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Reign of Queen Elizabeth. (Continued) page 12


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From that hour the doom, of Mary was definitively sealed, and James became the obsequious tributary of the English Court. The effect was immediately seen. Creighton, a Jesuit of Scotland, and Abdy, a priest of that country, were seized by a Dutch cruiser, on their way home from France; and, in spite of Scotland and Holland being at profound peace, were conveyed, as an acceptable sacrifice to Elizabeth, to England. Creighton, on being taken, had torn up some papers and thrown them into the sea. Sufficient of these were collected to show that they contained plans for the rescue of the Scottish queen, and in the Tower the sight of the rack made him disclose much more. This exciting information was made the most of. An association was formed, under the influence of Government, by which all the members bound themselves to pursue and kill every person who should attempt the life of the queen, and every person for whose advantage it should be attempted. This palpably pointed at the Scottish queen. The bond of association was shown to Mary as a means of intimidating her. At the first glance she perceived that it was aimed at her life; but, after a moment of astonishment, she proposed to sign the bond herself, so far as she was concerned, which, of course, was not permitted, as it would have neutralised the whole intention but it was industriously circulated for signature amongst those who dared not well do otherwise.

The same object was pursued in the Parliament, which met on the 23rd of November. After the clergy had granted an aid of six shillings in the pound to be paid in three years, and the Commons a subsidy and two-fifteenths, an Act was passed condemning as traitors any one who had been declared by a court of twenty-four commissioners cognisant of any treasonable designs against the queen; and Mary and her issue were excluded from the succession in case of the queen coming to a violent death. The Roman Catholics were also treated with increased severity, in consequence of the alleged plots. No Popish clergyman was to be allowed to remain in the kingdom; if found there after forty days, he was pronounced guilty of high treason; any one knowing of his being in the country, and not giving information within twelve days, was to be fined and imprisoned during the queen's pleasure; and any one receiving or relieving him was guilty of felony. All students in Popish seminaries were called on to return to their native country within six months after proclamation; parents sending their children to such seminaries without licence were to forfeit for every such offence a hundred pounds; and the students themselves forfeited all right to the property of their parents.

On the third reading of this bill, an extraordinary circumstance took place, leading to strange results, which have never been fully explained, although they have engaged the consideration of all historians to throw some reasonable light upon them. One Dr. Parry, a Welsh civilian, rose and denounced the bill as "a measure savouring of treasons, full of blood, danger, and despair to English subjects, and pregnant with fines and forfeitures, which would go to enrich, not the queen, but private individuals."

This speech greatly astonished the House, both because it required a boldness or a rashness to make such an avowal which very few had, and still more because the man was notorious as one who had long been in the pay of Burleigh as a spy upon the Papists, and who had brought home from Italy accounts of the schemes for the assassination of the queen enough to create the utmost horror. He had been in the service of the Earl of Pembroke, then in that of the queen, and had been employed by Burleigh for some years on the Continent in collecting secret information. On his return he married a rich widow, spent her fortune, got into debt, attempted to murder his chief creditor, and only escaped death, as is supposed, by the influence of Burleigh. He then returned to the Continent again in the pay of Burleigh, and pretended to be a convert to Popery in order to worm out the secrets of eminent men of that faith. He addressed himself to the Jesuit Creighton at Lyons, to Parma at Venice, professing his desire to kill the queen if he could only be assured that it was lawful. He was introduced by Parma to the minister of the Pope, Campeggio; and, returning to France, broached the same design to Waytes and other English priests. On his return to England he assured Elizabeth, in the presence of Burleigh and Walsingham, that he had been solicited by the Pope to murder the queen, and produced a letter from Cardinal Como in proof of it. On the strength of this he demanded a pension; but was told that he had done nothing to deserve it, for the letter of Cardinal Como made not the most distant allusion to any such project.

It appears to have been at this crisis that he made his extraordinary statement in the House of Commons. He was tormented with debts and creditors; and had failed to induce the Government by his dirty employment on the Continent to rescue him from his difficulties. Can anything, therefore, be more likely than that his speech was the sudden outburst of his vexation with the Government, made probably in the hope that his opposition and the exposures it was in his power to make might compel ministers to do that for him out of policy which they would not out of good will?

He was at once given into custody to the sergeant by the House; but the next day was liberated by the command of the queen, who said he had partly explained his notions to her satisfaction. Most likely it had been thought best to close his mouth by a concession to some of his claims. But within six weeks he was again arrested on a charge of high treason, and conducted to the Tower, This time it appears to have been on the charge of an Edmund Neville, a member of the Westmoreland family, who had been employed to watch the Jesuit Persons at Rouen, Neville had returned to England to prosecute his right to the inheritance of the last Lord Latymer, in which he was opposed by the eldest son of Burleigh, who had got possession of it. As Neville and Parry had been associates, and had mutually tempted each other with the professed projects of murdering the queen, it is not at all improbable but that Parry might now be employed to criminate Neville, and thus get rid of his troublesome claims. But Neville turned the tables on Parry, denounced him as having endeavoured to incite him to assassinate the queen, and Parry at length confessing it, was sent to the Tower on the 1st of February, 1585.

Parry had failed to get rid of Neville and his troublesome opposition to the claims of Burleigh's son; but being now in custody, it would appear that it occurred to the ministers that he might be made a useful instrument at this moment in swelling the odium against the Roman Catholics. Accordingly, he made a confession in the Tower, the sum and substance of which was this: - That Morgan had instigated him to murder the queen; that Cardinal Como, in the name of the Pope, had approved of the design - (this, be it remarked, was the very thing which Elizabeth and her ministers, when he was at large, had declared was wholly unproved); that on seeing Elizabeth, he was so much struck by her glorious mind and person that he repented; yet again, reading the treatise of Dr. Allen in reply to Burleigh, on the right of subjects to resist and depose tyrannical sovereigns, he had been inspired afresh to her destruction, and had incited Neville to carry out that object.

So far from denying this on his trial, he pleaded guilty; his confession was read, and the chief justice prepared to pass sentence upon him. On this, in the greatest astonishment, like Francis Throckmorton, he exclaimed that he was deceived; that he was perfectly innocent; that the whole story contained in his confession was a tissue of lies, which had been extorted from him by threats and promises; that he had never really harboured a thought of murder; and that the Cardinal Como had never given any approbation of it. He demanded to be allowed to withdraw his plea, but was not permitted; sentence of death was pronounced upon him. It is quite clear that he had been promised his life if he would make a confession so damning to the Catholics, and was now thunderstruck to see that faith was not kept with him. He protested that if he perished his blood would lie on the head of the queen.

The discovery, by his extraordinary speech, that ho was an unsafe man, who, being in possession of dangerous secrets, in a moment of discontent might let them out, was probably the cause of his being selected for the victim on this occasion. He had now done the work of Elizabeth and her ministers, and nothing could save him. On the scaffold, to which he was brought March 2nd, 1585, he again passionately protested his innocence. Topcliffe, the notorious pursuivant, asked him how then he explained the letter of the cardinal. Parry declared that there was nothing of the kind in the letter, and begged that it might be examined; but the only reply was a command to make an end. He had sent a letter to the queen, declaring that he was chiefly overthrown by her own hand. On the Scaffold he protested again that he was her true servant J had never dreamt of harm to her, and that "in her own conscience she knew it" In the midst of his devotions the cart was drawn away, and after one swing he was cut down and butchered with the executioner's knife, giving a great groan when his bowels were taken out.

To avoid, if possible, the fate which the bill of this Session prepared for them, the Roman Catholics drew up an earnest and loyal memorial to the queen, declaring it as their settled and solemn conviction that she was their sovereign de jure and de facto; that neither Pope nor priest had power to license any one to lift their hand against her, nor to absolve them were such a crime committed, and that they renounced and abominated any one who held a contrary doctrine. It might have been thought that such a testimony would have been highly gratifying from her subjects; but those subjects knew too well the bigotry and violence of the queen, and it was not easy to find any one daring enough to present so reasonable a document. Richard Shelley, of Michael Grove, in Sussex, was patriotic enough to undertake the office, and his treatment justified the fears of all others.

All these transactions only tended to aggravate the situation of the Queen of Scots. She passed the winter of 1584-5 in the most excruciating anxiety. The signing of the bond of association had convinced her that fresh occasion was sought to destroy her. She regarded it as the signing of her death-warrant. There was a constant attempt to make it appear that she was an accomplice in every real or supposed plot for the overthrow of Elizabeth's Government. She was now taken out of the hands of the Earl of Shrewsbury, who had, by his sense of justice and benevolence, ameliorated her sorrowful captivity in some degree, and was consigned to the custody of Sir Amyas Paulet, a dependant of Leicester's, a man of a rigid, gaoler-like disposition, but not destitute of honour, as we shall anon discover. She was removed from Sheffield Park to the ruinous stronghold of Tutbury.

Finding that all appeals to Elizabeth and all protestations of her innocence of any participation in, and even ignorance of, the plots charged on different persons were alike disregarded, she turned to her son, but only to receive from that quarter a disregard still harder to bear. James coldly announced to her that he had nothing to do with her concerns, nor she with his: he was now, in fact, in the pay of Elizabeth. He bade her remember that she was only the queen-mother, and enjoyed no authority in Scotland, though she bore the empty title of queen.

This base and unnatural conduct in a son fell like a millstone upon her; and abandoning all hope of assistance from him, she now demanded of Elizabeth to liberate her on any conditions she pleased - she asked only liberty and life. But Elizabeth was now secure of James, and was relieved from any fears of his resenting even his mother's death. To give Mary some inkling of the fate which awaited her, a young Romish recusant, and supposed to be a priest, was brought prisoner to Tutbury, carried by force, and before her face, repeatedly to the Protestant service in the chapel, and then hanged before her window.

The condition of the Roman Catholics was now pitiable in the extreme. Their lives and fortunes were at the mercy of a swarm of spies and informers; and all who could, endeavoured to get out of the kingdom to enjoy their lives and religion in peace. But it was made a high crime and misdemeanour to try even to accomplish this voluntary expatriation. The Earl of Arundel was a man of a gay and even libertine life, and not likely to trouble himself about plots and insurrections; but Elizabeth was taught to distrust him; and finding that he was become an object of her displeasure, he contemplated a removal to the Continent. But Elizabeth was well aware of all his movements through her spies, and just as he was about to set out, made him a visit as of friendship, and, on retiring after dinner, bade him consider himself a prisoner in his own house.

Determining, however, to elude his tyrannical sovereign's power, he made a secret preparation for his departure, and left a letter to the queen explaining his motives for his conduct; declaring that it was come to that point with him that he must escape, or perish body or soul. After giving his letter to a messenger, he went on board and thought himself safe: in reality he had only gone voluntarily into a trap. Every movement had been watched, every word listened to, every scrap of writing perused; and he had not been long at sea when he saw two sail in full chase of the vessel in which he was. The pursuer was a pretended pirate of the name of Killaway. The master of the vessel in which he was had been secured by the ministers; and Arundel, after a vain resistance, was taken back and thrown into the Tower. His brother, Lord William Howard, and his sister, Lady Margaret Sackville, were also made prisoners. On his examination forged letters were produced against him, but so palpably so - purporting that he meant to invade England with a large army - that no overt act could be fixed upon him. Notwithstanding, he was fined 10,000 for attempting to leave the kingdom without licence, and for having corresponded with Dr. Allen, the principal of Douay College, and was detained in severe imprisonment for life.

The Earl of Northumberland was the next victim. As a Papist, he had long been secretly watched, and had for ten years been forbidden to quit the immediate environs of the metropolis. William Shelley, a friend of the earl's, being arrested on the charge of being an accomplice with Throckmorton, something was drawn from him which gave a plea for arresting the earl too, and he was thrown into the Tower. It may be presumed, however, that nothing could be proved against him, as he was never brought to trial; for, after being kept in close confinement more than a year, he was got rid of in a very extraordinary way. On the 20th of June, 1585, his ordinary keeper was removed, and replaced by one Bailiff, a servant of Sir Christopher Hatton's. The very next morning he was found dead, shot through the heart with three slugs. It was attempted to show that he had shot himself, and evidence was brought forward to prove that he had had the pistol and the slugs brought by one Pantin, and delivered to him by a servant named Price; but Price, though in custody, was never called to prove this; and, indeed, Sir Walter Raleigh, writing to Cecil, treats the fact as one well known to them both, that the earl was assassinated by the instrumentality of Hatton. It was, however, diligently propagated that he had killed himself to prevent the confiscation of his property, which would have taken place had he been convicted of treason. The whole transaction bears too many marks of a Government prison murder to leave any one in doubt upon the subject, especially from its following instantly the suspicious change of his keeper, as in the case of the children smothered in the Tower.

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Pictures for Reign of Queen Elizabeth. (Continued) page 12

Place of Imprisonment in the Tower
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