Изображения страниц

who was sincerely attached to the youthful Elizabeth, anxiously desired to remove from her the brand of illegitimacy. After that unhappy Queen had suffered on the block, Elizabeth resided for some time with her sister Mary at Havering Bower. Soon after the birth of the unfortunate Mary, Queen of Scots, Henry formed the project of uniting the whole island under one crown, by the marriage of that infant Queen with his son Prince Edward. As a further means of securing this important object, he, in the autumn of 1543, offered the hand of Elizabeth to the Earl of Arran, who then laid claim to the regency of Scotland. Thus early were blended the interests and happiness of two princesses, whose celebrated rivalry and illustrious character were destined to endure, until the life of one was sacrificed to the jealousy and hatred of the other. The Kings of France and England eagerly contended for the hand of the youthful Mary: while that of Elizabeth was offered to a Scottish Earl, of equivocal birth and indifferent reputation. Yet so little was the Scottish Earl flattered by the offer, that he actually declined the honour, and the future Queen of England remained unbetrothed!

Katherine Parr, the last and one of the best of Henry the Eighth's wives, was a great admirer of Elizabeth. She caused her to be present at her royal marriage, and when the Princess, in her twelfth year, deeply offended her father by committing an offence, the nature of which has not been handed down to us, she interceded in her behalf with the royal tyrant; an act of motherly kindness, which evidently proved succcessful,* and which Elizabeth acknowledged in the subjoined epistle.

"Inimical fortune, envious of all good and ever revolving human affairs, has *Henry the Eighth, in his letter to Katherine of September the eighth, says: "We pray you to give in our name, one hearty blessing to all our children." Elizabeth, we therefore may presume, was forgiven by her father before he went to France. See memoirs of Katherine Parr, page 445.


deprived me for a whole year of your most illustrious presence; and not thus content, has yet robbed me of the same good, which thing would be intolerable to me, did I not hope to enjoy it very soon. And in this my will, I well know that the clemency of your Highness has had as much care and solicitude for my health as the King's Majesty himself, by which thing I am only turned to serve you, but also to revere you with filial love; since I understand that your most illustrious Highness has not forgotten me every time you have written to the King's Majesty, which, indeed, it was my duty to have requested from you; for, heretofore, I have not dared to write to him. Wherefore, I now humbly pray your excellent Highness, that when you write to his Majesty, you will condescend to recommend me to him, praying ever for his sweet benediction, and similarly entreating our Lord God to send him best success, and the obtaining victory over his enemies; so that your Highness and I may, as soon as possible, rejoice in his happy return. No less, I pray God that he will preserve your most illustrious Highness, to whose Grace, humbly kissing your hands, I offer and recommend me,

"Your most obedient daughter, And most faithful servant, "ELIZABETH." "From St. James's, this thirty-first of July."

This year, 1544, Henry the Eighth restored Elizabeth to her right of succession; and, although the act which pronounced her illegitimate remained for ever unrepealed, she was, nevertheless, universally recognised as a Princess Royal of England; and so completely was the divorce forgotten, that in 1546, when France, Spain, and England, had concluded a treaty of peace, proposals were made for the marriage of Elizabeth with Philip, Prince of Spain, that same Philip, afterwards her brotherin-law, her friend and protector in adversity; then a second time her suitor, and afterwards her bitterest enemy.


Death of Henry the Eighth-Lord Seymour marries the Queen Dowager-His improprieties with Elizabeth-He offers her marriage on the death of the Queen Dowager-He is arrested-Elizabeth is placed under restraint-Their conduct investigated-Confession of Mrs. Ashley and Parry-Elizabeth's behaviour-Her letter to the Protector, asserting her innocence-Seymour attainted-Elizabeth appeals in behalf of Mrs. Ashley and Parry-Seymour beheaded-Harrington's sonnet to his memory-Elizabeth's learning-Correspondence with Edward the Sixth-Restored to royal favour-Futile efforts to marry her to the Prince of Denmark-Quarrels with Northumberland-King Edward wills the Crown to Jane Gray-Extracts from Elizabeth's Household Book.


HE demise of Henry lover of the Queen Dowager Katherine; the Eighth, which and a few weeks afterwards, their marhappened on the riage was privately solemnized. The twenty-eighth of impropriety and haste of this marriage January 1547, ma- so offended the Princess Mary, that she terially affected the wrote to Elizabeth, requesting her to situation and pros- leave the home of Katherine Parr, where pects of Elizabeth. she at that time abode, and come and By the testament of Henry, the houses dwell with her; but Elizabeth being of Parliament were empowered to regu- too wise to put a public affront on the late the government of the country King's adored uncle, who was then during the minority of his son, now intriguing to supersede the Protector Edward the Sixth, and to arrange the Somerset, declined to accept Mary's inorder of succession to the crown. The vitation, on the plea that she could not Act of Parliament was confirmed, by withdraw herself from the Queen, who which his two daughters, Mary and had shown her so much kindness, withElizabeth, were restored to their rights. out appearing ungrateful. In his will, Henry bequeathed to each of them a pension of three thousand pounds, with a marriage portion of ten thousand pounds, on condition of their not marrying without the consent of such of his executors as should then be alive. Sixteen persons were appointed, who were to exercise, in common, the royal functions, until the young King should reach the age of eighteen. The Earl of Hertford, the brother of Lady Jane Seymour, who now assumed the title of Duke of Somerset, was declared Protector of the realm, and Governor of the King's person. His brother, Lord Seymour, of Sudeley, was created Lord High Admiral. Immediately after the death of Henry, the Admiral proffered Elizabeth his hand in marriage. By the advice of Katherine Parr, the Princess, then in her fourteenth year, declined the offer. But, to her annoyance, only five days after this refusal, Lord Seymour was the accepted

The youthful Elizabeth had been, previous to the death of her father, entrusted to the care and protection of the Queen Dowager, with whom she resided, either at Chelsea, or the more sylvan retreat of Hanworth. It thus happened, that after the Queen's marriage with Seymour, the Princess found herself domesticated under the roof of the Lord High Admiral, and consequently she soon became an object of his marked attention. Neither respect for her exalted rank, nor a sense of the deep responsibility attached to the office of guardian, with which the circumstance of his marriage with the Queen Dowager invested him, were sufficient to restrain him from a certain freedom of behaviour towards Elizabeth, which no limits of propriety could justify. On some occasions the Princess endeavoured to repel his rudeness by such expedients as her youthful inexperience suggested; but her governess and attendants, gained

documents have been fortunately preserved, and furnish some very singular traits of the early character of their royal mistress. They cast upon Mrs. Ashley the double imputation, of having permitted such behaviour to pass before her eyes as she certainly ought not to have endured for a moment, and of having disclosed particulars to Parry, which reflected the utmost disgrace on herself, the Lord High Admiral, and the Princess Elizabeth. And so far was the Princess from resenting anything that Mrs. Ashley had either done or confessed, that she continued to patronize her in the highest degree, and after her accession to the throne promoted her husband to a high and lucrative office :-a circumstance which certainly affords strong suspicion, that there were some important secrets in her possession, respecting later transactions between the Princess and Seymour, which she had but too faithfully kept. It may, however, be urged, in palliation of the liberties which she accused the Admiral of taking, and the Princess of tolerating, that Elizabeth had barely completed her fourteenth year, at the period when this intercourse took place. Experience, nevertheless, proves, that, even at that early age, young ladies, educated in all the learning and accomplishments of the great, are not to be trusted with impunity in the society of the vicious and profligate.

over and intimidated, were guilty of a treacherous neglect of their duty, and even the Queen Dowager herself was deficient in delicacy and due caution, until the improprieties detailed in the memoirs of Katherine Parr excited her jealousy, when a quarrel ensued between the royal step-mother and step-daughter; which, although it did not destroy the friendship subsisting between them, terminated in their immediate and final separation.

About a week before Whitsuntide, in 1548, Elizabeth removed with her governess, Mrs. Katherine Ashley, who was related by marriage to Anne Boleyn, and with the rest of her ladies and officers of state, from the home and guardianship of Katherine Parr to Cheston, and subsequently to Hatfield and Ashridge. In September the Queen Dowager died in child-bed, and very soon afterwards the Lord Admiral aspired to the hand of Elizabeth herself, who, after the death of her stepmother, was left, at the critical age of fifteen, without a paternal adviser to follow the dictates of her own maidenly will, and the pernicious counsels of her wily governess and of her intriguing cofferer, Thomas Parry, in both of whom her confidence was unlimited. Seymour having gained over these notable agents, and through them opened a direct correspondence with Elizabeth, his iniquitous designs prospered for some time according to his desires. Although he was twenty years her senior, Elizabeth loved him; and, as she afterwards acknowledged, would have married him, if the consent of the royal executors, required by law, could be obtained. But this being impossible whilst Somerset was at the head of affairs, he plotted against the government, and on the sixteenth of January was arrested and committed to the Tower on a charge of high treason, and a few days afterwards Elizabeth was placed under restraint.

The confessions of Mrs. Ashley and of the man Parry before the Privy Council, contain all that is known of the conduct of the Lord High Admiral towards the Princess Elizabeth, during the life-time of the Queen Dowager. These authentic

Elizabeth refused the Lord High Admiral permission to visit her after he became a widower, on account of the general belief that she was likely to become his wife; and no trace was at this period fcund of any correspondence between them; yet Harrington afterwards suffered an imprisonment, for having delivered to her a letter from Seymour. The partiality of the Princess betrayed itself, by many involuntary tokens, in presence of her attendants, who were thus encouraged to entertain her with accounts of the attachment of the Lord High Admiral, and to enquire whether, if the consent of the council could be obtained, she would consent to admit his addresses. The Admiral proceeded with caution equal to that of Elizabeth.

The Protector, with the hope of cri

minating his brother, rather than of
clearing the Princess, sent Sir Robert
Tyrwhitt to her residence at Hatfield,
empowered to examine her on the whole
matter; and his papers inform us of
some interesting facts. When, by means
of spurious letter, he had led her to
believe that both Mrs. Ashley and her
cofferer, Parry, were committed to the
tower, "her Grace was," he says, "mar-
vellously abashed, and did weep very
tenderly a long time, demanding whe-
ther they had confessed any thing or
not." Sending for Sir Robert soon after,
the Princess related several circumstances
which she had forgotten to mention,
when the master of the household and
master Denny came from the Protector
to examine her. "After all this," con-
tinues Sir Robert, "I did require of the
Lady Elizabeth to consider her honour,
and the peril that might ensue, for she
was as yet but a subject; and I farther
declared what a woman Mrs. Ashley
was, with a strong assurance, that if she
would open or reveal every thing her-
self, all the evil and shame should be
ascribed to her and her associates, and
her youth considered, both with the
King's Majesty, your Grace's, and the
whole council. But in no way would
she, by Mrs. Ashley, or the cofferer,
confess any practice concerning my Lord
Admiral; and yet I do see in her face
that she is guilty, and plainly perceive
that she will yet abide more storms ere
she accuse Mrs. Ashley. Upon sudden
news, that the master of the household
and Master Denny were arrived at the
gate, the cofferer went hastily to his
chamber, and said to his wife-Ishe
would I had never been born, for I am
undone,' and wrung his hands, and cast
away his chain from his neck, and his
rings from his fingers. This is confessed
by his own servant, and there are divers
witnesses of the same."

terwards states to the Duke his opinion that there had been some secret promise between the Princess, Mrs. Ashley, and the cofferer, never to confess till death; "and if this be so," he remarks, "it will never be got out of her but either by the King's Majesty or else by your Grace." On another occasion, Sir Robert tried her with feigned intelligence of Parry's having confessed; on which she called him "False wretch," and said "it was a serious matter for him to make such a promise and to break it." Sir Robert, with all his pains, was unable to elicit a single fact of decisive importance, as to the alleged illicit intercourse of Lord Seymour with the Princess Elizabeth; but that there was in the connection between them a great deal more than met the public eye, there can be no question. In a letter from Elizabeth herself to the Duke of Somerset, she admits "that she did indeed send her cofferer to speak with the Lord High Admiral, but on no other business than to recommend to him one of her chaplains, and to request him to use his interest that she might have Durham Palace for her London house; that Parry, on his return, informed her, that the Admiral said she could not have Durham Palace, which was wanted for a mint, but offered her his own house for the time of her being in London; and that Parry then inquired of her, whether, if the council would consent to her marrying the Admiral, she would herself be willing? That she refused to answer this question, demanding, who bade him ask it? He said, no one; but from the Admiral's inquiries, as to what

spent in her house, and whether she had got her patents for certain lands signed, and other questions of a like natüre, he thought he was rather given that way than otherwise." She denies that her governess ever advised her to marry the Admiral without the consent of the council; but relates the hints which Mrs. Ashley had thrown out, of his attachment to her, and the artful attempts made by her to discover how she stood affected towards such a connection with that personage. In conclusion, Elizabeth remarks, with great spirit" Master Tyrwhitt and others have told

Again, on the following day, Sir Robert Tyrwhitt writes to the Duke of Somerset, that all he has yet gotten from the Princess was by gentle persuasion, whereby he began to grow with her in credit; " for I do assure your Grace she hath a good wit, and nothing is obtained from her but by great policy." He af

me, that there goeth rumours abroad which greatly affect both my honour and honesty (which above all things I esteem); amongst these, that I am in the Tower, and with child by my Lord Admiral. My Lord, these are shameful slanders, for which, besides the desire I have to see the King's Majesty, I shall most humbly desire your Lordship, that I may come to the court after your first determination, that I may shew myself there as I am."

In Parry's confession, he relates what passed between himself and the Lord High Admiral, when he waited upon him by command of the Princess, and alludes to the earnest manner in which the Admiral had urged "her endeavouring to procure, by way of exchange, certain crown lands which had been the Queen's, and which were adjacent to his own; from which he inferred, that he wanted to have both them and the Princess for himself. That the Admiral said he wished the Princess to go to the Duchess of Somerset, and by her means make suit to the Protector for the lands, and for a town house, and to entertain her Grace for the furtherance thereof. That when he repeated this to the Princess, she would not at first believe that he had ever uttered such words, or could wish her so to do; but on his declaring that it was true, she seemed to be angry that she should be driven to make such suits, and said, 'In faith I will not go there, nor begin to flatter now.'" That Parry had repeated his visits to the Lord High Admiral oftener than was at first acknowledged, either by Elizabeth or himself, is clearly indicated by a confession afterwards addressed to the Protector by the Princess; but even with this confession, Sir Robert Tyrwhitt declares himself unsatisfied as to the real nature of this mysterious connection. Parry was afterwards rewarded for his fidelity to Elizabeth, who made him comptroller of the royal household, an office which he held till his death.

Mrs. Ashley, in consequence of the part she played in this affair of the Admiral, was removed from her situation of governess to the Princess, and Lady Tyrwhitt, the wife of Sir Robert, suc


ceeded in her place. On this occasion, the behaviour of Elizabeth is thus described in a letter from Sir Robert Tyrwhitt to the Protector :

"Pleaseth your Grace to be informed, that after my wife's repair hither, she declared to the Lady Elizabeth, that she was called before your Grace and the council, and had a rebuke; that she had not taken upon herself the office to see her well governed, in the lieu of Mrs. Ashley. The answer of the Lady Elizabeth was, that Mrs. Ashley was her mistress, and that she had not so demeaned herself, that the council should now need to put any other mistress in her place. Whereunto my wife replied, seeing she did allow Mrs. Ashley to be her mistress, she need not be ashamed to have any honest woman in her stead. She took the matter so heavily to heart, that she wept all that night, and sighed all the next day, till she received your letter; and then she sent for me, and asked me whether it was best for her to write to you again or not: I said, if she would make answer that she would follow the advice of your letter, I thought she had better write; but in the end I perceived that she was very loth to have a governess; and to avoid the same, she said, the world would note her to be a great offender, having so hastily a governess appointed her. And after all, she fully hopes to recover her old mistress again. The love she yet beareth her is greatly to be wondered at. I told her, if she would but consider her honour, and the sequel thereof, she would, considering her years, make suit to your Grace to have one sent, rather than delay being without one for an hour. She cannot digest such advice in any way; but if I should speak my mind, it were more meet she should have two than one. She would in any wise write to your Grace, wherein I offered her my advice, which she would in no wise follow, but write her own will and pleasure. She beginneth now a little to droop, by reason she heareth that my Lord Admiral's houses are all dispersed. And my wife telleth me that she cannot hear him discommended, but she is ready to make answer therein; and so she hath not been ac


« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »