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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. III


70 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Holyrood. orders, who was on his way to Scotland at the time of the murder. Darnley?s unsuccessful attempt to obtain the crown-matrimonial roused all the vengeance of himself and his father, who now determined to put Rizzio to death and deprive Mary of the throne. How and why the conspiracy spread belongs to history; suffice it that it was on the evening of Saturday, the 9th of March, 1566, the conspirators determined to strike the blow, in terms of their ?Articles? with ?the noble and mighty Prince Henry, King of Scotland, husband to our sovereign Lady,? signed 1st March, 1566; and they seem to have entered the palace unnoticed by the sentinels, for Mary had, since 1562, a gardedu- corps of seventy archers, under Sir Arthur Erskine of Scotscraig. In the dusk of the spring evening the Earl of Morton arrived with 500 of his personal retainers, and on being joined by the other lords, his accomplices, assembled secretly in the vicinity of the palace, into which they had passed, Morton, ordering the gates to be locked, took possession of the keys, while Damley, George Douglas, known as the Postulate (i.e., a candidate for some office), the Lords Lindsay and Ruthven, were waiting to proceed to the queen?s apartments in the Tower of James V., where they expected to find their victim. It had been originally intended to murder Rizzio in his own apartment, a plan abandoned for the double reason that they might have failed to find him, as he frequently slept in the room of his brother Joseph, and that to slay him under Mary?s eyes would malign and terrify her more. At this time she, altogether unsuspicious, was at supper in the closet with her sister the Countess of Argyle, her brother Robert, Commendator of Holyrood, her Master of the Household, the Captain of the Archers, and Rizzio, while two servants of the Privy Chamber were waiting by a side-table, at which, Camden states, Rizzio was seated. Ascending the private staircase, Darnley entered alone, and kissing the queen, seated himself by her side; but a minute scarcely elapsed when Ruthven drew aside the tapestry, entered, and without ceremony threw himself into a chair. He was in full armour, with his sword drawn, and looked pale, wan, and ghastly, having been long a-bed with an incurable disease. Mary, now far advanced in pregnancy, repressed her terror, and . said, ?My lord, hearing you were still ill, I was about to visit you, and now you enter our presence in armour. What does it mean?? ?( I have been ill indeed,? replied the savage noble, sternly; ? but am well enough to come here for your good.? ? . cc You come not in the fashion of one who meaneth well,? said Mary. ? There is no harm intended to your grace, nor any one but yonder poltroon,, David.? rcWhat hath he done?? ?Ask the king, your husband, madam.? Mary now assumed an air of authority, and demanding an explanation of Darnley, commanded Ruthven to begone. On this, the Master of the Household and the captain of the archers attempted to expel him by force, but he brandished his sword, exclaiming, Lay no hands on me-for I will not be so handled ! ? Another conspirator, Kerr of Faudonside, now burst in with a horse-petronel cocked, and the private stair beyond was seen crowded by others. cc Do you seek my life? ? exclaimed Mary, on finding the weapon levelled at her breast. ccNo,? replied Ruthven ; ?? but we will have out yonder villain, Davie.? He now tried to drag forth the hapless Italian, who had retreated into the recess of a window, a dagger in one hand, and with the other clinging to the skirt of the interposing queen. ?If my secretary has been guilty of any misdemeanour,? said she, ?he shall be dealt with according to the forms of justice.? ? Here is justice, madam ! ? cried one, producing a rope, from which we learn by Knox and the work of Prince Lebanoff, that the first intention had been to hang Rizzio. Fear not,? said the queen to him ; cc the king will not suffer you to be slain in my presence, nor will he forget your faithful services.? ?? A Douglas !-a Douglas ! ?? was now resounding through the palace, as Morton and his vassals rushed up the great staircase and burst into the presence-chamber, the light of their glaring torches and flashing of their weapons adding to the terror of the little group in the closet. The supper-table, which had hitherto interposed between Rizzio and his murderers, was now overturned before the queen, and had not the Countess of Argyle caught one of the falling candles, the room would have been involved in darkness. on this fatal night was dressed in black figured damask, trimmed with fur, a satin doublet, russet velvet hose, and wore at his neck a niagnificent jewel- never seen after that night - now clung in despair to the weeping queen, crying, U Giusfizia 1 Giusiizia 1 Sauve ma vie, madame, -sauzIe ma vie f ? But he was stabbed over her shoulder by George Douglas with the king?s own dagger, and other daggers and swords followed fast. By force the usually half-drunken Darnley tore the queen?s skirt from the clutch of the poor bleeding creature, who, amid ferocious shouts and hideous oaths, was Rizzio, who.
Volume 3 Page 70
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