« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
under the great seal, and adjudged to capital punishment; and if the queen's life should be taken away, then any person by or for whom such act was committed, should be capitally punished, and the issue of such person cut off from the succession to the crown. It is unnecessary to point out the monstrous hardship of making the queen of Scots, a prisoner in the hands of Elizabeth, responsible for acts done for her, or in her name. The contingent exclusion of her son from the succession was ascribed to Leicester, who had views for himself, or his brother-in-law lord Huntingdon, upon the crown.
A new penal statute was passed at the same time against Jesuits and seminary priests. They were subjected to the penalties of high treason if they did not quit the kingdom within forty days; and all who harboured them were declared guilty of felony. William Parry, a Welsh member, denounced the bill in the house of commons as cruel, bloody, desperate, and of pernicious consequence to the English nation. Called upon to give his reasons, he declined doing so, except before the council, and was committed; but, upon explanation to the council, was restored to his seat. This fact, it may be observed in passing, shows how powerless the house of commons must have been when the council governed its proceedings and privileges !
Parry was not long restored when Edmund Neville accused him of a plot to assassinate the queen. There is something truly anomalous in the purposes and character of Parry, as they may be collected from his voluntary confession to Walsingham, Hatton, and Lord Hunsdon. He was in the queen's service from 1570 to 1580, when he was condemned to death for attacking and wounding an unarmed man with his drawn sword. The queen pardoned him, and gave him a licence to travel. He went abroad as a spy of Walsingham. His mission was known, and he was shunned by the catholic fugitives of England whom he met on the continent. He, however, reconciled himself to the church of Rome at Paris, proceeded to Milan, justified himself to the in
quisition, and went to Venice, where he met father Palmio, a grave and learned Jesuit." By conversing with Palmio about the oppressed state of the English catholics, and perusing the book De Persecutione Anglicana, he conceived the idea of killing the queen of England their persecutor, "if the same might be well warranted in religion and conscience by the pope, or some learned divines." Father Palmio "made it clear" to him that his purpose was well warranted, commended his devotion, and introduced him to cardinal Campeggio, the papal nuncio at Venice. The nuncio made him and his design known to the pope, who gave him a passport to Rome through the secretary, cardinal Como;—and in short, after three years' wandering in Italy and France, conferring with others, and ruminating with himself on his project of assassinating queen Elizabeth, he returned to England. It may be inferred, from his confession, that all this time he had been corresponding as a spy with Walsingham; and, on his arrival in England, he appears to have scarcely known himself whether he was a spy or a conspirator. The character of a spy obtained him easy access not only to Walsingham but to the queen. It was also most probably for his services in that character that he was placed in the house of commons, and so easily restored to his seat by the privy council, after his attack upon the bill in progress against Jesuits. He had communicated his design to Neville, who entered into it, and both bound themselves in an oath of secrecy and fidelity. Parry at the same time represented this very Neville to the minister as a dangerous malecontent, upon whom a watchful eye should be kept; and, to guard the queen against his own purposes, he never went into her presence without having laid aside his dagger. After he had been some time in England, cardinal Como wrote him a letter from Rome "commending and allowing" his design, absolving him in the pope's name of all his sins, and" willing him to go forward in the name of God." It reached him, he says, in March, 1583,
"whilst he was suing for St. Catherine's at Greenwich." This was eleven months before his arrest in February, 1584. "That letter," he continues, "I showed to some in court, who imparted it to the queen.' It might be suspected, that he made the letter known as a contrivance to ensure his safety and deceive the government. But it appears that he communicated it in the visionary expectation of its producing upon Elizabeth an effect favourable to the catholics, and thus releasing him from "his vows in heaven, and his letters and promises on earth.”—“ What it wrought or may work,” he says, “in her majesty, God knoweth: only this I know, that it confirmed my resolution to kill her, and made it clear to my conscience that it was lawful and meritorious; and yet I was determined never to do it if either policy, practice, persuasion, or motion in parliament could prevail. I feared to be tempted, and, therefore, when I came near her, I left my dagger at home." The conflicts in the mind of this wretched man are an instructive commentary upon persecuting laws. The very enactments by which Elizabeth thought to repress conspiracy made Parry an assassin; Walsingham's system of secret denunciation by informers and spies brought the assassin within reach of her bosom; and if nature made him lay aside his dagger, it was only because Elizabeth's code of persecution and her ministers' state-practices had not yet wholly corrupted nature and extinguished humanity in him. Upon the death of Westmoreland in exile, Neville, his next heir, entertained hopes of his inheritance, and to recommend himself denounced Parry. The queen supposed that Parry, who had already denounced him, had been merely sounding him in his capacity of a spy, and instructed Walsingham to ask him whether he had been making a proposition to take her life by way of experiment to any person.‡ Not seeing the drift of the question, he answered in the negative; and after his voluntary confession, and
*See his confession. - State Trials, i.
several letters avowing his crime to the queen and ministers, he was convicted and executed.
Parry, in his confession, expressly acquitted the queen of Scots of any knowledge of his designs. She was equally innocent of the conspiracy of Throgmorton, if he really conspired, which is at least doubtful. The queen of Scots offered to Elizabeth every security, renouncing absolutely the crown of Scotland, and succession to that of England, in favour of her son; her health was breaking down rapidly; and yet her imprisonment was only the more rigorous, her general treatment the more contemptuous and cruel. Sir Ralph Sadler was not long her gaoler, when at his own entreaty, and in consequence of indulgences granted by him to his prisoner, he was removed. One of these indulgences appears to have been his allowing her to go out and enjoy the amusement of his hawks.*
Sir Amias Paulet was appointed to succeed him. Elizabeth after some time would no longer trust the vigilance or faith of one person. She joined sir Drue Drury in the commission with Paulet. Both were puritans, and protected by Leicester. Paulet would not permit his prisoner to distribute popish alms to the neighbouring poor; she was confined at Tutbury in apartments so damp and pervious to the wind that she lost the use of her limbs. Even before she came into the hands of her new gaolers, her state of health was pitiable. "I find her," says Sadler + "much altered from what she was when I was first acquainted with her. She is not yet able to strain her left foot to the ground, and to her very great grief, not without tears, findeth it wasted and shrunk of its natural measure. In a further stage, and a state still more deplorable, she appealed to Elizabeth, who did not even notice her appeal. It was rumoured that Leicester sent assassins to despatch her, but that Paulet and Drury, whose integrity was severe as their puritanism, * Sadler's State Papers, ii. 539.
+ Ibid. 460.
refused them admission. Her fate was now approaching its crisis, and her miseries their close.
The intrigues of Elizabeth and her council in Scotland against their unhappy prisoner properly belong to the history of that kingdom, and have, therefore, been passed over.* Scotland, poor, barbarous, and remote from the centre of European politics, was not the less the theatre of European intrigue. The king of Spain and the pope occasionally, the king of France almost constantly, caballed against Elizabeth. The fall of Morton broke up her supremacy. She made several efforts to recover it with imperfect success. At last, in the month of June, 1586, her minister, Randolph, succeeded in negotiating a treaty of "stricter amity" with James, in spite of the remonstrances and intrigues of the French ambassador, Corcelles, and of every feeling of decency or duty to James's unhappy mother, whom, at the pleasure of Elizabeth, he excluded from its provisions. One of the historic accusations against the queen of Scots is, that she conspired with foreign powers to disinherit her son. This treaty was the provocation, and justified her. A son so unfilial had no claim upon a mother whom he abandoned to her enemies, in violation of the sacredness of nature, and her distress. One article of the treaty, and, perhaps, the essential one, was the payment of a pension by Elizabeth to James, who appears to have been as mean in his youth as in his more advanced age. In the same month of June exploded the conspiracy which was made the pretext for taking away his mother's miserable life on the scaffold.
Leicester's bond of association for the protection of Elizabeth against popish conspirators, and the act of parliament, in which it was authorised and embodied, were engines framed for as direct agency in the execution of the queen of Scots as the executioner, the axe, and the block. The act provided, that any person
See History of Scotland, by Sir Walter Scott, CABINET CYCLOPÆDIA. The transactions in Ireland have also been passed over, because the history of that country is in the hands of one whose genius and patriotism constitute him one of its brightest ornaments - Mr. Moore.