At the eve of the Scotish Queen’s trial, for her life, we have seen Lord Burghley circulate what he called,
A NOTE of the indignities, and wrongs, done, and offered, by the Queen of Scots to the Queen’s majesty:
The time, the place, the circumstances of this artifice, with the obvious design of influencing the commissioners, who were to decide on the Queen of Scot’s guilt, or innocence, all demand an adequate answer to Burghley’s insidious publication.
His First Charge.
The Queen of Scots’s challenge of the crown of England, by her using of the arms, and style of England; and being admonished thereof, answers were made very frivolously.
The Answer thereto.
The Scotish Queen, on the 26th of July 1561, when applied to, formally, by Throkmorton, Elizabeth’s ambassador, on this subject, said: I was then under the commandment of King Henry my father, and of the king, my lord, and husband; and whatsoever was then done, by their commandments, the same was, in like manner continued till both their deaths; since which time, you know, I neither bore the arms, nor used the titles of England: Methinks, these my doings, continued she, might ascertain the Queen, your mistress, that what was done before, was done, by the commandment of them, who had power over me; and also she ought to be satisfied, seeing I order my doings, as I tell you. To this exposition of the Scotish Queen, there was no answer made, by Throkmorton, then; nor could any be made, by any one, thereafter: She was under age, and under coverture, and she, and her husband, were under the power of Henry II. her father in law; and she was bound to obey both her father, and her husband; but, since their several deaths, she had discontinued the practice, which had given offence: and now being a widow, she did not trouble her state, nor practise with her subjects, [as Elizabeth then did, with Scotland, and Mary’s subjects.] She only asked her friendship. This is the answer, which Burghley declared to be frivolous; and which he could not confute; yet, was always ready to bring forward, as matter of charge. If he meant, to make a sovereign of equal dignity, with his own, personally, answerable for what she did, as a sovereign, Burghley only showed his malignity, contrary to the common practice of mankind, to common justice, and to the commonm law of nations. If he avowed such a principle of action; then did he denude his mistress of her rank, and pretensions of one of the sovereigns of civilized nations, and degrade her to the state of one of the Barbary powers, who were despised, for their ignorance, and contemned for their practices. What apology did Elizabeth expect, from a queen of full as much dignity, as herself, more than a disavowal of the offensive pretension, and an avowed discontinuance, in future, of the injurious practice? Between sovereigns of equal rank what was then done, by the Queen of Scots, was constantly deemed a sufficient satisfaction, for such an injury, which, in her, as a married woman, was no injury at all. Henry II. was answerable for whatever wrong was committed: But, he had a retort ready, for Elizabeth: Upon what principle do you pretend, contrary to the fundamental laws of my ancient realm, which do not admit a female king, to govern, whatever he – she, in his – her conceit, might claim. [The above facts we learn, from Throkmorton’s letter to Elizabeth, 26th July 1561.]
His Second Charge.
Great forces were continued in Scotland, after peace made, for England, by the Queen’s Majesty, and the French King, and his wife, for Scotland.
The Answer thereto.
The peace alluded to above was probably the peace of Cambray, in April 1559, or perhaps the treaty of Upsettlington, on the 31st of May thereafter: But, there is nothing in either, about sending, or keeping troops, in Scotland. Burghley knew full well, that a rebellion existed, in Scotland, from 1558 till 1560, inclusive, which he, and his mistress, fomented; and thus did their own act make troops necessary. As Scotland, and France, were amalgamated, by the marriage of the Scotish Queen with the Dauphin, the French King had a right to send troops to Scotland against the rebels, whom Elizabeth fostered; and she had neither any just right, nor any adequate pretence, for opposing what was done, rightfully, by Mary, and her husband. But, without any right, Elizabeth entered into a formal treaty, at Berwick, in February 1560, with Mary’s rebellious subjects, for giving them assistance, by sea, and land. It was in pursuance of this illegitimate treaty, that Elizabeth sent forces, under Lord Gray, in aid of the Scotish insurgents. In all this, the French King, and Queen, were right; and Elizabeth was quite wrong. The troops on both sides remained, in Scotland, till the treaty of Edinburgh, July 1560, under which both were bound to retire, except a few French troops, which, by the treaty, were allowed to remain, in Dunbar, and Inch-Keith. And Mary told the English ambassador, on the 11th of August 1561, “the French garrisons are remanded from Scotland; the fort of Aymouth is razed to the ground.” What, then, was said, by Burghley, on this head, was only a tissue of misrepresentation, and impertinence.
His Third Charge.
By the treaty of Edinburgh, it was covenanted, that the King, and Queen of France, and Scotland, should forbear to use, the style, and titles of England.
The Answer thereto.
The French negotiators, formally, declared, that they had no authority, or any power, to treat of the titles of either party to the crown of England: And having no power to treat, it was informal, and unfit, in the English negotiators, Cecil, and Wotton, to enter into such a question. Why are the powers called for, and produced, at the opening of every treaty, but to understand distinctly, what powers the several negotiators are invested with: But, having at the treaty of Edinburgh, contrary to every rule of diplomacy, entered into negotiation with persons unauthorized, Cecil and Wotton, inserted a clause, obliging the Queen of Scots never, at any time, to claim the crown of England, though she was presumptive heir thereof: This, then, is of a quite different import, from a stipulation that she would cease to use the style, and titles of England; and she had already ceased to use such titles: For what was done, by the French government, during the life of Francis II. she was not answerable: But, when she became a widow, she had a right either to ratify the treaty of Edinburgh, or to reject it: She did reject it for two reasons: (1) Her ambassadors had no power to treat, about her title: (2) The clause, which was inserted, without authority, was, injuriously, worded, in as far as, it denuded her of her claim to the crown of England, at any time, instead of stipulating, that she would not, in future, use titles, which she had already discontinued; and did not mean to claim, during Elizabeth’s life. Burghley only showed his propensity to misrepresent; andhis talent for sophistry, in the place of candour, and truth: The Scotish Queen was, therefore, right, and the English minister was, totally, wrong. He now alluded to the claim made, on Elizabeth, personally, by Secretary Maitland, after the Queen’s arrival, in Scotland, of a declaration, by Parliament, of her presumptive title to the crown, after the failure of Elizabeth and her heirs. But, was such a claim any injury, or wrong? No: This claim was made by her secretary, without her authority, or instruction, and it was supposed to be done, in concert with Cecil, to vex Elizabeth, and to injure Mary. The declamation of Burghley, about the great power of the Guises, in France, was nothing to the purpose; as it contained not any matter of charge against the Scotish Queen: it answered his purpose, however, at that critical moment, by inciting popular indignation, to delude the ignorant, and to injure the innocent; and, at the same time, to avow his guilty passions, of hatred, and malignity, towards the Scotish Queen.
Such, then, were the indignities, and wrongs, which were done, and offered, by the Scotish Queen, to the Queen’s Majesty, in the corrupt opinion of Lord Burghley, which was sufficiently frivolous, and malignant. But, the following extracts of letters from the English ambassador, Throkmorton, in July, and August 1561; communicating his discussions with the Scotish Queen, concerning the treaty of Edinburgh, will not only show, that Burghley was unfounded in his facts; but, will illustrate the talents of the Queen of Scots, for business, at the age of eighteen.