Изображения страниц

tween the two religious parties having been solemnly debated before parliament by the most learned divines on either side, the commons decided in favour of the Reformation, and proceeded to pass the Act of Uniformity, establishing the revised edition of the second Service-book of Edward VI. as the authorized form of public worship, and prohibiting the use of any other service under pain of forfeiture and imprisonment. The better to enforce this law, an additional clause was added, imposing a fine of one shilling on all who absented themselves from church on Sundays and holydays, and a penalty of £20 a month on those who continued refractory. Having thus effectually established the reformed religion, the commons concluded their labours by the vote of a subsidy; followed by a respectful but urgent address to the queen, entreating her to secure the succession to the throne by marriage. She thanked them for their zeal, but decidedly refused their application, saying, that she regarded herself as solemnly espoused to her kingdom at her coronation, that she viewed her subjects as her children, and required no fairer remembrance of herself to go down to posterity than this inscription on her tomb, "Here lies Elizabeth, who lived and died a maiden queen." Philip of Spain, shortly after the death of Mary, had offered his hand to her sister Elizabeth, and promised to procure a dispensation from Rome in the event of her acceptance, for he knew that the pope would gladly retain England at any price in the communion of the church. Elizabeth steadfastly declined his overtures, but managed the affair with such courtesy and tact, that amity with Spain still continued, and Philip even volunteered to continue the war with France till Calais should have been restored to his former ally, if Elizabeth would undertake not to make peace for six years; but she wisely foresaw the difficulty and expense of so tedious a campaign, and consented to a truce, which was entered into at Château Cambresis, by which Calais was to be held by the French for eight years, Henry giving security in 500,000 crowns for its restoration within that period. The loss of Calais was a great advantage to the English, although not so considered at the time, for it freed England from a continual source of dispute with foreign countries, and, above all, checked the growth of a regular


The intimate connection between the crowns of France and Scotland naturally extended the English negotiations with the former kingdom to the latter also, and it was proposed that Mary should resign her present title to the English throne on condition of being declared heir to Elizabeth. But in the following summer, 1559, Francis II. having succeeded his father Henry II. on the throne of France, the aspect of affairs became entirely changed.



Elizabeth was jealous of the union of the crowns of France and Scotland, and the majority of the Scottish nation were equally averse to a measure which threatened to deprive them of their national independence. Elizabeth therefore dropped all negotiations with the queen-regent of Scotland, who was sister of the Guises and aunt of Francis II., and lent her support to the national party, most of whom were in favour of the reformed religion. The regent, a woman of extraordinary ability and untiring energy, for a long time sustained the catholic cause; but on her death in 1560, the earl of Arran succeeded to the regency, and the protestants became the dominant party. The conditions under which the Reformation had been introduced into England and Scotland were widely different in the former country it was the work of the state, while the people were comparatively passive agents in the hands of the crown; in the latter it was the sincere conviction of the majority of the nation opposed to all the constituted authorities of their land, and this necessarily gave to it a revolutionary tendency; the people too were less prepared by learning than in England, and the state of society was far less advanced: the Reformation in Scotland was therefore much more nearly allied to that of Germany; and Knox, who had travelled in Switzerland and Germany, led the national movement with all the fiery zeal characteristic of the Calvinistic school: he condemned the episcopal church of England as little better than the papal superstitions; and demanded a republican form of government in the church, to be administered by elders and presided over by the pastors of the more considerable towns, who were to be designated by the title of superintendents. This latter aristocratic element was at first borne with patience, but it was soon found that the interference of a hierarchy was equally oppressive to the inferior clergy, whether under the title of bishops or superintendents, and the congregations therefore determined that in future each church should regulate its own internal discipline, only subject to the supervision of the general meeting; and hence the supporters of these opinions received the name of Independents. The Scottish government had been for one year under the direction of the earl of Arran, who had been appointed regent on the death of the queen dowager, and the friends of the Reformation were in full power when Mary returned to Scotland, having lost her husband Francis II. She promised not to interfere with the religion of the people, but Knox could not even endure that mass should be celebrated in the royal chapel; and on the first Sunday after her arrival the popular indignation was so great, that the reformers would have broken open the door of the chapel, had not Murray, the queen's half-brother, defended the entrance during the time of service with

[ocr errors]

his drawn sword. On this the queen sent for the indefatigable zealot, and reproached him with seducing the people into disobedience to their sovereign, and apostasy from their religion. "God," replied Knox, "has commanded us to obey him rather than princes, and it is in obedience to his word that I am sent to preach against the deceit and tyranny of the Romish Antichrist." "Then," said Mary, "do you consider that subjects are justified in resisting their lawful princes by force if they have the power?" "Undoubtedly," was the answer, "when princes go beyond the bounds of their authority. Do not children bind their father, when in a fit of madness he attempts to kill them? and shall obedience be carried further towards princes who would murder the children of God, who are subject to them? Their blind zeal is only madness; therefore to deprive them of the sword, to bind their hands, and to throw them into prison till they come to their senses, is not cruel disobedience to their authority, but true obedience, because it is agreeable to the will of God." Mary trembled at the harshness of these sentiments, which she had never before heard so plainly avowed, and said, 'that her conscience spoke otherwise." "Conscience," exclaimed Knox, "requires knowledge; but you, queen, have no more real knowledge than the Jews who crucified Christ." We may blame the harshness of the great reformer's language, but his heart was sincere; and had Mary acted with moderation and ordinary caution, she might have found in him a faithful and wise counsellor; but her determination was bent on the overthrow of the reformed religion, and notwithstanding the moderate counsels of her ministers and the earl of Murray, a man of honour, probity, and ability, she inflamed the popular indignation by ordering high mass to be celebrated throughout the kingdom on All Saints' Day; and in the following year, 1563, sent her letters to the cardinal of Lorraine, to be read before the council of Trent, professing her submission to its authority, and promising, if she succeeded to the throne of England, to subject both kingdoms to the Holy See. There is also reason for believing that she was secretly a party to the Holy League formed at Bayonne between the pope, the king of Spain, and the Guises, for extirpating the protestant religion in Europe. No wonder that Elizabeth and her ministers Cecil and Bacon should have mistrusted the amicable professions of Mary, and looked upon her success as fraught with danger to the English nation. Notwithstanding Elizabeth's attachment to the hereditary principle, and her hatred of the democratical doctrines of the Congregationalists, she was at length prevailed upon by Cecil to take part with the Scottish reformers, and to assist them with money and arms, as they were likely to be overpowered by

the auxiliary forces sent from France. There were, however, various causes why Elizabeth did not wish to come to an open rupture with her cousin of Scotland; and she accordingly excused her interference by alleging that it was only to counteract the influence of France, which had endangered the peace of England by sending troops into Scotland, that she had taken any part in the internal affairs of that kingdom. Although this statement was evidently insincere, Mary was in no position to declare war with England, and accordingly, notwithstanding occasional interruption of their amicable relations, the peace of the two kingdoms was preserved.

During the stormy scenes in Scotland the subject of the succession was exciting the strongest interest in England. The protestants dreaded the injury which might accrue to their religion if a zealous catholic should ascend the English throne; while moderate men, like Bacon and Cecil, looked with dismay on the prospect of a contest for the crown, if Mary's claim should be rejected. The general feeling was on the side of the elder or Scottish branch; but by the will of Henry VIII., which had received the sanction of parliament, the crown, after his own children, had been devised to the issue of his younger sister the queen of France by her second husband the duke of Suffolk; and according to this settlement the lady Catherine Grey, next sister to lady Jane, would have been the nearest heir to the throne. In this state of uncertainty the parliament often besought the queen to marry, and the people prayed her to secure a protestant succession; but Elizabeth always drew back, preferring the consciousness of undiminished power: she felt that whilst unmarried she was both king and queen, and would not relinquish one tittle of her authority. Amongst the royal and noble suitors who proffered their hands were the kings of Spain and France, the archduke of Austria, Eric king of Sweden, Adolf duke of Holstein, the earl of Arran, who was recommended by the Scottish parliament, and allied to the royal line, and Francis duke of Anjou, son of Catherine de' Medici, whom she so far inveigled as to render her subsequent withdrawal extremely difficult; but if there was any one on whom the maiden queen had really set her affections, it was Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester, son of the infamous duke of Northumberland. This connection, however, Cecil strenuously opposed, if ever it was seriously entertained, for we must remember that Dudley was, at the time of his greatest favour with the queen, a married man, and the utmost charge that can be brought against her is, that she admitted him to a closer intimacy than was becoming. While thus herself remaining single, she resolved to influence the matrimonial connec

tion of the Scotch queen, and, above all, to prevail on her not to ally herself to a papist. She informed Mary that her hereditary right to the crown of England would depend on her choice of a husband, and even instructed her ambassador at Edinburgh to hint that "nothing could content Elizabeth so much as Mary's choice of some noble person within the kingdom of England," hinting at Dudley, earl of Leicester. When Mary heard of the proposal, she was indignant that Elizabeth should so far have presumed to meddle in her private affairs, and exclaimed, "What, offer to me an English subject, and a man without whom she cannot live!" but time and reflection brought more sober thoughts, and the match was favourably entertained, when Cecil writes, "I see the queen's majesty very desirous to have my lord of Leicester the Scottish queen's husband; but when it comes to the conditions which are deemed requisite, I see her then remiss of her earnestness." The matter consequently languished, and as Leicester himself was not especially desirous of the match, Mary decided in favour of her cousin lord Darnley, who was related on his father's side to the Scottish throne, and on his mother's to the royal line of England; he was likewise a protestant and a subject of England, and therefore appeared every way competent for so high an honour. At first this match was even favourably entertained by Elizabeth, and she readily granted him permission to repair to Edinburgh; but the true character of Darnley soon became apparent: his disregard for religion, his insolent ambition, and his jealous disposition, rendered him mistrusted by Elizabeth and the English party in Scotland. Murray, the queen's half-brother, retired in disgust, and in conjunction with the protestant lords raised the banner of insurrection in the western provinces; but the queen, on the strength of the good government which Scotland had enjoyed under the administration of Murray, succeeded in raising an army in the south, and marched against them, taking the command of the troops in person. The confederate lords were unable to maintain themselves against this vigorous resistance, and retiring before their implacable sovereign, crossed the borders, and sought refuge in England. Elizabeth, who knew how to disguise her actions, received them but coldly, and declared to Murray, in the presence of the French and Spanish ambassadors, that "she would not for the price of a world maintain any subject in his disobedience against his prince." She, however, continued to supply them with money in the northern marches, where they maintained a correspondence with their friends in Scotland, and took every opportunity to frustrate the attempts of the government to restore the Roman catholic religion. Mary herself became weary

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »