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Elizabeth And Her Parliament
by [?]

“By this, sire, your majesty may perceive that this queen is every day trying new inventions to escape from this passage (that is, on fixing her marriage, or the succession). She thinks that the Duke of Norfolk is principally the cause of this insisting,[11] which one person and the other stand to; and is so angried against him, that, if she can find any decent pretext to arrest him, I think she will not fail to do it; and he himself, as I understand, has already very little doubt of this.[12] The duke told the earl of Northumberland, that the queen remained steadfast to her own opinion, and would take no other advice than her own, and would do everything herself.”

The storms in our parliament do not necessarily end in political shipwrecks, whenever the head of the government is an Elizabeth. She, indeed, sent down a prohibition to the house from all debate on the subject. But when she discovered a spirit in the commons, and language as bold as her own royal style, she knew how to revoke the exasperating prohibition. She even charmed them by the manner; for the commons returned her “prayers and thanks,” and accompanied them with a subsidy. Her majesty found by experience, that the present, like other passions, was more easily calmed and quieted by following than resisting, observes Sir Symonds D’Ewes.

The wisdom of Elizabeth, however, did not weaken her intrepidity. The struggle was glorious for both parties; but how she escaped through the storm which her mysterious conduct had at once raised and quelled, the sweetness and the sharpness, the commendation and the reprimand of her noble speech in closing the parliament, are told by Hume with the usual felicity of his narrative.[13]

[Footnote 1:
Foreign authors who had an intercourse with the English court seem to have been better informed, or at least found themselves under less restraint than our home-writers. In Bayle, note x. the reader will find this mysterious affair cleared up; and at length in one of our own writers, Whitaker, in his “Mary Queen of Scots Vindicated,” vol. ii. p. 502. Elizabeth’s Answer to the first Address of the Commons, on her marriage, in Hume, vol. v. p. 13, is now more intelligible: he has preserved her fanciful style. ]

[Footnote 2:
A curious trait of the neglect Queen Mary experienced, whose life being considered very uncertain, sent all the intriguers of a court to Elizabeth, the next heir, although then in a kind of state imprisonment. ]

[Footnote 3:
This despatch is a meagre account, written before the ambassador obtained all the information the present letter displays. The chief particulars I have preserved above. ]

[Footnote 4:
By Sir Symonds D’Ewes’s Journal it appears, that the French ambassador had mistaken the day, Wednesday the 16th, for Thursday the 17th of October. The ambassador is afterwards right in the other dates. The person who moved the house, whom he calls “Le Seindicque de la Royne,” was Sir Edward Rogers, comptroller of her majesty’s household. The motion was seconded by Sir William Cecil, who entered more largely into the particulars of the queen’s charges, incurred in the defence of New-Haven, in France, the repairs of her navy, and the Irish war with O’Neil. In the present narrative we fully discover the spirit of the independent member; and, at its close, that part of the secret history of Elizabeth which so powerfully developes her majestic character. ]

[Footnote 5:
The original says, “ung subside de quatre solz pour liure.” ]

[Footnote 6:
This gentleman’s name does not appear in Sir Symonds D’Ewes’s Journal. Mons. Le Mothe Fenelon has, however, the uncommon merit, contrary to the custom of his nation, of writing an English name somewhat recognisable; for Edward Basche was one of the general surveyors of the victualling of the queen’s ships, 1573, as I find in the Lansdowne MSS., vol. xvi. art. 69. ]

[Footnote 7:
In the original, “Ils avoient le nez si long qu’il s’estendoit despuis Londres jusques au pays d’West.” ]

[Footnote 8:
This term is remarkable. In the original, “La Royne ayant impetre,”which in Congrave’s Dictionary, a contemporary work, is explained by,–“To get by praier, obtain by suit, compass by intreaty, procure by request.” This significant expression conveys the real notion of this venerable Whig, before Whiggism had received a denomination, and formed a party. ]

[Footnote 9:
The French ambassador, no doubt, flattered himself and his master, that all this “parlance” could only close in insurrection and civil war. ]

[Footnote 10:
In the original, “A ung tas de cerveaulx si legieres.” ]

[Footnote 11:
The word in the original is insistance; an expressive word as used by the French ambassador; but which Boyer, in his Dictionary, doubts whether it be French, although he gives a modern authority; the present is much more ancient. ]

[Footnote 12:
The Duke of Norfolk was, “without comparison, the first subject in England; and the qualities of his mind corresponded with his high station,” says Hume. He closed his career, at length, the victim of love and ambition, in his attempt to marry the Scottish Mary. So great and honourable a man could only be a criminal by halves; and, to such, the scaffold, and not the throne, is reserved, when they engage in enterprises, which, by their secrecy, in the eyes of a jealous sovereign, assume the form and the guilt of a conspiracy. ]

[Footnote 13:
Hume, vol, v. c. 39; at the close of 1566. ]