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Reign of Queen Elizabeth. (Continued) page 13


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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.

Whilst these persecutions were proceeding at home, Elizabeth was supporting Protestantism abroad. Henry of Navarre had become the next in succession to the crown of France, by the death of the Duke of Anjou. Being well known as a Protestant, the Roman Catholic party in France, with the Duke of Guise at their head, reorganised their league, and even compelled the King of France to subscribe to it. The King of Spain, a member of the league, promised it all his support. On the other hand, Elizabeth, anxious to see a Protestant prince on the throne of France, sent Henry large remittances, and invited him to make England his home in case his enemies should compel him to retreat for a time, when he could wait the turn of events. In all this there was nothing to complain of. Henry had a clear right to the throne of France, and justice as well as the reformed faith called upon her to support it; but not so honourable were her proceedings in the Netherlands. There she secretly urged the subjects of a power with whom she was at peace to insurrection, and maintained them in it by repeated supplies of money.

Sympathising as she did with the oppressed Protestants of the Netherlands, her course was open and clear. She could call on Philip to give to them free exercise of their religion, and if he refused, she had a fair plea to break with him, and to support the cause of the common religion. But Elizabeth had too much politic regard for the rights of kings openly to support against them the rights of the people; and, what was still more embarrassing, she was practising the very intolerance and persecution against her Roman Catholic subjects that Philip was against his Protestant ones.

The primate, when appealed to, stated broadly this fact, and declared that Philip had as much right to send forces to aid the English Roman Catholics, as Elizabeth had to support the Belgian Protestants. When, therefore, in June of this year, the deputies of the revolted provinces of the Netherlands besought Elizabeth to annex them to her own dominions, she declined; but in September she signed a treaty with them, engaging to send them 6,000 men, and received in pledge of their payment the towns of Brille and Flushing, and the strong fortress of Rammekins. This was making war on Philip without any declaration of it; but she still persisted that she was not assisting the Flemings in throwing off their allegiance to their lawful prince, but only assisting them to recover undoubted privileges of which they had been deprived.

But the fact was, that Elizabeth had long been warring on Spain, and it was the fault of Spain that it had not declared open war in return. In 1570 she had sent out the celebrated Admiral Drake, to scour the coasts of the West Indies and South America, on the plea that Spain had no right to shut up the ports of those countries, and to exclude all other flags from those seas. Under her commission, Drake and other captains had ravaged the settlements of Spain in the New World: had plundered Carthagena and Nombre de Dios, and almost every town on the coasts of Chili and Peru. They had intercepted the Spanish galleons, or treasure vessels, and carried off immense booty of silver and other precious articles. But as Drake had received special marks of Royal favour - the queen had dined on board his vessel, the "Golden Hind," when it lay at Deptford, and she had knighted him for his good services - and as there was no declaration of war, all these were clear cases of piracy; but Philip was too much engaged at home to defend these transatlantic possessions from the daring sea-captains of Elizabeth, and if he did declare war, he at once sanctioned Elizabeth's interference both in those seas and in the Netherlands.

To carry forward her operations in the Netherlands successfully, it was necessary to make quite sure of the King of Scotland. Elizabeth had discovered that the only power which would bind James was money. Moral principle he had none; but as money was the all-persuasive argument, they only were sure of him who gave the most. Elizabeth had already a majority of James's council in her pay, and might have had more if she could have calculated or them, but she found them ready to receive her cash and to betray her. She, therefore, sent thither Wotton to study the movements and movers of the Scottish Court, and having made himself acquainted with them, to strengthen her party. A border raid, in which Lord Russell, the son of the Earl of Bedford, had fallen, enabled Wotton to lodge a complaint, and demand that the asserted instigators of it, Arran and Fernihurst, should be given up to him. James did not consent to that, but arrested them both himself. Whilst the able Arran was thus withdrawn from Court, Wotton seized the opportunity to persuade the courtiers in the pay of Elizabeth to seize James and send him to England, or confine him in the castle of Stirling, by which the English faction would possess the chief power. Unfortunately for Wotton, his plot was discovered, and he fled; but he left behind him trusty friends who, inspired by English gold, contrived to work out his schemes. Arran had returned to power on the disappearance of Wotton, but the partisans of Elizabeth opposed him, and others returning across the border with plenty of English money, they mustered in numbers sufficient to surprise James in Stirling, and recover their influence and their estates. Under the circumstances James found it to his interest to conclude a treaty with Elizabeth, the ostensible object of which was to defend Protestantism, the real one - that which both Elizabeth and James had at heart - the firm exclusion of Mary from any hope of liberty, or of receiving any aid from abroad.

To conduct her campaign in the Netherlands, Elizabeth had appointed the Earl of Leicester; for since she had discovered his marriage with the Countess of Essex, she was sufficiently disgusted with him to send him out of her sight. The way in which he conducted himself there was not calculated to increase his reputation for honesty or military talent. No sooner did he arrive, than, without consulting the queen, he induced the States to nominate him governor-general of the United Provinces, with the title of excellency, and with supreme power over the army, the State, and the executive. In fact, his ambition rested with nothing short of being a king: with nothing but possessing all the title and authority enjoyed by the Duke of Anjou. When this news reached Elizabeth, that he had sent for the countess, and was organising a Court fit for a monarch, she flew into a terrible rage, charged him with presumption and vanity, with contempt of her authority, and "swore great oaths that she would have no more Courts under her abeyance than one;" desired him to remember the dust from which she had raised him, and let him know if he were not obedient to her every word, she would beat him to the ground as quickly as she had raised him.

The unfortunate States, who thought they were gratifying the Queen of England when they were honouring her favourite, were confounded at this discovery; but Leicester, as if he really thought that he could render himself independent of his royal patroness, remained lofty, insolent, and silent. Trusting to the position into which he had thus stepped, he left it to the ministers at home to pacify the queen. He had so long ruled her that he appeared to think he could still do as he pleased. The great Burleigh and the cunning Walsingham were at their wits' end to satisfy Elizabeth: the only letter which they got from Leicester being one to Hatton, so insolent and arrogant that they dared not present it till they had remodelled it. Meantime, Elizabeth continued to write to the new captain-general the most bitter reproaches and menaces, and to heap upon his friends fierce epithets which could not reach, or produced no effect on him. With all the airs of a great monarch, Leicester progressed from one city to another, receiving solemn deputations, and giving and receiving grand entertainments.

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