Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

your Majesty shall in one make me a free man and a bond-man, free to all the world and only bond to yourself. And I will plainly express unto your sacred Majesty the three thorns the compunction whereof instanted me to make this motion at this time, holding otherwise all the services which I have done or can do more than rewarded in your Majesty's only gracious aspect.

First my love to my mother, whose health being worn, I do infinitely desire she mought carry this comfort to the grave, not to leave my estate troubled and engaged.

Secondly, these perpetuities being now overthrown, I have just fear my brother will endeavour to put away Gorhambury, which if your Majesty enable me by this gift I know I shall be able to get into mine own hands, where I do figure to myself that one day I may have the honour and comfort to bid your Majesty welcome, and to trim and dress the grounds for your Majesty's solace.

Thirdly, your Majesty may by this redemption (for so I may truly call it) free me from the contempt of the contemptible, that measure a man by his estate, which I daily find a weakening of me both in courage and means to do your Majesty service.

Thus, Madam, your Majesty seeth, though I am an ill beggar in person, yet I would make no proctor ; for I never received so much contentment of any man as I could find it in my mind to make him an author or mediator of my fortune. Only I have used an ancient friend, and a man of ordinary access to your Majesty, for the delivery of these lines; and so most humbly craving pardon, I leave all to your Majesty's goodness, and yourself to the dear preservation of the divine Majesty : from my Tub not yet hallowed by your sacred Majesty, this xiith of March, 1599. Your sacred Majesty's most humble and entirely devoted subject and servant,

Fr. Bacon.

7. That the necessity of his service in Ireland would compel the Queen to receive Essex into favour again, was a hope which, though it continued to prevail among the people till the middle of November, if not later,' he could hardly entertain himself after the disclosure of

1 Syd. Pap. 15 Nov.

Tyrone's propositions. He began at once therefore to cast about for other means of rescue; and if those to which he first inclined seem so inconsistent with his professions of extinct ambition and desire of private life as to suggest a doubt whether they were sincere even for the monient, we must remember that his personal safety was now every hour in jeopardy ; and that to place himself out of danger of the law may really have been his object; although the means by which it was to be compassed involved much more,-involved in fact the assumption of a position and a power above the legitimate pretensions of a subject. The intrigues in which for this purpose he was engaged were kept secret at the time, for reasons of state which are sufficiently intelligible. For reasons equally intelligible, they were but dimly and partially indicated during the next reign. Nor was it till long after, when the whole question had passed from the department of politics to that of history, that they were fully revealed. The evidence being nevertheless good, history must not refuse to admit it, and to correct her conclusions accordingly.

In the Advocates' Library at Edinburgh there is still to be seen a manuscript in an old handwriting, purporting to be a declaration made by Sir Charles Davers on the 22nd of February, 1600-1. It has every appearance of being a genuine, though not a very accurate, transcript of a deposition taken down from the speaker's mouth by some one who could not write fast enough, nor is there anything either in the style, the matter, or the circumstances, which would lead me to doubt the veracity of the deponent. It was first printed by Birch in his "Memoirs of Elizabeth,' from a copy found among the collections of Dr. Forbes; and I am not aware that its genuineness has ever been questioned. From this we learn that when he was committed to the custody of the Lord Keeper, Essex entrusted the care of his fortune not to those of his friends who had best credit with the Queen for loyalty and good service, but to those who had been admitted to his own most dangerous secrets, and engaged themselves furthest with him in his most questionable proceedings. How deeply the Earl of Southampton had been previously admitted into his confidence we have seen. With Lord Montjoy his latest relation, so far as it was known to the newsmen of the day, had been

1 A. 1. 34. No. 30.

2 On the 21st a declaration had been made by Henry Cuffe, in which he referred the Council to Sir Charles Davers for fuller information (Add. MSS. B. M. 4160. 63). Cuffe's declaration was made in answer to questions put to him at the suggestion of Essex himself: from whom I believe the government had their first intelligence of this Scotch intrigue.

3 Since this was written, a fair copy of this declaration in Sir C. Davers's own hand, apparently revised and enlarged, has been found among the MSS. at Hatfield, and printed by Mr. John Bruce for the Camden Society. See Additional Evidences, No. IX., in this volume.

that of successful rivalry for the Irish command, in the autumn of 1598. But if that difference caused any interruption of intimacy for the time, the breach must have been soon and effectually healed. For in the summer of 1599 Montjoy had undertaken an office on his behalf which he would never have ventured on without some concert and private understanding of the most confidential kind. In the summer of 1599 he had dispatched a messenger secretly to Scotland, with some communication on the forbidden subject of the succession. The terms are not known; but the general purport was to satisfy the King that Essex would support his claim to succeed to the crown upon Elizabeth's death, and to suggest some course of proceeding which might lead to an acknowledgment of that claim during her life. Now why should Montjoy meddle in such a matter? “The cause” (says Sir Charles) “that moved my Lord Montjoy to enter into this course with Scotland was, as he protested, his duty to her Majesty and his country; for he could not think his country safe unless by declaration of a successor it were strengthened against the assaults of our most potent enemies, which pretended a title thereunto. Neither could he think her Majesty so safe by any means, as by making her kingdom by that means safe against their attempts." So far well. It is easy to believe that he thought such a declaration desirable, with a view to the public interest only. Most men would have welcomed it as a measure important for the safety of the country; and had he made a speech or published a pamphlet urging the Queen to adopt it, I should have given him credit for a bold and patriotic act done at the risk of a censure in the Star Chamber. But how was such a thing to be brought about through a secret negotiation between the King of Scots and a private English subject holding no office or authority ?-and how came Montjoy to be the negotiator ? “ He entered into it the rather at that time," Sir Charles adds,“ to serve my Lord of Essex, who by loss of her Majesty was like to run a dangerous fortune, unless he took a course to strengthen himself by that means.” How again would the procuring of such a declaration by such means have strengthened Essex? It was certainly not a service which would have inclined the Queen to like him better. On the contrary, it would have made the recovery of her favour by fair means for ever hopeless. The answer to these questions must surely be, that the negotiation was undertaken not only in the interest of Essex, but in concert with him; and that the object was to arrange some joint action between the King of Scots and the English

I "To assure the King that my Lord of Essex was freed from the ambitious conceits that some of his enemies had sought to possess the world withal; to give him assurance that next to her Majesty he would endure no succession but his ; and to intimate some course for his declaration in her Majesty's time."

army in Ireland, for the purpose of compelling the Queen to assent to a formal declaration of his right to succeed her in the throne of England. We know that Essex had begun to contemplate the necessity of resorting, in what he called self-defence, to some demonstration of force. Το

any

such demonstration an alliance with the King of Scots in assertion of his legitimate title would have given the material support of a Scotch army and the moral support of a fairer name than rebellion ; and would have strengthened him by making him more formidable. But I do not see what other strength either he or his friends could have hoped from such a course, except strength of arms in an encounter with the Queen's forces.

If this interpretation be objected to as incredible, because it implies an intention to use the army with which he had been entrusted against those from whom he had received the trust, let that objection wait a little till we see the next phase of the intrigue.

8.

news

The issue of the negotiation at that time we do not know. I suppose it was interrupted by the Earl's sudden return from Ireland and subsequent detention in England, which not only made it impossible for him to play his part in the proposed demonstration, but involved him in a danger quite different from any he had hitherto had to fear, and called in his friends to help him by services more within the legitimate limits of friendship. He was now in the Queen's power; and though the restraint put upon him was as gentle as any restraint could be which was strict enough to keep him within her power, yet no one knew, and his most confidential friends had most reason to fear, what might happen next. Reports that he was to be sent to the Tower were the of

every

week; and those who were deepest in his secrets best knew how dangerous a place the Tower might prove for him, if all the truth should by any accident come to light. How best to provide against this danger was now the question. And it was to my Lords Southampton and Montjoy that in this emergency he committed the care of his fortunes.

Sir Charles Davers came up to London about the end of October and found them in consultation. It seems that Sir Christopher Blunt's former recommendation to “possess the Court with his friends,” as well as Essex's own project of making his way into Wales (where he might look for popular support), had been reconsidered and upon consideration rejected; and that a private escape into France was agreed upon as the best thing to attempt. This

Divers courses had been thought on for his delivery ; either by procuring him

[ocr errors]

however he himself positively declined-saying that" he would rather run any danger than lead the life of a fugitive:" by which he must have meant that the escape he looked for was to some place where he might make resistance.

9.

1

Thus matters stood till about the middle of November : at which time it was decided at Court that Montjoy should take command of the army in Ireland. This opened a new chance. Though the parts were changed the game might still be played. A month before, when the employment was first offered to Montjoy, he had tried to excuse himself; out of friendship (it was supposed) for Essex, whom he then believed it would be thought necessary to send back. This however being out of the question, and the case of Ireland growing worse and worse, he undertook the service; and at the end of November the news was that he had orders to be ready within twenty days. Immediately upon this followed the declaration in the Star Chamber concerning the offences of the Earl, which I have already mentioned, and which put an end to all hopes of a present release for hiin. And then came a fresh proposition on his behalf, which will show that to reject my interpretation of Montjoy's former proceeding on the ground that it implied treachery would have been premature.

The statement in this case is explicit, and admits of no interpretation but one. I give the words precisely as I find them.

“Now when that the government of Ireland was put into my Lord Montjoy's hands, his former motives growing stronger in him, the danger of my Lord of Essex more apparent, being earnestly pressed by my Lord of Essex to think of some course to relieve him, my Lord first swearing, and exacting the like oaths as I remember from my Lord of Southampton, to defend her Majesty's person and government over us against all persons whatsoever, it was resolved to send Harry Leigh again into Scotland, with offer that if the King would enter into the course, my Lord Montjoy would leave the kingdom of Ireland defensively guarded, and with four or five thousand men assist him: which with the party that my Lord of Essex would make head withal, were thought sufficient to bring that to pass that was intended."

The date of this resolution is not given. But as Montjoy was gone before Harry Leigh returned from his mission, I see no escape from the conclusion that he undertook the command of the Queen's means to escape privately into France, or by the assistance of his friends into Wales, or, by possessing the Court with his friends, to bring himself again into her Majesty's presence.':Declaration of Sir Charles Davers.

Syd. Pap. ii. p. 145.

« AnteriorContinuar »