« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
CHA P. the favourite of the nation. A parliament had been afXXXIX. fembled a few days before Mary's death; and when Heathe, archbishop of York, then chancellor, notified to them that event, fcarcely an interval of regret appeared; and the two houses immediately refounded with the joyful acclamations of "God fave queen Elizabeth! Long "and happily may fhe reign!" The people, lefs actuated by faction, and less influenced by private views, expreffed a joy still more general and hearty on her proclamation; and the aufpicious commencement of this reign prognosticated that felicity and glory, which, during its whole course, fo uniformly attended it A.
ELIZABETH was at Hatfield when she heard of her fifter's death; and after a few days the proceeded thence to London, through crowds of people, who ftrove with each other in giving her the strongest teftimony of their affection. On her entrance into the tower, fhe could not forbear reflecting on the great difference between her prefent fortune and that which a few years before had attended her, when she was conducted to that place as a prifoner, and lay there exposed to all the bigotted malignity of her enemies. She fell on her knees, and expreffed her thanks to heaven, for the deliverance, which the Almighty had granted her from her bloody persecu- tors; a deliverance, fhe faid, no lefs miraculous than that which Daniel had received from the den of lions. This act of pious gratitude feems to have been the last circumstance, in which the remembered any paft hardships and injuries. With a prudence and magnanimity truly laudable, she buried all offences in oblivion, and received with affability even those who had acted with the greatest malevolence against her. Sir Harry Bennifield himself, to whose custody she had been committed, and who had treated her with uncommon severity, never felt, during the whole course of her reign, any effects of her refentment B. Yet was not the gracious reception which the gave, prostitute and undistinguishing. When the bishops came in a body to make their obeifance to her, the expreffed to all of them fentiments of regard; except to Bonner, from whom the turned afide, as from a man polluted with blood, who was a just
A Burnet, vol. ii. p. 373
B Idem ibid. p. 374
object of horror to every heart fufceptible of humani- CHAP. ty C. XXXIX.
AFTER employing a few days in ordering her domestic affairs, Elizabeth notified to foreign courts, her fifter's 1558. death, and her acceffion to the crown. She fent lord Cobham to the Low Countries, where Philip then refided; and fhe took care to express to that monarch, her gratitude for the protection which he had afforded her, and her defire of perfevering in that friendship which was fo happily commenced between them. Philip, who had long foreseen this event, and who still hoped, by means of Elizabeth, to obtain that dominion over England, of which he had failed in espousing Mary, immediately dispatched orders to the duke of Feria, his ambaffador at London, to make proposals of marriage to the queen; and he offered to procure from Rome a dispenfation for that purpose. But Elizabeth foon came to the refolution of declining this propofal. She faw, that the nation had entertained an extreme averfion to the Spanish alliance during her fifter's reign; and that one great cause of the popularity, which the herself enjoyed, was the profpect of being freed, by her means, from the danger of foreign fubjection. She was fenfible, that her affinity with Philip was exactly fimilar to that of her father with Catherine of Arragon; and that her marrying that monarch was, in effect, declaring herself illegitimate, and incapable of fucceeding to the throne. And though the power of the Spanish monarchy might still be fufficient, in oppofition to all pretenders, to fupport her title, her mafculine fpirit difdained fuch precarious dominion, which, as it would depend folely on the power of another, must be exercised according to his inclination D. But while these views prevented her from entertaining any thoughts of a marriage with Philip, she gave him a very obliging, though evasive, answer; and he still retained fuch hopes of fuccefs, that he sent a meffenger to Rome, with orders to folicit the difpenfation.
THE queen too, on her fifter's death, had written to Sir Edward Carne, the English ambassador at Rome, to notify her acceffion to the pope; but the precipitate naB 2
c Burnet, vol. ii. p. 374. den in Kennet, p. 370.
Heylin, p. 102.
CHAP. ture of Paul broke through all the cautious measures XXXIX concerted by this young princefs. He told Carne, that England was a fief to the holy fee; and it was great temerity in Elizabeth to have assumed, without his participation, the title and authority of queen: That being illegitimate, she could not poffibly inherit that kingdom; nor could he annul the fentence pronounced by Clement the feventh, and Paul the third, with regard to Henry's marriage: That were he to proceed with vigour, he fhould punish this criminal invafion of his rights, by rejecting all her applications; but being willing to treat her with paternal indulgence, he would ftill keep the door of grace open to her: And that if fhe would renounce all pretenfions to the throne, and fubmit entirely to his will, the fhould experience the utmost lenity compatible with the dignity of the apoftolic fee E. When this answer was reported to Elizabeth, fhe was astonished at the character of that aged pontiff; and having recalled her ambaffador, fhe continued with more determined refolution to purfue those measures, which she had already fecretly embraced.
THE queen, not to alarm the partizans of the catholifhment of lic religion, had retained eleven of her fifter's counselthe proteflors; but in order to balance their authority, she added tant reli- eight more, who were known to be affectionate to the gion. proteftant communion; the marquis of Northampton, the earl of Bedford, Sir Thomas Parry, Sir Edward Rogers, Sir Ambrose Cave, Sir Francis Knolles, Sir Nicholas Bacon, whom she created lord keeper, and Sir William Cecil, fecretary of state F. With these counfellors, particularly Cecil, the frequently deliberated concerning the expediency of restoring the proteftant religion, and the means of executing that great enterprise. Cecil told her, that the greatest part of the nation had, ever fince her father's reign, inclined to the reformation: and though her fifter had constrained them to profess the antient faith, the cruelties, exercised by her ministers, had still more alienated their affections from it: That happily the interests of the fovereign concurred here with the inclinations of the people; nor was her title to the crown incompatible with the authority of the Roman pontiff: That a fentence fo folemnly pronounced by
E Father Paul, lib. 5.
F Strype's Ann. vol. i. p. 5.
by two popes against her mother's marriage, could not CHA P, poffibly be recalled, without inflicting a mortal wound on XXXIX. the credit of the fee of Rome; and even if he were allowed to retain the crown, it would only be on an uncertain and dependant footing: That this circumstance alone counterbalanced all dangers whatsoever; and thefe dangers themselves, if narrowly examined, would be found very little formidable: That the curfes and execrations of the Romish church, when not feconded by military force, were, in the present age, more an object of ridicule than of terror, and had now as little influence in this world as in the next : That though the bigotry or ambition of Henry or Philip might incline them to execute a sentence of excommunication against her, their interefts were so incompatible, that they never could concur in any plan of operations; and the enmity of the one would always enfure to her the friendship of the other: That if they encouraged the discontents of her catholic fubje&s, their dominions alfo abounded with protestants, and it would be easy to retaliate upon them: That even fuch of the English as feemed at prefent zealously attached to the catholic faith, would, most of them, embrace the religion of their new fovereign; and the nation had of late been so much accustomed to these revolutions, that men had loft all idea of truth and falfehood in fuch fubjects: That the authority of Henry the eighth, fo highly raised by many concurring circumstances, first enured the people to this fubmiffive deference; and it was the less difficult for the fucceeding princes to continue the nation in a track, to which it had fo long been enured: And that it would be eafy for her, by beftowing on proteftants all preferments in civil offices and the militia, the church and the universities, both to enfure her own authority, and to render her religion entirely predominant G.
THE education of Elizabeth, as well as her intereit, led her to favour the reformation; and the remained not long in fufpence with regard to the party, which she fhould embrace. But though determined in her own mind, the refolved to proceed by gradual and secure steps, and not to imitate the example of Mary, in encouraging the bigots of her party to make immediately a vio
G Burnet, vol. ii. p. 377. Cambden, p. 370.
CHA P. lent invasion on the established religion H. She thought
ELIZABETH alfo proceeded to exert, in favour of the
THESE declarations of her intention, concurring with
H Burnet, vol. ii. p. 378.
Cambden, p. 371.