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The Reign of Elizabeth. (Continued)


Mary's Trial at Fotheringay - Refuses to Plead - Consents - Proofs against her - Her Defence - Condemned - Sentence confirmed by Parliament - Mary's Last Request to Elizabeth - Intercession of the Kings of France and Scotland - Elizabeth proposes,, through her Ministers, to Paulet, to privately dispatch Mary - Paulet refuses - The Death Warrant delivered to Davison, the Queen's Secretary-Mary's Death - Elizabeth's Pretended Anger at Davison - Throws him into Prison and confiscates his Property - Declares to the King of Scotland that his Mother's Death is not owing to her - Expeditions of Drake, Hawkins, Cavendish, &c. - Loss of Sluys in Holland - Leicester returns - The Spanish Armada - Elizabeth at Tilbury - Dispersion of the Armada - Death of Leicester - Trial and Death of the Earl of Arundel - Sufferings of Catholics and Puritans - The new Favourite, Essex - Expedition against Spain - Affairs in France - Accession of Henry IV. - Second Expedition against Spain-Spanish Fleet in the Channel - Peace betwixt France and Spain - Position with James of Scotland - Affairs in Ireland - Trial and Death of Sir John Perret - Rebellion of Tyrone - The Disobedience of Essex - His Trial and Death - Victory in Ireland and Submission of Tyrone - Declining Health of the Queen - Burleigh makes his secret Bargain with James in anticipation - Death and Character of Elizabeth.
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The time which Elizabeth and her ministers, Burleigh, Walsingham, and Leicester, had been for years pressing forward to had at length arrived. They had hunted the unfortunate Queen of Scots into their toils; had purchased up the secret agency of her subjects, and of her only son, against her; had heaped every possible injury and indignity upon her; had tortured her in mind, and ruined her in health; had blackened her reputation, and had contrived by the basest acts and forgeries to stamp upon her that character which belonged pre-eminently to themselves, that of a murderer. She was prematurely old, stripped of her friends, her attendants, her most secret papers, of her very modicum, of money, and even of her last gold chain. Her money amounted only to 107 2s. in English coin - live rouleaux of French crowns. They seized also 2,000 crowns which she had given to Curie's wife as a marriage portion; a gold chain and money belonging to Nau, amounting to 1,548 18s.; they left only three pounds to pay the wages of some of the inferior servants. There remained nothing now to complete this most infamous history than to take the royal and infirm captive's life; and for this they had paved the way by the means which we have detailed.

On the 5th of October a commission was issued to forty-six persons, peers, privy councillors, and judges, constituting a court competent to inquire into and determine all offences committed against the statute of the 27th of the Queen, either by Mary, daughter and heiress of James V., late King of Scotland, or by any other person whomsoever. The moment this was known, Chasteauneuf, the French ambassador, demanded in the name of his sovereign that Mary should be allowed counsel, according to the universal practice of civilised nations. But Elizabeth sent him an angry and insulting message by Hatton, that "she did not require the advice or schooling of foreign powers to instruct her how she ought to act;" and added that the Scottish queen was unworthy of counsel. Thus was refused the necessary defence of the accused, which the humblest citizen had a right to claim; and that it was determined beforehand to condemn and execute the Queen of Scots, was plain by the order of Elizabeth to the commissioners, dated October 7th, not to pass sentence on Mary till they had returned into the queen's presence, and made their report to her, sentence being thus predetermined; and we find the whole proceedings of this arbitrary, one-sided and outrageous cast.

On the 12th the commissioners arrived at the castle. They were the Lord Chancellor Bromley, the Lord Treasurer Burleigh, the Earls of Oxford, Kent, Derby, Rutland, Worcester, Cumberland, Warwick, Pembroke, and Lincoln; the Viscount Montague; the Lords Zouch, Morley, Abergavenny, Stafford, Gray, Lumley, Stourton, Sandys, Wentworth, Mordaunt, St. John of Bletsoe, Compton, and Cheney; Sir James Croft, Sir Christopher Hatton, Sir Francis Walsingham, Sir Ralph Sadler, Sir Walter Mildmay, and Sir Amy as Paulet; Wray, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas ; Anderson, Chief Justice of the Queen's Bench; Manwood, Chief Baron of the Exchequer, and Gawdy and Periam, Justices of the Common Pleas. The next day Mary kept her chamber on the plea of indisposition, but admitted Mildmay and Paulet, with Barker, a notary, who summoned her to< attend the court of commission. Mary denied their authority over her, an independent queen, whereupon they produced and handed to her the following extraordinary letter from Elizabeth: -

QUEEN ELIZABETH TO MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS.

You have, in various ways and manners, attempted to take my life, arid to bring my kingdom to destruction by bloodshed. I have never proceeded so harshly against you, but have, on the contrary, protected and maintained you, like myself. These treasons will be proved to you, and all made manifest. Yet it is my will that you answer the nobles and peers of the kingdom as if I were myself present. I therefore require, charge, and command that you make answer, for I have been well informed of your arrogance.

Act plainly, without reserve, and you will sooner be able to obtain favour of me. elizabeth.

Mary read this blunt and dictatorial letter with great composure, and then said to the deputies that she was sorry to be charged by her sister the queen with that of which she was innocent; that she had indeed endeavoured to obtain her liberty, and would continue to do as long as she lived; but she reminded them that she was a queen as well as their mistress, and neither subject to her nor their jurisdiction; that as to plotting against the life of their queen, she abhorred all such attempts; on the contrary, she had repeatedly warned Elizabeth of dangers; that as to the laws of England, she was neither subject to them, nor did she know what they were; that as to defending herself, even if she were inclined to plead, they had deprived her of that power, for they had taken her papers, her secretaries, and would allow her no advocates. In a word, she had done nothing against the queen, had excited no man against her, and could only be charged from her own words and writings, neither of which, she was sure, would serve them.

The next day Paulet and Barker waited on her again, to know whether she still persisted in ignoring the authority of the court. She replied, "Most certainly;" adding, "There are things which I do not understand. The queen says I am subject to the laws of England because I am living under their protection." She denied this protection, declaring that she came into the kingdom to demand aid and assistance, and had ever since been treated neither as a queen nor a subject, but a close prisoner.

Finding that their emissaries did not succeed in moving her, the Lord Chancellor, Burleigh, and some others obtained admission to her in the hall of the castle, and assured her that their patent and commission authorised them to try her; that neither her condition as a prisoner nor her state as a queen could make her independent of the laws of the country; and they protested that if she refused to plead, they would proceed against her without regard to her objections. Mary, though alone against a host of the ablest men and most practised in law, chicanery, and state intrigue, still refused to plead, except it were in a full and free parliament. She knew, she said, that they had passed the statute against her, and desired to take her life; but she bade them look to their consciences and remember their reputations, for the theatre of the whole world was much wider than the kingdom of England. She complained of the shameful usage which she had suffered in this country, and Burleigh had the hardened assurance to tell her that the queen had always treated her with a rare kindness!

They then sent her the list of her judges, to show her that they were of a high and honourable character; but, she declared that she could not submit her cause to any subjects, and would sooner perish than dishonour her ancestors, the kings of Scotland, by admitting herself the subject of the English monarch. Burleigh then declared that they would, nevertheless, proceed against her on the morrow as contumacious; and Hatton added, "If you are innocent, you have nothing to fear; but if you avoid a trial, you stain your reputation by an everlasting blot." This remark appeared to have sunk into her mind, for in the morning she consented to plead, provided that her protest against the authority of the court was admitted, and that she were called upon to do nothing derogatory to the prerogatives or honour of her ancestors or successors. Burleigh asked her if she would plead, provided the protest was laid before them in writing without their signifying its acceptance; and Mary agreed to this. In fact, they would, she saw, try her with or without that consent; and by pleading she could, at least, make her | defence in some manner.

The next day, the 14th of October, the Court assembled in the great hall of Fotheringay, at the upper end of which was placed a chair of state with a canopy, as for the Queen of England; and below it, at some distance, a chair without a canopy, for the Queen of Scots - thus studiously indicating her inferiority. The Chancellor, Bromley, opened the Co art by informing Mary that the Queen of England, having heard that she had conspired against her state and person, had deputed them to inquire into the fact. Upon this Mary entered her solemn protest against their authority, declaring that she had come as a friendly sovereign to seek aid from her cousin, the Queen of England, and had been unjustly detained by her as a prisoner; on that ground she denied their authority to try her. It was permitted to record her protest, together with the Chancellor's reply. To use the words of the historian, Lingard - "She was now placed in a position in which, though she might assert, it was impossible that she could prove her innocence. A single and friendless female, the inmate of a prison for the last nineteen years, ignorant of law, unpractised in judicial forms, without papers, witnesses, or counsel, and with no other knowledge of the late transactions than the reports collected by her female servants, nor of the proofs to be adduced by her adversaries but what her own conjectures might supply, she could be no match for that array of lawyers, judges, and statesmen, who sat marshalled against her. . . . . . . Yet, under all these disadvantages, she defended herself with spirit and address. For two days she kept at bay the hunters of her life."

The charges against her were two: first, that she had conspired with traitors and foreigners to invade the realm, and secondly, to compass the death of the queen. As to the first charge, Mary pleaded guilty to it, and justified it. They grounded this charge on far better proof than their evidence for the second, namely, letters - a host of letters intercepted or found in her cabinets, to and from Mendoza, Paget, Morgan, and others. From these it appeared that she had fully sanctioned an invasion on her behalf, and had offered to raise her friends to support it, and especially that those in Scotland should make themselves master of the person of her son, and prevent any aid being sent to the Government in England. And what was there in this, Mary demanded, that she had not a right to do? Was she not the equal of Elizabeth, a sovereign as independent as herself? By what right did she, then, detain her in her dungeons, but that of unjust and dishonourable force? She was neither subject to her laws, nor bound by any act or contract to refrain from asserting her own freedom. The laws of nations authorised her to use every exertion to recover her liberty, which was wrongfully withheld. She had proposed all kinds of terms and treaties, and offered all possible securities for observing amity towards Elizabeth's kingdom; but her offers, her entreaties, her protests, had all been treated with contempt. Who, therefore, would contend that she was not justified in seeking and accepting the services of any friendly powers or private friends to aid in the achievement of her liberty?

When they came to the second charge, the conspiracy to murder Elizabeth, she denied any participation in it totally, indignantly, and with many tears. She called God to witness the truth of her assertion, and prayed him, if she were guilty of such a crime, to grant her no mercy. The proofs produced to establish her approval of this design were - first, the copy of the letter of Babington, in which was this passage: - "For the dispatch of the usurper, from the obedience of whom, by the excommunication of her, we are made free, there be six noble gentlemen, all my private friends, who, for the zeal they bear to the Catholic cause and your majesty's service, will undertake the tragical execution." Next there was a copy of seven points, which professed to be derived from her answer to Babington, the sixth of which was, "By what means do the six gentlemen deliberate to proceed?"

After these came the confessions of Nau and Curie, and, finally, reported admissions in her letters to her foreign correspondents of having received these intimations of their intention of assassinating the queen, and of having given their assenting cautions and instructions on this point.

Thus, if all this evidence was based on bond fide documents openly produced and fully identified, the case would have been decisive, for Nau and Curie were made to swear to having seen and recognised these documents. But, unfortunately for the case of Elizabeth and her ministers, they produced no original document or letter whatever, but only copies, the very non-production of the originals being plain proof that they durst not produce them, but were compelled to go upon copies, or pretended copies, which, if based on real documents, might be, and, from their non-production, undoubtedly were, garbled to suit their deadly purpose.

Mary, knowing nothing of the proofs to be brought forward, at first denied any correspondence with Babington; but she soon saw enough to convince her that they had their correspondence in their possession, and admitted having written the note of the 18th, but not any such answer to Babington on the 17th of July, as they asserted. She very properly asserted that if they meant only to ascertain truth and fact, they ought to have kept Babington to produce against her, and not have put him out of the way. She demanded the production of the original letters, and the production of Nau and Curie face to face with her, for that Nau was timid and simple, and Curie so accustomed to obey Nau that he would not do otherwise; but she was sure that in her presence they would not venture to speak falsely. But neither of these things, no doubt for the strongest of reasons, were consented to. As to her letters, she said, it was not the first time that they had been garbled and interpolated. It was easy for one man to imitate the writing and ciphers of another; and she greatly feared that Walsingham had done it in this instance, to practise against the lives of both herself and her son.

At this direct charge, Walsingham arose and called God to witness his innocence, protesting that he had done nothing unbecoming an honest man. But Walsingham was so hardened by long years of duplicity and the practice of the basest acts, that he could no longer judge of what was honest or dishonest. His moral sense must have been as dead as the pavement under his feet. Mary, however, desired him not to take offence at what she had said: it was only what she had been told, and she begged him to give no more credit to those who slandered her than she did to those who slandered him.

As her reasonable requests of the production of the original documents and of Nau and Curie were not granted, though Elizabeth was said to offer no objection to the appearance of the secretaries, Mary once more appealed to be heard in full Parliament, or before the queen in council, and then rose, and, after a few words apart with Burleigh, Warwick, Hatton, and Walsingham, she withdrew.

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Pictures for The Reign of Elizabeth. (Continued)

Sir Francis Walsingham
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Dudley, Earl of Leicester
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Sir Francis Drake
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Earl of Essex
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Sir Walter Raleigh
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Essex House, in the Strand
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James VI. of Scotland
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