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memory of her mother. St. John, the remaining peer seems, like the others, to have been a protestant.*
Since her accession, every measure of her government was a step towards the reformation, daily cutting off more and more her retreat to the church of Rome, from which every part of her personal conduct evinced her irreclaimable estrangement. She proceeded to its completion without hesitation, and without any other delay than was required by the necessity, in a measure obnoxious to so many acute opponents, of procuring the concurrence of parliament, and of observing all the principles and forms of the constitution.
The particulars of her coronation on the 14th of January, are preserved in Holinshed, for the amusement of those whose languid and somewhat vulgar fancy is delighted by the description of such splendour as the gilder and the embroiderer can furnish. But even this pageantry afforded to Elizabeth-who, though capricious and harsh to individuals, well knew the secret of dealing with a people,—an opportunity of gaining the hearts of her subjects by that union of habitual dignity with general fellow feeling, and seasonable familiarity, which characterises the deportment of those who rule nations with quiet and success.
The parliament met on the 25th of January, 1559; and Cox, one of the English exiles for religion, who was soon afterwards raised to the episcopal dignity, was chosen to preach a sermon on this memorable occasion. Sir Nicholas Bacon opened the session by a grave and wise speech, in which he said that the parliament was called together to make laws for the uniting of the people of the realm in one uniform order of religion; for reforming all mischiefs in civil policy; and to supply the queen's wants. In the performance of their task, he exhorted all the members to avoid sophistical disputations, meeter for ostentation of wit, than for consultation on weighty matters;" and to banish from
It appears in Dugdale that all these peerages bear date the 12th and 13th of January, 1559.
their mouths all those opprobrious words which are the utter enemies of concord and unity. He warned them alike to resist idolatry and superstition on the one hand, and, on the other, to avoid a licentiousness which might suffer irreverence, and even irreligion, to creep into the kingdom.* In his allusion to the catholics, the orator perhaps deviated somewhat from his own recommendation. The language in which he alluded to those reformers who began to seek a further reformation than that of Edward VI. is chosen with more tenderness to their feelings, and is more guarded against the risk of offending their zeal.
An act for the recognising and declaring the queen's title was unanimously passed by the lords, and adopted without any apparent opposition by the commons. This statute declares her to be rightly, lineally, and lawfully descended from the blood royal, and pronounces "all sentences and acts of parliament derogatory from this declaration to be void."+
These words imply a confirmation of the marriage of Anne Boleyn; and the latter clause undoubtedly comprehends the divorce for pre-contract, in which Cranmer unhappily performed a blamable part. Why express words declaring the legitimacy of Anne's marriage were not introduced, it is not easy to judge with certainty. This departure from the example of Mary, who obtained an express declaration of the legality of the marriage of Catherine, has been insinuated by some to arise from doubts respecting the success of the like boldness in Elizabeth. But it cannot be doubted that so zealous a protestant parliament would have been ready to do that expressly, which they did by necessary implication. The case of Elizabeth was different from that of Mary. The marriage of Catherine involved only a simple question of law, which parliament had in effect decided by returning to the communion of the see of Rome. The marriage of Anne depended in part upon matters of fact
* D'Ewes's Journal, 14. From a copy of the speech in his possession. +1 Eliz. c. 3. Statutes of the Realm.
respecting the alleged pre-contract with Henry Piercy, of which, at the distance of thirty-five years, and when all the principal parties had been long dead, it might have been difficult to produce satisfactory evidence.* The investigation must, if successful, have revived the remembrance of Cranmer's criminal weakness, and placed in the most glaring light the cruel impatience of Henry. It was not, probably, thought politic to bring into question the acts of Mary, or to dispel that obscurity respecting the succession, of which the removal would present the queen of Scots to the nation as seated by the side of the throne.
The acts by which the ecclesiastical revolution was accomplished occupied the whole session of parliament, which continued from January to May. The first of these measures consisted in the revival of all the statutes of Henry VIII. against foreign jurisdiction, which, in imitation of that monarch's equivocal language, they called "restoring the ancient jurisdiction of the crown over the state ecclesiastical," + together with the revival of the protestant statute of Edward respecting the sacrament of the altar. All spiritual jurisdiction was by the same act expressly annexed to the crown, and the sovereign was empowered to exercise it by commissioners appointed under the great seal. All ecclesiastical, and most civil magistrates and officers, were required, under pain of loss of office and deprivation of benefice, with disability to hold either in future, to take an oath "that the queen was the only supreme governor of the realm in spiritual as well as temporal causes" (for Elizabeth forbore to assume the unseemly title of head of the church), and that no foreign prince or prelate had, or ought to have ‡, any spiritual authority within this
Henry Piercy, earl of Northumberland, died in 1538. Dugdale, i. 283. Had he been so contracted to Anne as to avoid a subsequent marriage, his own children would have been illegitimate.
+ 1 Eliz. c. 1. Stat. of the Realm.
The words "ought to have," if jurisdiction be confined to its only proper sense, that of outward and coercive power, were perhaps the only terms in this oath which were repugnant to the conscience of a true catholic. Even that difficulty has not always been deemed insurmountable.
realm Several clauses of this act deserve commendation as manifestations of a tolerant temper, which, though in themselves imperfect, yet were very extensive compared with the practice of the age. The ancient statutes against Lollardy, revived and executed by Mary, were repealed; and the ecclesiastical commissioners were forbidden to declare any matter to be heresy but such as had been decided to be so either by the Scripture or by any of the first four general councils; a provision which appears to be equivalent to an exemption of Roman catholics, as such, from the imputation of heresy. On the other hand, the maintenance of foreign authority in this kingdom, by writing, printing, or preaching, was, for the first offence, punished by fine and imprisonment; for the second, by the severe penalties of præmunire; and for the third, by death. Nothing can be urged in mitigation of such a clause, considered even as a menace, but the disposition of the consistent adherents of papal supremacy to deny the legitimate birth, and to dispute the civil authority, of the queen. Two temporal peers and nine prelates voted against the third reading of the bill. On its return from the commons, the lay lords withdrew their opposition, but the spiritual lords persevered.* The next act, for re-establishing the Common Prayer Book of Edward VI. †, gave occasion to more serious scruples, and excited a more numerous as well as more firm resistance. The clause which subjected the ministers of the established church to punishment for disobedience, is rather to be blamed as a departure from clemency than as a breach of justice. The severe penalties denounced against all others who libelled the established service, though they would be condemned by all who regard it as impolitic or unjust to punish the excesses of discussion, yet were more probably then blamed, if at all, for extreme laxity and
* 18th and 22d of March, 1559. D'Ewes's Journal. The earl of Shrewsbury and the viscount Montague (the latter had been ambassador at Rome) were the lay peers. Heath, Bonner, Oglethorpe, and the abbot of Westminster, were among the spiritual lords.
An Act for the Uniformity of Common Prayer. 1 Eliz. c. 2.
feebleness. This bill passed the house of commons in three days *, with no opposition but that of Mr. Arnold, which, though directed against the penal clauses, was intended to destroy the bill. It was passed by the house of lords on the 28th of April, against the opposition of nine prelates and nine temporal peers.† Among the latter we find not only the names of Shrewsbury and Montacute, the usual opponents of this session, but those also of the marquess of Winchester, of the lords Morley, Stafford, Dudley, Wharton, Rich, and North. The Journals of the house of lords, from the 22d of April to the 1st of May, not being printed, nor perhaps extant, we cannot determine the proportion which this minority bore to the whole number of the house. But as the lords present on both the days just mentioned were about eighty-five, and the same number ordinarily attended after that time, there appears no sufficient reason for doubting that the bill was carried by a majority of nearly four to one. The convocation had, at their first meeting, protested against the impending innovations, and conveyed their dissent through the unwelcome hand of Bonner. A disputation was in consequence appointed to be holden in Westminster Abbey, on the 31st of March, between catholic and protestant divines. It was agreeable to the principles, though not to the practice, of the latter to enter on such a conference with the possibility of advantage; since they exercised the right of free enquiry, and might therefore be convinced by arguments of adequate force. Roman catholic divines, who deemed themselves concluded by the decisions of an unerring church, with whatever ability they might vindicate their doctrines, could not profess any openness to conviction. It was consistent with their system to disapprove such disputes. The conference, in which lord keeper Bacon presided, was productive as usual of increased irritation, and the * Commons' Journals, 18th to 20th April, 1559.
+ D'Ewes, 30.
Dr. Lingard and Mr. Ellis have told us that the bill passed by a majo rity of only three. But neither quotes authority.