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Reign of Queen Elizabeth. (Continued) page 15

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Walsingham was now in possession of all the evidence that he was likely to get, for Babington soon discovered that he had been betrayed by somebody, whom he could not tell; and though he remained in London as though, there were no danger, he made preparations for the escape of Ballard to the Continent, by procuring him a passport under a feigned name. Every moment might throw fresh light on the deception, and allow the escape of the victims. On the 4th of August, therefore, Babington found his house entered by the pursuivants of Walsingham, and Ballard, who had not got off, was there seized. Babington escaped for the moment, but was arrested on the 7th, and was taken to the country house of Walsingham, but escaped from the servants into whose charge he was given. With his friends and accomplices, Gage, Charnock, Barnewell, and Donne, he concealed himself in St. John's Wood, till they were compelled by hunger to make their way to the house of their common friend Bellamy, at Harrow, who concealed them in his outhouses and gardens. But the cunning Walsingham had his agents on their trail the whole time, and on the loth they walked into the premises of Bellamy, secured the concealed conspirators, together with their host, his wife and brother, and conveyed them, amid the shouts and execrations of the populace, and the universal ringing of bells, to the Tower, whither also were soon brought Abingdon, Tichbourne, Tilney, Travers; the only one of the friends of Babington that escaped being Edward Windsor, the brother of Lord Windsor.

On the 13th of September, Babington, Ballard, Savage, Donne, Barnewell, and Tichbourne were put upon their trial, charged with a conspiracy to murder Elizabeth, and raise a rebellion in favour of the Queen of Scots. They pleaded guilty to one or other of the charges, and seven others pleaded not guilty; but all were alike convicted, and condemned to the death of traitors. The greater part of them appear to have taken no part in the blacker part of the conspiracy, the design to murder Elizabeth; and some of them, as Tichbourne and Jones, declared that they had taken no part whatever, but merely kept the secret for the sake of their friends. Bellamy was condemned for merely affording them an asylum; his wife escaped through a flaw in the indictment. Pooley, the decoy, was imprisoned as a mere blind, and then liberated; and Gifford was already in prison in Paris, where, three years later, ho died.

On the 20th and 21st they were executed in Lincoln's Inn Fields, because they used there to hold their meetings. Elizabeth betrayed a singular and most unworthy and unwomanly vindictiveness in their deaths. She desired that they might be executed, if possible, in some manner more lingering and excruciating than the usual death of traitors; though that was horrible enough, in all reason. But, besides that this was illegal, there was much sympathy excited on behalf of the sufferers, who were young men of a superior class, and led on by the chivalrous generosity of youth. Those who suffered the first day were put to death with the customary barbarity, being cut down alive; the seven who died the second day were merely hanged till they were dead.

Though no mention was made on the trial of any participation of the Queen of Scots in this conspiracy, nothing was farther from the intention of Elizabeth and her ministers than her escape. The deaths of these gallant but misguided young men were but the prelude to the tragedy. They had already prepared for her death by the bill passed empowering twenty-four or more of the Lords of the Council and other peers to sit in judgment on any one concerned in attempts to raise rebellion, or to injure the queen's person. To procure every possible evidence for this end, the following stratagem was used: - The Queen of Scots was kept in total ignorance of the seizure of the conspirators, and on the copy of her letter to Babington being laid before the Council, an order was sent down to Sir Amy as Paulet to seize all her papers, and keep her in more rigorous confinement. Accordingly, one morning, Mary took a drive in her carriage, accompanied, as was her custom, by Paulet, but with a larger attendance. When Mary desired to return, Paulet told her that he had orders to convey her to Tixall, a house belonging to Sir Walter Aston, about three miles distant. Astonished and alarmed, Mary refused to go, and declared that if they took her there it should be by force. She must have suspected the design of searching her cabinets during her absence; but, in spite of her protestations and her tears, she was compelled to proceed. There she was confined to two rooms only, was guarded in the strictest manner, and debarred the use of pen, ink, and paper. Meantime Sir William Wade arrived at Chartley, and proceeded to break open the cabinets and take possession of all her letters and papers, as well as those of her secretaries. A large chest was filled with these papers, amongst which were Mary's own minute of the answer to Babington, and the original letter to him composed by Nau. Wade then returned to London with these, and with Nau, Curie, and Pasquier.

On the 28th of August, Paulet conducted the outraged queen back to Chartley. As she proceeded from her house to her carriage, a crowd of poor people surrounded her path, hoping for her usual alms; but she seems to have been now quite aware of what had taken place, for she said, "Alas! poor people, I have nothing to give you: all has been taken from me, and I am a beggar as well as you." When she entered her rooms at Chartley, and saw her violated cabinets, she turned to Paulet, and, with much dignity, said, "There still remain two things, sir, which you cannot take from me: the royal blood in my veins which gives me the right to the succession, and the attachment which binds me to the faith of my fathers."

In London there was much deliberation on the mode in which Mary was to be got rid of. Elizabeth was now resolved that she should die. She declared that the Scottish queen had sought her life, and that one of them must quit the scene. No persuasions could move her, and yet she dreaded the public censure of so unexampled a deed. To obviate this, Leicester, who was an adept in poison, recommended that as the safest and least obtrusive; and even sent over a divine from Holland to prove its lawfulness. Walsingham and Burleigh, however, would have nothing but a public trial, the sentence of which should be ratified by Parliament, to lay the burden of responsibility upon the whole nation.

In preparation, her secretaries were called up and repeatedly examined. They were subjected to the terrors of menaced death, and were called on to confess all they knew; but as this did not include any proof of Mary's conspiracy to murder Elizabeth, they were called up again the morning after the execution of Babington and his accomplices, when fear of such punishment was likely to affect them, and an abstract of the principal points in the letter of Babington and the reply of Mary was laid before them, and they were desired to say whether they were correct. They are said to have admitted the fact; but this we have only on the faith of the Council bent on the death of Mary, and at the same time that the real letter of Mary drawn up by Nau, and her own minute for its preparation, were neither produced nor mentioned. These were the documents on which rested the whole charge against Mary - documents which, if they proved the charge, would have been triumphantly produced both there and at her trial, and which, not being so produced, is proof positive to the contrary. That this is the fact is clear from the record of the Council, which is as follows. Nau is made to enumerate the points in Babington's letter and Mary's reply as they were laid before them, and which they admitted to be correct: - "Yt is to say: first, yt Babington should examine deeplye what forces as well on foote as horseback they might rayse amt. 'em all; the second, what townes, portes, and havens they asseur emselves of, as well in ye N., W., and S., and so through, as it is before set down at large in the Sc. Q.'s ltre to Babn., and concludeth or signeth his examn. with theis wordes in Erench: Je certifie les choses dessus dictes estre vrayes et par moy deposes. XXI Sept., 1586. Nau." Curie follows in this manner: - "He sayeth the Itre directed by the Sc. Q. to Babn. Lad, amongst ors., theis points in it: The first, yt Babn. shold deeplye examine what forces on foote and horseb.; and so recieteth the cheif points of her letter in ye verie wordes as you have already read them heretofore, and concludeth: 'All theis things above rehearsed I doe well remember and confesse them to be true.' By me G. C., the xxith of September, 1586." Here is no mention of Mary's consent to the murder of Elizabeth, the greatest point of all, which we may therefore be assured had no existence. Mary was now removed to Fotheringay Castle, in Northamptonshire, in preparation for her trial. It was first proposed to convey her to the Tower, but they feared her friends in the City; then the castle of Hertford, but that, too, was thought too near the capital; and Grafton, Woodstock, Coventry, Northampton, and Huntingdon were all proposed and rejected, showing that they were well aware of the seriousness of the business they contemplated.

Paulet, in executing his removal of Mary, pretended that it was necessary to give her change of air. Mary was by this time a miserable invalid. Her long confinement in wretched and unhealthy, half-ruinous castles, with her close confinement and her perpetual anxieties, had changed her from the active and beautiful woman into the apparently aged and decrepit sufferer. This has been strikingly demonstrated by the exhibition of her various portraits made in London whilst these pages were being written. She was racked and tortured by rheumatism and neuralgia. For months together she was not able to rise from her bed, and had lost the use of her hands. Sadler, who had been employed in his youth to undermine her throne, and of late to act as an extra guard upon her, reports about this time that she was greatly changed; that she was not able to set her left foot to the ground, "and to her very great grief, not without tears, findeth it wasted and shrunk of its natural measure." This was the deplorable remnant of that beauteous and buxom woman who had ridden against her enemies with pistols at her side, and had stirred the hearts of all men - except it were those of the petrified Burleigh and Walsingham - that ever saw her. Paulet had no great danger, therefore, of resistance in now conveying her away; yet, for fear of her partisans, he had led her by bye-paths and unfrequented places from one gentleman's house to another, till he safely deposited her in her last abode, the low and damp castle of Fotheringay. He had in his pocket an order from the queen, if there were any attempt at her rescue on the way, to shoot heron the spot; and this order was renewed on his arrival there, enjoining him, if he heard any noise or disturbance in her lodgings, to kill her at once, and she had a narrow escape by her chimney taking fire one night and occasioning a confusion, during which Paulet, if he had been as keenly thirsting for her blood as the queen and her ministers had been for years, might have murdered her, much to the satisfaction of his superiors.

So delighted was Elizabeth to have her victim cooped safely up in the dungeon of her doom, that she wrote this enthusiastic letter: - "Amias, my most faithful and careful servant! God reward thee treblefold for thy most troublesome charge so well discharged." After breaking out into raptures of gratitude and praises of his faithful services, she promises him all sorts of honours and recompense. "If I reward not such deserts, let me lack what I have most needed of you," &c.

She then goes on: - "Let your wicked murderess know how, with hearty sorrow, her vile deserts compel these orders [namely, to assassinate her, if there be any attempt to rescue her]; and bid her from me ask God's forgiveness for her treacherous dealings towards the saviour of her life many a year, to the intolerable peril of my own; and yet, not content with so many forgivenesses, must fault again so terribly, far passing woman's thought, much less a princess; instead of excusing. Whereof not one can sorrow, it being so plainly confessed by the authors of my guiltless death. Let repentance take place, and let not the fiend possess her, so as her better part may not he lost for which I pray with hands uplifted to Him that may both save and kill. With my most loving advice and prayer for thy long life, your most assured and loving sovereign, as thereby by good deserts induced, Elizabeth."

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