a sounder discretion, to have proceeded upon the accusations brought against her by her own subjects, particularly with respect to the murther of her second husband Lord Darnley. From the character, however, and number of the Commissioners,* the majority of our chroniclers decide, that she had an impartial trial, and was clearly convicted of conspiring the destruction of the Queen, the realm of England, and the Protestant religion. Thuanus, the celebrated French historian, likewise observes, that even the Popish lords included in the commission found her guilty of the impeachment.

She suffered in the great hall of Fotheringay Castle, February 8, 1587, in the forty-sixth year of her age; and from the noble fortitude with which she encountered death, it may be truly asserted, that 'her last moments did her more honour than all those, by which they had been preceded.'

Apprehensive that Mary's treatment would excite loud clamors against her in all the Popish courts of Europe, Elizabeth ungenerously endeavoured to throw the blame of it upon Davison, one of the Secretaries of State, through whose department the warrants for the execution of criminals passed. She had signed that of Mary without hesitation; but at the same time, as she subsequently avowed, she had charged the Secretary not to part with it, nor even to let any person know that it had her signature affixed.' Davison however, from various significant hints dropped by Elizabeth, thought it his duty to inform the Privy Council, that it lay signed in his office;

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* Being no fewer than forty-two of the chief persons of the kingdom, including five of the judges.

upon which some of the lords, knowing the Queen had privately censured them for their dilatoriness in the affair, moved that 'orders should be given to Davison to forward it without her Majesty's knowledge to Fotheringay Castle.' This was, of course, followed by the execution of Mary; for which Elizabeth prosecuted Davison, her own immediate agent, in the Star-Chamber, where he was fined 10,000l., and condemned to imprisonment during her royal pleasure! Against this sentence Burghley, convinced that he had acted agreeably to his mistress' wish, remonstrated with great freedom, in a letter to her Majesty which is still extant.

One of the chief objects of the mighty preparations made in Spain in 1587, for the invasion of England, was to replace Mary on the Scottish throne: but by the assiduity and abilities of Cecil, and of his collegues, the expedition was thwarted for a twelvemonth.*

The following year, however, the Spaniards resolved upon ample vengeance; and the spiritual artillery of the Vatican was fulminated in aid of more formidable arms. Excommunications and anathemas, with every other Popish engine of terror, were adopted to shake the allegiance of the English, and to terrify them into defection from their Sovereign. But Burghley had taken advantage of ten years of peace, to put the nation into an admirable posture of defence. The navy had been considerably improved and augmented, and the seamen kept in practice by frequent naval expeditions sent out in quest of discoveries. The army likewise was well-disciplined, and had

* See the Life of Drake.

gained experience by several campaigns in Holland and im Ireland. And so exact was his intelligence in foreign parts, that (to use the words of Lloyd) "he could write to a friend in Ireland, what the King of Spain could do for two years together, and what he could not do."

The defeat of the Armada* having delivered the nation from all apprehensions of a revolution in religion, and the Queen from her personal dangers, universal transport pervaded all orders of people.

But the satisfaction Burghley must have felt upon this fortunate issue of his political measures, was chequered by a stroke of domestic misfortune, which cast a gloom of melancholy over his remaining days. In 1589, he lost his second wife; a lady not less celebrated for her piety and learning,† than for those

Burghley is said, upon this occasion, to have drawn up all the plans of defence; and his eldest son served on board Lord Howard's fleet.

† Learned herself, she was the constant patroness of learned men. A beautiful copy of the O Mirificam Greek Testament of R. Stephens, with the name Mildreda Cecilia, neatly written in her own hand in Greek letters, is still extant. Dean Nowell, whom she had often consulted and employed as her almoner, was called upon to preach her funeral sermon. Her afflicted husband soothed his sorrow for her loss by recounting some of the deeds of charity, great, numerous, and permanent, which she had devised and conducted in her life-time; chiefly without his knowledge, but with the advice of the Deans of St. Paul's and Westminster, she injoining them secrecy, and "forcing upon them some fine pieces of plate, to be used in their chambers, as remembrances of her good-will for their pains." He also drew up a paper of instruction for the Dean, preparatory to his discourse; stating, among other particulars, that he had "lived with her in the state of matrimony forty and two years without any unkindness."

private virtues, which rendered her the ornament and the example of her sex. This affliction was the more severely felt from their long and happy union, Lady Burghley having been his faithful companion and comfort upward of forty years.

It was now that, drooping under this heavy dispensation, almost exhausted by incessant application to public business, and agonised occasionally by the gout, this illustrious statesman earnestly solicited leave to resign his employments, especially as his son Robert began to stand high in the Queen's favour: but Elizabeth, who knew his value, would by no means consent to it. To console him for his loss, she paid him frequent visits, and took every opportunity to do him honour in the eyes of the people, than which nothing could be better calculated to sooth his declining age, and to excite it to fresh exertions in the public service. Accordingly, we find him ex tremely active, upon sundry occasions, during the last ten years of his life. In 1591, the Queen by: his advice founded the University of Dublin, and by him the plan of education was drawn up; and in 1593, he had the sole management of every branch of ad ministration, filling the delicate and difficult post of Prime Minister, and acquitting himself of it's extensive duties with as much ability and despatch, as if he had been in the very vigour of manhood.

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"To him (says one of his earliest biographers) all ranks of people addressed themselves, to the very last. The Bishops and clergy for encouragement, protection, and preferment: the Puritans (who were persecuted, against his opinion, in council) for favourable treatment and relief from the oppressions of the

prelates and of the ecclesiastical courts: fugitives in foreign countries for pardon, which he granted, in consideration of the intelligence they procured him of the designs of the Popes, and of the King of Spain, against his country: the lieutenants of counties, for instructions and advice; the admirals, for fleets and supplies; in a word, the interests of the state abroad, and it's domestic tranquillity at home, were provided for and preserved to the latest hour of his life.

"At length, his dissolution approached by slow and easy gradations; and in fact his disease, properly speaking, was nothing more than the decay of old age, hastened by incessant labour and fatigue of mind and body.

"His death was not sudden, nor his pain in sickness great; for he continued languishing two or three months, yet went abroad to take the air in his coach all that time; retiring from the court, sometimes to his house at Theobald's, and sometimes at London. His greatest apparent infirmity was, the weakness of his stomach. It was also thought his mind was troubled, that he could not effect a peace for his country, which he earnestly desired, seeking to leave it as he had long kept it.

"About ten or twelve days before he died, he grew weak, and so was driven to keep his bed, complaining only of a pain in his breast; which was thought to be the humour of the gout (wherewith he was so long possessed) falling to that place, without any ague, fever, or sign of distemper, and that pain not great nor continual, but by fits; and so continued till within one night before his death. He expired on the fourth of August, 1598.

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