crushed and racked limbs, but with a spirit untamed in its defiance.
"Cause, my Lords?" he replied. "The cause I have to render will not
avail here, but it may avail before another Judgment-seat, where the
question will be, who used the weapons of treason, not merely against
whom they were employed. Inquiry hath not been made here who
suborned the priest, Dr. Gifford, to fetch me over from Paris, that
we might together overcome the scruples of these young men, and lead
them forward in a scheme for the promotion of the true religion and
the right and lawful succession. No question hath here been put in
open court, who framed the conspiracy, nor for what purpose. No, my
Lords; it would baffle the end you would bring about, yea, and blot
the reputation of some who stand in high places, if it came to light
that the plot was devised, not by the Catholics who were to be the
instruments thereof, nor by the Lady in whose favour all was to be
done, - not by these, the mere victims, but by him who by a triumph of
policy thus sent forth his tempters to enclose them all within his
net - above all the persecuted Lady whom all true Catholics own as the
only lawful sovereign within these realms. Such schemes, when they
succeed, are termed policy. My Lords, I confess that by the justice
of England we have been guilty of treason against Queen Elizabeth;
but by the eternal law of the justice of God, we have suffered
treachery far exceeding that for which we are about to die."
"I marvel that they let the fellow speak so far," was Cavendish's
"Nay, but is it so?" asked Diccon with startled eyes.
"Hush! you have yet to learn statecraft," returned his friend.
His father's monitory hand only just saved the boy from bursting out
with something that would have rather astonished Westminster Hall,
and caused him to be taken out by the ushers. It is not wonderful
that no report of the priest's speech has been preserved.
The name of Antony Babington was then called. Probably he had been
too much absorbed in the misery of his position to pay attention to
the preceding speech, for his reply was quite independent of it. He
prayed the Lords to believe, and to represent to her Majesty, that he
had received with horror the suggestion of compassing her death, and
had only been brought to believe it a terrible necessity by the
persuasions of this Ballard.
On this Hatton broke forth in indignant compassion, - "O Ballard!
Ballard! what hast thou done? A sort of brave youth, otherwise
endowed with good gifts, by thy inducement hast thou brought to their
utter destruction and confusion!"
This apparently gave some hope to Babington, for he answered - "Yes, I
protest that, before I met this Ballard, I never meant nor intended
for to kill the Queen; but by his persuasions I was induced to
believe that she being excommunicate it was lawful to murder her."
For the first time Ballard betrayed any pain. "Yes, Mr. Babington,"
he said, "lay all the blame upon me; but I wish the shedding of my
blood might be the saving of your life. Howbeit, say what you will,
I will say no more."
"He is the bravest of them all!" was Diccon's comment.
"Wot you that he was once our spy?" returned Cavendish with a sneer;
while Sir Christopher, with the satisfaction of a little nature in
uttering reproaches, returned - "Nay, Ballard, you must say more and
shall say more, for you must not commit treasons and then huddle them
up. Is this your Religio Catholica? Nay, rather it is Diabolica."
Ballard scorned to answer this, and the Clerk passed on to Savage,
who retained his soldierly fatalism, and only shook his head.
Barnwell again denied any purpose of injuring the Queen, and when
Hatton spoke of his appearance in Richmond Park, he said all had been
for conscience sake. So said Henry Donne, but with far more piety
and dignity, adding, "fiat voluntas Dei;" and Thomas Salisbury was
the only one who made any entreaty for pardon.
Speeches followed from the Attorney-General, and from Sir Christopher
Hatton, and then the Lord Chief Justice Anderson pronounced the
Richard Talbot sat with his head bowed between his hands. His son
had begun listening with wide-stretched eyes and mouth, as boyhood
hearkens to the dreadful, and with the hardness of an unmerciful
time, too apt to confound pity with weakness; but when his eye fell
on the man he had followed about as an elder playmate, and realised
all it conveyed, his cheek blanched, his jaw fell, and he hardly knew
how his father got him out of the court.
There was clearly no hope. The form of the trial was such as to
leave no chance of escape from the utmost penalty. No witnesses had
been examined, no degrees of guilt acknowledged, no palliations
admitted. Perhaps men who would have brought the Spanish havoc on
their native country, and have murdered their sovereign, were beyond
the pale of compassion. All London clearly thought so; and yet, as
Richard Talbot dwelt on their tones and looks, and remembered how
they had been deluded and tempted, and made to believe their deed
meritorious, he could not but feel exceeding pity for the four
younger men. Ballard, Savage, and Barnwell might be justly doomed;
even Babington had, by his own admission, entertained a fearfully
evil design; but the other three had evidently dipped far less deeply
into the plot, and Tichborne had only concealed it out of friendship.
Yet the ruthless judgment condemned all alike! And why? To justify
a yet more cruel blow! No wonder honest Richard Talbot felt sick at
CHAPTER XXXIII. IN THE TOWER.
"Here is a letter from Mr. Secretary to the Lieutenant of the Tower,
Master Richard, bidding him admit you to speech of Babington," said
Will Cavendish. "He was loath to give it, and nothing but my Lord
Shrewsbury's interest would have done it, on my oath that you are a
prudent and discreet man, who hath been conversant in these matters
for many years."
"Yea, and that long before you were, Master Will," said Richard,
always a little entertained by the young gentleman's airs of
patronage. "However, I am beholden to you."
"That you may be, for you are the only person who hath obtained
admission to the prisoners."
"Not even their wives?"
"Mrs. Tichborne is in the country - so best for her - and Mrs.
Babington hath never demanded it. I trow there is not love enough
between them to make them seek such a meeting. It was one of my
mother's matches. Mistress Cicely would have cleaved to him more
closely, though I am glad you saw through the fellow too well to give
her to him. She would be a landless widow, whereas this Ratcliffe
wife has a fair portion for her child."
"Then Dethick will be forfeited?"
"Ay. They say the Queen hath promised it to Raleigh."
"And there is no hope of mercy?"
"Not a tittle for any man of them! Nay, so far from it, her Majesty
asked if there were no worse nor more extraordinary mode of death for
"I should not have thought it of her."
"Her Majesty hath been affrighted, Master Richard, sorely affrighted,
though she put so bold a face upon it, and there is nothing a woman,
who prides herself on her courage, can so little pardon."
So Richard, sad at heart, took boat and ascended the Thames for his
melancholy visit. The gateway was guarded by a stalwart yeoman,
halbert in hand, who detained him while the officer of the guard was
called. On showing the letter from Sir Francis Walsingham, Mr.
Talbot was conducted by this personage across the first paved court
to the lodgings of the Lieutenant under so close a guard that he felt
as if he were about to be incarcerated himself, and was there kept
waiting in a sort of guard-room while the letter was delivered.
Presently the Lieutenant, Sir Owen Hopton, a well-bred courteous
knight, appeared and saluted him with apologies for his detention and
all these precautions, saying that the orders were to keep a close
guard and to hinder all communication from without, so that nothing
short of this letter would have obtained entrance for the bearer,
whom he further required to set down his name and designation in
full. Then, after asking how long the visitor wished to remain with
the prisoners - for Tichborne and Babington were quartered together -
he called a warder and committed Mr. Talbot to his guidance, to
remain for two hours locked up in the cell.
"Sir," added Sir Owen, "it is superfluous to tell you that on coming
out, you must either give me your word of honour that you convey
nothing from the prisoners, or else submit to be searched."
Richard smiled, and observed that men were wont to trust his word of
honour, to which the knight heartily replied that he was sure of it,
and he then followed the warder up stone stairs and along vaulted
passages, where the clang of their footsteps made his heart sink.
The prisoners were in the White Tower, the central body of the grim
building, and the warder, after unlocking the door, announced, with
no unnecessary rudeness, but rather as if he were glad of any comfort
to his charges, "Here, sirs, is a gentleman to visit you."
They had both risen at the sound of the key turning in the lock, and
Antony Babington's face lighted up as he exclaimed, "Mr. Talbot! I
knew you would come if it were possible."
"I come by my Lord's desire," replied Richard, the close wringing of
his hand expressing feeling to which he durst not give way in words.
He took in at the moment that the room, though stern and strong, was
not squalid. It was lighted fully by a window, iron-barred, but not
small, and according to custom, the prisoners had been permitted to
furnish, at their own expense, sufficient garniture for comfort, and
as both were wealthy men, they were fairly provided, and they were
not fettered. Both looked paler than when Richard had seen them in
Westminster Hall two days previously. Antony was as usual neatly
arrayed, with well-trimmed hair and beard, but Tichborne's hung
neglected, and there was a hollow, haggard look about his eyes, as if
of dismay at his approaching fate. Neither was, however, forgetful
of courtesy, and as Babington presented Mr. Talbot to his friend, the
greeting and welcome would have befitted the halls of Dethick or
"Sirs," said the young man, with a sad smile irradiating for a moment
the restless despair of his countenance, "it is not by choice that I
am an intruder on your privacy; I will abstract myself so far as is
"I have no secrets from my Chidiock," cried Babington.
"But Mr. Talbot may," replied his friend, "therefore I will only
first inquire whether he can tell us aught of the royal lady for
whose sake we suffer. They have asked us many questions, but
Richard was able to reply that after the seclusion at Tixall she had
been brought back to Chartley, and there was no difference in the
manner of her custody, moreover, that she had recovered from her
attack of illness, tidings he had just received in a letter from
Humfrey. He did not feel it needful to inflict a pang on the men who
were to die in two days' time by letting them know that she was to be
immediately brought to trial on the evidence extracted from them. On
hearing that her captivity was not straitened, both looked relieved,
and Tichborne, thanking him, lay down on his own bed, turned his face
to the wall, and drew the covering over his head.
"Ah!" sighed Babington, "is there no hope for him - he who has done
naught but guard too faithfully my unhappy secret? Is he to die for
his faith and honour?"
"Alas, Antony! I am forbidden to give thee hope for any. Of that we
must not speak. The time is short enough for what needs to be
"I knew that there was none for myself," said Antony, "but for those
whom - " There was a gesture from Tichborne as if he could not bear
this, and he went on, "Yea, there is a matter on which I must needs
speak to you, sir. The young lady - where is she?" - he spoke
earnestly, and lowering his voice as he bent his head.
"She is still at Chartley."
"That is well. But, sir, she must be guarded. I fear me there is
one who is aware of her parentage."
"The Scottish archer?"
"No, the truth."
"You knew it?"
"Not when I made my suit to her, or I should never have dared to lift
my eyes so far."
"I suppose your knowledge came from Langston," said Richard, more
perturbed than amazed at the disclosure.
"Even so. Yet I am not certain whether he knows or only guesses; but
at any rate be on your guard for her sake. He has proved himself so
unspeakable a villain that none can guess what he will do next. He -
he it is above all - yea, above even Gifford and Ballard, who has
brought us to this pass."
He was becoming fiercely agitated, but putting a force upon himself
said, "Have patience, good Mr. Talbot, of your kindness, and I will
tell you all, that you may understand the coilings of the serpent who
led me hither, and if possible save her from them."
Antony then explained that so soon as he had become his own master he
had followed the inclinations which led him to the church of his
mother and of Queen Mary, the two beings he had always regarded with
the most fervent affection and love. His mother's kindred had
brought him in contact with the Roman Catholic priests who circulated
in England, at the utmost peril of their lives, to keep up the faith
of the gentry, and in many cases to intrigue for Queen Mary. Among
these plotters he fell in with Cuthbert Langston, a Jesuit of the
third order, though not a priest, and one of the most active agents
in corresponding with Queen Mary. His small stature, colourless
complexion, and insignificant features, rendered him almost a blank
block, capable of assuming any variety of disguise. He also knew
several languages, could imitate different dialects, and counterfeit
male and female voices so that very few could detect him. He had
soon made himself known to Babington as the huckster Tibbott of days
gone by, and had then disclosed to him that Cicely was certainly not
the daughter of her supposed parents, telling of her rescue from the
wreck, and hinting that her rank was exalted, and that he knew
secrets respecting her which he was about to make known to the Queen
of Scots. With this purpose among others, Langston had adopted the
disguise of the woman selling spars with the password "Beads and
Bracelets," and being well known as an agent of correspondence to the
suite of the captive Queen, he had been able to direct Gorion's
attention to the maiden, and to let him know that she was the same
with the infant who had been put on board the Bride of Dunbar at
How much more did Langston guess? He had told Babington the story
current among the outer circle of Mary's followers of the maiden
being the daughter of the Scotch archer, and had taught him her true
name, encouraging too, his aspirations towards her during the time of
his courtship. Babington believed Langston to have been at that time
still a sincere partizan of Queen Mary, but all along to have
entertained a suspicion that there was a closer relationship between
Bride Hepburn and the Queen than was avowed, though to Babington
himself he had only given mysterious hints.
But towards the end of the captivity at Tutbury, he had made some
further discovery, which confirmed his suspicions, and had led to
another attempt to accost Cicely, and to make the Queen aware of his
knowledge, perhaps in order to verify it, or it might be to gain
power over her, a reward for the introduction, or to extort bribes to
secrecy. For looking back, Antony could now perceive that by this
time a certain greed of lucre had set in upon the man, who had
obtained large sums of secret service money from himself; and
avarice, together with the rebuff he had received from the Queen, had
doubtless rendered him accessible to the temptations of the arch-
plotters Gifford and Morgan. Richard could believe this, for the
knowledge had been forced on him that there were an incredible number
of intriguers at that time, spies and conspirators, often in the pay
of both parties, impartially betraying the one to the other, and
sometimes, through miscalculation, meeting the fate they richly
deserved. Many a man who had begun enthusiastically to work in
underground ways for what he thought the righteous cause, became so
enamoured of the undermining process, and the gold there to be picked
up, that from a wrong-headed partizan he became a traitor - often a
double-faced one - and would work secretly in the interest of
whichever cause would pay him best.
Poor Babington had been far too youthfully simple to guess what he
now perceived, that he had been made the mere tool and instrument of
these traitors. He had been instructed in Gifford's arrangement with
the Burton brewer for conveying letters to Mary at Chartley, and had
been made the means of informing her of it by means of his interview
with Cicely, when he had brought the letter in the watch. The letter
had been conveyed to him by Langston, the watch had been his own
device. It was after this meeting, of which Richard now heard for
the first time, that Langston had fully told his belief respecting
the true birth of Bride Hepburn, and assured Babington that there was
no hope of his wedding her, though the Queen might allow him to
delude himself with the idea of her favour in order to bind him to
It was then that Babington consented to Lady Shrewsbury's new match
with the well-endowed Eleanor Ratcliffe. If he could not have
Cicely, he cared not whom he had. He had been leading a wild and
extravagant life about town, when (as poor Tichborne afterwards said
on the scaffold) the flourishing estate of Babington and Tichborne
was the talk of Fleet Street and the Strand, and he had also many
calls for secret service money, so that all his thought was to have
more to spend in the service of Queen Mary and her daughter.
"Oh, sir! I have been as one distraught all this past year," he
said. "How often since I have been shut up here, and I have seen how
I have been duped and gulled, have your words come back to me, that
to enter on crooked ways was the way to destruction for myself and
others, and that I might only be serving worse men than myself! And
yet they were priests who misled me!"
"Even in your own religion there are many priests who would withhold
you from such crimes," said Richard.
"There are! I know it! I have spoken with them. They say no priest
can put aside the eternal laws of God's justice. So these others,
Chidiock here, Donne and Salisbury, always cried out against the
slaying of the Queen, though - wretch that I was - and gulled by
Ballard and Savage, I deemed the exploit so noble and praiseworthy
that I even joined Tichborne with me in that accursed portraiture!
Yea, you may well deem me mad, but it was Gifford who encouraged me
in having it made, no doubt to assure our ruin. Oh, Mr. Talbot! was
ever man so cruelly deceived as me?"
"It is only too true, Antony. My heart is full of rage and
indignation when I think thereof. And yet, my poor lad, what
concerns thee most is to lay aside all such thoughts as may not tend
to repentance before God."
"I know it, I know it, sir. All the more that we shall die without
the last sacraments. Commend us to the prayers of our Queen, sir,
and of her. But to proceed with what imports you to know for her
sake, while I have space to speak."
He proceeded to tell how, between dissipation and intrigue, he had
lived in a perpetual state of excitement, going backwards and
forwards between London and Lichfield to attend to the correspondence
with Queen Mary and the Spanish ambassador in France, and to arrange
the details of the plot; always being worked up to the highest pitch
by Gifford and Ballard, while Langston continued to be the great
assistant in all the correspondence. All the time Sir Francis
Walsingham, who was really aware of all, if not the prime mover in
the intrigue, appeared perfectly unsuspicious; often received
Babington at his house, and discussed a plan of sending him on a
commission to France, while in point of fact every letter that
travelled in the Burton barrels was deciphered by Phillipps, and laid
before the Secretary before being read by the proper owners. In none
of these, however, as Babington could assure Mr. Talbot, had Cicely
been mentioned, - the only danger to her was through Langston.
Things had come to a climax in July, when Babington had been urged to
obtain from Mary such definite approbation of his plans as might
satisfy his confederates, and had in consequence written the letter
and obtained the answer, copies of which had been read to him at his
private examination, and which certainly contained fatal matter to
both him and the Queen.
They had no doubt been called forth with that intent, and a doubt had
begun to arise in the victim's mind whether the last reply had been
really the Queen's own. It had been delivered to him in the street,
not by the usual channel, but by a blue-coated serving-man. Two or
three days later Humfrey had told him of Langston's interview with
Walsingham, which he had at the time laughed to scorn, thinking
himself able to penetrate any disguise of that Proteus, and likewise
believing that he was blinding Walsingham.
He first took alarm a few days after Humfrey's departure, and wrote
to Queen Mary to warn her, convinced that the traitor must be
Langston. Ballard became himself suspected, and after lurking about
in various disguises was arrested in Babington's own lodgings. To
disarm suspicion, Antony went to Walsingham to talk about the French
Mission, and tried to resume his usual habits, but in a tavern, he
became aware that Langston, under some fresh shape, was watching him,
and hastily throwing down the reckoning, he fled without his cloak or
sword to Gage's house at Westminster, where he took horse, hid
himself in St. John's Wood, and finally was taken, half starved, in
an outhouse at Harrow, belonging to a farmer, whose mercy involved
him in the like doom.
This was the substance of the story told by the unfortunate young man
to Richard Talbot, whom he owned as the best and wisest friend he had
ever had - going back to the warnings twice given, that no cause is
served by departing from the right; no kingdom safely won by
worshipping the devil: "And sure I did worship him when I let myself
be led by Gifford," he said.
His chief anxiety was not for his wife and her child, who he said
would be well taken care of by the Ratcliffe family, and who, alas!
had never won his heart. In fact he was relieved that he was not
permitted to see the young thing, even had she wished it; it could do
no good to either of them, though he had written a letter, which she
was to deliver, for the Queen, commending her to her Majesty's mercy.
His love had been for Cicely, and even that had never been, as
Richard saw, such purifying, restraining, self-sacrificing affection
as was Humfrey's. It was half romance, half a sort of offshoot from
his one great and absorbing passion of devotion to the Queen of
Scots, which was still as strong as ever. He entrusted Richard with
his humblest commendations to her, and strove to rest in the belief
that as many a conspirator before - such as Norfolk, Throckmorton,
Parry - had perished on her behalf while she remained untouched, that
so it might again be, since surely, if she were to be tried, he would
have been kept alive as a witness. The peculiar custom of the time
in State prosecutions of hanging the witnesses before the trial had
not occurred to him.
But how would it be with Cicely? "Is what this fellow guessed the
very truth?" he asked.
Richard made a sign of affirmation, saying, "Is it only a guess on
Babington believed the man stopped short of absolute certainty,
though he had declared himself to have reason to believe that a child
must have been born to the captive queen at Lochleven; and if so,
where else could she be? Was he waiting for clear proof to make the
secret known to the Council? Did he intend to make profit of it and
obtain in the poor girl a subject for further intrigue? Was he
withheld by consideration for Richard Talbot, for whom Babington
declared that if such a villain could be believed in any respect, he
had much family regard and deep gratitude, since Richard had stood
his friend when all his family had cast him off in much resentment at
his change of purpose and opinion.