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ELIZABETH,

SECOND QUEEN REGNANT OF ENGLAND & IRELAND.

CHAPTER IX.

Evil consequences to Elizabeth from the detention of Mary queen of Scots —Real and pretended plots against Elizabeth's life—Her parsimony— Walsingham's letter of expostulation—Altercation between Elizabeth and the archbishop of St. Andrew's and other Scotch ambassadors.-Hard treatment of the earls of Northumberland and Arundel-Her enmity to lady Arundel-Takes offence with Leicester-Her angry speeches of him, and stern letter to him-Quarrels with Burleigh-Leicester's jealousy of Raleigh-First notice of Essex-Charles Blount attracts Elizabeth's notice-Scandals respecting her regard for him-Essex's jealousyMorgan and Babington's conspiracy-Elizabeth's peril-Queen of Scots implicated-Her removal to Fotheringay-Elizabeth's letter to PauletProceedings against Mary-Elizabeth's irritation-Her levity—Angry reply to the French ambassador-Petitioned by parliament to put Mary to death-Her speech-Subsequent irresolution-She hints at secret murder-Leicester suggests poison-Remonstrances of the king of France -Stormy scenes between Elizabeth and French ambassadors-Mary's sentence published-Her letter to Elizabeth, and its effects-Remonstrances of Bellievre in behalf of Mary-Elizabeth's haughty letter to the king of France-Her scornful treatment of the Scotch ambassadors Crooked policy of her ministers-Pretended plot against her life-Excited state of her mind-Her irresolution-Scenes between her and DavisonShe signs Mary's death-warrant—Her jest on the subject-Her demurs -Earnest desire of Mary's assassination-Commands Davison to propose it to Paulet-Her dream-Her anger at Paulet's scruples-Dark hints of employing an agent of her own-Manner in which she receives the news of Mary's execution-She rates her ministers and council-Disgrace of Davison-Queen's excuses to the French ambassador-Charges the blame on her ministers-Hypocritical letter to the king of Scots-She brings lady Arabella Stuart into notice-Pope Sixtus V. commends her spirit, but proclaims a crusade against her.

THE unjust detention of Mary Queen of Scots in an English prison, had for fifteen years proved a source of per

VOL. VII.

B

sonal misery to Elizabeth, and a perpetual incentive to crime. The worst passions of the human heart-jealousy, hatred, and revenge-were kept in a constant state of excitement by the confederacies that were formed in her dominions, in behalf of the captive heiress of the crown. Her ministers pursued a systematic course of espionage and treachery, in order to discover the friends of the unfortunate Mary; and when discovered, omitted no means, however base, by which they might be brought under the penalty of treason. The sacrifice of human life was appalling; the violation of all moral and divine restrictions of conscience more melancholy still. Scaffolds streamed with blood; the pestilential gaols were crowded with victims, the greater portion of whom died of fever or famine, unpitied and unrecorded, save in the annals of private families.

Among the features of this agitating period, was the circumstance of persons of disordered intellects accusing themselves of designs against the life of their sovereign, and denouncing others as their accomplices. Such was the case with regard to Somerville, an insane catholic gentleman, who attacked two persons with a drawn sword, and declared that he would murder every protestant in England, and the queen, as their head. Somerville had, unfortunately, married the daughter of Edward Arden, a high-spirited gentleman of ancient descent, in Warwickshire, and a kinsman of Shakspeare's mother. Arden had incurred the deadly malice of Leicester, not only for refusing to wear his livery, like the neighbouring squires, to swell his pomp during queen Elizabeth's visit to Kenilworth, "but chiefly," says Dugdale, "for galling him by certain strong expressions, touching his private addresses to the countess of Essex before she was his wife." These offences had been duly noted down for vengeance; and the unfortunate turn which the madness of the lunatic son-in-law had taken, formed a ready pretext

1See Camden. Bishop Goodman. Howel's State Trials.

2 On the 17th of November, 1577, the attorney-general was directed to examine Thomas Sherwood on the rack, and orders were given to place him in the dungeon among the rats. This horrible place was a den in the Tower below high-water mark, entirely dark, and the resort of innumerable rats, which had been known to wound and maim the limbs of the wretched denizens of this dungeon; but Sherwood's constancy and courage were not subdued by the horrors of this cell.

for the arrest of Arden, his wife, daughters, sister, and a missionary priest named Hall.

Arden and Hall were subjected to the torture, and Hall admitted that Arden had once been heard to wish "that

the queen were in heaven." This was sufficient to procure

the condemnation and execution of Arden. Somerville was found strangled in his cell at Newgate. Hall and the ladies were pardoned. As the insanity of Somerville was notorious, it was generally considered that Arden fell a victim to the malice of Leicester, who parcelled out his lands among his own dependents.'

But while plots, real and pretended, threatening the life of the queen, agitated the public mind from day to day, it had become customary for groups of the populace to throw themselves on their knees in the dirt, by the wayside, whenever she rode out, and pray for her preservation, invoking blessings on her head, and confusion to the papists, with the utmost power of their voices. A scene of this kind once interrupted an important political dialogue, which the maiden queen was holding with the French ambassador Mauvissière, as he rode by her side, from Hampton Court to London, in November, 1583. She was in the act of discussing the plots of the Jesuits," when," says he,2 "just at this moment many people, in large companies, met her by the way, and kneeling on the ground, with divers sorts of prayers, wished her a thousand blessings, and that the evil-disposed who meant to harm her might be discovered, and punished as they deserved. She frequently stopped to thank them, for the affection they manifested for her. She and I being alone, amidst her retinue, mounted on goodly horses, she observed to me 'that she saw clearly that she was not disliked by all.""

It is not very difficult to perceive, by the dry manner of Mauvissière, that he deemed this scene was got up for the purpose. Indeed, such public displays of fervency are by no means in unison with the English national character.

The parsimony of Elizabeth in all affairs of state policy, where a certain expenditure was required, often embarrassed her ministers, and traversed the arrangements they had

1 Camden.

2 Reports of Mauvissière de Castelnau. Letters of Mary queen of Scots, vol. ii. p. 29, published by Mr. Colburn, 1842.

made, or were desirous of making, in her name, with foreign princes. Walsingham was, on one occasion, so greatly annoyed by her majesty's teasing minuteness and provoking interference in regard to money matters, that he took the liberty of penning a long letter of remonstrance to her, amounting to an absolute lecture on the subject.

"Sometimes," says he, "when your majesty doth behold in what doubtful terms you stand with foreign princes, then do you wish, with great affection, that opportunities offered had not been slipped. But when they are offered to you, (if they be accompanied with charges,) they are altogether neglected. Common experience teacheth, that it is as hard in a politic body to prevent any mischief without charges, as in a natural body, diseased, to cure the same without pain. Remember, I humbly beseech your majesty, the respect of charges hath lost Scotland, and I would to God I had no cause to think that it might put your highness in peril of the loss of England. I see it, and they stick not to say it, that the only cause that maketh them here (in France) not to weigh your majesty's friendship, is, that they see your majesty doth fly charges, otherwise than by doing them underhand. It is strange, considering in what state your majesty standeth, that in all directions that we have here received, we have special charge not to yield to anything that may be accompanied with charges.

"The general league must be without any certain charges; the particular league, with a voluntary and no certain charge; as also that which is to be attempted in favour of don Antonio. The best is, that if they were (as they are not) inclined to deal in any of these points, then they were like to receive but small comfort for anything that we have direction to assent unto. Heretofore your majesty's predecessors, in matters of peril, did never look into charges, though their treasure was neither so great as your majesty's is, nor their subjects so wealthy, nor so willing to contribute. A person that is diseased, if he look only upon the medicine, without regard of the pain he sustaineth, cannot in reason and nature but abhor the same; if, therefore, no peril, why then 'tis vain to be at charges, but if there be peril, it is hard that charges should be preferred before peril. I pray God that the abatement of the charges towards that nobleman, that hath the custody of the bosom serpent, (meaning Mary queen of Scots,) hath not lessened his care in keeping of her. To think that in a man of his birth and quality, after twelve years' travail, in charge of such weight, to have an abatement of allowance, and no recompence otherwise made, should not breed discontentment, no man that hath reason can so judge; and, therefore, to have so special a charge committed to a person discontented, everybody seeth it standeth no way with policy. What dangerous effects this loose keeping hath bred! The taking away of Morton, the alienation of the king, (James of Scotland,) and a general revolt in religion, intended (caused) only by her charges, doth shew.

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"And, therefore, nothing being done to help the same, is a manifest argument that the peril that is like to grow thereby is so fatal, as it can by no means be prevented, if this sparing and improvident course be still held, the mischiefs approaching being so apparent as they are. clude, therefore, having spoken in the heat of duty, without offence to your majesty, that no one that serveth in the place of a counsellor, that either weigheth his own credit, or carrieth that sound affection to your majesty as he ought to do, that would not wish himself in the furthest part of Ethiopia, rather than enjoy the fairest palace in England. The

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