QUEEN ELIZABETH TO MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS.
[DEC. 21, 1568]
Madame, whilst your cause* hath bene here treated upon, we thought it not nedefull to write any thing thereof unto you, supposing alwayes that your commissioners wold thereof advertise as they saw cause; and sithen they have broken this conference, by refusing to make answer, as they say, by your commandement, and for that purpose they returne to you, although we thinke you shall by them perceive the whole proceeding, yet we cannot but let you understand by these our letters, that as we have bene very sory of long tyme, for your mishappes and great troubles, so find we our sorrowes now doubled in beholding such thinges as are produced to prove yourself the cause of all the same. And our grief herein is increased, in that we did not thinke at any tyme, to have seen or heard such matter of so greate apparaunces and moment to charge and condempne you. Nevertheles, both in friendship, nature, and justice, we are moved to cover these maters, and stay our judgement, and not to gather any sense thereof to your prejudice, before we may heare of your direct answer therunto, according as your commissioners understand our meaning to be, which at their request is delivered to them in writing. And as we trust they will advise you for your honor to agree to make answer, as we have mentioned them, so surely we cannot but as one prynce and near cousine regarding another, most earnestly as we may in termes of friendship require and charge you not to forbeare from answering. And for our part we are heartely sory and dismayed to finde suche matter of your charge, so shall we be as heartely gladde and well content to here of sufficient matter for your discharge; and although we doubt not, you are well certified of the diligence and care of your ministers having your commission, yet can we, not besides and allowance generallie of them, specially note to you your good choice of the bearer the Bishoppe of Rosse, who hathe not onely faithfully and wisely, but also so carefully and dutifully, for your honor and weale, behaved himself, and that both privately and publikely, as we cannot but in this sorte commende him unto you as we wishe you had suche devoted discrete servants; for in our judgement, we thinke, ye have not any in loyalty and faithfulness overmatche him: and thus we are the bolder to write, considering we take it the beste triall of a good servaunte, to be in adversitie, out of which we wish you to be delivered, by the justification of your innocency. And so trusting to heare shortly from you, we make an ende. Given at Hampton Court, under our signet, the 21st of December, 1568, in the eleventh yeare of our reigne.
Your good Sistar and Cousin,
* After her detention in England, Mary had agreed to have her cause tried before commissioners from both sides; but when she saw that evidence was brought against her which she had hoped would have been concealed, she caused her commissioners to break the conference, upon which Elizabeth wrote to her the present letter.