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1555-1558

Mary's unhappy reign.--Unrequited love.--Mary's sufferings.--Her
religious principles.--Progress of Mary's Catholic zeal.--Her
moderation at first.--Mary's terrible persecution of the
Protestants.--Burning at the stake.--The title of Bloody given to
Mary.--Mary and Elizabeth reconciled.--Scenes of festivity.--The war
with France.--Loss of Calais.--Murmurs of the English.--King of
Sweden's proposal to Elizabeth.--Mary's energy.--Mary's privy council
alarmed.--Their perplexity.--Uncertainty about Elizabeth's future
course.--Her cautious policy.--Death of Mary.--Announcement to
Parliament.--Elizabeth proclaimed.--Joy of the people.--The Te
Deum.--Elizabeth's emotions.--Cecil made secretary of state.--His
faithfulness.--Elizabeth's charge to Cecil.--Her journey to
London.--Elizabeth's triumphant entrance into the Tower.--The
coronation.--Pageants in the streets.--Devices.--Presentation of the
Bible.--The heavy purse.--The sprig of rosemary.--The wedding ring.


If it were the story of Mary instead of that of Elizabeth that we were
following, we should have now to pause and draw a very melancholy
picture of the scenes which darkened the close of the queen's
unfortunate and unhappy history. Mary loved her husband, but she could
not secure his love in return. He treated her with supercilious coldness
and neglect, and evinced, from time to time, a degree of interest in
other ladies which awakened her jealousy and anger. Of all the terrible
convulsions to which the human soul is subject, there is not one which
agitates it more deeply than the tumult of feeling produced by the
mingling of resentment and love. Such a mingling, or, rather, such a
conflict, between passions apparently inconsistent with each other, is
generally considered not possible by those who have never experienced
it. But it is possible. It is possible to be stung with a sense of the
ingratitude, and selfishness, and cruelty of an object, which, after
all, the heart will persist in clinging to with the fondest affection.
Vexation and anger, a burning sense of injury, and desire for revenge,
on the one hand, and feelings of love, resistless and uncontrollable,
and bearing, in their turn, all before them, alternately get possession
of the soul, harrowing and devastating it in their awful conflict, and
even sometimes reigning over it, for a time, in a temporary but dreadful
calm, like that of two wrestlers who pause a moment, exhausted in a
mortal combat, but grappling each other with deadly energy all the time,
while they are taking breath for a renewal of the conflict. Queen Mary,
in one of these paroxysms, seized a portrait of her husband and tore it
into shreds. The reader, who has his or her experience in affairs of the
heart yet to come, will say, perhaps, her love for him then must have
been all gone. No; it was at its height. We do not tear the portraits of
those who are indifferent to us.

At the beginning of her reign, and, in fact, during all the previous
periods of her life, Mary had been an honest and conscientious Catholic.
She undoubtedly truly believed that the Christian Church ought to be
banded together in one great communion, with the Pope of Rome as its
spiritual head, and that her father had broken away from this
communion--which was, in fact, strictly true--merely to obtain a pretext
for getting released from her mother. How natural, under such
circumstances, that she should have desired to return. She commenced,
immediately on her accession, a course of measures to bring the nation
back to the Roman Catholic communion. She managed very prudently and
cautiously at first--especially while the affair of her marriage was
pending--seemingly very desirous of doing nothing to exasperate those
who were of the Protestant faith, or even to awaken their opposition.
After she was married, however, her desire to please her Catholic
husband, and his widely-extended and influential circle of Catholic
friends on the Continent, made her more eager to press forward the work
of putting down the Reformation in England; and as her marriage was now
effected, she was less concerned about the consequences of any
opposition which she might excite. Then, besides, her temper, never very
sweet, was sadly soured by her husband's treatment of her. She vented
her ill will upon those who would not yield to her wishes in respect to
their religious faith. She caused more and more severe laws to be
passed, and enforced them by more and more severe penalties. The more
she pressed these violent measures, the more the fortitude and
resolution of those who suffered from them were aroused. And, on the
other hand, the more they resisted, the more determined she became that
she would compel them to submit. She went on from one mode of coercion
to another, until she reached the last possible point, and inflicted the
most dreadful physical suffering which it is possible for man to inflict
upon his fellow-man.

This worst and most terrible injury is to burn the living victim in a
fire. That a woman could ever order this to be done would seem to be
incredible. Queen Mary, however, and her government, were so determined
to put down, at all hazards, all open disaffection to the Catholic
cause, that they did not give up the contest until they had burned
nearly three hundred persons by fire, of whom more than fifty were
women, and four were children! This horrible persecution was, however,
of no avail. Dissentients increased faster than they could be burned;
and such dreadful punishments became at last so intolerably odious to
the nation that they were obliged to desist, and then the various
ministers of state concerned in them attempted to throw off the blame
upon each other. The English nation have never forgiven Mary for these
atrocities. They gave her the name of Bloody Mary at the time, and she
has retained it to the present day. In one of the ancient histories of
the realm, at the head of the chapter devoted to Mary, there is placed,
as an appropriate emblem of the character of her reign, the picture of a
man writhing helplessly at a stake, with the flames curling around him,
and a ferocious-looking soldier standing by, stirring up the fire.

The various disappointments, vexations, and trials which Mary endured
toward the close of her life, had one good effect; they softened the
animosity which she had felt toward Elizabeth, and in the end something
like a friendship seemed to spring up between the sisters. Abandoned by
her husband, and looked upon with dislike or hatred by her subjects, and
disappointed in all her plans, she seemed to turn at last to Elizabeth
for companionship and comfort. The sisters visited each other. First
Elizabeth went to London to visit the queen, and was received with great
ceremony and parade. Then the queen went to Hatfield to visit the
princess, attended by a large company of ladies and gentlemen of the
court, and several days were spent there in festivities and rejoicings.
There were plays in the palace, and a bear-baiting in the court-yard,
and hunting in the park, and many other schemes of pleasure. This
renewal of friendly intercourse between the queen and the princess
brought the latter gradually out of her retirement. Now that the queen
began to evince a friendly spirit toward her, it was safe for others to
show her kindness and to pay her attention. The disposition to do this
increased rapidly as Mary's health gradually declined, and it began to
be understood that she would not live long, and that, consequently,
Elizabeth would soon be called to the throne.

The war which Mary had been drawn into with France, by Philip's threat
that he would never see her again, proved very disastrous. The town of
Calais, which is opposite to Dover, across the straits, and, of course,
on the French side of the channel, had been in the possession of the
English for two hundred years. It was very gratifying to English pride
to hold possession of such a stronghold on the French shore; but now
every thing seemed to go against Mary. Calais was defended by a citadel
nearly as large as the town itself, and was deemed impregnable. In
addition to this, an enormous English force was concentrated there. The
French general, however, contrived, partly by stratagem, and partly by
overpowering numbers of troops, and ships, and batteries of cannon, to
get possession of the whole. The English nation were indignant at this
result. Their queen and her government, so energetic in imprisoning and
burning her own subjects at home, were powerless, it seemed, in coping
with their enemies abroad. Murmurs of dissatisfaction were heard every
where, and Mary sank down upon her sick bed overwhelmed with
disappointment, vexation, and chagrin. She said that she should die, and
that if, after her death, they examined her body, they would find Calais
like a load upon her heart.

In the mean time, it must have been Elizabeth's secret wish that she
would die, since her death would release the princess from all the
embarrassments and restraints of her position, and raise her at once to
the highest pinnacle of honor and power. She remained, however, quietly
at Hatfield, acting in all things in a very discreet and cautious
manner. At one time she received proposals from the King of Sweden that
she would accept of his son as her husband. She asked the embassador if
he had communicated the affair to Mary. On his replying that he had not,
Elizabeth said that she could not entertain at all any such question,
unless her sister were first consulted and should give her approbation.
She acted on the same principles in every thing, being very cautious to
give Mary and her government no cause of complaint against her, and
willing to wait patiently until her own time should come.

Though Mary's disappointments and losses filled her mind with anguish
and suffering, they did not soften her heart. She seemed to grow more
cruel and vindictive the more her plans and projects failed. Adversity
vexed and irritated, instead of calming and subduing her. She revived
her persecutions of the Protestants. She fitted out a fleet of a hundred
and twenty ships to make a descent upon the French coast, and attempt to
retrieve her fallen fortunes there. She called Parliament together and
asked for more supplies. All this time she was confined to her sick
chamber, but not considered in danger. The Parliament were debating the
question of supplies. Her privy council were holding daily meetings to
carry out the plans and schemes which she still continued to form, and
all was excitement and bustle in and around the court, when one day the
council was thunderstruck by an announcement that she was dying.

They knew very well that her death would be a terrible blow to them.
They were all Catholics, and had been Mary's instruments in the terrible
persecutions with which she had oppressed the Protestant faith. With
Mary's death, of course they would fall. A Protestant princess was
ready, at Hatfield, to ascend the throne. Every thing would be changed,
and there was even danger that they might, in their turn, be sent to the
stake, in retaliation for the cruelties which they had caused others to
suffer. They made arrangements to have Mary's death, whenever it should
take place, concealed for a few hours, till they could consider what
they should do.

There was nothing that they could do. There was now no other
considerable claimant to the throne but Elizabeth, except Mary Queen of
Scots, who was far away in France. She was a Catholic, it was true; but
to bring her into the country and place her upon the throne seemed to be
a hopeless undertaking. Queen Mary's counselors soon found that they
must give up their cause in despair. Any attempt to resist Elizabeth's
claims would be high treason, and, of course, if unsuccessful, would
bring the heads of all concerned in it to the block.

Besides, it was not certain that Elizabeth would act decidedly as a
Protestant. She had been very prudent and cautious during Mary's reign,
and had been very careful never to manifest any hostility to the
Catholics. She never had acted as Mary had done on the occasion of her
brother's funeral, when she refused even to countenance with her
presence the national service because it was under Protestant forms.
Elizabeth had always accompanied Mary to mass whenever occasion
required; she had always spoken respectfully of the Catholic faith; and
once she asked Mary to lend her some Catholic books, in order that she
might inform herself more fully on the subject of the principles of the
Roman faith. It is true, she acted thus not because there was any real
leaning in her mind toward the Catholic religion; it was all merely a
wise and sagacious policy. Surrounded by difficulties and dangers as she
was during Mary's reign, her only hope of safety was in passing as
quietly as possible along, and managing warily, so as to keep the
hostility which was burning secretly against her from breaking out into
an open flame. This was her object in retiring so much from the court
and from all participation in public affairs, in avoiding all religious
and political contests, and spending her time in the study of Greek, and
Latin, and philosophy. The consequence was, that when Mary died, nobody
knew certainly what course Elizabeth would pursue. Nobody had any strong
motive for opposing her succession. The council, therefore, after a
short consultation, concluded to do nothing but simply to send a message
to the House of Lords, announcing to them the unexpected death of the
queen.

The House of Lords, on receiving this intelligence, sent for the Commons
to come into their hall, as is usual when any important communication is
to be made to them either by the Lords themselves or by the sovereign.
The chancellor, who is the highest civil officer of the kingdom in
respect to rank, and who presides in the House of Lords, clothed in a
magnificent antique costume, then rose and announced to the Commons,
standing before him, the death of the sovereign. There was a moment's
solemn pause, such as propriety on the occasion of an announcement like
this required, all thoughts being, too, for a moment turned to the
chamber where the body of the departed queen was lying. But the
sovereignty was no longer there. The mysterious principle had fled with
the parting breath, and Elizabeth, though wholly unconscious of it, had
been for several hours the queen. The thoughts, therefore, of the august
and solemn assembly lingered but for a moment in the royal palace, which
had now lost all its glory; they soon turned spontaneously, and with
eager haste, to the new sovereign at Hatfield, and the lofty arches of
the Parliament hall rung with loud acclamations, "God save Queen
Elizabeth, and grant her a long and happy reign."

The members of the Parliament went forth immediately to proclaim the new
queen. There are two principal places where it was then customary to
proclaim the English sovereigns. One of these was before the royal
palace at Westminster, and the other in the city of London, at a very
public place called the Great Cross at Cheapside. The people assembled
in great crowds at these points to witness the ceremony, and received
the announcement which the heralds made, with the most ardent
expressions of joy. The bells were every where rung; tables were spread
in the streets, and booths erected, bonfires and illuminations were
prepared for the evening, and every thing indicated a deep and universal
joy.

In fact, this joy was so strongly expressed as to be even in some degree
disrespectful to the memory of the departed queen. There is a famous
ancient Latin hymn which has long been sung in England and on the
Continent of Europe on occasions of great public rejoicing. It is called
the Te Deum, or sometimes the Te Deum Laudamus. These last are the
three Latin words with which the hymn commences, and mean, Thee, God,
we praise. They sung the Te Deum in the churches of London on the
Sunday after Mary died.

In the mean time, messengers from the council proceeded with all speed
to Hatfield, to announce to Elizabeth the death of her sister, and her
own accession to the sovereign power. The tidings, of course, filled
Elizabeth's mind with the deepest emotions. The oppressive sense of
constraint and danger which she had endured as her daily burden for so
many years, was lifted suddenly from her soul. She could not but
rejoice, though she was too much upon her guard to express her joy. She
was overwhelmed with a profound agitation, and, kneeling down, she
exclaimed in Latin, "It is the Lord's doing, and it is wonderful in our
eyes."

Several of the members of Mary's privy council repaired immediately to
Hatfield. The queen summoned them to attend her, and in their presence
appointed her chief secretary of state. His name was Sir William Cecil.
He was a man of great learning and ability, and he remained in office
under Elizabeth for forty years. He became her chief adviser and
instrument, an able, faithful, and indefatigable servant and friend
during almost the whole of her reign. His name is accordingly
indissolubly connected with that of Elizabeth in all the political
events which occurred while she continued upon the throne, and it will,
in consequence, very frequently occur in the sequel of this history. He
was now about forty years of age. Elizabeth was twenty-five.

Elizabeth had known Cecil long before. He had been a faithful and true
friend to her in her adversity. He had been, in many cases, a
confidential adviser, and had maintained a secret correspondence with
her in certain trying periods of her life. She had resolved, doubtless,
to make him her chief secretary of state so soon as she should succeed
to the throne. And now that the time had arrived, she instated him
solemnly in his office. In so doing, she pronounced, in the hearing of
the other members of the council, the following charge:

"I give you this charge that you shall be of my privy
council, and content yourself to take pains for me and my
realm. This judgment I have of you, that you will not be
corrupted with any gift; and that you will be faithful to
the state; and that, without respect of my private will, you
will give me that counsel that you think best; and that, if
you shall know any thing necessary to be declared to me of
secrecy you shall show it to myself only; and assure
yourself I will not fail to keep taciturnity therein. And
therefore herewith I charge you."



It was about a week after the death of Mary before the arrangements were
completed for Elizabeth's journey to London, to take possession of the
castles and palaces which pertain there to the English sovereigns. She
was followed on this journey by a train of about a thousand attendants,
all nobles or personages of high rank, both gentlemen and ladies. She
went first to a palace called the Charter House, near London, where
she stopped until preparations could be made for her formal and public
entrance into the Tower; not, as before, through the Traitors' Gate, a
prisoner, but openly, through the grand entrance, in the midst of
acclamations as the proud and applauded sovereign of the mighty realm
whose capital the ancient fortress was stationed to defend. The streets
through which the gorgeous procession was to pass were spread with fine,
smooth gravel; bands of musicians were stationed at intervals, and
decorated arches, and banners, and flags, with countless devices of
loyalty and welcome, and waving handkerchiefs, greeted her all the way.
Heralds and other great officers, magnificently dressed, and mounted on
horses richly caparisoned, rode before her, announcing her approach,
with trumpets and proclamations; while she followed in the train,
mounted upon a beautiful horse, the object of universal homage. Thus
Elizabeth entered the Tower; and inasmuch as forgetting her friends is a
fault with which she can not justly be charged, we may hope, at least,
that one of the first acts which she performed, after getting
established in the royal apartments, was to send for and reward the
kind-hearted child who had been reprimanded for bringing her the
flowers.

The coronation, when the time arrived for it, was very splendid. The
queen went in state in a sumptuous chariot, preceded by trumpeters and
heralds in armor, and accompanied by a long train of noblemen, barons,
and gentlemen, and also of ladies, all most richly dressed in crimson
velvet, the trappings of the horses being of the same material. The
people of London thronged all the streets through which she was to pass,
and made the air resound with shouts and acclamations. There were
triumphal arches erected here and there on the way, with a great variety
of odd and quaint devices, and a child stationed upon each, who
explained the devices to Elizabeth as she passed, in English verse,
written for the occasion. One of these pageants was entitled "The Seat
of worthy Governance." There was a throne, supported by figures which
represented the cardinal virtues, such as Piety, Wisdom, Temperance,
Industry, Truth, and beneath their feet were the opposite vices,
Superstition, Ignorance, Intemperance, Idleness, and Falsehood: these
the virtues were trampling upon. On the throne was a representation of
Elizabeth. At one place were eight personages dressed to represent the
eight beatitudes pronounced by our Savior in his sermon on the
Mount--the meek, the merciful, &c. Each of these qualities was
ingeniously ascribed to Elizabeth. This could be done with much more
propriety then than in subsequent years. In another place, an ancient
figure, representing Time, came out of a cave which had been
artificially constructed with great ingenuity, leading his daughter,
whose name was Truth. Truth had an English Bible in her hands, which she
presented to Elizabeth as she passed. This had a great deal of meaning;
for the Catholic government of Mary had discouraged the circulation of
the Scriptures in the vernacular tongue. When the procession arrived in
the middle of the city, some officers of the city government approached
the queen's chariot, and delivered to her a present of a very large and
heavy purse filled with gold. The queen had to employ both hands in
lifting it in. It contained an amount equal in value to two or three
thousand dollars.

The queen was very affable and gracious to all the people on the way.
Poor women would come up to her carriage and offer her flowers, which
she would very condescendingly accept. Several times she stopped her
carriage when she saw that any one wished to speak with her, or had
something to offer; and so great was the exaltation of a queen in those
days, in the estimation of mankind, that these acts were considered by
all the humble citizens of London as acts of very extraordinary
affability, and they awakened universal enthusiasm. There was one branch
of rosemary given to the queen by a poor woman in Fleet Street; the
queen put it up conspicuously in the carriage, where it remained all the
way, watched by ten thousand eyes, till it got to Westminster.

The coronation took place at Westminster on the following day. The crown
was placed upon the young maiden's head in the midst of a great throng
of ladies and gentlemen, who were all superbly dressed, and who made the
vast edifice in which the service was performed ring with their
acclamations and their shouts of "Long live the Queen!" During the
ceremonies, Elizabeth placed a wedding ring upon her finger with great
formality, to denote that she considered the occasion as the celebration
of her espousal to the realm of England; she was that day a bride, and
should never have, she said, any other husband. She kept this, the only
wedding ring she ever wore, upon her finger, without once removing it,
for more than forty years.





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Previous: Elizabeth In The Tower



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