Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

XLIII.

1598.

final ruin; and having received private assurances that CHAP. he would still, notwithstanding the peace, give them assistance, both of men and money, they were well pleased to remain on terms of amity with him. His greatest concern was, to give satisfaction to Elizabeth for this breach of treaty. He had a cordial esteem for that princess, a sympathy of manners, and a gratitude for the extraordinary favours which he had received from her during his greatest difficulties; and he used every expedient to apologize and atone for that measure which necessity extorted from him. But as Spain refused to treat with the Dutch as a free state, and Elizabeth would not negotiate without her ally, Henry found himself obliged to conclude at Vervins a separate Peace of peace, by which he recovered possession of all the places Vervins. seized by Spain during the course of the civil wars, and procured to himself leisure to pursue the domestic settlement of his kingdom. His capacity for the arts of peace was not inferior to his military talents; and in a little time, by his frugality, order, and wise government, he raised France from the desolation and misery in which she was involved, to a more flourishing condition than she had ever before enjoyed.

The queen knew that she could also, whenever she pleased, finish the war on equitable terms; and that Philip, having no claims upon her, would be glad to free himself from an enemy who had foiled him in every contest, and who still had it so much in her power to make him feel the weight of her arms. Some of her wisest counsellors, particularly the treasurer, advised her to embrace pacific measures; and set before her the advantages of tranquillity, security, and frugality, as more considerable than any success which could attend the greatest victories. But this high-spirited princess, though at first averse to war, seemed now to have attained such an ascendant over the enemy, that she was unwilling to stop the course of her prosperous fortune. She considered that her situation and her past victories had given her entire security against any dangerous invasion; and the war must thenceforth be conducted by sudden enterprises and naval expeditions, in which she possessed an undoubted superiority: that the weak con

XLIII. 1598.

CHAP. dition of Philip in the Indies opened to her the view of the most durable advantages; and the yearly return of his treasure by sea afforded a continued prospect of important, though more temporary successes: that, after his peace with France, if she also should consent to an accommodation, he would be able to turn his whole. force against the revolted provinces of the Netherlands, which, though they had surprisingly increased their power by commerce and good government, were still unable, if not supported by their confederates, to maintain war against so potent a monarch; and that, as her defence of that commonwealth was the original ground of the quarrel, it was unsafe, as well as dishonourable, to abandon its cause till she had placed it in a state of greater security.

The Earl of Essex.

These reasons were frequently inculcated on her by the Earl of Essex, whose passion for glory, as well as his military talents, made him earnestly desire the continuance of war, from which he expected to reap so much advantage and distinction. The rivalship between this nobleman and Lord Burleigh made each of them insist the more strenuously on his own counsel; but as Essex's person was agreeable to the queen, as well as his advice conformable to her inclinations, the favourite seemed daily to acquire an ascendant over the minister. Had he been endowed with caution and self-command equal to his shining qualities, he would have so riveted himself in the queen's confidence that none of his enemies had ever been able to impeach his credit. But his lofty spirit could ill submit to that implicit deference which her temper required, and which she had ever been accustomed to receive from all her subjects. Being once engaged in a dispute with her about the choice of a governor for Ireland, he was so heated in the argument that he entirely forgot the rules both of duty and civility, and turned his back upon her in a contemptuous manner. Her anger, naturally prompt and violent, rose at this provocation, and she instantly gave him a box on the ear, adding a passionate expression suited to his impertinence. Instead of recollecting himself, and making the submissions due to her sex and station, he clapped his hand to his sword, and swore that he would not

bear such usage, were it from Henry VIII. himself; and he immediately withdrew from court. Egerton, the chancellor, who loved Essex, exhorted him to repair his indiscretion by proper acknowledgments; and entreated him not to give that triumph to his enemies, that affliction to his friends, which must ensue from his supporting a contest with his sovereign, and deserting the service of his country. But Essex was deeply stung with the dishonour which he had received; and seemed to think that an insult, which might be pardoned in a woman, was become a mortal affront when it came from his sovereign. "If the vilest of all indignities," said he, "is done me, does religion enforce me to sue for pardon? Doth God require it? Is it impiety not to do it? Why, cannot princes err? Cannot subjects receive wrong? Is an earthly power infinite? Pardon me, my lord, I can never subscribe to these principles. Let Solomon's fool laugh when he is stricken; let those that mean to make their profit of princes show no sense of princes' injuries; let them acknowledge an infinite absoluteness on earth that do not believe an absolute infiniteness in heaven:" alluding probably to the character and conduct of Sir Walter Raleigh, who lay under the reproach of impiety. "As for me," continued he, "I have received wrong, I feel it; my cause is good, I know it; and whatsoever happens, all the powers on earth can never exert more strength and constancy in oppressing, than I can show in suffering every thing that can or shall be imposed upon me. Your lordship, in the beginning of your letter, makes me a player, and yourself a looker-on; and me a player of my own game, so you may see more than I; but give me leave to tell you, that since you do but see, and I do suffer, I must of necessity feel more than you".

This spirited letter was shown by Essex to his friends, and they were so imprudent as to disperse copies of it: yet, notwithstanding this additional provocation, the queen's partiality was so prevalent, that she reinstated him in his former favour: and her kindness to him appeared rather to have acquired new force from this short interval of anger and resentment. The death of 4th Aug.

y See note [R], at the end of the volume.

CHAP.

XLIII.

1598.

1598.

CHAP. Burleigh, his antagonist, which happened about the XLIII. same time, seemed to ensure him constant possession of the queen's confidence; and nothing, indeed, but his own indiscretion could thenceforth have shaken his well established credit. Lord Burleigh died in an advanced age; and, by a rare fortune, was equally regretted by his sovereign and the people. He had risen gradually, from small beginnings, by the mere force of merit; and though his authority was never entirely absolute or uncontrolled with the queen, he was still, during the course of near forty years, regarded as her principal minister. None of her other inclinations or affections could ever overcome her confidence in so useful a counsellor; and as he had had the generosity or good sense to pay assiduous court to her during her sister's reign, when it was dangerous to appear her friend, she thought herself bound in gratitude, when she mounted the throne, to persevere in her attachments to him. He seems not to have possessed any shining talents of address, eloquence, or imagination; and was chiefly distinguished by solidity of understanding, probity of manners, and indefatigable application in business; virtues which, if they do not always enable a man to attain high stations, do certainly qualify him best for filling them. Of all the queen's ministers, he alone left a considerable fortune to his posterity; a fortune not acquired by rapine or oppression, but gained by the regular profits of his offices, and preserved by frugality.

The last act of this able minister was the concluding of a new treaty with the Dutch, who, after being in some measure deserted by the King of France, were glad to preserve the queen's alliance, by submitting to any terms which she pleased to require of them. The debt which they owed her was now settled at eight hundred thousand pounds. Of this sum they agreed to pay, during the war, thirty thousand pounds a year; and these payments were to continue till four hundred thousand pounds of the debt should be extinguished. They engaged also, during the time that England should continue the war with Spain, to pay the garrisons of the cautionary towns. They stipulated, that if Spain should invade England, or the Isle of Wight, or Jersey, or Scilly, they should assist

8th Aug.

XLIII.

her with a body of five thousand foot and five hundred CHAP. horse; and that, in case she undertook any naval armament against Spain, they should join an equal number of ships to hers. By this treaty the queen was eased of an annual charge of a hundred and twenty thousand pounds.

1598.

Soon after the death of Burleigh, the queen, who regretted extremely the loss of so wise and faithful a minister, was informed of the death of her capital enemy, Philip II., who, after languishing under many infirmities, expired, in an advanced age, at Madrid. This haughty prince, desirous of an accommodation with his revolted subjects in the Netherlands, but disdaining to make in his own name the concessions necessary for that purpose, had transferred to his daughter, married to Archduke Albert, the title to the Low Country provinces; but as it was not expected that this princess could have any posterity, and as the reversion on failure of her issue was still reserved to the crown of Spain, the states considered this deed only as the change of a name, and they persisted with equal obstinacy in their resistance to the Spanish arms. The other powers also of Europe made no distinction between the courts of Brussels and Madrid; and the secret opposition of France, as well as the avowed efforts of England, continued to operate against the progress of Albert, as it had done against that of Philip.

z Rymer, vol. xvi. p. 340.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »