Изображения страниц

than that which Daniel had received from the den CHA P.

XXXVIII. of lions. This act of pious gratitude seems to have been the last circumstance in which she remembered 1558. any past hardships and injuries. With a prudence and magnanimity truly laudable, she buried all offences in oblivion, and received with affability even those who had acted with the greatest malevolence against her. Sir Harry Bennifield himself, to whose custody she had been committed, and who had treated her with severity, never felt, during the whole course of her reign, any effects of her resentment.b Yet was not the gracious reception which she gave prostitute and undistinguishing. When the bishops came in a body to make their obeisance to her, she expressed to all of them sentiments of regard; except to Bonner, from whom she turned aside, as from a man polluted with blood, who was a just object of horror to every heart susceptible of humanity.

AFTER employing a few days in ordering her domestic affairs, Elizabeth notified to foreign courts, her sister's death, and her own accession. She sent lord Cobham to the Low Countries, where Philip then resided; and she took care to express to that monarch, her gratitude for the protection which he had afforded her, and her desire of persevering in that friendship which had so happily commenced between them. Philip, who had long foreseen this event, and who still hoped, by means of Elizabeth, to obtain that dominion over England, of which he had failed in espousing Mary, immediately dispatched orders to the duke of Feria, his ambassador at London, to make proposals of marriage to the queen; and he offered to procure from Rome a dispensation for that purpose. But Elizabeth soon came to the resolution of declining the proposal. She saw that the nation had entertainedan extreme aversion to the Spanish alliance during her sister's reign; and that

B 2


b Burnet, vol. i. p. 374.

Ibid. Heylin, p. 102.




CHAP: one great cause of the popularity which she herself

enjoyed, was the prospect of being freed, by her
means, from the danger of foreign subjection. She
was sensible that her affinity with Philip was ex-
actly similar to that of her father with Catharine of
Arragon; and that her marrying that monarch was,
in effect, declaring herself illegitimate, and incapa-
ble of succeeding to the throne. And, though the
power of the Spanish monarchy might still be suffi-
cient, in opposition to all pretenders, to support her
title, her masculine spirit disdained such precarious
dominion, which, as it would depend solely on the
power of another, must be exercised according to
his inclinations. But, while these views prevented
her from entertaining any thoughts of a marriage
with Philip, she gave him an obliging, though
evasive, answer; and he still retained such hopes of
success, that he sent a messenger to Rome, with
orders to solicit the dispensation.

The queen too, on her sister's death, had written
to sir Edward Carne, the English ambassador at
Rome, to notify her accession to the pope; but the
precipitate nature of Paul broke through all the
cautious measures concerted by this young princess.
He told Carne, that England was a fief of the holy
see; and it was great temerity in Elizabeth to have
assumed, without his participation, the title and au-
thority of queen: That being illegitimate, she could
not possibly inherit that kingdom; nor could he
annul the sentence pronounced by Clement VII.
and Paul III. with regard to Henry's marriage :
That were he to proceed with rigour, he should
punish this criminal invasion of his rights by re-
jecting all her applications; but, being willing to
treat her with paternal indulgence, he would still
keep the door of grace open to her : And that, if
she would renounce all pretensions to the crown,


d Camden in Kennet, p. 370.

Burnet, vol.ii. p. 375.




and submit entirely to his will, she should expe- CHAP rience the utmost lenity compatible with the dignity of the apostolic see. When this answer was reported to Elizabeth, she was astonished at the character of that aged pontiff; and, having recalled her ambassador, she continued with more determined resolution to pursue those measures which already she had secretly embraced.

The queen, not to alarm the partisans of the catholic religion, had retained eleven of her sister's counsellors; but in order to balance their authority, she added eight more, who were known to be inclined to the protestant communion; the marquis of Northampton, the earl of Bedford, sir Thomas Parry, sir Edward Rogers, sir Ambrose Cave, sir of the proFrancis Knolles, sir Nicholas Bacon, whom she testant recreated lord keeper, and Sir William Cecil, secretary of state. With these counsellors, particularly Cecil, she frequently deliberated concerning the expediency of restoring the protestant religion, and the means of executing that great enterprise. Cecil told her, that the greater part of the nation had, ever since her father's reign, inclined to the reformation; and though her sister had constrained them to profess the ancient faith, the cruelties exercised by her minister's had still more alienated their affections from it: That happily the interests of the sovereign here concurred with the inclinations of the people; nor was her title to the crown compatible with the authority of the Roman pontiff: That a sentence, so solemnly pronounced by two popes against her mother's marriage, could not possibly be recalled, without inflicting a mortal wound on the credit of the see of Rome; and even, if she were allowed to retain the crown, it would on. ly be un an uncertain and dependent footing: That this circumstance alone counterbalanced all dangers

B 3


e Father Paul, lib. 5.

Strype's Ann. vol. i. p. 5.



CHAP: whatsoever ; and these dangers themselves, if nar

rowly examined, would be found very little formidable: That the curses and execrations of the Romish church, when not seconded by military force, were, in the present age, more an object of ridicule than of terror, and had now as little influence in this world as in the next : That though the bigotry or ambition of Henry or Philip might incline them to execute a sentence of excommunication against her, their interests were so incompatible, that they never could concur in any plan of operations; and the enmity of the one would always ensure to her the friendship of the other: That if they encouraged the discontents of her catholic subjects, their dominions also abounded with protestants, and it would be easy to retaliate upon them: That even such of the English as seemed at present zealously attached to the catholic faith, would, most of them, embrace the religion of their new sovereign; and the nation had of late been so much accustomed to these revolutions, that men had lost all idea of truth and false, hood in such subjects: That the authority of Henry VIII. so highly raised by many concurring circumstances, first enured the people to this submissive deference; and it was the less difficult for succeeding princes to continue the nation in a track to which it had so long been accustomed: And that it would be

easy for her, by bestowing on protestants all preferment in civil offices and the militia, the church, and the universities, both to ensure her own authority, and to render her religion entirely predominant. 8

The education of Elizabeth, as well as her interest, led her to favour the reformation; and she remained not long in suspence with regard to the party which she should embrace. But, though determined in her own mind, she resolved to proceed


& Burnet, vol. ii. p. 377, Camden, p. 370,

[ocr errors]



by gradual and secure steps, and not to imitate the CH A P.
example of Mary, in encouraging the bigots of her
party to make immediately a violent invasion on the
established religion.h. She thought it requisite,
however, to discover such symptoms of her inten-
tions, as might give encouragement to the protes-
tants, so much depressed by the late violent perse-
cutions. She immediately recalled all the exiles,
and gave liberty to the prisoners who were confined
on account of religion. We are told of a pleasantry
of one Rainsford on this occasion, who said to the
queen, that he had a petition to present her in be-
half of other prisoners called Matthew, Mark,
Luke, and John: She readily replied, that it be-
hoved her first to consult the prisoners themselves,
and to learn of them whether they desired that li-
berty which he demanded for them.i

ELIZABETH also proceeded to exert, in favour
of the reformers, some acts of power which were
authorised by the extent of royal prerogative during
that age. Finding that the protestant teachers, irri-
tated by persecution, broke out in a furious attack
on the ancient superstition, and that the Romanists
replied with no less zeal and acrimony, she publish-
ed a proclamation, by which she inhibited all
preaching without a special licence;k and though
she dispensed with these orders in favour of some
preachers of her own sect, she took care that they
should be the most calm and moderate of the party.
She also suspended the laws so far as to order a
great part of the service, the litany, the Lord's
prayer, the creed, and the gospels, to be read in
English. And, having first published injunctions
that all the churches should conform themselves to
the practice of her own chapel, she forbad the hoste
to be any more elevated in her presence; an inno-

[ocr errors]


i Heylin,

h Burnet vol. ii. p. 378. Camden, p. 371.

k Heylin, p. 104. Strype, vol. i. p. 41,

p. 103,

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »