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REBELLIONS IN IRELAND.
days. It was almost as wild and miserable now as it had been in the days of Henry the Second. There were three principal rebellions during Elizabeth's reign, besides many smaller ones. The rebel chieftains were, O'Neill, Desmond, and Tyrone. O'Neill and Desmond, each in their turn, fell victims to the revenge of the men whom they or their followers had injured. Tyrone's rebellion lasted the longest, and was not subdued without great difficulty. But, at last, Tyrone came to England, and made his submission; and Ireland became a little more quiet. Much of the land had become a mere desert-for the people had been fighting, burning, and wasting, for years, instead of tilling the ground; and they were reduced to a state of famine and misery which is too shocking to be described here.
The rebellion of Tyrone helped to bring about the ruin of the queen's favourite, Lord Essex. He had been sent to Ireland to reduce Tyrone to obedience; but the queen thought that Essex took very little pains to do his duty. Her rebukes made him so angry that he left his post without her permission, and came over to England, that he might justify himself. But Elizabeth was incensed at his presumption; and although she afterwards forgave him, she did not bestow on him the same favour as formerly. This wounded the pride of Essex so much that he even endeavoured to raise an insurrection in London. For this treason he was tried, and condemned to death.
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The queen was greatly grieved for him. once given him a ring, and desired him to her if he should ever fall into great trouble and dis
grace, and she would forgive him. The ring had not been returned to her, and she thought he was too proud to ask forgiveness. But Essex had sent it. Unhappily, it had fallen into the hands of a lady who was wicked enough to keep it back, because she hated him, and wished that he should die. Two years afterwards, when she lay on her own deathbed, she confessed to the queen what she had done. Elizabeth was in an agony of grief and anger; she even said to the dying woman these terrible words: "God may forgive you, but I never can!"
From that time the queen seemed to lose her usual cheerfulness and composure of mind. Her health was rapidly declining, and on the 24th of March, 1603, she breathed her last, being then nearly seventy years old.
Few sovereigns have been so deeply regretted by their subjects. They loved her, not only, or chiefly, because her rule had been so wise and prosperous, but because she loved her people, and heartily desired to make them happy. She was, naturally, of a vehement imperious character, and did not spare sharp rebukes to her courtiers, and even to her council, if they displeased her; but this warm temper was seldom or never seen beyond the bounds of the palace.
Elizabeth delighted to make progresses from one part of England to another, and to visit the towns and country-seats which lay in her way. Everywhere the people came joyfully and without any fear to see her and to wait upon her; private persons and magistrates, men, women, and children. She would not suffer the meanest of her subjects to be shut out from her presence. If they had anything to ask,
POPULARITY OF ELIZABETH.
or to complain of, she listened kindly, took their petitions with her own hand, and assured them that their affairs should be attended to. Her progresses were delightful to the country-people for another reason; they were always allowed some share in the sports and pageants which were prepared for her entertainment.
On entering a town, Elizabeth was often welcomed by the citizens with a present of money. On one of these occasions, when the Mayor of Coventry presented her with a handsome and well-filled purse, the queen replied: "I have few such gifts. It is a hundred pounds in gold." "Please your grace, answered the mayor, "it is a great deal more." "What is that?" said she. "It is," said he, "the hearts of all your loving subjects." "We thank you, Mr. Mayor," replied the queen, "it is a great deal more, indeed."
STATE OF ENGLAND IN QUEEN ELIZABETH'S TIME.-THE CITY OF LONDON.-MINES.-GREAT WRITERS.-EAST INDIA COMPANY.-SIR THOMAS GRESHAM.-GREAT POWER OF THE QUEEN IN CHURCH AND STATE.
EVEN under the wise government of Queen Elizabeth's ministers, the extreme north of England continued to be in a very wild condition, for the people were almost always in a state of warfare with their Scottish neighbours. The Scots plundered the villages, and even attacked the towns, whenever they could find an opportunity; the Englishmen did not fail to revenge themselves, and a great deal of blood
was shed on both sides. In the valley of the North Tyne and all the adjoining dales, men armed themselves when they went out to watch their flocks and to labour in the fields. And besides this border warfare of the Scots and English, the district was infested with bands of robbers, who plundered wherever they could on both sides of the border.
The people of that country knew very little indeed about the Christian religion until Bernard Gilpin, "the Apostle of the North," went amongst them. Gilpin was one of the good men whom Queen Mary's death saved from martyrdom. He lived and laboured in Durham and Northumberland, and other parts of the north, during twenty-five years of Elizabeth's reign, shrinking from no toil or hardship so that he could gather the people round him and instruct them in the Gospel.
In all other parts of England the people were in peace, and increased very much in wealth and comfort during the reign of Elizabeth.
Even in her
sister's time, the Spaniards who came over with King Philip were astonished at the good cheer of the farmers and shopkeepers. "These English," they said, "have their houses made of sticks and dirt, but they fare commonly so well as the king.” By "sticks and dirt," they meant walls of clay or cob. For in the days of Mary and Elizabeth, bricks were not much used excepting for large handsome houses; where there was plenty of wood, the people built their houses of substantial timber; where there was little timber, they used clay.
Wood had been used in such quantities for every purpose, such as building, firing, feeding the fur
DOMESTIC CONDITION OF THE ENGLISH. 153
naces of iron-works, &c., and for so many hundred years, that the forests which had once covered England were now almost all destroyed, and in many parts of the country the people hardly knew what to use for fuel.
Even in London it people disliked the
Coal was little thought of, excepting in the neighbourhood of the coal-mines, and in a few places to which it was conveyed by sea. was not much used, because the smoke of the coal-fires. In the country, the labourers were only now beginning to have chimneys to their cottages. Old men complained that the people used to be much stronger when they hardly used fires, excepting to cook their food, and when they let the smoke find its way out at the door or window, or by a hole in the roof, than they were now that they had a chimney to carry it up, and wanted to sit by the fire-side in cold weather. Even in the best houses a carpet was a great rarity: the floors were finely polished, or else they were strewn with rushes. But this was an uncleanly practice, because very few persons could afford to have fresh rushes every day, or even every week. On festival days the pavement of the churches was covered with green rushes.
London was a very small place then compared with what it is now. "Holborn was a country road, leading to the pleasant village of St. Giles;" the Strand was bordered with spacious pleasure-grounds, in which stood the houses of some of the chief noblemen. The City was enclosed within a wall, which ran from the Tower round by Aldgate, Cripplegate, and Ludgate, to the Thames. At all the chief points there were strong gates; and at a certain hour every