From that moment she hated Darnley as one would hate a snake. She tolerated him only that he might acknowledge her child as his son. This child was the future James VI. of Scotland and James I. of England. It is recorded of him that never throughout his life could he bear to look upon drawn steel.
After this Mary summoned Bothwell again and again. It was revealed to her as in a blaze of light that, after all, he was the one and only man who could be everything to her. His frankness, his cynicism, his mockery, his carelessness, his courage, and the power of his mind matched her moods completely. She threw away all semblance of concealment. She ignored the fact that he had married at her wish. She was queen. She desired him. She must have him at any cost.
“Though I lose Scotland and England both,” she cried in a passion of abandonment, “I shall have him for my own!”
Bothwell, in his turn, was nothing loath, and they leaped at each other like two flames.
It was then that Mary wrote those letters which were afterward discovered in a casket and which were used against her when she was on trial for her life. These so-called Casket Letters, though we have not now the originals, are among the most extraordinary letters ever written. All shame, all hesitation, all innocence, are flung away in them. The writer is so fired with passion that each sentence is like a cry to a lover in the dark. As De Peyster says: “In them the animal instincts override and spur and lash the pen.” Mary was committing to paper the frenzied madness of a woman consumed to her very marrow by the scorching blaze of unedurable desire.
Events moved quickly. Darnley, convalescent from an attack of smallpox, was mysteriously destroyed by an explosion of gunpowder. Bothwell was divorced from his young wife on curious grounds. A dispensation allowed Mary to wed a Protestant, and she married Bothwell three months after Darnley’s death.
Here one sees the consummation of what had begun many years before in France. From the moment that she and Bothwell met, their union was inevitable. Seas could not sunder them. Other loves and other fancies were as nothing to them. Even the bonds of marriage were burst asunder so that these two fiery, panting souls could meet.
It was the irony of fate that when they had so met it was only to be parted. Mary’s subjects, outraged by her conduct, rose against her. As she passed through the streets of Edinburgh the women hurled after her indecent names. Great banners were raised with execrable daubs representing the murdered Darnley. The short and dreadful monosyllable which is familiar to us in the pages of the Bible was hurled after her wherever she went.
With Bothwell by her side she led a wild and ragged horde of followers against the rebellious nobles, whose forces met her at Carberry Hill. Her motley followers melted away, and Mary surrendered to the hostile chieftains, who took her to the castle at Lochleven. There she became the mother of twins—a fact that is seldom mentioned by historians. These children were the fruit of her union with Bothwell. From this time forth she cared but little for herself, and she signed, without great reluctance, a document by which she abdicated in favor of her infant son.