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MARY'S FLIGHT TO ENGLAND.
battle, and when she saw all was lost, put her horse to its speed, and rode sixty miles that day to the shores of the Solway Firth. From thence she passed over into England, and proceeded to Carlisle, making sure that she should find a refuge with Elizabeth.
Elizabeth was greatly perplexed when she heard that Mary had come to England. Though she did not at all approve of subjects dethroning their sovereign, as the Scots had done, yet she did not wish that Mary should be able to crush Murray and the rest of the Scottish Protestants. She would not receive her at court; partly because she suspected that Mary had been concerned in the murder of her husband Darnley; and partly, because she had heard that Mary's exquisite grace and wit, and sprightly manners, captivated every one who came near her; and she was not inclined to give the Scottish queen an opportunity of making too many friends among the noblemen and gentry of England. And yet she would not bid her leave England, lest she should take refuge in France or Spain, and persuade the princes of those countries to replace her on the throne of Scotland by force of arms. Elizabeth knew very well that if once French or Spanish troops obtained a footing in Scotland, they would use it as the best starting-point from which to invade England.
It seems to us, now, that the best, because the most just plan, would have been to let Mary go away at once wherever she pleased; for whatever evil she might have committed, she was not Elizabeth's subject, and it was most unfair to make her suffer for having taken refuge in England in the hour of her terror and distress. But Burleigh, and the other wise
councillors who advised Queen Elizabeth, thought Mary ought not to come to court, and ought not to be allowed to leave England for a year at least.
Elizabeth, however, said that some of Mary's friends, and some of the Scottish lords who were against her, should come to England, and tell all they knew, or could find out, about Darnley's murder; and if it should be proved that Mary was innocent, she would help her to get her kingdom back again. The Queen of Scots did not much like this, but she gave her consent, and some time was spent in searching out the truth about the murder.
Murray, who came forward as his sister's accuser, produced a number of letters from Mary to Bothwell, which were so very bad, that if the Queen of Scots wrote them, she must have been a wicked woman indeed, capable of almost any crime. But Mary said they were none of hers, and that they must have been written by some one who could imitate her handwriting. And to this day, no one knows whether that is true or not. Elizabeth said, at last, that she did not think Murray had proved his charges against Queen Mary, and yet that she did not think he and his friends had done wrong in depriving her of the crown. So Murray went back to be Regent in Scotland, and Mary was obliged to remain in England.
Elizabeth placed her first under the charge of Lord Shrewsbury, and then of other gentlemen, who were forced to take great care that she did not get away. Whenever she rode out hunting or hawking, according to the fashion of ladies in those times, armed men were in attendance, lest she should take that oppor
PLOTS TO SET UP MARY.
tunity of escaping. It was a weary captivity, both to the unfortunate queen and to those gentlemen who were obliged to take such anxious care of her. Part of the time she lived at Bolton Castle, and at other times at Sheffield, Tutbury, and Fotheringay.
REIGN OF ELIZABETH-(continued).
PLOTS IN FAVOUR OF THE QUEEN OF SCOTS.-HER EXECUTION. (From 1568 to 1587.)
THE Queen of Scots did not willingly submit to be held in captivity. She had a great deal of property in France, so that she was able to secure the services of many persons, who laboured continually to stir up plots against Queen Elizabeth; in order that her government might be overturned, and the Queen of Scots might become Queen of England. Much English blood was shed in this cause; for even from her prison Mary found means to correspond with the Roman Catholic lords and gentlemen, and to rouse them to take her part.
The first who rebelled against Elizabeth, partly in order to set up Mary, and partly to restore popery in England, were the Earls of Northumberland and Westmoreland; but their rebellion was soon put down, and a great many of their followers put to death. The next nobleman who was drawn into rebellion was the Duke of Norfolk. Of all the English nobility, he was the highest in rank and the most beloved; and it was long before Elizabeth could
bring herself to order his execution. The parliament and the people said that Mary ought to be put to death also; to this Elizabeth would not consent; but she said that since the Queen of Scots had stirred up her own subjects to rebel against her, she would never set her free.
In all the plots which were formed, the pope, Spain, or France, had some hand. The pope issued a bull by which he declared Elizabeth accursed, and forbade her subjects to obey her, and he sent over many English Jesuits to go up and down among the Roman Catholics and teach them to contrive treason. These traitors to their country came over in various disguises; many were discovered and put to death, but more still continued to come, and at last the English began to look on all their Roman Catholic countrymen as traitors, only waiting for a favourable opportunity to revolt against their queen.
Thus many years went on, till, about fourteen years after Norfolk's death, a most daring plot was found out. The leader in it was a young Roman Catholic gentleman named Babington. Queen Elizabeth was to be murdered, and immediately afterwards a Spanish army was to invade England, set Mary on the throne, and put down the Protestants.
Babington was executed for his treason, and Burleigh and the other ministers of state declared that Mary ought to be put to death too, because she shared in the plot. The Queen of Scots was put on her trial, found guilty, and condemned to death, much to the joy of the people, who looked upon her as the most dangerous enemy of their country and their religion. Elizabeth was very unwilling to let the sentence be
EXECUTION OF THE QUEEN OF SCOTS. 143
executed. She wished Mary dead, but not by a public execution. After several weeks, she at length signed the death-warrant, and gave it to Davison, the secretary of state. Burleigh and the other ministers immediately sent it to Fotheringay Castle, and ordered that it should be put into execution without delay. But they did not tell their mistress what they had done.
When Elizabeth heard that Mary was dead, she affected the most extreme sorrow, refused to see Burleigh and the other councillors, and ordered Davison to be imprisoned in the Tower. We should have respected Elizabeth more if she had been honest, and said plainly that she was grieved to put Mary to death, but that she saw no other means of preserving her people and kingdom in peace and safety.
As for the Queen of Scots, she never appeared to such advantage as in the last scene of her life. She received the intelligence that she was to die with the utmost firmness, comforted her weeping attendants, and lay down quietly to rest. Rising up very early the next morning, she spent the hours in devotion till the sheriff came to lead her to the great hall of the castle. It was hung with black, and a scaffold stood in the midst, on which were the block, the axe, and the executioner. Mary looked on them without shrinking. The Dean of Peterborough came to her with entreaties that she would at this last hour renounce the Romish faith, but Mary replied that she would die in the religion in which she had lived. She prayed for her son, and for Queen Elizabeth, recited some prayers from the offices of the Roman Church, then quietly put off her veil and mantle, and laid her head upon the block. Age and ill health,