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The Loves Of "The Lady Arabella"
by [?]

This proposed match was desirable to all parties; but there was one greater than them all who forbad the banns. Elizabeth interposed; she imprisoned the Lady Arabella, and would not deliver her up to the king, of whom she spoke with asperity, and even with contempt.[325] The greatest infirmity of Elizabeth was her mysterious conduct respecting the succession to the English throne; her jealousy of power, her strange unhappiness in the dread of personal neglect, made her averse to see a successor in her court, or even to hear of a distant one; in a successor she could only view a competitor. Camden tells us that she frequently observed, that “most men neglected the setting sun,” and this melancholy presentiment of personal neglect this political coquette not only lived to experience, but even this circumstance of keeping the succession unsettled miserably disturbed the queen on her death-bed. Her ministers, it appears, harassed her when she was lying speechless; a remarkable circumstance, which has hitherto escaped the knowledge of her numerous historians, and which I shall take an opportunity of disclosing in this work.

Elizabeth leaving a point so important always problematical, raised up the very evil she so greatly dreaded; it multiplied the aspirants, while every party humoured itself by selecting its own claimant, and none more busily than the continental powers. One of the most curious is the project of the Pope, who, intending to put aside James the First on account of his religion, formed a chimerical scheme of uniting Arabella with a prince of the house of Savoy; the pretext, for without a pretext no politician moves, was their descent from a bastard of our Edward the Fourth; the Duke of Parma was, however, married; but the Pope, in his infallibility, turned his brother the Cardinal into the Duke’s substitute by secularising the churchman. In that case the Cardinal would then become King of England in right of this lady!–provided he obtained the crown![326]

We might conjecture from this circumstance that Arabella was a catholic, and so Mr. Butler has recently told us; but I know of no other authority than Dodd, the catholic historian, who has inscribed her name among his party. Parsons, the wily Jesuit, was so doubtful how the lady, when young, stood disposed towards Catholicism, that he describes “her religion to be as tender, green, and flexible as is her age and sex, and to be wrought hereafter and settled according to future events and times.” Yet, in 1611, when she was finally sent into confinement, one well informed of court affairs writes, “that the Lady Arabella hath not been found inclinable to popery.”[327]

Even Henry the Fourth of France was not unfriendly to this papistical project of placing an Italian cardinal on the English throne. It had always been the state interest of the French cabinet to favour any scheme which might preserve the realms of England and Scotland as separate kingdoms. The manuscript correspondence of Charles the Ninth with his ambassador at the court of London, which I have seen, tends solely to this great purpose, and perhaps it was her French and Spanish allies which finally hastened the political martyrdom of the Scottish Mary.

Thus we have discovered two chimerical husbands of the Lady Arabella. The pretensions of this lady to the throne had evidently become an object with speculating politicians; and perhaps it was to withdraw herself from the embarrassments into which she was thrown, that, according to De Thou, she intended to marry a son of the Earl of Northumberland; but, to the jealous terror of Elizabeth, an English Earl was not an object of less magnitude than a Scotch Duke. This is the third shadowy husband.

When James the First ascended the English throne, there existed an Anti-Scottish party. Hardly had the northern monarch entered into the “Land of Promise,” when his southern throne was shaken by a foolish plot, which one writer calls “a state riddle;” it involved Rawleigh, and unexpectedly the Lady Arabella. The Scottish monarch was to be got rid of, and Arabella was to be crowned. Some of these silly conspirators having written to her, requesting letters to be addressed to the King of Spain, she laughed at the letter she received, and sent it to the king. Thus for a second time was Arabella to have been Queen of England. This occurred in 1603, but was followed by no harsh measures from James the First.