ELIZABETH, from the events of 1572, seems to have obtained some higher authority over the Scotish Queen, and her ruined kingdom. Charles IX. withdrew his affections, from the Dowager of France, when he was told, by falsifiers, that she relied more upon Spain, than upon his attachment. The French King, and Elizabeth entered into a treaty of amity, and aid, at Blois, in April 1572. When this treaty was ratified, by Montmorency, he made a feeble effort, that some favour might be shown to the Scotish Queen, and that the Scotish matters, embarrassed as they were, might be adjusted. But, such feeble efforts were, easily, baffled, by the pretences of Elizabeth, who had, by the imprisonment of Mary, done her such an injury, as nothing, which the Scotish Queen had practised to Elizabeth, could balance.
Elizabeth carried her fears, and anxieties, about the safe-keeping of the Scottish Queen, almost to insanity. In February 1573, the captive Queen received some money from France, which was due to her, as a part of her dower, and which inspired the persecuting sovereign with terrible apprehensions: and those were heightened, by some intimations, from the Earl of Huntington, of a suspicion of some attempt to rescue the captive. Shrewsbury endeavoured to pacify Elizabeth’s inquietudes in vain: Her guilty passions were not to be allayed, by whatever assurances. But, Elizabeth, from her temperament, was seldom free from some disquiet. Two daughters of Lord Howard of Effingham; Lady Sheffield, and Frances Howorth, contended together, who should love Lord Leicester, the most; and the Queen thought not well of them, and not the better of him: So there were spies placed upon him. Lord Oxford was lately grown into great credit; as the Queen delighted more, in his personage, and his dancing, and valour, than any other; if it were not for his fickle head, he would have passed any of them shortly. Lady Burghley unwisely declared herself, as if she were jealous, which circumstance came to the Queen’s ears, whereat she was not a little offended. At all these love matters “the lord treasurer winketh, and will not meddle.” Hatton is still sick; and the Queen goeth almost every day, to see how he doth. Such were the doings, at the court of Elizabeth, who, we are to recollect, was now at the discreet age of forty. Meantime, the Scotish Queen was warded, in Sheffield lodge, until Sheffield castle should be cleansed.
It was here, that Shrewsbury communicated to the Scotish Queen the news of the capture of Edinburgh castle, with the fate of her friends. The Queen, as might be expected, was much displeased with his information; saying that he never brought her any thing good, but every thing unwelcome: The earl replied, that she ought to approve of the Queen’s consideration for her son, in putting herself to great charges, to recover Edinburgh castle for him: “A pretty matter,” said she; “no thanks at all, for helping my son, to annoy me.” From this event, which delivered Scotland to Morton, as Regent, and as Elizabeth’s agent, the Scotish Queen resolved “to give no ear to intelligence from Scotland, but would keep quiet, and use all means to preserve her health.” Shrewsbury added to Cecil, “that though she makes little show of any grief; yet, this news nipps her very sore.” There appears to have been a very vulgar propensity, in such statesmen, as Shrewsbury, to consider every event, under one view, only, as it pleased Elizabeth; but never, as the same event struck at the heart of another queen, as high minded as she: Neither did he reflect, that every one is nipped sore, who has played his last card, in whatever game.
The Scotish Queen had now played her last card; her usual hopes seem to have left her; and the misery of her mind brought with it the debility of her body. Buxton, like the watering places, at present, was then the great restorative of bad health, and depressed spirits. As early as July 1573, the Scotish Queen desired to be removed to Buxton wells. The French ambassador represented the bad state of her health, and the humanity of gratifying her wish. Elizabeth, who feared, that the worlds of France, and Spain, would regard her as a woman, without a heart, and a Queen, without feeling, consented, that Shrewsbury, should carry the Scotish Queen to Buxton wells, in a secret manner, with great care, that she did not effect her escape, and no strangers to be permitted to approach her infectious presence. To Buxton wells was she carried, in August 1573, from Chatsworth, where Shrewsbury, and his family, then resided. Lord Burghley was now well stricken in years; and began to feel the infirmities of age, as well as the debility, arising from mental labour; and in August 1573, went to Buxton, for the benefit of the waters, while the Scotish Queen sought the same advantage: But, the waters are administered, in vain, without air, exercise, and amusement. Lord Burghley could not be at Buxton, without seeing the Scotish Queen, whose health was broken, and whose charms were on the wane; But, he had seen, and conversed with her before; and he had read many letters, which warned all those, who approached that princess, to beware of female charm. Elizabeth had unluckily read the same epistles; and, strange to tell, she conceived a violent suspicion, that Burghley had become partial to the Queen of Scots, notwithstanding his rooted hatred; and even went to Buxton, to ingratiate himself with Elizabeth’s rival. Needless jealousy could not go beyond this green-eyed conceit of Elizabeth’s tainted head, and heart. In this fit of lunacy, Elizabeth equally suspected Shrewsbury, and equally expressed her guilty discontent to this vigilant warden, who tried, perhaps, in vain to tranquillize her restless humour.
The year 1574, opened with fresh attempts, to disquiet Elizabeth, and to injure Mary, by new rumours, while she still remained, in Sheffield castle. William Wharton appears to have been employed, by Walsingham, as a spy; to watch the Scotish Queen’s movements in the north: He seems to have been recommended, for this service, by Sir John Forster, a warden on the northern frontiers. Such, then, were the artifices, which were resorted to, by Elizabeth’s ministers, for entrapping the Scotish Queen, in her endeavours, for freedom. Meantime, Shrewsbury was full as much disquieted, as Mary, herself, by these unmanly artifices. He complained to Burghley; but, for some time, complained in vain, as to the great affliction of this weighty charge. Among the other infelicities, which about that time, occurred, in the Scotish Queen’s embarrassed affairs, she lost her Secretary Roulet, who died, in August 1574; a misfortune this, which supplied proofs how little intrigue she carried on, at that period of her misfortunes. Whatever effect this discovery of nothing, in the coffers of Roulet, might have had on Elizabeth’s temperament; certain it is, that she then enjoyed a lucid interval of some quiet, when the rival Queen was mentioned to her. Mary, it seems, by sending Elizabeth presents, of “certain of her works,” found the proper key of her impervious heart. Leicester himself communicated this happy change to the wretched Shrewsbury.
But, this state of good humour did not last long. An event happened, towards the end of 1574, which completely deprived Elizabeth of her recent moderation; as it touched the string, that affected her Turkish prejudice, the most: Lady Lennox, and Lady Shrewsbury managed to marry two persons of the blood royal, without her knowledge: For this family offence, the two ladies were sent to prison, and Lord Shrewsbury incurred the Queen’s indignation: And, the whole intrigue, by Elizabeth’s jealousy, was attributed to the Scotish Queen, who had an apparent interest to oppose such a marriage; as it raised up competitors to her own pretensions on the crown. By letters to Elizabeth, and Burghley, Shrewsbury wrote every thing, that he conceived would palliate the conduct of the imprisoned ladies, and justify himself. The result of all these intrigues, arising out of that marriage, was the appointment of Henry, earl of Huntington, who also had his pretensions to the crown, to be president of the council, in the north, with new instructions, that were more applicable to the occasion, and more preventive of the danger.
The detection of Cockyn, who had been the instrument of intercourse, between the Scotish Queen and her ambassador, the Bishop of Ross, disclosed much intelligence, and exposed some of her friends. On such occasions, we must always recur to the imprisonment of the unhappy Queen, without cause, without right, and without law: If she were thus imprisoned, her endeavours, for obtaining her freedom, were necessarily justified by the original wrong, which could not be defended, by any principles of morals, or any maxim of law. Such must be, for ever, the reflections of every considerate mind, on behalf of a captive queen! She was doomed, incidentally, to sustain other miseries. The earthquake, which happened, in February 1575, endangered, and frightened the Scotish Queen, by the sinking of her chamber. But, we may see, in the note below, that Elizabeth’s vigilance was still awake, and her jealousy unappeased. Of course the friends of the Scotish Queen found many impediments to their intercourse: Even La Mote Fenelon, the French ambassador, was denied access to her, by Elizabeth’s special orders.1 In this forlorn state, the Queen of Scots found her only consolation, in her religion, to which she adhered, and even professed a wish to restore. Elizabeth, meantime, received nothing, from her oppressed cousin, with any grace, but her presents. Elizabeth’s penury seems to have been quite equal to the jealousy of her temper, and the severity of her measures. What ought we to think of a government, wherein the prime minister was afraid to trust his private letters, by the common post. Burghley, himself, detained his private letter to Shrewsbury, about the marriage of his youngest daughter to Shrewsbury’s fourth son, a whole week, for a safe bearer: Burghley declined this marriage, for two reasons; the parties were too young; and, chiefly, that it might give rise to jealous suspicions, in the mind of Elizabeth, concerning this connection, with the Scotish Queen.
About this time, was changed the French ambassador La Mote Fenelon, for Castelnau de Mouvisiere: And in January 1576, this last applied for a passport to send to the Scotish Queen, cloaths, sweetmeats, and letters. Mary, soon after, wrote to the same ambassador, complaining of her bad health; and desiring him, to procure leave, for her treasurer, to come to her, for settling his accounts of her dowry. Secretary Walsingham informed the warden of Mary, in March 1576, the Queen’s Majesty was credibly informed, that certain messengers were coming, from Scotland, with letters to Mary; and commanding him “to devise all the best means, to apprehend the messengers, and to intercept the letters.” Thus watchful were they to distract, and distress, the unfortunate Queen. The Countess of Shrewsbury, who had been employed, as a spy on Mary, and her own husband, but lost Elizabeth’s favour, by marrying her daughter, Cavendish, to Lennox, seems now to have been restored to confidence, and to have been again employed, in her former office. Mary, owing to her want of health, from strict confinement, as well as from constant vexation, was allowed, on the solicitation of the French ambassador, to spend the month of June, at Buxton. But, a question arose, before her departure, where she was to be carried. Tutbury was deemed an unfit place, as being unsafe, and defective in provisions; and Elizabeth changed her former orders, and directed Shrewsbury, to carry her back, from Buxton to Sheffield castle. Elizabeth, however, had her disquiet, as Mary had her vexations: News came to court, in August 1576, that some measures were taken in France, in favour of the Scotish Queen: And Gregory XIII. sometimes thought of Mary; and wrote Latin letters, which were sure to be intercepted; professing his zeal, for her desperate cause.
But, greater matters were now, in contemplation, which disquieted the rival queens. Don John of Austria, with an ambitious mind, and many projects, was induced to dream of conquering England, Scotland, Ireland, the Isle of Man, and the Hebrides; and of marrying the Scotish Queen. The wildest ambition could not go beyond such visionary projects. Even Philip II. began to neglect Don John, as a person, over ambitious, and to dislike such impracticable projects. Disregarding the late peace, Don John attacked Zealand [Denmark], supposing England more easily conquered than it. Meanwhile, the Prince of Orange sent Mons. De Famars to Elizabeth, to acquaint her with those projects, particularly, of Don John’s purpose, to marry the Scotish Queen. Elizabeth, on such an occasion, was not wanting to herself: Burghley was desired to consider of devices; as to what might be done with the Queen of Scots. It required not the genius of Cecil, to discover, how a frail, and forlorn Queen might be destroyed. Good, and Barty, were, meanwhile, committed, for intelligence, with the same Queen. Shrewsbury soon after reported to Walsingham several points about Mary, and the practices of her friends. In return, Walsingham communicated to Shrewsbury, Elizabeth’s permission, for removing the Queen of Scots to Chatsworth; and Elizabeth’s wonder, at Mons. Vergier’s long stay with Mary: He was her treasurer, and was, with Mary, to settle his accounts. Elizabeth, however, had some correspondence with Shrewsbury, of a less vexatious sort. This noble wanted words to thank Elizabeth enough, for letters of the 25th of June; and still more, for the comfortable message, which she sent the earl, and countess, by Mr. Julio, an Italian physician. Burghley, spent again July, and August, 1577, at Buxton; being accommodated, with Shrewsbury’s house, at that place of fashionable resort. Meanwhile, the Scotish Queen employed herself, in writing letters, which were generally intercepted. She was removed from Sheffield castle to Chatsworth, at the beginning of September. When Burghley, arrived, about the same time, at the court, he found great alarm in the Queen, and council, by news, which had come directly, from France, and the Low Countries, of the Queen of Scots escape, either already made, or very soon to be attempted. In consequence of that alarm, Elizabeth directed Shrewsbury, “to narrow the confinement of Queen Mary.” In this manner, went on Elizabeth, and Burghley, from rumours, and suspicions, to narrow the imprisonment of the unhappy Queen, till they confined her, in her coffin.
The Bishop of Ross seems to have been indefatigable, on the continent, in raising up friends, for his old mistress, though perhaps, his endeavours, by promoting alarms in England, only injured her. Burghley, seems to have collected early, in 1578, many letters to, and from, the Bishop of Ross. From them, it appears, that he corresponded with the Archbishop of Glasgow, Queen Mary, Philip, King of Spain, Cardinal Comensis, and the Archbishop of Treves. There was a list, also, of the Scotish nobility, and clergy; distinguishing the party, to which they belonged. Some matters had been represented on her behalf, to the Emperor Rudolph. Soon after arrived, the Count de Retz, a marshal of France, from the French king, to solicit access to the Queen of Scots, and after seeing her, to go into Scotland. On May-day, he had an audience of Elizabeth, who had hitherto denied his request. At that time, there was with the Scotish Queen, an agent, from the Duke of Aremberg, a sovereign prince, in the Netherlands. The Scotish Queen seems to have now been carried back again, from Chatsworth, to Sheffield castle. And from this seat, she complained to Castelnau de Mauvisiere, of the refusal of passports; upon the principle, no doubt, of narrowing her intercourse.
In 1578, on the 10th of March, died Margaret, Countess of Lennox, who survived her husband, and her eight children. She had been thrice imprisoned, not for charges of treason, but matters of love: (1) when Thomas Howard, the son of Thomas, the first Duke of Norfolk, being in love with her, died in the Tower; (2) when her son, Darnley, married the Queen of Scots; and (3) when her son, Charles, Earl of Lennox, married Elizabeth Cavendish. The venerable countess lived to know, that the murder of her son, Darnley, was altogether owing to the conspiracy of Murray’s faction; and knowing that fact, she became quite reconciled to the Queen of Scots, during five, or six years: and had confessed her sorrow, for the unjust pursuits, which she had carried on against Mary, through the orders of Elizabeth. In this year, also, the authority of Morton began to decline, in Scotland, when he was deprived of the Regency; and when Mary’s son, at the age of twelve, was admitted to reign, with a council of nobles, to assist him, by turns.
The Queen, hearing in her prison, that her son had, happily, freed himself, from the Ruthven conspiracy, sent her secretary, Naue, to Stirling, in June, with a kind letter, congratulating him on his freedom sending him some jewels, and other ornaments: But, as the mother directed her letter to “my loving son, James, Prince of Scotland,” the Privy Council would not suffer her letter to be opened, nor the presents to be received. The receiving of his mother’s letter, with the tokens of her love, would not have made him less a king, or less a dutiful son.
But, it was an age of crime, and of general suspicion. Monsieur, who had been long endeavouring to soften the obdurate heart of Elizabeth, declined to come into England, “unless pledges were given, for the safety of his person.” This came of Elizabeth carrying her jealousy, and dissimulation to excess, and of her ministers pushing their artifices too far. The Scotish Queen, who was suffering extremely, under the operation of such guilty passions, wrote to the French ambassador Mauvisiere; disclaiming some charges, which had been made against her, of having treated with France.
The Scotish Queen’s health began now to be greatly impaired, by her confinement, and vexation: And, in May 1580, she wrote to Elizabeth: complaining heavily of her hard usage; and desiring that she might be allowed to visit Buxton. In the subsequent month, the imprisoned Queen again wrote to Elizabeth; exculpating herself; complaining of her enemies; and desiring to go to the bath. Elizabeth, by encouraging too much the whole system of stories, and lies, misrepresentations, and suspicions, not only injured herself, but carried her rigours against Mary, and Shrewsbury, to extravagant lengths. The Scotish Queen set out, for Buxton, on the 26th of July, and arrived there, on the 28th; though she met with an accident, at setting out; her horse started, when she was in the act of mounting, and the Queen fell, and hurt her back, of which she complained, for some time. But, it was in vain, to use the waters of Buxton, while she was restrained, from taking the air. Shrewsbury, literally, complied with Elizabeth’s commands, in restraining all resort to this place; so that she neither saw, nor was seen, by any except her own people: she hath not, he said, come forth of the house, since her coming, nor shall not before her parting. The Scotish Queen was carried back to Sheffield, after awhile; as Elizabeth would not consent, to their residence at Chatsworth.
Scotland was disquieted, in 1580, by the outcries, which were raised against the King’s favourite Lennox. The jealousy of Elizabeth fastened on him, as a French spy, who was sent to delude the King. She sent Sir Robert Bowes to Edinburgh, for the purpose of removing Lennox, from councils, and the presence of the King: But, the ambassador’s representation was distrusted; and he was desired to show his instructions: Bowes found such a spirit, at Edinburgh, in opposition to Elizabeth’s influence, that he returned to Berwick, without effecting his purpose. The King, on his part, sent Alexander Hume to the court of Elizabeth; to excuse what had passed, and to learn what the imminent dangers were, which Bowes had pressed so strongly. Elizabeth refused to see Hume; but, as she suspected, that her influence was on the wane, in Scotland; she referred the Scotish envoy to Burghley, who gave him a lecture on the advantages, that result from good neighbourhood, and on the many benefits, which would be the effects of subservience to her, whose wisdom bears command. Yet, this lecture did not prevent the impeachment, on the 31st of December 1580, of Morton, Elizabeth’s agent, in Scotland, for the murder of the late King.
At the beginning of the year 1581, the Scotish Queen seems to have been, chiefly, occupied in forming a commission to the Duke of Guise; appointing him her lieutenant, and plenipotentiary, in a negotiation, between her, and her son. This document, was undoubtedly, intercepted. But, it is not easy to decide, whether it occasioned, an immediate measure, by Elizabeth. Whatever there may be in this, certain it is, that she issued, on the 17th of January 1581, a commission, and instructions, to Lord Shrewsbury, Sir Henry Nevil, and Sir William Pelham, for removing the Scotish Queen, from Sheffield castle, to Ashby-de-la-zouch, in Leicestershire, where Nevil, and Pelham were to take charge of her; and Shrewsbury to repair to court, with the whole of her writings, which they were directed to seize by force. From the epoch of Mary’s arrival at Carlisle, to the date of that commission, there was, scarcely, a moment, in which there was not some plot either feigned, or real, for the freedom of the one Queen, and the disturbance of the other. And it is equally clear, that Elizabeth constantly, thought, that she had every power over Mary’s person; while Mary had no power over Elizabeth: And Elizabeth seems to have completely forgotten, that there was not a conspiracy against the Queen of Scots, from the demise of Francis II. To her expulsion, from Scotland, in which Elizabeth was not concerned against Mary: Neither were there a murderer, a traitor, a rebel, who fled, from Scotland, to England, that Elizabeth did not protect. Add to those intimations, that when the wise lord Burghley, sat down to write formal reasons, to justify the Scotish Queen’s imprisonment, he found it too hard a task, for his wisdom, and experience; so that he cast the responsibility of the violence offered her upon inferior agents, who felt the injustice done to themselves, without questioning the rights of their mistress. At this time, Elizabeth, had her envoy Randolph, in Scotland, attempting to raise a rebellion, in order to protect her agent, Morton, one of the most guilty miscreants, on earth. From all those facts, it is apparent, that Elizabeth, and her ministers, considered every thing convenient to themselves, to be consistent with law, and agreeable to morals, without regarding the wrongs of the Queen of Scots. It does not appear, however, that the purpose of appointing those commissioners, were then executed against the persecuted Queen, who still remained, in Shrewsbury’s charge, to his great vexation, and her wrong. Elizabeth persevered, in denying that eminent noble even common justice, which reduced him to the inconvenience of selling his plate. The Queen of Scots complained of the badness of her diet: and Shrewsbury avowed, that his allowance being cut off, he could afford no better.
In the midst of those complaints, and changes, recriminations, and apologies, the Scotish Queen was carried, from Sheffield to Chatsworth. At the beginning of July 1581, she seems to have busied herself, in writing to the archbishop of Glasgow, her ambassador at Paris, concerning the renewment of the ancient confederacy, between Scotland, and France, and about what was of more importance, her dowry, which was said to be in the hands of her Secretary Naue. She also wrote to George Douglas, desiring him, to induce her son, openly to espouse her cause. Thus was she occupied in July 1581; and we might expect, that her occupations would chiefly consist, in trying, by every possible means of regaining her liberty, and her health.
Meantime, Elizabeth, and her ministers were much engaged, in deciding, to what prison to remove the Queen of Scots; and in resolving what to decide, finally, with regard to her; but Elizabeth could not be brought to any positive resolution, on subjects, that seemed to derange her intellect. Such were the difficulties, which arose, from acting on wrong principles.
As the Queen of Scots’s anxieties constantly preyed upon her spirit, she was soon taken so ill, as to be obliged to keep her bed. In this sad condition was she visited, by Beal, the clerk of the privy council, who had been sent to Sheffield; to obtain answers, from her, to many questions. She now said to him, that she wished, by all means, to recover Elizabeth’s favour, if his mistress would give her an opportunity. She desired earnestly, to have the benefit of the air, sometimes, not that she would be at large; but in order to recover herself, from that weakness of body, which the want of air had brought upon her whole frame. She added, that though she was not old in years  she found herself old in body; and her hair had turned grey; so that she could never think of another husband. Beal had another conversation with her, a few days after, when Naue, her secretary, was present. She desired Elizabeth to send her some physicians and surgeons, to consult with those attending her, about her distempers, and the cure of them. She talked about the marriage of her son, with the King of Navarre’s sister: and she desired Elizabeth would speak to Monsieur, who was then in England; that she might have the rents of Senlis paid to her, which estate had been given her, in lieu of the Duchy of Touraine, formerly vested in her, but afterwards given to him. Beal had two other conversations with the Queen of Scots, some days after, who was still in bed, but somewhat better. She now wished, for the liberty of sending into Scotland, with the consent of Elizabeth, regarding several matters, which concerned the weal of both realms: But, this was deferred, from an apprehension of treachery. And, Beal had not yet proceeded to the matter, contained, in the second part of his instructions; to show the Scotish Queen her letter, which she had written in cypher, during the northern rebellion, to the Bishop of Glasgow. This last instruction proceeded upon the principle of Elizabeth’s letter, on Palm Sunday 1572, wherein she had said, “that the Queen of Scot’s head, should never be quiet.” Whatever may have been the end of those conversations, particularly, the Queen’s promise not to transfer her rights, in Scotland, without Elizabeth’s knowledge, every stipulation was made, on certain conditions, though Beal construed them, as absolute: Mary, in her famous letter to Elizabeth, of the 8th of November 1582, desired her good cousin “not to give credit to the suggestions of Beal; I promised nothing, but under certain conditions, to which I am not bound, except they be performed, by you.” This was a very common artifice, in the school of Elizabeth, to regard conditional engagements, as absolute.
Meantime, Elizabeth found what, no doubt, irritated such a temper as hers that her wisdom, her artifices, and her arms, were unable to save the guilty Morton, from the punishment, that was due to his crimes. She sent Randolph to Edinburgh, to use his accustomed arts. She directed a body of troops, to approach the frontiers of Scotland. Randolph bearded the King, and his council: But, they remained firm. He cajoled the nobles; who were not captivated. He preached to the Estates; laying before them some letters which were attributed to Lennox; and which Elizabeth’s ministers said they had intercepted, though the better opinion was, that they had forged them, for the occasion, of charging him, with promoting the invasion of England. And, Randolph used every artifice, to make an impression, in favour of the guilty Morton, till finding, at length, that he himself was not quite safe, at Edinburgh, this corrupt agent, privately, withdrew to Berwick. On the 1st of June 1581, Morton was convicted, by the assize, of murdering the late king. On the morrow, he was executed, by decapitation, for that heinous offence; as there was no doubt of his guilt, which he indeed acknowledged. The wretch died with falsehood, in his throat. The execution of Morton made a great impression upon Elizabeth; as she felt, that she had thus lost her agent, with her influence, in that kingdom, which she had reduced to dependence, by her artifices. In this manner, died, by a stroke of justice, the last of the great complotters, for the death of Darnley. But, though the Queen of Scots knew nothing of the prosecution, which brought this guilty miscreant to the block; yet, did Elizabeth avenge his fate, with a perversity, peculiar to herself, on her unfortunate captive.