Calendar of State Papers Foreign: Elizabeth, Volume 1, 1558-1559. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1863.
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Importance of the reign of Queen Elizabeth.
During the reign of King Henry the Eighth, the will of the Sovereign was the paramount authority to which all else was brought into subjection. The powers which governed England under the name of Edward the Sixth acted upon no settled policy, and were guided by no fixed principles; each statesman as he gained the ascendency aimed chiefly at the aggrandisement of himself and his family. The object of Mary was simply retrogression; she would have resuscitated that form of government in Church and State which had prevailed when the first of the Tudors mounted the throne. It is not until we arrive at the accession of Elizabeth that we recognize the inauguration of a new system; a system which, though as yet imperfectly understood and still more imperfectly carried out, attempted to adjust the balance between liberty and submission, and contained within itself the germs of the future greatness of England.
Could the opinion of the nation be canvassed at the present day upon the question, it would probably decide that the reign of Queen Elizabeth is, upon the whole, the most glorious era of our history. A reign which quenched the fires of Smithfield and gave liberty of worship to the Protestants; which witnessed the defeat of the Invincible Armada and freed Europe from the dread of a general submission to Spain; whose navies were led by Frobisher and Drake and whose councils were directed by Cecil and Walsingham;—naturally attracts the attention and engages the sympathies of Englishmen. And there is much in the personal character of Elizabeth herself which claims our admiration. The interest which diffuses itself over the halfcentury embraced within her reign finds its central point in the Sovereign. We accept her as the type and the representative of the national character, we look upon her (to adopt her own phraseology) as a woman "mere English." The promptitude with which she assumed the government of the realm when its fortunes were most critical, the firmness with which she overcame the difficulties of her position, the skill with which she held her course through the tangled and conflicting interests of European diplomacy, all show her to have been possessed, even at the commencement of her reign, of a rare capaeity and an undaunted courage.
Influenced by her character.
Such characters are not formed in a moment. Elizabeth, before she ascended the throne, had undergone a long course of preparatory discipline, and had profited by the lessons which the experience of life had already taught her. She was at that time a woman of twenty-five years of age, a period at which, if ever, habits are formed and convictions are established. She was learned, even in the estimate of that learned age; she united the deep reading of a ripe scholar with the lighter accomplishments of an elegant and fascinating woman. She was supposed to have embraced certain definite principles of civil and religious liberty, and she was regarded as their representative and defender. The people believed her to be a Protestant and a liberal, and as such they placed her upon the throne. Her hereditary title might have been questioned, but the national voice gave her an undisputed succession. It becomes important, therefore, to trace so much of her previous history as will enable us to form some clear conception of the individual with whom, as a woman and a Sovereign, the present work makes us more intimately acquainted. How had those twenty-five years been passed? By whom had she been educated? The principles which she advocated, by whom had they been inculcated, and how were they exhibited? Who had formed her mind and directed her line of conduct? What was her religious training? How had she escaped the dangers with which she had been surrounded, and how secured the affections of the people? These are interesting questions, and it is the object of the following pages to attempt to answer them.
Elizabeth was the daughter of Anne Boleyn, a woman declared by the sentence of her judges to have been guilty of the crimes of adultery and incest, and therefore executed by the command of her husband. The inheritance of the mother's shame descended to the child and embittered her early years; for, consistent in his cruelty, her father had declared her illegitimate. He cast her off as one in whom he had little interest, for his whole soul was engrossed with this single idea, how to secure an heir for the throne when it should become vacant by his death. The earlier years of the little Princess were spent in comparative obscurity. Lady Margaret Brian, to whose care she was entrusted by the King, draws a sad picture of the neglect with which she was treated. Writing to Crumwell she thus describes the dilapidated condition of her wardrobe. "She hath neither gown nor kirtle, nor petticoat, nor no manner of linen for smocks, nor kerchiefs, nor sleeves, nor rails, nor body-stitchets, nor handkerchiefs, nor mufflers, nor biggins. All these her Grace must take. I have driven off as long as I can, but by my troth I can drive it no longer." After complaining about certain domestic troubles arising out of a difference of opinion whether my Lady Elizabeth should dine and sup every day "at the board of estate," and an account of "the great pain which my Lady hath with her great teeth, which come very slowly forth," Lady Brian describes her charge as being "as toward a child and as gentle of conditions as ever I knew any in my life." (fn. 1)
At this period Elizabeth saw little of her father. He sometimes visited her during his progresses, sometimes though rarely she was taken to pay her respects to him at Court, but the intercourse was neither frequent nor cordial. Henry, conscience-hardened as he had grown, cannot but have shrunk from the eyes of the little girl, whose look called up memories of the dead mother; and the quick perception of childhood must have whispered to Elizabeth that her father did not love her. Her nurse doubtless told her the legend of her mother's death, and told it, too, in such a way as to prove her innocence; and if her mother were innocent what could she think of her father? Motherless, and worse than fatherless, the Court was therefore no place for her, and the guardians of her earlier years acted wisely in keeping her at a distance from its pollutions. The courtiers were busy gossiping about the low amours of Catherine Howard, or laughing over Henry's coarse jests about Anne of Cleves. Unfortunately for himself and for all connected with him, Henry had no conception of the firmness of a woman's character or the tenderness of a woman's heart; he could not understand the strength of the one or the weakness of the other, and he blundered whenever he was placed in circumstances in which that knowledge would have saved him. If ever he had possessed that innate gentleness of touch which is essential in dealing with an object so delicately constructed and so easily jarred, it was now lost. He had familiarised himself with such specimens of womanhood as were not calculated to raise the sex in his estimation, saving always one bright exception; and we cannot wonder that when he cast her away he supplied her place with characters most unlike her own. The Court naturally became what the monarch was, corrupt, licentious, and degraded; and it was fortunate for the future Queen of England that she was not reared within its tainted atmosphere.
Elizabeth's earliest years were spent under the care of her maternal relations, and Hunsdon was assigned for her residence. Doubtless she was tenderly nurtured, but at the same time, if we may trust Lady Brian, wholesome discipline was not neglected. While the future Queen of England had "great pain with her great teeth," her governess admitted frankly that she had permitted her Grace somewhat more of her own will than was good for her; but she adds,—"I trust to God and her teeth were well graft, to learn her Grace after another fashion than she is yet." (fn. 2) She was not permitted to neglect such small household duties as she could perform. When she was six years old she presented to her brother Prince Edward "a shirt of cambric as a New Year's gift," and upon the same festival a year later her offering was "a braser of needlework," both of which are described as being of her own making. (fn. 3)
Time passed on, and the education of Elizabeth commenced in earnest. At this period of her life she and her elder sister Mary resided under the same roof, and their studies were conducted together. Mary, like Elizabeth, was under the ban of her father, and community of suffering frequently begets community of sentiment. It seems to have done so in the present instance, at least thus far. Like the other branches of the Tudor family the two sisters were fond of learning, and speedily became apt pupils. "So pregnant and ingenious were either," says Haywood, (fn. 4) "that they desired to look upon books as soon as the day began to break. Their horœ matutinæ were so welcome that they seemed to prevent the night's sleeping for the entertainment of the morrow's schooling. Besides, such were the hopeful inclinations of this princely youth and pious virgin that their first hours were spent in prayers and other religious exercises, as either reading some history or other in the Old Testament, or else attending the exposition of some text or other in the New. The rest of the forenoon, (breakfast time excepted,) they were doctrinated and instructed either in language, or some of the liberal sciences, or moral learning, or other, collected out of such authors as did best conduce to the instruction of Princes. And when he was called out to any youthful exercise becoming a child of his age, (for study without action breeds dullness,) she in her private chamber betook herself to her lute or viol, and, wearied with that, to practise her needle. This was the circular course of their employment, God was the centre of all their actions."
Her religious training.
The three royal children, subsequently the representatives of doctrinal systems so widely distinct from each other, were at this time educated in one and the same religious faith, the faith of their father. Henry had departed from the teaching of the Catholic church in one point only, he claimed the supremacy in things ecclesiastical; in other respects he adhered to the old creed. "As far as true religion is "concerned," writes Hooper to Bullinger in 1546, "idolatry is nowhere in greater vigour. Our King has destroyed the Pope, but not popery. The impious Mass, the most shameful celibacy of the clergy, the invocation of saints, auricular confession, superstitious abstinence from meats, and purgatory, were never before held by the people in greater esteem than at the present moment." (fn. 5) The people had a ready "Amen" to Henry's "Credo," for to believe as the King believed was the only safe Confession of Faith. (fn. 6) To use the rough yet forcible language of an indignant Protestant of the period, "though the Whore of Babylon is fallen in England already, yet her trishtrash remained for the iniquities of the people. God, through the King, had cast the devil out of this realm, yet both he and we sup of the broth in which the devil was sodden." (fn. 7)
Having transferred the papal attributes to himself, it was not likely that Henry would suffer the prerogative of his infallibility to be disregarded within his own household; and indeed the perfect unanimity which prevailed between Mary and her younger sister at this time shows that no religious difference had as yet estranged them from each other. So long as he lived, that is until she was fourteen years of her age, Elizabeth was brought up in the doctrines of the Catholic church; but he had made no definite arrangements for the continuance of this system, and with the accession of Edward the Sixth a new state of affairs was inaugurated. One of the chief objects of the ruling body, whom Henry had intrusted with the government of the realm, was that the youthful King should be educated in the principles of the reformation, and for this purpose he was surrounded by men who had already declared themselves the advocates of these opinions. Mary was old enough and had sufficient spirit to act for herself, and she withdrew, or was removed from intercourse with her brother and sister; but Elizabeth continued to be the partner of Edward's studies, and underwent the same moral and intellectual training.
The young King has left us in his own handwriting an interesting account of his early education. Speaking of himself in the third person, he says, "he was brought up, until he became six years old, among the women. At the sixth year of his age he was brought up in learning by Mr. Doctor Coxe, who was after his almoner, and John Cheek, Master of Arts, two well learned men, who sought to bring him up in learning of tongues, of the Scriptures, of philosophy, and of all liberal sciences. Also John Belmain, Frenchman, did teach him the French language." (fn. 8) As the education of the Princess Elizabeth was carried on for a time under the same discipline, and by the same masters, it may be interesting to throw together some particulars connected with these her instructors.
Richard Coxe was among the earliest members of Wolsey's new College at Oxford, and consequently must have been considered one of the most accomplished scholars of the day. Even at this early period he was suspected of Lutheranism. He became Archdeacon of Ely in 1540, and held the deaneries of Christ Church and Westminster. His introduction to Court was probably through the influence of Cranmer. Writing to the Archbishop in January 1546, he thus speaks of his youthful charge. "The opportunity of this messenger forceth me to write at this time, having little matter, but only to signify unto your Grace that my Lord's Grace your godson is merry and in health . . . . He hath learned almost four books of Cato, to construe, to parse, and to say without book. And of his own courage now, in the latter book he will needs have at one time fourteen verses, which he conneth pleasantly and perfectly, besides things of the Bible, Satellitium Vivis, Æsop's Fables, and Latin-making whereof he has sent your Grace a little taste." (fn. 9) There are extant several letters addressed to Coxe by his pupil, boyish productions in expression and sentiment, but all indicative of an affectionate disposition. This close intercourse however between master and scholar was not suffered to be of long duration. The Government employed Coxe as one of the Commissioners to visit the University of Oxford, of which he was Chancellor, (fn. 10) and he there manifested his zeal by destroying some of the most valuable treasures in the libraries from a notion that they encouraged popery and superstition. In October 1550, he was ordered by the Council "to repair to Sussex to appease the people by his good doctrine, who are now troubled by the seditious preaching of the Bishop of Chichester and others." (fn. 11)
The religious principles of Prince Edward's first tutor, as we have seen, were earnest and decided. In a letter addressed to Bullenger by one of his correspondents who writes to him from Oxford, Coxe is described as a man of a noble disposition and of great influence, possessed of considerable acuteness and weight of character, and one who entertains and expresses most excellent and correct notions respecting every article of the Christian faith. (fn. 12) Bullenger's doctrine was entirely to his satisfaction, and Coxe expresses his belief that this advanced Calvinist was one of the most solid pillars of God's Church. (fn. 13)
His letters to Paget.
Reformation in practise, however, is sometimes a different thing from reformation in theory, and politicians are not always disposed to interpret the word in the same sense in which it was understood by divines. Coxe and men of his character, writing and acting in all simplicity, would have had such a godly reformation as would have swept away every abuse, and reconstructed the Church upon a basis purely spiritual. They were speedily awakened from their delusion and taught to regard the reformation in a new aspect. The temporal possessions of the Church had to be redistributed. The question arose,—to whom should the property of the Church be given? Coxe and they who thought with him had a ready answer,—to the Church, to works of piety, charity, and education. A larger and more influential body of the reformers thought otherwise, and their theories prevailed. Coxe was dissatisfied, and spoke out. He shall tell his own tale and plead his own cause. Writing to Sir William Paget, one of the Secretaries of State, he thus expresses himself:—"The disposition of colleges, chantries, &c., is now in hand, and ye know, (I doubt not,) the great lack in this realm of schools, preachers, houses and livings for impotent orphans, widows, poor and miserable and what lack there shall be utterly intolerable if there be not a sufficient number of ministers, priests established in parishes of great circuit and of great number. And howsoever the world be set, let them have living honestly, that beggary drive them not to flattery, superstition, and old idolatry. This I speak to you, not distrusting of the King's Majesty's goodness on this behalf, but because there is such a number of importune wolves that be able to devour colleges, chantries, cathedral churches, universities and their lands, and a thousand times as much. But for Christ's Passion help for once to stay impropriations. Our posterity will wonder at us. The realm will come into foul ignorance and barbarousness when the reward of learning is gone." (fn. 14)
Paget seems to have made light of his friend's remonstrance and to have thought him troubled with an over-scrupulous conscience. The honest expostulations of his old friend must have been less than pleasant to a man who contrived to absorb church property to the value of nearly twenty thousand pounds a year. (fn. 15) His answer may be gathered from Coxe's rejoinder, the importance of which warrants a copious extract. It is moreover a pleasant specimen of what is not easily found—a friendly and honest interchange of sentiment between men of high position in the Court of King Edward the Sixth.
"Charissime Gulielme, opto tibi gratiam et pacem a Deo. I thank you very heartily for your good counsel touching my bodily health. Ye are become a very good physician. I thank you also for your friendly monition in the end, whereof I had some inkling before. I trust the Prince's Grace shall content his father's expectation hereafter; we suffered him hitherto more suo puerescere. But as touching those things whereof I wrote to you seriously, both you and I and every good man ought to mind them no less; ut nullus sermo. I trust ye will not forget them, for then God will forget you. One thing I left out, yet I pray God it may be remembered, which is, when poor men, offenders, be put to death, they have no counsel, no comfort. They die miserably oftentimes, and desperately. Alas! their souls be bought with the same price as our's are; a lamentable thing in the Church of Christ. Some chantries to be bestowed upon the poor jails to comfort the prisoners, to teach them penance, to teach them to take death as they ought to do. But the wolves of the world be so greedy that hardly anything shall be well bestowed unless the King's Majesty and some few with him stand strongly against them like a hardy and a godly lion. I see daily and cannot but detest hominum insatiabilem ingluviem, dum omnibus modis, jure an injuria, aliena concupiscentes trahunt, rapiunt, alieno incommodo sua augent commoda contra naturæ jura. Exitus aquarum deduxerunt oculi mei, quia non custodierunt legem Domini.
"But among all, impropriations, impropriations! Alas, I cannot but bewail them; I am not able to help to the redress. I have spoken, I have preached; but a violent water, the more it is stopped the more violently it rageth and breaketh out. Our forefathers, who bestowed so plentifully upon their parsons and curates, thought little that the greediness of a few should devour their godly liberality contrary to their godly intent and meaning. Their meaning was to have a learned, an honest, and a godly curate, to give them ensample of life, to minister fruitfully the Holy Sacraments to them, to preach and to teach among them, speedily to make atonement between brawling of neighbours, to keep good hospitality among the parishioners, to aid and succour the poor as necessity did rise among the parishioners. (fn. 16) Which thing if it were not done, then by supreme authority the parsons to be forced to their duty-doing, and not the thing to be taken away, whereby no man can be able to do his duty. Unreasonable leases do much bar this godly function of parsons and curates, whereby they be kept out of their parsonages. But impropriations do destroy all for ever. Woe be to the beginner; woe be to the continuers; woe be to the aiders and abettors! I am sorry with my heart when I remember that ye be linked in among them, though it be but in one benefice. I can never believe that such manner of hunting for things shall prosper. (fn. 17) It will ever be true, De bonis male quæsitis vix gaudebit tertius hœres. When such men be assaulted with sickness, as I was lately, vermis conscientiœ will nip them intolerably. I have granted to one; if it were to do again, knowing the mischiefs ensuing thereof, ne ipse Pagetus extorqueret unquam a me. There is nothing that nipped my conscience more this twenty years. Quare pro auctoritate qua fungeris, pro ingenio quo polles, pro pietate quam habes, pro officio in Deum, Regem et patriam, siste tandem impias illas Impropriationes.
"I hear say the King's Majesty hath given you more things. I am glad. Thank God for them, et cupiditati tuœ pone modum. Melius est modicum justo super divitias peccatorum multas. Ne vinciaris fune eorum quibuscum velis nolis interdum convivendum est. But that I would not trouble you too much at once I have yet somewhat else in my budget, quod suo tempore prodibit. I write these things without respect to you because I take you as myself; because I would that ye should use well tempus incolatus tui, prœcipue et ante omnia ad gloriam Dei. Optime vale, mi Gulielme, in Christo longe carissime!" (fn. 18)
These charming letters show that Prince Edward's first tutor was a man of a warm heart, kindly sympathies, and strong convictions; one who would not hesitate to express his opinions when a sense of duty told him to give them utterance. If he thus remonstrated in all affectionate zeal with his old friend Paget, what must have been the energy of his language when denouncing those "wolves of the world" who, shortly after his pupil's accession to the throne, were so greedily devouring the spoils? His continued residence at Court could not be agreeable to the Seymours and the Dudleys, and it might be fraught with danger to the King. What if Edward should be induced to stop short in the course they had marked out for him? (fn. 19) Hence probably the removal of Coxe from the office of tutor; hence the necessity of finding a less scrupulous reformer. (fn. 20)
Sir John Cheke.
The vacant appointment was filled by Sir John Cheke, "a man of men, supernaturally traded in all tongues." (fn. 21) Under his instruction it was expected that the King would set out and maintain God's Word, to the abolishment of all papistry and the confusion of all heresy." (fn. 22) Calvin congratulated himself and the universal Church that the education of the young Josiah was entrusted to such a master in Israel. (fn. 23) Ascham writes to Cecil that if Cheke should die, learning, counsel, nobility, court, and Cambridge would have all been punished at once, as by a general plague." (fn. 24) Another writer, a high authority upon all points connected with education, lauds "his great learning, his rare eloquence, "his sound judgment, and his grave modesty." (fn. 25) Cheke continued to discharge the duties of his office as long as a tutor was considered necessary, and it is to his careful discipline that the Prince owed his extraordinary acquirements. Ascham thus writes about the occupations of the master and the pupil, as he knew them, about the end of the year 1550. "The disposition of our Prince equals his fortune, and his virtue surpasses both, or rather, to speak like a Christian, by the manifold graces of God he wonderfully excels his years in his desire for the best literature, in his regard for the truest religion, in will, in judgment, and (what you especially praise in a student) constancy of purpose. There is scarcely any other point in which I consider him more fortunate than in having obtained John Cheke as the instructor of his youth in elegant literature and true religion. He understands Latin accurately, he speaks and writes it with skill and fluency, and always with discretion. He has mastered logic, and he is now learning the Ethics of Aristotle in Greek. He has made such progress in this language that with the greatest ease he translates into it the Philosophia of Cicero." (fn. 26)
Her acquaintance with modern languages.
Trained under Coxe and Cheek, the Princess Elizabeth shared the studies and the accomplishments of her brother. But other qualifications besides a scholarlike acquaintance with Cicero and Aristotle were necessary for one who might suddenly be called upon to reply to the speech of a French envoy, or acknowledge the congratulations of an Italian ambassador. The importance of the study of the languages of modern Europe, hitherto little cultivated, was beginning to be recognized, and attention was now directed to the wide fields of literature which they opened up. Latin was fast ceasing to be the usual medium of diplomacy; (fn. 27) men of the younger school did not yield it that exclusive sovereignty which it hitherto had claimed. Anticipating the requirements of her future reign, Elizabeth was early instructed in French and Italian, and attained considerable proficiency in both of these languages. The traditions of her family were in this direction. Her father wrote and spoke French well, and her mother's familiarity with it was the first step in her unhappy introduction to the Court. The Princess Mary conversed fluently and grammatically in Latin, French, and Italian, while Spanish was as familiar as her mother tongue. But at that time, as now, the English as a nation were not ready or fluent linguists. Among other anecdotes illustrative of the social condition of the period, Dean Turner recounts the following incident, which occurred within the range of his own experience, as showing the painful extremities to which our countrymen were sometimes reduced when they crossed the channel:—"About thirteen years ago it chanced that I was in Calais, and while I was there the Prince of Salerno (fn. 28) came thither out of Italy with many noble gentlemen. At that time two English Commissioners were sent thither to scour the town of traitors. And no deputy being as yet appointed at our being there, these two English Commissioners must welcome the Prince and his nobles that came with him. And whereas the gentlemen spake first Italian unto our men and afterwards Latin, and (as far as I remember) French too, our gentlemen could not speak one word again to them in any of those three tongues. The one was an Earl and the other a Knight. Whereas they should walk together, because our Earl would shew the stranger a cast of English courtesy, when the stranger would have given the honour and higher hand unto him, he cried still (thinking that he behaved himself earl-ly and gentlemanly), 'By God's Body I will not, by God's Body I will 'not,' as though his gentlemanship had standen in great swearing." (fn. 29)
Under similar circumstances Elizabeth would have appeared to greater advantage, for Ascham relates that upon one occasion he heard her address three foreign ambassadors in three different languages, the first in Italian, the second in French, and the third in Latin. (fn. 30) Her Italian Master was Battista Castiglione, (fn. 31) and such proficiency did she attain, that as early (apparently) as the summer of 1544 we find her addressing a letter in that language (fn. 32) to Queen Catherine Parr. As might have been expected, French was yet more familiar. Herein her tutor was John Belmain, a native of France, who also had the honour of reckoning Prince Edward among his scholars. (fn. 33) Being a zealous Pro- testant he may possibly have assisted in strengthening Elizabeth's sentiments in that direction. In the year 1544 we find her employed in translating into English "a godly medytacyon of the Christian soule concerning a love towards God and Hys Christe, compyled in Frenche by Lady Margarete, Quene of Naver, and aptely translated into Englysh by the ryght vertuouse Lady Elyzabeth, daughter of our late Soverayne Kynge Henri the VIII." (fn. 34) This work had some sort of traditional claim upon her notice, having been written by Margaret d'Angoulême, Queen of Navarre, in whose Court Anne Boleyn spent a considerable portion of her time while in France. We may devoutly wish for her that she had been better employed. Margaret's Court, like her character, was a strange admixture of Lutheranism and licentiousness, in which the latter predominated. The conversation of the authoress of the Heptameron cannot have been edifying to the future wife of Henry and mother of Elizabeth. If we are to believe certain French writers, a darker shadow rests upon her character than even that which is exhaled from the impurities of the Heptameron. While she was scolding her spiritual director, Briçonnet, Bishop of Meaux, in December 1521, because he did not proceed fast enough with the reformation of the Church, she was addressing her brother Francis I. in such passionate expressions as give room for inferences of the saddest character. (fn. 35)
But whatever may have been the general character of Margaret's writings, this production at least of her pen, "Le Miroir de l'âme pecheresse," is perfectly unexceptionable. It is a proof of the versatility of her talent that she could have been the authoress at once of the Heptameron and the "Godly Meditation of a Christian Soul." This latter expresses in glowing language the self-abasement of the writer, her consciousness of having offended God, her sorrow for the sins of her youth and her more mature age, forming a burden too heavy for her to bear. It is the language of the penitent heart passionately appealing for forgiveness to its Creator and Judge, calling out to Him "De profundis," and yet not despairing. Her repentance is not a barren sentiment leading to no practical result, but guiding the wandering soul back to her first and purer love. Elizabeth's translation of it is not a happy one, it wants ease, fluency, depth; but what right have we to expect these from the child of twelve? As a school girl's exercise it is correct enough, and having said this the less that is said besides the better. Elizabeth pleads her own cause the best when she admits that it is "all imperfect and incorrect," and that having "joined the sentences together as well as the capacity of her simple wit and small learning could extend themselves, she knows it in many places to be rude and nothing done as it should be." (fn. 36)
But other teachers than books, other influences besides those of schoolmasters, were to form the mind and the character of the young Princess. She had to learn one of the hardest and yet the most salutary of lessons, the knowledge of self. Painful as it was, it was necessary for her that she should discover that she must feel, think, speak, and act independently. The family tie which hitherto had bound the three children of Henry together was now to be severed, and a separate path lay before each. Edward was to be estranged from his relatives. Mary had already withdrawn herself, or had been removed from the royal household; it was thought, and with justice, that her influence might interfere with the full development of the Calvinism which was to form the creed of the King and the kingdom. (fn. 37) No such objection could apply to Elizabeth, yet his intercourse with her, whilst he was King, was scarcely more frequent than with Mary, (fn. 38) notwithstanding the presumed coincidence of their religious sentiments. She was still too young to be burthened with the charge of an establishment of her own, nor was her education yet completed. The controlling and superintending care of a woman was needed, and she was accordingly placed in the household of Catherine Parr, the Queen Dowager.
Early as it was for her to meet the trials of life, here it was her lot to encounter them somewhat roughly. So far she has our love, our admiration, and our respect. But we must not deceive ourselves by believing that the charm is to continue unbroken; every portrait has its darker shadows as well as its brighter colours. We shall scarce understand her future course as a woman unless we compel ourselves to examine her errors and failings as a girl.
Elizabeth resides with the Queen Dowager.
Immediately upon the death of Henry the Eighth, or possibly before it, the scheming and unscrupulous nobles began to speculate upon the future disposal of the crown. Edward was a sickly youth; like his uncle the Prince of Wales, and his brother the Duke of Richmond, he might die before reaching manhood. Henry had anticipated this event, it is true, by deciding that Mary and Elizabeth should succeed him in turn; but a dead man's will was easily set aside in those days, and the idea of a Queen Regnant was as yet a novelty to England. The absolute supremacy was at the first entrusted to the King's maternal uncle, the Duke of Somerset; but busy heads were at work to devise schemes by which he should be removed from his eminence and the power which he had acquired transferred to others. One of the most active of these aspirants was his own brother the Lord Admiral, who, by one bold step, placed himself in immediate connexion with the royal family. Very shortly after Henry's decease the Admiral secretly married his widow. He was thus not only brought into frequent intercourse with the King, whom he hoped to mould to his will and bend to his purposes, but, further, he obtained the custody of the Princess Elizabeth, who at that time was residing in the household of the Queen Dowager, her father's widow.
It subsequently transpired that during this period of her life Elizabeth had not conducted herself with the discretion that might have been desired. Lady Somerset found great fault in consequence of "my Lady Elizabeth going in a night in a barge upon Thames, and for other light parts." (fn. 39) Queen Catherine Parr said that upon one occasion her husband "looked in at the gallery window and saw my Lady Elizabeth cast her arms about a man's neck." "Her Grace denied it weeping, and bade axe all her women." (fn. 39) Familiarities passed between her and the Lord Admiral, at first rough but innocent, in the presence of his wife, afterwards in private of a more dangerous character. The jealousy of the Queen Dowager was naturally excited, and she was compelled, gentle and forgiving as she was, to insist upon the removal of the Princess from her household. (fn. 40) But for the sake of her own husband as well as for the sake of Elizabeth, the scandal was for the time kept a profound secret. A correspondence, ostensibly of a friendly nature was carried on between the ladies, in which, for obvious reasons, the Admiral was permitted to take a part; all that could be done was done to lull suspicion and to heal the wound which had been inflicted upon the honour of the Princess on the one hand and the susceptibilities of the wife upon the other. But there are memories which start up before us most vividly when we would most willingly forget them. Three months after Elizabeth's removal, Queen Catherine died within a few days of her confinement. In her last sickness she gave utterance to some words which, though apparently few and incoherent, seem to receive their true explanation from the events which had caused her so much pain a short time previously. "Two days before her death she, having my Lord Admiral by the hand, spake these words, My Lady Tyrwhyt I am not well handled, for those that be about me care not for me, but stand laughing at my grief, and the more good I will to them the less good they will to me. Whereupon my Lord Admiral answered, Why sweetheart, I would you no hurt. And she said to him again aloud, No, my Lord, I think so; and immediately she said to him in his ear, But, my Lord, you have given me many shrewd taunts. These words I perceived she spake with good memory, and very sharply and earnestly, for her mind was sore unquieted." (fn. 41)
Her intended marriage with the Lord Admiral.
The Admiral, thus finding himself at liberty by the death of his wife, lost no time in seeking a new connexion. Six weeks after her decease, he was busy speculating upon the possibility of securing the hand of the Lady Jane Grey, but the correspondence which he opened with her father proving ineffectual, (fn. 42) he bethought himself of the Princess Elizabeth. Here there was less difficulty; she neither had, nor affected to have, any dislike to the attentions of her former admirer. She had already permitted herself to be spoken to by her servants respecting his intentions, (fn. 43) and had even employed them to correspond with him upon his visits to her house. (fn. 44) Thomas Parry, one of her attendants, took occasion to ask her "whether, if the Council would like it, she would marry with him? to the which she answered, When that comes to pass, I will do as God shall put in my mind." (fn. 45) Elizabeth herself confesses as follows: "Katherine Ashley told me after my Lord Admiral was married to the Queen that if my Lord might have had his own will he would have married me afore the Queen. Then I asked her how she knew that? Then she said she knew it well enough, both by himself and by others. Another time she said, You shall see shortly that he that would fain have had you before he married the Queen will come now to woo you." (fn. 46)
Opposed by the Privy Council.
The intended marriage, however, attracted the notice of the Court, and naturally occasioned no little speculation in that quarter. The grasping and ambitious character of the Admiral was well known, and it was considered far from desirable that he should be allowed to strengthen his position by this alliance with one who stood so near to the throne. (fn. 47) It need excite no surprise, therefore, if the matter was warmly taken up by the Privy Council, and that they attempted to ascertain the real state of affairs by subjecting the Princess to a rigid examination. Young as she was, however, she exhibited a degree of calm assurance which baffled the inquiry; it might be the consciousness of innocence, it might be effrontery, but it was unexpected and perplexing. "In no way will she confess any practice by Mrs. Ashley or the cofferer (Parry) concerning my Lord Admiral," writes Sir Robert Tyrwhit to the Lord Protector, on January 22, "and yet I do see it in her face that she is guilty, and do perceive as yet she will abide more storms or she accuse Mrs. Ashley." (fn. 48) On the following day "by gentle persuasion" Sir Robert obtained possession of a few additional particulars, but they came slowly. "I do assure your Grace," he writes, she hath a very good wit, and nothing is gotten of her but by great policy." Two days elapse and yet he cannot frame her to all points as he would wish it to be. On the 28th he is still at fault. "My Lady's Grace doth plainly deny that she knoweth any more than she already hath opened to me, which things she hath willingly written to your Grace with her own hand. I do verily believe that there hath been some secret promise between my Lady, Mrs. Ashley, and the cofferer never to confess to death; and if it be so, it will never be gotten of her but either by the King's Majesty, or else by your Grace." (fn. 49)
At this period of the examination Elizabeth gained an important advantage over her more experienced inquisitor. Sir Robert Tyrwhit, expecting to terrify her into an admission of the charges which he wished to establish against the Admiral, placed before her how much she had endangered her own good name by the connexion; and he stated, in the broadest terms, the scandalous reports which were circulated to her discredit. Here at least she was unjustly accused, and she entrenched herself within this stronghold. Promptly and with vehemence she placed before the Lord Protector the accusation and her indignant denial. "Master Tyrwhit and others have told me that there goeth rumours abroad which be greatly both against my honour and honesty, (which above all other things I esteem,) which be these, that I am in the Tower and with child by my Lord Admiral. My Lord, these are shameful slanders, for the which, besides the great desire I have to see the King's Majesty, I shall most heartily desire your Lordship that I may come to the Court after your first determination, that I may show myself there as I am." (fn. 50)
The matter still hung in suspense on the 31st. The Princess was making admissions piecemeal to Sir Robert, but the information was neither precise nor trustworthy. "Her Grace will in no wise confess that either before or after that Kate Aschlay spoke to her touching the marriage betwixt her and my Lord Admiral, [than] which I think nothing more untrue, and do well perceive that she will no more accuse Mistress Aschlay than she will her own self, and at this present can abide nobody that doth discommend her doings, and saith they shall all fare the worse for their so sayings. If your Grace did know all my persuasions with her all manner of ways, weighing her honour and surety one way and the danger to the country, your Grace would not a little marvel that she will no more cough out matter than she doth. But the love she hath to Aschlay is to be wondered at, which must needs be for evil. But if Mistress Aschlay would open any of these things which she is fully replenished withal, that she might see some part of it, then I would have good hope to make her cough out the whole." (fn. 51)
The diplomacy of the waiting-woman and the girl in her teens was superior to that of the whole Privy Council of England. Kate Ashley would not "open any of the things with which she was so fully replenished," nor would Elizabeth "cough out more matter" than it suited her purpose to confess. The correspondence ends on February 7, when Sir Robert acknowledges himself defeated. Forwarding "The Confession of the Lady Elizabeth's Grace," he adds, "In no way she will confess that either Mrs. Ashley or Parry willed her to any practice to my Lord Admiral, either by message or writing. They all sing one song, and so I think they would not do unless they had set the note before; for surely they would confess, or else they could not so well agree." (fn. 52)
Here the inquiry ended. It hardly reached the point which it was intended to serve. The Admiral's enemies hoped that they should be able to prove the existence upon his part of a design to marry the Princess without having obtained the permission of the Council. To have engaged in such a conspiracy could easily have been construed into an act of treason. This is the point to meet which the answers of Elizabeth, Parry, and Ashley are especially framed, and they do indeed meet it with a very decided negative. The examinate last named is careful to state how earnestly she impressed upon her young mistress the necessity of caution, and that "if she did anything other than according to the Council's mind she was but an undone woman." (fn. 53)
Elizabeth's "Governor" dismissed.
Elizabeth's indignant letter to the Protector was written on the twenty-eighth of January, but the Council took no notice of it until after an interval of three weeks. They were too busily employed with the chief conspirator to trouble themselves about the minor offenders who had lent themselves to his schemes. When they did at last act, the course they adopted towards the Princess was neither unkind nor injudicious, considering how nearly she had compromised herself and the future peace of the nation by a most hazardous marriage. The Council dismissed Katharine Ashley from her service; they could not do less. In announcing her discharge to the Princess their language was calm and dignified; it was calculated to inflict pain, possibly was intended to do so, but they must express their censure upon what had occasioned so much scandal. They thus address the Princess: "Katharine Ashley, who heretofore hath had the special charge to see to the good education and government of your person, hath shown herself far unmeet to occupy any such place longer about your Grace, and we thereby thought convenient to send unto you the Lady Tyrwhit, to remain about you in lieu of the said Ashley, and to commit unto her the same charge about your person that Ashley had. Our trust is that you will accept her service thankfully, and also hear and follow her good advices from time to time, and especially in such matters as we have at this time appointed her to move unto you." (fn. 54)
Under the care of Lady Tyrwhit.
At first the Princess was inclined to be rebellious. When Lady Tyrwhit presented herself in her new capacity, she answered that "Mrs. Ashley was still her mistress, and that she had not so demeaned herself as that the Council should now need to put any more mistresses unto her. She took the matter so heavily that she wept all that night and loured all the next day." Lady Tyrwhit did not know how to act, and asked her husband to interpose. Sir Robert perceived that she was very loth to have a governor, and to avoid the same said the world would note her to be a great offender, having so hastily a governor appointed her. She fully hopes to recover her old mistress again; the love she bears to her is to be wondered at." He attempted to reason with her, but made no impression. "I told her if she would consider her honour, and the sequel thereof, she would (considering her years) make suit to your Grace to have a mistress rather than to make delay to be without one for one hour. She cannot digest such advice in no way; but (if I should say my fancy) it were more meet she should have two than one." The secret of her pride and anger, the secret apparently of much that is otherwise inexplicable in her after life, reveals itself towards the end of the same letter. "She beginneth now a little to droop by reason that she heareth that my Lord Admiral's houses be dispersed. And my wife telleth me now that she cannot hear him discommended but she is ready to make answer therein, and so she hath not been accustomed to do unless Mrs. Ashley were touched, wherein she was very ready to answer vehemently." (fn. 55)
If she really loved the Lord Admiral no wonder that she began to droop. In the middle of the month following he was accused of high treason, tried, condemned, and executed. Among the articles objected against him one was that he had "attempted and gone about to marry the King's Majesty's sister, the Lady Elizabeth, second inheritor in remainder to the crown." (fn. 56) Shortly before his death he contrived to write letters to Mary and Elizabeth, in which, if we may believe his enemies, he induced them to conspire against the Protector. They were found and destroyed. Edward records his uncle's death, and at the same time his own cold indifference, in these words of his journal: "The Lord Sudeley, Admiral of England, was condemned to death and died the March ensuing." He was the only man for whom Elizabeth ever exhibited any real affection, and his death must have been the first great grief of her existence. Let us hope that the Lady Tyrwhit dealt gently with the poor girl in her sorrow, and furnished her with the only real balm for a wounded spirit.
Lady Tyrwhit's prayers and verses.
In Lady Tyrwhit she had for her guide and adviser a woman, and a good woman. She was old enough to advise and guide, and yet young enough to sympathise with a grief of this kind. There was another tie, she and Elizabeth had resided for some time together in the household of the late Queen, the wife of the Lord Admiral. This intercommunity of affection for the dead constitutes a strong bond of affection between the living, and Elizabeth could not choose but love one who had been so closely associated with him for whom she mourned. But, more than this, her new guardian had deep religious convictions. She drew up a form of morning and evening prayer, which was in daily use in her family, and she has left behind her various devotions, meditations, and anthems adapted to the various necessities of life, tinged more or less with the peculiar sentiments of the age, but giving indubitable proofs of an earnest seeking after God. (fn. 57) A prayer for the evening, in which we may imagine Elizabeth to have joined, is expressed thus: "Visit, we beseech Thee, O Lord, this our dwelling and drive away from it all the assaults of our enemy. Let Thy Holy Angels dwell in it, which may keep us all this night in Thy peace, and ever let Thy blessing be upon us." (fn. 58)
Of greater interest are "Certain godly sentences written by the Lady E[lizabeth] T[yrwhit];" sayings which she used in conversation, or maxims intended as rules of conduct. They may have had their weight in the formation of her pupil's character. The more striking are these which follow: "Use invocation of God's holy Name. Think upon the needy once a day. Further the just suit of the poor. "Help to pacify displeasure. Kill anger with patience. Make much of modesty. Be always one. Favour the friendless. Look chiefly to yourself. Once you were not here. Away you must, and turn to dust."
Elizabeth under Ascham.
In an establishment of her own and provided with an allowance, which if not lavish was certainly liberal, the education of Elizabeth now advanced towards its completion. She was placed under the direction of Ascham, a name generally and deservedly honoured. Making every allowance for the pride with which he speaks of the progress of his pupil, her acquirements were wonderful. He himself (fn. 59) shall describe the future Queen of England as she was in the seventeenth year of her age, after he had instructed her for about two years. She spoke French and Italian as well as she spoke English; she could converse in Latin fluently and with accuracy, in Greek moderately well. She had read nearly the whole of Cicero and the greater part of Livy. The earlier part of each day was devoted to the perusal of the Greek Testament; select portions of Socrates and the Tragedies of Sophocles followed. These authors, in the opinion of her master, were best calculated to improve her taste, and to cultivate her understanding. Her religious instruction was based upon the Bible, Saint Cyprian, and the Commonplaces of Melancthon. Nor did she hurry through her lessons with the impatient haste of a modern school girl. Ascham insists much upon the delicacy of her perception of the verbal merits of the authors which she read, how she weighed each word, and examined the structure of each sentence. (fn. 60) Her handwriting, whether in Latin or Greek, was exquisite; and although she was no mean proficient in music, she did not allow it to occupy too much of her leisure. Nor need we limit ourselves to the testimony of Ascham. Hooper writes thus to Bullinger in February 1550. "The King's sister, the daughter of the late King by Queen Anne, is inflamed with the same zeal for the religion of Christ. She not only knows what the true religion is, but has acquired such proficiency in Greek and Latin that she is able to defend it with the most just arguments, and the most happy talent; so that she encounters few adversaries whom she does not overcome." (fn. 61)
One more quotation and we may close the subject as far as Elizabeth's classical acquirements are concerned. Our informant is William Turner, Dean of Wells, who thus addresses the Queen in 1568, and whose recollection consequently carried him back to the year 1550. "As for your knowledge in the Latin tongue, eighteen years ago, or more, I had in the Duke of Somerset's house, (being his physician at that time,) a good trial thereof, when as it pleased your Grace to speak Latin unto me, for although I have, both in England, Low and High Germany, and other places of my long travel and pilgrimage, never spake with any noble or gentle woman that spake so well and so much congrue, fine and pure Latin, as your Grace did unto me so long ago. Since which time how much and wonderfully ye have proceeded in the knowledge of the Latin tongue, and also profited in the Greek, French, and Italian tongues and others, and in all parts of philosophy and good learning, not only your faithful subjects, being far from all suspicion of flattery, bear witness, but also strangers, men of great learning, in their books set out in the Latin tongue, give honourable testimony." (fn. 62)
The household of the Princess.
An insight into Elizabeth's domestic arrangements at Hatfield is furnished by her Household Book, which has lately been published by the Camden Society. (fn. 63) It includes her receipts and expenses for one whole year from the beginging of October 1551 to the end of September 1552. The Princess lived in considerable state, her income was handsome, and her expenditure liberal even to profusion, in accordance with the rough, open-handed hospitality of the age. Her receipts for the year reach about 5,890l., equivalent probably to about 30,000l. of our money. This arose chiefly from grants made from the public purse, but she had no objection to carry to her credit various small sums arising from the sale of sundry commodities with which she supplied her brother's household. A very large portion of her income was spent on good living. Her bakehouse cost her 211l. 14s. 4d. (Wheat at that time might be bought at twelve shillings a bushel, or twenty shillings a quarter.) The expenses of the kitchen were very heavy, no less than 579l. 4s. 11d., besides 311l. 5s. 4d. for poultry. Her wax, spice, and candles are entered at the surprising amount of 340l. 9s. 9d.; besides which there occur the supplemental charges of 94l. 12s. 11d. for coals, and 92l. 11s. 10d. for wood. Her "Sauce" (a very comprehensive term, including vegetables,) stands at 21l. 3s. 2d. We shall not be surprised if we find that this large quantity of food demanded the consumption of a corresponding proportion of strong drink. She paid 306l. 8s. 7d. for beer and wine during the year. The wages and liveries of her retainers are charged at 426l. 16s. She was waited on by thirteen gentlemen of the body, each of whom was presented with a coat which cost forty shillings. The alms for the year are entered at 7l. 15s. 8d.
The noble Editor of this curious volume observes that he is struck with the exceeding smallness of Elizabeth's outlay for dress, and the fact certainly is remarkable. "Making a pair of upper bodies for her Grace" cost twelve pence, the lining 15d., silk, 4d. There is, however, an explanation for this; Elizabeth conformed to that puritanical simplicity of costume which distinguished the leading party in the Court of her brother, and "the maidenly apparel which she used in his time made the noblemen's wives and daughters ashamed to be dressed and painted like peacocks." (fn. 64) Upon occasion, however, we find her purchasing velvet at 28s. 4d. a yard, and some choice black velvet cost her as much as 30s. a yard.
It is somewhat remarkable that Elizabeth's taste for literature finds so few illustrations in this volume. She bought a Bible which cost 20s.; and again she is charged "for books and a Bible" 27s. 4d. No other purchases of books are recorded throughout the year. She gave 30s. to a poor scholar at Oxford; no mean gift when a year's expenses at the sister University were reckoned at 5l. Her taste for music is more conspicuous than for reading. "Farmer, that played upon the lute," had a present of 30s.; "likewise More, the harper." "Lute strings for her Grace" cost 17s. When "my Lord Russel's minstrels" played before her at Hatfield she presented them with 20s. The parsimony which marked her latter years had not yet manifested itself. "To one that brought cignets and to a poor "woman that came out of Ireland," 30s. were given. She distributed 40s. "at the christening of Mr. Carie's child." She visited her brother at St. James's, he being sick at the time, and on this occasion her presents to the servants amounted to 9l. 15s., besides 10s. to the bellringers at Barnet, through which she passed by the way. It may be noticed, in conclusion, that though not parsimonious she was prudent; she had a balance of 1,507l. in her favour at the end of the year.
Edward's reign was now drawing to a premature close. Cardan tells us that no one could look in his face without anticipating his early death. (fn. 65) "The young King," says Stow, apparently from his own observation, "by reason of untimely birth was weak in body, in such sort that riding in state through London to be seen of the people, he had a fair chain of gold about his neck (which was then held a kingly ornament, though at this day contemned to be worn by mean subjects,) the weight of his chain caused his feeble body to bow." (fn. 66) In April 1552, he had a com- bined attack of measles and small-pox, (fn. 67) which must have severely taxed his enfeebled vital powers, and although he soon rallied from these diseases, they left him predisposed to any subsequent ailment. The illness which ended fatally may be traced to a chill caught by drinking cold water while heated by playing at the game of tennis. Early in the spring of 1553 unfavourable symptoms exhibited themselves and gradually assumed the appearance of a confirmed consumption. He was continually harassed by a racking cough, and the expectorations by which it was accompanied showed that the lungs were extensively ulcerated. (fn. 68) He was burnt up by a slow fever. The only sleep which the poor invalid could obtain was procured by the use of such narcotics or external applications as the rude medical skill of the age could devise. (fn. 69) His extremities began to swell, he lost his hair and his nails, and his skin peeled off in patches. (fn. 70) It was remarked that these alarming symptoms grew more intense from the time that the physician of the Duke of Northumberland had been associated with the medical attendants of the household. (fn. 71) They were forbidden under pain of death to issue any bulletin respecting the state of the King's health. They were neither permitted to leave the King's apartments, nor might any one converse with them there. (fn. 72) At a later period a female practitioner was allowed to join the doctors; and by her hands, but in their presence, stimulants were liberally administered. (fn. 73) It was necessary that Edward's flickering life should be sustained by any means until the plans of Northumberland were fully matured. He was at this time busily employed in collecting his energies for the stroke which he had resolved to strike for the crown the moment it should become vacant. Long and carefully he had been moulding Edward to his purposes, and now at last the pupil might be trusted to repeat in public the lesson which had been conned over to him so often in private. Edward, from whose heart all feelings of kindred and family affection had long been blotted out, and whose moral perception had been dimmed by the incense of flattery in which he lived, (fn. 74) was taught to believe that he could dispose of the crown as he could dispose of any piece of private property. Under the influence of the stimulants (fn. 75) administered to him by the woman-doctor, he drew up what he called "A device for the succession of the crown." (fn. 76) In his zeal for Protestantism he lost sight of every other consideration; his father's will, his own oath at his coronation, his regard for his sisters, his consideration for the tranquillity of the realm—all were forgotten. He had no scruple in passing over the claims of his elder sister, the Princess Mary, for she was a Papist and had disputed his supremacy; (fn. 77) and whatever hesitation he might have felt in sacrificing Elizabeth yielded to the plea that the marriage between her parents had been "clearly and lawfully undone." His two sisters, Mary and Elizabeth, were declared to be illegitimate and not lawfully begotten. And then, passing over the Lady Frances, the daughter of Mary Queen of France, he confers the crown of England upon "the Lady Jane, eldest daughter of the said Lady Frances, and the heirs male of the said body of the said Lady Jane, lawfully begotten." This Lady Jane was Lady Jane Grey, the wife of Lord Guilford Dudley, and the daughter-in-law of the Duke of Northumberland. (fn. 78)
Incidents that follow upon his death.
Shortly after he had completed these arrangements Edward died, but his death was kept secret for some time. Two days afterwards, when the Ambassadors of the Emperor presented themselves at Court and solicited an audience, one of the Secretaries of the Privy Council informed them that the King was too ill to see them upon business, but that any message which they might please to communicate should be delivered to him and his answer transmitted in due course. (fn. 79) It was necessary that the Emperor should be kept in ignorance of the conspiracy which was being formed against his cousin, the Princess Mary. But the French Ambassador resident in London was better informed. Immediately upon the death of Edward, Northumberland had communicated to Henry II. the accession of the new "King," (for it was intended that young Dudley should nominally be the Sovereign,) and had asked for the support of France. (fn. 80) Noailles thought that the revolution would be successful, and regarded Mary's case as desperate from the beginning. For the last three months the Duke had been preparing for the struggle. He had sold a large amount of Church property and had converted the proceeds to his own ends. His staunchest retainers were placed in the most important strongholds of the realm. Measures had been taken to prevent the arrival of reinforcements from abroad. The garrison of Calais was augmented so as to threaten Flanders, should the Emperor send Flemish troops into England. Lord Cobham was posted on the southern seaboard ready to hinder the landing of assistance in that quarter. In the Channel a powerful fleet was cruising with the same object, and a strong naval reserve was lying in the Thames, prepared to hurry to any point where its services might be required. And immediately upon the King's death the Duke had seized the royal stores, the treasure, artillery, shipping, and fortresses. (fn. 81)
The sisters in peril.
Such was the state of affairs, such the plot to alter the succession upon the death of Edward the Sixth, and had it succeeded it would have signed the death warrant not only of Mary but of Elizabeth. And it very nearly did succeed. The first blow was of course struck at the elder sister. The Duke had arranged matters so well that in the opinion of the Imperial Ambassadors Mary's escape was almost impossible. (fn. 82) She had already thrown away her only chance of safety and had adopted a course which to them appeared "strange, difficult, and dangerous." (fn. 83) Although, as we have seen, nearly all the military force of the realm was in the Duke's hands and his navy commanded the sea, yet she refused to temporise, and boldly claimed the crown as her undoubted right. By adopting this course she had seriously imperilled her own personal safety, as well as the success of her cause. The Duke had marched against her with a force so overwhelming that he would certainly return with her in his custody within four days. (fn. 84) She had sent them a verbal message to the effect that she must soon surrender unless she had assistance from abroad, and this assistance they knew that she could not obtain. (fn. 85) The French Ambassador, who was thoroughly acquainted with every move of the game, fully anticipated the same result. The Duke, he thought, had acted with great judgment in every particular but one; he had supplied himself amply with men and money, but he had not yet secured the person of the Lady Mary. (fn. 86)
True, he had not yet done this, because such a step would have been premature and therefore dangerous. He could lay his hand upon her at any time, and he would do so without fail when the right moment should arrive. He believed that she was entirely in his power. He had tried to persuade her that he was her friend, and to familiarise her with this idea he had frequently sent despatches informing her, not always very correctly, of the state of her brother's health. (fn. 87) He assured her that when the sad event should occur it would be her wisdom to hasten to the Tower, where she would find him ready to vindicate with heart and hand her right to the crown. She would have fallen into the snare had not the Ambassadors of Charles informed her of the Duke's treachery. She probably knew, they certainly did, that already upon one occasion when her brother seemed near his last, a troop of horse had been sent from London to watch her house and prevent her escape. (fn. 88) The Duke fully understood her importance. As long as she was alive there was no safety for the conspirators, as long as she was at liberty there was positive danger. She must be secured at all hazards. A long imprisonment in the Tower, if she were submissive; if she were obstinate or her adherents were troublesome, a judicial sentence would free him from further anxiety on her account.
Elizabeth, how to be disposed of.
The Duke had his plans for Elizabeth also. Like her sister she must be seized and brought to London. This was certain; but he hesitated between two plans for her final disposal. On the one hand he might use her to strengthen his alliance with France, by giving her in marriage to some of the younger branches of that house, according to a proposal already made by Henry the Second (fn. 89) himself. Or again; it might be expedient to make her conduce to the advancement of his own family, marrying her, for instance, to the young Earl of Warwick. (fn. 90) One obstacle indeed stood in the way of this latter project, Warwick had a wife already; but this was a minor difficulty, for the Duke ranked high in the estimation of the clergy, and a divorce could be procured without much difficulty. (fn. 91)
Noailles, as we have seen, had detected one important error in the Duke's calculations, he might have pointed out another yet more fatal. Mary was a formidable antagonist, for the hearts of the people were with her. From the commencement of the outbreak she exhibited no alarm, no unsteadiness, nothing which showed that she doubted the result. On the other hand Northumberland was feared and hated. His design upon the crown implied a revolution, and men knew too well that a revolution endangered life and property. His rapacity, his tyranny, his pride and insolence, were notorious to friend and foe. The Catholic despised him as a renegade, and the Protestant suspected that he was one of those to whom godliness was gain. (fn. 92) He had gone, more than once, after dark and in disguise, to the French Ambassador, and he was not the man who would hesitate to sell Calais and betray Scotland if it served his own purpose. The popular voice ascribed to him the death as well of the Lord Admiral as of the Duke of Somerset, (fn. 93) and it was whispered that he had poisoned the young King just dead. He was sensible himself that he was no favourite with the nation. "As they rode through Shoreditch, saith the Duke to the Lord Grey, The people press to see us, but not one saith God speed us." (fn. 94) God did not speed them. Mary had escaped in safety from Hunsdon and was already in Framlingham castle. The country was rising in her favour. One after another the chief towns of the kingdom proclaimed her Queen; troops, horse and foot, joined her standard. They who could fight offered her their swords; they who could not, carried her their silver, their plate and their jewels. From thirty-five to forty thousand men, well armed and well disciplined, marched under her standard without having cost her a single crown. (fn. 95) The intelligence that their plans had failed came down upon the conspirators with fearful suddenness, and showed the metal of which they were made. On July 19, Cranmer, the Chancellor and Treasurer, the Duke of Suffolk, the Earls of Bedford, Arundel, Shrewsbury and Pembroke, Lords Darcy and Paget, together with many others, declared themselves "ready and firm with all their force" to remain in their "promise and steadfastness to their "Sovereign Lady Queen Jane." (fn. 96) On the next day they addressed a letter to Her most Excellent Majesty Queen Mary, in which they assure her that they, her "most humble, faithful, and obedient subjects, have always, they take God to witness, remained her true and humble subjects in their hearts ever since the death of their late Sovereign Lord and Master, her brother." (fn. 97) Northumberland was arrested. Mary was everywhere accepted as Queen of England, and the rebellion which but a week before had threatened to extinguish the family of the Tudors, was crushed with such miraculous rapidity that Noailles saw in it the direct interposition of God's providence. (fn. 98)
Issue of the conspiracy.
The events of the last month had indeed been most extraordinary, and there are few incidents in our national history which possess a deeper interest. England had stood upon the brink of a mighty revolution, a revolution which would have succeeded but for the wonderful promptness and decision of the Princess Mary. When she had been thus suddenly called upon to act, Mary had adopted a course which was at once prompt, bold, and irrevocable. She had thrown herself and her cause upon the affection of the people, and declared that she was prepared to fight for the throne of which they knew her to be the rightful inheritor. The result had proved the accuracy of her calculations and the wisdom of her decision. The people placed her upon the throne of England; "and thus was the matter ended without bloodshed, which men feared would have brought the death of many thousands." (fn. 99)
Mary's treatment of the prisoners.
Mary had now to deal with the conspirators, nor was she unwilling to act with leniency. Dudley's crime was too flagrant to escape punishment, the safety of the nation demanded his execution as the disturber of the public tranquillity. The people would have torn him piecemeal had he fallen into their power; yet even him she was willing to have pardoned, had it rested with herself. She could not reconcile it to her conscience, she said, to put Jane Grey to death, she pitied her youth and inexperience, and knew that she had been only a tool in the hands of others. (fn. 100) That the rebels while prisoners in the Tower were treated kindly and that their allowance was liberal is proved by a document lately discovered, the authenticity of which is beyond dispute. "The Lady Jane's" weekly allowance was 6l. 13s. 4d., and she was waited on by two gentlewomen and three men servants; the Duke of Northumberland, arch-rebel though he was, received at the rate of 6l. 16s. 8d. by the week. Bishop Ridley was allowed seventy shillings a week, and the rest were treated with the same spirit of moderation. (fn. 101)
Difficulties of Mary's position.
In the opinion of the most dispassionate judges the difficulties with which Mary had to contend were of no ordinary magnitude. No sooner was she placed upon the throne than a dark cloud gathered in the distance and a coming storm was visible. Some of the persons who had helped her in the late rebellion were clamorous for a reward, and the royal treasury was miserably exhausted. (fn. 102) Mary's conscience would not allow her to satisfy these demands by that easy and pleasant remedy, a grant of church property. Large sums had been borrowed from foreign money lenders at exorbitant rates of interest, and these must be settled. Even the payments due to the royal household were three years in arrear. (fn. 103) The people were apprehensive that the Queen's relationship with the Emperor would influence her foreign policy, a supposition which touched to the quick the sensitive nationality of England. To add to her difficulties there was no one minister to whom she could trust, few to whom she could look for advice or direction; (fn. 104) the whole weight of the government rested upon the shoulders of this inexperienced woman. Her enemies were not long in perceiving her weakness, and they made haste to take advantage of the perplexities of her situation. Their plans were at first vague and indistinct, but gradually they assumed a more definite character. Their scheme was shortly this, they would provide Mary with a husband, and through him they would influence her and govern England.
This was the turning point in Mary's history, and it is important to our present inquiry, for from this period the eyes of the nation were eagerly fixed upon her sister. They entreated their Queen not to lend herself to that scheme for universal monarchy at which Charles had so long aimed, and in which one step forwards was to be made by the marriage of Philip with the Queen of England. Mary insisted with equal vehemence upon her own right to choose her own husband. It became at last a trial of strength, and here the Queen gained the mastery, but she paid a heavy price for it. The realm submitted to the Spanish match, but they did it under protest. From that moment Mary lost the affections of her subjects, and each subsequent step which she and they took, widened and deepened the chasm which henceforward lay between them. The doctrine of resistance was preached openly and boldly. The union should not prosper. Some would have Elizabeth for their Queen, others would have gone the length of a popular election of a fitting governor. (fn. 105) Anything but a union with Charles and Philip. The Spanish alliance must be overthrown, even if the attempt involved a revolution of the government and the destruction of the Queen herself. Philip and Mary were Ahab and Jezebel; and, bad as Ahab was, Jezebel was worse.
Mary, then, was the Jezebel, (fn. 106) but where was the Jehu? The question was all important, and men waited anxiously for the reply. For political reasons, which it would be too long to specify, the feeling of hostility against the union between England and Spain was kept alive from the first by Henry of France. His safety lay in the embarrassment of Mary's policy, and he gave her no rest either at home or abroad. All the discontented spirits of the realm looked across the Channel for advice, protection, and assistance. (fn. 107)
Encouraged by France, the long suppressed feeling of insurrection broke out into an open flame, and for a time the result hung in suspense. It was, indeed, easily suppressed in Devonshire, but elsewhere it showed a bolder front. The Duke of Suffolk (the unworthy father of Lady Jane Grey) and his brother did their uttermost to raise the Midland Counties, but, being unsupported by men and unprovided with money, (fn. 108) they were taken prisoners and sent to the Tower. Things looked worse in Kent, where the insurgents, headed by Wyatt, a man of courage and resolution, gained some important advantages over the Queen's forces and threatened the capital itself. Mary's reign appeared to be touching its close. It was no longer safe for the Ambassadors of Charles to continue in the country, and they hurriedly sailed for Flanders. (fn. 109) For eight days the Queen was in imminent danger. (fn. 110) Some of the Council entreated her to retire to Windsor; in the opinion of others Calais was her only safety. (fn. 111) The troops at her disposal were only a scanty force, and she could not trust them. (fn. 112) Had her heart failed her, had her judgment wavered, her reign would have had a tragic issue. Yet she never faltered; she never lost her confidence in herself, in the justness of her cause, in the fidelity of her subjects. Wyatt penetrated into the City and was taken prisoner in Fleet Street, having fought his way thither against all the force which could be opposed to him. The insurrection was crushed; but, judging by what it had accomplished, it requires no prophet to announce that if the conspirators had more deliberately matured their plans, Elizabeth's reign would have begun five years sooner than it did.
Was Elizabeth implicated?
Was Elizabeth then implicated in this insurrection? The question has never been satisfactorily answered, and must probably ever remain in obscurity. (fn. 113) No proof which would legally implicate her was ever produced. The Spanish Ambassadors hoped that such evidence might be discovered as would justify the Queen in proceeding to extremities against the Princess, whom they had long regarded as one of the exciting causes of all the troubles which had hitherto arisen. (fn. 114) Mary had long combated this idea, and at last assented to it with the greatest unwillingness; she could scarce be induced to believe that Elizabeth was a hypocrite as well as a traitor. The sisters had parted about six weeks before the first outbreak of the insurrection, and their parting had been in kindness. Shortly before their parting Renard had attempted to persuade Mary that a secret communication was being carried on between the Princess and the French Ambassador, but Mary was incredulous. (fn. 115) When she bid her farewell she had presented her sister with two handsome ornaments set with large and costly pearls. (fn. 116) Elizabeth had made some concessions to Mary's wishes and had attended Mass, (fn. 117) although she had thereby weakened her own position as the leader of the Protestants. After these mutual tokens of good will and a mutual desire to please and be pleased the Queen could not believe that her sister had been playing false with her. But, either with or without her own consent, it so happened that Elizabeth was mixed up with the outbreak, and her name was constantly on the lips of the insurgents. (fn. 118) The French and Venetian Ambassadors were in constant correspondence with her, while France and Venice were openly hostile to Mary. A copy of a private letter sent by the Princess to her sister was found inclosed in the despatches of Noailles when they were intercepted on their way to France, (fn. 119) and it was inferred that it could not have come there without the assent of the writer. All this was suspicious, but suspicion is not proof, and although the Spanish Ambassadors might have accepted such evidence as conclusive, Mary did not. It was decided, at the suggestion of Renard, (fn. 120) that the Princess should be summoned to London, there to explain, as she best might, the circumstances by which she appeared to be compromised.
Elizabeth summoned to Court.
The letter which Mary addressed to Elizabeth upon occasion is still extant. She informs her "right dear and entirely beloved sister" that as she "might chance to be in some peril if any sudden tumult should arise," it was expedient that she should make her repair to the Court, assuring her that her presence there would be most heartily welcome. (fn. 121) When this letter reached Elizabeth she was at Ashridge, within about thirty miles distance of London. She sent in reply a verbal message to the effect that she was too ill to undertake such a fatiguing journey. Mary waited with patience for her sister's recovery, while day by day intelligence of the rapid progress of the outbreak and of Elizabeth's complicity in it poured in from all sides. Wyatt when he was taken prisoner directly accused her. (fn. 122) It was now time to ascertain the truth, for the sake of the Queen, for the sake of the realm, for the sake of the Princess herself. For more than a fortnight she had delayed her journey, but at length Lord William Howard, (fn. 123) Sir Edward Hastings, and Sir Thomas Cornwaleys, accompanied by two of the Queen's physicians, arrived at Ashridge. They decided that in their opinion Elizabeth was sufficiently strong to undergo the fatigue of a journey to London, but as she herself "much feared her weakness to be so great that she could not be able to travel and to endure the journey without peril of life," they delayed until the morrow. Their itinerary is extant, and is a satisfactory proof of their care of Elizabeth's health and comfort. Setting out from Ashridge upon Monday (February 12) they travelled from five to eight miles a day, and did not reach Westminster until Friday. (fn. 124)
Comes to the Court.
Elizabeth entered London, boldly, triumphantly, almost defiantly, and maintained that the accusations brought against her were false. Until her guilt or innocence could be proved it was resolved that she should be placed in safe custody in the Tower. On the day before her committal she made a final appeal to Mary which concludes with these vehement expressions: "And again, kneeling with all hum bleness of my heart, because I am not suffered to bow the knees of my body, I humbly crave to speak with Your Highness, which I would not be so bold to desire if I knew not myself most clear, as I know myself most true. And as for that traitor Wyatt, he might peradventure write me a letter, but on my faith I never received any from him; and as for the copy of my letter sent to the French King, I pray God confound me eternally if ever I sent him word, message, token, or letter, by any means. And to this my truth I will stand unto my death Your Highness's most faithful subject, that hath been from the beginning and will be to the end." (fn. 125) Mary returned no answer, and on March 18, being Palm Sunday, the Princess was committed to the Tower.
Committed to the Tower.
Elizabeth's position was now one of some danger. The Imperial Ambassadors were persuaded that so long as she was at liberty England would be liable to periodical outbreaks of rebellion. The question took a wider range still, it no longer concerned Mary alone; a life infinitely more precious, that of Philip, might be endangered. They explained their difficulties and fears to the Queen and asked her to provide an adequate remedy. Mary hesitated, and spoke of justice and leniency. Educated in the Court of Charles the Fifth they would have had justice yield to expediency. While they were urging the necessity of sharp and prompt measures she astonished them by propounding the doctrine that she could not proceed against either Courtney or Elizabeth until legal proof of their actual participation in Wyatt's rebellion was forthcoming. Her leniency was still more perplexing, a stronger pressure was therefore applied. The Emperor told her that in dealing with the Princess Elizabeth her first duty was to consult her own safety; (fn. 126) and it was hinted to her, that while such an element of discord was permitted to be at large in the land, Philip might well hesitate how he trusted himself among such dangerous barbarians.
Sent to Woodstock.
Thus appealed to from all sides, entreated, urged, threatened, by her father-in-law, by her husband, by her Privy Council, and by a large body of the clergy and the people, conscious of foreign hostility and domestic treachery, Mary's feelings gradually became more and more embittered towards Elizabeth. She could not accept the views of the extreme party, but she consented to her sister's imprisonment at Woodstock. Whether Mary intended it or not, she was Elizabeth's greatest benefactress; for the seclusion in which she now lived was the best security against any future charge of treason. Nor was her residence made needlessly unpleasant to her. She lived in one of the royal palaces, (her father's favourite hunting seat,) she had the privilege of air and exercise within its pleasure grounds, she was treated with the greatest respect; "her keeper," Sir Henry Bedingfield, knelt down when he spoke to her, and she was always addressed as "Your Grace." Yet Foxe would have us believe that at this time "she was brought into danger of death, clapped in the Tower and again tossed from thence, and from house to house, from prison to prison, and from post to pillar." (fn. 127) Of these surmises the evidence produced by himself is the best refutation. The "strait charge" committed to her keeper amounted to this, "that no stranger should have access to her without sufficient licence;" that presents were examined before being delivered to her; that when she walked in the garden the gates were locked; and that the house was patrolled during the night by a body of guards. Yet, so laxly was the ward kept "that one John Gayer, under a colourable pretence of a letter to Mistress Cleve from her father, was let in, and so gave them secretly to understand that no matter against the Princess could be proved by all examinations." (fn. 128) Instead of being "tossed from house to house, from prison "to prison, from post to pillar," her journey from London to Woodstock partook of the character of a triumphal progress. Her first halting place was Richmond, a royal residence. Here she was "marvellously dismayed and in despair of her life," because she was "secluded from her servants." At Windsor she was lodged in the "Dean's house," but the Martyrologist considers this "a place more meet for a priest than a Princess." At Mr. Dormer's house (at Wing) "much people standing by the way, some presented to her one gift, some another." As she passed through the villages the townsmen rang the bells. Her next resting place was the house of the Lord of Thame, where she was very princely entertained both of knights and ladies, gentlemen and gentlewomen, whereat Sir Henry Benifield grunted and was highly offended, advising them to take heed and beware of afterclaps." Foxe would have us believe, that while at Woodstock she was in danger of her life, which he proves by such statements as the following. A fire broke out under the chamber where she lay, "this was verily supposed to be done of purpose." Again, "It is thought and also affirmed (if it be true) of one Paul Perry, a keeper of Woodstock, a notorious ruffian and a butcherly wretch, that he was appointed to kill the said Lady Elizabeth." Again, "a chief darling of Stephen Gardiner, named master James Bassett, came to Blandenbridge, a mile from Woodstock, with twenty or thirty privy coats, and sent for Sir Henry Benifield to come and speak with him, who (as is supposed) was appointed violently to murder the innocent lady." (fn. 129)
Foxe's narrative of Elizabeth's history at this time is exceedingly valuable, as giving us the evidence upon which these stories of her dangers is founded. (fn. 130) It also furnishes us with a characteristic illustration of the mode in which that over-credulous writer too often compiled his narrative by stringing together a series of anecdotes,— not always the most trustworthy,—and then deducing from them certain sweeping conclusions, not always the most warrantable. This portion of the Martyrology is open to grave doubts. (fn. 131) All who respect the memory of Elizabeth must be scandalized with the portrait here drawn of her. I for my part have more faith in the blood of the Tudors and the Howards than to accept it. As here depicted Elizabeth has nothing of the noble-hearted woman, nothing of the high-spirited Queen; she is irritable, timid, and slightly hysterical. She may have often been imperious, unjust sometimes, but a coward, never. These terrors appear to me to be phantoms conjured up by Foxe for the purpose of creating a sensation, and we see them by daylight. If "England's Elizabeth" accepted them as realities, and was scared by them, she was not the woman that history believes her to have been.
This enforced seclusion at Woodstock produced the results which the Privy Council had intended. Separated from intriguing and injudicious advisers, Elizabeth's better judgment prevailed. She saw the wisdom of withdrawing from the dangerous game of politics. She wrote to apprise Mary of this resolution, and at the same time she appealed to her clemency. The appeal was successful. Elizabeth having stated that she was out of health, the two Court physicians who had formerly paid her a visit at Ashridge, were now sent down to Woodstock, "who, ministering to her and letting her blood, tarried there and attended her Grace five or six days. Then, she being well amended, they returned again to the Court, making their good report to the Queen and Council of her Grace's behaviour and humbleness to the Queen's Highness, which Her Majesty hearing took very thankfully." (fn. 132) Mary acted upon their report. After having spent about a year at Woodstock, Elizabeth was gladdened by the intelligence that her imprisonment was at an end, and she was summoned to Court. On her arrival she received a visit from Lord William Howard, "who marvellously honourably used her Grace, whereat she took good comfort." Next, the Privy Council paid their respects to her, "the Bishop of Winchester, the Lord of Arundel, the Earl of Shrewsbury and Secretary Peter, who with great humility humbled themselves." Her last interview was with the Queen. Her reception was at first cold and distant, but Mary gradually softened and warmed, and the memory of past estrangements faded away. Friends, more numerous and influential than she had expected, spoke for her; the Spanish nobility, Cardinal Pole and King Philip himself; (fn. 133) and what was there that Mary could refuse to such advocates? Elizabeth was restored to her dignity as Princess of the blood royal, and an establishment corresponding with her position was assigned to her at Hatfield. "The change was a most happy one for her; she was now in libera custodia, under the hands of her loving friends, with whom she went down into the country and there spent the remainder of her sister's reign." (fn. 134)
Acknowledged as heir to the throne.
From this period the scanty notices which occur of the Princess Elizabeth are little more than a record of the festivities at which she was an honoured guest. She paid frequent visits to the Court, spending several days at her town residence, Somerset House, which had been assigned to her. At Shrovetide 1556, Sir Thomas Pope, her guardian, made for her, at his own costs, a great and rich masking, in the great hall at Hatfield, where the pageants were marvellously furnished. In February 1557, she came riding from her house from Hatfield to London with a great company of lords, and nobles, and gentlemen, and afterwards repaired to Her Grace at Whitehall with many lords and ladies. In March she took her horse and rode to her palace at Sheen, with many lords, knights, ladies and gentlemen, and a goodly company of horse. In April she was visited by the Queen at Hatfield, where the great chamber was adorned with a sumptuous suit of tapestry called the Hangings of the Siege of Antioch, and after supper a play was performed by the choir boys of Saint Paul's. (fn. 135) At Court she was treated with the distinction due to the next heir to the throne. During the Christmas festivities she was seated at the Queen's table, nearest the cloth of estate. Upon St. Stephen's day she heard Matins in the Queen's closet adjoining the Chapel Royal, dressed in a robe of costly white satin strung all over with large pearls. When a "grand spectacle of jousting" was held upon the festival of St. Thomas of Canterbury, at which two hundred lances were broken, she sat with their Majesties and the nobility. The highest in the land now did her reverence. "Cardinal Pole, meeting her in the chamber of presence, kneeled down on his knees and kissed her hand; and King Philip meeting her made such obeisance that his knee touched the ground." (fn. 136)
Conformity to Catholicism.
One inference at least unavoidably arises from these facts; they compel us to believe that at this time Elizabeth was a Catholic. The Spanish blood of Mary, uncompromising to the last, would not have admitted one of a different creed to her table and her chapel, not even her own sister. Pole, whose mission it was to reconcile the whole of England to the See of Rome, would not have tolerated such an example of insubordination to his authority. Least of all would Philip have been her protector unless she had conformed to his faith,—Philip, who declared that he would not stretch forth a finger to save his own child from the flames if he had lapsed from Catholicism. But upon this point we are not dependent upon inferences. Her contemporary, the historian Camden, (fn. 137) affirms that she attended divine service according to the rites of the Church of Rome, that she frequently confessed, and that, under the pressure of the Cardinal's authority, she declared herself a Roman Catholic. A gossiping chronicler who records the events of each day as it passed, enters in his diary that "the Queen's Grace and my Lady Elizabeth, and all the Court did fast from flesh, and took the Pope's jubilee and pardon granted to all men." (fn. 138) And, lastly, Noailles, (fn. 139) (who had an especial interest in her proceedings), informs Mary of Lorraine that "Madame Elizabeth is now at Court more than usually favoured; she goes every day to Mass along with the Queen, from whom she receives frequent visits." In reverting to Catholicism, Elizabeth was following the example of older and wiser heads than her own. Ascham, her favourite schoolmaster, who naturally possessed considerable influence over her, had been a Catholic under Henry, a Protestant under Edward, and was again a Catholic under Mary. "Sir William Cecil and my Lady Mildred his wife," stand first among "them that dwelleth in the parish of Wimbledon, that was confessed and received the Sacrament at the altar" on Easter day 1556. (fn. 140) Elizabeth might have quoted these and many other precedents for her conduct if charged with deserting Protestantism.
Yet, easy as were the terms of conformity, and generally as they were accepted, there were then in England, as now, men who scorned all compromise, and would rather suffer death than unsay what they had once affirmed. The spirit of resistance kept pace with the spirit of repression, and sometimes outstripped it. The scenes enacted at Smithfield, at Canterbury, at Oxford, and elsewhere, besmear with blood and begrime with smoke this page of our national history. But it will always be a question with the moderate and impartial inquirer, in what proportion the blame of these proceedings shall be distributed among the different actors,—how much is due to Mary herself, how much to the surrender of her authority to Philip, how much to a body of clergy who had been hardly dealt with by Edward the Sixth, and were now, perhaps, less inclined than they would have been in more favourable times to tolerate, what was then little understood, freedom of religious inquiry. The administration of the affairs of England did not rest exclusively with Mary. Philip was as much a King as she was a Queen, and while it was her misfortune to forget the Queen in the wife, he was always much more of the monarch than the husband. Even while he resided abroad the English Government submitted their reports to him, and received his instructions, (fn. 141) in which he was sometimes guided by the Inquisitor of Flanders. (fn. 142) The Privy Council urged on these executions, and chid the bishops if they were slack in the work. Even Bonner was subjected to their pressure, and they ordered him to execute certain condemned heretics and to proceed against the rest. (fn. 143) While the blame and the shame may be divided among so many, it seems unjust to concentrate it all upon the head of one individual. To her own Master she must stand or fall, and she has enough to do to bear her own burden. (fn. 144)
Her burden indeed was a heavy one; so heavy that she was sinking beneath its weight, and longing for the time when she might lay it down and be at rest. Like a desperate gambler she had ventured all upon one single cast in the game of life and had lost. For Philip she had sacrificed all that she had to give, more than she ought to have given; her own independence, the affection of her subjects, and the welfare of her country. In her solitude she had leisure to look back upon her reign, and to discover that it was one mighty failure. To begin so hopefully and to end so miserably, why such results from such premises? She now discovered the truth. The English would never consent that England should become an appendage to Spain, or be merged in that universal sovereignty at which Charles and Philip were aiming. The anticipations of her earlier womanhood—to love and to be loved—had faded away before the realities of her wedded life; and now, in her premature old age, she found herself husbandless, childless, friendless. There was no longer anything for which to live. Every stay upon which the heart can rest was gone save one, trust in God and submission to His will; and we may hope that these did not fail her in the hour of her extremity. I have before me a little Book of Prayers which seems to have belonged to her. (fn. 145) It opens of its own accord at a page which is blurred and stained more than any of the others of its well-worn leaves. There we may read the two secrets of her life, the two leading ideas of her existence. The one is a prayer for the unity of the Holy Catholic Church; the other is a prayer for the safe delivery of a woman with child. (fn. 146) It pleased God that in neither case should the prayer of faith prevail; and, however humble may have been her submission, disappointment was death.
During the whole of this period Elizabeth's fortunes were gradually becoming brighter and brighter. Philip's continued absences and the long seclusion of Mary from the world gave the Princess the opportunity of consolidating her party. The various interests which from different points had opposed the Government in politics and religion were now willing to unite if Elizabeth would become their representative. The fact that her title to the crown had been sanctioned by the Parliament was a guarantee to the nation that she would have the support of the constitutional party upon the death of her sister. Opposition was now declared to be vain and it died out. Partizans flocked round her from all sides, eager to express their devotion to the bright Occidental Star. She had but to wait in patience for the event which was known to be close at hand, and then the vacant throne would be hers by rightful inheritance. The future volumes of this series of Calendars will show us the steps by which England gradually reached the proud eminence which it attained under her most able administration.
Elizabeth's warning from the past.
If I have discussed at greater length than might appear to be necessary the events which occurred in Mary's reign, it is because they formed so many lessons which must have influenced her successor. There had been enacted before Elizabeth, as if for her especial warning, a tragedy of the deepest significance; she had been acquainted with each character in the drama, she had studied each motion of the plot from the opening scene to the catastrophe, and how had it ended? Surely her sister had not committed all these errors, despised all these warnings, endured and inflicted all this amount of suffering, for herself alone. If no man liveth to himself and no man dieth to himself, the life and the death of Mary were not to be thrown away upon Elizabeth. The voice of the whole people of England had spoken out in such accents that it must have rung in her ears long after Mary had passed away from the earth. The hearts of the people had been moved as the heart of one man, and Elizabeth had felt its pulsations. She has had time to study the temper of the nation, what it will endure, and what it will not tolerate; the sacrifices which it will make and the concessions which it will demand. Will she profit by her sister's experience? Will she shun the rocks and the shoals upon which her sister made shipwreck and perished? Or will her firm hand and strong will lead on in safety the rich argosy with which the nation is about to entrust her, until with a spreading sail it reaches the mid ocean of its prosperity? Hope and Fear stand on either hand; Fear looks back upon the past, but Hope points onward to the future.
It is my pleasing duty to express my thanks to Mr. A. Crosby, B.A. of Worcester College, Oxford, one of the clerks of Her Majesty's Record Office, for assistance rendered in the preparation of the latter part of this volume. But most especially am I indebted to Professor Brewer, for having permitted me in very many cases to profit by his long experience, ripe judgment, and wide and accurate scholarship.
July 20, 1863.
"What communication she hath had with my Lady Elizabeth's Grace,
as touching the marriage with the Lord Admiral.
She saith that incontinent after the death of the Queen at Chester when the said Lady Elizabeth was sick, she said unto her, 'Your old husband 'that was appointed unto you at the death of the King, now is free again; you may have him if you will.' And she answered, 'Nay.' Then said Mrs. Ashley, I wis you will not deny it if my Lord Protector and the Council were pleased therewith. And one there answered (she cannot tell who), 'And why not? He that was worthy to match a 'Queen should not marry with you.'"—Original, signed. R. O. Domestic, 1549, vol. vi. n. 19.
This passage receives a curious illustration (I do not venture to say confirmation) from one of Northumberland's private letters. Writing to Cecil he remarks "he that is in a physician's danger [that is, power] or surgeon's, or a shrewd wife's, they must be fair promised and well pleased, or else he may repent it." He then goes on to request that one Henry Mackerel, ("a cunning man, and therewith honest, and one that the King that dead is did much esteem") might be joined in the patent of old Vicars, one of the royal physicians. His request was successful. Henry Makereth, one of the King's surgeons," received a present of forty shillings as a New Year's gift.—Remains, p. cccxvii.
Foxe, iii. 949, ed. 1641.