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174

TRIAL OF MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS..

ģency exhibited somewhat of the dignity, but more of the spirit and adroitness, for which she has been famed. She justified her negotiations, or intrigues, with foreign princes, on the ground of her inalienable right to employ all the means within her power for the recovery of that liberty of which she had been cruelly and unjustly deprived. With great effrontery she persisted in denying that she had ever entertained with Babington any correspondence whatever; and she urged that his pretending to receive, or having in fact received, letters writ, ten in her cypher, was no conclusive proof against her; since it was the same which she used in her French correspondence; and might have fallen into other hands. But finding herself hard pressed by evidence on this part of the subject, she afterwards hazarded a rash attempt to fix on Walsingham the imputation of having suborned witnesses and forged letters for her destruction. The aged minister, greatly moved by this attack upon his character, immediately rose and asserted his innocence in a manner so solemn, and with such circumstantial corroboration, as compelled her to retract the accusation with an apology.

On some mention of the earl of Arundel and lord William Howard his brother, which occurred in the intercepted letters, she sighed, and exclaimed with a feeling which did her honor, “ Alas, what has not the noble house of Howard suffered for my sake!”

On the whole, her presence of mind was remarkable; though the quick sensibilities of her nature could not be withheld from breaking out at times, either in vehement sallies of anger or long fits of

HER CONDEMNATION.

175 Weeping“; as the sense of past and present injuries, or of her forlorn and afflicted state and the perils and sufferings which still menaced her, rose by turns upon her agitated and affrighted mind.

The commissioners, after a full hearing of the cause, quitted Fotheringay; and meeting again in the Star-chamber summoned before them the two secretaries, who voluntarily confirmed on oath the whole of their former depositions; after this, they proceeded to an unanimous sentence of death against Mary, which was immediately transmitted to the queen for her approbation. On the same day a declaration was published on the part of the commissioners and judges, importing, that the sentence did in no manner derogate from the titles and honors of the king of Scots.

Most of the subsequent steps taken by Elizabeth in this unhappy business are marked with the features of that intense selfishness which, scrupling nothing for the attainment of its own mean objects, seldom fails by exaggerated efforts and overstrained manoeuvres to expose itself to detection and merited , contempt.

Never had she enjoyed a higher degree of popularity than at this juncture : the late discoveries had opened to view a series of popish machinations which had fully justified, in the eyes of an alarmed and irritated people, even those previous measures of severity on the part of her government which had most contributed to provoke these attempts. Thé

queen was more than ever the heroine of the protestant party; and the image of those imminent and hourly perils to which her zeal in the good cause 176

REJOICINGS OF THE PEOPLE.

had 'exposed her, inflamed to enthusiasm the sentiment of loyalty. On occasion of the detection of Babington's plot, the whole people gave themselves up to rejoicings. Sixty bonfires, says the chronicler, were kindled between Ludgate and Charing-Cross, and tables were set out in the open streets at which happy neighbours feasted together. The condemnation of the queen of Scots produced similar demonstrations. After her sentence had been ratified by both houses of parliament, it was thought expedient, probably by way of feeling the pulse of the people, that solemn proclamation of it should be made in London by the lord-mayor and city officers, and by the magistrates of the county in Westminster. The multitude, untouched by the long misfortunes of an unhappy princess born of the blood-royal of England and heiress to its throne; -insensible too of every thing arbitrary, unprecedented, or unjust, in the treatment to which she had been subjected ;-received the notification of her doom with expressions of triumph and exultation truly shocking. Bonfires were lighted, church bells were rung ; ' and every street and lane throughout the city resounded with psalms of thanksgiving

It is manifest therefore, that no deference for the opinions or feelings of her subjects compelled Elizabeth to hesitate or to dissemble in this matter.

Had she permitted the execution of the sentence simply and without delay, all orders of men attached to the protestant establishment would have

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DELAY IN EXECUTION OF THE SENTENCE. 177 it as an act fully justified by state-expediency and the law of self-defence; and though misgivings might have arisen in the minds of some on cooler reflection ; when alarm had subsided and the bitterness of satiated revenge had begun to make itself felt;---these “compunctious visitings” could have led to no consequences capable of alarming her. It must have been felt as highly inequitable to reproach the queen, when all was past and irrevocable, for the consent which she had afforded to a deed sanctioned by a law; ratified by the legislature and applauded by the people ; and from which both church and state had reaped the fruits of security and peace. Foreign princes also would have respected the vigour of this proceeding; they would not have been displeased to see themselves spared by a decisive act the pain of making disregarded representations on such a subject; and a secret consciousness that few of their number would have scrupled under all the circumstances to take like vengeance on a deadly foe and rival, might further have contributed to reconcile them to the fact. Even as it was, pope Sixtus V. could scarcely restrain his expressions of admiration at the completion of so strong a measure as the final execution of the sentence: his holiness had indeed a strange passion for capital punishments; and he is said to have envied the queen of England the glorious satisfaction of cutting off a royal head :a sentiment not much more extraordinary from such a personage, than the ardent desire which he is reported to have expressed, that it were possible for him to have a son by this heretic princess ;

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178 SENTENCE RATIFIED BY PARLIAMENT. because the offspring of such parents could not fail, he said, to make himself king of the world.

But it was the weakness of Elizabeth to imagine, that an extraordinary parade of reluctance and the interposition of some affected delays, would change in public opinion the whole character of the deed which she contemplated ; and preserve to her the reputation of feminine mildness and sensibility, without the sacrifice of that great revenge on which she was secretly bent. The world, however, when it has no interest in deceiving itself, is too wise to accept of words instead of deeds, or in opposition to them; and the sole result of her artifices was to aggravate in the eyes of all mankind the criminality of the act, by giving it rather the air of a treacherous and cold blooded murder, than of solemn execution done upon a formidable culprit

the sentence of offended laws. The parliament which Elizabeth had summoned to partake the odium of Mary's death met four days after the judges had pronounced her doom ; and was opened by commission. An unanimous ratification of the sentence by both houses was immediately carried ; and followed by an earnest address to her majesty for its publication and execution; to which she returned a long and labored answer.

She began with the expression of her fervent gratitude to Providence for the affections of her people ; adding protestations of her love towards them and of her perfect willingness to have suffered her own life still to remain exposed as a mark to the aim of enemies and traitors, had she not perceived how intimately the safety and well-being of

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