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in the days of her prosperity. A black veil descended to her feet, an ivory crucifix hung suspended from her neck, and a string of beads was appended to her girdle. Her black velvet robe, with its high collar and hanging sleeves, was bordered with ermine. Her mantle, lined with marten sable, was of satin, with pearl buttons and a long train.
7. At this late hour she called together her household, and read aloud her will; when finding that she had omitted to mention one of her servants, she returned to her cabinet in order to supply the omission, and to subjoin a postscript to her farewell letter to the king of France. Before she had finished, the sheriff and Beal, clerk of the council, accompanied by Paulet, arrived to conduct her to the scaffold. On hearing the summons, she requested but one quarter of an hour's delay, which being granted, she soon completed her task; and cheerfully opening the door, presented herself to Paulet and the sheriff, who were waiting in the antechamber.
8. Having passed the threshold of her prison, she courteously accepted the assistance of Paulet, to traverse the long gallery, observing, it was the last trouble she should ever give him. In the gallery she was met by her steward, Melvin, whose pathetic lamentation she eagerly interrupted, telling him, he ought rather to rejoice that the trials and troubles of Mary Stuart were at length to have an end; and "bear from me," she added, "this message to Scotland, that I die a true woman to my religion, and like a true woman of Scotland and France. God forgive them that have thirsted for my blood." After which, tears trickling down her cheeks, she kissed Melvin, and solemnly bade him adieu.
9. Then, turning to the earls, she asked if some of her servants might be permitted to witness her last moments; and this being harshly denied, Mary de
scended to entreaty, reminding them that their mistress, herself a maiden queen, could not wish they should withhold the boon. Perceiving that the earls still demurred, tears of indignation started to her eyes, and she vehemently exclaimed, "I am cousin to your queen, am descended of the blood royal of Henry the Seventh, am dowager queen of France, anointed queen of Scotland."
10. The earl of Kent no longer resisted her importunity; and she chose from her domestics Melvin (who was allowed to bear her train), her physician, and two female attendants. In this manner she proceeded, till she once more found herself in the hall of Fotheringay Castle, and in the presence of three hundred spectators, who beheld, with looks of commiseration, the symptoms of infirmity and suffering which her person indicated. Although the symmetry of her form had long been destroyed, her air bespoke majesty, her complexion was still fine, her eyes retained their touching sweetness of expression, and her countenance was lighted up by a smile of devout exultation.
11. At one end of the hall, so lately the scene of judicial pageantry, appeared a platform, somewhat raised from the ground, hung with green cloth, and inclosed by an iron railing which was evidently prepared for the sanguinary spectacle, though, by a mockery of refinement, the symbols of death were concealed from the prisoner's view, and she could neither discern the block, which was covered with black, nor recognize the executioners, who, in the manner of Turkish mutes, stood behind the sable ărras.
12. To this spot Mary advanced with dignified composure, when she suffered herself to be lifted to the stage by her faithful Melvin, and was immediately placed on a seat provided for her accommodation. Her attendants followed, and among them glided in a little terrier dog, who, crouching down with the privilege of
an established favorite, hid itself under the train of her dress. The queen sat facing the spectators. On her right stood the two earls; on the left, the sheriff and Beal.
13. The warrant for her execution having been read, Mary, in an audible voice, addressed the assembly. She called on them to recollect that she was a sovereign princess, not subject to the Parliament of England, but brought there to suffer by injustice and violence. She, however, thanked her God that He had given her this opportunity of publicly professing her religion, and of declaring, as she had often before declared, that she had never imagined, nor compassed, nor consented to the death of the English queen, nor ever sought the least harm to her person.
14. Mary was interrupted in her remarks by Dr. Fletcher, dean of Peterborough, who approached the platform to expostulate with her on the errors of her faith. It was in vain that she replied that her principles were fixed and unchangeable. He persisted in reciting an English prayer, during which she repeated in Latin the office to the Virgin, and then prayed aloud in English for the afflicted church, for the queen of England, and for her son, the king of Scotland; and, in conclusion, holding up the crucifix, exclaimed, "As thy arms, O God, were stretched out upon the cross, so receive me into the arms of thy mercy, and forgive my sins."
15. When her maids began to disrobe their mistress, the executioners, fearing the loss of their usual perquisites, hastily interfered. The queen remonstrated, and divesting herself of her ornaments, turned, with a blush on her forehead, to the earls, and smilingly remarked that she was not accustomed to employ such grooms, nor to be disrobed in the presence of so numer
ous a company. Then perceiving that her female attendants could no longer control their grief, she ten
derly embraced them, begging that for her sake they would perform the last service.
16. Instantly Jane Kennedy produced a perfumed silk handkerchief, edged with thistles of gold, pressed it devoutly to her lips, and then bandaged the eyes of her beloved mistress, and retired. Kneeling down, Mary felt for the block, which till this moment had been covered, laid her head on it, and grasping the chain by which her crucifix was suspended, softly repeated, "In thee, O Lord, have I put my trust; let me never be confounded. Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit."
17. The fatal blow was then given; but the sobs and groans of the spectators had disconcerted the headsman and caused him to tremble so, that he missed his aim, inflicting a deep wound in the lower part of the skull. The queen groaned slightly, but remained motionless. At the third stroke her head was severed from her body. The executioner held up the head, and cried, "God save Queen Elizabeth." "So perish all her enemies," added Dr. Fletcher, dean of Peterborough. "So perish all the enemies of the Gospel!" exclaimed the fanatical earl of Kent. Not a voice was heard to cry amen.
18. During this mournful spectacle Mary's little favorite dog, starting from the robes under which he had been concealed, lavished caresses on the insensible corpse; and lying down between the headless shoulders, moaned piteously whilst he licked the blood of his murdered mistress. Touched by this instance of brute sympathy, the executioner suffered him to keep his place; and even the earl of Kent showed the poor animal an indulgence denied to the last moments of Mary Stuart. The dog is said to have refused food and to have died in two days after his mistress.
WRITTEN IN A COUNTRY CHURCHYARD.
For more than a century this Elegy has kept its place as one of the masterpieces of English verse. It has the threefold charm of exquisite diction, musical versification, and appropriate sentiment. In consenting to its publication the author wrote to Dodsley, the publisher, in 1751, "Print it without any interval between the stanzas, because the sense is in some places continued beyond them." Accordingly in the early editions it was printed, not in separated, but in continuous stanzas. The stanzas which Gray regarded as continuous, here end either with a colon, a semicolon, or a comma.
For PORE, STORIED, WEARY, see §§ 11, 28; SOLITARY (a short), § 29; SHRILL, 9; pronounce DOST, dust, WONTED, wunted, E'ER, air, the ea in HEARTH as in heart.
See in Index, CURFEW, HOUSEWIFE, MOULDER or MOLDER, PLOWMAN, STREW, TROPHY, WAN, GRAY.
Delivery. The style, though meditative, belongs to the emotional class. The rate of utterance should be between medium and slow, force gentle, pitch middle, pauses short. Generally the falling slide should be used, at all the grammatical pauses except the comma. The majestic music of the versification should be conveyed both in the modulation and the quality of the
THE curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tower
Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade,
Where heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap,
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.