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The Mystery of Mary Stuart by Andrew Lang : (full image Illustrated)

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Language: English

Pages: 429



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Mr. Carlyle not unjustly described the tragedy of Mary Stuart as but a personal incident in the true national History of Scotland. He asked for other and more essential things than these revelations of high life. Yet he himself wrote in great detail the story of the Diamond Necklace of Marie Antoinette. The diamonds of the French, the silver Casket of the Scottish Queen, with all that turned on them, are of real historical interest, for these trifles brought to the surface the characters and principles of men living in an age of religious revolution. Wells were sunk, as it were, deep into human personality, and the inner characteristics of the age leaped upwards into the light.
For this reason the Mystery of Mary Stuart must always fascinate: moreover, curiosity has never ceased to be aroused by this problem of Mary’s guilt or innocence. Hume said, a hundred and fifty years ago, that the Scottish Jacobite who believed in the Queen’s innocence was beyond the reach of reason or argument. Yet from America, Russia, France, and Germany we receive works in which the guilt of Mary is denied, and the arguments of Hume, Robertson, Laing, Mignet, and Froude are contested. Every inch of the ground has been inspected as if by detectives on the scene of a recent murder; and one might suppose that the Higher Criticism had uttered its last baseless conjecture and that every syllable of the fatal Casket Letters, the only external and documentary testimony to Mary’s guilt, must have been weighed, tested, and analysed. But this, as we shall see, is hardly the fact. There are ‘points as yet unseized by Germans.’ Mary was never tried by a Court of Justice during her lifetime. Her cause has been in process of trial ever since. Each newly discovered manuscript, like the fragmentary biography by her secretary, Nau, and the Declaration of the Earl of Morton, and the newly translated dispatches of the Spanish ambassadors, edited by Major Martin Hume (1894), has brought fresh light, and has modified the tactics of the attack and defence.
As Herr Cardauns remarks, at the close of his ‘Der Sturz der Maria Stuart,’ we cannot expect finality, and our verdicts or hypotheses may be changed by the emergence of some hitherto unknown piece of evidence. Already we have seen too many ingenious theories overthrown. From the defence of Mary by Goodall (1754) to the triumphant certainties of Chalmers (1818), to the arguments of MM. Philippson and Sepp, of Mr. Hosack, and of Sir John Skelton (1880-1895), increasing knowledge of facts, new emergence of old MSS. have, on the whole, weakened the position of the defence. Mr. Henderson’s book ‘The Casket Letters and Mary Stuart’ (First Edition 1889) is the last word on the matter in this country. Mr. Henderson was the first to publish in full Morton’s sworn Declaration as to the discovery, inspection, and safe keeping of the fatal Casket and its contents. Sir John Skelton’s reply[1] told chiefly against minor points of criticism and palæography.
1. Dramatis Personæ
2. The Minor Characters
3. The Characters before Riccio’s Murder
4. Before the Baptism of the Prince
5. Between the Baptism and the Murder
6. The Murder of Darnley
7. The Confessions of Paris
8. Mary’s Conduct after the Murder
9. The Emergence of the Casket Letters
10. The Casket Letters
11. The Letters at the Conference of York
12. The Letters at Westminster and Hampton Court
13. Mary’s Attitude after the Conference
14. Internal Evidence of the Letters
15. The Six Minor Casket Letters
16. The Casket Sonnets
17. Conclusions as to the Letters and the Possible Forgers
18. Later History of Casket and Letters
A. The Supposed Body of Bothwell
B. The Burning of Lyon King of Arms
C. The Date of Mary’s Visit to Glasgow
D. The Band for Darnley’s Murder
E. The Translations of the Casket Letters
The Casket Letters:
1. Published Scots Translation and English Translation at Record Office
2. Published Scots and English

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