16 AUGUST 1930, Page 21

Merely to indicate the nature and nexus of the argument

and the points of attack in the late Major-General Mahon's The Tragedy of Kirk o'Field (Cambridge University Press, 16s.) would, to do them justice, claim a review several columns in length. In briefest summary the surprising and original thesis advanced in the book is this : that the Scottish Gun- powder Plot of 1567, which cost Darnley his life, was aimed at Mary herself and not at Darnley at all ; that both the worth- less Ring Consort, and his feebly disreputable father, Lennox, were aware of and connived at the plot ; that Bothwell was not responsible for the explosion ; while the notion that the death of Darnley was the direct result of a carnal lust between Mary and Bothwell is a grotesque fiction." More intricate than the most entangled detective mystery (and it is very like one) is the story ; it demands the most careful and intensive reading, as well as a considerable historical knowledge of the period and acquaintance with the locale of the murder ; or the significance of the closely reasoned and informed argument will be missed. But the thought occurs—Is the final conclu- sion, which leaves the blowing-up of Kirk o'Field still a mystery, save to suggest that it was part of a Counter-Refor- mation conspiracy, worth all this learning, industry and dis- criminative acumen ? To solve any problem you must have all the data, and here we have not got them and probably never shall. Even General Mahon is unable to suggest exactly how or at whose hand Darnley met his death.

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