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The Reign of Elizabeth. (Continued) page 2

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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.

On this the commissioners adjourned their sitting from the present time to the 15th of October, and from Fotheringay to the Star Chamber at Westminster - ominous place, notorious for the perpetration of constant acts of arbitrary injustice. It appears by a letter of Burleigh's that great debate arose on the question after the retirement of Mary, which could only be ended by the adjournment. He says that as the commissioners could not give judgment till the record was drawn up, which would take five or six days, they could not remain there without a dearth of provisions, for they had two thousand people with them. But Walsingham assigns another reason: that they adjourned in consequence of the consideration due to the quality of the prisoner. The real reasons, no doubt, were, that, as we have seen, Elizabeth had bound them not to pass sentence till they had come back to her; and to this must be added the embarrassing fact that Mary had demanded to see Nau and Curie face to face. That was no more convenient than the production of the original documents on which they pretended to adjudge the Queen of Scots. When they did meet again, they summoned Nan and Curie before them - a perfect farce, if it were done in consequence of Mary's challenge, because she was now absent, and could not interrogate them, or keep them to the truth by her presence. They called on the secretaries to affirm afresh the truth of their depositions. This they did not hesitate to do; but Nau again maintained, as he had done all along, that the only points in the indictment which could criminate Mary as an accomplice in any design against the life of Elizabeth were false, and substantiated by no real and authentic evidence. Walsingham was highly indignant with the secretary, and endeavoured to browbeat and silence him by the depositions of the conspirators already executed, and by those of some of Mary's servants; but Nau maintained his assertion that every atom of evidence which went to inculpate the queen in the design of the conspirators was forged and false, and summoned the commissioners to meet him face to face before God and all Christian kings, where no false evidence could avail, and where he would prove the innocence of his queen - a queen as much as the Queen of England.

But nothing could influence this body, whose one impulse was fear of their sovereign. They had their work to do according to her will, and they did it. With the exception of Lord Zouch, who objected to the charge of assassination, the commissioners unanimously signed Mary's condemnation. The sentence was this: - "For that since the conclusion of the session of Parliament, viz., since the 1st day of June, in the twenty-seventh year of her Majesty's reign and before the date of the commission, divers matters have been compassed and imagined within this realm of England by Anthony Babington and others, with the privity of the said Mary, pretending a title to the crown of this realm of England, tending to the hurt, death, and destruction of the royal person of our lady the queen; and also for that the aforesaid Mary, pretending a title to the crown, hath herself compassed and imagined within this realm divers matters tending to the hurt, death, and destruction of the Royal person of our sovereign lady the queen, contrary to the form of the statute in the commission aforesaid specified." Nau and Curie were declared abettors, so that it was a sentence of death to all the three. To this a provision was added that the sentence should in no way derogate from the right or dignity of her son, James King of Scotland.

On the 29th of October - that is, four days after the passing of this sentence - Elizabeth assembled her Parliament. She had summoned it for the 15th, anticipating quicker work at Fotheringay, but prorogued it to this date. The proceedings of the trial were laid before each house, and both Lords and Commons petitioned Elizabeth to enforce the execution of the Queen of Scots without delay. Serjeant Puckering, the Speaker of the Commons, in communicating the prayer of the House, reminded Elizabeth of the wrath of God against persons who neglected to execute His judgments, as in the case of Saul, who had spared Agag, and Ahab, who had spared Benhadad. Elizabeth replied by feigning the utmost reluctance to shed the blood of that wicked woman, the Queen of Scots, though she had so often sought her life, and for the preservation of which she expressed her deep gratitude to Almighty God. She wished that she and Mary were two milkmaids, with pails upon their arms, and then she would forgive her all her wrongs. As for her own life, she had no desire on her own account to preserve it; she had nothing left worth living for; but for her people she could endure much. Still, the call of her Council, her Parliament, and her people to execute justice on her own kinswoman, had brought her into a great strait and struggle of mind. But then, she said, she would confide to them a secret: that certain persons had sworn an oath within these few days to take her life or be hanged themselves. She had written proof of this, and she must, therefore, remind them of their own oath of association for the defence of her person. "She thought it requisite," she said, "with earnest prayer, to beseech the Divine Majesty so to illuminate her understanding, and to inspire her with his grace, that she might see clearly to do and determine that which should serve to the establishment of his Church, the preservation of their estates, and the prosperity of the commonwealth."

She sent a message to the two houses, expressing the great conflict; which she had had in her own mind, and begging to know whether they could not devise some means of sparing the life of her relative. Both houses, on the 25th, returned answer that this was impossible. To this declaration of Parliament she returned to them one of her enigmatical answers, "If I should say that I meant not to grant your petition, by my faith, I should say unto you more perhaps than I mean. And if I should say that I mean to grant it, I should tell you more than it is fit for you to know. Thus I must deliver to you an answer answerless."

Elizabeth's next move was to announce to Mary the sentence, and to see whether she could not draw from her a confession of its justice. For this purpose she sent down to Fotheringay Lord Buckhurst and Mr. Robert Beale, with a Protestant bishop and dean, and a strong body of guards. They were to take advantage of her terror and distress of mind to draw from her this important admission. But in this the messengers signally failed. Mary heard the sentence with an air of composure, protested against its injustice, and against the right of any power in England to pass it; but declared that death would be welcome to her as the only way of escape from her weary captivity. She refused to receive the Protestant bishop and dean, and demanded to be allowed the services of her almoner. This was conceded for a brief interval; and during that interval she wrote letters to the Pope, the Duke of Guise, and to the Archbishop of Glasgow, in which she declared her innocence, her steadfastness in her religion, and called upon them to vindicate her memory. These letters were all safely delivered to their several addresses after her death.

This interview took place on the 23rd of November; and the next day Paulet went into her presence with his hat on, declared that she was now dead according to law, and had no right to the insignia of royalty: he therefore ordered the canopy of state to be pulled down, and also that her billiard-table should be taken away, because a woman under her circumstances should be better employed than in mere recreation.

On the 6th of December proclamation of the judgment of the commissioners against the Queen of Scots was made through London by sound of trumpet, whereupon the populace made great rejoicings, kindled large bonfires, and rang the bells all day as if some joyful event had occurred. They were so fully persuaded that the Queen of Scots was at the bottom of all the alleged and real plots for the overturn of the Government, the bringing in of the King of Spain, and the Roman Catholic religion, that their exultation was boundless. Thus the people, as well as the Parliament and Council, had yoked themselves to the responsibility of this act; and Mary, when she heard of it, recollected the fate of the Earl of Northumberland, and was so alarmed lest they should assassinate her in private, that she wrote to Elizabeth her last and most impressive letter. In this letter - worthy of a queen stricken with long years of affliction, grown calm under the sense of injustice, yet careful of her reputation, and mindful of her friends - she requested that her body might be sent to France to lie beside that of her mother; that she might send her last adieu and a jewel to her son; that her faithful servants might be permitted to retain the small tokens of her regard which she had given to them; and especially that she might not be put to death in private, lest her enemies should say, as they had said of others, that she had destroyed herself, or abjured her religion. She then thanked God for having sustained her under so much injustice, and told Elizabeth if she had permitted the real letters and papers to have been brought forward on the trial, they would have shown what were the true objects of her enemies. She added, "Do not accuse me of presumption if, whilst I bid adieu to this world, and am preparing for another, I remind you that one day you will there have to answer for your conduct, as well as those whom you have sent there before you."

Even on the soul of Elizabeth this letter took some effect. "There has been a letter," wrote Leicester to Walsingham, "from the Scottish queen, that hath wrought tears, but I trust shall doe no further herein; albeit, the delay is too dangerous."

The news of the trial of Mary produced a vivid sensation abroad, and Henry III. of France hastened to intercede on her behalf; but, unfortunately, his own affairs were not in that position which enabled him to exert much authority with Elizabeth. At the recommendation of L'Aubespine Chasteauneuf, his resident ambassador, Henry sent an ambassador extraordinary on this mission, M. Bellievre. He was instructed to use the most forcible language, and even menaces, to prevent the spilling of Mary's blood. But the most vexatious obstacles were thrown in the way of the reception of Bellievre. First, he was informed that hired assassins, unknown to him, had mixed themselves with his suite; and then he was questioned whether the plague had not shown itself in his household. Meantime Parliament had supported the commission which condemned Mary, and then, on the 7th of December, she admitted him to an audience at Richmond, seated on her throne and surrounded by her Court.

Bellievre faithfully discharged his office, by no means mincing the matter; and Elizabeth, though she had done all in her power to overawe him, was greatly excited. In reply she professed to have had wonderful forbearance, though Mary had thrice attempted her life, and even now recoiled from shedding her blood, but her people demanded it for her own and the public safety. As for his threat that the King of France would resent the death of the Scottish queen, she asked him whether he had authority to use such language. "Yes, madam," replied Bellievre; "he expressly commanded me to use it." "Is your authority signed with his own hand?" asked Elizabeth. "It is, madam," replied Bellievre. "Then," said the queen, "I command you to testify as much in writing." He did so, and then she told him in a day or two he should receive her answer. Before retiring, however, he spoke many plain things to her. He justified Mary for endeavouring to gain her freedom, for it was notorious, he said, that she had been detained against her will; and that if she had been driven by despair to call in &id conspirators, Elizabeth had only herself to thank for it, for it was perfectly natural; and he warned her not to hope by putting to death the Queen of Scots to annihilate all peril from leagues against her, for so unwarrantable an act would justify and sanctify such leagues.

How deep the language of the French envoy had sunk appeared by the high-toned letter which she dispatched to the King of France. She asked whether she was to consider him a friend or an enemy, and said, haughtily, that she was neither sunk so low, nor ruled so petty a kingdom, as to tolerate such language from any sovereign. She would not live another hour if she were weak enough to put up with such a dishonour.

Bellievre waited in vain for his answer, and, after a month's delay and repeated applications, she sent him word she would give an answer to his master by a messenger of her own. When Bellievre was gone, and yet no message followed, Chasteauneuf made application, and was treated with an indignity which was intended to put an end to all further interference of France in this disagreeable subject. He was assured that a new plot for the assassination of the queen was discovered, and traced to no other place than the French embassy. The ministers pretended to exonerate Chasteauneuf himself from any share in or knowledge of the crime, but they seized and imprisoned his secretary, examined evidence, and produced documents in proof of the plot.

This violation of the sanctity of an embassage, especially from a great nation, was too flagrant for toleration. Chasteauneuf expressed his indignation in the most unsparing terms, and broke off all communication with the English Court; but this did not save him from further insult. Five of his despatches were intercepted and examined in the Council. The King of France was enraged to the highest degree by this insolent treatment of his ambassador, laid an embargo on English shipping, and refused all communication with the English Court. On being made, however, to perceive that it was a mere trick to prevent his interference in behalf of the Queen of Scots, ho sacrificed his own feelings of honour to his desire to save Mary, and again dispatched a fresh envoy, but with no better success. Not till Mary was beyond the power of any earthly monarch would Elizabeth admit him, when she freely acknowledged the innocence of Chasteauneuf, made ample apologies, and endeavoured to efface the memory of these insults by adulation and empty compliments. The French Government, however, did not forget the facts, and Villeroy has recorded in his register the estimate of Burleigh, Walsingham, and their companions, in these words: - "These five councillors of England falsified, forged, and invented all such documents as they thought necessary to bear on their object. They never produced the original articles of procedure, but only copies, which they added to, or diminished, as they pleased." The revelations of the State Paper Office in our time have only too truly confirmed these assertions.

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