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The Reign of Queen Elizabeth. (Continued)

The Murder of Rizzio - Birth of James, afterwards the First of England - Another Petition to Elizabeth to marry - Her Mysterious Answer - The Murder of Darnley - Trial of Bothwell - Marriage of Mary to Bothwell - Indignation of the People - Attempt to seize Mary and Bothwell at Borthwick Castle - Affair of Carberry Hill - Mary taken Captive, and imprisoned at Lochleven - Compelled to resign the Crown - Her Son proclaimed King - Murray made Regent - Bothwell escapes to Norway - Mary's Escape from Lochleven - Defeated at Langside - Flees into England - Her Reception there.
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The Queen of Scots, victorious by arms over her enemies, determined to call together a Parliament, and there to procure the forfeiture of Murray and his adherents. This threw the rebel lords into the utmost consternation; for, in the then temper of the nation at large, the measure would have been passed, and they would have been stripped of their estates and entirely crushed. To prevent this catastrophe no time was lost. It was actively spread amongst the people that Mary, having signed the league, it was the intention, through the Kings of France and Spain, to put down the Reformation in Scotland. It was represented that David Rizzio, a Milanese, who was become Mary's secretary for the French language, was the agent of the league and a pensioner of Home, and that it was necessary to have him removed. This Rizzio had come into the kingdom in the train of Moret, the Savoy ambassador; and, according to Melville, was at first content with being made a singer in the queen's band; but this fact Chalmers, by examining the treasurer's accounts,, and tracing Rizzo’s progress from the first, denies. Whatever was his original station, however, he soon rose to that of Mary's secretary, and to the possession of her confidence. Nor was this at all extraordinary, for Mary felt that she was surrounded by traitors and enemies. The violence and intolerance of the reform nobles had driven her into the league, and Rizzio, as a strict Papist, supported all her views. Besides himself, there were also his brother Joseph Rizzio, and one Francisco, Italians, and other foreigners, in the queen's service. Rizzio strongly urged the queen to call the Parliament, and thus to crush her turbulent and insolent enemies, and unless he could be got out of the way that would inevitably take place, and the ruin of Murray, Morton, and the rest be certainly ensured. Unfortunately for Rizzio, he had incurred the hatred, not only of these Protestant lords, but of Darnley, the queen's husband. That young man had soon displayed a character which could bring nothing but misery to the queen. He was a man of shallow intellect but of violent passions, and, as is usually the case with such persons, of a will as strong as his judgment was weak. He was ambitious of the chief power, and sullenly resentful because it was denied. Mary, who was of a warm and impulsive temperament, in the ardour of her first affection, had promised Darnley the crown matrimonial, which would have invested him with an equal share of the Royal authority; but soon unhappily perceiving that she had lavished her regard on a weak, headstrong, and dissipated person, she refused to comply, fully assured of the mischiefs which such power in his hands would produce, Darnley resented this denial violently. He reproached the queen with her insincerity in most intemperate language; treated her in public with scandalous disrespect; abandoned her society for the lowest and worst company, and threw himself into the hands of his enemies, who soon made him their tool. They persuaded him that Rizzio, who, in his quarrels with the queen, always took her part, and who, as the keeper of the privy purse, was obliged to resist his extravagant demands upon it, was not only the enemy of the nation, the spy and paid agent of foreign princes, but was the queen's paramour, and the author of the resolve to keep him out of all real power. The scheme took all the effect that was desired, Darnley became jealous and furious for revenge. His father, the Earl of Lennox, joined him in his suspicions, and it was resolved to put Rizzio out of the way.

Darnley, in his blind fury, sent for Lord Ruthven, imploring him to come to him on a matter of life and death. Ruthven was confined to his bed by a severe illness, yet he consented to engage in the conspiracy for the murder of Rizzio, on condition that Darnley should engage to prevent the meeting of Parliament, and to procure the return of Murray and the rebel chiefs. Darnley was in a mood ready to grant anything for the gratification of his resentment against Rizzio; he agreed to everything: a league was entered into, a new covenant sworn, the objects of which were the murder of Rizzio, the prevention of the assembling of Parliament, and the return of Murray and his adherents. Randolph, the English ambassador, now banished from Scotland for his traitorous collusion with the insurgents, yet had gone no further than Berwick, where he was made fully acquainted with the plot, and communicated it immediately to Leicester in a letter, dated February 13th, 1566, which yet remains. He assured him that the murder of Rizzio would be accomplished within ten days; that the crown would be torn from Mary's dishonoured head, and that matters of a still darker nature were meditated against her person which he dared not yet allude to.

Amongst the nobles who had fully participated in the rebellion against their queen, but who had had the cunning to keep their treason concealed, were Morton, Ruthven, Lindsay, and Maitland. These men now worked diligently to organise the conspiracy. They communicated the plot to Knox and Craig, as the head of the clergy, who came fully into the design, as did Bellenden, the justice-clerk, Makgill, the clerk-register, the Lairds of Brunston, Calder, and Ormiston. Morton assured them that the only mean of establishing the Reformation was to prevent the meeting of Parliament, by the murder of Rizzio and the interposition of the king, the imprisonment of the queen, the investment of Darnley with the regal authority, and of Murray with the conduct of the Government; and the whole was readily accepted by both the ministers of State and the ministers of religion as a thing perfectly justifiable. To communicate with Murray and the other refugees in England, Lennox, the father of Darnley, set out thither; and the result was two bonds or covenants, into which the conspirators entered. The first - still preserved in the British Museum - ran in the name of the king. In it he solemnly swore to seize certain ungodly persons, who abused the queen's good nature, and especially an Italian stranger called David; and on any resistance "to cut them off immediately, and slay them, wherever it happened," and to defend and uphold his associates in this enterprise, even if carried into effect in the very presence of the queen. This was signed by Darnley, Morton, and Ruthven.

The second covenant, also still preserved, promised to support Darnley in this and all his just quarrels, to be friends of his friends, enemies of his enemies, to give him the crown matrimonial, to maintain the Protestant religion, on condition that the king pardoned Murray and his associates, and restored their lands and dignities. This was signed by Darnley, Murray, Argyll, Glenclairn, Rothes, Boyd, Ochiltree, and their "complices." All this was duly communicated to Elizabeth and her ministers, Cecil and Leicester, by letters still extant, from Randolph and the Earl of Bedford, the lieutenant of the north, to both Elizabeth and Cecil; and they add that they have engaged that the particulars shall be communicated to none but the queen, Cecil, and Leicester.

Thus we see that Elizabeth was made fully cognisant of all these diabolical designs, and the names of all the leading men engaged in them. In the letter of the 6th of March, 1566, from Berwick, signed by Hertford and Randolph, we learn that Randolph had taken copies of the secret bonds or covenants entered into by the conspirators, and forwarded them to the queen and her confidential ministers. She knew, therefore, that Rizzio was to be murdered before the meeting of Parliament, that the queen was to be seized, stripped of her crown, imprisoned, and that other designs too dark to mention were meditated against her person. Murray and the rebels, whom she had so indignantly reprimanded in public, were to be restored to power; and all this was menaced against a queen whom she was calling sister, for whom she was professing great regard, and with whom she was in profound peace and alliance.

What did she do at this startling crisis? We prefer using the words of a distinguished historian to our own. Mr. Tyler says, "She knew all that was about to occur: the life of Riccio, the liberty, perhaps, too, the life of Mary was in her power; Moray was at her court; the conspirators were at her devotion; they had given the fullest information to Randolph, that he might consult the queen. She might have imprisoned Moray, discomfited the plans of the conspirators, saved the life of the miserable victim who was marked for slaughter, and preserved Mary, to whom she professed a warm attachment, from captivity. All this might have been done, perhaps it is not too much, to say, that even in those dark times, it would have been done by a monarch acutely alive to the common feelings of humanity. But Elizabeth adopted a very different course; she not only allowed Moray to leave her realm, she dismissed him with the marks of the highest confidence and distinction; and this man, when ready to sail for Scotland, to take his part in those dark transactions which soon followed, sent his secretary, Wood, to acquaint Cecil with the most secret intentions of the conspirators."

Mary was not without some warnings of what was being prepared, but she could not be made sensible of her danger, neither could Rizzio; for Damiot, an astrologer, whom he was in the habit of consulting, bade him beware of the bastard. The obscurity attending all such oracles led Rizzio to believe that Damiot alluded to Murray, and Rizzio laughed at any danger from him, a banished man; but we shall see that he received his first wound from another bastard, George Douglas, the natural son of the Earl of Angus.

On the 3rd of March Parliament was opened, and a statute of treason and of forfeiture against Murray and his accomplices was immediately introduced on the Thursday, which was to be passed on the following Tuesday. But on the Saturday evening, the queen, sitting at supper in a small closet adjoining her chamber, attended by her natural sister, the Countess of Argyll, the Commendator of Holyrood, Beaton, Master of the Household, Arthur Erskine, captain of the guard, and her secretary, Rizzio, was surprised by the apparition of Darnley suddenly putting aside the arras which concealed the door, and' standing for a moment gloomily surveying the group. Behind him came a still more startling figure; it was that of Ruthven, in complete armour, just come from his sick bed, and with a face pale and ghastly as that of a ghost. Mary, who was seven months gone with child, started up at this terrible sight, and commanded Ruthven to be gone; but at this moment Darnley put his arm round her waist as to detain her, and other conspirators entered, one after another, with naked weapons, into the room. Ruthven drew his dagger, and crying that their business was with Rizzio, endeavoured to seize him. But Rizzio, rushing to his mistress, seized the skirt of her robe, and shouted, "Giustizia! giustizia! sauve ma vie - Madame, sauve ma vie!"

Darnley forced himself betwixt the queen and Rizzio, to separate them from one another, and probably the intention was to drag him out of her presence, and dispatch him. But George Douglas, the bastard, in his impetuosity, drove his dagger into the back of Rizzio over the queen's shoulder, and the rest of the conspirators-Morton, Car of Faudonside, and others - dragged him out to the entrance of the presence-chamber, where, in their murderous fury, they stabbed him with fifty-six wounds, with such blind rage that they wounded one another, and left Darnley's dagger sticking in the body as an evidence of his participation in the deed. This done, the hideous Ruthven, exhausted with the excitement, staggered into the presence of the shrieking queen, and, sinking upon a seat, demanded a cup of wine. Mary upbraided him with his brutality; but he coolly assured her that it was all done at the command of her husband and king. At that moment one of her ladies rushed in crying that they had killed Rizzio. "And is it so?" said Mary; "then farewell tears, we must now study revenge."

It was about seven in the evening when this savage murder was perpetrated. The palace was beset by troops under the command of Morton. There was no means of rousing the city, the queen was kept close prisoner in her chamber, whilst the king, assuming the sole authority, issued letters commanding the three estates to quit the capital within three hours, on pain of treason, whilst Morton with his guards was ordered to allow no one to leave the palace. Notwithstanding this, Huntley, Both-well, Sir James Balfour, and James Melville made their escape in the darkness and confusion; and as Melville passed under the queen's window, she suddenly threw up the sash, and entreated him to give the alarm to the city. Her ruffianly guards immediately seized her, and dragged her back, swearing they would cut her to pieces; and Darnley was pushed forward to harangue the people, and assure them that both the queen and himself were safe, and commanding them to retire in peace, which they did.

The queen remained in the most frightful condition, and the only wonder is that in her situation the consequences were not fatal to both herself and child. She became delirious, and cried out ever and anon that Ruthven was coming to murder her. As miscarriage was imminent, even the foolish and contemptible Darnley was at last moved, and her women were admitted to attend on and soothe her. In the morning her base brother, Murray, with Rothes, Ochiltree, and others of the banished lords, rode into the capital, and thence directly to the palace. So little was the unfortunate queen aware of the extent of the villany surrounding her that, on seeing Murray, she threw herself into his arms, and, bursting into tears, exclaimed, "If my brother had been here he would never have suffered me to have been thus cruelly handled." The wretch either felt or feigned a momentary compassion; but, if real, it was but like a passing flash, for he went from her direct to the meeting of the conspirators, where it was determined to shut Mary up in Stirling Castle, to confer the crown on Darnley, and establish the Protestant religion, with death or imprisonment to all dissentients.

But Mary was not long left alone with Darnley, before she convinced him of the dupe he had made of himself. She asked him whether he was so mad as to expect that after they had secured her, after they had imperilled the life of his child, they would spare him? and she bade him look at their conduct now where they usurped all authority and did not even allow him to send his own servants to her. Darnley became thoroughly alarmed; he vowed he had had no hand in the conspiracy, and offered to call the conspirators into her presence, and declare that the queen was ready to pardon them, on condition that they withdrew their guards, replaced her own servants, and treated her as their true queen. The noble traitors were this time over-reached in their turn; probably trembling for the consequences of their daring conduct, on seeing Darnley and the queen reconciled, they consented, and in the night the queen and Darnley mounted fleet horses and fled to Dunbar. The consternation of the murderers in the morning maybe imagined. The outraged and insulted queen had escaped their hands, and the news came flying that already the nobles and the people were hurrying from all sides to her standard. Huntley, Atholl, Bothwell, and whole crowds of barons and gentlemen flew to her, and at Dunbar a numerous army stood as by magic ready to march on the traitors and execute the vengeance due. They fled. Morton, Ruthven - the grisly, pale-faced assassin - Brunston, and Car of Faudonside escaped to England. Maitland of Lethington betook himself to the hills of Atholl, and Craig, the colleague of Knox, dived into the darksome recesses of the city wynds.

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