Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 36.djvu/381

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Mary Stuart
Mary Stuart
375


she slow to utilise the providential opportunity. In January 1560 she despatched certain Scotsmen with more than three hundred letters to nobles, barons, and others of influence, couched in most affectionate terms, and proposing to consign recent troubles and disputes to oblivion (ib. entry 889 ; Labanoff, i. 85-8). She also desired a deputation to be sent from the estates to inform her of the measures they had taken for the tranquillity of the kingdom (ib. i. 80-4). She intimated her intention to return as soon as she had completed arrangements in France ; but according to Thockmorton she ' wished it to be at the request and suit of her subjects' (Cal. State Papers, For. Ser. 1560-1, entry 832). Her endeavours were entirely successful. The protestant Lord James Stewart was sent to ' know her mind,' and Maitland greatly feared that ' many simple men ' would be ' brought abed with fair words ' (6 Feb. ib. entry 967) ; but both Lord James and Maitland saw that the experiment of her return must be tried. Their endeavours were concentrated on ren- dering it as innocuous as possible — to themselves as well as to protestantism. Mean- time the catholics of the north had despatched John Leslie [q. v.], afterwards bishop of Ross, and others to propose to Mary to land at Aberdeen (Leslie, Be Origine, &c, p. 575), where a force of twenty thousand men under Huntly [see Gordon, George, fourth Earl of Huntly] would be in readiness to conduct her in triumph to her throne. On 15 April Leslie had an interview with her at Vitry ; but although he himself was cordially welcomed, his futile and embarrassing proposals were at once rejected. She could not afford to defy, at present, both Elizabeth and Lord James. The latter, on the day following, was therefore received with affectionate and sisterly greetings. An endeavour was even made to win him over to Catholicism by the offer of great rewards and dignities (Thockmorton, 1 May, Cal. State Papers, For. Ser. 1561-2, entry 158 ; with which compare letter of 31 March, ib. entry 77) ; but at last she professed to be convinced of the wisdom of not interfering with the religious status quo in Scotland, only stipulating for her own personal freedom in the exercise of her religion.

But as yet Mary had not finally decided to entrust her fortunes to Scotland. Her thoughts were then chiefly occupied with the problem of a second marriage. Hardly had her husband breathed his last before the Guises were in search of an alliance that would restore their ascendency. They had the choice of many suitors, including Arran and also Darnley, but only two persons, and these not suitors, were deemed eligible. The first choice, Charles IX, brother of the late king, was promptly negatived by Catherine de Medici. Thereupon the Cardinal of Lorraine approached, in December 1560, the Spanish ambassador with a proposal for Don Carlos (Chantonnay to Philip, quoted by Mignet, and also by De Ruble, p. 109), but, partly through the intervention of Catherine de Medici, negotiations were indefinitely suspended (see especially Philippson, Marie Stuart, i. 274-9). It was only after their failure that Mary resigned herself to the perilous venture of returning to her kingdom. In accordance with the promise of Maitland (6 Feb. 1560-1, Cal. State Papers, For. Ser. 1560-1, entry 967), Lord James unreservedly informed Throckmorton, Elizabeth's envoy, of the tenor of his interview with Mary (ib. entries 133, 151, 158). It is unnecessary to suppose, as some have done, that he intended to prejudice Mary in the eyes of Elizabeth. Doubtless he wished Elizabeth to realise the dangers of the crisis, but his aim probably was to convince her of the necessity of conciliating both Mary and the Scottish nation. The estates in May 1561 gave an evasive answer to the proposal of M. Noailles for a renewal of the league with France, and rejected the request to restore their patrimonies to the deposed catholic bishops ; but Lord James, on 10 June, sent to Marv a long and conciliatory letter (Addit. MS/Brit. Mus. 32091, f. 189, printed in App. to Philippson, Marie Stuart). The only special precaution taken in view of her return was an enactment by the council for the l destruction of all places and monuments of idolatry ' (Knox, ii. 167).

To Elizabeth, Mary's return was in itself unwelcome, and while the treaty of Edinburgh remained unsigned, it was deemed an act of open defiance. But in this soreness of Elizabeth Mary saw her advantage. She explained that when she assumed the style and title of England she 'was under the commandment of King Henry and her husband,' and affirmed that since her husband's death she had not used them (Throckmorton, 26 July, Cal. State Papers, For. Ser. 1561-2, entry 336). She alsocogently pleaded that it was 'very hard being so nigh the blood of England to be made a stranger to it' (ib.) Yet she did not decline to sign the treaty; she would consult the estates after her arrival in Scotland. Her attitude won the sympathy of the Scots. To a somewhat menacing letter of Elizabeth (Knox, ii. 175-8) the council replied in evasive terms