Shelley King and John B. Pierce (eds), The Collected Poems of Amelia Alderson Opie

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No. VIIEpistle from MARY to her UNCLES.—Dated Kirk in the Field, Feb. 1567

  • 1Ye soothing friends to whom your Mary's breast
  • 2Has all her wrongs, her fears, her hopes confest;
  • 3Now in her joy, her triumph bear a part,
  • 4For Mary rules once more o'er Darnley's heart.
  • 5His faults confess'd, repented and forgiven,
  • 6I raise my eyes in grateful joy to heaven!
  • 7Yet, not unclouded beams this sun of joy,
  • 8Death's envious hand its brilliance may destroy;
  • Editor’s Note9For pain, for sickness, bow my Darnley's head,
  • 10And Mary watches by a sufferer's bed.
  • 11Yet feels the narrow circle where she moves,
  • 12With step slow stealing round the man she loves,
  • 13More dear, more welcome to her faithful breast
  • 14Than courtly scene in royal splendours drest.
  • 15For still this truth will Mary's lip impart,
  • 16Woman is never blest, but through her heart:
  • 17To us ambition's star so cheerless shines,
  • 18If love's extinguish'd, woman droops, and pines:
  • 19Then blame not, lords, my promptness to forgive,
  • 20Nor that again I shall with Darnley live;
  • 21If I to Darnley's faults indulgent prove,
  • 22Ye know my counsellor is faithful love;
  • 23My pardoning kiss his faded lip has prest,
  • 24And Darnley's penitent, and Mary blest.

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Editor’s Note
9. pain and sickness: the source of Darnley's illness is unclear. Many suggest he contracted smallpox in January 1560; Mary sent her own physician to attend him in Glasgow, and then herself attended his recovery. When he was sufficiently improved, Benger notes, 'she transported him from Glasgow to Edinburgh; where, to avoid the damp of Holyrood-House, he was lodged in a mansion belonging to the Provost, in the Kirk of Field, of which the air was esteemed remarkably salubrious' (Life of Mary Queen of Scots, i. 312). Robertson, on the other hand, imputes the disorder to poison and comments 'Notwithstanding the King's danger, she amused herself with excursions to different parts of the country, and suffered near a month to elapse before she visited him at Glasgow' (History of Scotland, i. 395). Further, when he considers Mary's subsequent solicitous attention to Darnley, he adds, 'And though this made impression on the credulous spirit of her husband … yet, to those who are acquainted with the human heart, and who know how seldom and how slowly such wounds in domestic happiness are healed, this sudden transition will appear with a very suspicious air, and will be considered by them as the effect of artifice' (ibid. 396).
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