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Reign of Queen Elizabeth. (Continued) page 14


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In the field his conduct was as contemptible as in the Government. He had an accomplished general, Alexander Farnese, the Prince of Parma, to contend with, and never did a British general present so pitiable a spectacle in a campaign as did Leicester. His great object appeared to be to avoid a battle, and the only conflict which he engaged in, which has left a name, is the attack upon Zutphen, because there fell the gallant and gifted Sir Philip Sidney, in the twenty-fifth year of his age.

As autumn approached, Leicester marched back his forces to the Hague, and was greatly disgusted and astonished to be called to account by what he pleased to-name an assembly of shopkeepers and artisans. Not the-less loudly, however, did the merchants and shopkeepers of the Netherlands upbraid him with the utter failure of the campaign, with the waste of their money, the violation of their privileges, the ruin of their trade, and the extorting of the people's money in a manner equally arbitrary and irritating. In a fit of ineffable disgust he broke up the assembly: the assembly continued to sit. He next resorted to entreaties and promises; it regarded these as little. He announced his intention to return to-England, and in his absence nominated one of his staff to exercise the supreme government. The assembly insisted on his resigning that charge to them; he complied, yet, by a private deed, reserved it to himself; and. thus did this proud, empty, inefficient upstart dishonour the queen who had raised him, the country which tolerated him, and which had long impatiently witnessed hi& arrogance, his lasciviousness, his abuse of the queen's favour, and his murders; and at length, on the approach of winter, obey the call of his sovereign and return home. Scarcely had he quitted the Netherlands, when the officers-whom he had left in command surrendered the places of strength to the Prince of Parma, and went over to the Spaniards. The campaign was, from first to last, a scandal and a disgrace to our name and government.

On the arrival of Leicester, the Court and public mind were so engrossed by plots and rumours of plots for the assassination of Elizabeth and the liberation of the Queen of Scots, that his faults were to a great degree forgotten in the necessity for all the queen's friends uniting for the determination of the best course to pursue amid accumulating perplexities. The amount of truth and falsehood, in the assertion of all the schemes afloat in the great conflict which was going on betwixt the Protestant and Roman Catholic parties, it is difficult to determine. There were so many agents on both sides at work, so many of them appeared to be such very dubious characters, apparently on one side, whilst they were in the pay of the other, and the intriguing genius of Walsingham and Burleigh raised up such false appearances, and so confounded the real with the imaginary, whilst they mined and worked in secret below, that it is the most arduous of endeavours to produce a clear detail of the proceedings of this time. The following is the nearest approach to fact or resemblance of it which we can make.

Amongst the rumours was one constantly growing of an intended invasion of the kingdom by the King of Spain, for the release of the Queen of Scots, the relief of the Papists, and for retaliation for the invasion of his kingdom of the Netherlands, and the excitement of his subjects to rebellion by Elizabeth. As this was not only very justifiable, but not improbable, it gave edge and force to all the other real or imaginary plots which revolved round Queen Mary. What tended to make these schemes more palpable was a strong disagreement betwixt Mary's own friends. Morgan and Paget, the commissioners of her dower in France, complained that the Jesuit missionaries had made the English Government more suspicious and vigilant; that Persons and his confederates had not only usurped the business of advocating Mary's cause in England, but also at foreign Courts; that by their injudicious zeal they had drawn much attention on their movements; that they had held communications with Gray, the master of Mar, who had notoriously betrayed Mary's cause; and that, in consequence, her affairs had been revealed by Holt in Edinburgh Castle, by Creighton in the Tower, and by Gray whilst acting officially for Arran and King James at Greenwich. The Jesuits retorted on Morgan and Paget, that 'they were the men who had betrayed their mistress; that they were notoriously connected with Walsingham; and especially Morgan, who seems to have been so thorough a traitor as to have excited the suspicions of both parties. Though he was undoubtedly employed by Walsingham, yet Elizabeth had the most mortal hatred of him, since Parry confessed that he had been urged by Morgan to murder her. So intense was her resentment that she declared she would give 10,000 for his head, and demanded his surrender from the King of France, at the same time she sent him the Order of the Garter. Henry would not give up the agent of Queen Mary, but he confined him in the Bastille, and sent his papers to Elizabeth.

This proceeding of Elizabeth's so embittered Morgan that he and Paget threw their energies more warmly into the cause of Mary; Morgan, though shut up, still finding a mode of communicating with his colleague Paget, and employing the silence of his prison to concoct a more deep revenge on Elizabeth. Thus was Morgan earnestly pursuing a great scheme for the destruction of Elizabeth, and Walsingham, the great diplomatic spider, spinning, in his bureaucratic corner, his webs for the life of Mary, with far greater genius, and far more numerous ramifications of his meshes. It could not be doubtful which would be triumphant in their murderous object. Let us trace a few of the more perceptible lines of Morgan's action.

He applied to Christopher Blount, a gentleman in Leicester's service, to co-operate in the scheme for the rescue of Mary; but Blount declined the office, and recommended one Pooley, a servant of Lady Sidney, the daughter of Walsingham. Had Morgan had the shrewdness of Walsingham, he would never have entrusted any communication to such hands, as they were sure to reach those of Walsingham. Yet Morgan gave him letters to Mary; and Pooley, thus accredited, offered his services to Mary, and was admitted to all the secret plans and proceedings of her friends. Thus did Walsingham make even Morgan play into his hands.

The next emissaries that Morgan engaged were still more absurdly selected. They were two English traitors, who having studied in the English Popish seminaries, thus obtained the confidence of that party, and then sold themselves to Walsingham. These men, Gifford and Greatly, were soon convicted of being in the pay of Walsingham, but they had the hardihood to assert that was purposely to have the opportunity of more effectually and safely serving Mary. Morgan was weak enough to believe them; though they had become greatly suspected in England, he recommended them as most valuable agents to Mary, from whom they received despatches for Paris, and brought back the answers, which they communicated to Walsingham.

A fourth agent in the cause of Mary appeared - an officer named Fortescue, who, on his way to different parts of England, was soon observed by Walsingham's spies particularly to visit the families of eminent Roman Catholic recusants. Walsingham directed one of his most consummately able spies, one Maude, to pay attention to Captain Fortescue; and he soon discovered, in the garb of Fortescue, the person of John Ballard, a priest, who was engaged in collecting information of the real state and strength of Mary's party, for the use of the exiles abroad. Maude so thoroughly won the confidence of Ballard, that he became his companion through the north and west of England, in Scotland, and thence through Flanders to Paris. -At different points of the journey, Ballard had laid his plans and statistics before Allen of Douay, Morgan and Paget, and Mendoza, the Spanish ambassador. Mendoza promised to recommend the plan of invasion to Philip, but did not appear warm in the cause; and therefore Morgan and Paget resolved to attempt a party in England alone, to assassinate Elizabeth and liberate Mary. All this was duly forwarded to Walsingham by Maude.

Mary had now been removed, in the early part of this year, to Chartley Castle, in Staffordshire, under the care of Sir Amy as Paulet; and the gentlemen in England whom Morgan and Paget had pitched upon to carry out their plan, were a young enthusiastic Papist - Anthony Babington, of Dethick, near Matlock, in Derbyshire - and his friends and companions, all men of fortune, family, and education. Babington had long been an ardent admirer of the Queen of Scots, had corresponded with her whilst she was at Sheffield Park, and was ready to devote himself to the death in her cause. At the same time he had such an idea of the peril of meddling with the government of Elizabeth, that he despaired of accomplishing Mary's enfranchisement during Elizabeth's life. Ballard assured him that Elizabeth would be taken off that Savage, an officer who had served in Flanders, and was exasperated at the death of Throckmorton, had determined to do it; and that the Prince of Parma would land simultaneously with that event, and set Mary at liberty. The fact was, that Walsingham, to whom all these movements and projects were as well known through Maude, Pooley, and others, had instantly, on learning the fact that Babington and his friends were to be instigated to this enterprise, conceived the scheme of bringing Mary into the plot through Babington, and thus effecting her and their destruction at once. Pooley was therefore put into communication with Babington, as a person earnestly favouring the design; and Babington, declaring that the death of Elizabeth was a matter of too imminent moment to be entrusted to foreigners, recommended Ballard and Savage to engage six trusty accomplices to pledge themselves to the death of Elizabeth, whilst he and his friends laboured for the liberation of Mary. The scheme was resolved upon, and Babington was the link of communication betwixt these two knots of conspirators. At first he found his companions averse to embark in an enterprise of so much risk, but by degrees his enthusiasm, triumphed over their scruples, and they entered into it heart and soul.

Walsingham, thus successful, seeing these young gentlemen fall into his snare, took the necessary steps to intercept and possess himself of the whole correspondence betwixt them and Mary. For a long time he had had full command of the correspondence betwixt Mary and her party at large, through the means of Thomas Throckmorton and Gilbert Gifford, already mentioned, both of whom had been recommended to Mary by Morgan. Gifford, as we have shown, was an unscrupulous traitor, who resided near Burton, received Mary's letters, and transmitted them to Throckmorton at London; Throckmorton receiving those from abroad and forwarding them to Gifford, who sent them on to Chartley by a man of Burton styled "the honest man." This honest man was in communication with the brewer who supplied the castle of Chartley with beer, and who had agreed to carry letters to and from Mary, as it is said, by enclosing them in a water-tight little cask, or bottle, which floated inside the cask of beer intended for Mary, whilst the answers, were deposited in a hole in the castle wall, which had outside a loose stone to cover it, whence the brewer took them. The brewer and probably "the honest man" were all the time in the pay of Walsingham, and in full understanding with Amyas Paulet, Mary's gaoler. The letters were all broken open, deciphered by Thomas Philips, the celebrated decipherer, and re-sealed by Arthur Gregory, a man pre-eminently skilled in counterfeiting seals, or restoring broken impressions.

With all this machinery in his hands, Walsingham patiently awaited the progress of the correspondence, till it should have ripened into sufficient flagrancy to become fatal to his dupes. That it might speed the faster, he seems to have applied a strong stimulus through his agent Pooley. About Midsummer he had obtained a letter from Babington to Mary, proposing in plain terms the murder of Elizabeth, and the liberation of herself, on receiving her unequivocal sanction to those two measures. The impression of this imprudent letter bears all the evidence of having been suggested by Walsingham himself through his agent Pooley, and this impression is rendered almost certain by the fact that, whilst Babington was transcribing this letter, "an unknown boy" begged an interview with him, and put into his hand a note in, cipher, purporting to be from the Queen of Scots herself, complaining of not hearing from him, and requesting him to forward by the bearer a packet for her from foreign parts. The cipher, the knowledge of this packet just received, left not a suspicion on the mind of Babington. He forwarded his letter by the bearer, which, of course, was immediately conveyed to Walsingham.

That wily and unsentimental minister was, at this* grand success, a little excited and thrown off his guard. Hitherto he had watched his game as a tiger watches his, without a motion or a moment's divergence of his whole attention from his intended prey; but now he could not forbear hastening with this letter in his hand to the queen. Elizabeth, on whom it came with a startling: suddenness, was so alarmed at the danger which she saw herself in, that it was all that Walsingham could do to prevent her ordering the instant arrest of Babington., Ballard, and all their accomplices. With much ado he succeeded, however, in convincing the queen that the main portion of the game was not yet in their hands; that Mary had not yet committed herself, and prevailed on her to keep her patience and the secret till they had obtained that. For this purpose he at once dispatched Philips, the decipherer, and Gregory, the forger of seals, to Chartley; for Babington, naturally anxious for the important answer of the Queen of Scots, had fixed to be at Lichfield on the 12th of July to receive it.

There was some delay, owing to the want of punctuality both in Babington and "the honest man," during-which Mary, to her great alarm., recognised Philips as a person who had been strongly recommended to her, and yet here he was visiting Paulet, and received with much hospitality. Notwithstanding this, Mary wrote her reply, both in English and French, which was put into cipher by her secretary, and conveyed to Babington, having, of course, passed through the hands of Philips. Mary does not appear to have entered at all into the question of Elizabeth's murder in her letter; there is not a word on the subject; but in the deciphered copy she is made to ask " how the six gentlemen mean to proceed," and to appoint the time when they should accomplish their design. So far as the evidence goes, it would appear that Walsingham was disappointed in her answer in this chief point of all, and that he had the necessary damning paragraph inserted; and that this was the fact was sufficiently proved on her trial, for her own letter was in the hands of the ministers, but they took care not to produce it, but only the deciphered copy.

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