It was the land where she had found for all her griefs amends,—
The land where her dead husband slept—the land where she had known
The tranquil convent's hushed repose, and the splendours of a throne;
No marvel that the Lady wept—it was the land of France—
The chosen home of chivalry—the garden of romance!
The past was bright, like those dear hills so far behind her bark;
The future, like the gathering night, was ominous and dark!
One gaze again—one long, last gaze—"Adieu, fair France to thee!"
The breeze comes forth—she is alone on the unconscious sea!
The scene was changed. It was an eve of raw and surly mood,
And in a turret-chamber high of ancient Holyrood
Sat Mary, listening to the rain, and sighing with the winds,
That seemed to suit the stormy state of men's uncertain minds.
The touch of care had blanched her cheek—her smile was sadder now:
The weight of royalty had pressed too heavy on her brow;
And traitors to her councils came, and rebels to the field;—
The Stuart sceptre well she swayed, but the sword she could not wield.
She thought of all her blighted hopes—the dreams of youth's brief day,
And summoned Rizzio with his lute, and bade the minstrel play
The songs she loved in early years—the songs of gay Navarre;
The songs perchance that erst were sung by gallant Chatelar:
They half beguiled her of her cares, they soothed her into smiles,
They won her thoughts from bigot zeal and fierce domestic broils:
But hark! the tramp of arm?d men! the Douglas' battle-cry
They come!—they come!—and lo! the scowl of Ruthven's hollow eye!
And swords are drawn, and daggers gleam, and tears and words are vain—
The ruffian steel is in his heart—the faithful Rizzio's slain!
Then Mary Stuart dashed aside the tears that trickling fell:
"Now for my father's arm!" she said;—"my woman's heart farewell!"
The scene was changed. It was a lake, with one small lonely isle;
And there, within the prison-walls of its baronial pile,
Stern men stood menacing their Queen, till she should stoop to sign
The traitorous scroll that snatched the crown from her ancestral line.
"My lords!—my lords!" the captive said, "were I but once more free,
With ten good knights on yonder shore to aid my cause and me,
That parchment would I scatter wide to every breeze that blows,
And once more reign a Stuart Queen o'er my remorseless foes!"
A red spot burned upon her cheek—streamed her rich tresses down;
She wrote the words—she stood erect—a Queen without a crown!
The scene was changed. A royal host a royal banner bore.
And the faithful of the land stood round their smiling Queen once more.