صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

RESOLUTION TO BRING MARY TO TRIAL.

169

lors. Some advised that the royal captive should be spared the ignominy of any public proceeding; but that her attendants should be removed and her custody rendered so severe as to preclude all possibility of her renewing her pestilent intrigues. Leicester, in conformity with the baseness and atrocity of his character, is related to have suggested the employment of treachery against the life of a prisoner whom it appeared equally dangerous to spare or to punish, and to have sent a divine to convince Walsingham of the lawfulness of taking her off by poison. But that minister rejected the proposal with abhorrence; and concurred with the majority of the council in urging the queen to bring her without fear or scruple to an open trial. In favor of this measure Elizabeth at length decided ; and steps were taken accordingly.

By means of well concerted precautions, Mary had been kept in total ignorance of the apprehension of the conspirators, till their confessions had been made and their fates decided a gentleman was then sent to her from the court to announce that all was discovered.

It was just as she had mounted her horse to take her usual exercise with her keepers, that this alarming message was delivered to her; and for obvious reasons she was compelled to proceed on her excursion, instead of returning, as she desired, to her chamber. Meantime all her papers were seized, sealed up and conveyed to the queen. Amongst them were letters from a large proportion of the nobility and other leading characters of the English court, filled with

1

170. MARY REMOVED TO FOTHERINGAY CASTLE. expressions of attachment to the person of the queen of Scots and sympathy in her misfortunes, not unmixed, in all probability, with severe reflections on the conduct of her rival and oppressor. All these Elizabeth perused and no doubt stored up in her memory; but her good sense and prudence supplied on this occasion the place of magnanimity; and well knowing that the conscious fears of the writers would be ample security for their future conduct, she buried in lasting silence and apparent oblivion all the discoveries which had reached her through this channel.

The principal domestics of Mary were now apprehended, and committed to different keepers ; and Nau" and Curl her two secretaries were sent prisoners-to London. She herself was immediately removed from Tutbury and conveyed with a great attendance of the neighbouring gentry; and with pauses at several noblemen's houses by the way; to the strong castle of Fotheringay in Northamptonshire. This part of the business was safely and prudently conducted by sir Amias Paulet; and he received for his encouragement and reward the following characteristic letter, subscribed by the hand of her majesty, and surely of her own inditing

To my faithful Amias. . “ Amias, my most careful servant, God reward thee treble fold in the double for thy most troublesome charge so well discharged! If you knew, my Amias, how kindly, besides dutifully, my grateful heart accepteth your double labors and

LETTER OF ELIZABETH TO SIR A. PAULET. 171

faithful actions; your wise orders and safe conduct performed in so dangerous and crafty a charge ; it would ease your troubles and rejoice your heart. And (which I charge you to carry this most just thought) that I cannot balance in any weight of my judgement the value I prize you at: And suppose no treasure to countervail such a faith: And condemn myself in that fault which I have committed, if I reward not such deserts. Yea, let me lack when I have most need, if I acknowledge not such a merit with a reward ' non omnibus datum.'

“ But let your wicked mistress, know, how with hearty sorrow her vile deserts compel those orders; and bid her from me ask God forgiveness for her treacherous dealing toward the saver of her life many years, to the intolerable peril of her own. And yet, not content with so many forgivenesses, must fall again so horribly, far passing a woman, much more a princess. Instead of excusing thereof, not one can serve, it being so plainly.confessed by the authors of my guiltless death.

“Let repentance take place; and let not the fiend possess so as her best part be lost. Which I pray, with hands lifted up to him that

may

both save and spill. With my loving adieu and prayer for thy long life, “ Your assured and loving sovereign in heart,

by good desert induced,

« Eliz. R.' Soon after the arrival of Mary at Fotheringay, Elizabeth, according to the provisions of the late act, issued out a commission to forty noblemen and privy-councillors, empowering them to try and pass

172

TRIAL OF MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS.

sentence upon Mary daughter and heir of king James V. and late queen of Scots; 'for it was thus that she was designated, with a view of intimating to her that she was no longer to be regarded as possessing the rights of a sovereign princess. Thirty-six of the commissioners repaired immediately to Fotheringay, where they arrived on October 9th 1586, and cited Mary to appear before them. This summons she refused to obey, on the double ground, that as an absolute princess she was free from all human jurisdiction, since kings only could be her peers; and that having been detained in England as a prisoner, she had not enjoyed the protection of the laws; and consequently ought not in equity to be regarded as amenable to their sentence. Weighty as these objections may appear, the commissioners refused to admit them, and declared that they would proceed to judge her by default. This menace she at first disregarded; but soon after, overcome by the artful representations of Hatton on the inferences which must inevitably be drawn from her refusal to justify herself for the satisfaction of a princess who had declared that she desired nothing so much as the establishment of her innocence; she changed her mind and consented to plead. None of her papers were restored, no counsel was assigned her; and her request that her two secretaries, whose evidence was principally relied on by the prosecutors, might be confronted with her, was denied. But all these were hardships customarily inflicted on prisoners accused of high treason; and it does not appear that, with respect

TRIAL OF MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS. 173 to its forms and modes of proceedings, Mary had cause to complain that her trial was other than a regular and legal one.

On her first appearance she renewed her protestation against the competence of the tribunal. Bromley lord-chancellor answered her, showing the jurisdiction of the English law over all persons within the country; and the commissioners ordered both the objection and the reply to be registered, as if to save the point of law; but it does not appear that it was ever referred for decision to any other authority.

Intercepted letters, authenticated by the testimony of her secretaries, formed the chief evidence against Mary. From these the crown lawyers showed; and she did not attempt to deny, that she had suffered her correspondents to address her as queen of England ; that she had endeavoured by means of English fugitives to incite the Spaniards to invade the country; and that she had been negotiating at Rome the terms of a transfer of all her claims, present and future, to the king of Spain; disinheriting by this unnatural act her own schismatic son. The further charge of having concurred in the late plot for the assassination of Elizabeth, she strongly denied and attempted to disprove; but it stood on equally good evidence with all the rest; and in spite of some suggestions of which her modern partisans have endeavoured to give her the benefit, there appears no solid foundation on which an impartial inquirer can rest any doubt of the fact.

The deportment of Mary on this trying emer

« السابقةمتابعة »