beyond even his wounded paternal affection

The results achieved in so short a time after Elizabeth’s accession
were due in a large measure to the moderation and prudence of Cecil’s
methods. The changes which had been made attacked many interests, and
ran counter to many prejudices; and the policy of Elizabeth in retaining
most of her sister’s Councillors had surrounded her with men who still
clung to the old faith and the traditions of the past. From the first
the Spanish and French Ambassadors had begun to bribe the Councillors,
and had respectively formed their parties amongst those who immediately
surrounded the Queen. Elizabeth herself was fickle and unstable, yet
obstinate in the opinion of the moment. Her vanity often led her into
false and dangerous positions, and already scandal was busy with her
doings. She was easily swayed by the opinions of others, yet fiercely
resented any attempt at dictation. Her feelings, moreover, towards the
French were by no means so antagonistic as those of Cecil, and the cost
of the war in Scotland had caused her great annoyance. It will be seen,
therefore, that the task of her principal minister in carrying out with
safety a consistent national policy was an extremely difficult one. More
than once during the Scotch war the French-Guisan party in Elizabeth’s
court had, to Cecil’s dismay, nearly persuaded the Queen to suspend
hostilities, whilst Philip’s paid agents in her Council were for ever
whispering distrust of Cecil and his religious reforms. Whilst the
Howards, Arundel, Paget, Mason, and the rest of the Philipians—as the
puritan Lord John Grey called them—were denouncing the minister for his
Protestant measures, the hot zealots who had hurried back from Germany
and Switzerland, dreaming of the violent establishment of an Anglican
Church on the Genevan pattern, were discontented at the slowness and
tentative character of the religious reforms adopted; and Cecil’s own
friends, like the Earl of Bedford, the Duchess of Suffolk, and the Lord
Admiral Clinton, were often impatient at his moderation. To this must
be added the unprincipled influence of Dudley, who was ready to swear
allegiance to any cause, to serve his purpose of dominating the Queen, a
purpose which was naturally opposed by Cecil as being dangerous to the
national welfare. It will thus be seen that the patient, strong minister
was surrounded by difficulties on every side; and but for the fact that
none of his rivals were comparable with him in ability and energy, Cecil
must have shared the usual fate of ministers, and have fallen before the
attacks of his enemies.

He returned from Scotland at the end of July, after an absence
of sixty-three days[128] and from a letter of the Lord Treasurer
(Winchester) to him soon afterwards (24th August 1560), it is evident
that his detractors had been at work in his absence.[129] The old Marquis
loved to stand well with all men, but his tendencies we know now to have
been “Philipian,” and he wrote to the Secretary: “In the meantime all
good Councillors shall have labor and dolor without reward; wherein your
part is most of all mens; for your charge and paynes be farre above all
oder mens, and your thanks and rewards least and worst considered, and
specially for that you spend wholly of yourself, without your ordinary
fee, land, patent, gift, or ony thing, which must nedes discomfort you.
And yett when your counsell is most for her Majesties honour and profitt,
the same hath got hinderance by her weke creditt of you, and by back
councells; and so long as that matter shall continue it must needs be
dangerous service and unthankful.”

Less than three weeks after this letter was written, the Bishop of Aquila
went to Greenwich about the Austrian match, which still dragged on, when,
to his surprise, the Queen told him flatly she had altered her mind,
and would not marry at all. The Bishop then sought out Cecil, who, he
knew, was now in semi-disgrace, owing to the efforts of Dudley in his
absence. The Secretary was not in the habit of wearing his heart upon his
sleeve, and if he did so on this occasion to Philip’s minister, it may be
concluded that it was from motives of policy, which are not very far to
seek. “After exacting many pledges of strict secrecy, he said that the
Queen was conducting herself in such a way that he thought of retiring.
He said it was a bad sailor who did not enter port if he could when he
saw a storm coming on, and he clearly foresaw the ruin of the realm
through Robert’s intimacy with the Queen, who surrendered all affairs to
him and meant to marry him. He said he did not know how the country put
up with it, and he should ask leave to go home, though he thought they
would cast him into the Tower first. He ended by begging me in God’s
name to point out to the Queen the effect of her misconduct, and persuade
her not to abandon business entirely, but to look to her realm; and then
he repeated to me twice over that Lord Robert would be better in Paradise
than here.”[130] After this Cecil told the Ambassador that Dudley “was
thinking of killing his wife,” which on the following day the Queen
partly confirmed by mentioning to the Bishop that she was “dead or nearly
so.” The Bishop’s comment upon this is, that “Cecil’s disgrace must have
great effect, as he has many companions in discontent, especially the
Duke of Norfolk.… Their quarrels cannot injure public business, as nobody
worse than Cecil can be at the head of affairs, but the outcome of it all
might be the imprisonment of the Queen, and the proclamation of the Earl
of Huntingdon[131] as King. He is a great heretic, and the French forces
might be used for him. Cecil says he is the real heir of England, and all
the heretics want him. I do not like Cecil’s great friendship with the
Bishop of Valence.”

Shortly after this was written, the tragic fate of Amy Robsart was
announced. For months past there had been rumours of the intention of
Dudley to have his wife killed, in order that he might marry the Queen,
and as the date of Cecil’s conversation with the Bishop is not quite
certain, it is possible that he may have spoken with the knowledge that
she was already dead. In any case, however, it is certain that, at this
time, Cecil feared that the Queen’s passion for Dudley would bring about
the downfall of the edifice he had so laboriously built, and he sought if
possible to lay the foundation for his future action. The friendship with
the Guisan Bishop, Monluc, was clearly a feint, as was also the idea that
the French would help Huntingdon to the detriment of their own Queen Mary
Stuart, but it would serve to arouse the jealousy of the Spaniards, and
would incline them to Cecil’s side to prevent it. Dudley had in Cecil’s
absence gained most of the advanced Protestant party to his side by his
open championship of their ideas, and the Secretary, finding himself
distrusted by his friends, was obliged to endeavour to discredit Dudley,
to gain the sympathy of the Spanish Bishop, and, through him, of the
“Philipians,” who were already opposed to Dudley as an upstart and a
friend of France. Regarded in this light, Cecil’s unwonted frankness to
the Spanish Ambassador is intelligible enough. If things went well with
the Queen, the “Philipians” could keep him in office, and if disaster
befell her, he dissociated himself from her before the catastrophe, and
made common cause with the party which in such case would certainly be

The danger, however, soon blew over, for Amy Robsart’s death caused so
much scandal as to cover Dudley with obloquy, and render him powerless
for a time, during which Cecil regained his influence. How completely
he did so is seen in Dudley’s enigmatical letter to him at the time
when he was first feeling the effect of the odium of his wife’s death.
The real meaning of the letter is not intelligible. Dudley had retired
from court, probably to Wanstead, and had been visited by Cecil, who was
having close inquiry made into the death of Lady Robert. He appears to
have made some friendly promise to Dudley, who is effusively grateful.
“The great frendshipp you have shewyd towards me I shall not forgett. I
pray you lett me hear from you what you think best for me to doe; if you
doubt, I pray you ask the question (of the Queen?), for the sooner you
can advyse me the more I shall thank you. I am sorry so sodden a chaunce
shuld brede me so great a change, for methinks I am here all this while
as it were in a dream.”[132] Dudley’s retirement and pretended disgrace,
to save appearances, did not last long; and when he came back to court he
found Cecil in full favour again.[133] Whilst Lord Robert was away Cecil
had extracted a positive assurance from the Queen direct, that she would
not marry Dudley. Cecil had thereupon made another attempt to revive
the Archduke’s negotiation,[134] and at the same time had sounded the
Spanish Ambassador about marrying Catharine Grey to a nominee of Philip;
this being a prudent attempt to obtain a second connecting link with
Spain, now that the negotiations with the Archduke had been worn nearly

But the Spanish-Austrian family were not responsive. They had been fooled
more than once, and were determined that Elizabeth should not lead them
into a position compromising to their dignity; but it was necessary for
those who had the welfare of England at heart to take some steps which
should render Dudley’s hopes unrealisable. The Protestant party in the
Council, with Cecil’s acquiescence, again brought up the proposal of
the new King of Sweden, Eric XIV. He was an eager suitor, and had been
trying to gain a hearing at intervals since before Mary’s death; and in
answer to private messages from England, intimated his intention of
coming himself to win his bride. The Protestants were overjoyed; for
this would have been an ideal solution for them, especially now that the
situation had been unexpectedly changed by the death of the young King
of France, Mary Stuart’s husband (5th December 1560). This event, which
took away much of the Guises’ power, and weakened Mary’s connection with
France, now governed by her mother-in-law, Catharine de Medici, who hated
her, banished in a large measure Philip’s dread of her accession to the
English throne; and the Catholics in England thought they saw daylight
ahead, if the Queen died childless.

It was natural, therefore, that the Protestants should make a counter
move, and actively revive the idea of the Swedish match. It was equally
to be expected that when Dudley thus found himself without any party at
all but his personal friends, he should seek support in a fresh quarter.
He was without shame, scruple, or conscience. He had betrayed, or was
ready to betray, every person or cause that trusted him; his sole object
was to force or cajole the Queen into marrying him, and he grasped at any
aid towards it. In January 1561 his brother-in-law, Sir Henry Sidney,
a Catholic, and a friend of Spain, came to the Bishop of Aquila, and
assured him that Dudley was innocent of his wife’s death, though public
opinion was universally against him. Sidney then went on to say that, as
Elizabeth’s desire to marry Dudley was evident, it was surprising that
the Spanish party had not helped him in his object, and thus gained his
gratitude, in return for which “he would hereafter serve and obey your
Majesty like one of your own vassals.” The Bishop was not eager, for
he had been tricked before when the Sidneys were the intermediaries;
but when Sidney promised that if Dudley were aided to marry the Queen,
he would restore the Catholic religion in England, the Churchman
listened. He could be no party, of course, he said, to a bargain about
religion; but if Dudley really wished to repent in this way, he should be
delighted. The Queen acquiesced in the intrigue, and eagerly listened to
the Spaniard’s advocacy of Dudley’s suit, though doubtless she did not
know that her English suitor had promised, in the event of his marriage,
to hand over the whole government to the King of Spain, and fully restore
the Catholic faith.[135]

As some earnest of the Queen’s and Dudley’s chastened hearts, the Bishop
had urged that English plenipotentiaries should be sent to the Council
of Trent, and the English bishops released who were imprisoned for
refusing the oath of supremacy. Dudley was willing to promise that or
anything else; but in so important a matter of State as the recognition
of the Pope’s Council, the co-operation of Cecil was needed. He was, of
course, opposed to Dudley’s suit, but had not interfered openly to stop
these negotiations, the Bishop says, in consequence of his having been
bribed by the grant of some emoluments enjoyed by Parry, who had recently
died, but more probably because he may really have been at the bottom
of these negotiations, and he knew that he could checkmate Dudley more
effectually, if necessary, at a later stage.[136] As we have seen, his
opposition to strong forces was rarely direct. He knew in this case that
the Queen would resent open thwarting from him; and that it would also
have the effect of offending the Catholics, and renewing the quarrel with
Dudley and his friends. So when he was consulted, he feigned to welcome
the project of sending English representatives to the Council of Trent,
and at once proceeded to kill it with kindness.

The situation in England was an extremely critical one. Much public
dissatisfaction existed at the Queen’s questionable behaviour, and the
Catholics, especially, were greatly disturbed in consequence of the
attitude of Mary Stuart. The treaty of Edinburgh, the result of so much
thought and labour, had not been ratified by Mary and her husband when
the latter died; and in answer to requests on the part of the English
Government, through Throgmorton and Sir Peter Mewtys, that she would
ratify it, Mary declined until she had by her side some of her Scottish
Councillors. The Scottish Parliament had been summoned in accordance
with the treaty, before the latter had been accepted by the sovereign,
and consequently her refusal to ratify the treaty raised a host of
difficulties on all sides. It was felt universally that Mary might well
expect now the countenance of Philip in her pretensions to the English
crown, whilst all that was Catholic in France looked to her uncles,
the Guises, as leaders. The combination was too strong for Cecil to
face directly, in addition to the Queen’s caprice and the factions
of the English court, and his method of dealing with the matter was
characteristically prudent. During the progress of Dudley’s negotiations
with the Spaniard to bring back England to Catholicism, the puritan Earl
of Bedford was sent to France, ostensibly to ask Mary again to ratify the
treaty of Edinburgh, and to condole with her for the loss of her husband;
but his real object was to bring about an understanding with the Duke
of Vendôme,[137] Coligny, and the French Protestants. At the same time
Randolph was entrusted with an important message to the Protestant nobles
of Scotland. He was to tell them that the Protestant princes of Germany
were firmly united; that the French reformers were now the stronger
party; that the Queen of England would stand by the Scots; and to exhort
them to be true to the Protestant faith, no matter what efforts might be
made to move them. Randolph was also to approach even Scottish Catholics,
and point out what a favourable opportunity now occurred, the Queen of
Scots being free of her French connection, to form a close union between
England and Scotland.[138]

But whilst this seed was germinating it was necessary for Cecil to dally
with the Catholics and “Philipians” in England. He accordingly went
(March 1561) to the Spanish Ambassador with a message—secretly purporting
to come from the Queen, but ostensibly from himself—to the effect that
it would be a great favour to the Queen “and a help to this business” if
Philip would write her a letter as soon as possible, “urging her, in the
interests of her country, to marry at once; and, as she is disinclined
to marry a foreigner, he advises her to choose one of her own subjects,
who, in such case, would receive Philip’s friendship and support.” Cecil
affected to urge this course very warmly upon the Bishop, who, however,
was wary, and insisted upon knowing definitely whether the Queen herself
had sent the message. The only answer that Cecil would give was that it
was not fair to drive a modest maiden like the Queen up in a corner, and
make her personally responsible for steps leading to her own marriage.
But he told the Bishop that the reason Philip’s letter was necessary, was
that the Queen should submit it to a packed deputation of both Houses of
Parliament, so that her marriage with Dudley might, in appearance, have
the sanction of her people. No course so likely as this to frustrate the
match could have been devised, as Dudley himself saw, for he fell ill
of vexation; but, as the Bishop says, he was faint-hearted, and lacked
ability and courage to break through the snares that Cecil had spread
for him. The Bishop divined the plan very soon. “The deputation is being
arranged,” he says, “to suit him and the heretics, who have entire
control of the Queen.… She dares not go against Cecil’s advice, because
she thinks that both sides would then rise up against her.”

Cecil, “who,” he says, “is entirely pledged to these unhappy heresies,
and is the leader of the business,” tried on more than one occasion to
draw the Spanish Bishop into religious controversy—the Bishop thought,
with the object of discovering whether Dudley or the Queen had gone
further in their pledges than he had been told. He suggested that the
Pope should send theologians to England to discuss religion with English
divines, but the Bishop would not hear of it. Then he proposed that the
Bishop himself should secretly meet the Archbishop of Canterbury (Parker)
and endeavour to bring about a religious _modus vivendi_; to which the
Spaniard replied, that if they were sincere in their desire to agree,
they had better begin with the main points of difference, instead of
discussing secondary points of dogma.[139]

Cecil assured him that the Queen would send representatives to the
Pope’s Council, on condition that it was held in a place satisfactory
to other princes; that the Pope or his legate should preside over the
Council, not so as to infer that he was the ruler of it, but only the
president of its deliberations; that questions of faith might be decided
by Holy Scripture, the consensus of divines, and the decisions of
early councils; that the English bishops should be recognised as equals
of the rest; and other conditions of the same sort, which obviously
frustrated—as they were meant to do—all hope of the religious compact,
upon which Dudley’s hopes were ostensibly built. In the court, we are
told, Cecil went about saying that the Queen wished to send her envoys
to the Council, but that a Council could not judge questions of faith,
nor could the Pope, as of right, claim to preside.[140] On the one hand,
he reprehended the Bishop of Winchester (Horn) for preaching against
the authority of the Councils, and caused a meeting of bishops to be
called at Lambeth, to settle a profession of faith to be sent to the
Council; whilst, on the other, he told the Spaniard that if when the
Pope wrote to the Queen he did not give her her full titles of Queen of
England and Defender of the Faith, she would not receive his letters.
Well might Quadra say: “I do not know what to think of it all: these
people are in such a confusion that they confound me as well. Cecil
is a very great heretic, but he is neither foolish nor false, and he
professes to treat me very frankly. He has conceded to me these three
points, which I consider of the utmost importance, however much he may
twist them to the other side.” Whoever else may have been confused, we
may be certain that Cecil knew what he was about, for he completely
hoodwinked and conciliated the Spanish Bishop and the Catholics until his
new combination was consolidated.[141] The English Catholics were more
leniently treated; and the Queen and court were almost inconveniently
friendly with Quadra, who was obliged to whisper to his friends that it
was all make-believe. He said more truly than he thought at the time. At
the end of April, Cecil’s arrangements were complete, and the mask could
be dropped safely.

At the instance of Randolph the Scottish Lords of the Congregation had
commissioned James Stuart, Mary’s natural brother, afterwards Earl of
Murray, who was already in English pay, to visit his sister in France,
and influence her to return to Scotland pledged to the treaty of
Edinburgh, and to place herself in the hands of the Protestant party.
For the moment the Guises in France were in disgrace, and plotting for
their own advancement, so that it suited them to appear to acquiesce in
an arrangement which promised that their niece should take possession
of her kingdom without disturbance. James Stuart, carefully coached
by Throgmorton, went back to London with the assurance that all was
well.[142] Mundt, in Germany, had drawn the league closer between England
and the Princes; Bedford in France had completed a cordial arrangement
with Vendôme, Coligny, and the Protestants; Philip’s Netherlands were
in seething discontent, his coffers were empty and he was in a death
grapple with the Turk for the mastery of the Mediterranean. There was
nothing for England to fear, therefore. Circumstances and Cecil’s
diplomacy had placed once more all the cards into his hands, and again he
could go forward on a straight course.

The pretext for a change was given by the secret presence of a papal
nuncio in Ireland. English Catholics were suddenly proceeded against all
over the country for attending mass. Sir Edward Waldegrave and other
ex-members of Mary’s Council were thrown into the Tower; the Pope’s
legate, who was hurrying with all sorts of concessions, and an invitation
to Elizabeth to send envoys to the Council of Trent, was refused
admittance into England; and the old Bishop of Aquila found once more
that Cecil had outwitted him. There were no more conciliatory religious
discussions or amiable attentions; on the contrary, the Ambassador, to
his intense indignation, was accused of taking part in plots against
the Queen, and found himself slighted on all sides. A great outcry took
place that a conspiracy of Catholics had been discovered to poison the
Queen, the rumour in all probability being part of the general plan to
weaken and discredit the Catholic party; and Cecil himself drew up a
paper, still extant,[143] urging her Majesty not to place any apparel
next her skin until it had been carefully examined, that no perfume
should be inhaled by her which came from a stranger, that no food should
be consumed by her unless it was dressed by her own cooks, that twice a
week she should take some _contra pestum_, that the back doors of her
apartments should be strictly guarded, and so forth. Whether Cecil was
really apprehensive of danger to the Queen at the time is uncertain;
but this general change of attitude towards the Catholics in less than
four months suspiciously coincided with the successful consolidation of
the Protestants throughout Europe, and the paralysation for harm both of
Spain and France in the matter of Mary Stuart.

How far Dudley was sincere in his approaches to the Catholics on this
occasion may be doubted. He would have been willing, of course, to
have paid any price—or rather have made his country pay any price—for
his marriage with the Queen; but there are circumstances which tend to
the belief that he and Cecil, for once, had joined their forces, Cecil
probably promising his support to Dudley’s suit in exchange for this
clever “entertaining” of Spain and the Catholics until the Protestant
coalition was formed. In any case, Dudley was in nowise cast down at the
rupture of the negotiations, but remained on excellent terms with Cecil,
and flirted with the Queen more furiously than ever. In the meanwhile
the King of Sweden had made all preparations for visiting England. The
extreme Protestant party had continued to encourage him during the
time that the Queen, Cecil, and Dudley were lulling the Catholics; but
now that the Catholic mask had been dropped, Eric’s visit was very
inconvenient to the Queen. Mary Stuart was a widow, and every court in
Europe was intriguing for her marriage.[144] Elizabeth knew that if
she was forced into a marriage with the King of Sweden, Mary would
immediately be wedded to a nominee of Philip, for which object Cardinal
Lorraine was already planning. Eric was therefore refused a passport into
England;[145] the Lord Mayor was ordered to suppress the prints which had
been scattered by the Protestants, representing Elizabeth and Eric XIV.
together (July 1561),[146] and the embarrassment of the Swede’s advances
was postponed until a more convenient season.

The English Catholics were naturally losing heart. They had looked in
vain for help from Philip ever since the Queen’s accession. The war party
in the Spanish King’s councils had ceaselessly urged him to overturn
Elizabeth and the “heretics” before their power was consolidated.
Feria and his successor the Bishop had done their best to keep alive
the hopes of Elizabeth’s enemies in England; but as year followed year
and leaden-footed Philip moved not the English Catholics began to cast
their eyes elsewhere. Mary Stuart arrived in Scotland (19th August
1561) surrounded by her Lorraine kinsmen. Elizabeth now thoroughly
distrusted her, for she saw that she was her match in dissimulation, at
all events, and made some show of intercepting her on the voyage;[147]
but her Scottish subjects of all faiths were ready to welcome the
young half-foreign Queen from whom they hoped so much. The country was
practically in a condition of anarchy; but the administration, such as
it was, was in the hands of the reform party under Maitland and James
Stuart. Although herself devoutly following the Catholic faith—to the
disgust of the predominant party—the Queen soon after her arrival
confirmed the free exercise of the Protestant worship, and for a time
both she and her ministers were popular. To the north, therefore, the
English Catholic party now cast their eyes. Catharine Grey had recently
contracted a doubtful marriage with the eldest son (Hertford) of the
Protector Somerset, and was out of the question as a Catholic candidate;
but Mary Stuart’s claim to the English throne was in many respects better
than that of Elizabeth herself. Lady Margaret Lennox, too, was busy in
the north of England, where the population was mainly Catholic, plotting
for the marriage of her son and the subsequent raising of the country in
the interests of Mary and a Catholic England.

In the meanwhile Elizabeth was somewhat roughly demanding to know why
Mary delayed the ratification of the treaty of Edinburgh, and jealously
watching for any signs of matrimonial negotiations to her detriment.
The Earl of Arran, Elizabeth’s candidate for Mary Stuart’s hand, was
extremely unpopular with the Scottish people, and soon became impossible
as a consort for the Queen; and the carefully laid plans of Elizabeth and
Cecil in Scotland were seen to be at the mercy of a secret matrimonial
intrigue, which might be sprung upon them at any moment. Maitland of
Lethington, Mary’s Secretary of State, ostensibly a Protestant, went
to London[148] and saw Cecil in September, in the hope of arranging
matters. He professed to be sanguine about the Arran marriage; but
though bound to the English interest, he protested more than once on his
return, in letters to Cecil, upon the pressure exerted upon his mistress
to renounce her English birthright, and even begged the Secretary to
furnish him with a draft of a reply for Mary to send which he thought
might satisfy Elizabeth. Whilst Lord James, Maitland, and Cecil were
trying to conciliate and calm matters, the zealot Knox and his like
were clamouring for extreme measures and embittering spirits on both
sides. Cecil in vain counselled Knox to be moderate; the reply reproaches
him for “swimming betwixt two waters,” and throws all the blame for
the troubles on moderate statesmen like Lord James and Lethington,
“whose mistaken forbearance and gentleness” he denounces. The young
Queen, he says, will never be of “our opinion, and in very deed her
whole proceedings do declare that the Cardinal’s lessons are so deeply
imprinted on her heart, that they … are like to perish together.… In
communication with her I espied such craft as I have not found in such

This opinion must only be accepted as that of a bitterly severe man on
one whose position was as difficult as can well be conceived. English
Catholics, Mary knew, now looked to her as their only hope. She was a
daughter of kings, brought up in a deep school of statecraft, and was
determined to resist the demanded renunciation of her birthright in
England at the bidding of a rival. Her letter to Elizabeth (5th January
1562)[149] explains why she declined to ratify the treaty of Edinburgh,
pathetically pleads that the clause in the treaty renouncing her rights
to the English succession was agreed to without her authority, and she
appeals to the generosity of so near a cousin not to make her a stranger
to her own blood. She will, she says, make a new treaty on Elizabeth’s
own terms, if her rights to succeed, failing Elizabeth’s issue, are not
prejudiced. But on this point Elizabeth would never give way. As we have
seen, it was the keynote of Cecil’s policy all his life to secure England
from the presence of a probable enemy on the Scottish border, and this
question of Mary’s claim to the English succession, especially with her
marriage still undecided, touched the heart of the whole matter. It
was evident, moreover, that at this juncture the great trial of arms
between the Catholics and Protestants throughout Europe was at hand.
The war of religion was already looming near in France and Flanders,
papal emissaries had incited armed revolt in Ireland against the Queen’s
Protestant measures, and English Catholics were in a dangerous state of
ferment.[150] It was therefore of the most vital interest, not only to
England and Elizabeth, but to the reform party throughout Europe, that no
advantage should be given in Scotland to vigilant enemies, who, by the
control of that country, would have been enabled to ruin the acknowledged
head of the Protestant confederacy. It is the fashion to accuse Elizabeth
and Cecil of unprincipled rancour against Mary Stuart. Generosity and
magnanimity, it may be conceded, were not conspicuous characteristics of
either of them. But before judging too harshly, it should be considered
that their lives, the freedom and independence of England, and the fate
of the reformed religion depended almost inevitably upon the course of
events in Scotland, and both Elizabeth and her minister would have been
false to their trust if they had not availed themselves of all the means
which circumstances and the feeling of the times placed in their hands to
prevent Mary Stuart and her country from precipitating their downfall.

Cecil’s position in London also was surrounded with difficulties. The
Catholics, even those about the Queen, were busy, and reports of plans
for poisoning Elizabeth continued without cessation. Everything, great
and small, had to be done by Cecil. “He has,” writes the Bishop of
Aquila, “absolutely taken possession of the Queen and Council, but he
is so perplexed and unpopular that I do not know how he will be able
to stand if there are any disturbances.”[151] The Queen, moreover,
fell ill: “she is falling away and is extremely thin, and the colour
of a corpse.” The sorely tried Secretary, bearing upon his shoulders
everybody’s burden, frequently sick himself,[152] but working early
and late, endeavouring to keep a middle course whilst holding to his
policy, naturally aroused no enthusiasm. Extreme men of all parties
cavilled at his methods; only the Queen grew in her trust of him, for
she at least understood, as perhaps no other person did, that he was
almost the only person near her who was not bribed. The city and the
trading classes, however, by this time had seen the good results of his
commercial and fiscal policy. From the first days of the reign he had
set about reforming the currency, and he enters in his diary for 29th
May of this year (1561) a statement which shows that his labours at last
bore fruit. “Base monies decried and fine silver coined,” he writes;
and in November a proclamation was issued that Spanish gold and silver
money, which during the debasement of English coin had been a favourite
form of currency, should no longer be allowed, but should be taken to
the Queen’s mint for exchange into English coin. “The Queen,” grumbles
the Spanish Ambassador, “makes a profit on it, as she did with the other
money she called in.” No doubt she did, but the new pure coinage placed
English merchants at an immense advantage in trading abroad, and they
thanked Cecil for it.[153] “There hath,” says Camden, “been better and
purer money in England than was seen in two hundred years before, or hath
been elsewhere in use throughout Europe.” Nor was this all. Shipbuilding
under subsidy had progressed very rapidly, and English commerce was
penetrating into regions hitherto unapproached.[154] The Hawkinses had
already shown the way to the West Coast of Africa, but the Portuguese
had so far successfully resisted the establishment of a regular trade.
English ships, however, now found their way down to Elmina, on the Gold
Coast, with frequency distressing to the Portuguese; whilst English and
Scotch privateers, and pirates who called themselves such, preyed almost
unchecked upon Spanish and Flemish small craft about the Channel. Against
both of these grievances the Spanish and Portuguese ministers complained
often and bitterly. Throughout his life Cecil set his face against piracy
in all its forms, as being inimical to legitimate trade, and at his
instance five of the Queen’s ships were fitted out (1561) for the purpose
of suppressing the corsairs; but to the other complaint he turned a very
different face.

A syndicate had been formed, in which Dudley, Wynter (Master of the
Ordnance), Gonson (Controller of the Navy), Sir William Garrard, and
probably the Queen herself, had shares, to send out a strong expedition
to establish a permanent trading-station on the Gold Coast.[155] There
were to be at least four ships, one of which, the _Mignon_, belonged to
the Queen. Protests and remonstrances from Portuguese and Spaniards were
freely made to Cecil, who replied they could not prevent merchants from
going to trade where they thought fit. When the Bishop of Aquila pressed
him further, he answered, “that the Pope had no right to partition the
world and to give and take kingdoms.… This idea is the real reason
which moved them to oppose the legality of our denunciation of these
expeditions much more than any profit they expect to get.… They think
this navigation business will be a good pretext for breaking the peace,
as your Majesty must needs uphold the Pope’s authority, against which,
both here and in Germany, all will join. I feigned not to understand
Cecil’s meaning, and treated the matter as concerning the King of
Portugal only” (27th November 1561).[156] A draft reply in Cecil’s hand
to similar remonstrances from the Portuguese Ambassador in April of the
same year, is still more dignified: “The Queen does not acknowledge the
right of the King of Portugal to forbid the subjects of another prince
from trading where they like, and she will take care that her subjects
are not worse treated in the King of Portugal’s dominions than his are in

Amidst his manifold public anxieties Cecil had to bear his share of
private trouble. His notes in the Perpetual Calendar at Hatfield record
the successive births and deaths of two infant William Cecils, one at
Cannon Row in 1559, and the other at Wimbledon in 1561; but at this
period he had a daughter and a son living, by his second wife. Thomas,
his only son by his first marriage with Mary Cheke, was now a young man
of twenty, and in order that he might receive the polish fitting to the
heir of a great personage, his father consulted Sir Nicholas Throgmorton,
the Ambassador in Paris, in the spring of 1561, with regard to sending
him thither. Cecil’s own idea was to place him in the household of
Coligny, the Admiral of France, now one of the acknowledged leaders
of the Protestant party; but Throgmorton, who foresaw, doubtless, the
rapidly approaching civil war, dissuaded him from this. “Though you
have made the best choice of any man in France, yet for some respects
I think the matter should be deferred.” His advice was that lodgings
should be taken for young Cecil near the embassy, where he might share
the Ambassador’s table. The youth, he thought, should be “taught to ride,
play the lute, dance, play tennis, and use such exercises as are noted
ornaments of courtiers.”[158] A subsequent recommendation of Thomas
Windebank, the young man’s governor, to the effect that it would be well
to accept Throgmorton’s offer, although Sir William Cecil was loth to
trespass on his friend’s hospitality, in order that the youth “might
learn to behave himself, not only at table, but otherwise, according
to his estate,”[159] leads us to the conclusion that Thomas Cecil had
thitherto not been an apt scholar. Some of the details of Thomas’s
journey are curious. In addition to Windebank he was accompanied by two
servants, and three geldings, which, Throgmorton thought, might as well
be sold, as he could obtain others in Paris. The lodgings in Paris for
the party and horses would cost about ten sun-crowns a month, and in
addition to the money they brought they should have a letter of credit
for three hundred crowns. Young Thomas had been to France before by way
of Calais,[160] and on this occasion, that he might see fresh country, he
went by Rye, Dieppe, and Rouen; and the intention was that he should stay
in or near Paris for a year, and then proceed to Italy. Windebank appears
to have been unequal to his task, and to have had no control over Thomas.
In vain Sir William pressed both his son and Windebank to send him an
account of their expenses, and from the first it is seen that the father
was misgiving and anxious. Cecil was a reserved man, full of public
affairs; but this correspondence[161] proves that he was also a man of
deep family affection, and, above all, that he regarded with horror the
idea that any scandal should attach to his honoured name. In his first
letter to his son, 14th July 1561, after the arrival of the latter in
Paris, he strikes the note of distrust. “He wishes him God’s blessing,
but how he inclines himself to deserve it he knows not.” None of his
son’s three letters, he complains, makes any mention of the expense he
is incurring. He urges him at once to begin to translate French; and
then says, “Fare ye well. Write every time somewhat to my wife.” To
Windebank the anxious father is more outspoken. How are they spending
their time, he asks, and heartily prays that Thomas may serve God with
fear and reverence. But Thomas seems to have done nothing of the sort;
for, in nearly every letter, Windebank urges Sir William to repeat his
injunctions about prayer to his son. But the scapegrace paid little heed.

As soon as they arrived in Paris, Thomas sold his horse for forty crowns,
and kept the money for his own spending. Throgmorton was soon tired of
him, and advised that he should be sent to Orleans or elsewhere, away
from the heat and distractions of Paris; but Thomas was well satisfied
where he was. “Of study there is little or nothing yet,” he coolly writes
to his father, after he had been in Paris for a month. They were still
sight-seeing, and he grows almost eloquent in his description of a fight
he had seen at court between a lion and three dogs, in which the latter
were victorious. They lodged in the house of a gentleman, “a courtier
and learned, but of indifferent good religion,” to whom they paid three
hundred crowns a month for board and lodging; but this was not by any
means all the expense. The heir spent £20 for his winter clothes; he must
have a fashionable footcloth for his riding nag. The horses, too, were
expensive, and Sir William complained. All gentlemen of estimation here
ride, writes Windebank, and if he follow not the manner of the country,
he will be less considered: “if all gentlemen ride, it is not meet for
Mr. Thomas to go afoot.”

The father was accompanying the Queen during the autumn on her progress
through Essex, and writes from various country-houses to his son and
Windebank, begging the former to study, to pray, to avoid ill company,
to take heed of surfeits, late suppers, prodigality, and the like; but
apparently to no effect. Thomas wrote rarely and badly, his French did
not improve, and he still failed to write to his learned step-mother,
greatly to his father’s anger. At length he fell seriously ill, and
promised amendment, which for a time seemed hopeful.

Through all the father’s anxiety his master passions for books,
heraldry, and gardening are discernible, as well as his pride of race.
He constantly orders Windebank to send him stated books, and to keep
on the look-out for new plants, or good gardeners, that may be sent to
England. In September he requests that some booksellers’ catalogues may
be forwarded, that he may select some books to “garnish” his library.
He was anxious that his son should study the genealogy and alliances of
noble French families, and prays that a herald may be engaged to instruct
him. But Thomas soon relapsed, and rumour of his ill-behaviour reached
Sir William, not at first from Windebank. In March 1562 an angry and
indignant letter went from Cecil to his son, reproaching him for his bad
conduct. There was no amendment, he said, and all who came from Paris
gave him the character of “a dissolute, slothful, negligent, and careless
young man,” and the letter is signed, “Your father of an unworthy son.” A
week later, 2nd April, Cecil wrote a characteristic and affecting letter
to Windebank, which deserves to be quoted nearly in full, for it shows us
the man more clearly than reams of State papers. “Windebank,” it runs,
“I am here used to pains and troubles, but none creep so near my heart
as doth this of my lewd son. I am perplexed what to think. The shame
that I shall receive to have so unruled a son grieveth me more than if
I had lost him in honest death. Good Windebank, consult my dear friend
Sir Nicholas Throgmorton, to whom I have referred the whole. I could be
best content that he would commit him secretly to some sharp prison.
If this shall not seem good, yet would I rather have him sent away to
Strasburg if possible, or to Lorraine, for my grief will grow double to
see him before some sort of amends. If none of these will serve, then
bring him home and I shall receive that which it pleaseth God to lay on
my shoulders; that is, in the midst of my business, for comfort a daily
torment. If ye shall come home with him, to cover the shame, let it
appear to be by reason of the troubles there.[162] I rather desire to
have this summer spent, though it were but to be absent from my sight. I
am so troubled as well, what to write I know not.”

Windebank had been protesting for some time his own unfitness—which was
obvious—and sending hints of the ill-conduct of his charge, who had
borrowed money on the credit of others, and scandalised his friends by
his dissoluteness; but at last the long-suffering tutor rebelled, and
wrote, 26th April, to Cecil, “I have forborne to write plainly, but now
I am clean out of hope, and am forced to do so. Sir, I see that Mr.
Thomas has utterly no mind nor disposition to apply to any learning;
being carried away by other affections that rule him, so that it maketh
him forget his duty in all things;” and with this Windebank resigns his
charge, for Thomas had openly defied him; advocates his immediate recall
if the war in France will allow him to come, or otherwise that he should
be sent to Flanders. But Windebank himself had had enough of Thomas
Cecil, and refused to accompany him further.

This instructive correspondence helps us to see that, beyond even his
wounded paternal affection, Sir William Cecil’s deepest feeling was
sensitiveness to the opinion of the world about him. That his son should
be unworthy touched him to the quick; but that the world should see
any shame or reproach resting upon the heir of his house and name, was
unendurable agony to one whose main social aims were to trace an ancient
ancestry and head a noble posterity.

The abortive conspiracy of the Hamiltons in the spring of 1562, and
Arran’s madness, finally proved the hopelessness of his suit for Mary’s
hand, and Lord James and Maitland had now abandoned him. Both of those
statesmen, in union with Cecil, still strove to hold the balance evenly,
and to avoid religious strife in the country, in the hope that if the
Scottish Queen married a nominee of England, Elizabeth would eventually
recognise her as the heiress to the English throne. But the agitation
of the English Catholics, and the attempts of Darnley’s mother to force
matters, had rendered the position extremely difficult, and Cecil was
busy unravelling plots real and imaginary. The visit of a Swedish
Ambassador to Scotland on a matrimonial mission had caused a sudden
scare in London; but Mary’s prompt dismissal of him, and her continued
amiable letters to Elizabeth, had somewhat disarmed suspicion against her
personally. Her uncle the Marquis d’Elbœuf was splendidly entertained
in the English court on his way home to France, and negotiations were
set on foot for a visit of Mary to the north of England in the summer,
for the purpose of an interview with the English Queen. But withal
Cecil was ill at ease, for the Guises and the Catholics of France were
now in arms,[163] and it was impossible to see how the great struggle
of the faith would end. If the Guises finally captured the government
of France, then England must accept Philip’s terms for a Spanish
alliance, or be inevitably ruined. But for the present it was the
policy of Elizabeth and Cecil to keep a tight rein on the Catholics in
England,[164] and encourage Condé and Coligny in France.[165]

The Bishop of Aquila had been growing more and more discontented in his
palace in the Strand (Durham Place). He had no counsels to give to his
master now but those of violence, for he had been outwitted too often
to believe in the interested professions of any party in Elizabeth’s
court. But the emissaries of the discontented Catholics, the servants
of turbulent Lady Margaret Lennox, Shan O’Neil, and his train of wild
gallowglasses—all those who hated Elizabeth and Protestantism—found
in the old Bishop an eager listener to their whispered treason. Cecil
knew all this, for his spies were everywhere. That the Bishop was up to
mischief was clear; but yet Cecil did not know whether he was hatching
any plot in connection with Mary Stuart’s marriage; and that was the
main point of danger for the present. The Queen of Scots, it is true,
had more than once expressed to Randolph, the English Ambassador, her
disapproval of the attitude of her uncles in France. If she wished to
keep friendly with her own ministers and the English Queen, indeed, it
was necessary for her to do so; but her powers of dissimulation were
known; the religious struggle had drawn the Guises nearer to Philip;
and the Queen-mother, herself alarmed at the rising power and warlike
attitude of princes of the blood, like Navarre and Condé, was once more
turning to her Spanish son-in-law and the Catholics. A Catholic plot
combining the Guises, Philip, Mary Stuart, and Catharine de Medici, would
be threatening indeed, and it behoved Cecil to be watchful.[166]

As Durham House had only been lent to the Spanish Ambassador by the
Queen, Cecil had appointed the English gatekeeper at the gate in the
Strand, and from him learnt of those who went in and out, even by the
river stairs. But this was not enough. At the end of April he contrived
to buy over an Italian secretary of the Bishop, a man named Borghese
Venturini, from whom he obtained particulars of the Ambassador’s
letters.[167] They abounded with treasonable suggestions, dark hints at
conspiracy, and vituperation of the Queen and Cecil, but they disclosed
no deep-laid plot of Spain. Cecil nevertheless was not satisfied, and
kept on the watch.

The Prince of Condé and the Protestants were now in array against the
Guises, and Catharine de Medici was in the power of the latter. Both
sides had striven to obtain the help of the German Protestant princes,
but, in a great measure due to Cecil’s foresight, their sympathies
were on the side of Condé. Cecil laboured incessantly, but against many
difficulties, for the Queen was anxious to avoid the cost and risk of
pledging herself too deeply. In an important letter to Throgmorton, 16th
July 1562, he thus lays bare his plans and his obstacles: “Our thynges
here depend so upon those matters ther (_i.e._ in France) that yow shall
well ynough judg thereof without advertisement. This _hardness_ here will
indanger all, I feare. Sir Thomas Wroth, I trust, shall into Germany with
spede: my device is to sollicite them, and to offer a contribution for an
army to enter France.… Good Mr. Throgmorton, omitt not now to advertise
us from time to time, for this Bishop of Aquila letteth not weekly to
forge new devices.… Continue your wryting to putt the Quene’s Majesty in
remembrance of her peril if the Guisans prosper. And so, being overweryed
with care, I end.”[168]

There is another document of the same period in Cecil’s hand, which also
shows how earnestly he tried to combat the peril, and make the Queen
and Council understand it. It is a memorial setting forth “the perills
growing uppon the overthrow of the Prince of Condé’s cause,”[169] and
points out that if Condé be allowed to fall, the Guises would be supreme
in France, “and to maynteane their faction they will pleasure the King
of Spayne all that they maye. Hereupon shall follow a complott betwixt
them twoo … the King of Spayne to unhable the house of Navarre for ever
clayming the Kingdom of Navarre; and the house of Guise to promote their
niece the Queen of Scotts to the crown of England. For doing thereof twoo
thyngs principally will be attempted: the marriage of the sayd Queen with
the Prince of Spayne, and the realme of Ireland to be given in a paye to
the King of Spayne.” All English Catholics, he continues, will be told to
make ready, and at a given moment rise; the Council of Trent will condemn
all Protestants; the Guises, Spain, and the Pope will unite England and
Scotland under Mary, and Protestantism will be undone. It will be, he
says, too late then to withstand it, “for it shall be lyke a great rock
of stone that is fallyng downe from the topp of a mountayn, which when it
is comming no force can stey.”

Cecil’s own efforts were unwearied and ubiquitous. Randolph in Scotland,
Throgmorton in France, Mundt with the German princes, and Sir Peter
Mewtys, and afterwards Throgmorton with Condé, seconded him manfully.
Spies, and secret agents paid by him, were in every court and every camp;
the prisons were crammed with recusants; the Earl of Lennox, Darnley’s
father, was in the Tower; his wife, Lady Margaret, was in durance at
Shene; whilst her questionable words and treasonable practices were
being slowly unravelled by informers,[170] the English Catholic nobles
were closely watched, and for a month every line the Spanish Ambassador
wrote was secretly conveyed to Cecil by Borghese. Once, early in May,
the Bishop’s courier, with important letters for the Duchess of Parma,
was stopped two miles beyond Gravesend by pretended highwaymen, who were
really gentlemen (the brothers Cobham) in Cecil’s pay, and the man was
detained whilst the letters were sent to the Secretary to be deciphered
and copied. At last things came to a crisis, the old Ambassador
discovered that Borghese was the traitor,[171] and the latter in fear
of his life, having fought with a fellow-servant, fled to Cecil. The
Bishop was in a towering rage, and complained bitterly to the Queen. She
told him that if she suspected that anything was being written in her
country to her detriment, she should stop posts and examine what she
pleased; and when he pleaded privilege, she retorted, that he was not
privileged to plot injury to her in her own realm. In vain the Bishop
protested that he had not plotted, and railed against Cecil. He only
had Dudley on his side, and Dudley did not count for much in a great
emergency like this.[172] The next day (23rd May) Cecil wrote a dignified
letter to the Ambassador. He honours him as the King’s Ambassador, he
says, reverences him as a bishop, and esteems him as a nobleman; and he
wishes to know in which capacity he complains of his acts. He, Cecil, is
ready, as a son of no mean ancestry, to justify himself to the Bishop
in either character; but if the Bishop has “any evil opinion of him, he
will thank him to address him personally, and not complain to others.”
The Bishop’s reply was equally stiff. He cannot approve of his, Cecil’s,
advice on public matters, which has great weight with the Queen, but that
does not diminish his respect for him in his private capacity.[173] In
vain the Bishop prayed his master to recall him if he could not protect
him against the insults to which he was exposed; in vain he tried to
move Elizabeth, by alternate flattery and threats, to restore Borghese
to him; in vain he endeavoured to bribe his servant back again, or to
have him killed; Cecil was ready for him at every turn, and he could do
no more than plot and pray for vengeance in his private rooms at Durham
Place, whilst Cecil was examining informers against him and the Queen was
threatening him with expulsion.

In the meanwhile Mary Stuart was still on her good behaviour, in the
hope that the statesmen’s plan for an agreement with Elizabeth on the
basis of the recognition by the latter of Mary’s claim to the English
succession might eventually be adopted. Secretary Maitland of Lethington
was in London in the summer in the interests of this plan, and for the
purpose of arranging the much talked-of meeting between the Queens.
Mary was eager for the interview, from which she expected much, and
Elizabeth, supported by Dudley, was also in favour of it. But Cecil from
the first looked coldly upon it, although, as usual, his opposition to
it was indirect and covert. The whole of his policy at present turned
upon supporting the French Huguenots in arms, and ruining the Guises; and
it is obvious that too close a friendship between the Queens would have
paralysed him in this direction. The matter of the interview was dragged
out and talked about until the season became too late for it to be held
that year, and, greatly to Mary’s disappointment, it was postponed
nominally until the following summer. The intrigue to marry Mary to
Darnley had unquestionably gone far. It was warmly supported by Catharine
de Medici, who was, of course, against a Spanish marriage; by Lord James,
as offering the best prospect of peace and the English succession to
his sister; and by Dudley, because it might furnish a precedent for his
own marriage with Elizabeth. The latter affected to approve of it for a
time; but she dreaded the union of the two strongest claimants to her
succession, and was never really in favour of it.

Slowly, but surely, Cecil’s policy gained ground. To cripple the
Catholic party in France and destroy the influence of the Guises, would
render impossible that which of all things he dreaded most, namely, a
French domination of Scotland in the interest of Catholicism. With the
ostensible object of suppressing piracy in the Channel, a considerable
fleet was fitted out in the mouth of the Humber, but with the real aim
of carrying aid to the Huguenots when an opportune moment arrived.
Protestant Germans and Switzers had flocked to Condé, Dandelot and
Coligny. Montgomerie held Rouen against the Guises, and the Vidame de
Chartres seized Havre de Grace. An emissary came from the Vidame in July,
to offer this important port to the Queen of England as a base from which
to help the reformers. The offer was a tempting one, for it might enable
her to insist later upon the restoration of Calais; but Elizabeth was

Philip’s sister, the Governess of the Netherlands, sent a remonstrance,
shocked at the very idea that a Queen should send aid to rebels against
their sovereign; Catharine de Medici despatched Marshal Vielleville to
threaten Elizabeth with a national war both with France and Spain if
she sent assistance to Condé and those who were in arms against the
Government. But Philip’s Netherlands were now in almost open revolt, and
though he made a show of sending troops to help the French Catholics, it
was evident that he could not do much, and for the present Elizabeth and
Cecil could disregard him, knowing that if the worst came to the worst,
he would never allow the French influence in England to become dominant.
On the 20th September, Elizabeth signed the treaty by which she agreed to
send a large sum of money and 6000 troops to France to aid Condé; 3000
of which were to hold Havre, and the rest to reinforce the Huguenots in
Dieppe and Rouen. Elizabeth, in a proclamation drawn up by Cecil, swore
that she took this step for the defence of the French King,[175] and
sent all sorts of reassuring messages to Catharine and her son; but the
pregnant fact still remained, that civil war in France was to be promoted
by an English army, and that the Queen of England had for the first time
openly assumed the position of leader of the Protestant faith throughout
the world, in defiance of the Governments both of France and Spain.

How great was the Queen’s hesitation to the last at assuming this vast
responsibility is seen in a letter from Cecil to his old friend, Sir
Thomas Smith, who was sent to replace Throgmorton as Ambassador to France
(Sir Nicholas remaining with Condé) only a week before the English
force actually sailed (22nd September 1562). “When our men shall goo,”
he writes, “or whether they shall goo or not, I cannot mak certain.
I mean to send yow as soon as the fact is enterprised.… We begyn to
hear of towardness to accord, and then we shall lose much labour.” The
troops sailed under Sir Adrian Poynings on the 27th September, and
were subsequently commanded by the Earl of Warwick, Dudley’s brother.
Suddenly, a few days afterwards, the Queen fell ill of smallpox at
Hampton Court, and for a time was like to die. The confusion of the
court was great, for the succession was still undecided. Dudley and a
considerable party of his friends were openly, almost violently, in
favour of the Earl of Huntingdon; whilst others headed by Cecil were
strongly desirous of following the will of Henry VIII., and adopting
Catharine Grey. The Catholics were divided, and advised the examination
of the question from a legal point of view; but whilst the dissensions
were in progress, the Queen unexpectedly rallied and the danger passed.
During her peril she had expressed the most extravagant affection for
Dudley, and begged the Council to appoint him Protector; but with her
recovery affairs assumed their normal course, the only outcome of the
illness being the great strengthening of Dudley’s influence, and his
appointment to the Council with the Duke of Norfolk. The effect of
Dudley’s rise, which meant the temporary decline of Cecil, was soon seen.
The fall of Rouen and Dieppe to the King caused the English contingent
to be concentrated at Havre, where a reinforcement of 2000 more men was
reported to be required to hold the place. The Queen began to look with
alarm at her responsibility, and the Council was prompt in throwing the
blame upon Cecil, who absented himself from the meetings on the pretext
of illness. Secret attempts were made also to bring about a pacification
between Condé, the Guises, the Queen-mother and England, greatly to the
disgust of Throgmorton, who dreaded a close friendship with the French as
much as Cecil himself.

The negotiations with Catharine de Medici were conducted by Smith, and
were based upon the restoration of Calais to Elizabeth, the toleration
of Protestantism in France, and the assurance of the Guises that they
would not interfere in Scotland;[176] but whilst they were in progress
the war followed its course. The King of Navarre fell fighting before
Rouen against his former friends, the Protestants; at the great battle of
Dreux (19th December 1562), Condé, the Protestant chief, and Constable
Montmorenci on the Catholic side, were taken prisoners, and Coligny, with
a mere remnant of his Protestants, alone kept the field. At the siege of
Orleans (18th February 1563), Guise was assassinated, and a pacification
then became possible. Condé, away from honest Coligny and La Noue, was
but a weak vessel, as his brother Navarre had been, and Catharine well
knew how to manage such men. All of Cecil’s distrust of the French was
justified, and the shameful treaty of Amboise was signed (19th March),
leaving Elizabeth and the English in the lurch. The moment that English
policy escaped from the capable hands of Cecil, to pass temporarily
under the lamentable influence of Dudley, disaster and failure were the
inevitable result.

The Queen could do no more than rail at Condé’s envoy, Briquemault,
and call his master a lying scamp; pestilence and famine decimated the
English garrison at Havre, closely beleaguered by the French; and in the
autumn of 1563 the force had to be withdrawn without glory or material
satisfaction. Before this happened, however, cautious Cecil was gradually
working affairs into his own groove again. Dudley had continued to send
amiable messages to the Spanish Ambassador, whilst promoting an agreement
with the French Government, and had exercised his influence in favour of
the release of Lennox from the Tower; the object being in both cases to
curry favour with the Catholics, and so to diminish Cecil’s power. As
usual the Secretary’s opposition was an indirect one. His spies had kept
him informed of the old Spanish Bishop’s continued correspondence with
Shan O’Neil; of his having received and encouraged foolish Arthur Pole
in his treason, and having allowed English people, against the law, to
attend the embassy mass; and he watched and waited for an opportunity to
demonstrate to the Catholics the powerlessness of both the Bishop and
his master. He had not to wait long. One evening at the beginning of
January 1563, as the light was failing, a knot of idle hangers-on of
the Bishop’s household were lounging at the great gate of Durham Place
opening to the Strand. An Italian Protestant captain, in the service
of the Vidame de Chartres, swaggered down the street on his way to
Whitehall, and from the Bishop’s gateway a lad shot a harquebuss at him,
and missed him. The captain whipped out his long rapier and pursued the
would-be murderer to the outer courtyard. The Bishop’s servants closed
the gates against the pursuers, and the assassin ran up shouting to the
door of the chamber where the Ambassador was playing cards with the
French Ambassador and a Guisan hostage, Nantouillet, Provost of Paris. A
few hurried words of explanation at the door—for the Guisan had paid the
boy to do the act—and the assassin was hurried down to the water gate,
where a boat was in waiting, and he was allowed to escape, whilst his
pursuers were thundering at the solid gates of the inner court.

This was enough for Cecil. New locks were put on the house gates, and the
keys held by the “heretic English gatekeeper.” The Bishop could obtain no
interview with the Queen, but was obliged to see Cecil instead. Send me
to jail, he indignantly pleaded, if I have offended; but if nothing is
proved against me, as nothing can be, at least let me have free ingress
and egress from my own house. Cecil’s reply was a long indictment of the
Bishop’s whole proceedings. The Ambassador, he said, was by the Queen’s
kindness living in one of her houses, which had been turned into a hotbed
of conspiracies against her and a refuge for malefactors. The law of the
land had been openly defied, and the Queen desired the Ambassador to quit
her house. In vain the Bishop protested. One indignity after another was
placed upon him. The folks going to mass in the embassy were haled off
to prison as they came out; all the most private conversations between
the Ambassador and the English rebels were repeated to him by Cecil;
he was confronted with the text of his most secret despatches; he was
turned out of Durham House with ignominy, and all he could do was to weep
tears of rage, and pray Philip to avenge him.[177] But Philip’s hands
were more than full in the Netherlands now, as Cecil knew, for before
the writing-table in the Secretary’s room in Cecil House[178] there
stood a portrait of Count Egmont,[179] and Gresham’s agents in Antwerp,
Bruges, and Brussels left no event unreported. The blow to the Spanish
Ambassador was cleverly planned by Cecil. That the former had been
futilely plotting, was known, and it served as a good pretext for his
disgrace; but the real reason for it was the need to prove to Dudley and
his friends, and to the discontented Catholics, that they were leaning
on a broken reed when they depended upon Spain to help them against the
Secretary. The bankrupt, heartbroken old Bishop was a good object-lesson.
If his master could not pay his debts or defend him from deliberate
indignity, much less could he help discontented Englishmen who only had
their own ends to serve.

Almost simultaneously with the Bishop’s disgrace, and also partly
explaining it, another important move was made. The second Parliament
of Elizabeth was opened on the 12th January 1563 by the Queen herself,
in great state. The speech of Lord Keeper Bacon dwelt at length on the
want of order and discipline in the Anglican Church, the incompetency of
many of the ministers, and the want of uniformity in the services.[180]
Cecil himself was offered and refused the Speakership, but to him
has been attributed the authorship of the harangue which the Speaker
(Williams) addressed to the Queen.[181] The decay of schools and the
poverty of benefices through lay impropriations is dwelt on at length in
this speech, and the completion of the reform of religion and learning
in the Queen’s dominions advocated. Cecil followed this with a speech
denouncing the Queen’s enemies, the Guises and the Catholics, supported
by the countenance of Spain. The penalties for refusing the oath of
supremacy were greatly increased, the oath was rendered obligatory upon
every person holding any sort of office, and other acts for insuring the
progress of Protestantism were made,[182] as well as large subsidies
granted. The Catholic lords, even the Lord Treasurer (Winchester),
were uneasy and apprehensive; but they dared not move, for Cecil and
the Protestants had now a firm grasp of affairs, and the Secretary
was vehement in Parliament in favour of the proposed ecclesiastical
measures. The Queen’s embarrassments, he said, arose entirely from her
determination to resist the authority of the Pope, who had bribed Spain,
the Austrian and German princes. She now stood alone, with the Catholic
world against her, but he exhorted all faithful subjects to defend her
with laws, life, and property.[183] At the same time, as the Parliament
was sitting, Convocation assembled to settle the ritual and doctrine of
the Church. The articles were reformed and altered to thirty-nine, the
catechism and the homilies were adopted, and other measures tending to
uniformity of doctrine were agreed upon, but in a way which, although it
did not satisfy the Puritan minority, was intended to include as large a
number as possible of those who were not irreconcilably pledged to the
Roman faith.

Cecil’s hand can be traced clearly in all these activities, for they
struck indirectly at his enemies; but a bolder step in the same direction
taken by Parliament itself can only be surmised as being prompted by
him. Dudley had for months been gaining friends for the candidature of
the Earl of Huntingdon as heir to the crown, whilst the Catholics were
divided on the claims of Mary Stuart and Darnley. Cecil was determined,
if possible, to prevent the success of either of them, and desired to
adhere to the Parliamentary title of Lady Catharine[184] (Countess of
Hertford). The House of Commons was mainly Protestant, and under the
influence of Cecil; and it was agreed that deputations of both Houses
should petition the Queen either to fix the succession or else to marry,
the latter alternative being probably added out of politeness. The Queen
received the deputations very ungraciously. She turned her back on the
Commons, and for a long time sent no answer at all. On an address being
presented to the Council begging them to remind her, she sent an answer
by Cecil and Rogers to the effect that “she doubted not the grave heads
of this House did right well consider that she forgot not the suit of
this House for the succession, the matter being so weighty; nor could
forget it; but she willed the young heads to take example of their
elders.” To the Lords she was more outspoken. She asked them whether they
thought what they saw on her face were wrinkles. They were nothing of the
sort, but pockmarks, and she was not so old yet that she had lost hope
of having children of her own to succeed her.[185] This was a rebuff to
Cecil’s policy; but only what might have been expected from the Queen,
whose principal care was to sustain herself without concerning herself
greatly as to what came after her; whereas the Secretary was doubtless
thinking of what would become of himself and the Protestant party if she
died. For Mary Stuart, and even her Protestant Councillors, he knew,
were busy intriguing for the succession, and her claims were powerfully
supported, even in England.

Maitland of Lethington came to London during the sitting of Parliament to
forward his mistress’s claims. He found Cecil now against the solution
which he had formerly favoured, namely, the abandonment of Mary’s
present claims in exchange for the reversion, failing Elizabeth and her
descendants. Cecil was more distrustful of the French than ever; for the
defection of Condé had turned all arms against the English in Havre, and
he knew that Cardinal Lorraine was still untiring in his planning of the
Austrian match for Mary, whilst the Protestants of France and Germany
watched unmoved the isolation and embarrassment of England. Maitland
therefore soon persuaded himself that his mistress had not much more
to hope for now from the dominant party in England than from Elizabeth
herself. Mary was convinced that both Catharine de Medici and the English
Queen wished to force her into an unworthy Protestant marriage with a
subject, in order to injure her prestige with English Catholics and
decrease the power of the Guises.[186] Maitland consequently cast his
eyes to another quarter. Mary was determined to fight for the English
succession, if she could not get it by fair means; and with this end
she wanted a consort strong enough to force her claims, which her
uncle’s candidate, the Archduke Charles, could not do. She and Maitland
accordingly threw over the Guises, who did not wish their niece to marry
a prince strong enough to exclude _them_, and boldly proposed a marriage
with Philip’s heir, Don Carlos. Maitland went one night secretly to the
Bishop of Aquila in London, and cautiously opened the negotiation. The
Queen of Scots, he said, was determined never to marry a Protestant,
even if he owned half the world, nor would she accept a husband from the
hands of the Queen of England. The French and English Queens were almost
equally against her, the Duke of Guise was dead, the Archduke Charles was
not strong enough to help her; would Philip consent to a marriage with
his son?

Whilst this matter was being discussed by Maitland and the Bishop and
the Spanish partisans in England, the news of the untoward adventure of
Mary Stuart with Chastelard arrived in London. Mary said it was a plot
of the Queen-mother to discredit her; but the old Bishop was no less
anxious than before to urge his master to seize such an opportunity as
that offered by the proposed marriage. But Philip was slow. His hands
were full and his coffers were empty as usual, and whilst he was asking
for pledges and guarantees from the Scots and the English Catholics, the
opportunity passed. Philip, in appearance at all events, accepted the
suggestion, in alarm lest a refusal might lead to a marriage between
Mary and the boy-King of France; for, as he says, “I well bear in mind
the anxiety I underwent from King Francis when he was married to this
Queen, and I am sure that if he had lived we could not have avoided war,
on the ground of my protection of the Queen of England, whose country he
would have invaded.”[187] But whilst Philip was pondering—and it must be
conceded that this time he had much reason for hesitation—others were
acting. When Lethington came back from France, on his way through London
to Scotland, he saw the Spanish Bishop again. He found that matters had
not progressed, and was disheartened. Elizabeth threatened his mistress
with her undying enmity if she married a member of the House of Austria,
and Cecil persuaded him that the Queen might yet appoint Mary her heir if
she married to her liking. Lady Margaret, also, was now ostentatiously
favoured by the Queen, and Maitland returned to Scotland convinced that
it would be unsafe to look elsewhere than to England for support, and
that, after all, the best solution of his country’s difficulties would
be the marriage of Mary and Darnley under Elizabeth’s patronage. This
certainly was the impression that the English Government wished him to
convey, for whilst it lasted it would check more ambitious schemes which
would be dangerous to England.

So far Cecil’s policy, though often thwarted by the Queen’s waywardness
and Dudley’s ambition, had been in the main successful. The French had
been kept out of Scotland, the Catholics in England had been divided and
discouraged, whilst waverers were conciliated; the Anglican Church was
more firmly established, and Philip had been kept more or less friendly,
out of fear of a league of Protestants on the one hand and of French
influence in England on the other. Nor was the indefatigable Secretary’s
effort confined to foreign affairs. The strengthening of the Queen’s
navy and the building of merchantmen continued without intermission.
Camden says that in consequence of this activity there were now (1562)
20,000 fighting men ready for sea service alone. All the fortresses
were put into order for defence, and the shortcomings of material and
system demonstrated in the Scottish campaign were remedied. The ample
correspondence on these points in the Hatfield Papers are all endorsed,
annotated, or drafted in Sir William Cecil’s own hand, and no detail
seems to have escaped him.[188]

Notwithstanding his frequent illness, as recorded in his journals, his
work must have been incessant. In addition to his vast administrative
duties, he had, on Sir Thomas Parry’s death, been appointed to the
important post of Master of the Court of Wards, which assumed the
guardianship of the estates of minors; and Camden speaks of him as
“managing this place, as he did all his others, very providentially for
the service of his prince and the wards, for his own profit moderately,
and for the benefit of his followers and retainers, yet without offence,
and with great commendations for his integrity.” His interest, too, in
the universities, and particularly that of Cambridge, was constant. He
had been appointed Chancellor of the University in the first year of
Elizabeth’s reign, and had worked manfully to introduce order and reform
into the institution.[189] In June 1562, Cecil endeavoured to resign his
Chancellorship, his pretexts being his unfitness for the post, his want
of leisure, and the serious contentions which existed in the University;
but the real reason was that which he cited last, namely, the tendency
to laxity with regard to uniform worship manifested by a large number of
the masters and students. “Lastly,” he says, “which most of all I lament,
I cannot find such care in the heads of houses there to supply my lack
as I hoped for, to the ruling of inordinate youth, to the observation
of good order, and increase of learning and knowledge of God. For I
see that if the wiser sort that have authority will not join earnestly
together to overrule the licentious part of youth in breaking orders, and
the stubbornness of others that malign and deprave the ecclesiastical
orders established by law in this realm, I shall shortly hear no good or
comfortable report from thence. And to keep an office of authority by
which these disorders may be remedied, and not to use it, is to betray
the safety of the same, whereof I have some conscience.… And so I end,
praying you all to accept this, my perplexed writing and complaint,
to proceed of a careful mind that I bear to that honourable and dear
University; whereof, although I was once but a simple, small, unlearned,
low member, I love,” &c., &c. Only on the promise of complete amendment
on the part of heads of houses, and at the intercession of Archbishop
Parker, Sir William withdrew his resignation and continued his labours in
favour of the University.[190]

In the autumn of the following year (1564) the Queen in her progress
was splendidly entertained at the University. Upon Cecil as Chancellor,
as well as Secretary of State, fell the responsibility of making the
arrangements; and the letters which relate to the visit, as usual exhibit
his perfect mastery of detail. From the avoidance of contagion of plague
(which had devastated London in the previous year) to the supply of
lodgings for the visitors, everything seems to have been settled with
him. He was specially anxious, he said, that the University he loved
should make a good figure before the Queen; he himself would lodge “with
my olde nurse in St. John’s College,” but the rest of the University
was to be turned inside out for the entertainment of the court. The
choristers’ school was made into a buttery, the pantry and ewery were at
King’s, Gonville and Caius was sacred to the Maids of Honour, rushes
strewed the roadways, the houses were hung with arras; the scholars
were drilled to kneel as the Queen passed and cry _Vivat Regina_, “and
after that quietly and orderly to depart home to their colleges, and in
no wise to come to the court.” Sir William Cecil with his wife arrived
the day before the Queen (4th August 1564). “I am in great anxiety,” he
wrote a few days previously, “for the well-doing of things there; and
I find myself much troubled with other business, and with an unhappy
grief in my foote.” But notwithstanding his gout, he was received with
great ceremony and a Latin oration, and was presented with two pairs of
gloves, a marchpain, and two sugar loaves. His great anxiety, expressed
to the authorities, was that “uniformity should be shown in apparel and
religion, and especially in the setting of the communion table.”

Of the endless orations, the presents, and pedantry with which the
Queen was received, of her own coyness about her Latin, of the solemn
disputations and entertainments, this is no place to speak; but the
official accounts[191] represent the Queen as being agreeably surprised
at her reception. After the first service at King’s she “thanked God
that had sent her to this University, where she, altogether against her
expectation, was so received that she thought could not be better.”
This was the first day; but a Catholic friend of the new Spanish
Ambassador[192] told him that the Queen’s commendations had so elated the
authorities that they besought her to witness one more entertainment.
As she was unable to delay her departure, the actors followed her to
the first stopping-place, where the proposed comedy was represented
before her. “The actors came in,” writes Guzman, “dressed as some of the
imprisoned bishops. First came the Bishop of London (_i.e._ Bonner),
carrying a lamb in his hands as if he were eating it, … and then others
with different devices, one being in the figure of a dog with the
Host in his mouth. They write that the Queen was so angry that she at
once entered her chamber, using strong language, and the men who held
the torches, it being night, left them in the dark, and so ended this
thoughtless and scandalous representation.”[193]

Amongst the long list of honorary Masters of Arts made on the occasion,
Sir William Cecil was one, and on the journey to Cambridge he was
honoured for the first of many times with a visit from the Queen to his
house at Waltham, Theobalds,[194] which at this time was a small house he
had recently built as a country retreat, not so remote as Burghley, or so
near town as Wimbledon. It was his intention, even then, to leave this
estate to his younger son; but, as will be shown later, it was not meant
to be the magnificent place it afterwards became. The Queen’s frequent
visits, says his household biographer, forced him “to enlarge it, rather
for the Queen and her great train, and to set the poor in order, than
for pomp or glory, for he ever said it would be too big for the small
living he could leave his son. He greatly delighted in making gardens,
fountains, and walks; which at Theobalds were perfected most costly,
beautifully, and pleasantly, where one might walk two miles in the walk
before he came to the end.”[195] We are told that throughout the year at
Theobalds, even in his absence, Cecil kept an establishment of twenty-six
to thirty persons, at a cost of £12 a week. Every day twenty to thirty
poor people were relieved at the gates, and “the weekly charge of setting
the poor to work there, weeding, labouring in the gardens, &c., was £10”;
whilst for many years 20s. every week was paid to the Vicar of Cheshunt,
in which parish Theobalds stands, for the succour of the distressed

Cecil was simple and sober in his own living and attire, but by his
every act he demonstrates his ambition to be well regarded by the world,
and his determination to fulfil what he considered decorous in a great
personage who owed a duty to his ancestry, to his position, and to
those who should inherit his honours. His letter of advice to the Earl
of Bedford when the latter was appointed governor of Berwick (1564)
sets forth in a few words his ideal of a _grand seigneur_, which might
represent a portrait of himself. “Think of some great nobleman whom you
can take as your pattern.… Weigh well what comes before you. Let your
household be an example of order. Allow no excess of apparel, no disputes
on Princes’ affairs at table. Be hospitable, but avoid excess. Be
impartial and easy of access. Do not favour lawyers without honesty.… Try
to make country gentlemen agree: take their sons as your servants, and
train them in warlike and manly exercises, such as artillery, wrestling,

The picture which Cecil presents of his own mind in his writings is
consistently that of a judicious, cautious, acquisitive, and intensely
proud and self-conscious man; a man eminently fair, especially to his
inferiors, to whom it would be undignified to be otherwise; not wanting
in courage, but by temperament more inclined to reduce an enemy’s
stronghold by sap and mine than by a storming attack; determined that
he would stand, no matter who might fall, and yet not greedy or selfish
for personal gratification; his mind monopolised by two main ideas, the
greatness and prosperity of England, and the decorous dignity of his own

To attribute to him modern ideas with regard to liberty, as we now
understand it, would be absurd. He was a man of great enlightenment, a
lover of learning; but he was a statesman of his own age, not of ours.
That England should be governed by nobles, and that he should help the
Queen to guide the governors, was in the divine order of things. He would
do, and did, according to his lights, the best he could for all men; but
that the ordinary citizen should claim a voice in deciding what was best
for himself would have appeared to Cecil Utopian nonsense to be punished
as treason. He would be rigidly just, charitable, and forbearing to
all; but if any but those on the same plane as himself should dream of
claiming rights of equality, then impious blasphemy could hardly be too
strong a term to apply to such insolence. With opinions such as those
he undoubtedly held respecting the exclusive right of an aristocracy
to govern, his own position would have been inconsistent if he had not
claimed, as he did with almost suspicious vehemence, to belong by birth
and descent to an ancient and noble race.

The efforts that had been made by the English Council to benefit native
commerce had caused much apprehension amongst the Flemish merchants, who
had for many years practically monopolised the English export trade.
The English Company of Merchant-Adventurers had agitated and petitioned
the Queen and Council to discountenance the foreign merchants; and as a
result, a series of enactments was passed which gave considerable trade
advantages to Englishmen. Differential duties, compulsory priority given
to English bottoms for the export trade, the imposition of harassing
disabilities and penalties on foreign merchants established in London,
together with the great increase of piracy owing to the extensive
shipbuilding of recent years in England, had greatly disorganised Flemish
trade. During 1563 and early in 1564, several envoys had been sent from
Spanish Flanders to endeavour to obtain a reversal of the new commercial
policy, but without effect. This caused reprisals on the part of the
Spanish Government, which prohibited the introduction of English cloth
into Flanders and the exportation of raw material from Flanders to
England, as well as the employment of English ships for Flemish exports.
In retaliation, a more stringent order was issued in England forbidding
trade with Flanders altogether, and the establishment of a new staple at
Embden. The seizure of English goods and subjects in Spain itself was
the answer to this. Naturally, people on both sides suffered severely
by this commercial warfare.[196] Emissaries went backwards and forwards
between Flanders and England, partial relaxations were temporarily
arranged, conferences were held; but the main difficulty continued until
Antwerp was well-nigh ruined, and the Spaniards were obliged to humble
themselves in order to prevent a commercial catastrophe. The day, indeed,
had gone by now for hectoring England. The old Bishop of Aquila had died
bankrupt, abandoned, and broken-hearted—Cecil’s object-lesson of the
impotence of Spain—and a very different Ambassador had been sent, whose
main duty it was to keep Elizabeth friendly, and to end, at almost any
cost, the commercial war which was ruining Flanders.

Guzman de Silva arrived in London in June 1564. He was amiable and
courtly, flattered the Queen to the top of her bent, and was soon a prime
favourite. At his first interview at Richmond she showed off her Latin
and Italian, coyly led the talk to her personal appearance, blushingly
hinted at love and marriage in general, Cecil being all the while close
to her side.[197] As soon as the compliments and embraces were ended
and Guzman was alone, a great friend of Dudley’s sought him out with
a message from the favourite, informing him “of the great enmity that
exists between Cecil and Lord Robert, even before this book about the
succession was published; but now very much more, as he believes Cecil
to be the author of the book; and the Queen is extremely angry about it,
although she signifies that there are so many accomplices in the offence
that they must overlook it, and has begun to slacken in the matter.[198]
The person has asked me with great secrecy to take an opportunity of
speaking to the Queen (or to make such an opportunity), to urge her
without fail to adopt strong measures in this business; because if Cecil
were out of the way, the affairs of your Majesty would be more favourably
dealt with, and religious questions as well; for this Cecil and his
friends are those who persecute the Catholics and dislike your Majesty,
whereas the other man (_i.e._ Dudley) is looked upon as faithful, and
the rest of the Catholics so consider him, and have adopted him as
their weapon. If the Queen would consent to disgrace Cecil, it would
be a great good to them, and this man tried to persuade me to make use
of Robert.”[199] Guzman was cautious, for he knew what had happened to
his predecessor; but this will show that Dudley was determined to stick
at nothing to destroy, if possible, the man who, almost alone, was the
obstacle to his ambition. He was liberal in his professions and promises
to the Spaniard, whom he urged to ask for audience as much as possible
through him, instead of through Cecil. His friends assured Guzman that
he still expected to marry the Queen, and had an understanding with the
Pope; that the Catholic religion would be restored in England if the
marriage were brought about, and much more to the same effect.[200]

The reason for this new move on the part of Dudley is not very far
to seek. The defection of Condé and the collapse of the Protestants
in France had been seized upon by Cardinal Lorraine and the dominant
Catholics to force Catharine de Medici into a renewal of the negotiations
for a league with Philip to extirpate Protestantism. Already the meeting
had been arranged between Catharine and her daughter, the Queen of Spain,
at Bayonne, which was to cement the close alliance. Catholicism was
everywhere in the ascendant, and the clouds appeared to be gathering over
England; for there was no combination so threatening for her as this.
Hitherto Cecil had always counted upon the jealousy between France and
Spain to prevent the domination of England by either power; but with the
French Protestants prostrate and a close union between a Guisan France
and Catholic Spain, all safeguards would disappear, and Mary Stuart would
be able to count upon the support of the whole Catholic world, in which
case the position of Elizabeth and the Anglican Church was, indeed, a
critical one.

As we have seen, Dudley cared nothing for all this, even if he was able
to appreciate its gravity. If he could only force or cajole the Queen
to marry him, the religion of England might be anything his supporters
chose. He knew well that Cecil, with his broad and moderate views,
would try to conjure away the danger and disarm Catholic Spain, whilst
safeguarding religion, by again bringing forward the Archduke with some
sort of compact founded on the Lutheran compromise in Germany. But Spain
and the Catholics, though they might have accepted such a solution,
were not enthusiastic about it; and Dudley, by going the whole length
and promising Spain everything, thought to outbid Cecil and spoil the
Archduke’s chance, whilst diverting Spanish support from Mary Stuart to

In the autumn of 1563 the Duke of Wurtemburg, at the prompting of the
English agent, had approached the Emperor to propose a renewal of the
Archduke’s negotiation. Ferdinand was cool: nominally the first monarch
in Christendom, and a son of the proud House of Austria, he did not
relish being taken up and dropped again as often as suited English
politics, and he demanded all sorts of assurances before he would act.
The Duke of Wurtemburg secretly sent an agent to see Cecil early in 1564
without the Emperor’s knowledge, and satisfied himself that Elizabeth was
neither a Calvinist nor a Zwinglian, and would accept the confession of
Augsburg. This was satisfactory; but before anything more could be done,
Ferdinand died (July 1564). When he conveyed the news to Cecil, Mundt,
the English agent, proposed that he should be allowed to reopen the
question of marriage with the new Emperor Maximilian, through the Duke of
Wurtemburg. “He” (Mundt) “knows,” he says, “that the Queen is so modest
and virtuous that she will not do anything that shall seem like seeking
a husband. But as the matter is most vital to the whole Christian world,
he thinks that Cecil should not be restrained by any narrow and untimely
modesty; for he, holding the administration of the kingdom, ought to
strive to preserve the tranquillity thereof by insuring a perpetual

Cecil and Mundt understood each other thoroughly; but the Secretary’s
answer was intended for the eyes of others, and was cautious. “With
regard to her Majesty’s inclinations on the subject of her marriage,
he can with certainty say nothing; than that he perceives that she
would rather marry a foreign than a native prince, and that the more
distinguished the suitor is by birth, power, and personal attractions,
the better hope he will have of success. Moreover, he cannot deny that
the nobleman who, with them, excites considerable expectation, to wit
Lord Robert, is worthy to become the husband of the Queen. The fact of
his being her Majesty’s subject, however, will prove a serious objection
to him in her estimation. Nevertheless, his virtues and his excellent and
heroic gifts of mind and body have so endeared him to the Queen, that
she could not regard her own brother with greater affection. From which
they who do not know the Queen intimately, conjecture that he will be
her future husband. He, however, sees and understands that she merely
takes delight in his virtues and rare qualities, and that nothing is more
discussed in their conversation than that which is most consistent with
virtue, and furthest removed from all unworthy sentiments.” It is not
surprising that Cecil has endorsed the draft of this letter, “written to
Mr. Mundt by the Queen’s command.”

Mundt worked hard, but there were many obstacles in the way. Wurtemburg
was in no hurry. The mourning for the late Emperor, and the plague which
raged in Germany, delayed matters for months. Once in the interval Cecil
wrote to ask Mundt whether it was true that the Archduke’s neck was awry.
Mundt could not deny the impeachment, but softened it like a courtier.
“Alexander the Great had his neck bent towards the left side; would
that our man may be his imitator in magnanimity and bravery. His body
is elegant and middle size, more well grown and robust than the Spanish

In the autumn Elizabeth sent an envoy to condole with the new Emperor
on the death of his father, and simultaneously lost no opportunity of
drawing closer to Spain. She coquetted with Guzman, ostentatiously in
the face of the French Ambassador. She spoke sentimentally of old times,
when her brother-in-law Philip was in England. She was curious to know
whether Don Carlos was grown, and manly; and then apparently to force
the Ambassador’s hand, she sighed that every one disdained her, and that
she heard Don Carlos was to marry the Queen of Scots. Guzman earnestly
said that the Prince had been ill, and that such a thing was quite out
of the question; which was perfectly true. The Queen’s real object then
came out. “Why,” she said, “the gossips in London were saying that the
Ambassador had been sent by the King of Spain to offer his son Don Carlos
to me!” All this rather undignified courting of Spain succeeded very soon
in arousing the jealousy of France, as it was intended to do.

De Foix, the French Ambassador, had kept Catharine de Medici well
informed of affairs in England. Catharine was already getting alarmed at
being bound hand and foot to the Guises, the Catholics, and Philip. The
plan of marrying Mary Stuart to Don Carlos, or his cousin, the Archduke,
and the rallying of Leicester to Spain and the Catholics, threatened
to dwarf the influence of France, and make Spain irresistible. So the
Queen-mother began to hint to Sir Thomas Smith, the Ambassador, that a
marriage would be desirable between her son Charles IX., aged fifteen,
and Queen Elizabeth, aged thirty-one. Some such suggestion had been made
by Condé to Smith during the negotiations which preceded the evacuation
of Havre, but it had not been regarded seriously. It was probably no more
serious now, but it was the trump card of both Queens, and it served its

In the meanwhile the plot of Leicester and the Catholics against Cecil
went on. The English Catholics came to Guzman, and represented to
him that it would be better not to come to any arrangement with the
Government about the commercial question, in order that public discontent
in England might ripen and an overturn of the present regime be made
the easier. But the Flemings were suffering even more than the English
from the interruption of trade, and Guzman had strict orders to obtain
a settlement of the dispute. So he told the Catholics that the Queen
had been obliged to hold her hand, and refrain from punishing Cecil and
Bacon, until she had come to an understanding with Philip, and with the
English Catholics, through him. She would cling to Cecil and his gang,
said Guzman, so long as she thought she had anything to fear from Spain.
“All people think that the only remedy for the religious trouble is to
get these people turned out of power, as they are the mainstay of the
heretics, Lord Robert having the Catholics all on his side.”[202] Dudley
was flattered and encouraged with messages and promises from Philip, and
laboured incessantly to get rid of Cecil, even for a short time.

In order, apparently, to forward Dudley’s chances of success as a suitor
for the hand of Mary Stuart, for which at this time Elizabeth pretended
to be anxious, she created him Earl of Leicester and Baron Denbeigh, on
Michaelmas day 1564. De Foix, the French Ambassador, intimated two days
previously his intention of being present at the splendid festivities
which accompanied the ceremony. This was a good opportunity for Cecil
to arouse suspicion of the new Earl, and distrust of the French. On
the 28th September, accordingly, the Secretary called upon Guzman, and
telling him that the French Ambassador would be present at the feast,
hinted that Dudley was very friendly with the French; to which the
Spaniard replied, that he had always understood that such was the case,
and that Dudley’s father was known to be much attached to them. Then
“Cecil told me that the Queen had commanded him to visit the Emperor with
Throgmorton, and although he had done all in his power to excuse himself
from the journey, he had not succeeded. I understand that the artfulness
of his rivals has procured this commission for him, in order, in the
meantime, to put some one else in his place, which certainly would be a
good thing. His wife has petitioned the Queen to let her husband stay
at home, as he is weak and delicate. They tell me that this has made
the business doubtful, and I do not know for certain what will be done;
nor indeed is anything sure here from one hour to another, except the
hatching of falsehoods, which always goes on.” Needless to say, Cecil had
his way and did not go.

Before many days had passed Leicester sent to Guzman disclaiming any
particular friendship with the French, “and said, after his own Queen,
there was no prince in the world whom he was so greatly obliged to serve
as your Majesty, whose servant he had been, and to whom he owed his life
and all he had.” De Foix, he said, had only been present at his feast,
because he brought him the Order of St. Michael from the King of France,
which he (Leicester) did not wish to accept. Guzman was rather tart about
the business, and reminded Leicester’s friend (Spinola) that on the same
day that the Queen had invited him (Guzman) to supper, De Foix had dined
with her; and when Spinola hinted that Philip might send Leicester the
Golden Fleece, Guzman was quite scandalised at the idea of conferring
the order on any one not a “publicly professed Catholic.” Altogether
it is clear that the Queen’s and Cecil’s clever management was already
setting the French and Spanish by the ears; and when they could do that
and make them rivals for England’s favour, she was safe.

The next day Guzman was entertained at dinner by Leicester, the Earl
of Warwick, Cecil, and others being present; and the Secretary in the
course of conversation assured the Spaniard that he was taking vigorous
measures to suppress the depredations on shipping, and to restore as
much as possible of the merchandise stolen. Already, indeed, Cecil’s
diplomacy was righting matters. An active correspondence was going on
about the Archduke’s match; the Queen assured Guzman that she had to
conceal her real feelings about religion, but that God knew her heart;
and even Cecil tried to soften the asperity of the Catholics towards
him. “Cecil,” writes Guzman to his King, “tells these heretical bishops
to look after their clergy, as the Queen is determined to reform them
in their customs, and even in their dress, as the diversity that exists
in everything cannot be tolerated.[203] He directs that they should be
careful how they treat those of the old faith: to avoid calumniating them
or persecuting or harrying them.” The result of this action was that
in October 1564, Guzman could write: “I have advised previously that
Cecil’s favour had been wavering, but he knows how to please, and avoids
saying things the Queen does not wish to hear; and, above all, as I am
told, can flatter her, so he has kept his place, and things are now in
the same condition as formerly. Robert makes the best of it. The outward
demonstrations are fair, but the inner feelings the same as before. I do
not know how long they will last. They dissemble; but Cecil has more wit
than all of them. Their envy of him is very great.”[204]

Sir James Melvil, a Scotsman brought up in France, was directed to go
to London in the autumn of 1564, to watch his mistress’s interests. To
him Elizabeth again suggested a marriage between Dudley and “her good
sister”; and in reply to his remark that Mary thought that a conference
between English and Scottish statesmen should discuss the question first,
at which conference the Earl of Bedford and Lord Robert could represent
England, Elizabeth told Melvil that he seemed to make a small account
of Lord Robert. He should, she said, see him made a far greater Earl
than Bedford before he left court. When Dudley was on his knees, shortly
afterwards, receiving the investiture of his Earldom, the Queen tickled
his neck, and asked Melvil what he thought of him. Melvil gave a courtly
answer, whereupon the Queen retorted that he liked that “long lad”
(Darnley) better. Melvil scoffed at such an idea, but his main object in
coming to England was to intrigue for the “long lad’s” permission to go
to Scotland. A few days after this, Leicester took Melvil in his barge
from Hampton Court to London, and on the way asked him what Mary thought
of the marriage with him, which Randolph had proposed to her. Melvil
answered coldly, as his mistress had instructed him to do. “Then he began
to purge himself of so proud a pretence as to marry so great a Queen,
declaring he did not esteem himself worthy to wipe her shoes; declaring
that the invention of that proposition of marriage proceeded from Mr.
Cecil, his secret enemy. For if I, says he, should have appeared desirous
of that marriage, I should have offended both the Queens and lost their

Melvil went back to Scotland with all manner of kind messages for his
mistress; and Cecil especially was gracious to him, placing a fine gold
chain around his neck as he bade him farewell. But when Mary asked her
envoy if he thought Elizabeth “meant truly towards her inwardly in
her heart, as she appeared to do outwardly in her speech,” he replied
that in his judgment “there was neither plain dealing nor upright
meaning; but great dissimulation, emulation, envy, and fear lest her
princely qualities should chase her from the kingdom, as having already
hindered her marriage with the Archduke. It appeared likewise to me,
by her offering unto her, with great apparent earnestness, my Lord of
Leicester.” Melvil says that Leicester’s humble and artful letters to
Mary, and the consequent kindness of the latter, aroused Elizabeth’s
fear that after all Mary might marry her favourite, and caused her to
consent to Darnley’s visit to Scotland.[206] “Which licence,” he says,
“was procured by means of Secretary Cecil, not that he was minded that
any of the marriages should take effect, but with such shifts to hold
the Queen (Mary) unmarried as long as he could, persuading himself
that Lord Darnley durst not proceed in the marriage without consent of
the Queen of England first obtained.”[207] Cecil’s task was again an
extremely difficult one. He had to keep up an appearance of leaning
to the Catholics and the House of Austria, and encourage the idea of
Elizabeth’s marriage with the Archduke, in order to prevent the alliance
of Mary Stuart with so powerful an interest; he was obliged to keep his
own restive Protestant friends in hand; to counteract at every step the
intrigues of Leicester against him, and to be ready at any moment to
cause a diversion if Leicester’s suit to the Queen looked too serious to
be safe.

The replies and recommendations of the bishops to the Council’s circular,
referred to in a previous note (page 160), had caused much apprehension
amongst Catholics; and the Queen herself, as well as Cecil, assured
Guzman that the bishops should do the Catholics no harm; whilst, on the
other hand, Cecil’s Protestant friends were urging him to adopt strong
measures to prevent the growth of the “Papists.” Cecil’s reply to one
such recommendation shows that he was just as ready to wound Leicester
underhand as Leicester was him. “He replied that he was doing what he
could, but he did not know who was at the Queen’s ear to soften her so,
and render her less zealous in this than she ought to be.”[208]

Cecil’s greatest difficulty, indeed, at this time, was from Leicester,
who had now quite enlisted Sir Nicholas Throgmorton against his former
friend. In order to enable Leicester with some decency to accept the
Order of St. Michael, Throgmorton suggested that the Queen might ask for
another Cross of the Order to be given to the Duke of Norfolk. When Cecil
learned this, he was obliged to remonstrate with the Queen, and point out
how undesirable it was in the present state of affairs to place two of
her most powerful nobles under an obligation to France. At a time when
Cecil was straining every nerve to keep on good terms with the House
of Austria, and conciliating the Catholics, in order to checkmate Mary
Stuart, Leicester had agents running backwards and forwards to France,
in the hope of bringing forward in an official form the farcical offer
of Charles IX.’s hand for the Queen, which offer he knew would come to
nothing, whilst rendering abortive the Archduke’s suit, upon which Cecil
depended to so great an extent.

The dexterity and cleverness of Cecil under these circumstances is shown
very markedly in the manner in which he changed in a very few months
the opinion of the Spanish Ambassador about him, as soon as his policy
rendered it necessary to gain his good opinion. “When I first arrived
here,” writes Guzman, January 2, 1565, “I imagined Secretary Cecil … to
be very different from what I have found him in your Majesty’s affairs.
He is well disposed towards them, truthful, lucid, modest, and just; and
although he is zealous in serving his Queen, which is one of his best
traits, yet he is amenable to reason. He knows the French, and, like an
Englishman, is their enemy. He assured me on his oath … that the French
have always made great efforts to attract to their country the Flanders
trade (_i.e._ with England). With regard to his religion I say nothing,
except that I wish he were a Catholic … but he is straightforward, and
shows himself well affected towards your Majesty … for he alone it is who
makes or mars business here.”[209]

Having thus gained the good-will of the Spaniard, Cecil was soon able
to persuade him that the Queen would never really marry Leicester, and
the relations between the latter and the Spaniards became cooler. The
Queen herself could not do enough to show her kindness to Guzman, and at
joust, tournament, and ball, chatted with him in preference to the French
Ambassador. By January 1565, Leicester, seeing that Cecil’s diplomacy had
gained the good-will of Spain, and that the Catholics were turning to the
side of the Archduke, unblushingly veered round to the French interest.

Guzman was obliged then to write that he was not at all satisfied with
him. He wished, he said, to please everybody; but was getting very
friendly with the French, who were making much of him. But there was more
even than this. The Queen and Cecil were trying their best to please
the Catholics. The Queen openly and rudely rebuked Dean Nowell at his
sermon on Ash Wednesday for attacking Catholic practices; whilst Cecil
was pushing the Vestments Order to the very verge of safety. Some of
the bishops invited him to a conference, and remonstrated with him on
the severity of the new regulations, which they openly stigmatised as
papistical. He told them sternly that the Queen’s order must be obeyed,
or worse would befall them. The churchmen of the Geneva school railed and
resisted, as far as they might,[210] what they called the Secretary’s
backsliding; whilst Leicester, ever willing to change sides, if he could
only checkmate Cecil, vigorously took the part of the Puritans, and did
his best to hamper the execution of the Vestments Order, and to prevent
the use of the cross on the altars.[211]

In February 1565, De Foix, the French Ambassador, shot the bolt that
had long been forging. He saw Elizabeth in her presence-chamber, and,
after much exaggerated compliment, read a letter of Catharine de Medici,
saying she would be the happiest of mothers if her dearly beloved sister
Queen Elizabeth would marry her son, and become a daughter to her. “She
would find in the young King,” she said, “both bodily and mentally, that
which would please her.” This was very sweet incense to Elizabeth, and
she sentimentally deplored that she was not ten years younger. De Foix
flattered her, and tranquillised her fears that she would be neglected or
abandoned, and the Queen agreed with him to keep the matter secret for
the present, and promised him a speedy reply.[212] As usual, Cecil drew
up for the Queen’s guidance a judicial examination of the advantages and
disadvantages which might be expected from the marriage. He is careful in
this lucid document not to commit himself to an individual opinion,[213]
but the formidable list of objections far outweigh the advantages; and
when the Queen the next day repeated Cecil’s arguments as her own, De
Foix lost patience, hinted that his mistress had been deceived, and would
withdraw the offer.[214] Elizabeth petted the ruffled diplomatist into a
good humour again, and said she would send Cecil to talk the matter over
with him.

Leicester had been bribed heavily by the French, and pretended to be
strongly in favour of the match, which he knew would never take place,
but might choke off the Archduke. But with Cecil it was very different.
He had no objection to the French suit being talked about: that might
make Spain and the Austrians more tractable; but if it was allowed to go
too far, the Emperor would take umbrage, and the Spaniards would balance
matters by marrying Mary Stuart to some nominee of their own. When,
consequently, Cecil saw De Foix, he was cool and argumentative, talked
much of the difficulties of the match; and on De Foix suggesting that
such a union with France would preserve England from danger, he replied
that England could defend herself, and had nothing to fear. By these
tactics he avoided a direct negative, delayed and procrastinated, whilst
his agents were busy in Germany smoothing the way for the Archduke. The
French matter was a strict secret, but the Queen could not avoid giving
some very broad hints about it to her friend Guzman. When he objected
that the young King would be a very little husband for her, she angled
dexterously but ineffectually to extort an offer of marriage from Don
Carlos. Catharine de Medici was just as eager as Elizabeth[215] that the
negotiations for the marriage with Charles IX. should not be dropped,
for she was getting seriously afraid now of the Catholic combination into
which she had been drawn, and industriously plied Smith with arguments
in favour of the match. But Smith knew as well as Cecil himself that the
whole matter was a feint, and dexterously avoided giving a favourable
opinion. The Huguenots, however, were in deadly earnest about it, and
Elizabeth and Catharine contrived to carry on the farce intermittently
until eventually Charles IX. was betrothed to a daughter of the Emperor.

Elizabeth was barely off with the old love than Adam Swetkowitz, Baron
Mitterburg, came on behalf of the new. Ostensibly his mission was to
return the late Emperor’s insignia of the Garter, but really every step
to be taken by him had been previously agreed upon through Throgmorton,
Roger Le Strange, Baron Preyner, Mundt, and the Duke of Wurtemburg. The
Spanish Ambassador, however, had been studiously kept in the dark until
shortly before Swetkowitz’s arrival, and was not in a hurry to pledge
his master in the Archduke’s favour, until he learned what arrangements
had been made about religion. On the contrary, he first approached
Leicester, who was ill in consequence of an accident, and secretly urged
him to press his suit before the Emperor’s envoy appeared. Leicester was
doubtful, but still not quite without hope. When Swetkowitz actually
arrived, Leicester understood that the current was too powerful for him
to oppose at first, and he became strongly and ostentatiously in favour
of the Austrian match. Swetkowitz first saw the Queen at the beginning of
June. Her people, she said, were urging her to marry, and she was anxious
to hear whether the King of Spain would favour the Archduke’s suit for
her hand. This Swetkowitz could not tell her; and he was referred to
Cecil for further discussion of details.

The conditions as laid down by Cecil[216] were prudent and moderate, but
certainly not likely to commend themselves to the King of Spain, or even
to the Emperor; for no power was to be given to the Consort, and the
question of religion was jealously safeguarded. It is evident that the
German thought that Leicester might be made instrumental in modifying
these conditions. He writes to the Emperor, “Since the principal promoter
of this transaction will be the illustrious Earl of Leicester, who is
most devoted to the Archduke, and is loved by the Queen with a sincere
and most chaste and honest love, I think your Majesty and the Archduke
would aid the business by addressing fraternal letters to the Earl.”[217]
But Leicester’s momentary adhesion to the policy of Cecil, Sussex,
and Norfolk, was only for the purpose of deceiving the Secretary, and
putting him off his guard. Whilst Cecil was proceeding in good faith
with Swetkowitz, and the latter, a Lutheran, was just as earnest in his
efforts to bring about the marriage, both the Queen and Leicester were
playing a double game. Probably Elizabeth’s marriage with her favourite
was never nearer than at this juncture, when she was carrying on a
serious negotiation with the Austrian, and was still making an appearance
of dallying with De Foix. The circumstances, indeed, were for the moment
all in favour of Leicester. Guzman was very cool about the Archduke and
the Lutheran envoy. The Queen was for ever trying to ascertain Philip’s
feeling about the Archduke, and at the same time dragging Leicester’s
name into her complicated conversational puzzles with the Spaniard. The
latter on one occasion, disbelieving her sincerity about the Archduke,
urged her to marry his friend Leicester, if she married a subject; and
only a day or two afterwards De Foix, who had by this time lost all hope
of success for Charles IX., and wished to checkmate the Austrian, also
went and pleaded Leicester’s suit. The Earl, thus having the good word
both of the Spanish and French Ambassadors, could afford to grow cool on
the Austrian match.[218] Cecil, and Sussex particularly, were scandalised
and apprehensive at this new instance of Leicester’s falseness, and
laboured desperately to bring the Archduke to England to force the
Queen’s hand. But the Emperor was slow and doubtful about the religious
conditions, and would not risk a loss of dignity.

Matters thus dragged on month after month, whilst Leicester’s chances
looked brighter and brighter. Among the principal reasons for the rising
hopes of Leicester were the events which had happened in Scotland during
the previous few months. After much apparent hesitation, Elizabeth
had in February granted to Darnley permission to join his father in
Scotland for three months. A few weeks later a messenger came from Mary
Stuart to the Spanish Ambassador in London, asking him whether he had
any reply to send to her. Guzman was cautious, for he did not quite know
the meaning of this; but said he would speak to Maitland of Lethington,
who was then on the way to London from the Border. Simultaneously with
this, Lady Margaret Lennox also approached Guzman. “She told me the kind
treatment her son had received at the hands of the Queen of Scots, and
that the French Ambassador had sent to her secretly offering all his
support for the marriage of her son. But she knows the French way of
dealing … and repeats that she and her children have no other refuge
but your Majesty (Philip), and begs me to address your Majesty in their
favour, in case the Queen of Scotland should choose to negotiate about
her son, Darnley, or in the event of the death of this Queen, that they
may look to your Majesty.” When Maitland arrived in London in April,
he saw Guzman in secret, and after some fencing and feigned ignorance,
offered his mistress’s adhesion and submission to Spain. His mistress,
he said, had waited for Philip’s answer about Don Carlos for two years,
but had now listened to some proposals for a marriage with Darnley, as
neither Elizabeth nor her own subjects wished her to marry a foreigner.
But before concluding the affair she wished to know if there was still
any hope of her obtaining Don Carlos, in which case she still preferred
that alliance. Guzman replied that, as Cardinal Lorraine had gone so far
in his negotiations for the marriage with the Archduke Charles, Philip
had abandoned all idea of opposing him by bringing forward his own son
Carlos. Maitland assured him that the negotiations of Cardinal Lorraine
were carried on against Mary’s wish, and in the interests of France;
but Guzman knew now that the match with Don Carlos was hopeless, and
said so. Maitland then spoke of the Darnley marriage, which, however, he
feared would be very dangerous if Elizabeth took it badly. All would be
well, he said, if the King of Spain would take Mary and Darnley under
his protection; but beyond bland banalities he could get nothing from

Darnley’s demeanour in Scotland, and Mary’s behaviour towards him,
together with the rising hopes of the Catholics there, had alarmed Murray
and his friends; and Elizabeth and her Council were now also alive to
their danger. Cecil drew up one of his pro and contra reports with regard
to the influence that such a marriage would have on England,[220] which
was submitted to the Council, and a unanimous condemnation of the match
was adopted, and Throgmorton was sent in May post-haste to Scotland to
dissuade Mary from taking a step so threatening to Elizabeth. Randolph’s
letters to Cecil at the time showed that the danger was a real one.
Darnley, he says, is a furious fool, and Mary was infatuated with him.
To the Pope, to Philip, to Cardinal de Granvelle, and to Guzman, Mary
made no secret that her object was to unite the Catholics and claim the
crown of England; and Lady Margaret had from the first admitted that this
was her aim in promoting the marriage of her son. When Elizabeth’s eyes
were opened to the imminence of the peril, she did what she could to
stay the match. She, De Foix, and Throgmorton again pressed Leicester’s
marriage with Mary, Murray and his Protestant friends were encouraged to
resist, Lady Margaret was placed under arrest in the Tower, Darnley was
ordered to return to England, and the Queen promised Maitland that if
his mistress would marry to her liking she would acknowledge her right
of succession to the English crown. Meanwhile rumours came thickly from
Scotland that Mary was already married, Philip promised all his support
to Mary and Darnley if they would be his faithful servants, Murray and
Lethington were thrust into the background, Rizzio was ever at Mary’s
side, and her foolish young English lover, hated and contemned for his
arrogance, urged his infatuated bride to the religious intolerance that
led to her ruin.[221]

The remonstrances of Throgmorton and Randolph, and the letters of
the Queen and Cecil, were as powerless to move Mary now as was the
threatening attitude of her nobles and people, for she had decided to
depend entirely upon Philip, and to defy the Queen of England. In July, a
few days before her marriage, she sent a special messenger to Guzman with
letters for Philip, “begging for help and favour against the Queen of
England, who has raised her subjects against her, to force her to forsake
the Catholic religion.”[222] Murray, Argyll, and the Hamiltons, she says,
are in revolt, and if aid do not come from Spain she will be lost.

When Mary’s marriage was known for certain in London, the Archduke’s
suit was being laboriously discussed; but almost immediately afterwards,
the renewed hopes of Leicester already referred to were noticed. It was
felt that, now that Mary’s marriage to a subject had taken place, one of
Elizabeth’s principal reasons for contracting an alliance with a son of
the House of Austria disappeared, and a precedent had been set for her
marriage with a man not belonging to a sovereign house.

Swetkowitz therefore found that he had to encounter all manner of new
conditions and demands from the Queen, which drove him to despair, and
Guzman looked upon the Austrian’s chance as a very poor one indeed. The
Earl of Sussex and Cecil did their best to keep the matter afoot, whilst
Leicester and Throgmorton openly proclaimed the hollowness of the whole
negotiation. The old Earl of Arundel asked Guzman to dinner at Nonsuch
early in August, apparently for the purpose of dissociating the English
Catholics from the intrigues of both parties. He assured the Spaniard
“that the men who surrounded the Queen did not wish her to marry. I said
it was quite possible that some of them who thought they might get the
prize for themselves might wish to hinder it; but as for Secretary Cecil,
I thought that his disagreement with Robert (Leicester) might well lead
him to support the Archduke, if it were not for the question of religion.
He (Arundel) told me not to believe that Cecil wanted the Queen to marry.
He was ambitious and fond of ruling, and liked everything to pass through
his hands, and if the Queen had a husband he would have to obey him.”
This view of the matter is not improbable; but it is certain that Cecil,
in any case, would resist to the last the marriage of the Queen with
Leicester, under the patronage of either France or Spain. Such a marriage
would have imperilled the results of his strenuous labour, and would
have thrown England back into the slough from which the Queen and he had
rescued it.

When Leicester’s star was seen to be in the ascendant, and the Archduke’s
chance waned, Cecil and his friends once more revived the suit of the
King of Sweden. Splendid presents of sables and valuable plate came to
the Queen and her court; and Eric’s romantic sister Cecilia, Margravine
of Baden, again made ready for her much-desired visit to England, where
she arrived early in September. At the water-gate of Durham House, where
she lodged as the Queen’s guest, Leicester’s opponents were assembled in
force to bid her welcome. The Countess of Sussex, Lady Bacon, Lady Cecil,
and Cecil himself, all did honour to the Swedish King’s sister, and
Elizabeth was overwhelming in her cordiality for the first royal visitor
she had entertained since her accession; but the Princess wore out her
welcome, and nothing came of her visit, though it served its purpose of
again spoiling the appearance of Leicester’s chances for a time.

In the meanwhile, English money and men were supporting Murray and the
Protestant Lords against Mary and Darnley, who were sending emissaries
to the Pope, to Cardinal Lorraine, to Flanders, and to Philip, begging
for help for the faith. When Elizabeth was remonstrated with by Guzman,
De Foix, and Mauvissière, for helping rebels against their Queen, and
for her harsh treatment of Lady Margaret, she replied that she had been
shamefully deceived, but what she was doing was to endeavour to rescue
Mary from the hands of her enemies, into which she had fallen, and she
blamed Darnley and his Catholic friends more than Mary. The same excuse,
said Guzman, which she used when she helped the French rebel Huguenots.
At the end of September a special meeting of the full Council was held,
at which Cecil set forth the position with regard to Scotland, and the
policy it was proposed to adopt. He pointed out the many reasons that
existed for distrusting the French, who were very busy in Scottish
affairs since Mary’s marriage;[223] and he told the Council that Mary had
sent Darnley’s secretary, Yaxley,[224] to beg aid of Philip, in addition
to the letters sent through Guzman, and to the Pope. The interference of
the Catholic powers in Scotland, he said, was a menace to England; and it
was decided that all preparations should be made for war upon the Border,
as a measure of precaution, whilst an embassy was sent from England to
endeavour to effect a reconciliation between Mary and the Protestant

Before any decided steps could be taken, however, Murray retired into
England, and arrived in London on the 22nd October. The Queen affected
anger, and received him sternly in the presence of her Council and of
the French Ambassador. Murray was dressed in deep mourning, and entered
humbly. Kneeling, he addressed the Queen in Scots. She told him to speak
in French, which he said he understood but imperfectly. Notwithstanding
this, she addressed to him a long harangue in French, for the edification
of De Foix and Mauvissière. “God preserve her,” she said, “from helping
rebels, especially against one whom she had regarded as a sister.” She
understood that their rising was in consequence of the Queen’s marriage
without the consent of Parliament, and of fear that their religious
liberty would be infringed. But if she thought he, Murray, had planned
anything against his sovereign, she would at once arrest and punish him.
Murray justified himself, and threw himself upon her generosity, and
Elizabeth replied that she would refer the whole matter to her Council.
All this scene was for the purpose of putting herself right with France
and Spain, and had been arranged on the previous night, when Murray was
closeted with the Queen and Cecil. Cecil’s own minute of the interview
agrees closely with that of Guzman, just quoted. “Her Majesty asked him
(Murray), in the presence of several persons, if he had ever undertaken
anything against the person of his Queen. He denied it firmly and
solemnly, saying, if it might be proved that he was either consenting
or privy to any such intent, he besought her Majesty to cause his head
to be struck off and sent to Scotland … he testified before God that in
all his counsels he had no other meaning but principally the honour of
Almighty God, by conserving the state of His religion in Scotland.… And,
to conclude, her Majesty spoke very roundly to him … that she would by
her actions let it appear that she would not for the price of a world
maintain any subject in disobedience against his prince.”[225]

Cecil’s characteristic policy is plainly seen in the Queen’s treatment
of Murray. He invariably endeavoured to keep Elizabeth legally in the
right, and usually with success. But still Murray and the Scottish
Protestants were now his main instruments for preventing the danger
approaching England over the Scottish Border. The old national lines of
division had grown fainter with the international league of Catholics
facing a league of Protestants. Mary Stuart had definitely thrown in her
lot with the former, in the hope of satisfying her ambition;[226] and the
Scottish spectre was perhaps more threatening to England at this moment
than ever it had been before. The obvious course was that which Cecil
followed—namely, to avoid an excuse for a national war or for foreign
interference, and to encourage the Scottish Protestants to stand for the
liberties they had won; whilst assuming as indisputable that they were
not in arms against their sovereign, but against their enemies and hers,
who had interposed between the Queen and her loving subjects.

Through the spring of 1566 the unfortunate Mary Stuart hurried to her
destruction. Her dislike of her husband increased as Bothwell obtained
more influence over her; all prudence with regard to the overt favouring
of Catholicism was cast aside, Murray and the “rebels” were sternly
forbidden to return to Scotland, and the breach between Mary and “her
good sister” grew wider every day. Nor is this to be wondered at.
Randolph was busy in supporting the Protestants, and had been warned away
from Mary’s court. His letters to Cecil are full of dread foreboding
of disaster to come, foreboding which most historians interpret as
foreknowledge. Cecil’s enemies have sought industriously to connect him
with the sanguinary scenes which were shortly afterwards enacted in
Scotland; but they have always reasoned from the information contained
in Randolph’s letters to him, which in no case can be considered as
evidence against him. That he was aware before Rizzio’s murder that some
sort of plot existed,[227] and that Murray and his friends were parties
to it, is certain; but that he himself had any share in its concoction,
so far as the killing of Rizzio is concerned, has never been proved, and
is most improbable.[228] As has been seen, his remedy for the Scottish
danger was not murder; for so far-seeing a man must have known that the
killing of a favourite secretary could not divert Mary from the league of
Catholic sovereigns, or alter her policy towards England whilst Huntly,
Bothwell, and Athol were at her side, and papal emissaries in her close
confidence. The killing of Rizzio satisfied Darnley’s spite, and served
Murray’s and Argyll’s personal ends, but was more likely to injure than
benefit English national objects.

What Cecil was personally doing during the first three months of 1566
was to strengthen the Protestant party in Scotland by money and promises
of support,[229] whilst dividing the Catholic sovereigns upon whom Mary
Stuart depended, by working desperately to bring the Archduke’s match to
a successful issue. With him now, in addition to the Earl of Sussex, were
the Duke of Norfolk, the Earl of Arundel, and many others who usually
leant to the Catholic side; for Leicester was openly under French
influence, always suspicious in the eyes of old-fashioned Englishmen, and
now more than ever distrusted, for Cardinal Lorraine’s agents were around
Mary, and the Guisan Rambouillet was carrying the Order of St. Michael to
Darnley, with loving messages to the Queen of Scots.

On the last day of January 1566, Cecil and other Councillors went to
Guzman’s house to discuss the eternal question of the trade regulations
and the suppression of piracy. When their conference was finished, Cecil
took the Ambassador aside and urgently besought him to use his great
influence with the Queen in favour of the Archduke’s suit. The next day
the request was pressed even more warmly by Sussex, who told Guzman that
the majority of the Council had decided to address a joint note on the
subject to the Queen. The Spaniard was not enthusiastic, for he did not
wish to break entirely with Leicester in view of possibilities; but on
the 2nd February he broached the subject to the Queen and discussed it
at length. She was, as usual, diplomatic and shifty; but whenever she
was uncomfortably pressed, began to talk of her marriage with Leicester
as a possibility; and two days afterwards Guzman saw her walking in the
gallery at Whitehall with Leicester, who, she said, was just persuading
her to marry him, “as she would do if he were a king’s son.” People
thought, she continued, that it was Leicester’s fault she was unmarried,
and it had made him so unpopular that he would have to leave court.

Almost daily Cecil or Sussex urged the Ambassador to favour the Archduke
with the Queen, and were untiring in their attempts to induce the
Archduke himself to come to England, in the hope of forcing the Queen’s
hand. As a means to the same end they continued to sow jealousy between
the Catholic sovereigns. “Cecil tells me,” writes Guzman (2nd March),
“that so great and constant are the attempts of the French to hinder
this marriage, and to perturb the peace and friendship between your
Majesty and this country, that they leave no stone unturned with that
object. They are gaining over Lord Robert with gifts and favours, and
are even doing the same with Throgmorton. It is true that Cecil is not
friendly with them, but I think he tells me the truth with regard to
it.”[230] Again, when Sir Robert Melvil, who had come from Mary to pray
Elizabeth to release Lady Margaret, was leaving London on his return,
Cecil begged him to see Guzman before his departure, “as no person had
done so much as he had to bring about concord between the two Queens,
and he (Cecil) thought that if the differences could be referred to him
(Guzman) for arbitration, they might easily be settled.” Guzman thought
so too, and wrote by Melvil to Mary to that effect, advising her to
abandon arrogant pretensions, and accept such honourable terms as should
satisfy Elizabeth;[231] and, as a preliminary, he exhorted her to live
on good terms with her husband. Before Melvil left Cecil, the latter
told him that they had news of Rizzio’s murder (this was written on the
18th March), and at the same time there came a messenger from Murray,
saying that he had returned into Scotland (from Newcastle) on a letter
of assurance from Darnley. The Earl of Murray had entered Edinburgh in
triumph the day after the murder, and the Queen and Darnley had together
started for Dunbar.

Another opportunity for Cecil to breed dissensions between Spain and
France came when the news arrived of Pero Melendez’s massacre of the
French settlement in Florida, on the ground that the territory belonged
to the King of Spain. The Queen professed herself to Guzman delighted at
such good news; but was surprised that Florida was claimed by Spain, as
she always thought that the Frenchman Ribault had discovered it; indeed
she had seriously thought of conquering it herself. Guzman saw Cecil
when he left the Queen (30th March), and the Secretary had nothing but
reprobation for Coligny, who had sent out the French Florida expedition.
“He said your Majesty should proclaim your rights with regard to Florida,
that they might be known everywhere.” Cecil, shortly before this, whilst
discussing the question of Hawkins’ voyages to Guinea and South America,
said that he himself had been offered a share in the enterprise, but
that he did not care to have anything to do with such adventures. By
all this it will be seen that Cecil’s strenuous efforts to combat the
Catholic league, which might lend to Mary Stuart a united support against
England, took the traditional form of drawing the House of Austria to the
side of England, and causing jealousy between France and Spain. He knew
that in the long-run national antipathies were stronger than religious
affinities, and that the Catholic league, which had been ineffectual
after the peace of Cateau-Cambresis (1559), could with time and industry
be broken again.[232]

But while Cecil approached Spain in order to divide her from France, he
never forgot that Philip was the champion of the Catholics throughout the
world, and kept his eyes on every movement which might forebode ill to
England. His spies in Flanders were daily sending reports of the rumours
there of King Philip’s attitude towards the resistance of the Flemish
nobles to the Inquisition; indeed, as Guzman writes to his master (29th
April): “These people have intelligence from everywhere, and are watching
religious affairs closely; but it is difficult to understand what they
are about, and with whom they correspond, as Cecil does it all himself,
and does not trust even his own secretary.”[233]

Cecil might well be vigilant, for Mary Stuart’s plots went on
unceasingly.[234] Sir Robert Melvil arrived in London in May, again
to discuss the question of the succession, and to ask Elizabeth to
stand sponsor for Mary’s expected child; but, greatly to Elizabeth’s
indignation, he brought amiable letters from the Scottish Queen to the
Earl of Northumberland and other English Catholic nobles; and whilst he
was in London, an emissary from Mary Stuart to the Pope passed through on
his return to Scotland with 20,000 crowns from the Pontiff, and a promise
of 4000 crowns a month to pay a thousand soldiers for her (Mary’s)
defence. An envoy, too, of the rebel Shan O’Neil was at the same time
lurking in Edinburgh, conferring with the Queen.

All this was known to Cecil and Elizabeth, and drove them ever nearer
to Spain and to the Archduke’s match, Leicester himself, probably out
of jealousy of Ormonde, who was vigorously flirting with the Queen, now
openly siding with the Austrian. Even Throgmorton was reconciled with
Cecil by the Earls of Pembroke and Leicester, who promised the Secretary
that Throgmorton should no longer thwart his policy.

On the 23rd June, Sir James Melvil arrived with breakneck speed in London
from Edinburgh, with news of the birth of Mary Stuart’s heir.[235] It was
late, but Sir Robert Melvil, the Ambassador, lost no time in conveying
the tidings to Cecil, whose own entry of the event in the Perpetual
Calendar at Hatfield runs thus: “1566, 19 June, was borne James at
Edinburgh inter horæ 10 et 11 matutino.” Cecil promised to keep the
news secret from the court until Mary’s own messenger could convey it
officially to the Queen. Elizabeth was at Greenwich at the time, and
when Cecil arrived she was “in great mirth dancing after supper.” Cecil
approached the Queen and whispered in her ear, and in a moment the
secret was out and all joy vanished. With a burst of envy, Elizabeth,
almost in tears, told her ladies that the Queen of Scots was mother of
a fair boy, whilst she, Elizabeth, was but a “barren stock.”[236] When
the Melvils saw her the next day she had recovered her composure, and
promised to send Cecil to Scotland to be present at the christening,
which embassy the Secretary with some difficulty evaded, “as there were
so many suspicions on both sides.”[237]

The Queen had suffered a serious illness early in the summer, which, with
the anxiety of her position, had reduced her to a very low condition.
It was decided that a progress should be undertaken for her health, in
which the University of Oxford could be visited, and Cecil be specially
honoured by a stay of the Queen at his house of Burghley. She left London
in July, and underwent an ordeal at Oxford similar to that which she had
experienced two years before at Cambridge. The vestments controversy was
raging with great bitterness, clergymen were deprived and punished for
contumacy, pulpit and press were silenced, and the Protestants resentful.
Cecil was firm, but diplomatic, and the Queen indignant that her laws
should be called into question. Under the circumstances it required great
tact on both sides to avoid any untoward event during the Queen’s visit
to Oxford, where the Puritan party was very strong. Leicester and Cecil
were both with the Queen, the former strongly favouring the Puritans, the
latter taking his stand on the Queen’s order for the discipline of the
Church. On the Queen’s reception, the Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Humphreys,
one of the leaders of the anti-vestment party, approached to kiss the
Queen’s hand. “Mr. Doctor,” said the Queen, smiling, “that loose gown
becomes you mighty well; I wonder your notions should be so narrow.”
Once, during the speech of the public orator, tender ground was touched,
but the visit passed over without further embittering an already bitter
controversy, and Leicester and Cecil, Puritan Knollys, Catholic Howard
of Effingham, and many others received the honorary degree of Master of

Cecil’s own entries in his journal of the period are meagre enough:—

“1566. June. Fulsharst, a foole, was suborned to speak slanderously of
me at Greenwich to the Queen’s Majesty; for which he was committed to

“June 16. A discord inter Com. Sussex et Leicester at Greenwych, ther
appeased by Her Majesty.

“August 3. The Queen’s Majesty was at Colly Weston, in Northamptonshire.

“August 5. The Queen’s Majesty at my house in Stamford.

“August 31. The Queen in progress went from Woodstock to Oxford.”

During the progress a disagreement between Cecil and Leicester took
place, as well as that mentioned between the latter and Sussex. The
communications between the Earl and the French were constant, and had
caused much heart-burning. The existence of a strong and active party
in the English court ostentatiously leaning to the French side, at a
time when Cecil’s whole policy depended upon keeping the good-will of
Spain, hampered him at every turn, and he wrote a letter to Sir Thomas
Hoby, privately instructing him to give out in France that Leicester’s
influence over the Queen had decreased, and that the French need not
court him so much as they did. When the letter arrived, Hoby, the
Ambassador, was dead, and it fell into other hands. Leicester heard of
it, and taxed Cecil, who retorted angrily.

Even in Cecil’s own house the intrigues against his policy continued. He
had sent Danett to the Emperor with the draft clauses of the proposed
marriage treaty with the Archduke, and the news from Vienna seemed to
confirm the best hopes of those who favoured the Austrian match. This,
of course, did not suit Leicester. Vulcob, the nephew of the new French
Ambassador, Bôchetel de la Forest, went to Stamford to carry his uncle’s
excuses for not coming earlier to see the Queen. As he was entering the
presence-chamber at Burghley, Leicester stopped him, and began talking
about the marriage. He hardly knew what to think, he said, but he was
sure that if the Queen ever did marry, she would choose no one but
himself for a husband. The Frenchman, no doubt, understood him. The
Archduke’s match was getting too promising, and must be checked by the
usual French move. So Vulcob took care when he saw the Queen to dwell
mainly upon the attractive physical qualities of the young King Charles
IX. Elizabeth was never tired of such a subject, and very soon the French
Ambassador was warmly intriguing to bring forward his master’s suit
again, as a counterpoise to the Austrian hopes, but really in Leicester’s
interests, whilst presents and loving messages came thick and fast from
France to Leicester and Throgmorton. The Emperor’s reply by Danett was,
after all, not so encouraging as Cecil and Sussex had been led to expect,
and Leicester’s hopes rose higher than ever. During the Queen’s progress
he arranged with his friends a scheme which seemed as if it would stop
the Archduke’s chances for ever. Parliament was to meet in October,
and the plan was to influence both Houses to press the Queen on the
questions of the succession and her marriage, “so that by this means the
Archduke’s business may be upset … and then he (Leicester) may treat of
his own affair at his leisure.” It was clear that any attempt on the part
of the Puritans and Leicester to force the Queen’s hands with regard to
the marriage whilst the delicate religious question was under discussion
with the Emperor, would put an end to the negotiations, and Cecil and
his friends strove their utmost to avoid such a result. They urged
Guzman again to persuade the Queen to the match; the Duke of Norfolk
came purposely to court with the same object, and for once Cecil himself
was willing, in appearance, to place the religious question in the
background. “Cecil,” writes Guzman, “desires this business so greatly,
that he does not speak about the religious point; but this may be deceit,
as his wife is of a contrary opinion, and thinks that great trouble may
be caused to the peace of the country through it. She has great influence
with her husband, and no doubt discusses the matter with him; but she
appears a much more furious heretic than he is.” Well might the Queen and
Cecil be apparently more anxious to sink religious differences than Lady
Cecil, for they probably knew how imminent the danger was better than she.

The Protestants in Flanders and Holland were in open revolt; and slow
Philip was collecting in Spain and Italy an overwhelming force by land
and sea, with which he himself was to come as the avenger of his injured
kingship, and crush the rising spirit of religious reform. If such an
army as his swept over and desolated his Netherlands, whither next might
it turn? For six years Elizabeth had kept Spain from harming her, out
of jealousy of France; but France was now more than half Guisan, and in
favour of Mary Stuart, and the Huguenots themselves had deserted England
when she was fighting their battle at Havre. No help, then, could be
expected from France if Spain attacked Elizabeth for her “heresy”; and
the Queen and her wise minister were fain to conciliate a foe they
were not powerful enough to face in the open. Elizabeth went beyond
the Spaniard himself in her violent denunciation of the insurgents in
the Netherlands. Their only aim, she said, was liberty against God and
princes. They had neither reason, virtue, nor religion. She excused
herself for having helped the French Huguenots, which she only did, she
said, to recover Calais. If the Netherlands rebels came to her for help,
she would show them how dearly she held the interests of her good brother
King Philip; “and she cursed subjects who did not recognise the mercy
that God had shown them in sending them a prince so clement and humane
as your Majesty.”[239] Cecil was not quite so extravagant as this, but
he missed no opportunity at so critical a juncture of drawing nearer to
Spain, and was even more compliant than ever before on the vexed subject
of the English right to trade in the Spanish Indies. “Cecil is well
disposed in this matter,” writes Guzman, “and I am not surprised that
the others are not, as they are interested. Cecil assures me that he has
always stood aloof from similar enterprises.”

In the meanwhile Leicester’s persistent efforts to hamper Cecil’s policy
were bearing fruit. With great difficulty Cecil persuaded the House of
Commons to vote the supplies before the question of the succession was
dealt with, but a free fight on the floor of the House preceded the vote.
The Queen was irritated beyond measure at the inopportune activity of the
extreme party about the succession. Sussex, the Spanish Ambassador, and
others of Catholic leanings, pointed out to her that if she married the
Archduke there would be an end of the trouble, and she need not then
think of any successor other than her own children. At length a joint
meeting of the two Houses adopted an address to the Queen, urging her
to appoint a successor if she did not intend to marry. When the address
was presented, her rage passed all decency.[240] The Duke of Norfolk,
her own kinsman, and the first subject of the realm, was insulted with
vulgar abuse, which well-nigh reduced him to tears. Leicester, Pembroke,
Northampton, and Howard were railed at and scolded in turn; only once did
she soften somewhat towards Leicester. She had thought, she said, that
if all the world had abandoned her, he would never do so. What do the
devils want? she asked Guzman. Oh! your Majesty, replied the Ambassador,
what they want is liberty, and if monarchs do not combine against it,
it is easy to see how it will all end. She would send the ungrateful
fellow Leicester away, she said, and the Archduke might now be without
suspicion. Gradually, as she calmed, her diplomacy asserted itself, and
cleverly, by alternations of threats and cajolery, she reduced Parliament
to the required condition of invertebrate dependence upon her will.[241]

All this, we may be sure, did not decrease the ill-feeling in the court,
which for the next six months became a hotbed of intrigue. On the one
side were Norfolk, Sussex, the Conservatives, and the Catholics, aided
by Guzman, and cautiously supported by Cecil and Bacon; whilst on the
other, Leicester, Throgmorton, Pembroke, Knollys, and the Puritans,
backed by the French Ambassador, ceaselessly endeavoured to check the
Austrian-Spanish friendship, and if possible, above all, to ruin Sussex
and prevent his embassy to the Emperor. That Leicester would stick at no
inconsistency is seen by the curious fact that, whilst he was nominally
heading the Puritan party, he, according to Melvil, was strenuously
favouring the claims of the Queen of Scots to the succession. He assured
Elizabeth that this would be her best safeguard, or “Cecil would undo
all,” the reason for this being that Cecil was known to be in favour of
Catharine Grey.

On the 14th February 1567, Cecil sent word to his friend Guzman that he
had just received secret advice of the murder of Darnley, of which he
gave some hasty particulars. The intelligence could hardly have come
as a surprise to the Spaniard, for a month previously he had informed
Philip that some such act was contemplated. Within a few hours of the
reception of the news in London, Leicester sent his brother, the Earl of
Warwick, to Catharine Grey’s husband, to offer him his services in the
matter of the succession. Five days afterwards Sir James Melvil came with
full particulars of the foul deed at Kirk o’ Field, and at once rumour
was busy with the name of Mary Stuart as an accomplice in her husband’s
death. Elizabeth expressed sorrow and compassion on the day she heard
the news, but rather doubtfully told Guzman “that she could not believe
that the Queen of Scots could be to blame for so dreadful a thing,
notwithstanding the murmurs of the people.” When Guzman, however, pointed
out to her how dangerous it would be for the opposite party (Catharine
Grey’s friends) to make capital out of the accusation, the Queen agreed
that it would be wise to discountenance it, and to keep friendly with
Mary Stuart, in order to prevent her from falling under French influence

In a letter from Cecil to Norris (20th February) he says: “The Queen
sent yesterday my Lady Howard and my wife to Lady Lennox, in the Tower,
to open this matter to her, who could not by any means be kept from such
passions of mind as the horribleness of the fact did require.… I hope
her Majesty will show some favourable compassion of the said lady, whom
any humane nature must needs pity.… The most suspicion that I can hear
is of Earl Bothwell, yet I would not be thought the author of any such
report.”[242] Lady Margaret, in her agony of grief, made no scruple at
first in accusing her daughter-in-law of complicity in the murder; but
the bereaved mother left the Tower on the following day, doubtless warned
of the unwisdom of saying what she thought. At least, when she saw Sir
James Melvil she told him, “She did not believe that Mary had been a
party to the death of her son, but she could not help complaining of her
bad treatment of him.” But whatever she might say, the spirits of the
Catholic party in England sank to zero at the black cloud which hovered
over their candidate. “Every day it becomes clearer that the Queen of
Scotland must take some step to prove that she had no hand in the death
of her husband if she is to prosper in her claims to the succession
here,”[243] wrote Guzman. Fortunately this book is not the place in
which to discuss the vexed question of Mary’s complicity in Darnley’s
death, but her contemporaries both in England and Scotland, as well as
abroad, certainly thought her guilty. Cecil, writing to Sir Henry Norris
in March, mentions the suspicions against Bothwell, Balfour, &c., and
says, “There are words added, which I am loth to report, that touch the
Queen of Scots, which I hold best to be suppressed. Further, such persons
anointed are not to be thought ill of without manifest proof.”[244]
And again, a few days afterwards, he says, “The Queen of Scots is not
well spoken of.” The entry of the event in Cecil’s journal makes no
mention of Mary. It runs thus: “Feb. 9. The L. Darnley, K. of Scots, was
killed and murdered near Edenburgh;” and on the following day the news
is amplified thus: “Feb. 10. _Hora secunda post mediam noctem Hen. Rex
Scotiæ interfectus fuit, per Jac Co. Bothwell, Jac Ormeston de Ormeston,
Hob Ormeston patrem dicti Jac Ormeston, Tho Hepbourn._”

Morette, the Duke of Savoy’s special envoy to Scotland, had left
Edinburgh the day after the murder, and on his way through London saw
Guzman. The Queen of Scots had assured Morette that she would avenge
her husband’s death, and punish the murderers, but he made no secret of
his belief that she had prior knowledge of the plan. Whilst Morette was
dining with Guzman and the French Ambassador, a French messenger named
Clerivault arrived at the house, bringing a letter from Mary to the
Queen of England, claiming her pity, and similar letters for Catharine
de Medici, the Archbishop of Glasgow, and others,[245] denouncing
the crime.[246] Mary, indeed, lost no time in endeavouring to put
herself right before the world. She offered rewards for the discovery
of the murderers; but when all fingers are pointed at Bothwell and his
creatures, when public placards were posted in the capital accusing them
and hinting at the Queen’s complicity, Mary still kept the principals
at her side, and made no move against their subaltern instruments. In
vain, for a time, the bereaved father Lennox demanded vengeance; in vain
Elizabeth, by Killigrew, sent indignant letters to Mary; in vain the
Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow exhorted her to prove her own innocence by
pursuing the offenders without mercy. Bothwell stood ever by her side,
and his clansmen cowed the murmuring citizens who looked with aversion
now upon their beautiful young Queen. At length, goaded to take some
action by the danger of losing the Catholic support, upon which alone
she had depended, she held the sham trial in the Edinburgh Tolbooth two
months after the crime. Lennox refused to attend the travesty of justice,
and Bothwell was unanimously acquitted. Murray had left the court before
the murder, and fled to France when the result of the trial was known.
Bothwell, loaded with favours, insolent with success, seemed to hold
Scotland and the Queen in the hollow of his hand. The nobles were mostly
bought or threatened into shameful compliance, and only the “preachers”
and the townsfolk kept alive the growing horror of the Queen. No longer,
even, did the humble peasant women hesitate, before Mary’s face, to make
their loyal blessing conditional upon her innocence.[247] What was
horrified doubt before became indignant reprobation when, only three
months after Darnley’s death, Mary married the hastily divorced Bothwell.
Then came the hurried flight in disguise towards Dunbar, the gathering of
the nobles, the flight of Bothwell at Carbery Hill, and the conveyance of
the disgraced Queen to Edinburgh. When nothing but vows of defiance and
vengeance against Bothwell’s enemies could be obtained from her, and it
was clear that the unfortunate woman was deaf to reason and decency, came
the crowning degradation of Lochleven, and Mary Stuart’s sun set to rise
no more.

To a short life of turbulent pleasure succeeded twenty years of plotting
against the peace and independence of England and the cause of religious
liberty. During that twenty years Cecil and his mistress were pitted
against one of the cleverest women in Europe, supported by all that was
discontented in England and Scotland, and all that was distinctively
Catholic abroad. In the critical position caused by the rising of the
Protestant Lords against Bothwell and the Queen, Cecil’s view diverged
somewhat from that of Elizabeth. The latter was naturally first concerned
at the want of respect shown on all sides to an anointed sovereign, which
subject was always a tender one with her; whereas the Secretary was still
anxious, before all else, to exclude French influence from Scotland.
Writing to Norris in France (26th June), he conveys the news of Mary’s
restraint, and at the same time encloses letters from Scotland recalling
Murray (then at Lyons), “the sending of which letters requireth great
haste, whereof you must not make the Scottish Ambassador privy.[248]… The
best part of the (Scots) nobility hath confederated themselves to follow,
by way of justice, the condemnation of Bothwell and his complices in the
murder of the King. Bothwell defends himself by the Queen’s maintenance
and the Hamiltons, so he hath some party, though it be not great. The
15th of this month he brought the Queen into the field with her power,
which was so small, as he escaped himself without fighting and left
the Queen in the field; and she yielded herself to the Lords, flatly
denying to grant justice against Bothwell, so as they have restrained
her in Lochleven until they come unto the end of their pursuit against
Bothwell.… Murray’s return into Scotland is much desired by them, and for
the weal both of England and Scotland I wish he were here. For his manner
of returning and safety, I pray require Mr. Stewart to have good care.…
The French Ambassador, and Villeroy, who is there (in Scotland), pretend
favour to the Lords, with great offers; and it may be that they may do
as much on the other side” (_i.e._ in France).[249] It was this last
possibility which so much disturbed Cecil, and it was to avert it that
Murray’s return was so ardently desired, for he was known always to be
opposed to the French influence in his country. In August, after Murray
had returned to Scotland (visiting Elizabeth at Windsor on his way home
at the end of July), Cecil wrote again to Norris: “You shall perceive
by the Queen’s letter to you herewith how earnestly she is bent in the
favour of the Queen of Scots; and truly since the beginning she hath been
greatly offended with the Lords in this action;[250] yet no counsel
can stay her Majesty from manifesting of her misliking of them; _so as,
indeed, I think thereby the French may, and will, easily catch them_,
and make their present profit of them, to the damage of England. In this
behalf her Majesty had no small misliking of that book which you sent me
written in French, whose (author’s) name yet I know not; but, howsoever,
I think him of great wit and acquaintance in the affairs of the world. It
is not in my power to procure any reward, and therefore you must so use
the matter as he neither be discouraged nor think unkindness in me.”[251]

How much Cecil dreaded renewed French interference in Scotland is seen at
this time by his ever-growing cordiality towards Spain. An acrimonious
discussion was going on, both in London and in Paris, with regard to
the restoration of Calais to England, which was now due by the treaty
of Cateau-Cambresis. Cecil and the Queen were both emphatic in their
condemnation of the Protestant risings in the Spanish Netherlands, though
French agents kept whispering to Guzman that help was being sent thither
by England. The union between Cecil and the Spaniard was nevertheless
closer than ever. The latter, in March, secretly told Cecil that the King
of France was sending De Croc to Scotland,[252] and that there seemed to
be some mystery brewing in that quarter. The Secretary replied that he
knew it; they had a plot to steal the Prince of Scotland and take him to
France, but that steps had been taken to prevent such a thing. Guzman
thereupon urged the Queen of England to have the infant Prince brought to
England, Mary having told Killigrew that she was willing that this should
be done.[253] Indeed, at this time Cecil’s perseverance had quite won
Spanish sympathy, and had widened the rift in the Catholic league, as was
necessary for England’s safety, Guzman being if anything more eager than
Cecil to checkmate the intrigues of the French in Scotland.

The efforts on the other side were just as incessant to divide Spain from
England, and more than once at this period caused temporary estrangement
between them. In June a somewhat unexpected embassy came from the
Emperor, with the object of asking Elizabeth for monetary aid against
the Turk. The principal Ambassador, Stolberg, was a Protestant, and the
Queen immediately jumped at the incorrect conclusion that he had come
to arrange for the wedding of the Archduke. Before even he arrived in
London, Stolberg had been persuaded that a great Catholic league had
been formed, including his own sovereign the Emperor, with the object
of crushing Elizabeth and rooting out Protestantism from Europe; and
when, at his formal reception at Richmond,[254] the Queen gave Stolberg
an unfavourable reply to his request for aid against the Turk, Cecil
took Guzman, who accompanied him, aside and told him that the Queen and
Council had learned the particulars of a league of the Catholic powers
against Elizabeth and the Protestants,[255] in favour of the Queen of
Scots. The better to effect the object, he said, the Emperor had made
a disadvantageous truce with the Turk, whereat the English Council was
much scandalised, and was determined to make all necessary preparations,
this being the reason why the Queen had answered the Ambassador so
unfavourably.[256] Guzman was shocked that so sensible a person as Cecil
should believe such nonsense. Probably Cecil knew as well as Guzman
that the league was dead, so far as united action against England was
concerned; but such attempts as this, to serve French ends by arousing
jealousy between Spain and England, were constant, and occasionally, as
in this instance, aroused some distrust on one side or the other.[257]

As soon as the detention of Mary Stuart was known by the French
Government an attempt was made to gain Murray to the side of France, in
order to obtain possession of the infant Prince. Murray delayed pledging
himself until he received the letters from the Lords and from Cecil,
already referred to. He then started with all haste for Scotland, taking
London on the way. Whilst in London at the end of July he saw Guzman,
and told him as a secret that he had not even communicated to Elizabeth,
that a letter existed which proved conclusively the guilt of his sister
in the murder of her husband.[258] It was evident thus early that Murray,
whilst expressing sympathy for his sister, and deprecating generally
any derogation of the dignity of a sovereign, was determined that Mary
Stuart should do no more harm to Protestantism or the relationship
between Scotland and England, if he could help it. “He said he would do
his best to find some means by which she should remain Queen, but without
sufficient liberty to do them any harm, or marry against the will of her
Council and Parliament.”[259] It is evident, from a letter from Cecil to
Norris, that Murray arranged with the former when in England to assume
the Regency of Scotland on his arrival, although not without misgiving on
the part of Elizabeth, even if she personally was a consenting party to
the arrangement. Murray, writing a friendly letter to Cecil early in 1568
(Hatfield Papers), mentions that a report had reached him that Cecil had
been told that he (Murray) was offended because Sir William in his first
letter had not addressed him as Regent. Murray assures him that this was
not the case, and begs him not to allow any such thought to disturb their
friendship, “the amity of the two countries being the great object of
both … although the Queen, your mistress, outwardly seems not altogether
to allow the present state here, yet I doubt not but her Highness in
heart liketh it well enough.” Elizabeth was at the time divided between
two feelings: that of indignation at any restraint being placed upon a
sovereign by subjects, and the knowledge that the imprisonment of Mary
meant the disablement of the only individual whom England had to fear.
Cecil was fully alive to the latter fact, whilst the former was to him
of quite secondary importance when compared with the national issues

When the news came of Mary’s renunciation and the crowning of the infant
James, the Lords wrote to Elizabeth, saying that either she must protect
them, or they must accept a French alliance; and she was then obliged
to prefer the interests of England to her reverence for the sacredness
of a sovereign. Guzman thus tells the story: “The Queen told me she did
not know what was best to be done, and asked my opinion, pointing out to
me the inexpediency of showing favour to so bad an example, and, on the
other hand, the danger to her of a new alliance of these people with the
French … I think I see more inclination on her part to aid them (the
Scots) than the case at present demands, as I gave her many reasons for
delay, whilst she still insisted that it was necessary to act at once.”
The next day (August 9) the tone of the Queen had somewhat changed. She
would, she said, recall Throgmorton from Scotland, as it was beneath her
dignity to have an Ambassador accredited to a sovereign in duress,[260]
and she would refuse her protection and aid to the Lords. The reason
for this perhaps was that “the letter she writes to Throgmorton is very
short. I have seen it, though I could not read it. It was in the hands
of Lord Robert (_i.e._ Leicester), who dictated it, and he carried it to
the Queen for signature in my presence, _Cecil not being present_.”[261]
Cecil, indeed, at this juncture had to proceed with great caution, and,
as usual, by indirect and devious ways. Leicester, Pembroke, and their
friends had now (August), as Guzman says, “no rivals, as Secretary Cecil
proceeds respectfully, and the rest who might support him are absent. He
knows well, however, that he is more diligent than they, and so keeps his

In the meanwhile the Catholics in England were allowed almost perfect
immunity, whilst, on the other hand, strong land and sea forces were
mustered, as a counterbalance to the great army to be led into Flanders
by Alba. The closest friendship existed between the Spaniards and Cecil,
who was never tired of assuring Guzman that Hawkins’ great expedition,
then on the coast bound for Guinea, should under no circumstances do
anything prejudicial in any of the territories of the King of Spain;
notwithstanding which, and the fact that Philip’s Flemish fleet had just
been effusively welcomed at Dover, John Hawkins himself, when the same
fleet put into Plymouth, fired a few cannon shots at the flagship, and
banged away until the Spanish flag was hauled down, to the unspeakable
indignation of the Flemish admiral.

Things were in this condition in the autumn of 1567, all Europe being on
the alert watching the gathering of the storm over the Netherlands. So
long as there was any danger of French interference in Scotland, or of
the Catholic powers taking up the cause of Mary Stuart, Elizabeth, and
more especially Cecil, drew closer to Spain and the Catholic party in
England. But events moved quickly, and the whole aspect changed within a
few weeks. Almost simultaneously, in September 1567, came from different
quarters two preliminary thunderclaps that announced the tempest. The
advent of Alba in the Netherlands on his mission of vengeance had sent
affrighted fugitives flying in swarms across the narrow seas to England;
but when, on the 9th September, after the treacherous dinner-party in
Brussels, the two highest heads in Flanders, Egmont and Horn, were struck
at, and the bearers lodged in jail, all the world knew that the great
struggle had begun between liberty and Protestantism on the one side,
and tyranny and Catholicism on the other. Thanks mainly to Elizabeth
and Cecil, it was not to be fought out on British soil. Only a few weeks
afterwards came the news of Condé’s attempt to seize the young King of
France and his mother, and to rescue them from the influence of Cardinal
Lorraine. The attempt failed, but soon all France was ablaze with civil
war, for the Protestant worm at last had turned. Betrayed, as they had
been before, and face to face now with foreign mercenaries hurried into
France to suppress them, the convinced Huguenots decided to stand by
their faith, and fight to the death for liberty to exercise it, let
the “politicians” do what they might. The two events happening almost
together, whilst Mary Stuart was in prison under a cloud, and the rebel
Shan O’Neil in Ireland had finally fallen, at once relieved England of
all danger from without, unless the Catholic party was irresistibly
triumphant both in France and Flanders. The best way to prevent that was
to support those who were in arms against it, and the policy of Elizabeth
and Cecil was again cautiously changed accordingly.

As soon as the Queen received from Norris news of Condé’s rising, she
sent for Bôchetel, the French Ambassador, and ostentatiously condoled
with him for the disrespect shown to his sovereign. She rather overdid
the pity, and suggested that she should arbitrate between the King
and the Huguenots, but would take care that no help was given to the
latter from England. Bôchetel dryly thanked her for the assurance that
she would not help rebels _again_, but said that his King was quite
able to deal with his subjects without her assistance. Here, as in the
case of Mary Stuart, Elizabeth’s first feeling was indignation at any
disrespect being shown to a sovereign; but Cecil’s letter to Norris at
the time (November 3, 1567) shows that he and his friends looked at the
matter from another point of view,[262] which Elizabeth herself shortly
afterwards adopted, as she had done in the case of the Queen of Scots. In
the meanwhile the Council became daily more outspoken in favour of the
Huguenots. Messages of encouragement went speeding across the Channel
to Coligny, to Montgomerie, and the rest of the Huguenot leaders. Cecil
himself took Archbishop Parker to task for his leniency to Bishop Thirlby
and Dr. Boxall, who were in his custody for recusancy; and at the end of
November the official blindness as to people attending mass in London
came to an end. The English people who had worshipped undisturbed in the
Spanish Ambassador’s chapel were suddenly arrested, and many of them
sent to prison.[263] On the same day Cecil complained to Guzman that he
had promoted the breaking of the law by persuading Englishmen to attend
mass, and repeated other sinister reports about him. The Spaniard denied
the charges, and warned Cecil that, although his present attitude might
be prompted by patriotic motives, it was a dangerous one, “and that
some people were casting the responsibility upon him (Cecil), for the
purpose of making him unpopular.” Cecil, apparently, was not afraid of
this, for he had strained the loyalty of his friends almost to breaking
limits lately by the severity exercised against the anti-vestment divines
and his approaches to Spain, and doubtless welcomed the change in the
political position which allowed him to enforce uniformity upon Catholics
as well as upon his own co-religionists. There was a talk of expelling
all Catholics from the Queen’s household, and Bacon, the Chancellor,
made a speech in the Star Chamber directing the judges and officials
to put into renewed force and press vigorously, the laws against the
possession of books attacking the Protestant faith. “What most troubles
the Catholics, however,” writes Guzman, “is to see that Leicester has
become much more confirmed in his heresy, and is followed by the Earl of
Pembroke, who had been considered a Catholic. There is nobody now on the
Catholic side in the Council.”

The hollow negotiations, too, for the Archduke’s marriage, carried on
by honest Sussex in Vienna, were politely shelved; and the political
pretence which Elizabeth and Cecil had kept up for so long, of a leaning
towards the Catholic side, could safely be discarded until the renewed
liability of England to attack from without might again call for its
resumption. So far the Queen and her minister had dissembled to good
purpose, for the great struggle for the faith had been diverted from
England to the Continent, and the monarchs of France and Spain were both
busy in suppressing the religious revolts of their own subjects.

Norris in France, and Cecil’s agents in Spain and Flanders, continued
to send home alarming news of the intentions of Philip and the Guises
against England. The stories were untrue, but coming from so many
quarters at the same time, were evidently not invented by the senders.
They were in fact set afloat by Philip, as a means of keeping England
in a state of apprehension, and so preventing her from sending overt
aid to the Protestants in Flanders and France. To some extent they were
successful in frightening Elizabeth, evidently to Cecil’s annoyance, for
the Secretary at least had taken Philip’s measure, and knew that his
hands were full. In a letter to Lord Cobham, written in April 1568, Cecil
gives expression to this feeling in the figurative language which he was
in the habit of employing. Cobham, as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports,
had forwarded a secret proposal of some Frenchmen in Calais to seize
that citadel and deliver it to the Huguenots to be held for Elizabeth.
The Queen was alarmed at the boldness of the plan, but promised that she
would consider it if the King of France refused her offered mediation
between him and the Huguenots. Cecil writes thereupon: “It grieveth me
to hold and follow the plough where the owner of the ground forbears
to cast in the seed in seasonable time, and I am all the more grieved
that your Lordship is in like manner discouraged. ‘_Moremus sepe sed
nihil promoremus._’ But besides the plough your Lordship follows, we
are occupied with another, meaning to join both together for surety, but
still I despair of seed.”[264]

In the meanwhile, though Elizabeth herself was still overshadowed by
the traditional might of Spain, the English Catholics were feeling, by
the increased severity exercised towards them, the changed political
situation. The English minister, and in her stronger moments the English
Queen, were speaking more firmly now than ever they had dared to do since
Elizabeth’s accession. For the first time the position was becoming
defined. It was no longer France or Spain nationally that was the enemy
of England: it was Catholic against Protestant the world over. Philip
was as nervously anxious to avoid war as Elizabeth herself, and his need
to do so much greater than hers; but if Protestantism was allowed to
become strong, then his great empire must crumble, and the basis of his
system disappear. His own slow stolidity had been in a great measure the
cause of his finding himself in so unfavourable a tactical position, for
he had allowed the champions of the autonomous rights of his Flemish
dominions—rights which at first he might easily have conciliated with his
own sovereignty—to obtain for their cause the immense added impetus of
religious reform. It was this fact which had changed the situation; and
it was accentuated in England by the activity of the Pope (Pius V.) in
establishing English seminaries abroad, and by means of money and busy
agents in England itself, raising the spirits of those who clung to the
old faith.[265]

The answer to the effervescence thus caused amongst the Catholics was the
renewed harshness against them by the English ministers and the rising
aggressiveness of the Protestants. Late in February 1568, Cecil sent word
to Guzman, with whom he was still ostensibly on friendly terms, to say
that the Queen had learnt casually that the English Ambassador in Madrid
(Dr. Man) was not allowed to hold Protestant service in the embassy.
She was surprised at this, and had sent to the Ambassador orders to
demand the same rights as were accorded to Guzman in England; if these
were denied she would recall him. Cecil himself was more outspoken and
indignant than usual, and much more so than the Queen. “They think, no
doubt, that the present troubles in France and elsewhere,” writes Guzman,
“give them a good opportunity of gaining ground, their own affairs being
favourable; so they have begun to look out more keenly, and to trouble
the Catholics, summoning some and arresting others, and warning them to
obey the present laws … they (the Council) soon change her (the Queen),
and all their efforts are directed at making her shy of me.”[266]
Guzman’s messenger to Madrid travelled more quickly than Cecil’s, and
before Dr. Man could demand his right to enjoy Protestant service, he was
unceremoniously hustled out of Madrid, without obtaining audience of the
King, the pretext being that he had in public conversation at his own
table insulted the Catholic faith.[267] Though Philip took this strong
course, he was as anxious as ever to avoid an open quarrel with England
about that or anything else, and sent all sorts of conciliatory messages
to the Queen. Dr. Man, he said, had behaved himself so outrageously that
his further stay in Spain was impossible; but if another Ambassador were
sent who would act as English Ambassadors always had done, he should be
received with open arms.

The news arrived in London at a bad time. A Portuguese Ambassador had
just come (May 1568) to complain—“brawling,” as Cecil calls it—of the
Hawkins expeditions to Guinea. He went to the audience with Guzman, and
found the Queen in a towering rage about a scurrilous letter referring
to her, written by the Cardinal Prince Dom Henrique. Cecil had obtained
possession of the letter somehow, and produced it, saying that the
presumption of the Portuguese was insufferable and made them hated by
all nations. The matter of the letter quite overshadowed the grievance
about trade, as it no doubt was intended to do, and the Portuguese got no
redress. On the contrary, Cecil called to him some Spanish residents in
London who accompanied the Ambassador to Whitehall, and warned them that
they might not attend mass at the embassy. What! not foreigners? asked
Antonio de Guaras. No, retorted Cecil, and turned his back upon them to
rejoin the Queen. The next day when Cecil saw Guzman, he complained of
Alba’s severity in Flanders, and of some insulting reference to Elizabeth
in the “Pontifical History” of Dr. Illescas, so that when Dr. Man’s
letter arrived immediately afterwards announcing his practical expulsion
from Spain, everything was prepared for an explosion. The Queen received
the news with some alarm as to what it might portend, and was at first
inclined to be conciliatory; but when Guzman visited Cecil in the Strand
two or three days afterwards, he found the Secretary in a fit of anger
unusual with him. Such treatment of an Ambassador, he said, was an
unheard-of insult to his mistress, unless it was meant as a provocation
to war. After storming for some time, he stopped for want of breath;
and it needed all Guzman’s suavity to calm him. “I waited a little for
him to recover from his rage, and then went up to him, laughing, and
embraced him, saying that I was amused to see him fly into such a passion
over what I had told him, because I knew that he understood differently.
The affair, I said, might be made good or bad as the Queen liked to
make it.”[268] But Cecil was not easily appeased. He told Guzman that
the Council regarded him with suspicion, that Englishmen were treated
harshly in Spain, and much more to the same effect, all of which was very
surprising to the Spaniard, who was unused to such plain speaking from
him. But in the ten years that Elizabeth had sat upon the throne, things
had radically changed. Cecil could afford to speak boldly to Spain now;
for whilst England had grown enormously in wealth, commerce, industry,
and shipping, under a prudent, patriotic Government, both the great
rivals she formerly feared were rent by the religious schism which the
folly or ambition of their rulers had precipitated upon them, and England
at any given moment could paralyse either of them for harm by smiling
upon their Protestant subjects.

Whilst Mary was in Lochleven Castle, Murray’s enemies, the Hamiltons
and the Catholics, were busy. Murray had tried his best by severity to
reduce the country to something approaching order, and the turbulent
chiefs who profited by anarchy resented it. The compromising papers
which implicated the ruling powers in the late deeds of murder and
violence were burnt, though not those that implicated the Queen,[269]
and the whole of the responsibility was cast upon the Queen and Bothwell.
Religious uniformity was passed by Parliament, and the exercise of
Catholic worship abolished. All this violent action, too rapid and too
partial to be readily assimilated by a country so profoundly divided as
Scotland was, naturally caused reaction in favour of Mary, and when after
one unsuccessful attempt she escaped from prison (2nd May), there were
friends in plenty to flock to her banner. The day before her flight she
had written the fervent prayer to Elizabeth, swearing unchanging fidelity
to her if she would send her help[270]—help for which she had besought
Catharine de Medici in vain; for France wanted the alliance of Scotland,
not that of Mary Stuart personally. The day after, when Mary, surrounded
by Hamiltons, was free again, the possibilities were all changed. Mary
Stuart turned in a few hours from the humble suppliant to the haughty
sovereign. Her abdication was revoked, Murray’s regency declared illegal,
and all his acts annulled. Beton was sent off post-haste to London and
Paris to demand for his mistress a thousand harquebussiers and a sum of
money. Beton’s instructions were to tell the English Government that if
they would not send the help, he was to demand it from the French. Cecil
writes to Norris,[271] 16th May, that under these circumstances the Queen
had promised all that Mary demanded; but he was to keep his eye on Beton,
and if he asked for French aid, Catharine was to be told the message he
brought from Mary to London. Before Beton left London he went to see
Guzman with a verbal message from Mary. Now that she was free, she said,
she would show the world how innocent she was, and begged for the advice
and help of Guzman and his master. She was a firmer Catholic than ever,
she averred; nearly all the people and nobles of Scotland were on her
side; but she complained that she was in the field without proper garb or
adornments, and begged Guzman to send a request to the Duke of Alba to
seize her jewels and restore them to her, if Murray sent them to Flanders
for sale.[272]

This was on the 11th May. Two days afterwards the result of the battle
of Langside once more cast the unhappy Mary Stuart into the chasm of
irredeemable misfortune, and on the 16th she fled across the Solway a
fugitive to England, to see her country no more in life. Such a step
as this was tempting fate. It is true that Elizabeth had constantly
professed sympathy for her in her captivity; but whilst the English
Queen’s words were fair, the acts of her Government, dictated not by
personal motives, such as the friends of Mary have absurdly tried to fix
upon Cecil, but by high national policy, had been uniformly in favour
of Murray and the Protestants. Mary’s attitude, moreover, had from the
first, and not unnaturally, been favourable to the French alliance, upon
which for centuries Scotland had depended for the preservation of its
independence; and to place herself thus unconditionally at the mercy of
the English, whose policy she had opposed and whose interests she sought
to subvert, was little short of an act of madness. Mary had no excuse for
trusting to a Quixotic generosity, of which Elizabeth had never given her
the slightest indication beyond conventional fine words, such as would
hardly deceive Mary. It was not so much that she overrated her generosity
as she underrated her boldness.

Drury in Berwick had kept Cecil informed almost from hour to hour of
the course of events in Scotland;[273] and a few hours only after Mary
landed at Workington she wrote her famous and oft-quoted letter to the
English Queen. In it she recites her sorrows, and begs Elizabeth to aid
her in her just quarrel; but, above all, to send for her as soon as
possible, “for I am in a pitiable condition, not only for a Queen but
a gentlewoman.”[274] The position was a difficult one for the English
Queen and Council. Guzman says they were much perplexed, “as the Queen
has always shown good-will to the Queen of Scots, and the majority of
the Council has been opposed to her, and favourable to the Regent and
his government. If this Queen has her way, they will have to treat Mary
as a sovereign, which will offend those who forced her to abdicate; so
that although these folks are glad enough to have her in their hands,
they have many things to consider … if she remain free, and able to
communicate with her friends, great suspicions will arise. In any case it
is certain that the two women will not agree very long together.”[275]

When Mary had arrived at Carlisle a few days afterwards, she sent Lord
Herries to London with a letter for Cecil, which may be given in full.
Mary’s letters were always clever, unless she lost her temper, as she
did sometimes, and here it will be seen that she appeals to positively
the only feeling which it was probable would move Cecil to favour her,
namely, her kinship to his mistress and her regal status. “Mester
Ceciles,” runs the letter, “L’équité, dont vous avvez le nom d’estre
amateur, et la fidelle et sincère servitude que portez a la Royne,
Madame ma bonne sœur, et par consequent a toutes celles qui sont de son
sang, et en pareille dignité, me fayt en ma juste querele, par sur tous
autres m’adresser a vous en ce temps de mon trouble pour etre avancée
par votre bon conseille, que j’ai commandé Lord Heris, presant porteur
vous fayre entandre au long.… De Karlile ce xxviii Mey. Votre bien bonne
amye Marie R.”[276] With this letter Herries brought others for the
Pope and Guzman. He demanded aid for his mistress on a pledge sent to
her by Elizabeth through Throgmorton in the form of a ring, and when
some hesitation was shown, he imprudently blurted out that if Elizabeth
did not keep her word his mistress would appeal to France, Spain, the
Emperor, and the Pope. “The Pope!” exclaimed puritan Bedford, shocked
at the idea. “Yes, the Pope,” replied Herries, “or the Grand Turk, or
the Sophi, or any one else who will help her.” This sort of talk was
sufficient to decide Mary’s removal to Bolton as a measure of precaution.

Before this took place, however, Lord Scrope and Sir Francis Knollys had
been deputed by Elizabeth to visit and confer with Mary at Carlisle.
Herries on that occasion had said that if the English would not help
his Queen, she wished to go to France; “whereupon,” writes Knollys, we
“answered that your Highness could in no wise lyke hyr sekyng aide in
France, therbie to bring Frenchmen into Skotland;” and, continued the
envoys, the Queen of England could not receive her personally until she
was satisfied of her innocence in the murder of her husband. Mary was
just as imprudent as Herries in her interview with the English envoys;
but what frightened Knollys most was the large number of her English
sympathisers in the north of England. In his letter to Elizabeth he
points out the danger of the situation, and suggests that Mary should
have the choice of freely returning to Scotland, if she chose, or of
remaining in England; but not of going to France, as she evidently wished
to do. “She was so agile and spirited,” says Knollys, that she could only
be kept a prisoner so near the Border by very rigorous means, such as
“devices of towels and toyes at her chamber window”; whereas to carry her
farther inland might cause “serious sedition.”

Elizabeth and her Council decided to run the latter risk rather than
that Mary should go to France to be a permanent thorn in the flesh of
England, and the Queen of Scots’ long imprisonment commenced.[277] Even
in the first few weeks of her stay she was busy endeavouring to subvert
English ends; appointing Chatelherault, Argyll, and Huntly to the supreme
government of the kingdom against Murray; Chatelherault being strongly
in the French interest, and daily clamouring through his brother in
Paris for French armed support. All this was known to the Queen and
Cecil; and Mary’s intemperate letters of protest against her removal
from Carlisle, and her constant threats to appeal to France and Spain
if Elizabeth would not help her,[278] made it altogether inconsistent
with prudence to allow the misguided woman her liberty. The investigation
into Mary’s guilt or innocence seems to have originated with Cecil.[279]
Left to herself, Elizabeth, as we have seen, was mainly influenced by the
personal feeling of reverence for a sovereign: Cecil could not oppose
this, and as usual took an indirect means of reaching his end. When Mary
complained to Knollys at Carlisle of the subjects who had dethroned
her, he had told her that as it was lawful for subjects to depose mad
sovereigns, it was also lawful for them to depose those who had lost
their wits to the extent of conniving at murder. Mary wept at this,
and Knollys softened the blow; but Knollys had certainly seen Cecil’s
report, and took the line suggested by it. If Mary could be shown to have
connived at Darnley’s death—and Cecil must have known of the damning
proofs against her when he proposed the negotiation—the regal immunity
fell from her like a loosened garment, and Elizabeth’s personal desire
to consider the sacredness of the monarch before the interests of the
country lost its principal resting point.

In the meanwhile the state of civil war in Scotland continued, and
news came daily of French armaments preparing to aid Mary’s party.
Cecil ceaselessly urged an armistice, and at last (1st September) was
successful, though imprudent Herries continued to threaten that if
Elizabeth did not restore the Queen of Scots to the throne in two months,
she and her friends would appeal only to France for armed aid. Elizabeth
clearly could not force Mary upon the Scottish people, and for her
interference to be effective she must be recognised as a mediator, not
by Mary alone, but also by Murray and his party. This was difficult; for
Murray knew that if the final result was to restore Mary with any power
at all, he and his party sooner or later were doomed. Thanks mainly to
the efforts of Cecil, Murray at last gave way, and the commissions of
Scotch and English Councillors were sent to York, ostensibly to mediate
between the Queen of Scots and her subjects. But Mary found herself no
longer, as she had hoped to be, the accuser of Murray, but practically on
her own trial for murder. By a remark in a letter from Cecil to Norris
at the time, he seems again with some difficulty to have avoided being
appointed a commissioner himself.

Whilst the intricate and obscure proceedings in York[280] were
progressing, Cecil’s hands were full in London. Protestant zeal was
fairly aflame now at Alba’s proceedings in the Netherlands. All eastern
England swarmed with Flemish fugitives, many of whom found their way back
home again well armed with weapons bought in England, and even more with
messages of indignant sympathy from English Protestants. Guzman protested
to Cecil again and again, but could get no more than vague half promises,
and once a proclamation, which the Spaniards described as a “compliment
rather than a remedy.”

In September the mild and diplomatic Guzman was withdrawn, much to
Elizabeth’s apprehension, and Cecil’s regret, and an Ambassador of very
different calibre was sent. For many years the warlike party in Philip’s
councils, led by Alba, had been urging him to active hostility towards
England, but the peace party of Ruy Gomez had prevented the advice
from being adopted. Now that Alba was supreme in the Netherlands, and
reported that the Protestant revolt was mainly fed from England, Philip
seems to have decided to alarm Elizabeth into neutrality by sending
a rough-tongued representative. He had felt his ground first by his
contemptuous treatment of Dr. Man, and seeing that Elizabeth had taken
it quietly, he sent as his new Ambassador a turbulent bigoted Catalan,
named Gerau de Spes, to endeavour by truculence to do what the suavity
of Guzman had failed to effect. Dutch, Huguenot, and English privateers
were preying upon Spanish shipping, to an extent which well-nigh cut
off communication by sea between Spain and northern Europe. Money and
arms, unchecked, found their way from England to the brave “beggars” in
Holland; and though Philip did not wish to fight England, it was vital
for him to paralyse her for harm. Mary Stuart had written to Philip from
Carlisle, begging him for help against Elizabeth, and the chance seemed
to Philip a good one to disturb England for his own ends, without war.
He accordingly wrote cautiously to Alba (15th September), saying that
he was willing to help Mary, but desired Alba to report upon what might
be done to that end, whilst sending reassuring promises to the Queen of
Scots.[281] From the first hour that De Spes set foot in England, he went
beyond his instructions and conspired actively against the Government to
which he was accredited.

There was more even than this untoward change to occupy the thoughts
and hands of Elizabeth’s first minister. The war had raged in France
between the Huguenots and the Catholics from September 1567 till the
clever management of Catharine had beguiled the Protestants to accept the
hollow peace of Longjumeau (March 1568). Hans Casimir and his mercenary
Germans went home; the Huguenots laid down their arms; and then again the
Catholic pulpits thundered forth that it was godly to break faith with
heretics, and that the blood shed of unbelievers sent up sweet incense
to heaven. Nearly 10,000 Huguenots were treacherously slain in three
months, and no punishment could be obtained against the murderers. Condé
and Coligny fled to the stronghold of La Rochelle, there to be joined by
the Queen of Navarre with 4000 men-at-arms, and all that was strong and
warlike on the side of the Huguenots. Elizabeth in the autumn was making
a progress through the valley of the Thames when she heard that Cardinal
Chatillon[282] had escaped from Tréport, and had arrived in England and
desired an audience. Lord Cobham, Warden of the Cinque Ports, made much
of him when he landed; Gresham entertained him; the French Ambassador,
himself inclined to be a Huguenot, honoured him as if he were a prince;
and as soon as the Queen’s answer was received, Chatillon hurried down
to Newbury to prefer his request to the Queen. He looked little of a
cardinal or a churchman, for he dressed in cape, hat, and sword, and
his wife joined him, but that perhaps made him all the more welcome.
Throgmorton voices the general idea in a letter to Cecil. “I think,” he
says, “with you, that it is a special favour of God to preserve this
realm from calamities by their neighbours’ troubles.… If her Majesty
suffer the Low Countries and France to be weeded of the members of the
Church whereof England is also a portion, I see no other thing can happen
but a more grievous accident to us than to those whom we have suffered to
be destroyed.”[283]

But it is quite clear that neither the Queen nor Cecil intended to
allow the Huguenots to be destroyed. The Cardinal was received with
open arms, munitions were brought from the Tower in hot haste, and a
strong fleet was fitted out to carry aid to Huguenots in Rochelle. The
French Ambassador might be half a Huguenot, but his brother the Bishop
of Rennes was not, and he came and protested strongly in the name of
Catharine against Chatillon’s reception in England. Cecil tells Norris
in Paris that he got a very short answer. “I told him,” says Cecil, “we
had more cause to favour him (Chatillon) and all such, because the said
Cardinal Lorraine was known to be an open enemy of our sovereign. So he
departed with no small misliking, and I well contented to utter some
round speeches.”[284] But, prudent as usual, Cecil was a stickler for
legality, and took care that appearances were kept up. The Cardinal, he
insisted, was a faithful subject of his King; it was the Guises who were
the enemies. Norris is directed to tell Catharine that the fleet is “to
protect our Burdeaux fleet from pyrats”; and if any complaint is made
about money and munitions of war being provided for Chatillon, he is
to say that the Queen would never do anything against the French King,
but if English merchants made bargains with the Huguenots, he (Cecil)
knew of no way to stop it. He certainly made no attempt to do so; for
with a great civil war on hand it was clear that France could not resort
to arms for the cause of Mary Stuart; and whilst mediatory proceedings
were dragging on in England, the Protestant cause in Scotland was being

The unhappy Queen of Scots herself, persuaded that no help could just now
reach her from her French kinsmen, seems to have depended almost entirely
upon the aid to be given by the King of Spain and Alba to the Scottish
Catholics. No messenger came from her to London without beseeching
secret letters in cipher to the Spanish Ambassador; and whilst the trial
dragged on, she left no stone unturned to arouse indignation against
Murray and the English. They wished to kill her child, she said, and
force the reformed faith upon her and Scotland. In an intercepted letter
to one of the Hamiltons, which fell into Cecil’s hands,[285] she says
that Dumbarton, with Murray’s consent, was to be seized by the English.
Elizabeth had, she averred, promised to sustain Murray, to recognise his
legitimacy, and raise him to the throne as her vassal; both of these
being accusations which were likely to move the Hamiltons to fury. But,
above all, she accused Cecil of a deeper plot still. He had arranged,
she said, to marry one of his daughters to the Earl of Hertford, father
of Catharine Grey’s young heir, and thus, by mutual support, Hertford’s
son and Murray might occupy respectively the English and Scottish thrones
under Cecil’s tutelage. “So they will both be bent on my son’s death.”
There was no truth in it; but it was an excellent invention to arouse the
ire of the Scottish Catholics. Before even this was written (December),
Cecil knew how bitter was Mary’s feeling against him. When Beton came to
London from Mary in October, with secret messages for De Spes, suggesting
her escape, “which will not be difficult, or even to raise a revolt
against this Queen,” Cecil guessed his real errand, and, says De Spes,
“Cecil is so much against the Queen of Scotland, and so jealous in the
matter, that as soon as he saw Beton he asked him whether he had been
with his complaints to the Spanish Ambassador, and whether he came to see
me often; to which Beton replied that he had no dealings whatever with

But Cecil’s spies were everywhere, and he knew that De Spes was working
ceaselessly in Mary’s interests to bring disaster upon England, in union
with his chief, the Duke of Alba, in Flanders. The great difficulty
in the way of the Spaniards was the extreme penury of the treasury.
Spain was in the very depths of poverty, its commerce well-nigh killed
by unwise fiscal arrangements and the depredations of the privateers,
against whom De Spes inveighed to Cecil constantly, but in vain, though
the Secretary was strongly against piracy on principle. Flanders
desolated with war, Holland and Zeeland in revolt, were no longer the
milch-cows for the Spaniards that they had been, and Alba, with an
unpaid and rebellious soldiery, was in despair of subduing Orange, much
less of crushing England, unless large sums of money were forthcoming.
Philip made a great effort in the autumn of 1568, and borrowed a large
sum of money from the Genoese bankers to supply Alba with the sinews of
war. The money was to be conveyed by sea to Flanders at the risk of the
bankers. Three of the vessels duly arrived in Antwerp, after having been
chased by Huguenot privateers; but several others put into Southampton,
Plymouth, and Falmouth, to escape from their pursuers. The representative
in England of the bankers was the Genoese Benedict Spinola, who requested
De Spes to ask the Queen to allow the money to be discharged and brought
overland to Dover, where it could be transhipped under convoy for the
Duke of Alba. De Spes saw the Queen on the 29th November, and she
consented to this course being adopted.

In the meanwhile the privateers, in crowds, were clustered outside the
harbours where the rich treasure lay, and nearly every Spanish ship that
entered the Channel fell into their hands. De Spes had not been sent by
Philip to provoke war, but in the few months that he had been in England
his violence, insolence, and bigotry had brought war nearer than ever
it had been before. Norris in Paris had just been warned, and had sent
the warning to Cecil, that a plot was formed to kill the Queen, and that
the papal banker Ridolfi, De Spes, and the English Catholic nobility,
headed by the Earl of Arundel, had agreed to place Mary Stuart on the
English throne. De Spes was closeted day and night with Mary’s agents.
“The Bishop of Ross came at midnight to offer me the good-will of his
mistress and many gentlemen of this country.… The Queen of Scotland told
my servant to convey to me the following words: ‘Tell the Ambassador that
if his master will help me I shall be Queen of England in three months,
and mass shall be said all over the country.’”[287]

Condé’s agents, too, were for ever telling the Queen and Cecil of the
plans against England of the Guises and Alba, as soon as the Protestants
in France and Flanders had been subjugated; and Knollys wrote almost
despairingly from Bolton of Mary’s haughty disbelief in Elizabeth’s
power to harm her.[288] There need, therefore, be no surprise that the
English Council began to question the wisdom of allowing the treasure
that had fallen into their power to be used against the tranquillity and
independence of their own country. When De Spes asked Cecil for the safe
conducts for the money, he was put off with vague evasions, whilst the
main question was being discussed. After much pressing, Cecil gave the
safe conducts, and sent orders to Plymouth and Falmouth (13th December,
N.S.) that the shore authorities were to defend the treasure-ships,
which were being threatened by pirates, even in port. “These orders are
now being sent off,” writes De Spes, “but in all things Cecil showed
himself an enemy to the Catholic cause, and desirous on every opportunity
of opposing the interests of your Majesty.… He has to be dealt with by
prayers and gentle threats.” “The Council is sitting night and day about
the Queen of Scotland’s affairs. Cecil and the Chancellor (Bacon) would
like to see her dead, as they have a King of their own choosing, one of
Hertford’s children.”[289]

After deliberation, Cecil had sent for Bernard Spinola, and ascertained
from him that the money was being conveyed at the bankers’ risk, and
could not legally be called King Philip’s property.[290] This seems to
have decided the question. The money on the cutter in Southampton harbour
was discharged, on the pretext of protecting it from pirates;[291] and
as soon as De Spes got the news, on the 20th December, he went to the
Queen in a violent rage to demand its return. He only saw Cecil, who said
the money was safe, but hinted that it did not belong to the King. De
Spes then gave the bad advice to Alba to retaliate by seizing all English
property in the Netherlands, which was done, and Cecil was provided with
a pretext which gave him what he always needed, a good legal position to
justify his acts. The Queen had not hitherto plainly said that she would
keep the money; but as soon as she heard that Alba had seized English
property, it gave her the required excuse for doing so. Her credit was
as good as Philip’s, she said, and she would borrow it herself. Not only
400,000 crowns in gold, but every scrap of Spanish property in England
was seized, enormously in excess of all English property in Flanders. In
vain De Spes hectored and stormed, in vain Alba alternately threatened
and implored, in vain Philip made seizures of Englishmen and goods
in Spain; the Queen was in an unassailable position. Alba had openly
declared the seizures of English property first, and all Elizabeth had
done was to adopt reprisals afterwards. But it crippled Alba and Philip
almost to exhaustion, and well-nigh ruined Spanish commerce and killed
Spanish credit.

For years open and secret negotiations went on to obtain some restoration
of the enormous amount of Spanish property seized. Cajolery, bribery,
and appeals to English honour were resorted to without effect; private
negotiations were opened by the owners of the property to get partial
restitution on any terms; envoy after envoy was sent, and returned home
empty-handed. The Queen refused to acknowledge Alba or his agents in any
form, and Cecil was immovable in his determination that no arrangement
should be made that did not bring into account all the confiscations
and persecutions that had ever been suffered by English in Spain at the
hands of the Inquisition, which he knew was impossible. In the meanwhile
the property dwindled and was jobbed away, and little, if any, ever
eventually reached its proper owners.

Early in January the Queen refused to receive De Spes, and sent Cecil
and the Lord Admiral, attended by a large train, and the aldermen of the
city, to see him at his house. Cecil, as usual, was the spokesman. He was
angry and severe: upbraided the Ambassador for his bad offices; condemned
the cruelty of the Duke of Alba, and his insolence in seizing English
property; and ended by placing De Spes and all his household under
arrest, in the custody of Henry Knollys, Arthur Carew, and Sir Henry
Knyvett. The reason of this was that a violent letter from De Spes to
Alba had been intercepted by Cecil’s orders. To make matters worse, the
foolish Ambassador, whilst under arrest, wrote an insolent letter to Alba
complaining of his treatment, and sent it open to the Council. In it he
says that “Cecil is harsh and arrogant; that he vapoured about religion,
dragged up the matter of John Man and about Bishop Quadra’s affairs,
and, in short, did and said a thousand impertinent things. He thinks he
is dealing with Englishmen, who all tremble before him.… The question
of the money does not suit him. I beg your Excellency not to refrain on
my account from doing everything that the interests and dignity of the
King demand; for whilst Cecil rules, I do not believe there will ever be
lasting peace. It is a pity so excellent a Queen should give credit to
so scandalous a person as this. God send a remedy; for in this country,
people great and small are discontented with the Government.… Cecil is
having a proclamation drawn up, from which he leaves out what is most
important, and misstates the case. He refused to return my packet, and is
getting one Somers to decipher my letters. If he succeeds I will pardon
him.”[292] The transmission of this insolent letter, open to the Council,
to be sent to Alba, produced the effect that might have been expected.
De Spes was asked to explain what he meant by such offensive expressions
against the Government, and by some scurrilous references employed in
another intercepted letter towards the Queen. He tried to attenuate his
insolence towards the Queen, and the Council as a whole, but not that
towards Cecil personally.

And so affairs drifted from bad to worse. Every letter from De Spes to
Alba and the King was full of abuse of Cecil, and statements of the
determination of the English Catholics to shake off his tyranny and raise
Mary Stuart to the throne. The people are all discontented, he says,
and the slightest show of countenance from Philip will enable Elizabeth
and the detested Cecil to be overthrown. Philip did not know what to
think of it, and sent to Alba orders to inquire independently whether
De Spes’ representations were true. If it is so easy, he says, he is
willing to give the aid required, as after his duty to maintain the holy
faith in his own dominions, it is incumbent upon him to re-establish it
in England. “If you think the chance will be lost by again waiting to
consult me, you may at once take the steps you consider advisable.”[293]
Alba soon undeceived the King. He had his hands full in the Netherlands;
he was almost without money; rash and foolish De Spes, he knew, was not
to be depended upon, and he told Philip plainly that he must temporise
and make friends with Elizabeth, leaving vengeance until later. De
Spes, he thought, was being deceived, perhaps betrayed, by Ridolfi and
the Catholics, and open war with England must be avoided at any cost.
Cecil, indeed, had accurately gauged the situation, and knew far better
than De Spes that Philip dared not fight, now that the Prince of Orange
was holding Holland and Zeeland against him. England’s traditional
alliance was not with the House of Spain, but with the possessor of the
Netherlands, and in the same proportion as Spain lost control over the
Low Countries, the need for a close union with her shifted.

Late in February the Duke of Norfolk, and his father-in-law, the Earl of
Arundel, to whom the changed situation was not so clear as to Cecil, sent
Ridolfi to De Spes with a cipher communication to tell him that the money
and Spanish property should be returned.[294] “They had only consented
to my detention and Cecil’s other impertinences, because they were not
yet strong enough to resist him. But they were gathering friends, and
were letting the public know what was going on, in the hope and belief
that they will be able to turn out the present accursed Government and
raise up another Catholic one, bringing the Queen to consent thereto.
They think your Excellency (Alba) will support them in this, and that
the country will not lose the friendship of our King. They say they will
return to the Catholic religion, and they think a better opportunity
never existed than now. Although Cecil thinks he has them all under his
heel, he will find few or none of them stand by him. I have encouraged
them.… In the meanwhile Cecil is bravely harrying the Catholics,
imprisoning many, for nearly all the prisons are full. The Spaniards
(_i.e._ from the arrested ships) are in Bridewell to the number of over
150, and a minister is sent to preach to them.” This gives us a clue to
the real origin of the plot against Cecil, which his domestic biographer
absurdly ascribes to a noble member of the Council having seen upon his
table a book attacking aristocracy.[295] Rapin is nearer in guessing the
cause of the conspiracy in ascribing it to Norfolk, Winchester, Pembroke,
Leicester, Northumberland, Westmoreland, and Arundel, in favour of Mary
Stuart’s claim, at least to the succession, in opposition to Cecil’s
candidate, Catharine Grey’s son, Lord Beauchamp. Camden records that
Throgmorton, Leicester’s henchman, advocated the lodging of Cecil in
the Tower first. “If he were once shut up, men would open their mouths
to speak freely against him.”[296] As will be seen, however, Cecil was
more than a match for his jealous enemies, who were also the enemies of
England; and the Queen, to her honour, stood bravely up for her great
minister.[297] The plan agreed upon was for Norfolk, a cat’s-paw of
Leicester, to denounce Cecil for his supposed intention of forcing the
succession of Beauchamp, and provoking war with Spain by advocating the
seizure of Philip’s treasure; but Leicester, too unstable, even, to keep
the counsel of his own plot, dropped a hint to the Queen, who warned
Cecil, and the whole nefarious conspiracy was unveiled. The excuse given
by Norfolk and Arundel to De Spes for their failure was that so many
Councillors were interested in the plunder that they could not get them
to move against Cecil. “For my part,” says De Spes, “I believe that they
have very little courage, and in the usual English way wish things to be
so far advanced that they can with but little trouble win your Majesty’s
rewards and favours.”

On the strength of their intentions against Cecil, Arundel, with his
sons-in-law, Norfolk and Lumley, tried their hardest to get some
money from De Spes, but without effect until the northern rebellion
was in preparation. Their intermediary was a Florentine banker, whose
brother-in-law, Cavalcanti, was one of Cecil’s agents, and through him
every step was known to the Secretary. Spies were everywhere. Whilst
Cecil’s most confidential private secretary, Allington, carried all his
secrets to De Spes for a consideration,[298] no visitor went to the
Spanish Embassy whose name and business was not at once reported to
Cecil, who, says De Spes, was suspicious even of the birds of the air.
Though Mary was in captivity, she contrived to write constant cipher
letters through De Spes to the Pope, to Alba, and to Philip. The Bishop
of Ross, her indefatigable but imprudent agent, took no step in Mary’s
cause without consultation with the Spaniard. She would, he said, have
been released already but for Cecil, her great enemy in the Council.[299]
If he could be got rid of, all would be well. The Bishop of Ross went so
far as to solicit another husband for Mary to be chosen by Philip, and
offered her abject submission both for England and Scotland, in return
for aid to the coming rising in her favour. It will be seen by this that
a more dangerous and widespread plot even than that against Cecil was
being planned by the Catholic nobility.

At what period the first suggestion was made for a marriage between the
Duke of Norfolk and Mary Stuart is not certain, but the Bishop of Ross
afterwards deposed[300] that the Duke had sent his offer to the Queen
before the meeting of the Commission of York (October 1568), of which
he was president; and as Lady Scrope, in whose husband’s house, Bolton
Castle, Mary was kept, was Norfolk’s sister, it is probable that the plan
was hatched during her stay at Bolton. From Murray’s statement[301] it
appears that Norfolk had a private conference with him during the sitting
of the Commission at York, when the Duke proposed to suppress the papers
which incriminated Mary, in order to save the scandal of a conviction.
Murray placed the evidence before the English Commissioners, and agreed
to abide by Elizabeth’s decision, and Norfolk at once wrote a private
letter to Cecil conveying his strong impression of the Queen’s guilt, but
advocating the suppression of the evidence. Norfolk’s conference with
Murray, and probably Cecil’s knowledge of the marriage plan, appears to
have been the reason for the removal of the Commission to London, and
the employment of Norfolk elsewhere, as well as of the removal of Mary to
Tutbury. When Norfolk returned to court, Elizabeth received him coldly,
for the talk about his marriage with Mary was now public, and the Duke
assured the Queen of the untruth of the rumours. After Murray, with real
or pretended reluctance, had laid the whole of his evidence against Mary
before the Commission, and the sittings had come to an end with the sole
result of leaving the cloud over her head, Norfolk’s plan for a time was
shelved;[302] but the conspiracy of the nobles against Cecil in favour of
Mary again revived the idea of the marriage; and Guzman in June 1569 says
that the new Lord Dacre had mentioned the matter to him, and professed
his willingness to hold in readiness 15,000 men in the north, to rise in
favour of Mary if he were assured of Philip’s support. De Spes asserts
that Cecil had proposed to marry his widowed sister-in-law, Lady Hoby, to
the Duke, a proposal which the Duke had rejected with scorn, “as his eyes
were fixed upon the Queen of Scots.”

By this time matters had so far advanced that a large sum of money (6000
crowns) was sent by Alba to the Catholic nobles, through Lumley and
Arundel, as well as 10,000 to Mary, and the rising in the north was in
principle decided upon; but Alba, whilst ready to supply money secretly,
strictly enjoined De Spes to turn a deaf ear to any suggestions for
overt aid against the Queen’s Government.[303] His great care for the
moment was to repair the effects of his mistake, and obtain some sort
of restitution of the Spanish property seized in England. Agents were
sent backwards and forwards, supple cosmopolitan Florentines mostly.
Ridolfi, Fiesco, the Cavalcantis, and several others tried by bribery and
other means to induce Cecil to consent to an arrangement. It suited him
to pretend a willingness to do so. Ridolfi dined and conferred with him
more than once on the subject at Cecil House. De Spes was released from
his captivity in Paget House (on the site of the present Essex Street,
Strand), and allowed to take the Bishop of Winchester’s house instead;
but on various pretexts, invented, as he says, by Cecil, the interminable
negotiations about the restitution dragged on without much result, as
Cecil evidently intended them to do. “We must have patience,” De Spes
writes to Alba, “but the affair is greatly injured by Cecil’s having
again got the upper hand in the government, without fear now that the
other members may overthrow him, for he knows that they could not agree
together for the purpose.”[304]

Whilst Cecil was temporising about the restitution, and dallying with
the Spanish agents, he kept his hand on the pulse of the Catholic Lords.
Arundel and his party had arranged that De Spes should once more be
admitted to the Queen’s presence at Guildford, and then go to a meeting
of the conspirators at Nonsuch; but Cecil raised difficulties, and
himself came to town specially to tell De Spes that the Queen could not
receive him until he obtained fresh credentials direct from Spain. Cecil
had apparently by this time (August 1569) won over the Earl of Pembroke;
and Leicester himself had taken fright at the probable result of his
plotting. His accomplices had gone beyond him. The rise of Norfolk and
Mary under a Catholic regime would of course have meant extinction for
Leicester, and though he was ready enough to ruin Cecil, he had no wish
to be dragged down in his fall. “The Duke’s party,” writes De Spes, “and
those who favour the Queen of Scotland, are incomparably the greater
number.… I believe there will be some great event soon, as the people are
much dissatisfied and distressed by want of trade, and these gentlemen of
Nonsuch have some new imaginations in their heads.”

A few days after this was written, Norfolk received the ominous warning
from the Queen at Titchfield, to “beware on what pillow he rested his
head.” The Duke was a poor, weak creature, and instead of accompanying
the Queen to Windsor, he fled into Norfolk, and from there wrote an
apology to the Queen. Elizabeth’s answer was a peremptory summons for
him to come to court, ill or well. He delayed, and the Queen, in a rage,
sent and arrested him, confining him first at Burnham, near Windsor, and
shortly afterwards in the Tower. How wise and moderate Cecil was under
the circumstances, may be seen in his own letters. He knew better than
any one that the conspiracy was primarily directed against him, as one
of the conditions imposed upon Mary was stated to be that nothing should
be done against Elizabeth;[305] yet this is how he wrote to the Queen
just before Norfolk was sent to the Tower[306] (9th October): “If the
Duke shall be charged with the crime of treason, and shall not thereof
be convicted, he shall not only save his credit, but increase it. And
surely, without the facts may appear manifest within the compass of
treason (which I cannot see how they can), he shall be acquitted of that
charge; and better it were in the beginning to foresee the matter, than
attempt it with discredit, and not without suspicion of evil will and
malice. Wherefore I am bold to wish that your Majesty would show your
intention only to inquire of the facts and circumstances, and not by any
speech to note the same as treason. And if your Majesty would yourself
consider the words of the statute evidencing treasons, I think you would
so consider it.”

In a letter written by Cecil to Norris a few days before this,[307] he
says that he had answered to the Queen, who was very angry with Norfolk,
for the latter’s return; and he gives an account of the Duke’s plight and
reported willingness to obey the Queen’s summons: “whereof I am glad;
first, for the respect of the State, and next for the Duke himself, whom
of all subjects I honoured and loved above the rest, and surely found in
him always matter so deserving. Whilst this matter hath been passing,
you must not think but that the Queen of Scots was nearer looked to than
before; and though evil willers of our State would gladly have seen some
troublesome issue of this matter, yet, God be thanked, I trust they
shall be deceived. The Queen hath willed Lord Arundel and Lord Pembroke
to keep their lodgings here, for that they were privy to this marriage
intended, and did not reveal it to her Majesty; but I think none of them
did so with any evil meaning.[308] Of Lord Pembroke’s intent herein,
I can witness that he meant nothing but well to the Queen’s Majesty.
Lord Lumley is also restrained, and the Queen hath also been grievously
offended with Lord Leicester, but considering that he hath revealed all
that he sayeth he knoweth of himself, her Majesty spareth her displeasure
more towards him. Some disquiets must arise, but I trust not hurtful, for
that her Majesty sayeth she will know the truth, so as every one shall
see his own fault, and so stay.” But for all Cecil’s diplomatic pleading,
Norfolk went to the Tower, where, with feigned submission and lying
protestations, he continued to plot with Mary Stuart and the enemies of
England. The Catholics and Norfolk’s friends, of course, threw the whole
blame upon Cecil.[309]

Shortly before Norfolk’s arrest, De Spes, who was still in close
communication with the northern Lords and the Duke’s friends, wrote to
the King, anticipating a favourable result of the movement; “although, on
the other hand, I observe that Cecil and his fellow-Protestants on the
Council are still very much deluding themselves. Even now, with the peril
before them, they will not come to reason, so firmly persuaded are they
that their religion will prevail.” As soon as Arundel and his friends
were placed under arrest, De Spes says that “every one cast the blame
on Secretary Cecil, who conducts these affairs with great astuteness.”
All would be lost, he said, by the Duke’s cowardice, and the Queen of
Scots had sent to urge him to behave valiantly. But valour was no part
of wretched Norfolk’s nature. A few days before the Duke was lodged in
the Tower, an envoy of the northern Earls, headed by Northumberland, came
to De Spes, promising to raise and capture the north country, release
Mary, restore the Catholic religion, and return unconditionally all the
Spanish property seized. They only asked in return that a few Spanish
harquebussiers should be sent; and they dropped Norfolk out of their
programme, looking to the Spaniards to provide a fit husband for Mary.
“Whilst Cecil governs here, no good course can be expected, and the
Duke of Norfolk says that he wished to get him out of the government
and change the guard of the Queen of Scotland before taking up arms. It
is thought they will not dare to take the Duke to the Tower, though in
this they may be deceived, because they who now rule are Protestants,
and most of them creatures of Cecil.” The Secretary’s attitude in this
matter has been treated somewhat at length, because it happens that
material exists which shows conclusively how bitter and unjust were his
enemies towards him, and how impossible it is to accept, without full
examination, statements to his detriment, made even by men who were in
daily communication with him.

In the middle of October the Catholic ferment in the north reached its
height. The Queen had summoned Northumberland and Westmoreland, and they
refused to obey. Without waiting for the Spanish aid for which they
had stipulated, they entered Durham with 5000 foot and 1000 horse, and
proclaimed the restoration of the Catholic faith. Cecil himself, giving
an account of the rising to Norris,[310] says, “They have in their
company priests of their faction, who, to please the people thereabouts,
give them masses, and some such trash as the spoils and wastes where they
have been.” Smashing communion-tables and devastating Protestant houses
as they went, they advanced to Doncaster; but the Government had long
foreseen the affair, and were ready to cope with it. Mary was hurried
off, strongly guarded, to Coventry, out of the reach of the rebels. Lord
Darcy repulsed one band; the Earl of Sussex, president of the north,
held York against the main body; the wardens of the marches were well
prepared and provided by Cecil’s foresight, and the country people in the
great towns of the north were intimidated into quietude. On the 24th
December, Cecil could write: “Thank God, our northern rebellion is fallen
flat to the ground and scattered away.[311] The Earls are fled into
Northumberland, seeking all ways to escape, but they are roundly pursued,
by Sir John Forster and Sir Henry Percy in one company, and Lord Sussex
in another. The 16th December they broke up their sorry army, the 18th
entered Northumberland, the 19th into the mountains; they scattered all
their footmen, willing them to shift for themselves; and of a thousand
horsemen there are left but five hundred. By this time they must be
fewer, and, I trust, either taken or fled into Scotland, where the Earl
of Murray is in good readiness to chase them to their ruin.”[312]

So ended, ignominiously, the only important armed revolt against
Elizabeth in England, but the first of a long series of plots against
the peace and independence of the nation, by which Mary Stuart from her
captivity, English Catholics who prized their faith more than their
country, and Spain and the Guises, for their own national or dynastic
ends, sought to bend the neck of England once again to the yoke which the
statecraft of Elizabeth and her great minister had enabled her to shake