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The Reign of Queen Elizabeth. (Continued) page 6

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The tempest around her would have broken sooner but for the refusal of Elizabeth to consent to the deposition of the queen and the crowning of the prince, which shocked all her notions of Royal authority. "To crown her son," she replied to the conspirators, "during his mother's life, was a matter, for example's sake, not to be digested by her or any other monarch." It was, in fact, a matter of secret gratulation to Elizabeth to see her hated rival, who had so strenuously persisted in maintaining her claim to her crown, thus daily sinking herself lower and lower in the world's eye. But it was with difficulty that the spirit of Mary's indignant subjects was restrained. Maitland and Huntley, though apparently friends of Bothwell's, and still retaining their posts at Court, were pledged in the secret bond to his destruction. Bothwell grew suspicious of them, and they resolved to kill him; but Mary threw herself betwixt them, and declared that if a hair of Both well's head perished, it should be at the peril of their life and lands. The conspirators kept Murray in France well informed of all that passed; and Elizabeth, though she could not aid the rebels, sent the Earl of Bedford to the north to watch every movement of both parties.

On the other hand, Mary and Bothwell dispatched Robert Melville, whom the queen deemed one of the most trusty of her servants, to Elizabeth and Cecil, with apologies for their conduct; but Melville at the same time was the sworn ally of the conspirators, and carried letters from Morton to the English queen, to whom he recommended him as the trusty friend of the combined lords.

Meantime, circumstances hastened the insurrection in Scotland. Mary had summoned her nobles to accompany her on an expedition to Liddesdale, but many disobeyed the order. Murray had now arrived in England, and was using all his influence with Elizabeth to make a movement for the expulsion of Bothwell from his usurpation; and even Maitland, who to the last had remained at Court, wearing the air of a stanch supporter of the queen, slipped away and joined the opposition. These were ominous circumstances, and suddenly, whilst the queen and Bothwell were at Borthwick Castle, about ten miles from Edinburgh, the conspirators made a rapid night march, and morning saw the castle surrounded by nearly 1,000 borderers, under the command of Hume and other border chiefs, with whom were Morton, Mar, Lindsay, Kirkaldy, and others of the nobles.

The confederates deemed the queen and Bothwell now safe in their hands, but they were deceived. Bothwell escaped through a postern to Haddington, whence he reached Dunbar; and the queen also eluding them, disguised as a man, rode booted and spurred after him. The confederates, disappointed of their grand prize, marched upon the capital, forced the gates, and entered, proclaiming that they came to revenge the death of the king, and to rescue the queen from the murderer. There the Earl of Athol and Maitland joined them, and a banner was displayed on which was painted the body of the murdered king lying under a tree, and the young prince kneeling beside it, exclaiming, "Judge and avenge my cause, O Lord!" The people flocked to this exciting standard, and they saw themselves at the head of a strong force.

Mary and Bothwell, meantime, summoned the nobles and people around Dunbar, and the Lords Seaton, Tester, and Borthwick, appeared in arms, with a body of 2,000 men. Impatient to quell the confederates at once, they marched to Seaton, where Mary issued a proclamation, declaring that all the pretences of the confederates were false; that her husband, the duke, was no murderer, but had, as they knew, been fully acquitted; she was under no restraint, but freely married to Bothwell, by consent and approbation of these very nobles; nor was her son in any danger, unless it were from them, for he was in their hands. Mary advanced and intrenched herself on Carberry Hill, in the old works which the English had thrown up before the battle of Pinkie.

The confederates marched out of Edinburgh and confronted the Royal army, eager for the battle. De Croc, the French ambassador, now attempted to mediate betwixt the two parties, and carried a message to Morton and Glencairn, offering the queen's pardon, on condition that they all returned to their allegiance; but Glencairn replied that they were not come there to seek pardon, but rather to give it those who had sinned; and Morton added, "We are not in arms against our queen, but the Duke of Orkney, the murderer of her husband, and are prepared to yield her our obedience, on condition that she dismisses him from her presence, and delivers him up to us."

It was clear that these terms must be complied with or they must fight; and it was soon perceived that the soldiers of the queen's army began to show symptoms of disaffection; Bothwell, therefore, rode forward, and defied any one who dared to accuse him of the king's murder. His challenge was accepted by James Murray of Tullibardine, the same baron who was said to have charged Bothwell with the murder, by the placard affixed to the Tolbooth gate. Bothwell declined to enter the lists with Murray, on the plea that he was not his peer, whereupon Lord Lindsay of the Byres offered himself and was accepted, but at the moment of action the queen forbade the fight. By this time the defection in the queen's army became so conspicuous that Mary rode amongst them to encourage them, assuring them of victory; but her voice had lost its charm, and the soldiers refused to fight in defence of the alleged murderer of the king. Whilst this was passing, it was observed that Kirkaldy of Grange was wheeling his forces round the hill to turn their flank, and the panic becoming general, the queen and Bothwell found themselves abandoned by all but about sixty gentlemen, and the band of hagbutters.

To prevent Grange advancing his troops so as to cut off their retreat towards Dunbar, the queen demanded a parley, which was instantly granted. Grange went forward and assured the queen that they were all prepared to obey her authority, provided she put away the man who stood by her side stained with the blood of the king. The queen promised to acquiesce, and she held a moment's conversation with Bothwell, gave him her hand, and followed Grange; Bothwell turning his horse's head and riding off in another direction, Mary did not follow Grange far till she saw Bothwell out of danger, when she reminded him that she relied on the assurances of the lords, on which Grange, kissing her Majesty's hand, took her horse by the rein, and led her towards the camp. On reaching the lines, the confederate lords received the queen on their knees, and vowed to obey and defend her as loyally as ever the nobility of the realm did her ancestors; but they very soon showed the hollowness of these professions, and the common soldiers assailed her ears with the most opprobrious language.

The very first wish that Mary expressed, that of communicating with the Hamiltons, who had advanced, as if to her aid, as far as Linlithgow, they refused. Indignant at this conduct, Mary asked them whether that was keeping their word, and how they dared to treat her as a prisoner? They returned her no answer. She then called for Lord Lindsay, noted for his fierceness, and desiring him to give her his hand, she said, "By this hand I will have your head for this." The speech was imprudent, for now the confederates, by letting Bothwell escape, had got rid of the danger of their exposure as accomplices in the murder of the king, for Bothwell held the bond signed by them; and this no doubt actuated them to let him escape, whose murder of the king they proclaimed as the cause of their rising.

The unfortunate queen at every step learned more plainly her real situation, and the faith which she was to put in these nobles. She was conducted like a captive into Edinburgh, the soldiers, with the vilest language, constantly waving before her eyes the banner on which was painted the murdered king. The mob was crowding round in thousands, shouting and yelling in execration, and the women heaped on her all the coarsest epithets of adulteress and murderess. On arriving in the city, instead of conducting her to her own palace, the perjured nobles shut her up as a solitary prisoner in the house of the provost, not even allowing her to have her women to attend her; and in the morning she was greeted by a repetition of the scenes of the previous day - the same hideous banner was hung out opposite her window, and the yells of the mob were furious. Driven to actual delirium by this treatment, she rent the clothes from her person, and almost naked attempted to speak to the raving populace. This shocking spectacle roused the sympathy of the better class of citizens, and they determined on a rescue of the insulted queen, when the heartless nobles removed her to Holyrood. There they held a council, and concluded to send her prisoner to Lochleven Castle, at Kinross, under the stern guardianship of Lindsay and the savage Ruthven.

Mary's journey to her prison was but a continued course of the same popular insult which marked her passage from Carberry Hill to the capital. She was mounted on a sorry hack, and exposed all the way to the gaze and the reproaches of the mob. Kirkaldy of Grange, who had pledged his word for her honourable treatment, remonstrated against this gross violation of their duty, but they put into his hand a letter which they said Mary had written to Bothwell whilst in their hands, declaring that she would never desert him. This was, in all likelihood, a forgery; for Mary could have little opportunity for writing or sending such a letter; and the character of these men, traitors to their sovereign from the first and most innocent part of her reign, warrants us in believing them quite ready for tho commission of all such frauds.

On securing the queen in this prison, the confederates wrote to Elizabeth and to the lung of France to justify themselves. They assured Elizabeth that their only object in taking up arms was to punish Bothwell - an object which they notoriously avoided by letting him escape. They declared, moreover, that they had never for a moment dreamt of crowning the young prince; and they finished with their usual postscript of wanting more money, on the receipt of which they pledged themselves to throw overboard all the tempting offers of France. To the King of France, who was anxious to have the prince sent to him to be brought up, they held out encouraging hopes of compliance, but took care to give him only words till they heard what Elizabeth would do: and they pressed Murray and Lennox to hasten, to Scotland.

On the 20th of June the confederates professed to have made a grand discovery - namely, a silver casket belonging to Bothwell, and containing certain sonnets and love-letters from Mary to Bothwell, completely decisive of her guilt. This casket, we shall find, came to play a conspicuous part in the after history of the Scottish queen. The whole story is suspicious; and though the lords dispatched George Douglas, one of their number, on a special mission to the Earl of Bedford on the very day of the alleged discovery, no mention is made of it at this period in the correspondence with Cecil.

Elizabeth had a difficult game to play under the present circumstances of Scotland, but she played it with her usual duplicity. She openly protested against the violation of the prerogatives of their sovereign by the lords, but privately she supported them. She was quite aware that the lords had no intention of restoring Mary to her liberty and throne, and, therefore, she could with perfect security urge them to do so; and could sympathise with Mary in her letters to her. She furnished Robert Melville with despatches suited to each party, the confederates and the queen, and sent that double-faced man home with them. She also sent Sir Nicholas Throckmorton soon after to Edinburgh as her ambassador. There the confederates were busy pretending to bring the murderers of the king to justice. They seized three: one Captain Cullen, a daring tool of Both well's, who they boasted had confessed all, but who does not seem to have been brought to trial; probably they were afraid that he might prove too much. Another, Captain Blackadder, they tried and executed, but he died protesting his innocence, and revealing nothing; and the third, one Sebastian de Villours, a foreigner, was discharged.

The public were not likely to be satisfied by these proceedings, nor the Hamiltons, who claimed the throne next to Mary and her issue, and who might probably hope that if the young prince was sent for protection to France, and Mary was reinstated, they might secure the chief power, for the Duke of Chatelherault, their head, made no secret of attempting the liberation of the queen. They were joined by Argyll, Huntley, Herries, Crawford, Seaton, and Fleming. The Archbishop of St. Andrew's, and Lesley, Bishop of Ross, were the directors of their counsels. Such a party was formidable, and the confederates flew to the clergy to rouse the people on their side. In return for these services the confederate lords promised to restore the possessions of the Church, to place all education in the hands of the clergy, and to take care that the prince was educated in the strictest principles of Protestantism. They prevailed on Knox, Douglas, Dow, and Craig, to seek an interview with the Hamiltons, and persuade them to an accommodation, but in this they failed.

1 Meantime, although Queen Mary was shut up in the Island castle of Lochleven, under the strictest surveillance, she was not idle. No confinement could be more hateful or more severe. The castle was in the keeping of Lady Margaret Erskine, daughter of Lord Erskine, who had been the mistress of James V., the father of Mary, and was by the king the mother of the Earl of Murray. She afterwards married Sir Robert Douglas, and had by him a family. Her eldest son, William Douglas, was now proprietor of the castle, but Lady Douglas always boasted that she had been the lawful wife of James V., and that therefore her son, the Earl of Murray, was the rightful heir of the throne. Mary was, in her eyes, only a usurper and supplanter of her son; and proud and stern as she was by nature, we may imagine the jealous rigour with which she executed the office of jailoress to the Queen of Scots. To aid her in this office she had the cordial assistance of those two iron men, Ruthven and Lindsay of the Byres.

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