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The Reign of Queen Elizabeth. (Continued) page 8


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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.

No sooner was Murray installed in the chief seat of power than he began to assume a very different tone from that which he had hitherto employed. To Throckmorton, the ambassador of Elizabeth, he, and his chief secretary, Maitland, spoke very largely. "Mr. Ambassador," said Maitland, in an interview sought by Murray soon after his election, and in which Throckmorton delivered the remonstrance of his mistress against their late proceedings, and her demand of liberty for the queen, "be assured nothing will be more prejudicial to her interests than for your mistress to precipitate matters. It may drive us to a strait, and compel us to measures we would gladly avoid. Hitherto have we been content to be charged with grievous and infamous titles; we have quietly suffered ourselves to be condemned as perjured rebels and unnatural traitors, rather than proceed to anything which might touch our sovereign's honour. But beware, we beseech you, that your mistress, by her continual threats and defamations, by hostility, or by soliciting other princes to attack us, do not push us beyond endurance.

"For your wars," he continued, "we know them well. You will burn our borders, and we shall burn yours; if you invade us, we do not dread it, and are sure of France; for your practices to nourish dissension amongst us, we have an eye upon them all. The Hamiltons will take your money, laugh you to scorn, and side with us. At this moment we have an offer of an agreement with them in our hands. The queen, your mistress, declares she wishes only for our sovereign's liberty, and her restoration to her dignity; but is equally zealous for the preservation of the king, the punishment of the murder, and the safety of the lords. To accomplish our queen's liberty much has been done; for the rest, absolutely nothing. Why does not her majesty fit out some ships of war to apprehend Bothwell, and pay 1,000 soldiers to reduce the forts and protect the king? When this is in hand we shall think her sincere; but for her charge to set our sovereign forthwith at liberty, and to restore her to her dignity, it is enough to reply to such strange language, that we are the subjects of another prince, and know not the queen's majesty for our sovereign."

Throckmorton, after listening to this new language, turned to Murray, and said that he trusted that such sentiments did not meet his approval; that he was not "banded" with these lords, nor had joined in their excesses. But Murray very soon undeceived him, by indorsing all that had been said, and declaring that, being made regent, lie would reduce all men to obedience in the king's name, or that it should cost him his life.

Throckmorton at once informed Elizabeth that his stay there was now useless, and obtained his recall. On taking his leave he requested an interview with Mary, which, as he expected, was refused; but a piece of plate was pressed on his acceptance in the name of the king, which he declined with very decided expressions, and quitted the capital for England on the 29th of August.

Murray now endeavoured to strengthen himself in his government with much vigour. Bothwell was still at large, capable any day of exposing the Council's participation in Darnley's murder; there were the actual perpetrators also at liberty, and in danger of divulging too much; there were castles and forts in the hands of the queen's party. In the first place he dispatched Grange and Tullibardine with three armed vessels in quest of Bothwell. This desperado had been suffered quietly to retire to his castle of Dunbar. Thence he passed by water into Morayshire, where he remained some time, consulting with the friends of Mary on the possibility of rescuing her, and next sought shelter in the Orkneys, where his nominal subjects refused to receive him. On this he took to the sea with a band of pirates, and vowed to scour the ocean with a blood-red flag. In this course he was overtaken by the ships of Grange and Tullibardine; and, in endeavouring to escape from them, was driven by a tempest on the coast of Norway. On being discovered, Frederick the king refused to see him, and sent him prisoner to the castle of Malmo, in Schonen. Thence, at different times, he addressed the king in vindication of his conduct, and made him an offer of the Orkneys and Shetland Islands, to be annexed to the Crown of Denmark and Norway, on condition that he should fit out an expedition for the liberation of the Queen of Scots. The offer was declined, and Bothwell lingered in prison till 1576, when he died. Both Murray and Lennox, during his short regency, claimed Bothwell of the King of Denmark, but; he refused to give him up; and on his death-bed he is said to have confessed that Murray, Morton, and himself perpetrated the murder of Darnley, but that Mary was perfectly innocent of it. Mary, whilst in captivity in England, endeavoured to get a copy of this confession, or testament as it is called: Elizabeth was said to have received a copy, but suppressed it, as it exculpated Mary; and another was said to have found its way to the Court of Scotland, and was afterwards published by Keith, but deserves no credit.

Murray next made a bargain with Sir James Balfour, who held the castle of Edinburgh, for its surrender. Balfour was the intimate friend of Bothwell, and one of the most notorious of the murderers of the king: but this did not prevent Murray from giving him both immunity and reward on condition of his yielding the castle. The villain bargained for a sum of 5,000 paid down, a full indemnity for his share in the murder, the priory of Pittenweem for himself, and an annuity to his son. Murray gave all these without hesitation, showing that, notwithstanding his declaration of his resolve to punish the murderers of the king, he cared only for his own advantage. In two days after obtaining the regency he was in possession of the castle.

But whilst he thus let the chief actors escape, he determined to be rid of the inferior ones. Captain Blackadder, we have seen, was already executed; he now arrested John Hay of Tollo, Durham, a page of the king, black John Spens, John Blackadder, and James Edmonson. But no sooner did he attempt to proceed with the trial of these men, than Hay began to open up such a scene of villany, and to implicate so many in high places, that the trials were postponed, and the parties kept close in prison.

Murray now proceeded to summon the castle of Dunbar, still held for Bothwell, to suppress some disturbance of the Hamiltons, and on the 15th of September announced to Cecil that the whole kingdom was quiet. On the loth of December he summoned a Parliament, which sanctioned the transfer of the Crown, and the appointment of the regency, declared the Protestant religion the religion of the State, but refused to restore to the clergy the property of the Church as had been promised. The imprisonment of the queen was confirmed, and a bill was passed exonerating all the lords who had risen to prosecute thy murder, and declaring that they should never be subject to any prosecution for what they had done. But it required much management to prevent the crimes of these nobles bringing them into trouble; and Murray was compelled to resort to such flagrant partiality in order to screen them, as soon brought him into great discredit.

It appeared that the jewels of Mary, her apparel, and other effects, had been deposited in the castle of Edinburgh. On its surrender to Murray by Sir James Balfour. he delivered the jewels and apparel to Murray; but the "bond" in which the murderers had bound themselves to that act, and which Bothwell had kept possession of, was seized by Maitland and committed to the flames, thus extinguishing this evidence of guilt, bearing the signatures of himself, Huntley, Argyll, and Balfour, according to the assertion of Ormiston, one of the accomplices, who had seen it. Along with the jewels, was said to be found the celebrated silver box, which was submitted by Morton to the Privy Council. In this bo*x, or casket, were certain letters of the queen to Bothwell, and love sonnets: but as Mary was never permitted to see them, or to have them tested by her friends, they may have been forgeries prepared by these murderers and usurpers, to justify themselves by criminating the queen, making her cognisant of the murder of her husband. Murray suffered these to be preserved and exposed, to the dishonour of his sister, whilst he allowed the bond of the assassins to be destroyed before his face. These facts, distinctly stated in the letters of Bedford, Randolph, and Drury, to Cecil, still in the State Paper Office, began to tell strongly on the public against Murray; and the proceedings against the ruffians who did the bloody work of these sanguinary lords, wofully confirmed it. We have seen how the disclosures of Hay of Tollo had startled Murray and his accomplices, and made them thrust him and his fellows back into their dungeons. Meantime, Grange and Tullibardine, though they had failed in the main object of their expedition, the seizure of Bothwell, had secured one of his ships containing Hepburn of Bolton, one of the accomplices; and his confession, taken in private, was of a like tenor with that of Hay. It was, therefore, deemed the only safe course, to prevent their disclosures becoming public to the certain conviction of the real instigators of the murder, to get them out of the world as fast as possible. They were, therefore, arraigned - that is, Hepburn, Hay, Dalgleish, and Powrie - convicted, and hanged in all haste on one day, the 3rd of January, 1583. Yet they did not entirely succeed in suppressing the truth. Hepburn, on the scaffold, boldly proclaimed that not only Bothwell, but Argyll, Huntley, and Maitland, had signed the bond for the king's death, 'Notwithstanding this, no inquiry took place, for these were the very man who maintained Murray in his place. The judicial confessions of this very man, however, as well as the rest, were garbled, and afterwards brought forward in England, in proof that they implicated no one but Bothwell and themselves. To conceive a complete idea of the iniquity by which these proceedings were accomplished, we must include the facts that Argyll, one of the authors of the murder, was Lord Justice-General, that the confessions were made before the Privy Council - and who were these Privy Councillors? The chief of them were Morton, Huntley, Argyll, Maitland, and Balfour, all parties to the murder; whilst Murray, the regent and ruler, was the man called and set up by this extraordinary junto of assassins.

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