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Queen Elizabeth had been warned long ago,
by one in France who had good information
of what was secretly doing, that in holding
Mary alive, she held " the wolf who would
devour her." The Bishop of London had,
more lately, given the Queen's favourite
minister the advice, in writing, " forthwith
to cut off the Scottish Queen's head." The
question now was, what to do with her.
The Earl of Leicester wrote a little note
home from Holland, recommending that
she should be quietly poisoned; that noble
favourite having accustomed his mind, it is
possible, to remedies of that nature. His
black advice, however, was disregarded, and
she was brought to trial at Fotheringay Castle
in Northamptonshire, before a tribunal of
forty, composed of both religions. There, and
in the Star Chamber at Westminster, the
trial lasted a fortnight. She defended herself
with great ability, but could only deny the
confessions that had been made by Babington
and others; could only call her own letters,
produced against her by her own secretaries,
forgeries; and, in short, could only deny
everything. She was found guilty, and declared to
have incurred the penalty of death. The
Parliament met, approved the sentence, and
prayed the Queen to have it executed. The
Queen replied that she requested them to
consider whether no means could be found of
saving Mary's life without endangering her
own. The Parliament rejoined, No, and the
citizens illuminated their houses and lighted
bonfires, in token of their joy that all these
plots and troubles were to be ended by the
death of the Queen of Scots.

She, feeling sure that her time was now
come, wrote a letter to the Queen of England,
making three entreaties; first, that she might
be buried in France; secondly, that she
might not be executed in secret, but before
her servants and some others; thirdly, that
after her death, her servants should not be
molested, but should be suffered to go home
with the legacies she left them. It was an
affecting letter, and Elizabeth shed tears over
it, but sent no answer. Then came a special
ambassador from France, and another from
Scotland, to intercede for Mary's life; and
then the nation began to clamour, more and
more, for her death.

What the real feelings or intentions of
Elizabeth were, can never be known now; but
I strongly suspect her of only wishing one
thing more than Mary's death, and that was
to keep free of the blame of it. On the first
of February, one thousand five hundred and
eighty-seven, Lord Burleigh having drawn
out the warrant for the execution, the Queen
sent to the secretary DAVISON to bring it to
her, that she might sign it: which she did.
Next day, when Davison told her it was
sealed, she angrily asked him why such haste
was necessary? Next day but one she joked
about it, and swore a little. Again, next day
but one, she seemed to complain that it was
not yet done, but still she would not be plain
with those about her. So, on the seventh,
the Earls of Kent and Shrewsbury, with the
Sheriff of Northamptonshire, came with the
warrant to Fotheringay, to tell the Queen of
Scots to prepare for death.

When those messengers of ill omen were
gone, Mary made a frugal supper, drank to
her servants, read over her will, went to bed,
slept for some hours, and then arose and
passed the remainder of the night saying
prayers. In the morning she dressed herself
in her best clothes, and at eight o'clock when
the sheriff came for her to her chapel, took
leave of her servants who were there
assembled praying with her, and went down
stairs, carrying a Bible in one hand and a
crucifix in the other. Two of her women and
four of her men were allowed to be present
in the hall, where a low scaffold, only two
feet from the ground, was erected and covered
with black; and where the executioner from
the Tower, and his assistant, stood, dressed in
black velvet. The hall was full of people.
While the sentence was being read she sat
upon a stool, and when it was finished she
again denied her guilt, as she had done
before. The Earl of Kent and the Dean of
Peterborough, in their Protestant zeal, made
some very unnecessary speeches to her, to
which she replied that she died in the
Catholic religion, and they need not trouble
themselves about that matter. When her
head and neck were uncovered by the
executioners, she said that she had not been
used to be undressed by such hands, or before
so much company. Finally, one of her women
fastened a cloth over her face, and she laid her
neck upon the block, and repeated more than
once in Latin, " Into thy hands, O Lord, I
commend my spirit! " Some say her head
was struck off in two blows, some say in
three. However that be, when it was
held up, streaming with blood, the real hair
beneath the false hair she had long worn
was seen to be as grey as that of a woman
of seventy, though she was at that time
only in her forty-sixth year. All her beauty
was gone.

But she was beautiful enough to her little
dog, who cowered under her dress, frightened,
when she went upon the scaffold, and who
lay down beside her headless body when all
her earthly sorrows were over.

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