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Reign of Queen Elizabeth. (Continued) page 10


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In the growing misery of this jealousy of the Royal captive and of all around her in the mind of Elizabeth, the Scottish queen was subjected to ever augmenting rigour and indignity. The number of her attendants was reduced; allowance for her table was curtailed; almost every person, except her guards, was excluded from her presence; she was allowed to write and correspond only that her letters might be intercepted, and the motions of her mind and of her friends thus discovered. At Sheffield Park, where she now was, she was never suffered to quit her apartments except for a promenade in the courtyard or on the leads, for which indulgence she had to give an hour's notice, that the earl or countess might attend her. But at length there was no danger of her escaping, for the closeness and the anxieties of her confinement prostrated her health; and she was either confined to her bed, or only able to quit it for support in a chair, in which she was carried to and fro.

Not even Burleigh, who would gladly have seen Mary in her grave, could preserve himself from suspicions of intriguing with Mary. Buxton, in the Peak of Derbyshire, had recently become celebrated for its waters in the relief of gout; and Burleigh, who was suffering from that complaint, made two journeys thither. Suddenly it flashed on the busy brain of Elizabeth, or was suggested by some of her host of spies, that the real object of her minister was not ease from the gout, but to carry on some scheme with the Scottish queen. She charged him roundly with the fact, and bade him take heed what he was doing, and long retained in her soul the appalling suspicion. That Burleigh did correspond with her keeper, Shrewsbury, unknown to Elizabeth, is proved by his letters in Lodge, where we find him detaining an epistle a whole week before he could, with all the means at his command, find a person in whom he had sufficient confidence to entrust it to.

In no quarter had Elizabeth for a long time any security except in Scotland. There Morton was her faithful ally, inasmuch as she held fast the King of Scots, and so guaranteed the chief means of his own tranquil enjoyment of power. But Morton's rule was not such as any country would long tolerate. He was essentially a base and selfish man, and his severity and rapacity alienated the public from him more and more. He debased the coin, multiplied forfeitures to enrich himself, appropriated to himself the estates of the Church, and at the same time was so subservient to Elizabeth, that the national pride resented it. In 1578, Atholl and Argyll made their way to the presence of the young king, who was now approaching thirteen years of age, and assured him that it was now quite time that he freed himself from the tutelage of Morton and ruled the country himself. James readily listened to them, and sent Morton an order to resign, and to attend a council at Stirling, where the friends of Atholl and Argyll were summoned.

Morton, though taken by surprise, appeared to obey with perfect acquiescence; but he lost no time in intriguing with the Erskines, and in three months had again possessed himself of the person of the king, and resumed his authority in the State. Atholl and Argyll mustered their friends to force the reins from the hands of Morton, who boldly met them in the field, when the ambassador of England appeared as a mediator, and persuaded them to a reconciliation. But it was not in the nature of Morton to forget the opponents of his power, although they now appeared as nominal friends. He invited Atholl, the chief actor in his late fall, to a banquet, from which he retired, as Mar had done, to die. Like Mar, he was poisoned. Secure as he now seemed, he let loose his vengeance on his enemies; and the Hamiltons, the friends of Mary, were compelled, spite of the treaty of Perth, to fly to England for security; and being freed from their restraint, he. indulged freely his insatiable avarice at the expense of the country.

But justice reached this minister of evil when it was least expected. Esme Stuart, the Lord of Aubigny, a son of the younger brother of the Earl of Lennox, who had become naturalised in France, returned to Scotland. With a handsome person and French accomplishments, he soon captivated the young monarch, who could not live at any period of his life without a favourite. He created Aubigny captain of the guard, first lord of the bed-chamber, and finally Duke of Lennox, being the nephew of the late earl, and cousin of Darnley. Associated with Lennox was another and far more deep and designing Stuart - James, commonly called Captain Stuart, the second son of Lord Ochiltree. He was also related to the king, and lent essential aid to Lennox, not only from his genius for intrigue, but because Lennox was suspected of being an emissary of the Duke of Guise. Lennox and his friend Stuart, who was now created by James Earl of Arran, instilled every possible suspicion into the king's mind against Morton, who, they averred, intended to convey him to England and give him up to Elizabeth. To seize Morton, and arraign him for the multitude of illegal acts which he had perpetrated in his position of regent, might not succeed, for the wily offender had taken care to procure bills of indemnity for whatever he had done. They determined, therefore, to accuse him of Darnley's murder, of which he was notoriously guilty in common with others.

One morning, therefore, Captain Stuart, now Earl of Arran,. fell on his knees in the Council, and charged Morton to the king with the murder of his father. Morton, who was thunderstruck at this bold and sudden act, of course stoutly denied the charge, but he was ordered to be guarded in his own house, and soon after sent off to the Castle of Dumbarton. Morton dispatched a messenger to his trusty friend the Queen of England, who forthwith hastened away Randolph to intercede with the king, the Council, and the Parliament for the precious life of this vile murderer. Elizabeth, as she had not been ashamed to countenance and support him, so neither Was she now ashamed to plead for him, and to beg that he might be set at liberty as a special favour to her, in recompense of the many services she had rendered Scotland. She accused Lennox of being in league with the French Government for the invasion of England, and Randolph produced documents to prove it. On examining these papers, the Council pronounced thorn forgeries, and the trial was ordered to proceed. On perceiving his failure with the king and Council, Randolph had recourse to his old arts of endeavouring to stir up sedition, and did his utmost to rouse Mar and the Earl of Angus to rise in arms for Morton's rescue. This becoming known, Randolph, who had been twice sent out of the country for his traitorous meddling, was now glad to flee for his life.

To save this execrable villain, but very useful tool, Elizabeth induced the Prince of Orange and the King of Navarre to support the exertions of her ambassador in his behalf, but all in vain, James was firm in following out the advice given him. Elizabeth ordered a body of troops to march to the border, as if she was resolved to invade Scotland for the rescue of Morton; but James, far from being intimidated, called all his subjects to arms, ordered Angus to retire beyond the Spey, Mar to surrender the charge of Stirling Castle, and demanded of Elizabeth whether she meant peace or war.

This bold attitude put an end to her bravado and her efforts. Randolph suddenly found out that Morton was accused of murder with a fair show of proof, and Elizabeth then pretended to think that if that were so it did not become her any longer to defend him. Deserted by his great patron Elizabeth, the hoary criminal was brought to trial, and charged not only with the murder of Darnley, but that of Atholl. Besides verbal and personal evidence of his guilt, his bond of manrent, or guarantee of indemnity for the murder, given to Bothwell, was exhibited, together with a paper purporting to be a confession of Bothwell made on his death-bed in Denmark, in which he accused Morton as a principal contriver of the murder, and exonerated the Queen of Scots. Whether this paper were genuine or net, there was abundant proof without it, and he was condemned by the unanimous verdict of the peers.

In prison, after his condemnation, Morton denied any active part in the murder, but confessed being fully aware of its preparation and his concealment of it, and also of having given Bothwell the bond of manrent, and another bond for him to marry the queen out of fear. So clear was his guilt, and the fact of his having been the chief mover in it, and that with the full knowledge of the Queen of England, that Mary, in a letter to Elizabeth, charged her roundly, upon the depositions of Morton on his trial, and on those of the witnesses brought against him, with being the author of all her misfortunes whilst in Scotland, which had been effected through the promises and suggestions of her agents.

Morton admitted on his trial that he had demanded of Bothwell a written proof, under the Queen of Scots' hand, that she was cognisant of and consenting to Darnley's murder; but that Bothwell had told him that he could not have it, for the murder must be perpetrated without her knowledge. Such an admission from such a man appears conclusive as human evidence can make it, that Mary really was innocent of any concern in that murder.

On the scaffold Morton flung himself on his face, and rolled about in paroxysms of agony, with direful groans and contortions. The clay after his execution, his servant, Binning, who had been proved to have been employed in the murder, was also put to death; but his cousin and confidential friend, Archibald Douglas, who was also an active agent in the murder, escaped into England. Morton had made this man a judge of the court of session after his having become an assassin; and being asked on his trial how he could reconcile this fact with his professed horror of the murder, he was silent. The fall of Morton and the display of independence in the young King James opened up the most extravagant hopes in the minds of the friends of Queen Mary, and of the Papists in general. They were ready to believe that James would soon show his regard for his mother, and a deep sense of her wrongs. Morton had been the stern adherent of Protestantism, scandalous as he was; but who should say that Aubigny, educated in Prance, and with many friends and relatives there, would not incline to favour the Papists, and that James, under his guidance, though educated by the disciples of Knox, might not, young as he was, return to the religion of his ancestors? Persons, the Jesuit, was enthusiastic in this behalf, and he dispatched Waytes, an English Popish clergyman, to Holyrood, and soon after Creighton, a Scottish Jesuit. These emissaries soon returned with the most flattering accounts of their reception by James and by his ministers. Probably, in prospect of no very friendly relations with Elizabeth, the advisers of James might adopt the policy of conciliating the Romanists, and thus securing the ancient support of Franca, and also of Spain. Be that as it may, James professed to feel deeply the wrongs of his mother, and to cherish great filial affection for her. He assured them that ho would always receive with favour such persons as came with an introduction from her, and he consented to receive an Italian Catholic into his Court as his tutor in that language.

Elated by these tidings, Persons and Creighton hastened to Paris in May of 1582. There happened to be present an extraordinary number of persons interested in the cause of Popery - the Duke of Guise; Castelli, the Papal nuncio; Tassis, the Spanish ambassador; Beaton, Archbishop of Glasgow; Matthieu, the Provincial of the French Jesuits; and Dr. Allen, the provost of the seminary of Douay. They all agreed that Mary ought to be restored without deposing James; that they should reign jointly; and Persons was dispatched to Spain to solicit assistance, and Creighton to the Pope for the same object. Both missions were successful: Philip gave 12,000 crowns to relieve the necessities of James, and the Pope engaged to pay the expenses of his body-guard for twelve months. Both Mary and James assented to this proposal, Mary offering to leave all the exercise of power in James's hands.

Successful as this scheme appeared, every movement in it had been watched by the Court of England, and a counterplot of a most startling kind was set on foot. The Earl of Gowrie, the son of the murderer Ruthven, was induced to invite- the young monarch to his castle of, Ruthven, when he suddenly made him prisoner. The government was then seized by the Earl of Mar, the Master of Glamis, the Lord Oliphant, and others. Lennox, the king's chief minister, escaped to Franco, but died soon after, as was suspected, from poison. Arran, the successful destroyer of Morton, was thrown into prison. The pulpit was set to work to proclaim that there had been a plot to restore "the limb of Satan," the lewd Queen Mary, with all the ceremonial of the mass; and that Lennox was at the bottom of it, though he died professing himself a staunch Protestant.

The news of these changes was kept from Mary as long as possible, and her confinement rendered closer than ever. When, at last, it penetrated into her prison, she expected nothing less from the desperate character of his and her own enemies than that her son would be murdered to make way for the designs of England. Roused by her maternal solicitude, she wrote a letter to Elizabeth from the sick bed on which she was confined, speaking out plainly of her long series of wrongs. She retraced her injuries from the moment in which she fatally took refuge in England; the flagrant injustice of her continued and even aggravated captivity, although she had been pronounced guilty at York and Westminster. What had she done, she demanded, to Elizabeth? If there were any crimes which had not been already charged against her and refuted, she desired to know them. But, she added, she knew too well what was her real and only crime: it was being next heir to Elizabeth's throne. The queen had, however, no reason to be alarmed, for she herself was fast hastening to the grave. But was the same system of persecution to be continued to her son? She called on Elizabeth to stand in imagination, as she must one day stand in reality, with her before the throne of the Almighty, and to do justice in time by supporting instead of destroying the interests of her son, and liberating her, to end her clays in retirement and peace.

But the position of affairs in Scotland was calculated to excite the utmost vigilance of both Franco and England. Henry III. saw with terror the young King of Scotland in the hands of the English faction, and dispatched thither La Motte Fenelon and Maigneville to encourage James to call together the estates, to insist by their means on his liberty, and on the liberation of his mother to govern with him. The English Court, on the other hand, instructed its agents, Bowes and Davidson, to demand the dismissal of the French envoys, and to show him the danger of the measures which they proposed. James appeared to listen to both parties; and in order, ostensibly, to consult on their advice, he summoned a council of the nobility to meet at the castle of St. Andrews. Once in their midst, James felt his freedom; and to prevent any contest on the question, published a pardon to all who had been concerned in the "Raid of Ruthven," as it was called, or the conspiracy of Gowrie. This bold stroke of the young king so took the English Court by surprise that Walsingham was sent, notwithstanding his age and important duties at home, to the Scottish Court. Walsingham must have been surprised at the small success which attended his mission, for James received him with little consideration, appeared to regard his communications with indifference, and dismissed him with a paltry present on his departure. Elizabeth could not help complaining of the palpable slight to her ambassador, and the friends of Queen Mary drew fresh hope from the circumstance.

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Pictures for Reign of Queen Elizabeth. (Continued) page 10

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