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conducted through London, amidst the joyful acclama- C H A P. tions of her fubjects, a boy, who perfonated Truth, XXXIX. was let down from one of the triumphial arches, and prefented to her a copy of the Bible. She received the 1558. book with the moft gracious deportment; placed it next her bofom; and declared, that amidst all the costly testimonies, which the city had that day given her of their attachment, this present was by far the most precious and most acceptable M. Such were the innocent artifices, by which Elizabeth infinuated herself into the affections of her subjects. Open in her addrefs, gracious and affable in all public appearances, the rejoiced in the concourse of her fubjects, entered into all their pleasures and amusements, and without departing from her dignity, which the knew well how to preferve, the acquired a popularity beyond what any of her predeceffors or fucceffors ever could attain. Her own fex exulted to see a woman hold the reins of empire with fuch prudence and fortitude: And while a young princess of twenty-five years (for that was her age at her acceffion) who poffeffed all the graces and infinuations, though not all the beauty of her fex, courted the affections of individuals by her civilities, of the public by her fervices, her authority, though corroborated by the ftricted bands of law and religion, appeared to be derived entirely from the choice and inclination of the people.

A SOVEREIGN of this difpofition was not likely to offend her fubjects by any useless or violent exertions of power; and Elizabeth, though she threw out fuch hints as encouraged the proteftants, delayed the entire change of religion till the meeting of the parliament, which was A parliafummoned to affemble. The elections had gone entirely ment. against the catholics, who feemed not indeed to have made any great struggle for the fuperiority *; and the houses met, in a difpofition of gratifying the queen in every particular, which she could defire of them. They


M Burnet, vol. ii. p. 380. Strype, vol. i. p. 29. *Notwithstanding the bias of the nation towards the proteftant fect, it appears, that fome violence, at least according to our prefent ideas, was used in thefe elections: Five candidates were nominated by the court to each borough, and three to each county; and by the fheriffs authority the members were chofen from among thefe candidates. See fate papers collected by Edward earl of Clarendon, p. 92.


CHA P. began the feffion with an unanimous declaration, "That XXXIX. " queen Elizabeth was, and ought to be, as well by the 66 word of God, as the common and flatute laws of the "realm, the lawful, undoubted, and true heir to the crown, lawfully defcended from the blood-royal, according to the order of fucceffion, fettled in the "35th of Henry VIII N." This act of recognition, was undoubtedly dictated by the queen herself and her minifters; and the fhewed her magnanimity, as well as moderation, in the terms, which the employed on that occafion She followed not Mary's practice in declaring the validity of her mother's marriage, or in exprefly repealing the act formerly made against her own legitimacy: She knew, that this attempt must be attended with reflections on her father's memory, and on the birth of her deceased fifter; and as all the world was fenfible, that Henry's divorce from Anne Boleyn was merely the effects of his violence and caprice, the fcorned to found her title on any act of an affembly, which had too much prostituted its authority by its former variable, fervile, and iniquitous decifions. Satisfied therefore in the general opinion entertained with regard to this fact, which appeared the more undoubted, the less anxiety fhe difcovered in fortifying it by votes and enquiries; she took poffeffion of the throne, both as her birth-right, and as enfured to her by former acts of parliament; and the never appeared anxious to distinguish these titles o.

THE firft bill brought into parliament with a view of trying their disposition on the head of religion, was that for fuppreffing the monafteries lately erected, and for restoring the tenths and first-fruits to the queen. This point being gained without much difficulty, a bill was next introduced, annexing the fupremacy to the crown; and though the queen was there denominated governess, not head, of the church, it conveyed the fame extensive power, which, under the latter title, had been exercised by her father and brother. All the bishops who were present in the upper house strenuously opposed this law; and as they poffeffed more learning than the temporal peers, they triumphed in the debate; but the majority of voices in that houfe, as well as among the commons, was against them. By this act the crown, without the concurrence,

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N Eliz, cap. 3.

° Cambden, p. 372. Heylin, p. 107, 108.

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concurrence, either of the parliament or even of the CHAP. convocation, was vefted with the whole spiritual power; XXXIX. might reprefs all herefies, might establish or repeal all canons, might alter every point of difcipline, and might 1558. ordain or abolish any religious rite or ceremony P. determining heresy, the fovereign was only limited, (if that could be called a limitation) to fuch doctrines as had been adjudged herefy, by the authority of the Scripture, by the first four general councils, or by any general council, which followed the Scripture as their rule, or to fuch other doctrines as fhould hereafter be denominated herefy by the parliament and convocation. In order to exercife this exorbitant authority, the queen, by a clause of the a&, was empowered to name commiffioners, either laymen or clergymen, as she should think proper; and on this clause was afterwards founded the court of ecclefiaftical commiffion; which affumed large difcretionary, not to fay arbitrary powers, totally incompatible with any exact limitations in the conftitution. Their proceedings indeed were only confiftent with abfolute monarchy; but were entirely fuitable to the genius of the act on which they were established; an act that at once gave the crown alone all the power which had formerly been claimed by the popes, but which even thefe ufurping prelates had never been able fully to exercise, without fome concurrence of the clergy.

WHOEVER refused to take an oath, acknowledging the queen's fupremacy, was incapacitated from holding any office; whoever denied the fupremacy, or attempted to deprive the queen of that prerogative, forfeited, for the first offence, all his goods and chattles; for the fecond was fubjected to the penalty of a premunire; but the third offence was declared treafon. These punishments, however fevere, were lefs rigorous than those formerly, during the reigns of her father and brother, inflicted in like cafes.

A LAW was paffed, confirming all the ftatutes enacted in king Edward's time with regard to religion 2: The nomination of bishops was given to the crown without any election of the chapters: The queen was empowered, on the vacancy of any fee, to seize all the temporalities,


. Eliz. cap. 1. This laft power was anew granted in the act of uniformity. 1 Eliz. cap. 2.

Idem ibid.

CHA P. lities, and to bestow on the bishop-elect an equivalent XXXIX. in the impropriations belonging to the crown. This pretended equivalent was commonly much inferior in value; and thus the queen, amidst all her concern for religion, followed the example of the preceding reformers, in committing depredations on the ecclefiaftical revenues.


THE bishops and all incumbents were prohibited from alienating their revenues, and from letting leases longer than twenty-one years or three lives. This law feemed to be meant for fecuring the property of the church; but as an exception was left in favour of the crown, great abuses still prevailed. It was usual for the courtiers, during this reign, to make an agreement with a bishop or incumbent; and to procure a fictitious alienation to the queen, who afterwards transferred the lands to the perfon agreed on S. This method of pillaging the church was not remedied till the beginning of James the first. The present depreffion of the clergy expofed them to all injuries; and the laity never stopped, till they had reduced the church to fuch poverty, that her plunder was no longer a compenfation for the odium incurred by it.

A SOLEMN and public difputation was held, during this feffion, in presence of lord keeper Bacon, between the divines of the proteftant and thofe of the catholic communion. The champions, appointed to defend the religion of the fovereign, were, as in all former inftances, entirely triumphant; and the popish difputants, being pronounced refractory and obftinate, were even punished by imprisonment T. Emboldened by this victory, the proteftants ventured on the last and most important step, and brought into parliament a bill for abolishing the mafs, and re-establishing the liturgy of king Edward. Penalties were enacted, as well against those who departed from this mode of worship, as against those who abfented themselves from the church and the facraments. And thus in one feffion, without any violence, tumult, or clamour, was the whole fyftem of religion altered, on the very commencement of a reign, and by the will of a young woman, whose title to the crown was by many esteemed liable to great objections: An event, which, though it may appear furprising to men in the prefent

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prefent age, was every where expected on the first in- CHAP. telligence of Elizabeth's acceffion.



THE Commons also made a facrifice to the queen, more difficult to obtain than that of any articles of faith: They voted a fubfidy of four fhillings in the pound on land, and two fhillings and eight-pence on goods, together with two fifteenths. The house in no inftance departed from the most respectful deference and complaifance towards the queen. Even the importunate address, which they made her on the conclufion of the feffion, to fix her choice of a husband, could not, they supposed, be very difagreeable to one of her fex and age. The addrefs was couched in most respectful expreffions; yet met with a refusal from the queen. She told the speaker, that, as the application from the house was conceived in general terms, only recommending marriage, without pretending to direct her choice of a husband, fhe could not take offence at the addrefs, or regard it otherwise than as a new inftance of their affectionate attachment to her: That any farther interpofition on their part would have ill become either them to make as subjects, or her to bear as an independent princefs: That even while the was a private perfon, and expofed to much danger, she had always declined that engagement, which the regarded as an incumbrance; much more, at present, would she perfevere in this fentiment, when the charge of a great kingdom was committed to her, and her life ought to be entirely devoted to promoting the interests of religion and the happiness of her fubjects: That as England was her husband, wedded to her by this pledge (and here the fhewed her finger with the fame gold ring upon it, with which she had folemnly betrothed herfelf to the kingdom at her inauguration) fo all Englishmen were her children; and whilft she was employed in rearing and governing fuch a family, she could not deem herself barren, or her life ufelefs and unprofitable: That if the ever entertained thoughts of changing her condition, the care of her fubjects' welfare would still be uppermost in her thoughts; but should she live and die a virgin, she doubted not but divine providence, feconded by their counfels and her own measures, would be able to prevent all dispute with regard to the fucceffion, and fecure them a sove


*See note at the end of the volume.

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