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expect long to enjoy. Besides the turbulent disposition CHAP.
The secretary Thirlstone, perceiving the king so much molested with ecclesiastical affairs, and with the refractory disposition of the clergy, advised him to leave them to their own courses; for that in a short time they would become so intolerable, that the people would rise against them, and drive them out of the country. True," replied the king: "if I purposed to undo the church and religion, your counsel were good; but my intention is to maintain both; therefore cannot I suffer the clergy to follow such a conduct as will, in the end, bring religion into contempt and derision "."
Spotswood, p. 345, 346.
s Ibid. p. 344.
t Ibid. p. 348.
ZEAL OF THE CATHOLICS.-BABINGTON'S CONSPIRACY.-MARY ASSENTS TO THE CON-
CHAP. THE dangers which arose from the character, principles, XLII. and pretensions of the Queen of Scots, had very early engaged Elizabeth to consult, in her treatment of that unfortunate princess, the dictates of jealousy and politics, rather than of friendship or generosity: resentment of this usage had pushed Mary into enterprises which had nearly threatened the repose and authority of Elizabeth: the rigour and restraint, thence redoubled upon the captive queen", still impelled her to attempt greater extremities; and while her impatience of confinement, her revenge, and her high spirit concurred with religious zeal, and the suggestions of desperate bigots, she was at last engaged in designs which afforded her enemies, who watched the opportunity, a pretence or reason for effecting her final ruin.
Zeal of the
The English seminary at Rheims had wrought themCatholics. selves up to a high pitch of rage and animosity against the queen. The recent persecutions from which they had escaped; the new rigours which they knew awaited them in the course of their missions; the liberty, which at present they enjoyed, of declaiming against that princess; and the contagion of that religious fury which every where surrounded them in France: all these causes had obliterated with them every maxim of common sense, and every principle of morals or humanity. Intoxicated
a Digges, p. 139. Haynes, p. 607.
b See note [D], at the end of the volume.
with admiration of the divine power and infallibility of the pope, they revered his bull, by which he excommunicated and deposed the queen; and some of them had gone to that height of extravagance as to assert, that that performance had been immediately dictated by the Holy Ghost. The assassination of heretical sovereigns, and of that princess in particular, was represented as the most meritorious of all enterprises; and they taught, that whoever perished in such pious attempts enjoyed, without dispute, the glorious and never-fading crown of martyrdom. By such doctrines, they instigated John Savage, a man of desperate courage, who had served some years in the Low Countries under the Prince of Parma, to attempt the life of Elizabeth; and this assassin, having made a vow to persevere in his design, was sent over to England, and recommended to the confidence of the more zealous Catholics.
About the same time, John Ballard, a priest of that seminary, had returned to Paris, from his mission in England and Scotland; and as he had observed a spirit of mutiny and rebellion to be very prevalent among the Catholic devotees in these countries, he had founded on that disposition the project of dethroning Elizabeth, and of restoring, by force of arms, the exercise of the ancient religion. The situation of affairs abroad seemed favourable to this enterprise. The pope, the Spaniard, the Duke of Guise, concurring in interests, had formed a resolution to make some attempt against England; and Mendoza, the Spanish ambassador at Paris, strongly encouraged Ballard to hope for succours from these princes. Charles Paget alone, a zealous Catholic, and a devoted partisan of the Queen of Scots, being well acquainted with the prudence, vigour, and general popularity of Elizabeth, always maintained, that so long as that princess was allowed to live, it was in vain to expect any success from an enterprise upon England. Ballard, persuaded of this truth, saw more clearly the necessity of executing the design formed at Rheims: he came over to England in the disguise of a soldier, and assumed the name of Captain Fortescue; and he bent his endeavours
c Murden's State Papers, p. 517.
CHAP. to effect at once the project of an assassination, an insurrection, and an invasion ".
1586. Babington's conspiracy.
The first person to whom he addressed himself was Anthony Babington, of Dethic, in the county of Derby. This young gentleman was of a good family, possessed a plentiful fortune, had discovered an excellent capacity, and was accomplished in literature beyond most of his years or station. Being zealously devoted to the Catholic communion, he had secretly made a journey to Paris some time before; and had fallen into intimacy with Thomas Morgan, a bigoted fugitive from England, and with the Bishop of Glasgow, Mary's ambassador at the court of France. By continually extolling the amiable accomplishments and heroical virtues of that princess, they impelled the sanguine and unguarded mind of young Babington to make some attempt for her service; and they employed every principle of ambition, gallantry, and religious zeal, to give him a contempt of those dangers which attended any enterprise against the vigilant government of Elizabeth. Finding him well disposed for their purpose, they sent him back to England, and secretly, unknown to himself, recommended him to the Queen of Scots, as a person worth engaging in her service. She wrote him a letter full of friendship and confidence; and Babington, ardent in his temper, and zealous in his principles, thought that these advances now bound him in honour to devote himself entirely to the service of that unfortunate princess. During some time, he had found means of conveying to her all her foreign correspondence; but after she was put under the custody of Sir Amias Paulet, and reduced to a more rigorous confinement, he experienced so much difficulty and danger in rendering her this service, that he had desisted from every attempt of that nature.
When Ballard began to open his intentions to Babington, he found his zeal suspended, not extinguished his former ardour revived on the mention of any enterprise which seemed to promise success in the cause of Mary and of the Catholic religion. He had entertained sentiments conformable to those of Paget, and represented the folly of all attempts which, during the lifetime of d Camden, p. 515.
Elizabeth, could be formed against the established religion and government of England. Ballard, encouraged by this hint, proceeded to discover to him the design undertaken by Savage; and was well pleased to observe, that instead of being shocked with the project, Babington only thought it not secure enough, when entrusted to one single hand, and proposed to join five others with Savage in this desperate enterprise.
In prosecution of these views, Babington employed himself in increasing the number of his associates; and he secretly drew into the conspiracy many Catholic gentlemen discontented with the present government. Barnwel, of a noble family in Ireland, Charnoc, a gentleman of Lancashire, and Abington, whose father had been cofferer to the household, readily undertook the assassination of the queen. Charles Tilney, the heir of an ancient family, and Tichbourne, of Southampton, when the design was proposed to them, expressed some scruples, which were removed by the arguments of Babington and Ballard. Savage alone refused, during some time, to share the glory of the enterprise with any others; he challenged the whole to himself; and it was with some difficulty he was induced to depart from this preposterous ambition.
The deliverance of the Queen of Scots at the very same instant when Elizabeth should be assassinated was requisite for effecting the purpose of the conspirators; and Babington undertook, with a party of a hundred horse, to attack her guards while she should be taking the air on horseback. In this enterprise he engaged Edward Windsor, brother to the lord of that name, Thomas Salisbury, Robert Gage, John Travers, John Jones, and Henry Donne; most of them men of family and interest. The conspirators much wanted, but could not find, any nobleman of note whom they might place at the head of the enterprise; but they trusted that the great events of the queen's death and Mary's deliverance would rouse all the zealous Catholics to arms; and that foreign forces, taking advantage of the general confusion, would easily fix the Queen of Scots on the throne, and re-establish the ancient religion.
e Camden, p. 515. State Trials, p. 114.
f State Trials, vol. i. p. 111.