« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
the declaration of a successor. The Earl of Leicester had earnestly supported the title of the Queen of Scots; but, not meeting with the success which he desired, he contended that a husband ought to be imposed upon Elizabeth, or that a successor should even against her inclination be appointed by parliament. In this, he was joined openly by the Earl of Pembroke, and privately by the Duke of Norfolk. The Queen, highly incensed at their behaviour, for some time prohibited them all access to her person: it was not long, however, before they submitted, and obtained her Majesty's pardon.
During his disgrace, Leicester is suspected of having entered into a traitorous correspondence with the Irish, who had about this period broken out into open rebellion. Letters from him, indeed, are said to have been found upon a distinguished insurgent, who was killed in battle; but, before the charge could be regularly framed into articles, he was by his reconciliation with the Queen placed completely above it's reach.
The next year, Count Stolberg was despatched into England by the Emperor, to revive the treaty of marriage between the Archduke Charles and Elizabeth. Dudley, however, continued to throw every obstacle in it's way, by laying before her the inconveniences which would necessarily arise from a
all possible marks of tenderness and affection, bade him farewell. Her Majesty's countenance (it may here be observed) and the Earl of Leicester's influence, had such an effect upon this learned body, that within a few years Oxford produced more eminent men in every branch of science, than it had done in any preceding age.
foreign match:* and the Archduke, not long afterward, married the daughter of the Duke of Bavaria.
In 1568, the Queen of Scots made her escape into England; and Leicester appears to have continued strongly attached to her interest. He is even said to have entered into a conspiracy against Secretary Cecil, because he suspected him of favouring the succession of the house of Suffolk.
Mary was, at this period, again a widow. Her second husband, Lord Darnley, had been first assassinated, as it is conjectured, and subsequently blown up by gunpowder with all his attendants in 1566: Bothwell, her favourite, had been tried for the murther, and by her influence acquitted; and, that no room might be left to doubt his guilt, he shortly afterward received her hand in marriage. Upon which, the Earl of Murray and other lords raised an army against her, took her prisoner, and obliged her to resign her crown to her son, an infant of thirteen months old, who was immediately crowned with the title of James VI. Murray was appointed Regent: Bothwell fled to Denmark, and died in obscurity; and Mary took refuge in England.
Here Leicester projected a new plan for her restoration, by suggesting a marriage between her and the Duke of Norfolk. He took upon himself to open the matter to the Duke, extenuated the crimes laid to her charge, wrote letters to her in commendation of her projected husband, and even drew up certain articles engaging, on her acceptance of the pro
The difficulties indeed, with respect to religion, might have been considered as a sufficient bar, had no other impediment stood in the way, to the success of all such negociations.
posed conditions, to procure for her the present possession of the crown of Scotland, and that of England in reversion.
He was now only waiting for a convenient opportunity of laying the design before Elizabeth, when Murray sent secret advice to her Majesty of the whole transaction, charging the Duke of Norfolk with having engaged in private practices to secure to himself the two crowns. This allegation, supported by circumstantial evidence, raised the Queen's jealousy to a high degree; upon which, Norfolk anxiously pressed the Earl of Leicester to impart the project to his royal mistress without delay. But Leicester put it off from time to time, till at length falling sick at Titchfield, or at least pretending sickness, and being there visited by Elizabeth, he declared the whole matter to her with sighs and tears: and not long afterward, when Norfolk and the other lords were taken into custody, he gave such an account of his proceedings before the council, that he easily obtained her Majesty's pardon.
In 1571 died, in a strange manner, Sir Nicholas Throgmorton,* who, after having headed Leicester's party against Secretary Cecil, had lately gone over to the opposite faction. Being at Leicester's house at
* Sir Nicholas Throgmorton was descended from an ancient family in Warwickshire, and educated abroad. From early youth he had manifested an inclination for political studies, and before he attained the age of thirty, he was esteemed an accomplished courtier. His knowledge of the true interests of his country led him to oppose, in parliament, the marriage of Queen Mary with Philip of Spain; and his attachment to the Protestant cause engaged him in secret measures for the support of Wyat's rebellion. Upon this, he was indicted for high treason: but he pleaded his own cause with so much ability, that neither the
supper, he was violently seized with an imposthumation in his lungs, and died in a few days, not without suspicion of poison. It is said that, on his changing sides, Leicester was apprehensive he might make a disclosure of some of his intrigues.* The day before his death, he attributed his distemper to a sallad which he ate at the Earl's, and broke out into bitter invectives against his cruelty. The Earl, however, made a solemn show of lamentation over him, and in a letter to Sir Francis Walsingham "We have lost on Monday thus expressed himself;
strength of the evidence, nor the influence of the ministry, could prevail against him. The jury however, who acquitted him, were prosecuted for their verdict by the Attorney-General in the Star-Chamber.
Elizabeth, a ready discerner of merit, called him to court in the first year of her reign, and employing his talents in the department in which she knew he chiefly excelled, sent him upon various special embassies to France and Scotland; his knowledge of the political state of Europe, and of men and manners, having acquired him the reputation of being one of the ablest negociators of his time. But the same talents, under the influence of ambition, carrying him deep into court-intrigues at home, made him sacrifice his honour to support his interest with the reigning favourite. Becoming a partisan in Leicester's faction, he involved himself in many troubles upon his account; particularly in 1569, when that nobleman embraced the proposal made to him by the Earl of Murray, of marrying the Queen of Scots to the Duke of Norfolk. Throgmorton, upon Leicester's confession of the project, discovering from this instance of perfidy that he had mistaken his principal's character, went over to Cecil's interest, and, it is imagined, betrayed to him some important secrets.
* He likewise bore him a secret grudge for an account sent by him to Elizabeth, while he was her embassador in France, of a whisper circulated at the Duke of Montmorenci's table, that 'her Majesty was about to marry her horse-keeper;' meaning Leicester, her Master of the Horse.
our good friend Sir Nicholas Throgmorton, who died in my house, being there taken suddenly in great extremity on Tuesday before. His lungs were perished, but a sudden cold he had taken was the cause of his speedy death. God hath his soul; and we, his friends, great loss of his body."
About this time, a marriage was proposed between Elizabeth and the Duke of Anjou; upon which occasion, Leicester is said to have laid aside his pretensions, and to have forwarded the negociation with considerable zeal. But this is not very probable; and it appears, that when the Duke of Anjou insisted upon a toleration in the exercise of his own religion, her Majesty absolutely refused to comply.
With a view to prevent any farther attempts in favour of the imprisoned Mary, a law was now enacted, prohibiting, under a severe penalty, the declaring of any person whatsoever to be heir or successor of the Queen, except it were the natural issue of her body. This expression, unusual in sta tutes of this kind, as the term 'natural' was ordinarily applied by the lawyers to children born out of wedlock, gave great occasion to censure; and loud clamours were raised against Leicester, as if, by inserting this clause, he had designed to involve the realm in fresh disputes. It was urged, that no possible reason could be imagined, why the common form of lawful' should be changed to that of 'natural' issue, unless with a view of reflecting upon the honour of her Majesty, and of obtruding hereafter under that designation some bastard son of his
From this time, it appears, Leicester was universally and justly detested: his pride and venality