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

Reign of Queen Elizabeth. (Continued) page 11

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 <11> 12 13 14 15

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.

But little solid hope could be entertained of Mary's enfranchisement by any one who considered the real situation of affairs. The King of France was far from sincere in his wish for Mary's release. So long as she was in the hands of Elizabeth, he was secure from any further meddling of Elizabeth in the internal affairs of France. At any moment he could alarm her by rumours of designs to set the Scottish queen free, at the same time that James, as a young man, was open to influence from France against England. For these reasons a fresh conference in Paris on Mary's behalf came to nothing. The Duke of Guise, Castelli, the Archbishop of Glasgow, and Matthieu met again, this time with the addition of Morgan, a Welsh gentleman, one of the commissioners of her dower in France. They proposed that Guise should land in-the south of England with an army, while James should simultaneously enter it at the north. James at once assented to the project; but Mary, who knew very well that her life would be sacrificed at once if there were a formidable attempt at her rescue, resorted to the hopeless course of endeavouring to persuade Elizabeth to treat with France for her release on safe terms. Elizabeth appeared to listen; but the rumours of the invasion speedily caused her to abandon any such negotiation, on the plea that, once at liberty, Mary could not be trusted. Revenge might induce her to ally herself with France and Spain, to the great peril of England.

No situation in the world could be conceived more miserable than that of Elizabeth. The captive queen had become to her a source of perpetual alarms - alarms of invasions from France and from Scotland - alarm at insurrections amongst the Papists, whom persecutions kept in a state of the deepest disaffection. For two years the prisons had been crowded, the scaffolds drenched with the blood of Papists. They had been harassed, persecuted, and insulted till they must have been more than mortal to have felt no desire for revenge. Therefore the country swarmed with spies and informers; and Walsingham, as a man of a detective genius, was kept hard at work to trace, by his secret emissaries, every concealed movement of sedition. Both at home and abroad he had a host of agents under a multitude of disguises. The society of Jesuits never had a more expert and fearless general, nor a more varied army of informers. They presented themselves in the shape of travelling noblemen, of physicians, of students in Popish seminaries. They swarmed in seaports lying betwixt England and the different chief Continental routes. Scarcely a Roman Catholic gentleman or nobleman into whose house they had not found their way. To those whom they suspected of a leaning towards the Queen of Scots they professed to be confidential agents of her or of her adherents, and presented forged letters by which they might entrap the unsuspicious into answers. Merry England was truly at this period a deplorable country.

One of the most atrocious examples of the manner in which country gentlemen of distinction and large estate wore treated in that day is that of Arden, a gentleman of an ancient Warwickshire family. He had incurred the resentment of Leicester by refusing to sell a part of his estate that the haughty favourite had set his covetous eyes upon, The conduct of Leicester in the case drove this independent man to defend his right as an Englishman, not only to hold his own, but assert his privileges and position, He set Leicester at defiance, relied upon the law for protection, and refused to flatter the favourite's pride, like most of his neighbours, by wearing his livery.

The daughter of Arden was married to a neighbouring Roman Catholic gentleman of the name of Somerville. This Somerville became a maniac; and - his insane mind probably inflamed by remembrance of the injuries of the professors of his faith, and by the wrongs of his father-in-law - in one of his paroxysms he rushed out with a drawn sword, attacked two men that he met, and swore that he would murder every Protestant, and the queen at their head.

In ordinary times the unfortunate man would have been secured in an asylum, and there would have been an end of the affair; but the circumstance was seized upon by Leicester to wreak his vengeance on the Warwickshire Naboth who refused to this modern Ahab his vineyard. Not only Somerville and his wife and sister, but his father-in-law and mother-in-law Arden, were arrested and lodged in the Tower, with Hall, a priest.

They were charged with a conspiracy against the queen; but being put upon the rack, the only thing which could be extracted from them by torture was, that Hall said ha had once heard Arden say that he wished Elizabeth was in heaven. On that ridiculous evidence - for Arden would confess nothing but that he was perfectly innocent of any conspiracy - Hall, Somerville, Arden, and his wife were convicted and committed to Newgate. There the poor insane Somerville was found strangled in his cell within two hours, Arden was executed as a traitor the next day, and Hall, on account of his confession, escaped death.

This was a dreadful case of oppression and legal murder at the instigation of the favourite; and about the same time one Carter, a printer, was executed for having printed a book in which Judith was praised for cutting off the head of Holofernes. This was taken to mean that the queen was Holofernes, and ought to be killed; whereas the poor man asserted that no such idea had ever entered his head, but that it was, as it purported to be, a dissuasive against schism; and that, like Judith, all good Papists should refrain from it as she did from the food set before her by Holofernes.

A still more revolting trial and execution was that of Francis Throckmorton, the son of Sir John Throckmorton, Chief Justice of Chester, who had been dismissed from his office on some trifling plea, but most likely on account of his religion. Walsingham - who might be truly called the spicier, for he had his lines stretched in all directions to catch unfortunate political flies, whilst he sat in his retired corner watching all the extremities of his web - intercepted letters, and by his spies made his way into every abode and company. He received from his trusty emissaries the information that Charles Paget, one of the commissioners of the Queen of Scots' dower - Morgan, just mentioned, being the other - had landed on the coast of Sussex, miller the name of Mope. A letter of Morgan's was also intercepted, and from something in its contents the two sons of Sir John Throckmorton, Francis and George, were immediately arrested and committed to the Tower. The Earl of Northumberland, with his son, the Earl of Arundel, his countess, uncle, and brothers, were summoned before the Privy Council and repeatedly questioned. The Lord Paget, brother of Charles Paget, and Charles Arundel, escaped to the Continent, but sent a declaration that they had fled, not from any sense of guilt, but from the utter hopelessness of acquittal where Leicester had any influence. Northumberland and Lord Arundel, with their wives and relatives, stoutly denied all concern with plots or any species of disloyalty, and no proof could be brought against them. Meantime it was asserted that the Duke of Guise was proceeding with his scheme of invasion, and that many English noblemen and gentlemen were co-operating' in it; that a letter had been intercepted from the Scottish Court to Mary, informing her that James was quite ready to perform his part of the scheme by invading the kingdom from, the north, having had the promise of 20,000 crowns; but that he was desirous to know who were the influential parties in England that might be calculated upon for support. All this was soon wonderfully corroborated by the confession of Francis Throckmorton, in whoso trunks were said to have been found two catalogues, one of the chief ports, and the other of the principal Romanists in the kingdom: that these were for the use of Mendoza, the Spanish minister; and that lie had devised a plan with that ambassador to raise troops in the name of the queen through the Catholics, who were then to call on her to tolerate Catholicism, or to depose her. This was a strong case indeed against the prisoners and the fugitives; and Burleigh, with Throckmorton's confession in his hand, charged the Spanish ambassador with his breach of all the laws of nations and of his office. But Mendoza, so far from being confounded, replied to Burleigh, with boldness and evident astonishment, that the whole was false and groundless, and that the true fact was that Burleigh was the man who was continually guilty of the traitorous and unprincipled policy; that he had intercepted the messages of the King of Spain; had robbed them of the money in their charge; and had aided the Netherland rebels both by money on land and by pirates at sea. The charge was undeniable, and the two ministers parted in the highest anger at each other. Mendoza either was instantly ordered from the country, or departed of his own accord; and fixing himself at Paris, devoted himself to do all the damage possible to the interests of Elizabeth.

Throckmorton, on his trial, pleaded that his confession was of no power to convict him, because it required by the 13th of Elizabeth that the indictment should be preferred within six months of the commission of his offence; but the judges informed him that he was not indicted on that statute, but on that of treason, which was always in force, and required no witnesses. On this the whole scandalous truth came out. The telling story of the invasion had been obtained from Throckmorton by torture and the assurance that it could not convict him on account of the limitations of the statute. On hearing the judges' statement, lie cried out that he was deceived; that ho had been' racked three times, and their, to avoid further torture, at the same time that he was shown a way of escape, ho was induced to sign this confession. He was condemned, but his life was spared till he again confessed his guilt, when he was hurried to execution; but on the scaffold ho seized the opportunity to declare that his confession was totally false, having Leon in the first instance extorted by the rack, in the second by a promise of pardon.

<<< Previous page <<< >>> Next page >>>
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 <11> 12 13 14 15

Pictures for Reign of Queen Elizabeth. (Continued) page 11

Home | Privacy Policy | Copyright | About