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|The Defenders of Mary
Written by JulieW
(8/26/2004 6:24 a.m.)
this bewitching Princess whose only friend was then the Duke Of Norfolk and whose only ones now are Mr Whitaker, Mrs Lefroy, Mrs Knight and myself…..
It is quite possible that this Mr Whitaker was family friend, but the evidence points to another Mr Whitacker altogether.
This is the Reverend John Whitaker ,B D. “ author of the History of Manchester and Rector of Ruan-Lanyhorne Cornwall.”
Who wrote a three volume defence of Mary Queen of Scots: Mary Queen of Scots Vindicated published in 1787.
This was referred to by William Gilpin in his Hihglands tour book. We know that JA was enamoured of Gilpin and so it is quite possible that she followed up his reference, and read a copy of this book.
On initial perusal this work appears to be much more the sort of history of which JA would have approved. It has references, for one thing, and also appendices enabling the reader to read Mary Queen of Scots correspondence, (annotated by Whitcker: he considers most of the damming evidence in her letters to be explained away by the fact that he considers them to be forgeries)Murray’s acts of parliament etc.
However, the tone is quite over the top, IMHO.
He is so much a biased advocate of Mary that , though he appears to show all the evidence and purports to be even handed, and objective he is anything but.
Here’s a little extract to see just how unbiased he really isn’t : he really detests Elizabeth I: and in this we may, IMHO, find the source of Jas detestation of the woman. She may not really have been so vehemently against Elizabeth. She might just be echoing and parodying the outrageous style of Rev.Whitaker , for the enjoyment of her friends Mrs Lefroy and Mrs Knight who may also have read this book ;-)
I apologise for the capitals in this following extract: they are just as the Rev Whitaker writes in his book.
There Elizabeth broke at once through all the ties that villainy generally respects, even in its lowest stage of profligacy, plighted faith and confiding generosity. She did even more. She inveighed Mary by pressing assurances of friendship, into a conference with her rebels. She then turned it into A JUDICIAL TRIAL. She turned it into a judicial trial of MARY HERSELF. She secretly pushed forward the most horrible accusations against her. She openly patronised them. She supported them in their laments. She invigorated them in their weakness. And at length she completed her course of malignity against her character, by publishing the known forgeries as genuine writings; and so opening a new source of calumny against her, which has continued to burst forth with violence ever since, and had lately spread its poisoned waters from one corner of the kingdom to the other….
It is painful to a generous mind , to see such arts sustained by such credulity , and both , triumphing so long over the fame of Mary. But so it will often be in a world like this. “THIS WORLD WAS MADE FOR CEASAR”. The Elizabeths and the Murrays , the children of artifice and of violence , will generally be the heroes and the heroines of the mass of mankind. And the honest, the generous , and the confiding, will be dupes to the villainy of those, and victims to the simplicity of these. But a period may come SUCH AS HAS COME IN THIS VERY BUSINESS , when facts will be weighted against assertions , when characters will be ascertained by the standards of history, and when the villain will be exposed and the worthy vindicated. Yet, should it not come , we may wait in holy hope for that hour of universal judgement, which the sufferings of Mary have repeatedly pressed on my mind. Then artifice can no longer fabricate calumnies and credulity can no longer continue them. Then the Maries, the Murrays and the Elizabeths will pass once more in review before us; but in a manner infinitely surpassing all human trials. The examination will be made by HIM, who cannot be baffled in his sagacity. The sentence will be pronounced by HIM, who cannot be mistaken in his judgement. And the honour of Mary I am convinced will then be asserted with a particularity of notice and in a tone of deceptiveness, in some measure proportioned to her unparalleled sufferings; to the dreadful infliction’s ,which she underwent from the oppression of her persecutors in her person; to the more dreadful stabs , which she received from the knives of her assassins in her reputation; and to the still more dreadful wounds , which, from the early alliance of the world on slanders , have been rankling and festering there , through the long period of two ages since.”
Phew: he is really objective isn’t he…..LOL
Another poor historian being taken to task by JA’s sense of the ridiculous.
I think her so-called excessive devotion to Mary and her total dislike of Elizabeth is to be explained away as she parodies yet another flawed history book: it was nothing personal, her marked dislike of Elizabeth and her excessive devotion to Mary. She was just showing how ridiculous a history was presented by Rev Whitaker’s ever so slightly deranged vindication of Mary, Queen of Scots.
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