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The Reign of Elizabeth. (Continued) page 4

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Mary received this announcement with a calm dignity which awed and even affected the beholders. "When the earls had risen and were about to withdraw, the queen asked earnestly whether Nau was dead or alive. Drury replied that ho was still alive in prison. "What!" she exclaimed, "is Nau's life to be spared, and mine taken?" And again laying her hand on the Testament – "I protest before God that Nau is the author of my death. He has brought me to the scaffold to save his own life. I die in the place of Nau, but the truth will soon be known."

When the door was closed after the earls, her attendants burst into an agony of grief, but she bade thorn dry their tears, for it was not an occasion to weep on bat to rejoice in. She bade them hasten sapper, for die had much to do. Whilst supper was preparing she prayed long and fervently, and en being called supped sparingly, as was her custom. Before rising, she drank to all her servants, who pledged her in return upon their knees, and with many tears entreated her forgiveness for anything with which, during their service, they had grieved or offended her. She forgave them, and asked their pardon for any faults towards them, on her part; and followed this with come advice regarding their future conduct, adding once more her conviction that Nau was the cause of her death.

This do no she sat down to write, and prepared three letters, one to her confessor - in which she complained of the cruelty of her enemies, who refused her his assistance, and bogged his prayers during the night - one to the Duke of Guise, and the third to the King of France. She now retired to her closet with her maids, Jane Kennedy and Elspeth Curie, and spent the night in devotion. About four o'clock she lay down on her bed, but did not sleep, her lips still continuing in motion, and her mind evidently being occupied in prayer. At dawn she called round her her household, read to them her will, distributed amongst them her clothes and money; kissed the women, and gave her hand to the men to kiss. She then went into her chapel, followed by the whole group, who knelt and prayed behind her, as she knelt and prayed at the altar.

Whilst she was thus engaged, the commissioners, attended by the sheriff, and Paulet and his guard, making from 150 to 203 persons, assembled in the great hall, where a scaffold was already raised and covered with black cloth. At eight o'clock, Andrews, the sheriff, entered, and told her that it was time. She then arose, took the crucifix in her right haul, and her prayer-book in her Lit, and followed him. Her servants were moving in train, but they were ordered by the officers to remain, and Mary, therefore, bade them be content, and turning gave them her blessing. They received it on their knees, in a convulsion of grief, some kissing her hands, others clinging to and kissing her robe. She went forth with a calm and pleasant air, clad in a gown of black satin, with a veil of lawn fastened to her caul and flowing to the ground. To her girdle hung her chaplet, and she still held in her hand the ivory crucifix. As the door closed behind her, a loud and agonised lament rose from her attendants.

She was received by the earls and her keepers, and at the foot of the stairs she found her old and faithful servant, Sir Robert Melville, who for the last three weeks had been denied access to her. The old man, in a passion of grief, flung himself on his knees before her, and exclaimed, "All, madam! unhappy me! Was ever a man on earth a bearer of such sorrow as I shall be, when I shall report that my good and gracious queen and mistress was beheaded in England?" This was all that his emotion would allow him to utter, and Mary said, "Good Melville, cease to lament. Thou hast cause to joy rather than mourn, for thou shalt see the end of Mary Stuart's troubles. Know that this world is but vanity, subject to more sorrow than an ocean of tears can bewail. But I pray thee report that I die a true woman to my religion, to Scotland, and to France. May God forgive them that have long thirsted for my blood as the hart doth for the brooks of water. 0 God! thou art the author of truth, and truth itself. Thou knowest the inmost chambers of my thoughts, and that I always wished the union of England and Scotland. Commend me to my son, and tell him that I have done nothing prejudicial to the dignity or independence of his crown, or favourable to the pretended superiority of our enemies."

Here she burst into tears, kissed Melville, saying, "Good Melville, farewell; and once again, good Melville, farewell, and pray for thy mistress and queen." This parting seemed to make her feel more sensibly the cruelty of being forbidden to have the rest of her servants present at her death. She again entreated, that they might be admitted, but the ungenial Earl of Kent objected that they might be troublesome by the clamorousness of their grief, and might practise some Popish mummery, or dip their handkerchiefs in her blood. Mary pledged her word for the propriety of their behaviour, and said she felt assured that Elizabeth, as a maiden queen, would wish her to have her women about her at her death. Still there was no answer, and she added that she thought they might grant her a greater courtesy were she a woman of a less calling than a Queen of Scotland. Seeing that this did not move them, she continued with warmth, "Am I not the cousin to your queen, a descendant of the blood-royal of Henry VII., a married Queen of France, and the anointed Queen of Scotland?" This produced so much effect that it was agreed to admit four of her men and two of her women servants; and she selected the steward, physician, apothecary, and surgeon, with the maids Kennedy and Curie.

The sheriff and his officers then moved towards the scaffold; the Earls of Shrewsbury and Kent followed; next Paulet and Drury, Mary, with Melville bearing her train, in the rear. Old Amyas relaxed some of his sternness, and offered her his arm to mount the scaffold, for which she thanked him, observing that it was the most acceptable service he had ever offered her. On the scaffold was the block, a low stool, and a cushion, all covered with black. The executioner from the Tower, dressed in black velvet, with his assistants, stood opposite to the stool, on which she seated herself. The servants and all but the chief personages just mentioned, stood on the floor of the hall. As soon as Beale had read the warrant, which Mary heard without any symptom of uneasiness, she addressed the spectators, begging them to remember that she was a sovereign princess, not subject to the laws, the sovereign, or the Parliament of England, but was brought there by violence and injustice to suffer. She repeated again her protestation that she had never injured or contemplated injury to the Queen of England; that she pardoned all her enemies, and thanked God that she was thought worthy to shed her blood for her religion. Here the Dean of Peterborough interrupted her, and began to give a history of her life, and of the favours which Elizabeth had shown to her, and who was killing her body to save her soul.

Mary bade the officious churchman spare himself his trouble, for that she was born in her religion, had lived in it, and meant to die in it. She then turned from him; but the unabashed dean, who no doubt thought he was doing God service whilst he was persecuting an unhappy victim in her last moments, went round to the other side of her, and began again. The Earl of Shrewsbury, who seems to have been the only true gentleman present, bade him desist and repeat a prayer. Whilst he repeated his prayer, Mary pronounced one of her own for her suffering Church, for her son, and, imitating the Saviour, for her enemy and destroyer, Elizabeth; then, holding up her crucifix, she said, "As thy arms, O God, were stretched out upon the cross, so receive mo into thy arms of mercy, and forgive my sins." "Madam," said the Earl of Kent, who knew much less of real Christianity than he believed, "you had better leave such Popish trumperies, and bear him in your heart." She replied, "I cannot hold this representation of his sufferings in my hand, but I must at the same time bear him in my heart." The whole of Mary's conduct on the scaffold showed that, apart from all sacred rites and ceremonies, she had learnt the true spirit of the Redeemer.

Mary bade her maids disrobe her, which they attempted, drowned in tears; but the executioners, who thought they were going to lose their perquisites, rushed forward, and insisted on doing that themselves. The queen begged them to desist, but finding it useless, observed to the earls, with a smile, that she was not accustomed to employ such grooms, or to undress before so numerous a company; but she signed to her maids to be silent by putting her finger to her lips, giving them her blessing, and soliciting their prayers. Kennedy tied a handkerchief edged with gold over her eyes, and the executioner led her to the block. The chief executioner, though from the Tower, was so unnerved by the fact of severing a crowned head, and by the cries and groans of the attendants, that he missed his aim, struck a deep wound into the base of the skull, and not till the third blow succeeded in his task. When he held up the head, the features of which were so convulsed that they were unrecognisable, and cried, "God save Queen Elizabeth!" the bigoted dean said, "So perish all her enemies; " and the rude, fanatical Kent, "So perish all the enemies of the Gospel." Not a single voice was heard to cry "Amen." The spectacle of a dying queen, long oppressed by captivity and calumny, now blessing her enemies in her last moments, had made all forget that she was of a different creed and party: they felt only that she was a woman and a Christian.

An affecting incident marked the execution. The queen's little dog followed her, concealed herself amongst her clothes, and would not be removed except by force, when he flew back to the body, and lay down betwixt the head and shoulders. The corpse was embalmed, enclosed in lead, and left for six months in the same room, when Elizabeth ordered it to be buried with Royal state in the abbey church of Peterborough, opposite to the tomb of Catherine of Arragon. There it remained for twenty-five years, when it was removed to "Westminster Abbey by order of James.

The Earl of Shrewsbury dispatched his son with the intelligence of the execution of Mary, which reached the Court the next day. Burleigh, who received the letter, immediately sent for Davison and several of the Privy Council, and it was concluded to keep the fact from the queen for a short time. But such a fact, though it might be officially, could not be otherwise concealed. The news flew abroad, and the Protestant population gave a loose to their joy by the universal ringing of bells and kindling of bonfires. Elizabeth neither could nor did remain ignorant of the cause of this noisy exultation. She inquired why the bells rung so merrily, and was told, says Davison, for the execution of the Queen of Scots; but she took no notice of it, having not been officially informed, Par from displaying any emotion of any kind, she took her usual airing, and on her return appeared to be enjoying herself in the company of Don Antonio, the pretender to the crown of Portugal. But in the morning, being then officially informed, she flew into very well-acted official paroxysms of rage and grief. She declared that she had never contemplated or sanctioned such a thing; that Davison had betrayed her, whom she had charged not to lot the warrant go out of his hands; and that the whole Privy Council had acted most unwarrantably.

Davison, who fondly hoped that ho had secured himself under the shield of the Privy Council, made his appearance at Court; but-the councillors, who saw there must be a victim, advised him to keep out of sight for a few days; and the consequence was, that his amiable friends of the Council most likely made him their scapegoat, for he was immediately arrested and committed to the Tower. But the ministers themselves did not escape their share of the storm. For four days the matter was before the Council, and they received the severest and most unmeasured upbraidings from their Royal mistress the burden being naturally thrown on poor Davison. The Earl of Buckhurst, however, behaved most honourably on the occasion. He presented a memorial to the queen, in which he dared to maintain that Davison had only done his unavoidable duty, and that to punish him would be to give rise to the assertion that the Queen of Scots had been executed without due warrant, and therefore had been actually murdered, The warrant being actually in existence, and shown openly and read to the Queen of Scots, the story of the delivering of it by the secretary without authority would not be believed.

But Elizabeth had made up her mind, and the lameness and improbability of her story had no effect in restraining her from the publication of false statements and punishment of the innocent, to screen, if possible, her own guilty name. She sent for Roger, the Groom of the Chamber to the King of France, and bade him assure his, sovereign of her profound grief for this sad accident, of her ignorance of the dispatch of the warrant, and of her determination to punish the presumption of her ministers. She kept up the farce for some time, disgracing her ministers, and so rating them, that they were glad to keep out of her way. But she summoned them into the Star Chamber to answer for their offence, on which they made their humble apologies, and one by one were gradually restored to their offices. Not so the unfortunate Davison. She had discovered that he was of too honest and unbending material for her Court and service, He would never join in the persecution and malignment of Mary. He refused, even at Elizabeth's request, to join the "association" for the assassination of Mary on any pretence of Elizabeth being in danger. He had taken no part in the examination of Babington and his accomplices. Though named in the commission for Mary's trial, he did not attend, or sign the sentence, as others who absented themselves did; and, still worse, instead of imitating the pliant conduct of the ministers, he maintained the correctness of his proceeding, and even imprudently alluded on his trial to the murder-suggesting message of the queen to Paulet. The following account of him before his examiners, as given by Strype, is sufficiently convincing that lie would never escape the vengeance of Elizabeth: - "Did not her majesty give it in commandment to you to keep the warrant secret, and not utter it to any one? He answers that she gave it to him without any such commandment, which he affirmeth as in the presence of God. Did she command you to pass it to the great seal? He answers affirmatively, and mentions such circumstances as, he trusts, will bring that commandment to her recollection. Did she not, after it had passed the great seal, command you, on your life, not to let it go out of your hand? In answer he protesteth before God that he neither remembereth nor received any such command. Did she ever command you to deliver it to anybody? As she did not expressly command him to deliver it, so did he never understand her meaning to be other than to have it proceeded in. Did she not, six or seven days afterwards, tell you she had a better way to proceed therein? He replies. 'On the receipt of a letter from Mr. Paulet on such cause, as she lest knoweth, she uttered such a speech as that she could have matters otherwise done - the particulars whereof I leave to her best remembrance.'"

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