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Roger Lord North was carving one day at dinner, when the queen asked "what that covered dish was?" "Madam, it is a coffin," he replied; a word which moved the queen to anger. "And are you such a fool," said she, "as to give a pie such a name?" This gave warning to the courtiers not to use any word, which could bring before her the image of death. Notwithstanding her nervous sensibility, as it would now be termed, on that point, one of her bishops, Dr. Matthew Hutton, ventured, towards the close of her reign, to preach a very bold sermon before her, on the duty she owed, both to God and her people, in appointing a successor-a duty which she was determined never to perform.
"I no sooner remember this famous and worthy prelate," says Harrington, "but I think I see him in the chapel at Whitehall; queen Elizabeth at the window, in her closet; all the lords of the parliament, spiritual, and temporal, about them; and then, after his three causes, that I hear him out of the pulpit, thundering this text-The kingdoms of the earth are mine, and I do give them to whom I will; and I have given them to Nebuchadnezzar, and his son, and his son's son;' which text, when he had thus produced, taking the sense rather than the words of the prophet, there followed first so general a murmur of one friend whispering to another; then such an erected countenance in those that had none to speak to; lastly, so quiet a silence and attention, in expectation of some strange doctrine, where the text itself gave away kingdoms, and sceptres, as I have never observed before or since. But he, as if he had been Jeremiah himself, and not an expounder of him, shewed how there were two special causes of translating of kingdomsthe fulness of time, and the ripeness of sin; and that by either of these, and sometimes by both, God, in secret and just judgments, transferred sceptres from kindred to kindred, and from nation to nation, at his good will and pleasure and running historically over the great monarchies of the world, from the Egyptian, Assyrian, Persian, Macedonian, and Roman empires, down to our own Island, he shewed how England had frequently been a prey to foreign invaders: first, being subdued by the Romans, afterwards, by the Saxons and Danes, till it was finally conquered and reduced to perfect subjection by the Normans, whose pos
1 Sir Edward Peston's Catastrophe of the House of Stuart, p. 342.
terity had continued in great prosperity till the days of her majesty, who for peace, plenty, glory, and for continuance, had exceeded them all; that she had lived to change all her counsellors, but one, all her officers twice or thrice, and some of her bishops four times; yet the uncertainty of the succession gave hopes to foreigners to attempt invasions, and bred fears in her subjects of a new conquest.
"The only way,' the bishop added, ' to quiet these fears, was to establish the succession. He noted, that Nero was specially hated for wishing to have no successor; and that Augustus was more beloved for appointing even an evil man for his successor; and at last, as far as he durst, he insinuated the nearness of blood to our present sovereign. He said plainly, that the expectations and presages of all writers went northward, naming, without farther circumlocution, Scotland! which,' added he, if it prove an error, will be found a learned error.'
"When he had finished this sermon, there was no man that knew queen Elizabeth's disposition, but imagined such a speech was as welcome as salt to the eyes, or, to use her own words, to pin up a winding-sheet before her face, so to point out her successor, and urge her to declare him ;' wherefore we all expected that she would not only have been highly offended, but in some present speech have shewed her displeasure. It is a principle," continues the courtly narrator, "not to be despised-qui nescit dissimulare, nescit regnare. She considered, perhaps, the extraordinary auditory; she supposed many of them were of his opinion, and some of them might have persuaded him to this motion; finally, she ascribed so much to his years, place, and learning, that when she opened the window of her closet, we found ourselves all deceived, for very kindly and calmly, without show of offence, as if she had but waked out of some sleep, she gave him thanks for his very learned sermon. Yet when she better considered the matter, and recollected herself in private, she sent two councillors to him, with a sharp message, to which he was glad to give a patient answer.'
Meantime, all the lords and knights of parliament were full of this sermon, which made a great sensation among the crowded congregation; and one great peer of the realm,
1" He who cannot dissimulate, knows not how to reign."
being newly recovered from an impediment in his hearing, requested Harrington to obtain a copy of the sermon from his grace. The archbishop received the application very courteously, but told Harrington " that he durst not give a copy to any one, for that the chancellor of the exchequer, sir John Fortescue, and sir John Woolley, the chancellor of the order of the garter, had been with him from the queen with such a greeting, that he scant knew whether he were a prisoner or a free man; and that, the speech being already ill taken, the writing might exasperate that which was already exulcerate." It was not long, however, before the queen was so well pacified, that she gave him the presidentship of York.
Soon after his appointment to this office, Hutton complained," that he could not, by any solicitations, obtain a pardon for a seminary priest, whom he had converted, till, being reminded, that all was not done in that court for God's sake only,' he sent up twenty French crowns in a purse of his own, as a remembrance for the poor man's pardon," which, he says, "was thankfully accepted," but does not record by whom.'
Queen Elizabeth was greatly pleased with a sermon preached by Barlow, bishop of Rochester, on the subject of the plough, of which, she said, "Barlow's text might seem taken from the cart, but his talk may teach you all in the
When the queen was only princess, she stood godmother to Henry Cotton, whom she afterwards made her chaplain, and, in the year 1598, preferred to the bishopric of Salisbury, on which occasion she observed, "that she had blessed many of her godsons, but now this godson should bless her." "Whether she were the better for his blessing I know not," remarks the witty Harrington, “but I am sure he was the better for hers. The common voice was, that sir Walter Raleigh got the best blessing of him, because he induced him to confirm the crown grant of Sherborne castle, park, and parsonage," which had been thus unjustly bestowed on that fortunate courtier by the partial favour of Elizabeth. The queen's prejudices against the marriage of priests, shewed itself in a conference she had with Dr.
See his letter to Burleigh.
2 Nugæ Antiquæ.
Whitehead, a learned divine, but blunt and cynical, and extremely opposed to the episcopacy. "Whitehead," said Elizabeth, "I like thee the better because thou livest unmarried." "In troth, madam," was his retort discourteous, "I like you the worse for the same cause."1
When the learned bishop Godwin, in his old age, wedded a wealthy widow of London, she expressed the most lively scorn and indignation at his conduct, it having been reported that he had wedded a girl only twenty years old.
The earl of Bedford being present when these tales were told, said merrily to the queen, after his dry manner, "Madame, I know not how much the woman is above twenty, but I know a son of hers who is little under forty;" but this rather marred than mended the matter, for one said the sin was the greater, and others told of three sorts of marriages, of God's making, of man's making, and of the devil's making. Of God's making, as when Adam and Eve, two folks of suitable age, were coupled; of man's making, as Joseph's marriage with our lady; and of the devil's making, where two old folks marry, not for comfort, but for covetousness; and such, they said, was this. Yet the bishop, with tears in his eyes, protested "that he took not the lady for a spouse, but only to guide his house." The queen was, however, irrevocably offended, and, to shew her displeasure, she stripped the before impoverished see of Bath and Wells, of the rich manor of Wilscombe for ninety-nine years.
When Nowel, dean of St. Paul's, was preaching before her majesty, on some public occasion, he introduced a paragraph into his discourse which displeased her, on which she called to him from the royal closet, "Leave that ungodly digression, and return to your text." Vaughan, bishop of Chester, was one day arguing, in the closet at Greenwich, on the absurdity of supposed miracles, on which his opponent alleged the queen's healing the evil, for an instance, and asked, "what he could say against it." He replied, "that he was loth to answer arguments, taken from the topik place, of the cloth of estate, but if they would urge him to answer" he said his opinion, was, "that she did it by virtue of some precious stone, in the possession of the crown of England, that had such a natural quality." "But had queen Elizabeth," observes Harrington, drily, "been 1 Bacon's Apophthegms.
told that he had ascribed more virtue to her jewels, though she loved them well, than to her person, she had never made him bishop of Chester."
Like many ladies of the present day, Elizabeth had the ill taste, as she advanced in years, to increase the number of her decorations, and dressed in a more elaborate style than in the meridian flower of life. "She imagined," says Bacon, "that the people, who are much influenced by externals, would be diverted, by the glitter of her jewels, from noticing the decay of her personal attractions;" but with all due deference to that acute philosopher, this is one of the greatest mistakes into which an elderly gentlewoman can fall.
The report of her majesty's passion for jewels and rich array, had even penetrated within the recesses of the Turkish seraglio, and the sultana Valide, mother of the sultan Amurath III., thought proper to propitiate her by the presents of a robe, a girdle, two kerchiefs wrought in gold, and three in silk, after the oriental fashion, a necklace of pearls and rubies, "the whole of which," says Esperanza Malchi, a jewess, who was entrusted with the commission, "the most serene queen sends to the illustrious ambassador, by the hand of the sieur Bostangi Basi, and by my own hand, I have delivered to the ambassador a wreath of diamonds, from the jewels of her highness, which, she says, your majesty will be pleased to wear for love of her, and give information of the receipt." In return for these precious gifts, the sultana only craved some cloths of silk or wool, the manufacture of the country, and some English cosmetics, such as distilled waters, of every description, for the face, and odoriferous oils for the hands."1
It was one of queen Elizabeth's characteristics, that she had much difficulty in coming to a decision, on any point; and when she had formed a resolution, she frequently changed her mind, and, after much of that sort of childish wavering of purpose, which, in a less distinguished sovereign, would have been branded with the term of vacillation, she would return to her original determination. This fickleness of will occasioned much annoyance to her ministers, and still greater inconvenience to persons in humbler departments, who were compelled to hold themselves conformable to her pleasure. When she changed her abode,
1 See Ellis's Original Letters illustrative of English History, vol. ii. p. 53.