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The Story Of Arabella Stuart
by [?]

Of royal blood was the lady here named, near to the English throne. Too near, as it proved, for her own comfort and happiness, for her life was distracted by the fears of those that filled it. Her story, in consequence, became one of the romances of English history.

“The Lady Arabella,” as she was called, was nearly related to Queen Elizabeth, and became an object of jealous persecution by that royal lady. The great Elizabeth had in her disposition something of the dog in the manger. She would not marry herself, and thus provide for the succession to the throne, and she was determined that the fair Arabella should not perform this neglected duty. Hence Arabella’s misery.

The first thing we hear of this unfortunate scion of royal blood concerns a marriage. The whole story of her life, in fact, is concerned with marriage, and its fatal ending was the result of marriage. Never had a woman been more sought in marriage; never more hindered; her life was a tragedy of marriage.

Her earlier story may be briefly given. James VI. of Scotland, cousin of the Lady Arabella, chose as a husband for her another cousin, Lord Esme Stuart, Duke of Lennox, his proposed heir. The match was a desirable one, but Queen Elizabeth forbade the banns. She threw the lady into a prison, and defied King James when he demanded her delivery, not hesitating to speak with contempt of her brother monarch.

The next to choose a husband for Arabella was the pope, who would have been delighted to provide a Catholic for the succession to the English throne. A prince of the house of Savoy was the choice of his holiness. The Duke of Parma was married, and his brother was a cardinal, and therefore unmarriageable, but the pope had the power to overcome the difficulty which this created. He secularized the churchman, and made him an eligible aspirant for the lady’s hand. But, as may well be supposed, Elizabeth decisively vetoed this chimerical plan.

To escape from the plots of scheming politicians, the Lady Arabella now took the task in her own hand, proposing to marry a son of the Earl of Northumberland. Unhappily, Elizabeth would none of it. To her jealous fancy an English earl was more dangerous than a Scotch duke. Thus went on this extraordinary business till Elizabeth died, and King James of Scotland, whom she had despised, became her successor on the throne, she having paved the way to his succession by her neglect to provide an heir for it herself, and her insensate determination to prevent Arabella Stuart from doing so.

James was now king. He had chosen a husband for his cousin Arabella before. It was a natural presumption that he would not object to her marriage now. But if Elizabeth was jealous, he was suspicious. A foolish plot was made by some unimportant individuals to get rid of the Scottish king and place Arabella on the English throne. A letter to this effect was sent to the lady. She laughed at it, and sent it to the king, who, probably, did not consider it a laughing-matter.

This was in 1603. In 1604 the king of Poland is said to have asked for the lady’s hand in marriage. Count Maurice, Duke of Guildres, was also spoken of as a suitable match. But James had grown as obdurate as Elizabeth,–and with as little sense and reason. The lady might enjoy life in single blessedness as she pleased, but marry she should not. “Thus far to the Lady Arabella crowns and husbands were like a fairy banquet seen at moonlight opening on her sight, impalpable, and vanishing at the moment of approach.”

Several years now passed, in which the lady lived as a dependant on the king’s bounty, and in which, so far as we know, no thoughts of marriage were entertained. At least, no projects of marriage were made public, whatever may have been the lady’s secret thoughts and wishes. Then came the romantic event of her life,–a marriage, and its striking consequences. It is this event which has made her name remembered in the romance of history.