Charles Dickens.

Charles Dickens' complete works online

. (page 31 of 84)
Online LibraryCharles DickensCharles Dickens' complete works → online text (page 31 of 84)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Elizabeth, with Babington in an attitude for the eentre figure.
Two of their number, towever, one of whom was a priest,
kept Elizabeth's wisest minister. Sib Framcis Walsinguam,
acquainted with the whole project from the first. The eon*
spmitors were completely deceived to the final point, whea
Babington gave Savage, because he was shabby, a ring from
his finger, ami some money from his purse, wherewith to buy
Umself new clothes in which to kill the Queen. Walsmg-
ham, having then full evidence against the whDle band, and
two letters of Mark's besides, resolved to seize them. Sus-
pecting something wrong, they stole out of the dty, one by
one, and hid t h s mocl ves in St. John's Wood, ami otiier
places which really were hiding places then ; but tliey were
all taken, and all executed. When they were seized, a gen-
tleman was sent from Court to inform Mary of the fact,
and of her being involved in the discovery. Her friends
have complained that she was kept in very hard and severe
custody. It does not appear very likely, for she was going
out a hunting that very nnoming.

Queen Elizabeth had been warned long ago, by one in
France who had good information of what was secretly doing,
that m holding Mary alive, she held ^^ the wolf who would
devour her." The Bishop of London had, more lately, given
the Queen's favorite minister the advice in writing, ^^forth-
with to cut off the Scottish Queen's head." The question
now was, what to do with her? The Earl of Leicester wrote a
little note home firom Holhind, recommending that she should
be quietly poisoned ; Uiat noble favorite liaving accustomed his
mind, it is possible, to remedies of that nature. His black
adrice, however, was disregarded, and she was brought tp



Digitized by



Google



348 A CHILD»S HISTORY OF ENGLAND.

trial at Fotheringay Castle in Northamptonshire, before a
tribunal of forty, composed of both religions. There, and
in the Star Chamber at Westminster, the trial lasted a fort-
night. She defended herself with great ability, but could
only deny the confessions that had been made bj' Babington
and others ; could only call her own letters, produced against
her by her own secretaries, forgeries ; and, in short, could
onl}' deny everything. She was found guilt}-, and declared
to have incurred the penalty of death. The Parliament met,
approved the sentence, and prayed the Queen to liave it exe-
cuted. The Queen replied that she requested them to con-
sider whether no means could be found of saving Mary's life
without endangering her own. The Parliament rejoined. No ;
and the citizens illuminated their houses and lighted bonfires,
in token of their joy that all these plots and troubles were to
be ended by the death of the Queen of Scot&

She, feeling sure that her time was now come, wrote a let-
ter U) Uie Queen of England, making three entreaties ; first,
that she might be buried in France ; secondly, that she might
not be executed in secret, but before her servants and some
others ; thirdly, that after her death, her servants should not
be molested, but slioukl be suffered to go home with the leg-
acies slie left; tliem. It was an afiecting letter, and Elizabeth
shed teal's over it, but sent no answer. Then came a special
ambassador from France, and another from Scotland, to in-
tercede for Mar}''s life ; and tlien the nation began to clamor,
more and more, for her death.

What the real feelings or intentions of Elizabeth were, ean
never be known now; but I strongly suspect her of only
wishing one thing more than Mary's death, and that was to
keep free of the blame of it. On the first of Februar}-, one
thousand five hundred and eighth-seven, Lord Burleigh hav-
ing drawn out the warrant for the execution, the Queen sent
to the seca^etaiy Davison to bring it to her, that she might
sign it : which she did. Next da}', when Davison told her
it was sealed, she angiily asked him why such haste



Digitized by



Google



ELIZABKTH. 849

necessar>v! Next day but one, she joked about it, and swore a
little. Again, next day but one, she seemed to complain
that it was not yet done, but still she would not be plain with
those about her. So, on the seventh, the Karls of Kent and
Shrewsbur}', with tiie Sheriff of Northamptonshire, came with
the waiTant to Fotheiingay, to tell tlie Queen of Scots to pre«-
pare for death.

When those messengers of ill omen were gone, Mary mad^
a frugnl supper, drank to her servants, read over her will,
went to bed, slept for some houi*s, a«d then arose and passed
tiie remainder of the night saying pra3'ers. In the morning
«he dressed bersielf iu her best elothes : and, at eight o'clock,
when the sheriff came for her to her chapd, took leave of her
servants who were there assembled prating with her, and
went down-stairs, carrying a Bible iu one hand and a cru*-
cifix in the other. Two of her women and four of her men
were allowed to be present in the hall ; where a low scaffold,
only two feet from the ground, was erected and covered with
black: and where the executioner from the Tower, and his
assistant, stood, dressed in black velvet. The hall was ftiU
of people. While the sentence was being read she sat upon
a stool ; and, when it was finished, she again denied her guilty
as she had done before. The Earl of Kent and the Dean of
Peterborough, in their Protestant zeal, made some Very un-
necessary speeches to her : to which she replied that she died
in the Cathohc religion, and they need not trouble themselves
aboQt that matter. When her head and neck were imoovered
by the execationers, she said that she had not been used to
be imdressed b}' such hands, or before so much company. Fi-
nally, one of her women fastened a cloth over her face, and
she laid her neck upon the l>lock, and repeated more than
once in Latin, *' Into thy hands, O Lord, I comraeiul my
spirit! " Some say her head was struck off in two Wows,
some sa}' in three. However that l)e, when it was >held up,
steaming witii blood, the real hair beneath the false hair slier
hod long worn was seen to be aa gray as tiiat of a woman of



Digitized by



Google



350 A CHILD'S HISTORY OF ENGLAND.

sevenly, though she was at that time only in her Ibrtj-sixth
year. All her beauty was gone.

But she was beautiful enough to her little dog, who cow-
ered under her dress, frightened, when she went upon the
scaffold, and who lay down beside her headless body wlieii
all her earthly sorrows were over.



Third Part.

On its being formally made known to Elizabeth that the
sentence had been executed on the Queen of Scots, she
showed the utmost grief and rage, drove her favorites fhnn
her with violent indignation, and sent Davison to the Tower;
fVom which place he was only released in the end by paying
an immense fine which completely mined him. Elizabeth not
only overacted her part in making these pretences, but most
basely reduced to poverty one of her faithfbl servants for no
other fault than obeying her commands.

James, King of Scotland, Mar}*'s son, made a show likewise
of being very angr>' on the occasion ; but he was a pensioner
of England to the amount of five thousand pounds a year, and
he had known very little of his mother, and he possibly re-
garded her as the murderer of his father, and he soon took
it quietly.

Philip, King of Spain, however, threatened to do greater
things than ever had been done yet, to set up the Catliolic
religion and punish Protestant England. Elizalwth, hearlnjj
that he and the Pinnce of Parma wei-e making gi-eat prepara-
tions for this purpase, in order to l>e beforehand with them
sent out Admiral Drake (a famous navigator, who had
sailed about the world, and had ali-eady brought great plun-
der from Spain) to the i)oi-t of €adi3i where be burnt a
hundred vessels flill of stores. This great loss oHiged the
Spaniards to put off t^e inyasion fqr a yei|r } but it ufaa noad



Digitized by



Google



ELIZABETH. 351

the less fonnidable for that, amounting to one hundred and
thirty ships, nineteen thousand soldiers, eight thousand sail-
ors, two thousand slaves, and between two and three thou-
sand great guns. £ngland was not idle in making ready to
resist this great force. All the men between sixteen years
old and sixty, were trained and drilled ; the national fleet of
ships (in number only thirty-four at first) was enlarged by
pablic contributions and by private ships, fitted out by noble-
men ; the city of London, of its own accord, fui'uished double
the number of ships and men that it was i*equired to provide ;
and, if ever the national spirit was up in England, it was up
all through the country to resist the Spaniards. Some of the
Queen's advisers were for seizing the principal English Cath-
olics, and putting them to death ; but the Queen — who to
her honor, used to sa^*, that she would never believe any ill of
her subjects, which a parent would not believe of her own
children — rejected the advice, and only confined a few of
those who were the most suspected, in the fens of Lincolnshire.
The great body of Catholics deserved this confidence; for
they behaved most loyally, nobly, and bravely.

So, with all England firing up like one strong angry man,
and with both sides of the Thames fortified, and with the
sokliers under arms, and with the sailors in their ships, the
coantry waited for the coming of the proud Spanish fieet,
which was called The Invincible Armada. The Queen her-
self, riding in armor on a white horse, and Uie Earl of Essex,
and the Earl of Leicester holding her bridle rem, made a
brave speech to the troops at Tilburj' Fort opposite Graves-
end, whidi was received with such enthusiasm as is seldom
known. Then came the Spanish Armada into the English
Channel, sailing along in the form of a half moon, of such
great size that it was seven miles broad. But the English
were quickly upon it, and woe then to all tlie Spanish ships
that dropped a little out of tiie half moon, for the English
took them instantly ! And it soon appeared that the great
Armada was anything but invincible, for on a summer n^t,



Digitized by



Google



352 A CHILD*S HIStORY OF ENGLAIO).

bold Drake sent eight blazing fire-fthip« right Into the nidrt
of it. In terrible consternation the Spaniards tried to get
out to sea, and so became dispersed ; the English irarsaed
them at a great advantage ; a storm came on, and drove the
Spaniards among rocks and shoals ; and the swift end of the
Invincil)le fleet was, that it lost thirty great ships and tea
thousand men, and, defeated and disgraoed, sadled home
again. Being afraid to go bjr the EagHsh Channel, it sailed
all round Scotland and Ireland ; some of the ships gettmg
cast away on the latter coast in bad weather, the Irish, who
were a kind of savages, plundered those Tessels and killed
their crews. So ended this great attempt to invade mod toxh
quer England. And I think it will be a long time befbre any
otlier !n\ineible fleet coming to England with the same ob|ectf
will fare much better than the Spanish Armada.

Though the Spanish king had had this bitter taste of £^^
lish braver}', he was so littte the wiser foi* it, as still to eoter<»
tain his old designs, and even to conceive the absurd idea of
placing his daughter on the English throne. But the Earl of
Essex, Sir Walter Ralkigh, Sir Thomas Howakd, and
some other distinguished leaders, put to sea ftam Plymouth,
entered the port of Cadis once more, obtained a complete
victoiy over the shipping assembled there, and got possessioa
of the town. In obedience to the Qaeen*s exprees iosttve*
tions, they behaved with great humahity ; and the principal
loss of the Spaniards was a vast sum of money which thet
had to pay for ransom. This was one of aianj- galhal
achievements on the sea, effected in this reiga. Sir Walter
Raleigh himself, after marryhig a maid of honor and gixvag
offence to the Maiden Queen thereby, had alread}* sailed to
South America in search of gold.

The Earl of Leicester was now dead, and so was Sir Thom-
as Walsingiiam, whom Lord Burleigh was sObA to fbllow.
The principal fa\"orite was the Earl or Essfeic, a spirited and
handsome man, a fkvorlte with the ^pie too as well as with
the Queen, and possessed of inanyadi«i«ra%te''^<|iii«Ktied. It



Digitized by



Google



SLIZABETIL 353

W8S much debated at Court whether there should be peace
with Siiain or no, and he was very urgent for war. He also
tried hard to have his own way in the appointment of a dep-
uty to govern in Ireland. One day, while this question was in
dispute, he hastily took ofi^enoe, and tamed his back upon the
Queen ; as a gentle reminder of which impropriety, the Qneen
gave him a tremendous box on the ear, and told him to go to
tbe devil. He went home instead, and did not reappear at
Court for half a 3'ear or so when he and the Queen were
lecxmciied, though never (as some suppose) thoroughly.

From this time the £ate of the Earl of Essex and that of
the Qtieen seemed to be blended together. The Irish were
still perpetually' quarrelling and fighting among themselves,
sad he went over to Ireland as Lord Lieutenant, to the great
joy of his enemies (Sir Walter Raleigh among the rest), who
were glad to have so daogeroos a rival far off. Not being by
any means successful there, and knowing that his enemies
would take advantage of that circumstan(« to injui*e him
with the Queen, he came home again, though against her or-
^rs. The Queen being taken by surprise when he api>eared
beGoie her, gave him her hand to kiss, and be was over-*
joyed — though it was not a very lovely hand by this time —
but in the course of the same day she ordered him to confine
bimself to bis room, and two or three days afteiwards bad him
taken into custody. With the same sort of caprice — and as
caprictoas an old woman she now was, as ever wore a crown
or a bead either— * she sent him, broth from her own table on
kis falling ill !h)m anxiety <^ and cried about hinu

He was a man who couki find comfort and occupation in his
books, and be dvl so for a time ; not the least happy time, I
dare say, of his Hfe. But it hap[)ened uafortunately for him
that he held a monof)oly in sweet wines : which means that
nobody couki sell them without pnrcbasmg his permission.
This right, which was only for a term, expiring, he ap|>lied to
l^ve it renewed. The Queen refused, with the rather strong
ohsenrataon — but ^e Sd make strong obserMfctions — that aq

23



Digitized by



Google



354 A CHILD'S HISTORY OF ENGLAND.

unruly beast must be stinted in his food. Upon this, the
angr}' Earl, who had been already deprivecl of many offices,
thought himself in danger of complete ruin, and turned against
the Queen, whom he called a vain old woman who had grown
as crooked in her mind as she had in her figure. These
uncomplimentar}' expressions the ladies of the Court immedi-
ately snapped up and carried to the Queen, whom they did not
put in a better temper, you may believe. The same Coort
ladies, when they had beautiful dark hair of their own, used
to wear false red hair, to be like the Queen. So the^' were
not ver}- high-spiiited ladies, however high in rank.

The worst object of the Earl of Essex, and some friends of
his who used to meet at Lord Southampton's house, was to
obtain possession of the Queen, and oblige her b}" force to
dismiss her ministers and change her favcmtes. On Satnr-
day the seventh of Februar}*, one thousand six hundred and
one, the council suspecting this, summoned the Earl to come
before them. He, pretending to be ill, declined ; it was then
settled among his friends, that as the next day would be Sun-
day, when many of the citizens usually assembled at the Cross
by St. Paul's Cathedral, he should make one bold eflbrt to
induce them to rise and follow him to the Palace.

So on the Sunday morning, he and a small body of adhe-
rents started out of his house — Essex House by the Strand,
with steps to the river — having first shut up in it, as prison-
ers, some members of the council who came to examine him
— and hurried into the City with the Earl at their head, cry-
ing out, '^ For the Queen ! For the Queen I A plot is laid
for m}' life ! " No one heeded them, however, and when the}*
came to St. Paul's there were no citizens there. In the mean-
time the prisoners at Essex House had been released by one
of the Earl's own friends ; he had been i)romptiy proclaimed a
traitor in the City itself; and the streets were barricaded with
carts and guarded by soldiers. The Eari got back to his
house by water, with difficulty, and after an attempt to defend
his house against the troops and cannon by which it was sooa



Digitized by



Google



EUZABETH. 355

sorroanded, gave himself op that night. He was brought to
trial on the nineteenth, and found guilty; on the twenty-
fiflh, he was executed on Tower Hill, where he died, at
thirty-four years old, both courageously and penitently. His
Btep-father suffered with him. His enem}', Sir Walter Ra-
leigh, stood near the scaffold all the time — but not so near it
as we shall see him stand, befoi*e we finish his history*.

In this case, as in the cases of the Duke of Noifolk and
Mar)' Queen of Scots, the Queen had commanded, and conn-
termanded, aud again commanded, the execution. It is prob-
able that the death of her young and gallant favorite in the
prime of his good qualities, was never off her mind afterwards,
but she held out, the same vain obstinate and capricious
woman, for another year. Then she danced before her CJourt
on a state occasion — and cut, I should think, a mighty ridicu-
lous figure, doing so in an immense ruff, stomacher and wig,
at sevent}' years old. For another year still, she held out,
but, without any more dancing, and as a moody sorrowful bro-
ken creature. At last, on the tenth of March, one thousand
six hundred and three, having been ill of a very bad cold, and
made worse by the death of the Countess of Nottingham,
who was her intimate friend, she fell into a stupor and was
snpposed to be dead. She recovered her consciousness, how-
ever, and then nothing would induce her to go to bed ; for
she said that she knew that if she did she should never get
up again. There she lay for ten days, on cushions on the
floor, without any food, until the Loixl Admiral got her into
bed at last, partly by persuasions and partly by main force.
When the)' asked her who should succeed her, she replied that
her seat had been the seat of Kings and that she would have
for her successor, ^^ No ittscal's son, but a King's." Ui>on
this, the lords present stared at one another, and took the lib-
erty of asking whom she meant ; to which she replied, '*Whora
should I mean, but our cousin of Scotland ! " This was on
the twent3-thii'd of March. They asked her once again that
day, after she was speechless, whether she was still in the



Digitized by



Google



356 A CHILD'S mSTOKY OF ENGLAND.

same mind? She stru^led up in bed, and joined her
hands over her head in the form of a crown, as the only replj
Blie could make. At three o'clock next morning, she reiy
quietly died, in the forty-fifth year of her reign.

That reign had been a glorious one, and is made for erer
memorable bj' the distinguished men who flourished in it.
Apart from the great vo3'agers, statesmen, and sc^dars,
whom it produced, the names of Bacon, Spenseb, and
Shakbsfeabe, will always be remembered with pride and
veneraUon by the civilized world, and will always impart
(though with no gi*eat reason, perhaps) some portion of their
lustre to the name of Elizabeth herself. It was a great reign
for discovery, for commerce, and for English enterprise and
spirit in general. It was a great reign for the Protestant re-
ligion and for the Reformation which made England free.
The Queen was ver}' popular, and in her progresses, or joa^
ne3'8 about her dominions, was everywhere received with the
liveliest joy. I think the truth is, that she was not half so
good as she has been made out, and not half so bad as sbo
has been made out. She had her fine qualities, but she was
coai*se, capricious, and treacherous, and had all the faults of
an excessively vain young woman long after she was an old
one. On the whole, she had a great deal too much of her
father in her, to please me.

Many improvements and luxuries were introduced in the
course of these five-and-fort}* ^ears in the general manntr of
living ; but cock-fighting, bull-baiting, and bear-baiting, were
still the national amusements ; and a coach was so rarely
seen, and was such an ugly and cumbersome a(&ir when it
was seen, that even the Queen herself, on many high occa-
sions, rode on horseback on a pillion behind the Lord Chan-
cellor.



Digitized by



Google



Digitized by



Google



FOBTRAIT OF JAMES I.



Digitized by



Google



.IAVh> Iht: FIK. i\



rHAPTKPv XXXfl.

KS<H KSU i:\I>IK JAMl.S TfIT: riI>T.

• ' )i n cou!s!n of .'^^cotland *' was u^ly, awkwanl, n\A shuf-

Mtr U>!h ill njiinl atul jxTson. *iis U>nj/iK» wp.s miu'li u><)

•/• I'or his mouth. h'< lejj^^ weie m\ich U»<> weak 1''t Ins

V, and iut> dull <r*v-'le-ev"^ stan'«1 nud ni-U'ii li' t> a:i

i it H. Ii«» was cunniitL;, <M)Vt't(nij*. \va-it(^tiil, !''^< . 'iiuuki'!.,

• "iM^ly. di»^y, oow.'inllv k fn""uL sv^eanr, .Mi«i th- iiM>^t ('(ti-

'.i*d man on earth, liis li^ure — whal i^ r<>ijnnoi.I\ called

i«:kv.t\ Tram hib l»irtli- - [^n;>H'i.ti\l a most ildi<uloi! ^ njiMar-

h:k\ (Itv^^hI ill tiiit'k paddtMl clotiu'*^, as a Kni\'jruj^i.| ;, -ahist

Mi'i -.taidK'd (of which he liv<*d in contmaai Itiif, < f n

:'n'«M*-fcrn»cn cx'ior from head to foot, ^^ Ah a h'iijti'i<r-hoiii

• i» - *air at his 4d(' instead of a sw(»rd. and his hat ri..
:i".ht-r ^ticking over oiio evi% o'* liMipi'ir on tho hack t>\ t,',^

-nti, a- hf happened U) tost? it on. lie nscd to i< >M on i-i«
I k.-* ij'* h*s fa\'»nte courtit^rs, and slohlu^r their fae<'s. and

• fs^ aiMl piiu'h tlH-ii- ehoeks ; aid the jjrea test favorite he ever
! tti, u^xi\ to liin himself in lan letters to hi-; royal rn-.ster,
*)< Maie^ly'n '*do*| and slav(»,'' am. n-^ed t(» address his>

i,. St . aB •• hi*: Sowship." His maje*?ly wa«. the w(»r^t rioer

\t r v*en- and thonirht hiin*4elf the l>i*>t. He was one o'" the

' .-» iniiK'ilinfni Udkers [hi the bix)adi'St Sroteh) ever heard,

..] .i.ia«;ted *>f l-ein^r unanswenibl-' in ail nnuun'r of artrpiiieiit.

li. y\npw s*)me of tlie nio^: wearisome treatises ever read —

ai."i'; others a Unjk a})on witchcraft, in whi( h li<* was a dc-

•• t 1 ./licvcr — aiid thoa<:ht himself a p odiizv of authorship.

Jl" th*Hmiit, and wrote, and said, that a kinir iuid a r'Ldil :•■

-K.: suul unmake wliat laws he pleased, and uu;:'it to *»



Digitized by



Google



"V







- -p






^






•?v



^^.






■^J.



IL



?-^v.



^ •^ vi.l'r.i









• <



r-jfiruAir oy jamk^ l



Digitized by



Google



JAMES TH£ flKST. 357



CHAPTER XXXn.

EMGLAND UNB^ER JAMES THE FIRST.

''OrR couain of Scotland " was ugly, awkward, and sbn^
fliRg both in mind and person. His tongue was much too
large for his mouth, his legs were much too weak Ibr his
body, and his dull gc^le-eyes stared and rolled like an
idiof 8. He was cunnings covetous, wasteful, idle, drunken,
greedy, dirty, cowardly, a great swearer^ and the most con-
ceited man on earth. His figure — what is commonly called
lickety from his birth — presented a most ridiculous appear-
ance« dressed in thick padded clothes, as a safeguaixl against
being stabbed (of which he lired in continual fear), of a
grasa-green color from head to foot, with a hunting-horn
dangling at his side instead of a sword, and his hat and
feather sticking over (me ej^e, or hanging on the back of his
head, as he happened to toss it on. He used to loll on the
necks of his favorite courtiers, and slobber their faces, and
kiss and pinch their cheeks ; and the greatest favorite he ever
had, Qsed to sign himself in his letters to his ro3'al master,
His Mi^sty's ^^dog and slave," and used to address his
majesty as ** his Sowsbip." His majesty was the worst rider
ever seen, and thought himself the best. He was one of tlie
most impertinent talkers (in the broadest Scotch) ever heard,
and boasted of being unanswerable in all manner of ailment.
He wrote some of tlie roost wearisome treatises ever read —
among others a book upon witchcraft, in which he was a de-



Online LibraryCharles DickensCharles Dickens' complete works → online text (page 31 of 84)