Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

an infant a few months old; and agreeing that the affairs of the kingdom should in the mean time be administered by the earl of Murray as regent. This deed the queen at first peremptorily

father, accused Bothwell to be the murtherer of the king, and instantly pressed that he might be brought to his trial before the assembly of the estates began; this also was granted, and Lenox was commanded to appear within twenty days to prosecute the matter against him. Upon which day Bothwell was arraigned and acquitted by sentence of the judges, Morton managing his cause. This business being despatched, the conspirators so wrought the matter, that very many of the nobility assented to the marriage, setting their hands to a writing to that purpose; lest he, being excluded from his promised marriage, should accuse them as contrivers of the whole fact. By means of this marriage with Bothwell, the suspicion grew strong amongst all men, that the queen was privy to the murther of the king, which suspicion the conspirators increased by sending letters all about; and in secret meetings at Dunkeld, they presently conspired the deposing of the queen, and the destruction of Bothwell. Yet Murray, that he might seem to be clear from the whole conspiracy, craved leave of the queen to go into France. Scarce was he crossed over out of England, when behold! those which had acquitted Bothwell from the guilt of the murther, and gave him their consent under their hands to the marriage, took arms against him as if they would apprehend him; whereas, indeed, they gave him secret notice to provide himself by flight; and this to no other purpose, but lest he, being apprehended, should reveal the whole plot; and that they might allege his flight as an argument to accuse the queen of the murther of the king. Having next intercepted her, they used her in the most disgraceful and unworthy manner; and clothing her in a vile weed, thrust her into prison at Lochleven, under the custody of Murray's mother, who, having been James the Fifth his concubine, most malapertly aggravated the calamity of the imprisoned queen, boasting that she was the lawful wife of James the Fifth, and that her son Murray was his lawful issue."-Camden, pp. 88, 91, 94.

refused to sign, till at length, being told that force would be used to compel her to it, she complied with many tears. In consequence of this, the young prince was crowned at Stirling by the name of James VI., and Murray took upon him the government of the kingdom.

A great part of the nation were justly indignant at these proceedings; yet many more were imposed on by the profound artifice with which the conductors of these measures had veiled their designs. The queen, however, being apprised of the favourable dispositions of many of her nobility, and a considerable proportion of her subjects, found means to escape from the place of her confinement; and in a few days she was at the head of an army of six thousand men. The regent, on his part, assembled his forces, and an engagement ensued at Langside, where the queen's army was totally defeated. Mary, with a few attendants, fled with precipitation into the north of England, where she humbly craved the interposition of Queen Elizabeth for her aid and protection.

That artful princess, who had all along employed a secret, though a busy hand, in the machinations of the Scottish confederacy, saw her end now accomplished in obtaining the absolute possession of the kingdom of Scotland. She was possessed of the person of the queen; and Murray and his party were devoted to her interest, from the motive of securing themselves in the administration. It was, therefore, no part of the views of queen Elizabeth gasise the queen of Scots, though honour and concern for her own

[graphic]

VOL. VI.

86 AMSTER

reputation in the eyes of the world made it necessary for her to assume the mask of friendship. Mary had requested to be admitted to an interview with her; but this was refused her by Elizabeth, on the pretence that she lay under the foul aspersion of being accessory to the murder of her husband, from which it was necessary that she should first clear herself. Mary, though, as a sister sovereign, she was under no obligation to submit to the jurisdiction of Elizabeth as a judge, yet, lest her silence might be interpreted to her prejudice, agreed to justify her conduct. A conference was appointed for that purpose. The earls of Murray and Morton produced a direct charge against Mary of being accessory to the murder of her husband, which they founded upon certain letters affirmed to be written from the queen to Bothwell, containing plain intimations of her guilt. Mary desired to be indulged with a sight of these letters, and undertook to prove them forgeries; and she very reasonably made that request a preliminary condition to her stating any defence against the charge of her accusers. This request, however, was refused; copies only of the letters were produced; she was not allowed to see or examine the originals, and the conference broke off *. The queen of England dismissed Murray and his associates back to Scotland, and kept Mary a prisoner in close confinement.

Elizabeth's own nobility appear now to have

*The forgery of these letters and of the sonnets, pretended to be written by Mary to Bothwell, has been proved with an overpowering force of accumulated evidence, by Mr. Goodall, Mr. Tytler, Dr. Stuart, and Mr. Whitaker. See Goodall's

seen through the ungenerous policy of their sovereign, and to have condemned her conduct to the queen of Scots as disgraceful and inhumane. The duke of Norfolk, the first peer of the realm, whom Elizabeth had appointed her chief commissioner for examination of the evidence against Mary, immediately after the breaking up of the conferences courted her in marriage; a circumstance strongly presumptive of his belief in the innocence of Mary, though the scheme proved fatal to that nobleman, and was much prejudicial to the interests of the queen of Scots. The influence of Norfolk, and his numerous connexions among the principal nobility, were of themselves sufficient to excite the jealousy of Elizabeth; he had concealed from her his matrimonial views; and when these were discovered, her fears suggested the most dangerous consequences. Norfolk was committed to the Tower; his friends rose in rebellion for his deliverance. Their attempts were suppressed. Elizabeth restored him to his liberty; but a new insurrection, of which the object was the deliverance of Mary and the accomplishment of her marriage with Norfolk, brought that unfortunate nobleman to the scaffold, and hastened the fate of the Scottish queen.

Mary, who it does not appear had as yet any part in those insurrections of which her deliverance was made the object, worn out at length with

Examination of the History of Queen Mary; Tytler's Inquiry, Historical and Critical, into the Evidence of Mary Queen of Scots; Stuart's History of Scotland; and Whitaker's Mary Queen of Scots vindicated.

the miseries of her confinement, and continually apprehensive of a violent and a cruel death—which Elizabeth, as it appears from letters under her hand and her secretary's, did not hesitate to prompt her keepers privately to inflict upon her began now secretly to solicit the aid of foreign princes for her rescue. She had for that purpose her agents at the courts of Spain, of France, in the Low Countries, and in Rome. The Catholic party in England espoused her cause; an invasion was projected from abroad; and a conspiracy was formed, of which the objects were the deliverance of Mary, the establishment of the Catholic religion, and the assassination of queen Elizabeth. This dangerous conspiracy was detected by the address of the secretary Walsingham, and the principal agents deservedly suffered death. There was undoubted evidence that Mary had intelligence and concern in that part of the design which regarded her own deliverance; and it being thence inferred that she was privy to the scheme of assassination, it was now resolved to bring her to trial as a criminal for that offence.

The greatest difficulty to be overcome on the part of Elizabeth was the plea most forcibly urged by Mary, that she was an independent princess; that she owed no allegiance to Elizabeth, no obedience to her laws, no submission to her tribunals; and that though she might, as a sister sovereign, deign to vindicate her character to the world if she were at liberty, she would never condescend, while forcibly detained a prisoner, to plead for her life at the bar of any court whatever.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »