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The Reign of Queen Elizabeth. (Continued) page 2

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Mary, once more free, resumed all the decision of her character. But she had a difficult part to play. Willing to think the best, and only too prone to forgive, she yet must have seen enough to shake her faith in all around her. Darnley, spite of his protestation, had appeared simultaneously with the assassins, and what had been the real conduct of Murray? Besides the doubts which hung around many of her courtiers, they were almost all at deadly feud with each other. There was nothing for it, however, but to make the best of her materials. She reconciled Bothwell to Murray, and Argyll to Atholl, and she appeared, ready to pardon Morton, Maitland, and others of the conspirators. In Mary's kindly and forgiving nature lay her danger. Had she punished with the relentless severity of Elizabeth, her throne might have stood. But her pardons were wasted on wretches who, at the first opportunity, would turn and rend her. The nobles of her Court were but demi-savages, rude, insolent, treacherous, and implacable.

Darnley, conscious of having committed himself irrecoverably with these brutal men, was now loud in their denunciation. His safety lay only in their destruction, and there was not one that he did not betray except Murray, who was at hand and dangerous. The fugitive nobles, enraged at Darnley's betrayal of them, sent the "bonds," or covenants which had passed between them, or copies of them, to the queen. She was thunderstruck there to behold, in the list of sworn traitors and assassins, her own husband and her brother Murray. She seemed crushed to the soul by the terrible discovery. $he saw herself actually seated in a nest of vipers, and the vilest of those reptiles were those nearest to her in affection and consanguinity. She could no longer put faith in her husband, she turned from him in sickness of heart; and so completely was she dispirited with the scene around her, that she contemplated retiring to Prance and committing the government of the country to a regency of five lords, Murray, Mar, Huntley, Atholl, and Bothwell. She contemplated a divorce from her unworthy husband, and, it is said, had sent an envoy for that purpose to Rome.

But the spirit of Mary was not of a character long to brood over revenge; that belonged rather to such men as Ruthven, Murray, and Morton. They vowed deadly vengeance on Darnley, and from that hour his destruction was settled, and never lost sight of. As for Elizabeth of England, she was loud in denunciation of the outrage on the queen, and wrote expressing deep sympathy; and the virtuous Murray was indignant at the villany in which he had been engaged, but now only seemed to perceive the full extent of. The assurances of the friendship of England and France seemed, however, to tranquillise the queen's mind, and the hour of her confinement drawing nigh, she called her councillors around her, became reconciled to the king, and prepared everything for her own life or death. On the 19th of June she was, however, safely delivered, in the castle of Edinburgh, of a son, who was named James, and Sir James Melville was dispatched to carry the tidings to Elizabeth. The messenger arrived as the English queen was dancing after supper at Greenwich. Cecil, who had seen Sir James, took the opportunity to whisper the news to her in preparation. No sooner did she hear the news than she seemed struck motionless. She ceased, sat down, leaning her cheek on her hand, and when her ladies hastened to ascertain what ailed her, burst out, "The Queen of Scots is mother of a fair son, and I am a barren stock!" Her agitation was so visible that the music stopped, and there was a general wonder and confusion. There were not wanting spies to carry this to Melville, and, aware of the truth, he was curious to mark the official look which the great dissembler wore the next morning. She was then all smiling and serene, and even received the message, he says, with a "merry volt," that is, we suppose, a caper of affected joy. She declared that she was so delighted with the news, that it had quite cured her of a heavy sickness which she had had for fifteen days. Melville was too much of a courtier to congratulate her on being able to dance merrily in sickness; but he wanted her to become godmother, which office she accepted cheerfully, by proxy. She expressed quite an ardent desire to go and see her fair sister, but as she could not she sent the Earl of Bedford, with a font of gold for its christening and 1,000. With Bedford and Mr. Carey, son of her kinsman, Lord Hunsdon, she sent a splendid train of knights and gentlemen to attend the christening. The ceremony was performed at Stirling by the Archbishop of St. Andrew's, according to the rites of the Romish Church, the Kings of France and the Duke of Savoy being godfathers by their ambassadors. The English embassy remained outside the chapel during the service, for they dared not take part in the idolatries of the mass. They reported that Mary looked very melancholy, and Darnley was not present, it was supposed for fear the officers of Elizabeth should not give him the homage of royalty; for Elizabeth had still refused to acknowledge his title as King of Scotland.

The birth of a son to the Queen of Scotland, though mortifying enough to Elizabeth in itself, was made tenfold more so by the increased impatience which it occasioned amongst her subjects of her own obstinate celibacy. Even Leicester now began to despair of winning her hand, fie had demanded the fulfilment of her promise, and begged that she would decide finally at Christmas: she promised it at Candlemas. But Cecil, who dreaded this marriage with Leicester above all things, ventured to give Elizabeth six objections to it. They were, that Leicester could bring neither riches, power, nor estimation; that he was deeply in debt, spite of all she had lavished on him; that he was surrounded by greedy dependants who would swallow up all the patronage of the crown; that he was so violent and fickle in his temper, that the queen could expect no happiness with him; that he was infamed by the death of his wife; and that to marry him would confirm all the scandalous reports which had been disseminated both at home and abroad.

Whether or not these reasons had any more influence than Elizabeth's private resolve never to take a partner in her power, far less a master, she remained immovable. Leicester was so much chagrined that he openly declared to La Forets, the French ambassador, in August, that he believed the queen would never marry; that he had known her from her eighth year better than any man on earth, and that from that early age she had always had the same language; that if she did ever break her resolve, he believed it would be in his favour, but that he now despaired of that.

The restless state of Leicester's mind, and the knowledge that the Earl of Sussex was an advocate of the queen's marrying the Archduke Charles, occasioned such quarrels betwixt these noblemen this summer, that Elizabeth was repeatedly obliged to call on them to be friends: but it was a hollow friendship, soon broken again, especially as the Howard family, to which Sussex's mother belonged, and Lord Hunsdon, the queen's relative, supported the same views as Sussex.

In September Elizabeth made a visit to Oxford, after a progress into Northamptonshire and to Woodstock, where she was feasted, harangued, and lionised for seven days. Intending on one occasion to deliver a speech in Latin, a Dr. Westphaling made so tremendously long an oration, that she sent to him bidding him very curtly to cut it short; but the doctor having committed his speech to memory, found himself unable to do so, on which she severely lectured him; but laughed heartily when he confessed to her his predicament. The next day she pronounced her own Latin oration, and in the middle stopped short to order Cecil a chair, and then went on again to show the learned but prosy doctor how much better she could manage it.

On her return to town she was not quite so successful in cutting short the harangues of her Parliament. After six prorogations she was compelled to summon it, and no sooner did it meet than it came upon the distasteful subject of her marriage. The Queen of Scots having now a son, the Roman Catholics would have been glad to have the succession recognised in that line; but the Protestants were alarmed at that circumstance, and all the more anxious for an alliance with a Protestant prince. Both parties, therefore, united in addressing her on this head. On hearing the address she replied that she should keep her intentions locked in her own breast: that was her own concern, and she bade them go and perform their own duties and she would perform hers.

The Commons resented this language, and as soon as a motion for supply was made, it was opposed on the ground that the queen had not kept her pledge, to marry or name a successor, given when the last money vote was passed. The motion was carried that the business of the supply and the succession should go together.

The Lords commissioned a deputation of twenty of their body to wait upon her, calling her attention to the inconvenience of her silence. She replied to them in a very angry style, saying she did not choose that her grave should be dug whilst she was alive; that the Commons had acted to her like rebels, and durst not have behaved so to her father; that the Lords could do as they pleased, but she would regard their votes as mere empty sounds. She would never confide such high and important interests to a set of hair-brained politicians, but would appoint six grave and discreet counsellors to confer upon it, and would acquaint the Lords with their decision.

This novel and intemperate language excited an immense ferment, both within and without the walls of Parliament, and language was heard in the senate such as had not been uttered for the last several reigns. Leicester, who was in the worst humour with Cecil, for his letter to the queen in his disparagement, took the opportunity of revenging himself by mingling in the debate, and boldly charging that minister with being the man who steadily dissuaded her Majesty from marrying. Elizabeth was so incensed at this presumption in the favourite, that she forbade Leicester and Pembroke, who supported him, her presence. Never had the spirit of Parliament and of the public risen so high for centuries; much ill will was heaped on Cecil, and many curses were bestowed on Herrick, the queen's physician, for having said something professionally which had tended to deter her from marrying.

On the 27th of October both Houses joined in a petition to her, which was read by the lord keeper. This time she restrained her temper, and determined on mystifying the legislators. The following specimen of her address is unique in its line, and even equals the oratorical effusions of Cromwell for its quality of employing speech to conceal your thoughts: - "If any one here doubt that I am by vow or determination bent never to trade in that kind of life (marriage), put out that kind of heresy, for your belief is therein awry. For though I can think it best for a private woman, yet do I strive with myself to think it not meet for a prince; and if I can bend my liking to your need, I will not resist such a mind. As to the succession, the greatness of the cause, and the need of your returns, doth make me say, that which I think the wise may easily guess, that as short a time for so long a continuance, ought not to pass by rote, as many tell their tales; even so, as cause by conference with the learned shall show me matter worth the utterance for your behoof, so shall I more gladly pursue your good after my days, than with all my prayers, whilst I live, be means to linger my living thread."

But the Commons, who wanted a distinct statement of her views, and not a puzzle, were not satisfied with this. They resolved to stand by their vote, that the supply and succession should not be separated. On presenting her with a copy, she hastily scribbled at the foot of the paper these lines, which she read aloud to Mr. Speaker and thirty members, who waited on her November, 14th, 1566: - "I know no reason why any my private answers to the realm should serve for prologue to a subsidy rate; neither yet do I understand why such audacity should be, and to make without my licence an act of my words. Are my words like lawyers' books, which now-a-days go to the wire-drawers to make subtle doings more plain? Is there no hold of my speech without an act to compel me to confirm? Shall my princely consent be turned to strengthen my words, that be not of themselves substantives? Say no more at this time, but if these fellows were well answered, and paid with lawful coin, there would be no more counterfeits among them!"

The Commons pronounced this speech a breach of their privileges, and, as the legitimate course, allowed the bill for supplies to lie on the table, with the observation that, "Since the queen would not marry, she ought to be compelled to name her successor; and that her refusing to do so proceeded from feelings which could only be entertained by weak princes and faint-hearted women."

To be pronounced weak-minded or faint-hearted and womanish was of all things most repugnant to the queen's nature. But she felt it was not the moment to show further resentment; she therefore bridled her wrath, and knowing that France, Scotland, Spain, and Rome were all on the watch to combine against her if they saw the slightest symptom of disaffection at home, she sent for thirty members from each House, and, receiving them graciously, assured them of her hearty desire to do all that they required, and added that "as the Commons were willing to grant her a subsidy if she would declare her successor, she could only say that half would content her until she had determined that point, as she considered the money in her subjects' purses as good as in her own exchequer." This stroke completely threw the Commons off their guard. They granted her one-tenth and one-fifteenth, to which Convocation added four shillings in the pound. No sooner was Elizabeth in possession of this vote, than she broke out upon them, when she summoned them for dismissal. She complained bitterly of the dissimulation that they had shown, whilst she was all plainness towards them. " As for your successor," she said, you may, perhaps, have a wiser or more learned to reign over you, but one more careful for your weal you cannot have. But whether I ever live to meet you again, or whoever it may be, I bid you beware how you again try you prince's patience, as you have done mine. And now, to conclude, not meaning to make a Lent of Christmas, the most part of you may assure yourselves that you depart in your prince's grace."

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