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cabinets as a cat plays with a mouse, and of her greatness is almost lost in a sense with much of the same feline delight in the of contempt. But wrapped as they were mere embarrassment of her victims. When in a cloud of mystery, the aims of her policy she was weary of mystifying foreign states- were throughout temperate and simple, and men she turned to find fresh sport in mys- they were pursued with a singular tenacity. tifying her own ministers. Had Elizabeth The sudden acts of energy which from time written the story of her reign she would to time broke her habitual hesitation proved have prided herself, not on the triumph. of that it was no hesitation of weakness. ElizaEngland or the ruin of Spain, but on the beth could wait and finesse; but when the skill with which she had hoodwinked and hour was come she could strike, and strike outwitted every statesman in Europe, dur- hard. Her natural temper indeed tended ing fifty years. Nor was her trickery with- to a rash self-confidence rather than to out political value. Ignoble, inexpressibly self-distrust. She had, as strong natures wearisome as the Queen's diplomacy seems always have, an unbounded confidence in her to us now, tracing it as we do through a luck. "Her Majesty counts much on Forthousand despatches, it succeeded in its tune," Walsingham wrote bitterly; “I wish main end. It gained time, and every year she would trust more in Almighty God.” that
gained doubled Elizabeth's The diplomatists who censured at strength. Nothing is more revolting in the moment her irresolution, her delay, her Queen, but nothing is more characteristic, changes of front, censure at the next her than her shameless mendacity. It was an "obstinacy," her iron will, her defiance of age of political lying, but in the profusion what seemed to them inevitable ruin. “This and recklessness of her lies Elizabeth stood woman," Philip's envoy wrote after without a peer in Christendom. A false- wasted remonstrance, “this woman is poshood was to her simply an intellectual means sessed by a hundred thousand devils." To of meeting a difficulty; and the ease with her own subjects, indeed, who knew nothwhich she asserted or denied whatever suited ing of her maneuvers and retreats, of her her purpose was only equaled by the "bye-ways" and "crooked ways," she cynical indifference with which she met seemed the embodiment of dauntless resothe exposure of her lies as soon as their lution. Brave as they were, the men who purpose was answered. The same purely swept the Spanish Main or glided between intellectual view of things showed itself in the icebergs of Baffin's Bay never doubted the dexterous use she made of her very that the palm of bravery lay with their faults. Her levity carried her gaily over Queen. Her steadiness and courage in the moments of detection and embarrassment pursuit of her aims was equaled by the where better women would have died of wisdom with which she chose the men to shame. She screened her tentative and accomplish them. She had a quick eye for hesitating statesmanship under the natural merit of any sort, and a wonderful power timidity and vacillation of her sex. She of enlisting its whole energy in her service. turned her very luxury and sports to good The sagacity which chose Cecil and Walaccount. There were moments of grave singham was just as unerring in its choice danger in her reign when the country re- of the meanest of her agents. Her success mained indifferent to its perils, as it saw the indeed in securing from the beginning of Queen give her days to hawking and hunt- her reign to its end, with the single exceping, and her nights to dancing and plays. tion of Leicester, precisely the right men Her vanity and affectation, her womanly for the work she set them to do sprang in fickleness and caprice, all had their part in great measure from the noblest characterthe diplomatic comedies she played with istic of her intellect. If in loftiness of aim the successive candidates for her hand. If her temper fell below many of the tempers political necessities made her life a lonely of her time, in the breadth of its range, in one, she had at any rate the satisfaction of the universality of its sympathy it stood far averting war and conspiracies by love son- above them all. Elizabeth could talk poetry nets and romantic interviews, or of gain- with Spenser and philosophy with Bruno; ing a year of tranquillity by the dexterous she could discuss Euphuism with Lyly, and spinning out of a flirtation.
enjoy the chivalry of Essex; she could turn As we track Elizabeth through her tor- from talk of the last fashions to pore with tuous mazes of lying and intrigue, the sense Cecil over despatches and treasury books;
she could pass from tracking traitors with Walsingham to settle points of doctrine with Parker, or to calculate with Frobisher the chances of a north-west passage to the Indies. The versatility and many-sidedness of her mind enabled her to understand every phase of the intellectual movement of her day, and to fix by a sort of instinct on its higher representatives. But the greatness of the Queen rests above all on her power over her people. We have had grander and nobler rulers, but none so popular as Elizabeth. The passion of love, of loyalty, of admiration which finds its most perfect expression in the “Faery Queen,” throbbed as intensely through the veins of her meanest subjects. To England, during her reign of half a century, she was a virgin and a Protestant Queen; and her immorality, her absolute want of religious enthusiasm, failed utterly to blur the brightness of the national ideal. Her worst acts broke fruitlessly against the general devotion. A Puritan, whose hand she cut off in a freak of tyrannous resentment, waved his hat with the hand that was left, and shouted "God save Queen Elizabeth !" Of her faults, indeed, England beyond the circle of her court knew little or nothing. The shiftings of her diplomacy were never seen outside the royal closet. The nation at large could only judge her foreign policy by its main outlines, by its temperance and good sense, and above all by its success. But every Englishman was able to judge Elizabeth in her rule at home, in her love of peace, her instinct of order, the firmness and moderation of her government, the judicious spirit of conciliation and compromise among warring factions which gave the country an unexampled tranquillity at a time when almost every other country in Europe was torn with civil war. Every sign of the growing prosperity, the sight of London as it became the mart of the world, of stately mansions as they rose on every manor, told, and justly told, in Elizabeth's favor. In one act of her civil administration she showed the boldness and originality of a great ruler; for the opening of her reign saw her face the social difficulty which had so long impeded English progress, by the issue of a commission of inquiry which ended in the solution of the problem by the system of poor-laws. She lent a ready patronage to the new commerce; she considered its extension and
protection as a part of public policy, and her statue in the center of the London Exchange was a tribute on the part of the merchant class to the interest with which she watched and shared personally in its enterprises. Her thrift won a general gratitude. The memories of the rror and of the Martyrs threw into bright relief the aversion from bloodshed which was conspicuous in her earlier reign, and never wholly wanting through its fiercer close. Above all there was a general confidence in her instinctive knowledge of the national temper. Her finger was always on the public pulse. She knew exactly when she could resist the feeling of her people, and when she must give way before the new sentiment of freedom which her policy unconsciously fostered. But when she retreated, her defeat had all the grace of victory; and the frankness and unreserve of her surrender won back at once the love that her resistance had lost. Her attitude at home in fact was that of a woman whose pride in the well-being of her subjects, and whose longing for their favor, was the one warm touch in the coldness of her natural temper. If Elizabeth could be said to love anything, she loved England. “Nothing,” she said to her first Parliament in words of unwonted fire, “nothing, no worldly thing under the sun, is so dear to me as the love and goodwill of my subjects.” And the love and good-will which were so dear to her she fully won.
THE MENACE OF SPAIN
JOHN RICHARD GREEN
[From A Short History of the English
People] But if a fierce religious struggle was at hand, men felt that behind this lay a yet fiercer political struggle. Philip's hosts were looming over sea, and the horrors of foreign invasion seemed about to be added to the horrors of civil war. Spain was at this moment the mightiest of European powers. The discoveries of Columbus had given it the New World of the West; the conquests of Cortes and Pizarro poured into its treasury the plunder of Mexico and Peru; its galleons brought the rich produce of the Indies, their gold, their jewels, their ingots of silver, to the harbor of Cadiz. To the New World its King added the fair
est and wealthiest portions of the Old; he of power, as well as the wide distribution was master of Naples and Milan, the rich- of his dominions, perpetually drew him. est and the most fertile districts of Italy; To coerce the weaker States of Italy, to of the busy provinces of the Low Countries, command the Mediterranean, to preserve of Flanders, the great manufacturing dis- his influence in Germany, to support trict of the time, and of Antwerp, which Catholicism in France, to crush heresy in had become the central mart for the com- Flanders, to despatch one Armada against merce of the world. His native kingdom, the Turk and another against Elizabeth, poor as it was, supplied him with the stead- were aims mighty enough to exhaust even iest and the most daring soldiers that the the power of the Spanish Monarchy. But world has seen since the fall of the Roman it was rather on the character of Philip than Empire. The renown of the Spanish in- on the exhaustion of his treasury that Elizafantry had been growing from the day beth counted for success in the struggle when it flung off the onset of the French which had so long been going on between chivalry on the field of Ravenna; and the them. The King's temper slow, Spanish generals stood without rivals in cautious even to timidity, losing itself contheir military skill, as they stood without tinually in delays, in hesitations, in anrivals in their ruthless cruelty. The whole, ticipating remote perils, waiting for distoo, of this enormous power was massed in tant chances; and on the slowness and hesithe hands of a single man.
Served as he tation of his temper his rival had been was by able statesmen and subtle diplo- playing ever since she mounted the throne. matists, Philip of Spain was his own sole The diplomatic contest between the two minister; laboring day after day, like a was like the fight which England was soon clerk, through the long years of his reign, to see between the ponderous Spanish galamidst the papers which crowded his leon and the light pinnace of the buccloset; but resolute to let nothing pass caneers. The agility, the sudden changes without his supervision, and to suffer noth- of Elizabeth, her lies, her mystifications, ing to be done save by his express com
though they failed to deceive Philip, puzmand. It was his boast that everywhere zled and impeded his mind. But amidst all in the vast compass of his dominions he was this cloud of intrigue the actual course of "an absolute King.” It was to realize this their relations had been clear and simple. idea of unshackled power that he crushed In her earlier days France rivaled Spain in the liberties of Aragon, as his father had its greatness, and Elizabeth simply played crushed the liberties of Castille, and sent the two rivals off against one another. She Alva to tread under foot the constitutional hindered France from giving effective aid freedom of the Low Countries. His bigo- to Mary Stuart by threats of an alliance try went hand in hand with his thirst for with Spain; while she induced Philip to rule. Italy and Spain lay hushed beneath wink at her heresy, and to discourage the the terror of the Inquisition, while Flanders risings of the English Catholics, by playing was being purged of heresy by the stake on his dread of her alliance with France. and the sword. The shadow of this gigantic But as the tide of religious passion which power fell like a deadly blight over Europe. had so long been held in check broke at The new Protestantism, like the new spirit last over its banks, the political face of of political liberty, saw its real foe in Philip. Europe changed. The Low Countries, It was Spain, rather than the Guises, driven to despair by the greed and perseagainst which Coligni and the Huguenots cution of Alva, rose in a revolt which after struggled in vain; it was Spain with which strange alternations of fortune gave to William of Orange was wrestling for re- Europe the Republic of the United Provligious and civil freedom; it was Spain inces. The opening which their rising afwhich was soon to plunge Germany into the forded was seized by the Huguenot leadchaos of the Thirty Years' War, and to ers of France as a political engine to break which the Catholic world had for twenty the power which Catharine of Medicis exeryears been looking, and looking in vain, for cised over Charles the Ninth, and to set a victory over heresy in England. Vast in aside her policy of religious balance by fact as Philip's resources were, they were placing France at the head of Protestantism drained by the yet vaster schemes of ambi- in the West. Charles listened to the countion into which his religion and his greed sels of Coligni, who pressed for war upon Philip and promised the support of the tranquil at home. Had revolt in England Huguenots in an invasion of the Low Coun
prospered he was ready to reap the fruits of tries. Never had a fairer prospect opened other men's labors; and he made no objecto French ambition. Catharine, however, tion to plots for the seizure or assassination saw ruin for the monarchy in a France at of the Queen. But his state was too vast to once Protestant and free. She threw her- risk an attack while she sate firmly on her self on the side of the Guises, and ensured throne; and the cry of the English Cathotheir triumph by lending herself to their lics, or the pressure of the Pope, had as massacre of the Protestants on St. Bartholo- yet failed to drive the Spanish King into mew's day. But though the long gathering strife with Elizabeth. clouds of religious hatred had broken, Eliza- The control of events was, however, passbeth trusted to her dexterity to keep out ing from the hands of statesmen and dipof the storm. France plunged madly back lomatists; and the long period of suspense into a chaos of civil war, and the Low which their policy had won was ending in Countries were left to cope single-handed the clash of national and political passions. with Spain. Whatever enthusiasm the The rising fanaticism of the Catholic world heroic struggle of the Prince of Orange ex- was breaking down the caution and hesitacited among her subjects, it failed to move tion of Philip; while England set aside the Elizabeth even for an instant from the path balanced neutrality of her Queen and pushed of cold self-interest. To her the revolt of boldly forward to a contest which it felt to the Netherlands was simply “a bridle of be inevitable. The public opinion, to which Spain, which kept war out of our own gate." the Queen was so sensitive, took every day At the darkest moment of the contest, when a bolder and more decided tone. Her cold Alva had won back all but Holland and indifference to the heroic struggle in FlanZealand, and even William of Orange de- ders was more than compensated by the enspaired, the Queen bent her energies to pre- thusiasm it excited among the nation at vent him from finding succor in France. large. The earlier Flemish refugees found a That the Provinces could in the end with- refuge in the Cinque Ports. The exiled merstand Philip, neither she nor any English chants of Antwerp were welcomed by the statesmen believed. They held that the merchants of London. While Elizabeth struggle must close either in utter subjec- dribbled out her secret aid to the Prince of tion of the Netherlands, or in their selling Orange, the London traders sent him half-athemselves for aid to France; and the ac- million from their own purses, a sum equal cession of power which either result must to a year's revenue of the Crown. Volungive to one of her two Catholic foes the teers stole across the Channel in increasing Queen was eager to avert. Her plan for numbers to the aid of the Dutch, till the five averting it was by forcing the Provinces hundred Englishmen who fought in the beto accept the terms offered by Spain-a ginning of the struggle rose to a brigade of restoration, that is, of their constitutional five thousand, whose bravery turned one of privileges on condition of their submission the most critical battles of the war. Dutch to the Church. Peace on such a footing would privateers found shelter in English ports, not only restore English commerce, which and English vessels hoisted the flag of the suffered from the war; it would leave the States for a dash to the Spanish traders. Netherlands still formidable as a weapon Protestant fervor roşe steadily as “the best against Philip. The freedom of the Prov
captains and soldiers" returned from the inces would be saved; and the religious campaigns in the Low Countries to tell of question involved in a fresh submission to Alva's atrocities, or as privateers brought the yoke of Catholicism was
back tales of English seamen who had been Elizabeth was incapable of appreciating. seized in Spain and the New World, to To her the steady refusal of William the linger amidst the tortures of the Inquisition, Silent to sacrifice his faith was as unintel- or to die in its fires. In the presence of this ligible as the steady bigotry of Philip in steady drift of popular passion the diplodemanding such a sacrifice. It was of more macy of Elizabeth became of little moment. immediate consequence that Philip's anxiety When she sought to put a check on Philip to avoid provoking an interyention on the by one of her last matrimonial intrigues, part of England which would destroy all which threatened England with a Catholic hope of his success in Flanders, left her sovereign in the Duke of Anjou, a younger
into the Pacific, whose waters had never seen an English flag; and backed by a little company of adventurers, he set sail for the southern seas in a vessel hardly as big as a Channel schooner, with a few yet smaller companions who fell away before the storms and perils of the voyage. But Drake with his one ship and eighty men held boldly on; and passing the Straits of Magellan, untraversed as yet by any Englishman, swept the unguarded coast of Chili and Peru, loaded his bark with the gold-dust and silver-ingots of Potosi, and with the pearls, emeralds, and diamonds which formed the cargo of the great galleon that sailed once a year from Lima to Cadiz. With spoils of above half-a-million in value the daring adventurer steered undauntedly for the Moluccas, rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and after completing the circuit of the globe dropped anchor again in Plymouth harbor.
THE SPIRIT OF ENGLAND
1. "This England"
son of the hated Catharine of Medicis, the popular indignation rose suddenly into a cry against "a Popish King" which the Queen dared not defy. If Elizabeth was resolute for peace, England was resolute for war. A new courage had arisen since the beginning of her reign, when Cecil and the Queen stood alone in their belief in England's strength, and when the diplomatists of Europe regarded her obstinate defiance of Philip's counsels as “madness.” The whole people had caught the self-confidence and daring of their Queen. The seamen of the southern coast had long been carrying on a halfpiratical war on their own account. Four years after Elizabeth's accession the Channel swarmed with "sea-dogs," as they were called, who sailed under letters of marque from the Prince of Condé and the Huguenot leaders, and took heed neither of the complaints of the French Court nor of Elizabeth's own attempts at repression. Her efforts failed before the connivance of every man along the coast, of the very port-officers of the Crown who made profit out of the spoil, and of the gentry of the west, who were hand and glove with the adventurers. They broke above all against the national craving for open fight with Spain, and the Protestant craving for open fight with Catholicism. Young Englishmen crossed the sea to serve under Condé or Henry of Navarre. The war in the Netherlands drew hundreds of Protestants to the field. The suspension of the French contest only drove the sea-dogs to the West Indies; for the Papal decree whicli gave the New World to Spain, and the threats of Philip against any Protestant who should visit its seas, fell idly on the ears of English seamen. It was in vain that their trading vessels were seized, and the sailors flung into the dungeons of the Inquisition, "laden with irons, without sight of sun or moon.” The profits of the trade were large enough to counteract its perils; and the bigotry of Philip was met by a bigotry as merciless as his own. The Puritanism of the sea-dogs went hand in hand with their love of adventure. To break through the Catholic monopoly of the New World, to kill Spaniards, to sell negroes, to sack goldships, were in these men's minds a seemly work for the “elect of God." The name of Francis Drake became the terror of the Spanish Indies. In Drake a Protestant fanaticism was united with a splendid daring. He conceived the design of penetrating
[The speech of John of Gaunt, Shake
speare's Richard II] Methinks I am a prophet new inspired And thus expiring do foretell of him: His rash fierce blaze of riot cannot last, For violent fires soon burn out themselves; Small showers last long, but sudden storms
are short; He tires betimes that spurs too fast betimes; With eager feeding food doth choke the
feeder: Light vanity, insatiate cormorant, Consuming means, soon preys upon itself. This royal throne of kings, this scepter'd
isle, This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars, This other Eden, demi-paradise, This fortress built by Nature for herself Against infection and the hand of war, This happy breed of men, this little world, This precious stone set in the silver sea, Which serves it in the office of a wall Or as a moat defensive to a house, Against the envy of less happier lands, This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this
England, This nurse, this teeming womb of royal
kings, Fear'd by their breed and famous by their