Page images

accompanied her to Hamilton; where she was speedily attended by a train of nobles and an army of six thousand combatants, A bond of association was signed for her defence, by nine earls, eighteen lords, nine bishops, besides many gentlemen of distinction; who declared, that the Queen's resignation, having been extorted by fear, was illegal and void.

Elizabeth, when informed of Mary's escape, despatched Maitland of Lethington into Scotland, with congratulations and promises of military support: But the Regent was so expeditious in assembling forces, that the Queen's fate was decided before any English succours could arive. The Regent was at Glasgow, holding a court of justice, when he received information of the Queen's escape. In this dangerous exigency, although attended by a slen der train, the superiority of his genius appeared: He amused the Queen for some days by pretended negotiations, while he was actively employed in collecting his friends from all parts of the kingdom.

Notwithstanding his numerical inferiority, he took the field, confiding in the experience of his officers and the valour of his troops. It was the intention of the Queen's friends to conduct her to Dunbarton castle; which was commanded by Lord Fleming, one of her adherents. The road towards that fortress lay over Langside Hill; which the sagacity of the Regent led him to seize, and where he awaited the approach of the enemy. A battle was fought, which was decisively in favour of the Regent; and though, after his victory, he stopped the effusion of blood, yet the Queen's army was totally dispersed.

The afflicted. Queen, who, within the space of thirteen days, had been a prisoner at the mercy of her rebellious subjects-had scen a powerful army under her command and a numerous train of nobles at her devotion—was now obliged to flee, in the utmost danger of her life, and lurk with a few attendants in a corner of her kingdom. She had beheld the engagement from a neighbouring hill; and, so strong were her impressions of fear when she saw her army broken and routed, that she fled southwards with great precipitation to the abbey of Dundrennan, in Galloway,-a distance of sixty Scots miles from the field of battle.

She there deliberated upon the most eligible steps in her unhappy condition. If she remained in Scotland, she anticipated the horrors of a prison or of death. She was unprovided with

the means of escaping to France; and she had even an aversion to return to that kingdom, where she had formerly appeared with so much splendour. The late generous behaviour of Elizabeth afforded some hope of protection and assistance from that Princess; and. in this confidence, she overlooked all other considerations, and resolved to take shelter in England.

Notwithstanding the entreaties and remonstrances of Lord Herries and the Archbishop of St Andrew's, the royal fugitive, with about twenty attendants, embarked on board a fishing-boat in Galloway, and landed the same day at Workington, in Cumberland, about thirty miles from Carlisle. She instantly despatched a messenger to London, announcing her arrival, desiring leave to visit Elizabeth, and soliciting her protection.

Elizabeth, who had secretly taken part in all the machinations of her enemies, had now gained a great object of her ambition. She had in her hands a hated rival; and, by her support of Mur ray and his party, the absolute command of the kingdom of Scotland. Yet policy required some show of friendship and humanity fo Mary; who claimed, as a suppliant, her protection and support. She professed her desire to do her justice; but observed, that while the Queen of Scots lay under the imputation of a crime so horrid as the murder of her husband, she could not admit her to an audience. She therefore required that Mary should clear herself of the crimes alleged against her; when she might depend upon a reception suitable to her dignity, and support proportioned to her necessities.

Mary was overwhelmed with surprise and grief at so unexpected a refusal: But she had no choice left her; and therefore she agreed to submit her cause to so good a friend, in the full confidence of justifying herself from all imputations. It was to this point that Elizabeth wished to bring the matter; and she now began to act as umpire between the Queen of Scots and her rebellious subjects. Elizabeth immediately sent a messenger to the Earl of Murray, requiring him to desist from the prosecution of the Queen's party, and to delegate some persons to justify his conduct against his Sovereign.

The Regent was startled at a summons so violent and imperious: But he chose rather to digest the affront than to provoke Elizabeth by a refusal; and he replied, that he would himself take a journey to London, attended by other commissioners, and would

willingly submit the determination of his cause to Elizabeth. Mary, who had hitherto been too credulous and unsuspicious, now plainly perceived the snare laid for her. She therefore retracted the offer she had made, and declined making any reply to the accusations of her subjects; though she was ready, of her own accord, and out of friendship to Elizabeth, to satisfy her scruples, as her nearest relation and dearest friend: Otherwise she considered Elizabeth bound by the laws of honour and the ties of kindred to protect her in her present helpless condition, until she could obtain the aid of other potentates; and Lord Herries, in Mary's name, requested present aid from England, or liberty for his Queen to pass over to France.

Though disconcerted by this unexpected obstruction, Elizabeth was not to be diverted from the prosecution of her design. She submitted the affair to the Privy Council; who agreed, that she could not, consistently with her own honour, or with the safety of her kingdom, either give Mary the assistance she required, or permit her to leave the kingdom. It was also deemed necessary to remove the royal captive, for greater security, to Bolton castle, in Yorkshire. Her removal thence cut off all prospect of escape, and rendered it more difficult to correspond with her friends in Scotland.

Mary had already experienced the privations and miseries of imprisonment. Elizabeth availed herself of the captive's impatience and fears, to extort her consent to the intended trial, She represented to Mary, that she desired only to enter into into the question as a friend, and to hear her justification; that she was confident there could be no difficulty in refuting all the calumnies of her enemies; that it was never meant she should be cited to a trial at the accusation of her rebellious subjects; but, on the contrary, that they should be summoned to justify their conduct towards her. Allured by these plausible professions, Mary agreed to vindicate herself by commissioners.

While the English court was employed in these deliberations, the Regent Murray neglected not to improve his victory at Langside. At first he resolved to proceed against his prisoners and the Queen's partisans with the greatest rigour. On this occasion, John Knox humanely interceded for six persons condemned to death, and procured their pardon. Murray marched with five

thousand troops into the West of Scotland, with the intention of reducing the Hamiltons, and laying waste their estates; but he disbanded his forces in compliance with the wishes of Elizabeth.

He afterwards called a Parliament, to obtain a legal sanction for attainting those nobles who refused to acknowledge the King's authority. Argyll and Huntly, whom Mary had appointed her lieutenants, began to assemble their forces, to prevent the meeting of Parliament; and their opposition might have proved fatal to the Regent's power, had not Mary commanded them to lay down their arms. When the Parliament assembled, a few of the Queen's partisans were punished with the loss of property; the rest were allowed still to hope for favour.

The conferences respecting the Queen of Scots were opened at York. The Duke of Norfolk, the Earl of Sussex, and Sir Ralph Sadler, appeared on behalf of Elizabeth, to hear the accusation of Murray, and the Queen's defence. The Earls of Murray and Morton, Lord Lindsay, the Bishop of Orkney, and the Commendator of Dunfermline, appeared as Mary's accusers; Maitland of Lethington, Mackgill of Rankeillor, Balnaves of Hallhill, with the celebrated George Buchannan, the historian, attended as their as sistants. On the Queen's part, appeared Lords Livingston, Boyd, and Herries, the Bishop of Ross, Hamilton Commendator of Kilwinning, Sir John Gordon, and Sir James Cockburn.

Before Mary's commissioners gave in their complaints against her enemies in Scotland, they entered a protest, stating, that their appearance in this cause should not be understood as compromising the dignity of her crown, or as an admission of subordination to England.

During the conference at York, the Queen's commissioners seemed to triumph, as the Regent had cautiously declined accusing her of any participation in the guilt of her husband's murder. His circumspection was prudent; for, in accusing her of a crime so atrocious, he must necessarily incur her implacable resentment; and, should she ever regain her liberty and crown, his fortune and life might be endangered. Besides, Elizabeth, from regard to her kinswoman, and her jealousy in maintaining the rights of sovereigns, might feel inclined, how criminal soever Mary might appear, to restore her to her throne; and the Duke of Norfolk, the most powerful of the English nobles, had been smitten with Mary's


beauty, and conceived the design of marrying her and ascending the throne of Scotland. In that ambitious project, he had gained the concurrence of Maitland of Lethington.

Murray therefore demanded of the English commissioners, whether they were invested with authority to pronounce sentence against the Queen, in case her guilt should be fully proved,-whether they would presume to exercise that authority, and deliver an actual sentence without delay,-whether she should be delivered into the hands of the Regent, or be so effectually restrained by confinement, that she would be unable to disturb the govern ment now established in Scotland,—and whether Elizabeth would presume to acknowledge the young King, and protect the Regent in his authority?

. These propositions were far from agreeable to Elizabeth; but, instead of resolving them, she removed the conference to Westminster, and appointed new commissioners, in whom she could more firmly confide. She likewise admitted the Regent to an audience, and treated him with the most flattering respect. Encouraged by the assurances of Elizabeth's protection, he laid aside his reserve, and charged the Queen of Scots with being accessory to the contrivance and execution of her husband's murder. The Earl of Lennox, supporting this accusation, appeared before the English commissioners, and craved vengeance for the blood of his


But Elizabeth was dissatisfied with accusations only: She wished to obtain evidence. Her commissioners therefore expressed her indignation at the Regent's presumption in accusing his Sovereign of such atrocious crimes. Murray, thus arraigned in his turn, produced some love-letters and sonnets from Mary to Bothwell, containing strong proofs of her guilt. Stunned by this unexpected blow, Mary's commissioners endeavoured to change the inquiry into a negotiation; but finding it impracticable, they finally broke off the conference, without making any reply.

Having obtained these evidences of Mary's guilt, Elizabeth treated her with less delicacy, and issued orders for her removal to Tutbury in Staffordshire. She wrote to her as if the presumptions of her guilt had amounted to proof; and she expected that

* For the genuineness of the sonnets, the reader may consult Lord Hailes's Annals of Scotland, Vol. iii, p. 85.

« PreviousContinue »