Изображения страниц
[ocr errors]

practice of advertising for assassins, by setting a price upon


poor prior's head. The great accession of wealth and territory, and especially of naval power, thus acquired by Philip, in the possession of the whole peninsula and the Portuguese colonies, alarmed Elizabeth. She resolved to divert him from projects of invasion by affording him full employment in the Netherlands. With this view, she obtained subsidies from the commons and the convocation. * The former voted two fifteenths, the latter 6s. 8d. in the pound, payable in three years; and the session was prorogued on the 18th of March, 1580.+

The prince of Orange now launched that measure which he had long meditated a declaration of independence. Why,” he asked the states, “treat as their prince, him whom they were fighting as their most implacable enemy? Had not Philip, by the violation of his oath, released them from theirs ? * Was not the greater number of existing sovereign families called in by the people, to the place of others who had been dethroned for sloth or tyranny?” § On the 29th of September, 1580, a decree of the states-general deposed Philip of Burgundy from the sovereignty of the Netherlands, because he had violated the laws. || The next question was the election of a sovereign in his place. The duke of Anjou was chosen from fear of Philip, not from affection to him, in compliance with the recommendation of the prince of Orange and the declared wishes of Elizabeth q; and the archduke Matthias, a mere cipher, was dismissed to Germany with ceremonial politeness. That this blow was directed at Philip by Elizabeth there cannot be a doubt. He sought to avenge himself upon his two deadliest foes, the queen of England and the prince of Orange;— on the former, by fomenting insurrection in Ireland; on the latter, by publishing against him a manifesto, in which he assailed the prince's public and private life with outrageous scurrilities, and marked him out for assassination by setting a price upon his head. The prince of Orange replied by his famed “ Apology,” which is praised above its deserts. * Written by a Frenchman named Villiers, who had been a lawyer and became a huguenot minister, it is a technical defence, in a case where defence was easy; and retaliates upon Philip his own personalities, by charging him with adulterous seductions, incestuous marriages, and the murder of his wife and son. The prince, indeed, maintained his superiority by not proscribing the head of Philip in his turn, and trusting only to his sword and the gratitude of his country. The states gave him a body guard ; but this did not save him from the poniards of Philip. One cannot contemplate without astonishment this tyrant, alike cowardly, and cruel, commanding massacre and assassination from the recesses of his cabinet, yet obeyed by large masses of mankind from attachment as well as fear; losing the Netherlands, and ruining Spain by his cruelties, yet called by many historians politic and wise. Individual opinion de pends upon so many circumstances independent of reason and truth, that the latter fact is not to be accounted extraordinary. But it assuredly is strange that the intellectual perceptions and moral feelings of an aggregate of men should be so distorted and depraved as to see in him a fit object for their obedience and respect.

* Carte, Gen. Hist. Ixix.

Jour. 23 Eliz. an. 1580. ? 1. Gentium jus esse, alterius perfidia solvi mutuos nexus.”—Grot. Ann. lib. iii.

Grot. Ann. lib. iii, 1“ Philippo ob violatas leges imperium abrogatum est."- Ibid.

I “ Nam et optime ipsi (Andino) cum serenissima Angliæ regina convenire, et Elizabetham per suos oratores ac literas, hunc principem crebro commendare." - Thuan. Hist. lib. lji.

The duke of Anjou joyfully accepted the sovereignty; set out for the Low Countries with an army, raised and subsisted by funds secretly supplied to him by Elizabetht; relieved Cambray, which was invested by the prince of Parma; was installed sovereign with the title of duke of Brabant; soon found himself reduced to a * See Dumont, Corps Dip. vol. v.

“ Moderatiores nimium eam existi

harent."-Thuan. Hist. lib. lxxi. + Cam. Ann.

Three envoys,


state of inaction; and went over to England with the declared

purpose of expediting his marriage. The marriage meanwhile had been pressed with great earnestness.

-Bacqueville and Rambouillet in the name of Henry III., and Simier in that of the duke of Anjou, - were engaged in negotiating it in England since the preceding year. It is not necessary to enter into discussions upon a marriage which did not take place, and under circumstances of religious and state policy which are most unlikely to

The great objection to the French prince was that of his religion, — to which, however, he did not appear violently attached ; and the great fear of rejecting him was, that the consequence might be his marriage with a daughter of the king of Spain. France, Spain, and the see of Rome might thus be united ; the insurrection of the Low Countries would be crushed; and the whole force of catholic Europe would be directed against Elizabeth.

Leicester was alarmed at the progress which the envoy of Anjou was making in the good graces of his mistress. He accused Simier of having fascinated Elizabeth by unhallowed arts, at a time when witches and sorcerers were objects of horror to the people, and punished with death by the law. Familiar alike with religious hypocrisy and the blackest crimes, he was suspected of even employing a ruffian to assassinate the obnoxious Frenchman: but of this there is no proof beyond implication. The queen declared, by public proclamation, Simier and his suite under her special protection ; which would certainly imply that his life was in peril. Whilst Elizabeth happened to be in her barge on the Thames, with Simier of the party, one of her bargemen was wounded by a shot from a boat on the river. Leicester was suspected of having procured the shot to be fired at Simier ; but it proved to have been an accident; and the person who discharged the piece protested and proved his innocence so earnestly and clearly, that, after being condemned on his trial, he was rescued from execution by the queen. Elizabeth has the credit of having said on this occasion, that "she would believe nothing of her people which parents would not believe of their children.” She yet was not distinguished for clemency or confidence. There was little magnanimity in pardoning a man admitted to be innocent; 'and when she mingled with the multitude she was politic, not confiding. It is a trite artifice of courts to invent these royal apophthegms of grandeur and goodness for the credulous people.

Simier retaliated upon Leicester, by acquainting Elizabeth with the fact of his being secretly married to the widow of Essex, after having caused Essex himself, it was said, to be poisoned in Ireland. Negotiating her own marriage with another man, she confined at Greenwich a favourite whose name was disreputably associated with hers throughout Europe t, and would have sent him to the Tower, if the honest earl of Sussex, the enemy of Leicester, had not dissuaded her from scandalising herself. This trait of gross, reckless, self-indulgent despotism proved her the true daughter of Henry VIII. It yet appears that she spurned the idea of a marriage with Leicester. your master,” said she to Castelnau, when French ambassador at her court,

" that I will never descend to marry my subject, or make him my companion.” This was in 1573. After an interval of seven years, when one of the ladies of her bed-chamber, whom Leicester had in his interest, spoke to her of marrying him, she replied by asking indignantly, “Do you think I could so far forget my royal dignity as to prefer for my husband a petty servant, whom I have myself raised, before some of the greatest princes of Christendom ?” Ş

The duke of Anjou came over with a brilliant suite

" Tell

* Cam, Ann. + “Le maréchal de Tavanes dist un jour au duc d'Anjou (Hen. III.), . Le milord Robert (Leicester) veut vous faire espouser son amie : faites lui espouser Châteauneuf, qui est la vostre; vous lui rendrez le pennache qu'il vous veult donner.'” -Vie du Mar. de Tav., par l'Abbé Perau; and Mém. de Tavanes. # Mém. de Cast. i. 185.

Cam. Ann.

towards the close of 1580. Those who had seen him in France were prepared for a disenchantment on the part of the queen as soon as she beheld him ; but the question had already been resolved in his favour. He had made a secret and unexpected visit to Elizabeth in the preceding year, at the instigation of the dexterous Simier, and by the gallantry of the surprise overcame his personal disadvantages.

He returned from his first visit in a few days, seen by few. When he now appeared publicly, it was admitted that there was some ground for Leicester's charge of sorcery and unlawful arts against his agent Simier. His face had suffered from the small-pox *, according to some ; from his debaucheries, according to others.t It may be counted among the caprices of the sex, that it was his fortune to please. The marriage proceeded so far that the contract was prepared ; but with an escape contrived for the lady, if she should, as it proved, change her mind. The papers, drawn up collectively or individually by her grave council, upon the advantages and disadvantages of marriage, in the abstract and in the particular case, form a curious tissue of erudition, reason, pedantry, and trifling. ll It is evident that the majority of her council, and her own better judgment, were opposed to the marriage, whilst her inclination was decidedly for it. The clergy denounced it from the pulpit with so much violence, that Elizabeth enjoined them strict silence upon that particular topic. I A * Digges.

+ Mém. de Cast. add. de Lab. i. 700. | An enlargement of his nose gave him the appearance of having two noses, and was made the subject of an epigram:

Flamands, ne soyez estonnés

Si à François voyez deux nez;
Car par droit raison et usage
Faut deux nez à double visage.”

Mém. de Cast. i. 701. (Add. de Lab.) “ Icelle dame reine a expressement déclaré et reservé, qu'en vertu du dit contrat, elle n'entend estre obligée et astreintée à l'accomplissement et consommation du dit mariage, jusque à ce que la dite dame reine et le dit très illustre duc, se soient mutuellement esclaircis et satisfaits d'auscunes choses particulières entre eux." - Mém. de Cast. i. 685. || See Murdin's State Papers, and Ellis's Orig. Lett. illustrative of Eng. Hist. i Letter of Gilb. Talbot to his father, lord Shrewsbury, in Lodge's Illus.

ji. 213.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »