Mary's Trial And Condemnation

The closing scene of Mary's life was now rapidly approaching. Debilitated

as she was by her long confinement, and the many painful thoughts which

had been incessantly preying on her peace of mind, it is not likely that

she could have long survived, even though she had been left unmolested

within the walls of her prison. But she had been the source of two much

jealousy and uneasiness to Elizabeth, to be either forgotten or forgiven.
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Weak as she was in body, and destitute alike of wealth and power, her name

had nevertheless continued a watchword and a tower of strength, not only

to all her own friends throughout Christendom, but to all who were

disposed, from whatever cause, to stir up civil dissensions and broils in

England. Scarcely a conspiracy against Elizabeth's person and authority

had been contrived for the last sixteen years, with which the Queen of

Scots was not supposed to be either remotely or immediately connected. Nor

is it to be denied, that appeals were made to her sufferings and cruel

treatment, to give plausibility to many an enterprise which was

anti-constitutional in its object, and criminal in its execution. Other

less objectionable enterprises Mary herself expressly countenanced, for

she always openly declared, that being detained a captive by force, she

considered herself fully entitled to take every means that offered to

effect her escape. She acted solely upon a principle of self-defence.

Whenever a nobleman of influence like Norfolk, or a man of integrity like

Lesley, undertook to arrange a scheme for her release, she willingly

listened to their proposals, and was ever ready to act in concert with

them. She had been detained in strict ward in a realm into which she had

come voluntarily, or rather into which she had been seduced by specious

promises and offers of assistance; and it would have been against every

dictate of common sense and common justice, to suppose that she had not a

right to free herself from her unwarrantable imprisonment. It is true,

that many of her attempts, mixed up as they were with the interested and

ambitious projects of others, gave Elizabeth no little inconvenience and

anxiety. But this was the price she must have laid her account with paying

for the pleasure of seeing the Queen of Scots a helpless hostage in her


To discourage the numerous plots which were formed, either by Mary's real

or pretended adherents, a number of persons of the first rank in the

kingdom entered into a solemn "Association," in which they bound

themselves to defend Elizabeth against all her enemies, "and if any

violence should be offered to her life, in order to favour the title of

any pretender to the crown, not only never to allow or acknowledge the

person or persons by whom, or for whom such a detestable act should be

committed, but, as they should answer to the Eternal God, to prosecute

such person or persons to the death, and pursue them with the utmost

vengeance to their overthrow and extirpation." The Parliament, which met

in 1585, sanctioned this Association; and, alarmed by the recent discovery

of a fanatical design, on the part of a Roman Catholic, to assassinate the

Queen, because she had been excommunicated by the Pope, they passed an

Act, by which they determined, with the most arbitrary injustice, "That if

any rebellion should be excited in the kingdom, or any thing attempted to

the hurt of her Majesty's person, by or for any person pretending a

title to the crown, the Queen should empower twenty-four persons, by a

commission under the Great Seal, to examine into and pass sentence upon

such offences; and that, after judgment given, a proclamation should be

issued, declaring the persons whom they found guilty excluded from any

right to the crown; and her Majesty's subjects might lawfully pursue every

one of them to the death; and that, if any design against the life of the

Queen took effect, the persons by or for whom such a detestable act

was executed, and their issues, being in any wise assenting or privy to

the same, should be disabled for ever from pretending to the crown, and be

pursued to death, in the like manner." That the persons by whom any of

these faults were committed, should be punished, was in strict accordance

with equity; but that the persons for whom they might be supposed to be

done, should be considered as much involved in their guilt, was alike

contrary to law and reason. The discontented were forming plots every year

against Elizabeth, and, with the very existence of many of these plots,

Mary was unacquainted; yet, by this statute, she was made answerable for

all of them. There is little wonder, therefore, if she considered it only

a forerunner of greater severities; and it was not long before an occasion

occurred which afforded a plausible pretext for making a practical

application of it.

In the year 1586, three English priests, who had been educated in a

Catholic seminary at Rheims, and over whose minds the most illiberal

superstition held unlimited sway, actually conceived the belief, that the

bull of excommunication, issued by Pope Pius V. against Elizabeth, had

been dictated under the immediate inspiration of the Holy Ghost. They

looked, consequently, upon that Sovereign with a fanatical hatred, which

they determined, if possible, to gratify. Having contrived to win over one

or two others to their own way of thinking, and, in particular, an officer

of the name of Savage, and another priest of the name of Ballard, they

sent them into England to disseminate their principles among all on whose

co-operation they thought they could depend; and, in the meantime, they

set on foot a negotiation with the Spanish ambassador in Paris, through

whose means they hoped to obtain the assistance of a foreign force. He

gave them a promise of encouragement, only on condition that they secured

a strong party in England, and that means were taken to remove Elizabeth.

Among the first persons to whom Savage and Ballard communicated their

designs, was Anthony Babington, a young gentleman of estate and fortune in

Derbyshire. Having resided for some time in France, he had formed an

acquaintance with the Archbishop of Glasgow, and from him had heard so

many eulogiums on Mary, that he became inspired with the most enthusiastic

feelings in her favour, and cherished a romantic desire of performing some

exploit which might secure for him her gratitude and esteem. By his advice

and assistance, a knowledge of the conspiracy was intrusted to a number of

persons of respectability of the Roman Catholic persuasion; and a secret

correspondence was set on foot with the Queen of Scots, through the medium

of her Secretaries Naw and Curl. Mary, however, was not disposed to give

the conspirators much encouragement. She had been now so long accustomed

to despair, and was so convinced of the fallaciousness of hope, that she

was almost inclined to turn away from it, as from something painful. She

had grown indifferent about her future fate, and had endeavoured to resign

herself to the prospect of ending her days in captivity. Besides, she had

the recent Act of Parliament before her eyes; and she was well aware, that

though she did nothing but attempt an escape, she would be held

responsible for the whole plot, whatever its extent or criminality might

be. It is, however, not at all unlikely that she may, notwithstanding,

have authorized her Secretaries to write once or twice to Babington and

his associates; but that she gave them any support in their designs

against Elizabeth, was never proved, and is not to be believed. It was

indeed with no little difficulty that Mary was able to hold any epistolary

communication at all with her friends, so strictly was she watched by Sir

Amias Paulet and Sir Drue Drury, to whose custody she had been committed,

and who kept her in the Castle of Chartley in Staffordshire. The

conspirators were obliged to bribe one of the servants, who conveyed to

the Queen or her Secretaries, the letters which they deposited in a hole

in the wall, and put the answers into the same place, from which they took

them privately, when it was dark.

Every thing seemed to proceed smoothly, and all the necessary arrangements

were now concluded. The different conspirators had different tasks

allotted to them; by some a rebellion was to be excited in several parts

of the kingdom at once; six others bound themselves by solemn oaths to

assassinate Elizabeth; and Babington himself undertook to head a strong

party, which he was to lead to the rescue of the Queen of Scots. Nor were

they to be destitute of foreign assistance as soon as the first blow was

struck, and the first symptoms of internal commotion appeared. So inspired

were these infatuated men with an idea of the glory of the revolution they

were about to achieve, that they had medals prepared representing

themselves assembled together, with Babington in the midst, and bearing

the motto,--"Hi mihi sunt comites quos ipsa pericula ducunt." But in all

their fancied security and enthusiasm, they were ignorant that every step

they took was known to Elizabeth and her minister Walsingham, and that

they were advancing only to the foot of their own scaffold. It was through

the treachery of one of their own associates of the name of Polly, one of

Walsingham's accredited spies, who had joined them only that he might

betray them, that all their proceedings were discovered, and attentively

watched. Savage, Ballard, and the other four who were bent on the murder

of Elizabeth, had already come up to London, and were lying in wait for

the first favourable opportunity to execute their purpose; and, as

Walsingham was anxious to have complete evidence of their guilt in his

possession before apprehending them, they were allowed to remain

unmolested for some time. The Queen, however, fearing for her personal

safety, at length insisted on their being seized, remarking, that, "in not

taking heed of a danger when she might, she seemed more to tempt God than

to hope in him." Ballard was first arrested; his accomplices, struck with

astonishment and dismay, fled out of London; but, after lurking for some

days in woods and byeways, cutting off their hair, disfiguring their

faces, and submitting to every kind of deprivation and hardship to avoid

the hot search which was made for them, they were at length taken; and so

much had the public feeling been excited against them, that, when they

were brought into London, the bells of the city were rung, and bonfires

kindled in the streets. Walsingham had arranged his measures so

effectively, that all the other conspirators, who were scattered

throughout the kingdom, were also seized and brought to the capital within

a very short time. Fourteen of the principal inventors of the plot were

immediately tried, condemned, and executed. No mercy whatever was shown

to them; for Elizabeth seldom forgave her enemies.

But, in the death of these men, only one part of Elizabeth's vengeance was

gratified. The wrongs and the merits of the Queen of Scots had been the

means of imparting to this conspiracy a degree of respectability; and she,

therefore, was regarded as the chief culprit. Walsingham had ascertained,

that communications of some sort or another had passed between Mary's

secretaries and the conspirators; and before she was aware that

Babington's plot had been discovered, he sent down Sir Thomas Gorges to

Chartley to take her by surprise, and endeavour to discover some

additional grounds of suspicion. Sir Thomas arrived just as she was about

to ride out in a wheeled carriage which had been procured for her, and,

without permitting her to alight, he rudely told her of Babington's fate;

then entering the Castle, he committed Naw and Curl into custody; and,

breaking into the private cabinets of the Queen, he seized all her letters

and papers, and sent them off immediately to Elizabeth. He took possession

too of all her money, "lest she should use it for corruption." She herself

was not allowed to return to Chartley for some days, but conveyed about

from one castle to another. When she was at length brought back, and saw

how she had been plundered in her absence, she could not refrain from

weeping bitterly. "There are two things, however," she said in the midst

of her tears, "which they cannot take away,--my birth and my


In the excited state of feeling which then prevailed in the nation, and

the fears which her subjects entertained for the safety of their

Sovereign, Elizabeth perceived that she might now safely proceed to those

extremities against Mary which she had so long meditated, but which

considerations of selfish prudence had hitherto prevented her from putting

into execution. She asserted, that not only her own life, but the religion

and peace of the country were at stake, and that either the Queen of Scots

must be removed, or the whole realm given up as a sacrifice. By her own

injustice, she had involved herself in inconveniences; and as soon as she

began to feel their effects, she pretended to be indignant at the innocent

victim of her tyranny. But it was not without difficulty that she brought

all her ministers to think on this subject precisely as she herself did.

Many of them did not hesitate to state their conviction, that Mary had

neither set on foot nor countenanced Babington's plot, and that, however

the conspirators might have interwoven her name with it, she could not be

punished for what she could not have prevented. Besides, they urged that

she was not likely to live long at any rate, and that it would be more for

the honour of the kingdom to leave her unmolested for the short remainder

of her days. Nevertheless, by Elizabeth's exertions, and those of

Walsingham, who had always courted the favour of his mistress by the most

persevering persecution of Mary, opposition was at length silenced, and

the trial of the Queen of Scots finally determined. To give as much

dignity, and as great a semblance of justice as possible to a proceeding

so unwarrantable as that of calling upon her to answer for an imaginary

offence, forty of the most illustrious persons in the kingdom were

appointed Commissioners, and were intrusted with the charge of hearing the

cause, and deciding upon the question of life or death.

On the 25th of September 1586, Mary had been taken from Chartley to the

Castle of Fotheringay in Northamptonshire, where she was more strictly

watched than ever by Sir Amias Paulet, who was a harsh and inflexible

gaoler. On the 11th of October, Elizabeth's Commissioners arrived, the

great hall of the Castle having been previously fitted up as a court-room

for their reception. They would have proceeded with the trial immediately;

but a difficulty occurred, which, though they scarcely can have failed to

anticipate, they were not prepared to obviate. Mary refused to acknowledge

their jurisdiction, denying that they possessed any right either to

arraign or try her. "I am no subject to Elizabeth," she said, "but an

independent Queen as well as she; and I will consent to nothing unbecoming

the majesty of a crowned head. Worn out as my body is, my mind is not yet

so enfeebled as to make me forget what is due to myself, my ancestors, and

my country. Whatever the laws of England may be, I am not subject to them;

for I came into the realm only to ask assistance from a sister Queen, and

I have been detained an unwilling prisoner." For two days the

Commissioners laboured in vain to induce Mary to appear before them; and

as she assigned reasons for refusing, which it was impossible for fair

argument to invalidate, recourse was at length had to threats. They told

her that they would proceed with the trial, whether she consented to be

present or not; and that, though they were anxious to hear her

justification, they would nevertheless conclude that she was guilty, and

pronounce accordingly, if she refused to defend herself. It would have

been well had Mary allowed them to take their own way; but, conscious that

she was accused unjustly, she could not bear to think that she excited

suspicion, by refusing the opportunity of establishing her innocence.

Actuated by this honourable motive, she at length yielded, after solemnly

protesting that she did not, and never would, acknowledge the authority

which Elizabeth arrogated over her.

On the 14th of October the trial commenced. The upper half of the great

hall of Fotheringay Castle was railed off, and at the higher end was

placed a chair of state, under a canopy, for the Queen of England. Upon

both sides of the room benches were arranged in order, where the Lord

Chancellor Bromley, the Lord Treasurer Burleigh, fourteen Earls, thirteen

Barons, and Knights and Members of the Privy Council, sat. In the centre

was a table, at which the Lord Chief Justice, several Doctors of the Civil

Law, Popham, the Queen's Attorney, her Solicitors, Sergeants and Notaries,

took their places. At the foot of this table, and immediately opposite

Elizabeth's chair of state, a chair, without any canopy, was placed for

the Queen of Scots. Behind, was the rail which ran across the hall, the

lower part of which was fitted up for the accommodation of persons who

were not in the commission.

There was never, perhaps, an occasion throughout the whole of Mary's life

on which she appeared to greater advantage than this. In the presence of

all the pomp, learning, and talent of England, she stood alone and

undaunted; evincing, in the modest dignity of her bearing, a mind

conscious of its own integrity, and superior to the malice of fortune.

Elizabeth's craftiest lawyers and ablest politicians were assembled to

probe her to the quick,--to press home every argument against her, which

ingenuity could devise and eloquence embellish,--to dazzle her with a

blaze of erudition, or involve her in a maze of technical perplexities.

Mary had no counsellor--no adviser--no friend. Her very papers, to which

she might have wished to refer, had been taken from her; and there was not

one to plead her cause, or defend her innocence. Yet was she not dismayed.

She knew that she had a higher Judge than Elizabeth; and that great as was

the array of Lords and Barons that appeared against her, posterity was

greater than they, and that to its decision all things would be finally

referred. Her bodily infirmities imparted only a greater lustre to her

mental pre-eminence; and not in all the fascinating splendor of her youth

and beauty--not on the morning of her first bridal day, when Paris rang

with acclamations in her praise--was Mary Stuart so much to be admired, as

when, weak and worn out, she stood calmly before the myrmidons of a rival

Queen, to hear and refute their unjust accusations, her eye radiant once

more with the brilliancy of earlier years, and the placid benignity of a

serene conscience, lending to her countenance its undying grace.

Elizabeth's Attorney-General opened the pleadings. He began by referring

to the act of Parliament, in which it was made capital to be the person

for whom any design was undertaken against the life of the Queen. He

then described the late conspiracy, and attempted to establish Mary's

connexion with it, by producing copies of letters which, he alleged, she

had written to Babington himself and several of his accomplices. To these

having added letters from Babington to her, and the declarations and

confessions which had been extorted from her secretaries, he asserted that

the case was made out, and wound up his speech with a laboured display of

legal knowledge and forensic oratory.

Mary was now called upon for her defence; and she entered on it with

composure and dignity. She denied all connexion with Babington's

conspiracy, in so far as he entertained any designs injurious to

Elizabeth's safety or the welfare of her kingdom;--she allowed that the

letters which he was said to have addressed to her might be genuine, but

it had not been proved that she ever received them;--she maintained that

her own letters were all garbled or fabricated; that as to the

confessions of her secretaries, they had been extorted by fear, and were

therefore not to be credited; but that, if they were in any particulars

true, these particulars must have been disclosed at the expense of the

oath of fidelity they had come under to her when they entered her service,

and that men who would perjure themselves in one instance were not to be

trusted in any;--she objected besides that they had not been confronted

with her according to an express law enacted in the thirteenth year of

Elizabeth's reign "that no one should be arraigned for intending the

destruction of the Prince's life, but by the testimony and oath of two

lawful witnesses, to be produced face to face before him;"--she

maintained, that even supposing she were to allow the authenticity of many

of the papers adduced against her, they would not prove her guilty of any

crime; for she was surely doing no wrong, if, after a calamitous captivity

of nineteen years, in which she had lost forever her youth, her health,

and her happiness, she made one last effort to regain the liberty of

which she had been so unfairly robbed; but that as to scheming against the

life of the Queen her sister, it was an infamy she abhored;--"I would

disdain," said she "to purchase all that is most valuable on earth by the

assasination of the meanest of the human race; and worn out, as I now am,

with cares and sufferings, the prospect of a crown is not so inviting that

I should ruin my soul in order to obtain it. Neither am I a stranger to

the feelings of humanity, nor unacquainted with the duties of religion,

and it is my nature to be more inclined to the devotion of Esther, than to

the sword of Judith. If ever I have given consent by my words, or even by

my thoughts, to any attempt against the life of the Queen of England, far

from declining the judgment of men, I shall not even pray for the mercy of


Elizabeth's advocates were not a little surprised at the eloquent and able

manner in which Mary conducted her defence. They had expected to have

every thing their own way, and to gain an easy victory over one

unacquainted with the forms of legal procedure, and unable to cope with

their own professional talents. But they were disappointed and baffled;

and in order to maintain their ground even plausibly, they were obliged to

protract the proceedings for two whole days. Nor, after all, did the

Commissioners venture to pronounce judgment, but adjourned the court to

the Star-Chamber at Westminster, where they knew that Mary would not be

present, and where, consequently, they would have no opposition to

fear. On the 25th of October, they assembled there, and having again

examined the Secretaries, Naw and Curl, who appear to have been persons of

little fidelity or constancy, and who confirmed their former declarations,

a unanimous judgment was delivered, that "Mary, commonly called Queen of

Scots and dowager of France, was accessary to Babington's conspiracy, and

had compassed and imagined divers matters within the realm of England,

tending to the hurt, death, and destruction of the royal person of

Elizabeth, in opposition to the statute framed for her protection."

Elizabeth ordered this verdict to be laid before her Parliament, which

assembled a few days afterwards; and, at Walsingham's instigation, its

legality was not only confirmed, but the Lord Chancellor was sent up with

an address to the Queen, in which, after stating their conviction that her

security was incompatible with Mary's life, they requested that she would

give the sentence effect, by ordering her immediate execution. Elizabeth,

though conscious that, if her personal safety had been endangered, she had

herself to blame, was rejoiced at the opportunity at length afforded her,

for gratifying her long cherished hatred. She affected, however, to be

greatly perplexed how to act. She declared that, if she were not afraid of

endangering the welfare of her people, she would freely pardon Mary for

all her treasonable practices, and she beseeched the House to endeavour to

discover some less severe method of procedure. The Parliament, as she

expected, replied firmly, that they could not recommend any more lenient

measure; and in the pedantic language of the day, called to Elizabeth's

remembrance the examples of God's vengeance upon Saul for sparing Agag,

and on Ahab for sparing Benhadad. Elizabeth still affected to be

irresolute; and indeed it was not unlikely that she was so in reality;

for, though anxious to have Mary removed, she was not so hardened and

insane as not to know, that however it might be sanctioned by the world,

murder was as criminal and as contrary to the unchanging code of moral

justice, when commanded by a Queen, as when perpetrated by a peasant. She

desired that her Parliament should be content for the present "with an

answer without an answer." "If I should say, that I will not do what you

request, I might say perhaps more than I intend; and if I should say I

will do it, I might plunge myself into as much inconvenience as you

endeavour to preserve me from." All this manoeuvring was for the purpose

of conveying to the nation an impression of her extreme sensibility, and

generous hesitation.

Another reason why Elizabeth did not choose to be over-precipitate, was

her fear of giving any deadly offence to foreign courts. She ordered the

sentence against Mary to be published both throughout her own kingdom and

abroad, and she waited anxiously to observe the sensation which it should

create, and the steps that might be taken in consequence. She need not,

however, have given herself much uneasiness upon this score. Henry III. of

France had never been more than a very lukewarm advocate for the Queen of

Scots, and the remonstrances he occasionally made in her behalf, were

rather for the sake of appearances, than because he was anxious that they

should be successful. On the present occasion, startled by the imminence

of his cousin's danger, he seems to have been a little more in earnest,

and ordered his ambassador to make as forcible a representation as

possible against the iniquitous severity that was intended. But Elizabeth

knew that his rage would evaporate in words, and paid little attention to

the harangue. In Scotland, the young King, James, was surrounded by

ministers who had sold themselves to England, and Elizabeth was well

aware, that though he might bark, he dared not bite. Besides, the

sentiments regarding his mother, which had been carefully instilled into

him from his earliest years, were not such as were likely to inspire him

with any decided wish to protect and avenge her. He had been constantly

surrounded by her deadliest enemies, and the lesson which Buchanan taught

him daily, was a lesson of hatred towards his only surviving parent. His

succession also to the English crown, greatly depended on the friendship

of Elizabeth; and she was able, in consequence, to maintain an ascendancy

over him, which he dared not venture to resist. He was not, however, so

entirely destitute of all ordinary filial sentiments as to consent to

remain a quiet spectator of his mother's execution. "His opinion is,"

said his worthless minion the Master of Gray, "that it cannot stand with

his honour to be a consenter to take his mother's life, but he does not

care how strictly she be kept; and is content that all her old knavish

servants should be hanged." To prevent if possible a catastrophe

which "did not stand with his honour," he sent the Master of Gray and Sir

Robert Melville as his ambassadors to London, to press his objections upon

the attention of Elizabeth. The latter was true to the cause in which he

had been sent, and his remonstrances were vigorous and sincere. But Gray,

wishing to curry favour with Elizabeth, assured her that she had no cause

to fear the King's resentment, for he was of an irresolute character and

timid disposition, and that whatever might happen, he would never think of

embroiling himself in a disastrous war with England. Elizabeth listened

with evident satisfaction to these artful insinuations; and desired her

minister Walsingham, to inform the Scottish monarch, that Mary's doom was

already fixed by the decision of the nation, and that his mistress the

Queen had it not in her power to save her. James received this

intelligence with grief, but not with the spirit that became the only

child of Mary Stuart. Instead of putting himself at the head of an army,

and marching into the heart of England, he was contented to communicate

his mother's unfortunate condition to his subjects, and order prayers to

be said for her in all the churches,--"that it might please God to

enlighten her with the light of his truth, and to protect her from the

danger which was hanging over her."

In the mean time, messengers had been sent to the Queen of Scots, to

report to her the sentence of the Commissioners, and to prepare her for

the consequences which might be expected to follow. So far from receiving

the news with dismay, Mary solemnly raised her hands to heaven, and

thanked God that she was so soon to be relieved from her troubles. They

were not yet, however, at a close; and even during the short remainder of

her life, she was to be still further insulted. Her keepers, Sir Amias

Paulet and Sir Drue Drury, refused any longer to treat her with the

reverence and respect due to her rank and sex. The canopy of state, which

she had always ordered to be put up in her apartment wherever she went,

was taken down, and every badge of royalty removed. It was intimated to

her, that she was no longer to be regarded as a Princess, but as a

criminal; and the persons who came into her presence stood before her

without uncovering their heads, or paying her any obeisance. The

attendance of a Catholic priest was refused, and an Episcopalian bishop

sent in his stead, to point out and correct the errors of her ways. Mary

bore all these indignities with a calm spirit, which rose superior to

them, and which proved their unworthiness, by bringing them into contrast

with her own elevation of mind. "In despite of your Sovereign and her

subservient judges," said she, "I will die a Queen. My royal character is

indelible, and I will surrender it with my spirit to the Almighty God,

from whom I received it, and to whom my honour and my innocence are fully

known." In December 1586, she wrote her last letter to Elizabeth; and

though from an unfriended prisoner to an envied and powerful Sovereign, it

evinces so much magnanimity and calm consciousness of mental serenity,

that it is impossible to peruse it, without confessing Elizabeth's

inferiority, and Mary's triumph. It was couched in the following terms:

"Madam, I thank God from the bottom of my heart, that, by the sentence

which has been passed against me, he is about to put an end to my tedious

pilgrimage. I would not wish it prolonged, though it were in my power,

having had enough of time to experience its bitterness. I write at present

only to make three last requests which, as I can expect no favour from

your implacable ministers, I should wish to owe to your Majesty, and to no

other. First, as in England, I cannot hope to be buried according to the

solemnities of the Catholic church, (the religion of the ancient Kings,

your ancestors and mine, being now changed,) and as in Scotland they have

already violated the ashes of my progenitors, I have to request, that, as

soon as my enemies have bathed their hands in my innocent blood, my

domestics may be allowed to inter my body in some consecrated ground; and,

above all, that they may be permitted to carry it to France, where the

bones of the Queen, my most honoured mother, repose. Thus, that poor

frame, which has never enjoyed repose so long as it has been joined to my

soul, may find it at last when they will be separated. Second, as I

dread the tyranny of the harsh men, to whose power you have abandoned me,

I entreat your Majesty that I may not be executed in secret, but in the

presence of my servants and other persons, who may bear testimony of my

faith and fidelity to the true church, and guard the last hours of my

life, and my last sighs from the false rumours which my adversaries may

spread abroad. Third, I request that my domestics, who have served me

through so much misery, and with so much constancy, may be allowed to

retire without molestation wherever they choose, to enjoy for the

remainder of their lives the small legacies which my poverty has enabled

me to bequeath to them. I conjure you, Madam, by the blood of Jesus

Christ, by our consanguinity, by the memory of Henry VII., our common

father, and by the royal title which I carry with me to death, not to

refuse me those reasonable demands, but to assure me, by a letter under

your own hand, that you will comply with them; and I shall then die as I

have lived, your affectionate sister and prisoner, MARY, Queen of


Whether Elizabeth ever answered this letter, does not appear; but it

produced so little effect, that epistles from her to Sir Amias Paulet

still exist, which prove that, in her anxiety to avoid taking upon herself

the responsibility of Mary's death, she wished to have her privately

assassinated or poisoned. Paulet, however, though a harsh and violent man,

positively refused to sanction so nefarious a scheme. Yet in the very act

of instigating murder, Elizabeth could close her eyes against her own

iniquity, and affect indignation at the alleged offences of another.

But perceiving at length, that no alternative remained, she ordered her

secretary Davidson to bring her the warrant for Mary's execution, and

after perusing it, she deliberately affixed her signature. She then

desired him to carry it to Walsingham, saying, with an ironical smile, and

in a "merry tone," that she feared he would die of grief when he saw it.

Walsingham sent the warrant to the Chancellor, who affixed the Great Seal

to it, and despatched it by Beal, with a commission to the Earls of

Shrewsbury, Kent, Derby, and others, to see it put in execution. Davidson

was afterwards made the victim of Elizabeth's artifice,--who, to complete

the solemn farce she had been playing, pretended he had obeyed her orders

too quickly, and doomed him in consequence to perpetual