OREALD.COM - An Old Electronic Library
eng: a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

The Reign of Queen Elizabeth. (Continued) page 7

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 <7> 8 9 10 11 12 13

This resistance of the queen was noised abroad by the confederates, through both press and pulpit; and the public mind was worked up to such a pitch, that the populace began to cry for her head if she would not consent to give up Bothwell. There was now a new doctrine advanced, calculated not only to alarm Mary but Elizabeth herself; it was that of the right of the nation to call its sovereign to account for any crimes that he or she might commit. "It is a public speech," wrote the astonished Throckmorton to Elizabeth, "that their queen hath no more liberty nor privilege to commit murder or adultery than any private person, neither by the laws of God nor the laws of the realm."

Knox, Craig, the rest of the ministers of the Church, with the celebrated Buchanan, promulgated loudly this startling doctrine, destined to take such effect on the grandson of Queen Mary, and to produce such marvellous consequences in this and other kingdoms. It was a doctrine greedily imbibed by the people, and the General Assembly taking advantage of it, proceeded to call upon the Lords of the Secret Council to bring the queen to trial and put her to death. Throckmorton remonstrated with them most solemnly against any such proceeding, and the Assembly, lowering its tone, determined to send to her Lords Lindsay and Ruthven and Robert Melville. They carried with them three instruments ready prepared for the queen's signature: by the first she resigned the crown to her son; by the second she appointed Murray regent till lie was of age; and by the third constituted the Duke of Chatelherault, the Earls of Lennox, Argyll, Atholl, Morton, Glencairn, and Mar, a council of regency till the arrival of Murray, with power to continue in that office if he refused the charge.

Melville was employed to prepare Mary by exciting her terrors. He was first admitted, and assured her that if she refused to sign these papers her death was certain. To induce her more readily to comply, he hinted to her that her signing under restraint would be wholly invalid, and might enable her at some fortunate moment to repudiate them, and he brought messages to the same purport from Atholl, Maitland, and Throckmorton. Mary indignantly refused, but on the entrance of Lindsay, who had never forgotten her menace of the loss of his head at Carberry, his stern countenance and fierce manner so overawed her that, probably inwardly adopting Melville's suggestion, she took the pen and without even reading the documents signed them all. So far the confederates had obtained a grand triumph, but before it was completed they must perpetrate another illegal outrage. It was necessary that this resignation and appointment should pass the privy seal, and when Ruthven and Lindsay presented the deeds to Thomas Sinclair, deputy-keeper, he refused to affix the seal, the queen being under restraint; on which Lindsay collected a posse of his retainers, assaulted the keeper in his house, and compelled him to affix the seal by force.

The Lords of the Secret Council now lost no time in completing their work, and crowning the young king. The Hamiltons, however, refused to admit of it, till it was conceded that it should in no way prejudice the right of the Duke of Chatelherault; and Knox contended that he should not be anointed, which was a mere Jewish rite, but simply crowned. This latter point was overruled; and the infant being carried in the arms of Mar, his governor, from the castle to the high church in Stirling, and the Lords Lindsay and Ruthven swearing a most false oath - a little matter to them - that the queen resigned the crown to her son of her own free will, James VI. was there crowned by the Bishop of Orkney, on the 29th of July, 1567. Bonfires, dancing, and universal mirth throughout the city testified the real exultation of the people.

Elizabeth, on receiving the news of the deposition of the Queen of Scots, expressed the utmost indignation. She did not like Mary, but she respected in her the rights of sovereigns, and regarded with horror such new and ominous proceedings as that of subjects at will discrowning their sovereigns. Besides, the confederates had taken care to hold their new king fast, and to send for Murray, so that there was a great probability that the Scottish Government would adopt a tone of independence to which it had long been unaccustomed. She, therefore, instructed Throckmorton to keep aloof from the coronation, which he did, and to put in her most decided remonstrance against the whole proceeding. But the confederate lords, who had come to Edinburgh to await the arrival of Murray, paid a visit to Throckmorton though he would not go to them, and after hearing his remonstrance, showed him the folly of it. They communicated to him that the Hamiltons, through the Archbishop of St. Andrew's and the Abbot of Kilwinning, had proposed to execute the queen, as the best mode of reconciling all parties. They contended that if she ever recovered her liberty she might marry and have numbers of children, whereas now there was nobody but this crowned child betwixt their claim and the throne.

Throckmorton expressed his horror at this disclosure of the murderous treachery of the Hamiltons, who had so lately professed themselves the stanch friends of the queen; and suggested that it was policy as foolish as it was wicked, for the queen might be brought to divorce herself from Bothwell, and marry a son of the duke's or a brother of Argyll's. To this Murray of Tullibardine replied, that all that had been discussed, and the Hamiltons deemed nothing so secure as the queen's death.

All obstacles being removed to his triumphant return, the Earl of Murray set out from France for Scotland. This able, but cold-blooded and unprincipled man, had, as we have seen, always taken care, after putting into play the machinery which should serve his own ambition, to retire out of the way, and leave others to do the dirty and bloody work. Like the spider, however, he kept up a close watch in the distant obscurity of his retreat, and was ready to start forward at the right moment, and secure his own advantage. Had he been as generous and just as he was clever, he would have been one of the great men of the age. Had he stood firmly by his sister, he might have corrected the defects in her character, protected her from her enemies, the most dangerous of which were her own ardent feelings, and led her and himself through a noble career of prosperity and material blessing.

He had sent to Elizabeth, by Elphinstone, to represent himself as his sister's friend and defender, and, therefore, Elizabeth received him on his way through London, and expected to find him such as he had professed himself. She calculated that, with his friendship, the Queen of Scots would be maintained in her private position in security as a check against the ambition of the nobles; but Murray, with all his art, had not the policy to conceal his true sentiments, and Elizabeth perceived, with astonishment and anger at the deceit which he had practised upon her, that he was a decided enemy to his sister, the ex-queen. They rose in their conversation to high words, and parted with mutual ill-will.

Murray now pretended that much as he had been disposed to support the cause of Mary, he had recently received such proofs of her guilt as entirely changed his sentiments towards her; at the same time it was well known that he had been in the most constant and complete communication with the confederates, through their whole proceedings. But he now saw the supreme power within his grasp, during the minority of his nephew, and he began to withdraw his mask.

This arch-dissimulator proceeded on his way, accompanied by M. de Lignerolles, the French envoy commissioned to convey a message to the lords of the Council, but in reality sent to keep a strict watch on the proceedings of both them and the regent. He was met at Berwick by Sir James Makgill, lord clerk-registrar, and Sir James Melville, sent by the two parties, those most desperate against the queen, and those inclined to more moderate measures. Makgill urged on Murray the absolute necessity of his accepting the regency; but the hypocritical statesman professed to have many scruples, and rode on.

At the Bound Rode, a line separating the two countries, he found 400 noblemen and gentlemen assembled to receive him. They rode on with him to Whittingham, where Morton and Maitland also received him. Only eighteen months before, the death of Darnley had been planned by Bothwell and these very men, and afterwards the resolution communicated to Murray. He had now reaped the benefit of the deed from which he had seemed to keep aloof; and on Morton and Maitland congratulating him on the success of their plans, the pious Murray now expressed deep horror of the deed and declared his resolution to take vengeance for it.

On arriving in the capital, he was received by the assembled population of nobles, clergy, and commons, with enthusiastic acclamations, for they all looked to him as the man who was to establish all their claims, to fix Protestantism as the established faith, to give the clergy confirmation of the Church property, to please the people by maintaining a noble guardianship of their infant king, and to sanction all the revolutionary measures by his near kinship to the king they had set up and the queen they had put down. Such was his pretended conscientiousness, that he would decide on nothing till the whole history of the late transactions, with all the proofs, had been duly laid before him, and he had had time to weigh them well. The evidences of Mary's guilt were spread before him; and so well did he act his part, that the deep and practised Throckmorton was satisfied that he was proceeding on most sincere and honourable motives. The English minister promised his best endeavours to reconcile his mistress to the new state of things; De Lignerolles anticipated no lasting difficulties on the part of France; the opposition of the Hamiltons appeared to nielt away; and the conscientious Murray at length expressed himself almost persuaded to accept the regency. Only one point repelled him: the resignation of the crown, the transfer of it to her son, and his own appointment as regent, he said, was asserted to have been extorted by force. If that were the fact, nothing could induce him to accept the office, and he demanded to see the queen and learn from her own lips the truth. This demand appeared to startle the lords, for Murray had expressed to Throckmorton, if not to others, much pity and concern for his sister; but he had no doubt expressed himself otherwise to some of the lords, for, after a seeming reluctance, his request was conceded.

On the 15th of August, Murray made this visit, and was accompanied by Lindsay, Morton, and Atholl. This interview was one of the most painful which history can show. Murray was all that he was through the generosity of his unhappy sister. Throughout her life she had delighted to honour, to elevate, to enrich him. She had to the last moment demonstrated her confidence in him, and though he had stood aloof in the days of her indignities and distress, she had yet placed him, by her own free-will - for she had offered that before called on to sign the three documents - in the post of supreme authority. A noble-minded man, with the firmness and authority of Murray, would now have repaid all these benefits; and, if he could not restore his only sister, he might have shielded her from insult, and made her retirement as easy as possible.

Mary received the deputation with natural agitation. She complained passionately and with tears of the wrongs she had suffered, and then, taking Murray aside, she conjured him to be candid with her, and to let her know what her enemies intended and what he intended. But the brother, who had basked in the sunshine of her prosperity, who had so lately even professed to be her warm and stanch friend, was now cold, gloomy, and reserved. After supper she again, conversed with him in private; she appealed to him as a brother, her only friend, her only near relative, and conjured him, if he could not make up his mind to serve her, at least to let her know his will. She told him that he was her only dependence; and if he did not stand by her, where was she to look? Any man of ordinary feeling, thus appealed to by an affectionate sister, who had covered him with benefits, and who had never, whatever was her guilt, sinned against him, would have felt bound to alleviate her suffering as much as possible, if he could not have removed it altogether. But this heartless man only wished to secure at her expense the utmost advantage to himself. He, therefore, commenced a ruthless examination of her past life, and drew as foul and revolting a picture of it as his powers of mind enabled him. It was done more, says Throckmorton, in the spirit of an ascetic confessor than a counsellor, much less a brother. The murder of Darnley, the plain guilt of Bothwell, her criminal passion for him, her obstinate refusal to surrender him, the shameful parade of this before all the people, their consequent utter and hopeless alienation, the proofs of all this from her own letters, and the determination of the lords to bring her to mortal punishment for it, were all piled upon her outraged and affrighted soul with a pitiless cruelty which overwhelmed her in agony and despair. It was in vain that she interrupted him to protest, to deny, to explain, he went on in merciless rigour with his narrative; and when, crushed by the recital and the menaced doom, she appealed, in terms that might have softened a tiger, to him for succour and protection, he coldly bade her look to God for mercy, and withdrew to his chamber.

The next morning, having allowed a night of inconceivable horror to subdue her to his mood, when she sent for him, he assumed a more conciliating tone; professed that he would do everything in his power to save her life - nay, he would even sacrifice his own for it; but then he reminded her that he had to contend with every party in the nation, with the lords, the Church, and the people. He warned her, therefore, that if she attempted to escape, or to intrigue with the French or English Government, or retained her stubborn attachment to Bothwell, no effort of his could save her. If, on the contrary, she was careful to avoid correspondence with England and France, expressed sincere penitence, and abandoned Bothwell, she, had much to hope for as far as life was concerned, but as to liberty, she must entertain no hope of it at present.

Thus this artful man tied, as it were, her hands, and secured his own position at all points, even whilst he affected to feel the charge of the regency too perilous for him. Mary clasped him in her arms, and, in the most agonised terms, implored him to accept the regency, as the only means of saving her life and securing the rights of her son. Murray declined, and it was only after a long conflict that he appeared to give way; and the overjoyed queen requested him to take charge of her jewels, and whatever articles of value she possessed, and then to secure all the forts without delay. Thus, whilst he made the queen appear to have gained her object, he had in reality gained his; and leaving her filled with gratitude to him, he returned to Morton, Ruthven, and Atholl, and recommending Lindsay and Douglas to use the queen gently, took his leave. From Lochleven he and his grim companions took their way to Stirling on a visit to the king. On the 22nd of August, Murray was solemnly proclaimed regent amid the acclamations of the people, and the intelligence of the fact dispatched to the Courts of France and England.

<<< Previous page <<< >>> Next page >>>
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 <7> 8 9 10 11 12 13

Pictures for The Reign of Queen Elizabeth. (Continued) page 7

Murder of Rizzio
Murder of Rizzio >>>>
Holyrood House
Holyrood House >>>>
Lord Darnley
Lord Darnley >>>>
Queen Elizabeth and her Parliament
Queen Elizabeth and her Parliament >>>>
Surrender of Mary Queen of Scots at Carberry Hill
Surrender of Mary Queen of Scots at Carberry Hill >>>>
Mary Stuart
Mary Stuart >>>>
Mary Queen of Scots in Imprisonment
Mary Queen of Scots in Imprisonment >>>>
Queen Mary protesting
Queen Mary protesting >>>>
Memento Mori Watch of Mary Queen of Scots
Memento Mori Watch of Mary Queen of Scots >>>>
Assassination of the Regent Murray
Assassination of the Regent Murray >>>>
Queen Elizabeths Kitchen
Queen Elizabeths Kitchen >>>>

Home | Privacy Policy | Copyright | About