THE Scotish Queen was, at length, in November 1570, settled, in Sheffield castle, under Shrewsbury’s charge, where she remained, during a long sojourn. The times were full of dire suspicions, and privy conspiracies. A civil war had, for some time, raged, in Scotland, between the parties of the King, and Queen. A thousand projects were entertained, abroad, how to relieve the Scotish Queen, from an imprisonment, which was deemed unjust, in its principle, and barbarous in its practice. Much of the disquiet of Elizabeth, and the difficulties of Cecil, were supposed to be owing to that hated princess: Yet, had they a very simple, and effectual remedy, at hand; by sending a passport to the Scotish Queen, enabling her to quit this island; and desiring her never to return: But, so obvious a measure would have taken from Elizabeth the pleasure of vexing a detested rival; and it would have deprived Cecil of his great delight, in difficulties, and hazards, wherein he displayed his ability, and address, in disappointing every intrigue, and in “unravelling all those dark designs, and this mystery of state.”
The simplicity, not to say the folly, of the Duke of Norfolk, in supposing, that he could marry the Scotish Queen, who was already married, without the knowledge of Elizabeth, and even in opposition to so vigilant an administration, involved himself, in ruin, and the Queen of Scots, in misery. The Bishop of Ross, who was, perhaps, too busy, was restrained of his liberty. The Queen, also, was involved, in the intrigues of Rudolphi, a Florentine merchant, and agent of Rome, even after Pius V. had attempted to deprive Elizabeth of her crown.
The commissions of the King, and Queen of Scots, early, in 1571, gave full employment to the ministers of Elizabeth. They were on both sides sufficiently pertinacious: or, perhaps, it was impossible to reduce their several pretensions to any fair result. Elizabeth still retained her scruples, concerning the Scotish King’s title, and government; while she acknowledged the unworthiness of the Queen to rule such a country, if all had been true, which Murray, the usurper, pretended. Morton, the murderer, indeed, assumed, from the dogmas of Calvin, that the nobles of any number might set aside their kings, at any time, on any pretence. With such argumentation, from so guilty a character, Elizabeth was not much gratified. But, still, she found much danger, either in releasing, or retaining the Scotish Queen; whose friends, abroad, began to speak very proudly for her. None of the statesmen of that age could perceive, that in desiring the Scotish Queen, to quit the kingdom for ever, there was no danger. So great a change has since taken place, in the manner of thinking, and of acting, among statesmen, that many of the apprehensions, and reasonings, of those times, savour so much of folly, as to incur some ridicule. It was an inconvenience to England, that Scotland lay adjacent along her northern frontier: But, was that inconvenience a cause of war? It was an inconvenience to England, that Scotland had a Queen, contemporary with Elizabeth: was that inconvenience a cause of enmity? By Elizabeth’s incitements, an all-powerful faction drove the Scotish Queen, to seek for shelter, in England; was that a cause of hostility against the Scotish Queen? Elizabeth imprisoned the Scotish Queen, without a cause, which incited the indignation of the European powers; did that justify the lord keeper Bacon, in saying, that the whole realm of Scotland was not sufficient security, for Elizabeth, and England? It was not good sense, in the lord keeper, Bacon, in the lord treasurer, Burghley, or in that wiser personage, Elizabeth, to reason, from possibilities: By possibility, England might have been merged, in the ocean, from earthquake: And, what security could be given them? Statesmen can only reason, from probability. In the meanwhile, the Scotish Queen, from imprisonment, from want of exercise, and from vexation, became very much indisposed; had fainted three or four times; and her people were much alarmed, about her: But, she became somewhat better; and was very anxious to know, how the Bishop of Ross was used, whose imprisonment touched her near; saying, she pitied poor prisoners, for she was used like one herself. On hearing such natural reflections, Shrewsbury advised her “to leave off any practices she had dealt in, and put her cause into the Queen’s hands, as truth sought no covers.” Poor Shrewsbury! What was this advice, but a repetition of Cecil’s policy, when the Scotish Queen sent her servant, Beaton, to London, and Paris, to beg assistance against her persecutors? Why should you go to France, for help, said Cecil, when we can so easily give what you want here? without any purpose of giving any help to the Queen, while he aided her adversaries. The Scotish Queen, however, wrote to Burghley strong letters, in vindication of the Bishop; desiring that he might be set at liberty, and received, as the ambassador of a free princess. In the midst of this insecurity, Elizabeth, in the presence of such poets, as the world had, scarcely ever seen before, wrote the following verses on the then state of persons, and affairs:
That doubt of future foes exiles my present joy;
And wit me warns to shun such snares, as threaten mine annoy:
For falsehood now doth flow, and subjects faith doth ebb,
Which would not be, if reason rul’d, or wisdom weav’d the webb:
But, clouds of toys untry’d do cloak aspiring minds,
Which turn to rain, of late repent, by course of changed winds.
The top of hope suppos’d the root of ruth will be,
And fruitless all their graffed guiles, as shortly ye shall see:
Those dazzel’d eyes with pride, which great ambition blinds,
Shall be unseal’d, by worthy wights, whose foresight falshood finds:
The daughter of debate, that eke discord doth sow,
Shall reap no gain, where former rule hath taught still peace to grow:
No foreign banish’d wight shall anchor in this port:
Our realm it brooks no stranger’s force; ket them elsewhere resort:
Our rusty sword with rest shall first the edge employ,
To poll their topps, that seek such charge, and gape for joy.
Doctor Wilson, who hath preserved, in his Logic, those sweet, and sententious verses, hath informed us, that the Queen wrote those sugar’d samples; knowing the secret practices among her people, and many of her nobility, inclining too far to the Scotish Queen’s party, though she had long dissembled her knowledge: What is this, but saying, that the people of England were then, what they are at present: Detesters of unmerited oppression; and friends of the oppressed! Could there be stronger arguments, for desiring the Scotish Queen, to quit the island!
Of Norfolk, thus brought again before our inquisitive eyes, it may be well, to notice, by a few short recollections. As early as the conclusion of the enquiry, at York, secretary Maitland, and the Bishop of Ross, had endeavoured to gain Norfolk, to pity the manifold distresses of the Scotish Queen. They even offered her marriage to him, which he modestly declined; yet, promised not to abandon the Queen of Scots, in her misery, as far as an honourable man could act, in a business so full of danger. Ligon, the duke’s servant, by going often to Bolton castle, though under pretence of visiting the duke’s sister, Lady Scrope, induced Knollys to suspect him of some particular purpose. For more surety, the Scotish Queen was removed from Bolton, which was surrounded by papists, to Tutbury, where she would see fewer friends. So many of the nobles of England were acquainted with this intrigue, that the secret could not be kept. But the embarrassment now consisted, in mentioning so delicate an affair to Elizabeth. The ladies of the court, getting knowledge of what so many knew, communicated to their mistress Norfolk’s love for Mary. The communication was still delayed; and Cecil advised Norfolk to mention the matter himself to the Queen, which would remove suspicion, from her mind. But, Norfolk still delayed, from delicacy. Leicester was involved, in this dangerous business: But, feigning to be sick, was visited, by Elizabeth, who seeing him oppressed with something on his spirits, intimated that he ought to keep no secret from her; And now with many a sigh, and many a pardon asked, Leicester opened the whole matter to her, from the beginning. Elizabeth soon after called Norfolk to her, in the gallery of the palace; chid him much; and commanded him, upon his allegiance, to cease, in future, from such intrigues. But, he was infatuated; and persevering in his ill-fated purpose, he was, in the end, put into ward, and on the 9th of October 1569, was sent to the Tower.
Cecil now busied himself, in collecting, and arranging every information, and fact, with respect to Norfolk’s conduct. He applied to the Regent Murray, who revealed freely, what he knew, and what he had done; but, Secretary Maitland, positively, refused, to say any thing upon the subject. The bishop of Ross was, formally, examined: but, speaking, with his usual circumspection, was committed to ward. As Cecil, after some months enquiries, perceived, that the evidence, which he had collected against Norfolk would not convict him of treason, the duke was enlarged, on giving the strongest assurances, that he would not any more correspond with the Scotish Queen.
Norfolk, however, was so much interested, in the distresses of the Queen of Scots, that he engaged, covertly, in the troubles, and plots, and practices, of the year 1570, and 1571: giving informations, and contributing money, even when invasions, from abroad, were spoken of, for the absolute release of the Scotish Queen. He was, again, committed to the Tower, in September 1571, on much more serious charges. His whole correspondence with the Queen of Scots was, regularly, intercepted. His money, which he had sent to her friends, in Scotland, was detained on the road. His servants were examined. His connections were questioned. His intercourse with foreign agents was discovered. And, he himself confessed much, and denied little. Cecil had now collected, and arranged, such proofs, against Norfolk, as affected his life: So that, on the 16th of January 1572, he was arraigned, on several charges of treason; was tried, by his peers: and making a feeble defence, he was found guilty; and at length on the 2d of June, 1572, suffered the pains of treason. Cecil, after all his circumspection, and his labours, was blamed, by Elizabeth, whose jealousies, were without end, for the execution of Norfolk, who, from his good qualities, had many friends, and much popularity; and now Elizabeth apprehending, from his fate, all the dangers of privy conspiracy, and open insurrection, become extremely offended with Cecil; whose usefulness soon restored him, however, to her favour.
The sad catastrophe of the duke’s love, not to say imprudence, involved the fate of the Scotish Queen. A thousand rumours of designs, to free the Queen, only, induced a thousand additional restrictions, from time to time, on her liberty. Her attendants, and servants, were reduced by Shrewsbury, to an inconvenient number. Her household was greatly restrained, under the pretence of regulations: The Bishop of Ross, her useful agent, had been confined, in May 1571; and being charged, with raising a rebellion, against Elizabeth; was disavowed, henceforth, as an ambassador. It did not add to the Scotish Queen’s comfort, when she heard of the capture of Dunbarton castle, by her enemies; owing to the negligence of her friends.
The rumours of popular risings, for the freedom of the Queen of Scots continuing, Elizabeth, Cecil, and Shrewsbury, acted in concert, for making the Scotish Queen’s confinement more narrow, and rigorous. All the woods, and moors, for some miles, around, were diligently patroled, and guarded; and whenever the Queen walked out, soldiers were sent to clear the way, “that no suspected persons might be lurking about, for evil purposes.” At length, Shrewsbury, with some difficulty, effected a further reduction of the Scotish Queen’s servants. “She was much grieved,” said he, “and seemed to dispair of the continuance of her life.” Lord Livingston was named, to remain about the Queen; but he demanded, to go to court, which Shrewsbury, positively, refused. Lady Livingston had been ill, for eight weeks, and was thus unable to travel. Hearing of those severities, Mons. Fenelon, the French ambassador, wrote to Cecil, in the name of the King of France, that the Scotish Queen might receive more favourable treatment; as being so nearly allied to the crown of France. But, such letters were written, in vain, while rumours continued of various designs, to free the unhappy Queen, though it is apparent, that her life must have ceased, in the struggle, if any attempt had been actually made: Of his right to take the life of the Scotish Queen, in case of such an attempt, Shrewsbury, had not any doubt; so much were the minds of the English nobles made up, in that age, to think their Queen’s will the supreme law.
After suffering all those grievances, and vexations, the unfortunate captive was still doomed to swallow some very bitter pills, while her health declined. The Duke of Norfolk, at the command of Elizabeth, issued a declaration of all his proceedings, either by himself, or others, with the Queen of Scots. Soon after the arrival of the Queen, at Carlisle, her warden, the vice chamberlain, Knollys, had laid it down as a sort of maxim, which appears to have been adopted, by the statesmen of Elizabeth’s court, that the Scotish Queen could not be detained, as a prisoner, unless she were disgraced by calumny. The notorious enquiry, at York, at Westminster, at Hampton-court, was plainly conducted, on that maxim. Both parties seem to have made some preparations of attack, and defence, of the unhappy Queen, though with very unequal arms. Buchanan scribbled his Detection of Mary’s doings: and Murray caused Buchanan and Wood, to forge Paris’s Declaration, in case more proof should be wanted. On the other side, the Bishop of Ross, with the hints, and informations, of Lord Herries, and Lord Boyd, wrote Mary’s Defence. The detection, and defence, seem to have both appeared, in 1571, during Mary’s troubles.
There remains a letter from Mary, on this subject, to the French ambassador, Fenelon, 22d November 1571; complaining, that a scandalous book, in Latin, detracting from her character, lately printed, had been put into her hand, by Mr. Bateman, an officer of this castle, who, she was sure, would not have done it, had he not been directed to do so: She earnestly entreated the ambassador to lay the subject before his master; and to request him to write to Queen Elizabeth, to suppress such infamous publications against her: as the French King had suppressed, in France, at the request of Queen Elizabeth, all publications written by her subjects, in her favour: But, at all events, she begged, that this publication might be suppressed, in France, where she had many friends, who were interested, in her concerns, or that publications, in her favour, might be freely circulated there. She had requested a priest, to administer the sacrament to her, according to her religion, and conscience; instead of which consolation, Mr. Bateman brought her a book, defaming her character, written, by an atheist, Buchanan, whose impiety she well knew; and had requested the Queen of England, that he might be removed from being near her son, to whom, she understood, he had been appointed preceptor.
Thus doubly calumnious were Elizabeth, and Cecil, by circulating libels against the Scotish Queen, in every language; while they would not suffer any writings to be published, in her favour, in England, or in France: And thus, is established, for ever, the record of Elizabeth, and Cecil’s immorality, irreligion and injustice, if calumniation be immoral, and it be irreligious, and unjust, to do unto others what they themselves would not suffer, – “from the calumnious arts of counterfeited truth.”