel of Holyrood Palace, as covering the remains of Rizzio.’ It forms a portion of the flooring of the ancient Abbey Cloisters, included in the modern portion of the Palace, when it was rebuilt by Charles 11. As Sir James Melvil was passing out by the outer gate of the Palace on the following morning, the Queen observed him, and throwing open the window of her apartment, she implored him to warn the citizens, and rescue her from the traitors’ hands. On the news being spread, the common bell was rung, and the Provost, with some hnndred armed citizens, rushed into the outer court of the Palace and demanded the Queen’s release. Darnley appeared at the window in her stead, and desired them to return home, assuring them that he and the Queen were well and merry. The Provost sought to see the Queen herself, but Darnley commanded their immediate departure on his authority as King.’ She was deterred by the most violent threats from holding any communication with the chief magistrate and citizens ; and they finding all efforts vain, speedily retired.3 The Queen succeeded, soon after, in detaching her imbecile husband from the conspirators, and escaping from the Palace in his company at midnight. They fled together to Seaton, and thence to Dunbar. They returned again to the capital within five days, but the Queen feared again to trust herself within the bloody precincts of the Palace. She took up her residence in the house of a private citizen in the High Street, and from thence she removed, a few days afterwards, to one still nearer the Castle ; in all probability the house in Blyth’s Close, Castle Hill, traditionally pointed out as the Palace of her mother, Mary of Guise, the portion of which fronting the street still remaius, with the inscription upon it, in antique iron letters, LAVS DE0.4 Lord Ruthven had risen from his sick-bed to perpetrate the infamous deed of Rizzio’s murder ; he fled thereafter to Newcastle, and died there. Only two of the humbler actors in it suffered at this period for the crime, Thomas Scott, the sheriff-depute of Perth, for Ruthven, and Henry Yair, one of his retainers. The head of the former was set on the tower of the Palace, and that of the other on the Nether Bow Port. The period of the Queen’s accouchement now drew near, and she gladly adopted the advice of her Council to take up her residence within the Castle of Edinburgh. There, in a small apartment still pointed out to visitors,. James VI. first saw the light on the morning of the 19th of June 1566. The room in which the infant was born, in whom the rival crowns of Elizabeth and Marp were afterwards united, has undergone little alteration since that time ; it is of irregular shape, and very limited dimensions, though forming part of the more ancient 1 Chalmem’s Queen Mary, vol. ii. p. 163. 4 Letters of Randulph to Cecil, Wright’s “Queen Elizabeth and her Times,” vol. i p. 232. ’ Knox. p. 341. The Queen’s Letter, Keith, vol. 5. p. 418, VIoNmr~carvedS tone over the entrance b the royal apartments, Edinburgh Castle.
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78 MEMORIALS OF EDINBURGH. buildings often before used as a royal residence, and in one of the apartments of which the Queen Regent, Mary of Guise, expired only six years previous, The greatest joy and triumph prevailed in Edinburgh on the announcement of the birth of an heir to the throne. A public thanksgiving was offered up on the following day in St Giles’s Church; aud Sir James Melvil posted with the news to the English Court, with such speed, that he reached London on the fourth day thereafter, and spoiled her Majesty’s mirth for one night, at least, with the “happy news.’’’ The birth of a son to Darnley produced little change on his licentious course of life. By his folly he had already alienated from him the intersets and affections of every party; and the conspirators, who had joined with him in ‘the murder of Rizzio, had already resolved on his destruction, when he was seized with the small-pox at Glasgow. From this he was removed to Edinburgh, and lodged in the mansion of the Provost or chief prebendary of the Collegiate Church of St Mary-in-the-Fields, as a place of good air. This house stood nearly on the site of the present north-west corner of Drummond Street, as is ascertained from Gordon’s map of the city in 1647, where the ruins are indicated as they existed at that period : it is said to have been selected by Sir James Balfour, brother of the Provost, and “ the most corrupt man of his age,” a as well fitted, from its lonely situation, for the intended murder. She spent the evening of the 9th of February 1567 with him, and only left at eleven o’clock, along with several nobles who had accompanied her there, to be present at an entertainment at Holyrood House. The Earl of Bothwell, whose lawless ambition mainly instigated the assassination, had ‘obtained a situation for one of his mehals in the Queen’s service, and by this means he was able to obtain the keys of the Provost of St Mary’s house, and cause counterfeit impressions to be taken.s He had been in company with the Queen on the loth, at a banquet given to her by the Bishop of Argyle, and learning that she must return to Holyrood that night, he immediately arranged to complete his murderous scheme. ’ Bothwell left the lodgings of the Laird of Ormiston in company with several of his own servants, who were his sole accomplices, shortly after nine o’clock at night. They passed down the Blackfriars’ Wynd together, entering the gardens of the Dominican monastery by a gate in the enclosing wall opposite the foot of the Wynd; and by a road nearly on the site of what now forms the High School Wynd, they reached the postern in the town wall which gave admission to the lodging of Darnley. Bothwell joined the Queen, who was then visiting her husband, while his accomplices were busy arranging the gunpowder in the room below ; and, after escorting her home to the Palace, he returned to complete his purpose. It may be further mentioned, as an evidence of the simple manners of the period, that when Bothwell’s servants returned to his residence, near the Palace, after depositing the powder in Darnley’P lodging, they saw the Queen,-as one of them afterwards Ptated in evidence,-on her way back to Holyrood “gangand before them with licht torches as they came up the Black Frier Wynd.”‘ So that it would appear she walked quietly home, with her few attendants, through these closes and down the Canongate, at that late hour, without exciting among the citizens any notice of the presence of royalty. Here the Queen frequently visited Darnley. 1 Keith, vol. ii. p. 434. ’ a Rubertson’s Hiat., vol. ii. p. 354. a Laing, vol. ii. p. 296. 4 Pitcairn’s Criminal Triala, vol. i. part ii, p. 493.
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