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ELIZABETH,

SECOND QUEEN REGNANT OF ENGLAND AND 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 noticeScandals respecting her regard for himEssex's jealousy - Morgan and Babington's conspiracy - Elizabeth's peril — Queen of Scots implicated—Her removal to Fotheringay-Elizabeth's letter to Paulet— Proceedings against Mary - Elizabeth's irritation — Her levityAngry reply to the French ambassador-Petitioned by parliament to put Mary to death-Her speech-Subsequent irresolution-She hints at a 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 sc ful treatment of the Scotch ambassadors - Crooked policy of her ministers. Pretended plot against her life-Excited state of her mind-Her irresolutionScenes between her and Davison—She 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.

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

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

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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 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 féll a victim to the malice of Leicester, who parcelled out his lands among his dependants. 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, the maiden queen held with the 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 Mauvissière, " just at this moment many people, in large companies, met her by the way, and kneeling on the ground, with divers

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 highwater 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.

· Camden. * Letters of Mary, Queen of Scots, vol. ii., p. 29, published by Mr. Colburn, 1842.

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