Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 28.djvu/76

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Howard
Howard
70

tended to deal otherwise than he might obtain her favour so to do' (ib. p.528). He was ordered to return to court, but pleaded the excuse of illness, and, after thus giving Elizabeth every ground for suspicion, at last returned humbly on 2 Oct., to be met with the intimation that he must consider himself a prisoner at Paul Wentworth's house at Burnham.

Elizabeth at first thought of bringing him to trial for treason, but this was too hardy a measure in the uncertain state of public opinion. Norfolk was still confident in the power of his personal popularity, and was astonished when on 8 Oct. he was taken to the Tower. His friends in the council were straitly examined, and his party dwindled away. No decisive evidence was found against him, but the rising of the north in November showed Elizabeth how great had been her danger. Norfolk wrote from the Tower, assuring Elizabeth that he never dealt with any of the rebels, but he continued in communication with Mary, who after the collapse of the rising caught more eagerly at the prospect of escaping from her captivity by Norfolk's aid. She wrote to him that she would live and die with him, and signed herself ‘yours faithful to death.’ But Norfolk remained a prisoner till times were somewhat quieter, and was not released till 3 Aug. 1570, when he was ordered to reside in his own house at the Charterhouse, for fear of the plague. He had previously made submission to the queen, renouncing all purpose of marrying Mary, and promising entire fidelity.

It would have been well for Norfolk if he had kept his promise, and had recognised that he had failed. He resumed his old position, and was still looked up to with respect as the head of the English nobility. Many still thought that his marriage with Mary was possible, but Norfolk had learned that it would never be with Elizabeth's consent. The failure of previous endeavours had drawn Mary's partisans more closely together, and now they looked for help solely to the Spanish king. This was not what Norfolk had intended when first he conceived his marriage project; but he could not let it drop, and slowly drifted into a conspirator. He conferred with Ridolfi, and heard his plan for a Spanish invasion of England; he gave his sanction to Ridolfi's negotiations, and commissioned him to act as his representative with Philip II. He afterwards denied that he had done this in any formal way, but the evidence is strong against him. (His instructions to Ridolfi are in Labanoff, Lettres de Marie Stuart, iii. 236, &c., from the Vatican archives, and Froude, History of England, ch. xx., gives them from the Simancas archives, as well as a letter sent in cipher by the Spanish ambassador.) The discovery of Ridolfi's plot was due to a series of accidents; but Norfolk's complicity was discovered by the indiscretion of his secretary, Higford, who entrusted to a Shrewsbury merchant a bag of gold containing a ciphered letter. Cecil was informed of this fact on 1 Sept., and extracted from Higford enough information to show that Norfolk was corresponding with Mary and her friends in Scotland. Norfolk's servants were imprisoned, threatened with torture, and told much that increased Cecil's suspicions. Norfolk was next examined, prevaricated, and cut a poor figure. He was committed to the Tower on 5 Sept., and the investigation was steadily pursued till the evidence of Norfolk's complicity with Ridolfi had become strong, and the whole history of Norfolk's proceedings was made clear. Elizabeth saw how little she could count on the English nobility, who were all anxious for the settlement of the succession, and were in some degree or other on Mary's side. It was resolved to read them a lesson by proceeding against Norfolk, who was brought to trial for high treason on 16 Jan. 1572. The procedure, according to the custom of the time, was not adapted to give the accused much chance of pleading. He was not allowed to have counsel, or even a copy of the indictment, nor were the witnesses against him produced in court. Their evidence was read and commented upon by skilled lawyers; the accused was left to deal with it as best he could. His conviction was inevitable, and sentence of death was pronounced against him. From the Tower he wrote submissive letters to the queen, owning that he had grievously offended, but protesting his substantial loyalty. Elizabeth, always averse to bloodshed, for a long time refused to carry out the sentence; but her negotiations for a French treaty and a marriage with Alençon required that she should act with vigour. Parliament petitioned for the death of Mary and of Norfolk, and at last, on 2 June 1572, Norfolk was executed on Tower Hill. He spoke to the people, and maintained his innocence; he said ‘that he was never a papist since he knew what religion meant.’ It is quite probable that he was sincere in his utterances; he called John Foxe, who had dedicated to him in 1559 the first version (in Latin) of his martyrology, to console him in his last days, and bequeathed him a legacy of 20l. a year. But Norfolk was not a clear-headed man, and was not conscious of the bearing of his acts. He floated with the stream, trusting to his own good fortune and to his