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The Reign of Queen Elizabeth. (Continued) page 9

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To maintain his pre-eminence, it was necessary that Murray should bribe these coadjutors and supporters. To Maitland he gave the sheriff ship of Lothian; to Hume, that of Lauderdale; to Morton, the post of Lord High Admiral, forfeited by Bothwell; to Kirkaldy, the governorship of Edinburgh Castle; to Huntley and Argyll, his daughter and his sister-in-law in marriage. But he could not satisfy them, and they soon began to look coldly on each other; whilst less favoured men, or those who thought themselves so in comparison of their imagined merits, grew jealous and hostile. Herries and the Melvilles, the Hamiltons, and Atholl were all suspected of disaffection and resentment. Balfour, with all his great bargain, did not deem himself sufficiently paid or respected, and quitted the Court in disgust. As for Maitland, he was double-faced to every party from the beginning; and the people, perceiving, as their passions subsided, the real state of things, were the most ill-affected of all. Instead of the glory and power to which Murray imagined himself mounting, by baseness in himself, upon base materials, he found himself in the midst of a discordant chaos of hateful and incompatible natures. Whilst all seemed crumbling and shaking around him, an earthquake suddenly heaved beneath his feet.

The queen, seeing herself deserted and deceived by Murray, and destined by him to perpetual captivity, resolved to exert every faculty to effect her escape. Probably some rumours of the unsatisfactory condition of the Government, and the returning affection of the people, had penetrated the recesses of her prison-house. She assumed gradually an air of resignation, of cheerfulness. Instead of treating the Douglases with the, haughty distance of an injured captive, she opened to them the natural charms of her mind and conversation. No person, man or woman, could long remain insensible to her fascinations. George Douglas, a younger brother of the house of Lochleven, became deeply in love with her; and the proud mother relaxed her severity, and in the brilliant prospect of a marriage of this young and gallant son with the Queen of Scotland, forgot the interests of her son the regent, who left her to occupy, distant from Court, the odious office of a turnkey. George Douglas entered into the plot to effect the queen's escape, with all the ardour of youth and passion. He had planned to convey her to shore disguised as a laundry-woman, but on the passage she was detected by the remarkable whiteness and delicacy of her hands, and was carried back, whilst Douglas was expelled from the castle.

The most rigid surveillance was now maintained over Mary; but, with her indefatigable lover on shore, she never despaired. He was more useful there than in the castle, for he was flying about rousing the Hamiltons and the Seatons to muster their forces, and to be ready at some favourable moment to receive and defend her. Within the castle he had a very ingenious coadjutor in a relative, William Douglas, a boy of fifteen or sixteen, called the Little Douglas. The Little Douglas acted as page to the castellan; and on Sunday, the 2nd of May$ 1568, he contrived, while waiting at supper, to drop a napkin over the key of the castle, which lay at the castellan's side, and abstract it unobserved. He new with it to the queen, who, taking one of her maidens with her, hurried down to the outer gate, which they locked after them, and flinging the key into the lake, entered the boat and rowed away. The signal to the parties on the watch on shore, was to be a light left in a particular window of the castle. The boy had not forgotten this, and Lord Seaton and a party of his own people and the Hamiltons were eagerly awaiting them on the shore. A man, lying at length on the shore, soon gave notice that he could perceive a female figure with two attendants flying hastily from the outer gate of the castle, and springing into the boat. Soon the preconcerted sign, the white veil of the queen with its red fringe was visible, and presently the little boat approaching, Mary sprang on shore, in the rapture of recovered freedom. The faithful George Douglas was the first to receive her; she was immediately surrounded by Lord Seaton and his friends, and being mounted on a swift steed, they galloped with all speed to the ferry, crossed, and pursued their flight to Niddry, in West Lothian, where the next day she proceeded to Hamilton, attended by Lord Claud Hamilton, who had met them on the road with fifty horse. At Niddry she had snatched time to write a hasty announcement of her escape to France; and, true to her unconquerable affection to Bothwell, dispatched a letter to him, sending Hepburn of Riccarton to D unbar to summon the castle to surrender to her, and then to speed onwards to Denmark, and convey to Bothwell the news of her freedom.

The news of the escape of the queen flew like lightning in every direction; the people, forgetting her failings in her beauty and her sufferings, gathered amain to her standard; she who a few days before saw herself a deserted captive, now beheld herself at the head of 6,000 men. Many of the nobility, and some of those who had sinned deeply against her, now flocked around her. Argyll, Cassillis, Eglinton, and Rothes, Somerville, Tester, Livingstone, Harris, Fleming, Ross, Borthwick, and other lords and gentlemen, joined her at Hamilton. To these she at once declared that her resignation of the crown was an act of force and not of will: her council declared by a resolution the whole of the proceedings by which Murray had become regent were treasonable and void. Nine earls, nine bishops, eighteen lords, twelve abbots and priors, and nearly a hundred barons signed a bond pledging themselves to defend her, and to restore to her her crown and kingdom.

But, though rejoiced at this wonderful demonstration of the reaction of the public in her favour, Mary, with her usual tendency to kindness and forgiveness, dispatched a messenger to Murray with offers of pardon and reconciliation. The regent was at the moment at Glasgow, not eight miles from the queen's camp, with few of his friends or troops at hand. The blow came like a thunderbolt, and the effect became instantaneously evident. Numbers began to steal away to join the royal standard, and ordinary prudence would hare dictated acceptance of the queen's offer. But Murray, who could not forgive under such circumstances, and who knew that his participation in the murder scheme was now no secret, could not really believe in forgiveness in the injured queen. His selfish instinct and his ambition at once decided him to reject the proposal, though his cunning led him to seem to weigh it. He begged time to reflect, and passed that time in writing a proclamation, and dispatching couriers to call up his allies in all haste. There were plenty whose consciences, like his own, prompted the instant conviction that their only safety lay in resistance; and Morton, Glencairn, Lennox, who fought to avenge his son, Semple, Mar, and Grange, mustered their forces, and hastened to his support. In ten days he found himself in possession of a body of 4,000 men.

Mary, on her part, proposed to make for Dumbarton Castle, which had never been yielded by her firm adherent Lord Fleming, and there to make her position as strong as possible till her friends had time to gather in overwhelming force. Meantime she dispatched a messenger to England to solicit the support of Elizabeth, who professed herself determined to send to her her warm congratulations, and the fullest promises of support, provided she would follow her councils, and not call in foreign aid. At the same time M. de Beaumont, the French ambassador, entered her camp, and offered his services to procure an accommodation with Murray. But Mary's wise plan of retiring to Dumbarton, and there awaiting the accumulation of troops in her interest, was defeated by the rash and overbearing conduct of the Hamiltons, who were bent on falling on Murray and crushing him at once. Mary prevailed on them still to march towards Dumbarton; but on the way, falling in with Murray, they rushed headlong into the fight, and risked everything.

Murray, on the first news of their movement, marched out of Glasgow, and took possession of a small hamlet called Langside, surrounded by gardens and orchards, which occupied each side of a steep narrow lane directly in the way of the queen's army. Instead of avoiding this position, and making their way to Dumbarton by another course, Lord Claud Hamilton charged the troops there posted with his cavalry, 2,000 strong, in perfect confidence of driving them thence; but the hagbutters, who had screened themselves behind walls and trees, poured in on the cavalry a deadly fire which threw them into confusion. Lord Hamilton cheered them on to renew the charge, and with great valour they pushed forward and drove the enemy before them. But, pursuing them up the steep hill, they suddenly found themselves face to face with Murray's advance, composed of the finest body of border pikemen, and commanded by Morton, Home, Ker of Cessford, and the barons of the Merse, all fighting on foot at the heads of their divisions. The battle was unequal, for the troops of Murray were fresh, whilst those of the queen were out of breath with their up-hill battle. Notwithstanding, the main body of the queen's forces coming up, there was a severe battle, and the right of the regent's army began to give way. Grange, who was watching the field from above, quickly brought up reinforcements from the main body, and made so furious a charge on the queen's left as to scatter it into fragments; and Murray, who had waited with the reserve for the decisive moment, rushed forward with so much impetuosity, that the main battle of the queen was broken, and the flight became general. Mary, who had surveyed the conflict from the castle of Crookstane, on a neighbouring eminence, and about four miles from Paisley, beholding the route of her army, turned her horse and fled, and never drew bit till she found herself at the abbey of Dundrennan, in Galloway. She was accompanied by Lords Herries, Fleming, and Livingstone.

So rash and so ill-conducted was this decisive battle - a battle which involved such momentous interests, that it lasted only three-quarters of an hour. Only one man, it is said, fell on the side of the regent, and only 300 on that of the queen - or half that number, as some authorities contend. Ten pieces of cannon and a great many distinguished prisoners were taken, amongst them Lords Seaton and Ross, the eldest sons of the Earls of Eglinton and Cassillis, Robert and Andrew Melville, and a long list of lairds and gentlemen.

If Mary had fled to the east coast, secured a vessel and made her way to France, she would have met with a cordial reception. Unfortunately, she was always too trusting; and, judging of Elizabeth as she felt she should have acted herself if she had fled to her for protection from her rebellious subjects, she was impatient to reach the soil of England, where she deemed she should be safe. The nobles and the rest around her, forming a juster estimate of the character of Elizabeth, knelt and implored their sovereign not to enter the English borders till she had some guarantee for her safety. Lord Herries wrote, says Chalmers, on Saturday, the loth of May, to Lowther, the deputy-captain of Carlisle, informing him of the queen's misfortune, and desiring to know, if she should be reduced to the necessity of seeking refuge in England, if she might come safely to Carlisle. Lowther wrote a doubtful answer, saying that Lord Scroope, the warden of that march, was at London, to whom he had written but if the queen should be pressed by necessity to cross the borders, he would meet her and protect her till his mistress's pleasure were known; but such was her terror of falling again into the hands of her cold-blooded brother and the lords, that, without waiting for the answer, she entered a boat, and with her riding-dress soiled with her flight, and without any change of raiment, without a shilling in her pocket, she landed at Workington, in Cumberland. Here she wrote to Elizabeth, expressing her strong confidence that Elizabeth would receive her and protect her against her rebellious subjects. She concluded her letter with these words: - "It is my earnest request that your majesty will send for me as soon as possible, for my condition is pitiable, not to say for a queen, but even for a simple gentlewoman. I have no other dress than that in which I escaped from, the field. My first day's ride was sixty miles across the country, and I have not since dared to travel except by night."

Elizabeth, on reading this letter, felt that Mary was now entirely in her power; and all her art was exerted to draw her over into the heart of the kingdom, so that she could neither retreat nor escape to France. She took every measure to avoid alarming her. She dispatched letters to the sheriff of Cumberland, commanding him to treat the Scottish queen with all honour, but to keep the strictest watch over her, and to prevent any possibility of escape. She sent Sir Francis Knollys with letters of condolence, and ordered Lady Scroope to give her her personal attendance. But there wanted that genuine cordial tone in Elizabeth's letters which alone could assure her; and the manner of those placed about her inspired her with misgivings. Doubts seem to have been suffered to escape as to the probability of her reception by the queen, from the suspicions which attached to her of connivance in the plot against her husband. Alarmed by these circumstances, Mary wrote again to Elizabeth, urging her to allow her to come at once to her, and explain and satisfy her of everything. She said she had sent Lord Herries to communicate with her, and Lord Fleming to bear her letters to France; and she desired that, if any one had succeeded in prejudicing the queen against her, she might be allowed to depart the realm as freely as she had come. She had been detained like a prisoner, she said, for fifteen days, and she confessed that it felt to her strange and hard. She accompanied this letter by a ring, to which some particular circumstance attached, and which was probably the gift of Elizabeth. It bore the impression of a heart: and she added, "Remember, I have kept my promise. I have sent you my heart in the ring, and now I have brought to you both heart and body to knit more firmly the tie which binds us together."

But nothing was farther from Elizabeth's intentions than to enter on friendly and amicable terms with the Queen of Scots. She had never forgiven her the offence of insisting on her claims of succession to the crown of England. She had a personal jealousy of the fame of her superior beauty; and, with such a counsellor as Cecil, it was certain that a selfish and suspicious policy would prevail. In. those clays, honour and high principle were of little account: expediency was the only statesmanship. It was, therefore, easy for Elizabeth and her ministers to plead the accusations against Mary - the imprudence of her conduct, and her still unabated infatuation for the murderer Both well. Mary was a firm Papist, Murray was a high professing Protestant, and to favour him and his party was to be the champion of Protestantism. To let Mary escape to France was not to be thought of, for of all things it was essential to keep asunder the union of French and Scottish interests. It was clear, therefore, that Mary must be detained in England, at least for the present; and little, under all circumstances, could be said against it, so that she was detained as became a queen and a relative. But here again the cold, base, and ungenerous policy, which was the natural offspring of Cecil's narrow but clear-sighted mind, unfortunately prevailed. It was urged that it was most dangerous to permit Mary to have, as it were, open access, and to hold open Court, amongst the discontented Papists of England, and that her arrival had made a lively impression on those Catholics of the north, and many indignant words were uttered on the flagrant injustice and discourtesy of keeping her as a prisoner. These had such an effect on Sir Francis Knollys, that he did not hesitate to declare his impatience of being placed in the position of her gaoler.

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