The Queen, on the subsequent day, namely, the 11th of February 1567, wrote the following account of the murder to the Archbishop of Glasgow, her resident at Paris:
“Maist Rev. Fader in God, and traist counseilor, we grait ye weil: We have receivit, this morning, your letters of the 27th of January, by your servant, Robert Dury, containing in ane part sic advertisement, as we find, by effect, overtrue, albeit the succes has not altogether been sic, as the authoris of that mischievous fact had preconceivit in their mind, and had put it in execution, gif God, in his mercy, had not preservit us, and reservit us, as we traist, to the end we may tak a rigorous vengeance of that mischievous deed, quhilk, or it sould remain unpunishit, we had rather lose life, and all. The matter is horrible, and sa strange, as we believe the like was never heard of in any country. This night past being the 9th of February, a little after twa houris, after midnight, the house quhairin the King was logit was in ane instant blawin in the air, he lyand sleipand in his bed, with sic a vehemencie, that of the haill loging, wallis, and other, there is nathing remainit, na, not a stane above another, but all either carreit far away, or dung in dross to the very ground stane. It mon be done be force of powder, and appearis, to have been a mine: Be quhome it has been done, or in quhat manner, it appearis not as yet. We doubt not bot, according to the diligence oure counsal has begun alreddie to use the certaintie of all sal be usit schortlie; and the same being discoverit, quhilk we wott God will never suffer to ly hid, we hope to punish the same with sic rigor, as sal serve, for example of this crueltie to all ages to cum. Allwayes, quhoever has taken this wicked interprys in hand, we assure ourself it was dressit alswel for us, as for the King; for we lay the maist part of all the last week, in that same loging, and was thair accompanyit with the maist part of the lordis, that ar, in this town, that same night, at midnight, and of very chance tarryit not all night, be reason of sum mask in the abbaye; but, we believe it was not chance, but God to put it in our hede. We depeschit this berars upon the sudden, and therefore wraitis to you the mair schortlie. The rest of your letter, we sal answer at mair laser, within four or five dayis, by your owne servant. And sua, for the present, committis you to Almightie God. At Edinburgh, the 11th day of Februar 1567.”
Let this artless letter of the Queen be compared with Murray’s letter, or Maitland’s, or Morton’s, on the same occasion; and any eye will perceive her innocence, and their guilt.
On the 15th of February 1567, the Queen issued a precept to the Treasurer; directing him, in her own hand, to furnish her mourning, as under, which every reader must be glad to see, as a real curiosity, from the Register-house, at Edinburgh:
Item. Of sarge of Florence to be ane goune, and ane cloik, mulis, and schuine, x elle and a half;
It. Of chamlothe of sylk to be ane velicotte, and ane vasquine, xvii elle and half;
It. Of Ormaise taffatis to lyne the bodeis and sclevis of the goune, and velicotte iiii elle;
It. Of black pladine v doubile elle;
it. Of treilie buccarem v elle;
It. Of Camarage to be four curges xviii elle;
It. Of smalle holen claith to be curges x elle.
Maister Robert Richartsoune, thesaurer; ze sall not faille to answer alle this aboune orders quhilk salle be allouit to zou in zour comptis keipand this our precepe, for zour varrand. Subscryvit vyt our hand, at Edinburcke, the xv of Februar 1566.
The Queen, shutting herself up, in a close apartment, within Edinburgh castle, without light, or air, feeling “a world of wo and sorrow,” soon endangered her health, and would have very soon brought her life into hazard, if her physicians had not represented those circumstances of danger to the privy council, who advised her to retire into the country, for a time. The Queen saw the fitness of this advice, which suggested to the forger of Murray’s journal, to misrepresent the fact, in the following manner: “They [the Queen and Bothwell] on the 21st of February 1567, passed together to Seaton; and there passed their time, merryly, together, to the 10th of March, when Le Croc, the French ambassador, persuaded her to return to Edinburgh. 10th of March they [the Queen and Bothwell] returned to Edinburgh, by persuasion of Le Croc, where they remained till the 24th of the same month; earnestly trying the upsetting of the placards; but, never a word of the King’s murder.” – Thus much then, of the slander of Buchanan, which only evinces the odious guilt of Murray’s faction.
Let us, however, collate with that slander a dispatch from Sir William Drury, from Berwick of the 17th of February 1567, to Secretary Cecil, on the same subject. Drury had been informed, that the Queen of Scotland was come, this “night to Dunbar: She this last night [the 16th of February] lay at the Lord Seaton’s accompanied, by Argyle, Huntley, Bothwell, [he was high sheriff of this shire] Arbroath, the Archbishop of St. Andrews, the Lords Fleming, and Livingston, with the secretary, who followed, amounting to a hundred people.” [On the 23d of February, Secretary Maitland wrote, from Seaton, to Cecil, a letter of recommendation, and compliment: But, not a word of the murder.]
We thus see, that the Queen, with her court, consisting of a hundred people, left Edinburgh castle, and retired to the fine seat of Lord Seaton, on the 16th of February 1567: She appears to have remained here, till the 7th of March. On the 8th of March, she received, in Edinburgh castle, the condolence of Elizabeth, by Henry Kyllygrew. She returned to Seaton, on the 9th of March; but she seems to have come back to Edinburgh, on the morrow. On the 19th of March, as we learn from Birrel’s Diary, the Prince was conveyed out of Edinburgh to Stirling castle; and delivered in trust, to the Earl of Mar, till he should come to the age of seventeen years: On the 21st the castle of Edinburgh was rendered to Cockburn of Skirling, by the Queen’s commands, as we know from Birrel’s Diary, supported, by the wardrobe record, which contains Cockburn’s receipt, for the delivery of the castle to him. On the 24th and the 28th of March, she held two privy councils; as we know, from Keith, 374. She again returned to Seaton; and continued there, on the 5th of April. On the 9th of April, the Earl of Murray, with the Queen’s leave, set out for France; as he could not remain any longer, in Scotland, with propriety; considering his engagements, with the conspirators.
Here follows Kyllygrew’s letter, from Edinburgh, on the 8th of March 1567, to Secretary Cecil, which is the more curious, and important; as it is written, simply, without any affectation, or sarcasm, like the epistles of Randolph.