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Reign of Queen Elizabeth. (Continued) page 6


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When the terrible deed was perpetrated, the king became overwhelmed by the magnitude of the crime. He exclaimed, "Whether I sleep or whether I wake, every! moment I am haunted by visions of murdered men, all covered with blood, and hideous to behold." In the letters written to the provinces, the cause was ascribed to the ancient feud of the houses of Guise and Coligny; but the Duke of Guise would not accept so large a share of the infamy; and the king was obliged in Parliament to avow that he had himself signed -the order for the death of Coligny, and for the commencement of the massacre.

A sensation of horror was diffused all over Europe by the news of this unexampled atrocity of bigotry, which was greatly augmented in England by the crowds of Protestants who fled thither for refuge. The body of the nation called for instant war, to avenge on the sanguinary French Government this infamous treatment of the Reformed church. La Mothe Fenelon hastened to apologise to the Queen of England for what he termed this unfortunate accident. Elizabeth hesitated for a day or two to receive the ambassador, who was greatly disconcerted by his position in the midst of a people who denounced, in just terms, this frightful transaction. At length, when she had had time to array herself and her Court in deep mourning, she gave him an audience in the presence of her Council and the chief ladies of the realm. The deepest silence accompanied his entrance, and the queen, after a pause, advanced ten or twelve paces to meet him, solemn and stern, but with her accustomed courtesy. She then led him to a window, and asked him whether "it were possible that the strange news which she had heard of a prince whom she so much loved, honoured, and confided in, could be true."

Fenelon confessed that he was overwhelmed by the tidings of this sad accident, but that an accident it was; that his Royal master had not the slightest idea of such an event till the evening before it, when it was disclosed to him that the admiral and his party had formed a design to make themselves master of the Louvre, to seize the Royal family, and put to death the Duke of Guise and the other leaders of the party; that in the hurry and excitement of the moment he had given orders to the Duke of Guise and his friends to prevent the traitorous design by putting to death the admiral and his friends; and that nothing could exceed his- regret that the ungovernable passions of the populace had produced such a catastrophe, which had pained him as much as if he had cut off his arms to save his whole body.

Elizabeth declared herself influenced by this favourable view of the case, but expressed an earnest hope that the king, whom, though she had not been able to accept him as a husband, she still continued to love and revere as if she were his wife, would be able to satisfy the world that it was not by any premeditation of his own that this catastrophe had happened, but by some strange accident which time would elucidate.

The ambassador, who had approached this interview with great misgiving, was wonderfully reassured by this language of the queen, and did not hesitate, in the very midst of an audience burning with Indignation at the commission of a wholesale murder of a people by their king which has no parallel in history, to present her with a love-letter from the Duke of Alencon, which she accepted graciously, and read with apparent satisfaction.

Burleigh hastened to impress upon Elizabeth the necessity of the death of Mary as "the only means of preventing her own deposition and murder;" and Sandys, the Bishop of London, sent in a paper of necessary precautions to be adopted, the first and foremost of which was to "forthwith cut off the Scottish queen's head." This exemplary bishop of Christ's Church wrote to Burleigh, who was with' the Court at Woodstock, that "the citizens of London in these dangerous days needed to be prudently dealt withal." He was very much afraid that the young preachers, in their zeal, "being unskilled in matters political," might say things which would not be relished across the Channel, but offered to take such a course with them as should prevent this danger. "Sundry," he said, "had required fast and prayer to be had for the confounding of these and other cruel enemies of God's gospel; but this I will not consent to without warrant from Her Majesty." A specimen of a political bishop, who, in the presence of murder, and the most revolting crimes against God and man, could keep his soul untouched by a feeling of righteous indignation, and think only of keeping up political relations!

On the continent a very different spirit prevailed. The Protestant princes of Germany spoke out their unmitigated horror of so murderous and perfidious a government, and took the field in defence of their fellow Protestants at the head of 20,000 men; and then Elizabeth, in her peculiar way, sent them secret aid. So far as she could by private means excite disturbance in neighbouring countries, she had no objection; but on the surf ace she maintained an unruffled show of friendship and alliance. She still kept up her unmeaning coquetry with Alencon, and in the course of a few months stood as godmother to an infant daughter of this homicidal Charles IX.! She did indeed recommend to him to afford protection to the persons and worship of the French Protestants, and the profligate Catherine de Medicis replied for him ironically that her son could not follow a- better example than that of his good sister, the Queen of England; and, therefore, like her, he would force no man's conscience, but, like her, would prohibit in his dominions the exercise of every other worship besides that which he practised himself. It is to the honour of the people of England of that time that they denounced in unsparing terms this gigantic horror, and that many of the nobility shared fully in the feeling. The French ambassador described in his letters to his master his mortifying position in England, where, on every side, he heard the massacre of St. Bartholomew described as the most enormous crime perpetrated since the death of Jesus Christ, and declared that no one would speak to him but the queen, who treated him with her accustomed urbanity. Whilst the people of England were musing in deep wrath over this outrage on humanity committed by the French Government, Elizabeth, the queen of this great nation, was occupied in an interesting correspondence on the best means of eradicating the scars of the small-pox from the face of her previously sufficiently ugly lover, Alencon. She recommended a London quack, who could do wonders, and expressed her astonishment that Catherine de Medicis had not sooner adopted means to remove these mortifying scars. Catherine had been too busy with planning the murder of her subjects.

Burleigh, and numbers of the enemies of Mary, urged upon Elizabeth that the murder of the Protestants in France was only one demonstration of the existence of a universal Roman Catholic league for the extirpation of Protestantism; that she would be aimed at next; her deposition or murder would follow, unless she provided for her safety; and the surest means was to strike the first blow, and in the Queen of Scots destroy their centre of unity in these kingdoms. Elizabeth listened to the advice, but was too politic to imbrue her hands in the blood of the Queen of Scotland, without exerting herself first to transfer the odium to some other shoulders. Killigrew was, therefore, sent down to Scotland to see if the execution of the queen could not be effected there. His ostensible mission was to arrange, if possible, the terms of an armistice betwixt the adherents of Mary and those of the young king in Scotland, at the head of which, parties were Huntley and Morton. But the private and real object was to lead the Protestant lords to the point of removing Mary from the hands of Elizabeth, "to receive that she had deserved by order of justice."

Killigrew was to work on their fears by representations of the Roman Catholic league, to make the most of the massacre of St. Bartholomew, and to warn them, as on good information received in England, to look to themselves, to see. that none of them were seduced by bribes, none made away by poison, not to allow the young king to go out of the realm on any plea, and, if hard put to it, to rely on the instant and energetic co-operation of Elizabeth for the defence of the reformed creed, and the tranquillity of the kingdom. Having operated thus far, Killigrew was next instructed to approach the great object of his mission, but not in any way to implicate the queen. He was to represent the great peril of detaining Mary in England, from the number of fiery zealots always plotting for her escape, and that it would be much better for them to have her in their own hands, where they could more readily and more justly take prompt measures at any moment for preventing the disturbance of the present Government. If this was listened to, he was then to see what bargain for this purpose he could strike with Morton, a man steeped in crime, and not at all averse to murder.

Killigrew, in his private letters, represents himself as recoiling with disgust from this odious office, but not daring to incur the Royal displeasure by declining it. It does not appear that Morton was at all averse to the proposal, for so late as January of the next year, the negotiation was still on foot with her; but it failed from the resolute opposition of a far more honourable man, tha regent Mar. Mar was anxious, like a real patriot, to heal the wounds of his country, to reconcile the contending factions, and make the Government strong and independent by union. He contended that there could be no difficulty in arranging the interests of Mary and her own son, for the benefit and harmony of both. He sent away Randolph, who had been for years the diligent source of discord and mischief for Elizabeth, and made overtures to the adherents of the queen, by which, under proper guarantees for her benefit, she was to surrender the castle of Edinburgh.

But this honourable endeavour was so contrary to the base motives and unprincipled spirit of the age, that it brought speedy destruction on the regent. Morton, one of the most thorough villains of the time, invited him to a banquet at Dalkeith, before the treaty could be signed, and Mar was taken so ill at the dinner, with every symptom of poison, that he rode away as fast as he could to Stirling, and there died in a few days. This occurred on the 8th of October, and on the 9th of November, Morton, by the influence of Elizabeth, was elected regent in Mar's place. Thus Elizabeth had obtained the appointment of the man to be the guardian of the young king who had for many years been in her pay, prompt to work any wickedness which was demanded by her policy. Both Mary and her son might now be said to be in her hands. No sooner was he in power, than he managed, through the influence of Elizabeth, who had always weighty persuasions at hand, to bring over Mary's chief friends, the Hamiltons, and Huntley's people, the Gordons, and he demanded the immediate and unconditional surrender of the castle of Edinburgh. Kirkaldy, Maitland, and Hume, who held it, refused, however, to give it up, and thus put them at the mercy of their enemies. On this, Elizabeth ordered Drury, the marshal of Berwick, to advance to Edinburgh with a strong force furnished with a powerful battering train, and, if necessary, lay the castle in ashes. In this extremity, the besieged lords, and Mary from her prison in England, implored the King of France to hasten to their assistance, and not to allow Elizabeth to extinguish the last spark of opposition in Scotland; but Charles replied that it was quite out of his power: for Elizabeth, on the very first movement, would send a fleet to Rochelle, where he was besieging the Huguenots.

The castle was consequently compelled to surrender on the 9th of June, 1573, after a siege of thirty-four days. Elizabeth insisted that the leaders should be put at her disposal. In a few days Maitland, who had now exhausted all his shifts and subtleties, died of poison, as some asserted - and amongst them Mary, who charged it boldly in a letter to Elizabeth - from the ready hand of Morton; as others believed, by his own hands. The brave Kirkaldy of Grange was hanged and quartered as a traitor on the 3rd of August, though a hundred persons of the Kirkaldy family offered to Morton twenty thousand pounds Scots, and an annuity of three thousand marks, for his life. Maitland, like Morton, was one of the murderers of Darnley; but Morton, the most hardened of them all, had seen the last of his confederates, and, for a time, held the supreme power. There, at present, we leave him, to trace the proceedings of Elizabeth in other quarters.

Though the French king had refused to assist Mary's party in Scotland in their last extremity, for fear of Elizabeth's affording aid to the Huguenots besieged in Rochelle by the Duke of Anjou, that did not prevent Elizabeth assisting the Rochellais. She allowed a strong fleet of Englishmen, under the nominal command of the Count de Montgomery, to assemble in Plymouth for the relief of that place, and she promised them further aid. To avert this, Charles IX. endeavoured to flatter Elizabeth into neutrality. He requested her to stand godmother to his infant daughter, as we have seen. The French Protestants, however, were so incensed at Elizabeth's compliance, which they regarded as an act of apostacy, that they attacked the squadron which conveyed the English ambassador, Elizabeth's proxy, seized one of his ships, slew some of his attendants and put his own life in peril. Charles IX. saw in this a favourable opportunity for inducing Elizabeth to cause the Plymouth fleet to disperse. He therefore dispatched an ambassador before the queen's anger could cool, requesting her refusal of a promised loan to these audacious Rochellais, and to disperse the hostile fleet at Plymouth. But Elizabeth referred the envoy to her ministers on that point, who assured him that they had no power whatever to impede the sailing of the fleet, for that Englishmen sailed on the plea of traffic wherever they pleased; and if they committed any acts of hostility on friendly powers, they were at the mercy of those powers to seize them and treat them as pirates.

Elizabeth was soon, however, punished for this flagrant equivocation. Montgomery sailed in April; but, on discovering the strength of the French fleet moored under the forts and batteries of Rochelle, he was seized with terror, and returned to Plymouth without striking a blow. Elizabeth, indignant at his failure, then sent him word that she was highly displeased at his presuming to unfurl the English flag, and forbade his access to any of the English ports. In June of the next year he was taken prisoner in Normandy, and on the 26th of that month he was executed as a traitor in Paris. The bravery of the people of Rochelle, however, and the election of the Duke of Anjou to the throne of Poland, saved that city. A new pacification was entered into, but the peace of France was again disturbed by a coalition betwixt the heads of the Huguenots and the Marshals Montmorency, De Cosse, and Damfont, the Papal leaders called the Politicians. This league was formed to get possession of the king, whose health was now fast failing, remove Catherine and the Duke of Guise from power, and proclaim Alencon as the successor to the crown in the absence of Anjou in Poland. Elizabeth was actively engaged in all these movements, especially in advising Alencon to place himself at the head of affairs. But the watchful genius of Catherine discovered and defeated the plot: Montmorency and Cosse were committed to the Bastille, Alencon and the King of Navarre were so closely watched that they were stopped in five attempts to escape, and numbers of the inferior actors were put to death.

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Pictures for Reign of Queen Elizabeth. (Continued) page 6

Place of Imprisonment in the Tower
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A London Street
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House of Sir Thomas Gresham
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John Fox
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Bear-baiting
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Reception of Queen Elizabeth at Kenilworth Castle
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The French Ambassador at Court
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Edmund Spenser
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William Cecil
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Execution of Two Brownists
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Court of Henry III. of France
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Death of Sir Philip Sidney
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