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reign before Elizabeth, and none after her, carried high- CHA P.
WE have thought proper to infert in this place an ac-
THE duke of Norfolk was the only peer, that enjoy- 1569. ed the highest title of nobility; and as there were at Duke of prefent no princes of the blood, the splendour of his fa- Norfolk's mily, the opulence of his fortune, and the extent of his confpiracy. influence, had rendered him without comparison the first fubject in England. The qualities of his mind corresponded to his high station: Beneficent, affable, generous, he had acquired the affections of the people; prudent, moderate, obfequious, he poffeffed, without giving her any jealoufy, the good graces of his fovereign. His grandfather and father had long been regarded as the leaders of the catholics; and this hereditary attachment, joined to the alliance of blood, had procured him the friendship of the most confiderable men of that party : But as he had been educated among the reformers, was fincerely devoted to their principles, and maintained that strict decorum and regularity of life, by which the protestants were at that time diftinguished; he thereby enjoyed the rare felicity of being popular even with the most opposite factions. The height of his profperity alone was the fource of his misfortunes, and engaged him in attempts, from which his virtue and prudence would naturally have for ever kept him at a distance.
NORFOLK was at this time a widower; and being of a fuitable age, his marriage with the queen of Scots
CHA P. had appeared fo natural, that it had occurred to feveral XL. of his friends and thofe of that princefs: But the first perfon, who, after fecretary Lidington, opened the scheme to the duke, is faid to be the earl of Murray, before his departure for Scotland a. That nobleman fet before Norfolk both the advantage of compofing the diffentions in Scotland by an alliance, which would be fo generally acceptable, and the prospect of reaping the fucceffion of England; and, in order to bind Norfolk's intereft the fafter with Mary's, he proposed, that the duke's daughter should espouse the young king of Scotland. The obtaining previously of Elizabeth's confent, was regarded both by Murray and Norfolk, as a circumftance effential to the fuccefs of their project; and all conditions being adjusted between them, Murray took care, by means of Sir Robert Melvil, to have the defign communicated to the queen of Scots. This princess replied, that the vexations, which she had met with in her two laft marriages, had made her more inclined to lead a fingle life; but he was determined to facrifice her own inclinations to the public welfare: And therefore, as soon as she should be legally divorced from Bothwel, The would be determined by the opinion of her nobility and people in the choice of another husband B.
IT is probable, that Murray was not fincere in this propofal. He had two motives to engage him to diffimulation. He knew the danger, which he must run in his return through the north of England, from the pow er of the earls of Northumberland and Weftmoreland, Mary's partizans in that country; and he dreaded an infurrection in Scotland from the duke of Chatelrault, and the earls of Argyle and Huntley, whom she had appointed her lieutenants during her abfence. By these feigned appearances of friendship, he both engaged Norfolk to write in his favour to the northern noblemen; and he pursuaded the queen of Scots to give her lieutenants permiffion, and even advice, to conclude a ceffation of hoftilities with the regent's party D.
A Lefley, p. 36, 37.
B Ibid. p. 40, 41.
THE duke of Norfolk, though he had agreed that Eli- CHA P. Zabeth's confent fhould be previously obtained, before the completion of his marriage, had reason to apprehend, that' he never should prevail with her voluntarily to make that 1569. conceffion. He knew her perpetual and unrelenting jea-. lousy against her heir and rival; he was acquainted with her former reluctance to all propofals of marriage with the queen of Scots; he forefaw, that this princefs's espousing a perfon of his power, and character, and intereft, would give the greatest umbrage; and as it would then become neceffary to reinftate her in poffeffion of her throne on fome tolerable terms, and even to endeavour the re-establishing of her character, he dreaded left Elizabeth, whose, politics had now taken a different turn, would never agree to fuch indulgent and generous conditions. He therefore attempted previously to gain the consent and approbation of feveral of the most confiderable nobility; and he was fuccefsful with the earls of Pembroke, Arundel, Derby, Bedford, Shrewsbury, Southampton, Northumberland, Westmoreland, Suffex E. Lotd Lumley, and Sir Nicholas Throgmorton, embraced cordially the proposal : Even the earl of Leicefter, Elizabeth's declared favourite, who had formerly entertained fome views of espousing Mary, willingly refigned all his pretenfions, and feemed to enter zealously into Norfolk's interefts F. There were other motives, befides affection to the duke, which produced this general combination of the nobility.
SIR William Cecil, fecretary of state, was the most vigilant, active, and prudent minifter ever known in England; and as he was governed by no views but the inte refts of his fovereign, which he had inflexibly purfued, his authority over her became every day more predominant. Ever cool himself, and uninfluenced by prejudice or affection, he checked thofe fallies of paffion, and fometimes of caprice, to which the was fubject; and if he failed of perfuading her in the first movement, his perfeverance, and remonstrances, and arguments, were fure at laft to recommend themselves to her found difcernment. The more credit he gained with his mistress, the more was he exposed to the envy of her other counsellors; and as he had been fuppofed to adopt the interests of the houfe of Suffolk, whofe claim feemed to carry with it no danger to the VOL. V. K prefent E Lesley, p. 55. Camden, p. 419. Spotfwood, p. 230. F.Haynes, P. 535.
CHAP. prefent establishment, his enemies, in oppofition to him, XL! were naturally led to attach themselves to the queen of Scots. Elizabeth faw, without uneasiness, this emulation 1569. among her courtiers, which ferved to augment her authority: And though the fupported Cecil, whenever matters came to extremity, and diffipated every confpiracy against him, particularly one laid about this time for having him thrown into the tower on fome pretence or other G, she never gave him fuch unlimited confidence as might enable him entirely to crush his adversaries.
NORFOLK, fenfible of the difficulty which he must meet with in controling Cecil's counfels, especially where they concurred with the inclination, as well as intereft of the queen, duift not open to her his intentions of marrying the queen of Scots; but proceeded still in the fame course, of increasing his intereft in the kingdom, and engaging more of the nobility to take part in his measures. A letter was written to Mary by Leicester, and figned by feveral of the first rank, recommending Norfolk for her hufband, and stipulating conditions for the advantage of both kingdoms; particularly, that the fhould give fufficient furety to Elizabeth, and the heirs of her body, for the free enjoyment of the crown of England; that a perpetual league, offenfive and defenfive, be made between their realms and fubjects; that the proteftant religion be esta blished by law in Scotland; and that the fhould grant an amnefty to her rebels in that kingdom H. When Mary returned a favourable anfwer to this application, Norfolk employed himself with new ardor in the execution of his project; and, befides securing the interefts of many of the confiderable gentry and nobility who refided at court, he wrote letters to fuch as lived at their country feats, and poffeffed the greateft authority in the feveral counties. The kings of France and Spain, who interested themselves extremely in Mary's caufe, were fecretly confulted, and expreffed their approbation of these measures K. And tho Elizabeth's confent was always fuppofed as a previous condition to the finishing of this alliance, it was apparently Norfolk's intention, when he proceeded fuch lengths without confulting her, to render his party fo ftrong, that it should no longer be in her power to refuse it L.
Camden, p. 420.
IT was impoffible that fo extenfive a confpiracy could CHA P. entirely escape the queen's vigilance, and that of Cecil. XLI. She dropped feveral intimations to the duke, by which he' might learn, that the was acquainted with his defigns; 1569. and the frequently warned him to beware on what pillow he repofed his head M. But he never had the prudence or the courage to open to her his full intentions. Certain intelligence of this dangerous combination was given her first by Leicester, then by Murray N, who, if ever he was fincere in promoting Nortolk's marriage, which is much to be doubted, had at leaft propofed, for his own fafety and that of his party, that Elizabeth fhould, in reality as well as in appearance, be entire arbiter of the conditions, and fhould not have her confent extorted by any confederacy of her own fubjects. This information gave great alarm to the court of England; and the more fo, as those intrigues were attended with other circumftances, of which, it is probable, Elizabeth was not wholly ignorant.
AMONG the nobility and gentry, that feemed to enter into Norfolk's views, there were many, who were zealoufly attached to the catholic religion, who had no other defign than that of restoring Mary to her liberty, and who would gladly, by a combination with foreign powers, or even at the expence of a civil war, have placed her on the throne of England. The earls of Northumberland and Westmoreland, who poffeffed great power in the north, were leaders of this party; and the former nobleman made offer to the queen of Scots, by Leonard Dacres, brother to lord Dacres, that he would free her from confinement, and convey her to Scotland, or any other place to which the should think proper to retire °. Sir Thomas and Sir Edward Stanly, fons of the earl of Derby, Sir Thomas Gerrard, Rolitone, and other gentlemen, whose intereft lay in the neighbourhood of the place where Mary refided, concurred in the fame views; and required, that, in order to facilitate the execution of the scheme, a diverfion should, in the mean time, be made from the fide of K 2 Flanders.
M Camden, p. 420. Spotfwood, p. 231. N Lesley, P. 71. It appears by Haynes, p. 521, 525, that queen Elizabeth had heard rumours of Norfolk's dealing with Murray; and charged the latter to inform her of the whole truth, which he accordingly did. See the earl of Murray's letter produced on Norfolk's trial. • Lesley, p. 76.