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The Reign of Queen Elizabeth. (Continued) page 11


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Being now in possession of Murray's charges, Elizabeth determined to compel him to make them openly, her grand object being to establish an accusation of Mary sufficiently atrocious to warrant her detaining her a perpetual prisoner. For this reason she summoned the commission to Westminster, alleging that York was too distant for a quick transaction of business. When Murray appeared before Elizabeth, he found, to his dismay, that she was perfectly informed of his private interviews with Norfolk, and she insisted that he should make a public accusation of Mary, menacing him, in case of refusal, to transfer her interests to the Duke of Chatelherault, and to favour his claim to the regency. But Murray was not inclined to make this accusation, unless assured that Elizabeth would pronounce sentence on Mary, which Norfolk had led him very much to doubt. Mary, on the other hand, received information from Hepburn of Riccarton, a confederate of Both well's, that Elizabeth was of all things really anxious to compel Murray to this accusation. To prevent this, she ordered her commissioners, if any such attempt was made at accusing her, to demand her immediate admission to the presence of Elizabeth, and, if that were refused, to break up the conference.

These conferences were opened in the painted chamber at Westminster, the commissioners of Mary refusing to meet in any judicial court; and, acting on the instruction of their queen, they at once demanded the admission of Mary to Elizabeth's presence, on the reasonable plea that that privilege had been granted to Murray. This was again declined, on the old ground that Mary must first clear herself; and on the retirement of the commissioners it was demanded of Murray to put in his accusation in writing, Bacon, the lord-keeper, assuring him that, if Mary were found guilty, she should be either delivered to him, or kept safe in England. To this Murray replied, that he had prepared his written accusation, but that before he would give it in he must have an assurance, under the hand of Elizabeth, that she would pronounce judgment. On this Cecil said, "Where is your accusation?" and Murray's secretary, Wood, taking it imprudently from his bosom, replied, "Here it is, and here it must remain till we have the queen's written assurance." But whilst he spoke the paper was snatched from his hand by Bothwell, Bishop of Orkney, who rushed over the table, pursued by Wood, and handed it to the English commissioners. It was received amid roars of laughter, and Cecil, who had now gained his great object, became radiant with exultation. The confusion of the scene was extraordinary; Lord William Howard, a blunt sea-officer, shouting aloud in his glee, and Maitland whispering to Murray that he had ruined his cause for ever.

But as there was now no going back, the paper was read, and found to contain the broadest and most direct charge against Mary, not only for being an accomplice in the murder of her husband, but even of inciting Bothwell to it, and then marrying the murderer. This was totally different to Murray's former declaration to the English ministers; but it was now backed by a similar one from Lord Lennox, demanding vengeance for the death of his son. No' sooner did the commissioners of the Queen of &cots hear this than they most indignantly condemned the conduct of the English commissioners, declared themselves prepared to prove that Murray and his friends themselves were the actual authors, and some of them the perpetrators of the murder. They demanded instant admittance to the presence of Elizabeth; complained loudly of the breach of the contract that nothing should be received in prejudice of their queen's honour, in her absence; demanded the instant arrest of the authors of the foul charge, and, on that being refused, broke off the conference.

Here, indeed, the conference really ceased. Elizabeth, spite of the withdrawal of Mary's commissioners, summoned Murray to produce his proofs; and the pretended love-letters and sonnets, of which Elizabeth had already had copies, were spread before her commissioners. The originals of these celebrated documents have long disappeared, but the copies which remained have been evidently tampered with, and have been pronounced most suspicious by all who have examined them. Mary, on hearing this, demanded by her commissioners the right to see these papers, declaring that she would prove the exhibitors of them the real murderers, and expose them to all Christian princes as liars and traitors. This most reasonable request was refused, and Elizabeth, having now all she wanted, delivered by her council this extraordinary decision: - That neither against the Queen, of Scotland, nor against Murray, had any convincing charge of crime, on the one hand, or treason on the other, been shown. That the Queen of England saw no cause to conceive an ill opinion of her good sister of Scotland. It was conceded that Mary should have copies of the papers in the casket, on condition that she should reply to them, which she consented to do, provided that Murray and her accusers were detained to abide the consequence. This, however, did not suit the object of Elizabeth: Murray and his associates were permitted to retire to Scotland; but it was declared that, on many grounds, the Queen of Scots must be detained in England. From first to last, it must be pronounced, that the whole transaction on the part of Elizabeth was of the most arbitrary and unjustifiable character. The plainest principles of justice demanded that Mary should be admitted, if not to the presence of the queen, at least face to face with her accusers; that whatever was advanced against her should undergo the most public and rigorous scrutiny; and that the accused queen should have every opportunity afforded her of replying to such infamous charges against her. All this, notwithstanding her constant demands and remonstrances, was systematically and persistently refused; and still, after the extraordinary announcement by the Privy Council of England that no charge was sustained against the Queen of Scots, nor any which had been preferred were of such weight as to influence the Queen of England's opinion of Mary, to determine on the detention of Mary was yet a more violent breach of all right and honour.

Murray, on the 10th of January, 1569, was permitted to return home; but it was not so easy to perceive how he was to get there alive, His notorious breach of faith with the Duke of Norfolk had enraged that hobleman, who, as lord warden of the northern marches, had all the military force of that quarter of the kingdom in his hands, and who determined not to suffer him to pass j alive. If by any means he could escape from this danger, on the other side of the borders the friends of Mary were in arms and burning with indignation against him. Mary had appointed the Duke of Chatelherault and the Earls of Huntley and Argyll as lieutenants, and Lord Boyd and other powerful barons were zealous in her cause. All the south of Scotland swarmed with her enraged partisans, and Murray and any force which he could assemble to meet them must inevitably be crushed. Yet from this apparently insurmountable danger the wily and supple genius of the man relieved him. He made fresh overtures to the Duke of Norfolk, expressed the deepest regret for the part which he had been compelled to take against Mary, but protested that he had never altered his opinion as to the excellence of the arrangement for the marriage betwixt the duke and her. He declared that he still regarded it as a measure of the highest advantage to both kingdoms, and expressed himself ready to promote it to the utmost of his power. The duke, who was extremely ambitious of the match, was moved, and Murray at once opened communication with the Bishop of Ross, who proposed it to Mary; and so completely did he convince all parties of his earnestness, that Norfolk procured him a loan of 5,000 from Elizabeth, and sent the strictest; orders to the north that the regent should not be obstructed or molested in any manner on his journey. Mary at the same time dispatched similar orders to her adherents in Scotland, and Murray proceeded in the utmost quiet to Edinburgh.

Once there, he threw off the mask. He called an immediate convention of the states at Stirling, procured a ratification of his proceedings in England, and ordered a speedy muster of forces in every quarter of the kingdom. It was in vain that the friends of Mary attempted to oppose him: his movements were so rapid and well-obeyed, that, though they proclaimed him. a traitor and usurper, they were speedily compelled to come to terms with him. It was agreed that the nobles in the interest of Mary should disband their forces and return to their estates till the 10th of April, when they should meet at Edinburgh for the settlement of the affairs of the country. They complied with this, and Murray liberated the prisoners which he had taken at Langside, but he took care not to disband his own forces. At a meeting at Stirling, Lord Herries, the Earl of Cassillis, and the Archbishop of St. Andrew's placed themselves in Murray's hands as hostages; and no sooner had they done this than Murray marched towards the borders and chastised their adherents in that quarter. When the meeting took place at Edinburgh, on the 10th of April, Murray demanded that the Duke of Chatelherault should acknowledge the king, which he refused until the questions relating to the queen had first been publicly discussed and settled; and on this refusal Murray arrested the duke and Lord Herries, and sent them to the castle of Edinburgh.

This arbitrary act occasioned much resentment in the country; but it intimidated his two most powerful opponents, Argyll and Huntley, who held the western and northern highlands. They had refused to sign the late treaty, but they now saw him supported by England, and at the head of a powerful army. They therefore soon came to terms with him; and having received hostages from Huntley, he immediately marched into the highlands; and levying heavy fines on all who had risen in favour of the queen, vigorously reduced the clans to swear allegiance to the young king, and returned triumphant and enriched by the expedition.

Meantime Elizabeth had removed Mary farther from the Scottish border. She evidently doubted the security of the Queen of Scots so near her Scottish subjects, and in a part of the country so extremely Popish. Mary, on her part, was quite sensible of the views of Elizabeth, and protested against going farther into the interior of the country. She did not hesitate to express her opinion that it was the intention of Cecil to make away with her. But resistance on her part was now hopeless. She was in the hands of a powerful and unscrupulous woman, who every day felt more and more the difficult position in which she had placed herself by thus making herself the gaoler, against all right and honour, of an independent queen. She sent express orders to Scroope and Knollys to permit no person to approach the Queen of Scots who was likely to dissuade her from her removal, and furnished them with a list of such well-affected gentlemen as should attend her on her way through the different counties. On the 26th of January, in most wintry weather, Mary and her attendants were obliged to quit Bolton Castle, and, mounted on miserable horses, to take their way southward. On the 2nd of February they reached Ripon, and thence proceeded to Tutbury Castle, a ruinous house, belonging to the Earl of Shrewsbury, who was now her keeper. The castle lay high above the valley of the Dove, and was a wretched abode for a crowned head; and Mary was watched and guarded with the utmost anxiety lest some of her partisans should find means of communicating with her. Nicholas White, afterwards Master of the Rolls in Ireland, visited her there, and wrote to Cecil that, if he might give advice, there should be few subjects of this land have access to or conference with her; for, he observed, "beside that she is a goodly personage, she hath withal an alluring grace, a pretty Scottish speech, and a searching wit clouded with mildness. Fame might move some to relieve her; and glory, joined to gain, might stir others to venture much for her sake."

But not only were the Roman Catholic subjects of Elizabeth greatly discontented with the detention of the Scottish queen, whom Elizabeth had again removed to Wingfield Manor, in Derbyshire, in April, but the sovereigns of the continent remonstrated with Elizabeth on the injustice of treating a crowned head - as much a sovereign as herself - as a captive and a criminal; but she feeling that she had now little cause to fear them, replied that they were labouring under a mistake; that so far was she from treating the Queen of Scots as a captive, she was giving her refuge and protection against her rebellious subjects, who sought her life, and laid the most grievous crime to her charge.

The Duke of Norfolk, and the Earls of Arundel and Pembroke, as friends of Mary, were extremely hostile to Cecil, regarding him as the real mover and influencer of the queen against her. They succeeded in securing the favour of Leicester to their design against him, who ventured to lay their complaints, as the complaints of the country, before Elizabeth, representing the clamour against the measures of Cecil, and the belief that his policy was prejudicial to her reputation and injurious to the interests of the realm, as universal. Elizabeth defended her favourite minister with zeal; but the politic Cecil was struck with a degree of alarm at their combination, which might have eventually proved formidable, had they not stumbled on the scheme of marrying Norfolk to Mary. The results of that scheme, however, we must postpone till we have noticed some anterior affairs.

We have seen how Elizabeth assisted the Huguenots in France. In the Netherlands she was not the less active. The commercial natives of these countries had not only grown rich under the mild sway of the Dukes of Burgundy, but they had exercised privileges which did not accord with the bigoted and despotic notions of Philip II. Not only Protestants but Romanists murmured at his harsh and arbitrary government. The latter complained that opulent abbeys in the possession of natives were dissolved to form bishoprics for Spaniards. The Protestants groaned under a stern persecution, and every class of subjects beheld with horror and disgust the Spanish Inquisition introduced. Not only Protestants but Papists united in a league to put down this odious institution. The league, from including both religious parties, was named the Compromise, and the Prince of Orange and the Counts Egmont and Home took the lead in it. The Duchess of Parma, who governed the country, gave way to the storm, and abolished the Inquisition, which had the effect of separating the Roman Catholics from the Protestants. The latter deemed it necessary, when thus deserted, to conduct their worship with arms in their hands; and the duchess, alarmed at this hostile attitude, issued a proclamation, forbidding all such assemblies. In Antwerp, and other cities where the English and German Protestants greatly abounded, no notice was taken of her proclamation; but it was resolved no longer to remain on the defensive, but to carry the war into the enemy's quarters.

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