Изображения страниц

possessed of learning and capacity, and adorned with candour, sincerity, and beneficence, and all those virtues which were fitted to render him useful and amiable in society. Hume.


ELIZABETH being now become the public and avowed object of Mary's aversion, was openly treated with much disrespect and insult. The princess therefore thought it most prudent to leave the court: and before the beginning of 1554 retired to her house at Ashridge in Hertfordshire.

In the mean time sir Thomas Wyat's rebellion broke out, in opposition to the queen's match with Philip of Spain. It was immediately pretended, that the princess Elizabeth, together with lord Courteney, was privately concerned in this dangerous conspiracy, and that she had held a correspondence with the traitor Wyat. Accordingly sir Edward Hastings, afterwards lord Loughborough, sir Thomas Cornwallis, and sir Richard Southwell, attended by a troop of horse, were ordered to bring her to the court. They found the princess sick, and even confined to her bed, at Ashridge. Notwithstanding, under pretence of the strictness of their commission, they compelled her to rise: and, still continuing very weak and indisposed, she proceeded in the queen's litter by slow journeys to London. At the court they kept her confined

and without company, for a fortnight: after which, bishop Gardiner, who well knew her predominant disposition to cabal and intrigue, with nineteen others of the council, attended to examine her concerning the rebellion of which she was accused. She positively denied the accusation. However, they informed her, it was the queen's resolution she should be committed to the Tower, till further inquiries should be made. Her oaths, and her repeated protestations of innocence, were all ineffectual. She was conveyed to the Tower, "and ignominiously conducted through the Traitor's gate. No stranger, or visitor, was admitted into her presence.

[ocr errors]

After a close imprisonment of some days, by the generous intercession of lord Chandois, lieutenant of the Tower, it was granted that she might sometimes walk in the queen's lodgings, in the presence of the constable, the lieutenant, and three of the queen's ladies; yet on condition that the windows should be shut. She then was indulged with walking in a little garden, for the sake of fresh air: but all the shutters which looked towards the garden were ordered to be kept close.

Such were their jealousies, that a little boy of four years old, who had been accustomed every day to bring her flowers, was severely threatened if he came any more, and the child's father was summoned and rebuked by the constable. Lord Chandois being observed to treat the princess with too much respect, he was not any longer entrusted with the charge of her; and she was committed to the custody of sir Henry Bedingfield, of Oxburgh, in Norfolk, a person whom she had

never seen or known before. He brought with him a guard of one hundred soldiers, clothed in blue, which the princess observing, asked with her uspal liveliness, If Lady Jane's scaffold was yet taken away?

About the end of May she was removed from the Tower under the command of sir Henry Bedingfield and lord Williams of Thame, to the royal manor or palace at Woodstock. The first night of her journey she lay at Richmond; where being watched all night by the soldiers, and all access of her own private attendants utterly prohibited, she began to be convinced, that orders had been given to put her privately to death. The next day she reached Windsor, where she was lodged in the dean's house near Saint George's collegiate chapel. She then passed to lord Williams's seat at Ricot in Oxfordshire, where she lay, and was very princely entertained both of knights and ladies'. But Bedingfield was highly disgusted at this gallant entertainment of his prisoner. During this journey, lord Williams and another gentleman playing at chess, the princess accidentally came in, and told them she must stay to see the game played out; but this liberty Bedingfield would not permit.

[ocr errors]

Arriving at Woodstock, she was lodged in the gate-house of the palace; in an apartment remaining complete within these fifty years, with its original arched roof of Irish oak, curiously carved, painted blue sprinkled with gold, and to the last retaining its name of queen Elizabeth's chamber. In the Bodleian library at Oxford, there is an English translation of St. Paul's epistles, printed in the black letter, which the princess used while

she was here imprisoned; the covers are of black silk; on which she amused herself with curiously working or embossing numerous inscriptions and devices in gold twist.

One is pleased to hear these circumstances, trifling and unimportant as they are, which show us how this great and unfortunate lady, who became afterwards the heroine of the British throne, the favourite of her people, and the terrour of the world, contrived to relieve the tedious hours of her pensive and solitary confinement. She had however little opportunity for meditations or amusement. She was closely guarded, yet sometimes suffered to walk in the gardens of the palace. In this situation, says Hollingshead, no marvel, if she, hearing upon a time out of her garden at Woodstock a certain milkmaid, singing pleasantly, wished herself to be a milkmaid, as she was; saying that her case was better and life merrier.'

After being confined here for many months, she -procured a permission to write to the queen: but her importunate keeper, Bedingfield, intruded, and overlooked what she wrote. At length, king Philip interposed, and begged she might be removed to the court.

In her first day's journey, from the manor of Woodstock to lord Williams's at Ricot, a violent storm of wind happened; insomuch, that her hood and the attire of her head were twice or thrice blown off. On this she begged to retire to a gentleman's house then at hand, but Bedingfield's absurd and superabundant circumspection

refused even this insignificant request; and constrained her, with much indecorum, to replace her head-dress under a hedge near the road.



THERE are few personages in history, who have been more exposed to the calumny of enemies, and the adulation of friends, than queen Elizabeth : and yet there scarcely is any, whose reputation has been more certainly determined by the unanimous consent of posterity. The unusual length of her administration, the strong features of her character, were able to overcome all prejudices; and, obliging her detractors to abate much of their invectives, and her admirers somewhat of their panegyrics, have, at last, in spite of political factions, and what is more, of religious animosities, produced a uniform judgment with regard to her conduct. Her vigour, her constancy, her magnanimity, her penetration, vigilance, and address, are allowed to merit the highest praises; and appear not to have been surpassed by any person who ever filled a throne: a conduct less rigorous, less imperious, more sincere, more indulgent to her people, would have been requisite to form a perfect character. By the force of her mind, she controlled all her more active, and stronger qualities; and prevented them from running into excess. Her heroism was exempted from all temerity; her frugality from avarice; her friendship

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »