Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 04.djvu/9

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Beale
Beale
5

times or more I was sent to the late Queen of Scots. At the first access my commission was to deal with her alone. Afterwards I did, for sundry respects, desire that I might not deal without the privity of the Earl of Shrewsbury, being a nobleman and a councillor. She was with much difficulty brought to make larger offers unto her majesty than she had before done to any others whose negotiations I had seen. I was then suspected to have been, as some term it, won to a new mistress. Whereupon the charge was committed to the said earl and Sir Walter Mildmay, and I was only appointed to attend upon them to charge her by word of mouth with certain articles gathered out of the earl's and my letters. She avowed all that we had reported, and, I thank the Lord, I acquitted myself to be an honest man.'

Beale was hardly fit to treat with a person of such dexterity and resource as Mary Stuart. She seems to have contrived to delude him with the idea that she had really given up ambition, and was desirous only to live a retired life for the rest of her days. This appears from the tone of a letter to Walsingham, written in the spring of 1583. A year later he appears to have formed a juster estimate of the character of the queen. 'With all the cunning that we have,' he then wrote to Walsingham, 'we cannot bring this lady to make any absolute promise for the performance of her offers, unless she may be assured of the accomplishment of the treaty. Since the last break off she is more circumspect how she entangle herself.'

Next year (1585) Beale was returned to parliament for Dorchester, which place he also represented in the two succeeding parliaments (1586 and 1588). In November 1586 he was despatched with Lord Buckhurst to Fotheringay, to notify the Queen of Scots of the fact that sentence of death had been passed upon her. Early in the following year Beale carried the warrant to Fotheringay and performed the ghastly duty of reading it aloud in the hall of the castle by way of preliminary to the execution, of which he was an eye-witness, and wrote an account. Though a zealous puritan, Beale seems to have had a dispassionate and liberal mind. During the persecution of the Jesuits which marked the latter years of Elizabeth's reign, he fearlessly and ably maintained the principle of toleration, both in parliament and as a writer. Thus, we know that he published a work impugning the right of the crown to fine or imprison for ecclesiastical offences, and condemning the use of torture to induce confession, and followed it up at a later date with a second treatise upon the same subject. We cannot fix the precise date of either of these books, but we may infer that the second was a recent publication in 1584 from the fact that Whitgift then thought it necessary to take cognisance of its existence by drawing up and laying before the council a 'schedule of misdemeanours' alleged to have been committed by its author, of which the contents of these two works furnished the principal heads. What precisely he meant to do with this formidable indictment (the articles were fourteen in number) remains obscure. Probably he wished to procure Beale's dismissal from the post of clerk of the council. If so, however, he was disappointed, as apparently no notice whatever was taken of it. In the spring of the same year Beale had shown the archbishop the manuscript of another work which he had nearly completed, dealing with another branch of the same subject, viz. the proper prerogative of the bishops, which the archbishop refused to return when Beale (5 May) presented himself at Lambeth to receive it. On this occasion a great deal of temper appears to have been lost on both sides, Beale predicting that the archbishop would be the overthrow of the church and a cause of tumult, and Whitgift accusing Beale of levity and irreverence, speaking in very disparaging terms of his work, and saying that 'neither his divinity nor his law was great.' Beale addressed a lengthy epistle to the archbishop (7 May), in which he avers that 'by the space of twenty-six years and upwards he has been a student of the civil laws, and long sith could have taken a degree if he had thought (as some do) that the substance of learning consisteth more in form and title than matter, and that in divinitie he has read as much as any chaplain his lordship hath, and when his book shall be finished and answered let others judge thereof.'

In the summer he served under Leicester in the Netherlands during the ill-fated attempt to relieve Sluys, in what precise capacity does not appear, but we infer that he was employed in connection with the transport department. In 1589 he was employed in negotiation with the States, and next year we find him engaged with Burghley and Buckhurst in adjusting the accounts of Peregrine Bertie, Lord Willoughby, commander in the Netherlands. In 1592 the attitude which Beale assumed in a debate upon supply, coupled with an animated speech which he made about the same time against the inquisitorial practices of his old enemies the bishops, gave so much offence to the queen that he was commanded to absent himself both from court and from parliament. In 1592 he addressed a lengthy letter to the lord