THE LAST YEARS OF ELIZABETH.
By SIDNEY LEE, Litt.D.
England before and after 1588 . 328
The Queen and the Court factions . 329
Domestic discontent. The Queen's chief minister, Burghley . 330
Sir Francis Walsingham . 331
Rise of Sir Robert Cecil . 332
Sir Walter Ralegh. Rise of the Earl of Essex . 333
Sir Philip Sidney . 334
Anthony Bacon and foreign intelligence. Trial and execution of Dr Lopez. Francis Bacon and his connexion with Essex . 335
Improvement in Essex' position . 336
Division in the Queen's Council . 337
Essex in Ireland. His downfall . 338
His rebellion and execution, 1601 . 339
Growth of Puritan discontent. Browne and Cartwright . 340
Whitgift Primate . 341
His policy of repression . 342
Assertion of the episcopal authority. John Penry's petition to Parliament . 343
The Martin Mar-prelate controversy . 344
Anti-Puritan Statute of 1593 . 345
Whitgift's misconceptions . 346
The "Lambeth Articles." Bacon's plea for toleration . 347
Jewel's Apologia and Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity . 348
Political perils of Catholicism. Bull of Excommunication, 1570. 349
Catholic mission in England. Acts of 1581 and 1585 . 350
The loyal Catholics . 351
English Catholics at home and abroad . 352
Appointment of an Archpriest in England . 353
Continued policy of coercion against Catholics. Position of Parliameat under Elizabeth . 354
Economic distress . . . 355
Poor-law. Taxation and the City of London . . 356
Monopolies, Their suspension by the Queen . 357
The succession question. Death of Queen Elizabeth, 1603. . 358
Accession of James I . 361
General character of Elizabeth's rule . 362
Her strength and weakness . 363
THE LAST YEARS OF ELIZABETH.
THE concluding scenes in the drama of Queen Elizabeth's reign abound in exciting episodes. Complicated crises in the ecclesiastical and political spheres succeed each other with rapidity. Apart from all questions of foreign policy, each year produced domestic incidents which kept the mind of the nation on the alert.
No such momentous events presented themselves as the trial and execution of Mary Stewart or the dispersal of the Spanish Armada. But the causes which produced those stirring incidents were still powerful. The jealousy of Spain was stimulated rather than diminished by the campaign of 1588. The Catholic conspiracy against Queen Elizabeth's government was not crushed by the death of the Queen of Scots. "The dangers are not over yet," remarked the Queen in her latest years to her godson Sir John Harington, who noticed that to the end she always kept a sword beside her table.
By 1588 England had won two important victories which had inflicted serious wounds on her foes. But her old enemies were still defiant, and the need of vigilance was the same as before. Few new questions in foreign or home affairs occupied the attention of English statesmen. Even the critical domestic topic of the succession to the Crown had been present to them from the outset. Time now merely rendered its settlement more urgent, and gave it greater prominence. In other directions problems that had been surveyed from a distance now called for solution at close quarters.
The main distinction between England before 1588 and after that eventful year lay in no novelty of policy, in no change of national aspiration, but in a reinforcement of the sentiments which dominated the earlier epoch. The nation's confidence in its destiny, now that it was freed from imminent peril, gained in intensity: intellectual and spiritual energy was quickened, and moved more rapidly. Literature, while developing along the lines on which it had already set forth, scaled unprecedented heights. Probably the most notable feature of the era- the one which in the end contributed most to the increase of the national
Loyalty to the Crown was never more passionate. Sovereign and people were repeatedly exchanging protestations of mutual love. Yet sentiments of a type which conflicted with these assurances were gaining force. The professional and mercantile classes were manifesting a growing impatience of arbitrary government or constraints on personal liberty. City merchants were not backward in complaints of the burden of taxation. Nearly every parliament produced some champion of popular rights, who could only be silenced by imprisonment. The authority of veteran statesmen, who had long guided the national policy, was exposed in larger measure than in early years to vexatious criticism within the bounds of the Queen's Council. A new generation of courtiers had arisen, and they fought hard and not ineffectively with the old ministers for control of the Crown's influence. The slow and diplomatic caution which distinguished the old school of politicians was scouted by men of reckless daring and restless activity who were unburdened by official responsibility. Although the Queen's presence could restrain the impatient and abusive remonstrance with which the new-comers were wont to meet the proposals of their elders, not even her intervention in debate could always preserve her old advisers from defeat.
The Queen, as her years grew, seemed more accessible to the lover-like attentions with which youthful aspirants to political power flattered her vanity, and she gave many of them specious encouragement. But she was loyal to old servants of the State ; she did not take the political pretensions of her younger admirers seriously, and by her delusive patronage she contrived to keep jealousy rife among them. The courtiers who stood outside the official hierarchy ranged themselves about the throne in rival factions. Their efforts to outwit each other limited their active influence, but kept the Court in perpetual turmoil and at times gave an impression of uncertainty to the action of the government. Another danger lay in the active adherence of government to the principle of force in dealing with antagonistic opinions; for the efficacy of coercion was an almost universal creed among practical politicians. It was constantly put to the test of experiment, and raised up an army of victims whose resentment and animosity were steadily increasing. There
A spirit of turbulence and unrest indeed brooded over the domestic affairs of the nation. But the tendencies to internal disorder, formidable although they were, were held in check by influences which were of old standing and showed no sign of decay. There was genuine sincerity in the regard and affection which the mass of the people felt for the Queen, although at the same time they groaned under oppressive burdens of taxation. Her increasing age accentuated her resolute bearing and gave her an added title to reverence. Zeal for the nation's independence and for the final dissipation of the foreign peril was an efficient bond of union among the Court factions, however sharply personal ambitions and predilections divided them. The House of Commons, when burning to discuss the nation's grievances, cheerfully postponed domestic questions, at a reminder from the government of the urgent need of providing supplies wherewith to resist some new threat of foreign invasion. Thinking men like Francis Bacon might well cherish the hope that such solvents of discord as these might ultimately assuage the heat of party, and that wise statesmanship might yet discover a via media, a means of general reconcilement. The flames of intestine strife were menacing ; but with caution their progress might be stayed, and the equilibrium of the State might be preserved from overthrow.
The despotic principle of the Queen's government, in spite of signs of discontent, underwent little modification in her last years. The sovereign's strength of will never faltered. Her conservative temper resisted innovation. Although she gave proof in her latest years of anxiety to exercise the prerogatives of autocracy in the material interests of the nation at large rather than in the interests of any class or clique, her assertion of absolute authority in affairs of State was never qualified by doubt or fear. Fortune seemed to smile on her pretensions. Death wrought inevitable changes in the circle of her ministers and friends, but its action was slow and deliberate. Veteran supporters holding responsible offices passed from the scene, but it was after their work was done ; and, when they were withdrawn from the stage of public affairs, the system to which they had ministered went on as before under the Queen's vigorous direction.
The Queen's chief councillor, Lord Burghley, was a zealous guardian of traditional policy, and he was long-lived. For forty years-from her accession till within five years of her death-he was at her side to give all the assurance of homogeneity that was possible to her foreign and domestic policy. Burghley's career belonged, in Horace Walpole's phrase, to "the annals of his country." At the date of the Armada he was sixty-eight years old. He had already enjoyed thirty-eight years' experience of high political office, and was to pass through another ten
Lord Burghley cherished through life a thoroughgoing and unfashionable contempt for the foreigner. He was unmoved by the foreign culture which won wide sympathy among his contemporaries. Yet it was his destiny in public life chiefly to concentrate his energies on foreign affairs. All the other business of government indeed passed under his survey. There was scarcely any personal or public topic about which the Queen failed to ask his opinion, and he never spared himself pains in elaborating in writing schemes of advice on every subject that presented itself But it was in the capacity of foreign minister that the Queen chiefly valued his assistance. Not that she accepted any of his counsel unquestioningly ; at times she brusquely rejected it. But he always retained her confidence. He was, she declared, her "spirit" and her "oracle"; and, in spite of occasional modifications which the Queen or some other adviser imposed on his plans, it was Burghley's scheme of foreign policy which governed Elizabethan England. Burghley was slow in speech and movement, and was no believer in heroic measures in domestic or foreign affairs. He regarded war as the last resort of statesmanship, and firmly believed in the virtues of diplomatic intrigue as a bulwark against aggression. In this faith he created and maintained an enormous secret service. An army of spies throughout Europe were for some thirty years in constant correspondence with him. Few Catholic agents in the pay of England's enemies at Paris, Rome, or Madrid escaped his observation. The Elizabethan system of espial was brought to the highest perfection by his astute colleague, Sir Francis Walsingham, the Queen's secretary. But Walsingham worked under Burghley's supervision and in subordination to him. The secret dispatches were usually annotated by the Lord Treasurer, and he alone took action upon them. When Walsingham died in 1590 he left a wide gap in the administration, but it was filled by Burghley's personal activity. He gave to the clandestine machinery a minuter attention than before, and its operations lost none of their efficiency.
Burghley outlived almost all the statesmen of his own generation. The thinning of the ranks of his contemporaries at once increased his dignity and intensified his isolation. His taciturnity, cynical temperament, and cautious bearing exhausted the patience of the younger frequenters of the Court, but they recognised his acumen by conferring on him the sobriquet of the "old fox." Attempts made to displace him, ignominiously failed; but in the later years of Elizabeth's reign he more than once had to accept warlike solutions of foreign problems, which were out of harmony with his pacific and cautious temperament.
In his own household he had prepared for himself a valuable ally. His son Robert, who shared his cautious habits of mind, and combined them with greater alertness of thought and speech, was brought up to be his coadjutor After 1590, when Burghley reached his seventieth year, his health declined by slow degrees. Though his industry was long proof against physical weakness, he grew more and more dependent on the assistance of his son. To the exaggerated mode of adulation which Burghley had constantly practised in his addresses to his sovereign Robert Cecil easily adapted himself,1 and the Queen was readily moved to extend to him-"her little Secretary"-the confidence which his father had long enjoyed. The partnership of father and son proved formidable from the first; and, when in 1596 Sir Robert Cecil was formally appointed Secretary of State, the Cecilian ascendancy, despite the jealousy it encountered, was in a position to scorn assault. The younger Cecil contrived to gather into his hands all the preferments of the Crown, and none could hope for promotion except by his favour. Burghley survived his son's elevation by two years. As his bodily infirmities grew, the Queen lavished on him enhanced marks of her gratitude and affection. She entreated him to spare himself the fatigues of Court etiquette, by which in other instances she set exaggerated store ; she even helped to nurse him through his last illness. His death was a personal loss which grieved her acutely. But his removal caused no change in the method of her administration. Sir Robert Cecil carried it on, under her effective supervision, in his father's spirit and with somewhat greater ardour
Yet the most obvious embarrassments which Lord Burghley suffered in his endeavours to control the Queen's policy came from the Queen herself. He was hampered not merely by her sudden displays at critical moments of an obstinate insistence on her own authority, but also by the vain hopes of exerting a rival political influence which her coquetries excited in ambitious courtiers outside the official hierarchy. Burghley was subjected to the hostility of the Queen's favourites throughout his official association with her. Until the date of the Spanish Armada her friend the Earl of Leicester had steadily endeavoured to thwart or misrepresent Burghley's advice and action. The endeavours had proved of small avail, but they increased the harassing cares of Burghley's official life. Although the Queen often quarrelled with Leicester and ridiculed his presumptuous pretensions to political power, through thirty years of her reign she never for long excluded him from her society. His sudden death after the defeat of the Spaniards in September, 1588, seemed to relieve Lord Burghley of a primary source of anxiety. Three years later Sir Christopher Hatton, another of the Queen's favourites, whose frank intimacy with her had been a crying scandal, passed away. She had rewarded Hatton's attentions with a liberality that with her was rare. She had, with doubtful wisdom, admitted him to the inner circle of the
The places that the death of Leicester and Hatton left vacant were not empty long. Sir Walter Ralegh had already attracted the Queen's attention. His gallant bearing and felicitous power of flattering his sovereign in melodious verse had already fascinated her; and she had eagerly welcomed the compliment he paid her of giving in her honour the name of Virginia to the tract of land on the American continent which he was seeking to colonise. Ralegh remained to the end a member of the inner circle of the Court, though he suffered many times the customary fortune of the Queen's favourites, and was at intervals driven angrily from her presence. It was not however on Ralegh's shoulders that Leicester's mantle fell. The rôle that the Earl of Leicester had played in his relations to his sovereign was bestowed on a younger man, Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex.
Essex' kinship and education gave him some title to the succession. His father died when he was nine, and Lord Burghley then became his guardian. When he was thirteen years of age, his widowed mother married the Earl of Leicester, and he thus stood to the Queen's favourite in the relation of stepson. His " goodly person " attracted the Queen from the day that he came to Court in his youth. " When she is abroad," wrote a friendly observer in 1587, the year in which Essex attained his majority, " nobody with her but my Lord of Essex ; and at night my Lord is at cards or one game or another with her that he cometh not to his own lodging till birds sing in the morning." His vanity was flattered by such proofs of the Queen's affection, and he formed a resolve to fill a predominant position in State affairs. With the versatility characteristic of the epoch he set no limits to the scope of his ambition. In the arts alike of war and peace he hoped to outstrip all competitors. Of cultivated tastes, he had a distinct measure of poetic genius. Endowed with much physical strength, he excelled in athletic exercises, and was well able to bear the fatigues of active military service. An exaggerated confidence in himself rendered him impatient of advice and control. With small capacity for detail, he formed decided opinions on political questions at home and abroad, and judged it practicable to impose his views, by dint of passionate iteration, on the Queen herself and those who held responsible office. His impetuosity blinded him to the obstacles which lay in his path, and his career promised storm and strife.
On all who stood high in the Queen's favour Essex declared in due time open war. He cared not what were the political views or personal merits of his fellow-courtiers. Sir Walter Ralegh was as enthusiastic an advocate of open war with Spain, and no less daring. Yet Ralegh was from first to last a formidable competitor with him in the race for the exclusive control of the Queen, and was consequently
There were attractive elements in Essex' personality which gave him for a time a specious strength. Although he could not subordinate himself to the authority of men in equal or superior stations, he was genial in intercourse with his inferiors, and respected in those who served him the powers of concentration in which he was himself deficient. He loved the life of camps, and no suspicion of his personal courage was possible. He showed to advantage in military society. When in the summer of 1591 he led a small army of English volunteers to Normandy to aid Henry of Navarre in his struggle with the army of the League, he easily won the friendship of that Prince and of his chief general, Marshal de Biron. His virtues and defects alike had the capacity of evoking popular sympathy.
Essex' position in the popular eye had been greatly improved by his marriage in 1590. His wife was daughter of the Queen's Secretary of State, Sir Francis Walsingham (who was lately dead), and the widow of Sir Philip Sidney. He caught from the union some reflexions of the glamour and prestige attaching to the names of Sidney and of Walsingham. Sidney's knight-errantry was indeed after Essex' own heart, and it was a grateful task to him to emulate it. His father-in-law's skill in detective diplomacy was not easy for him to acquire ; but the example suggested to him one method of pursuing "the domestical greatness" after which he yearned, despite his unfitness to attain it. He saw that his purpose of predominance would not be gained unless he could induce the Queen to infuse something of his own warlike spirit into the cautious foreign policy of Lord Burghley. Expert knowledge of foreign affairs was necessary for effective criticism of the decisions of the Queen's advisers. The Queen herself was always anxious to obtain early and trustworthy information of events passing in foreign countries which concerned herself and her subjects. Essex consequently took into his pay a number of secretaries and clerks, who were to organise in his own house a bureau of foreign intelligence. He was fortunate in his choice of coadjutors.
Anthony Bacon, nephew of Lord Burghley's wife, who had travelled on the Continent and was in touch with English and foreign spies throughout Europe, was smarting under his uncle's cold indifference to his welfare. He was easily persuaded to enlist in Essex' service as foreign secretary. Under Anthony Bacon's direction Essex' house soon rivalled Lord Burghley's Record Office in the quality and quantity of the foreign intelligence which reached it. Essex for the time winged a lofty flight. He opened correspondence with his old friend Henry IV of France, and with James VI of Scotland. He promised to influence the English government in their interest. Lord Burghley and his colleagues were gravely embarrassed by the respect which the foreign sovereigns paid to their resolute critic, and Queen Elizabeth increased their difficulties by listening with interest to the foreign dispatches which reached Essex, and by inviting information from him in regard to critical foreign questions.
Essex illustrated his normal method of work as an amateur and self-appointed guardian of his sovereign by a charge which he brought against the Queen's Jewish physician, Roderigo Lopez, of conspiring against her life. Lopez had come from Portugal to England in 1559, and had reached the highest place in the medical profession. He had a large foreign correspondence and was politically useful to the government. In 1592 Essex welcomed to England a Portuguese adventurer, Don Antonio, who was a pretender to the Spanish throne, and Lopez acted as the fugitive's interpreter. Essex had already sought Lopez' aid as a collector of foreign news, but they had not worked amicably. Lopez cultivated the society of foreign visitors to London. Suspicion fell on him that he was in the pay of King Philip and was conspiring to poison Queen Elizabeth and Don Antonio. When the matter was brought to the Queen's attention she expressed incredulity ; but Essex undertook to prove the accusation true, and he left no stone unturned to bring together sufficient evidence to secure a conviction. It was with reluctance that the Queen signed the death-warrant. How far the facts justified the man's execution is doubtful. Essex pressed into his service anti-Semitic as well as anti-Spanish prejudice. But he claimed with pride to have rendered by his vigilance a great public service, which the responsible ministers would have been unable to accomplish without his cooperation. He believed that he had damaged the government's credit by doing voluntarily and more thoroughly than they their own work. He was sanguine of founding an Imperium in imperio.
Anthony Bacon was not the only member of his family who joined forces with Essex and offered to aid his fortunes. Lord Burghley had .alienated not only Anthony Bacon, but also his brother, Francis, the possessor of the most powerful intellect of the era, though at the moment he was known merely as a struggling barrister. Francis Bacon, with characteristic cynicism, believed that he might avenge himself on his neglectful kinsman by strengthening the hands of an ambitious rival.
Francis Bacon was no good judge of men at close quarters, and he misapprehended Essex' aims and character. He thought that under sagacious guidance he might reach his goal of political predominance and even, to the national advantage, enjoy power. In return for good counsel Bacon hoped to receive from his patron official promotion.
The partnership looked more perilous to the stability of the responsible government than it proved to be. Essex1 erratic and impulsive temper was incorrigible. He was not long able to apply himself to details of foreign affairs. Nor was he attentive to the teachings of practical philosophy. Bacon bade him retain the Queen's favour by affecting submission to her will. He was to gain her confidence by his reasonableness in argument and width of view. Above all he was to subdue his passion for military glory. But Essex could not assimilate prudential maxims. Neither Anthony Bacon's tuition in details of foreign affairs nor the rules of practical conduct which Francis Bacon poured into his ears produced any real effect on his course of action. He was an impulsive knight-errant, and neither close study nor carefully regulated behaviour was adapted to his idiosyncrasy.
For a season, however, Essex' prospects steadily improved. Foreign affairs were in 1595 inclining the balance of domestic power in favour of those who were agitating for a spirited policy. A great opportunity seemed opening to Lord Burghley's censors. A renewal of Spanish activity had robbed France of Calais. England was threatened at closer quarters than ever by her pertinacious foe. The peace party in the Council was seriously embarrassed. It was difficult to justify inaction, with a Spanish army almost in sight of the English shore. The party of aggression was loud in condemnation of delay. They urged as a preliminary step active cooperation with France in an attempt to recover the lost seaport. But the opposition were not altogether at one among themselves. Essex and Ralegh both advised larger measures. They were doubtful whether northern France offered England an adequate point of attack on Spain. An expeditionary force for the relief of Calais was, however, collected at Dover ; and Essex, anxious to engage in any manner of active service, accepted the command. But, before preparations were completed, the plea for a more extended scheme of operations was pressed forward with vigour and success. The extreme section of the Council won a victory over the cautious minister. Despite his hesitation, a thoroughgoing attack on the shipping in Spanish ports was authorised. Essex' position was strengthened by the course of events In the expedition which followed he took a very prominent part. To his dash and energy the capture of Cadiz in 1596 was largely due. His repute rose high. He was the popular hero of the campaign, and he overflowed with self-confident elation.
Next year the aggressive party in the Council resumed its hold on the country's foreign policy, and Essex thought to repeat his stirring
Thenceforth discussions in the Queen's Council increased in bitterness and heat. The breach widened between Essex and Burghley. The burning question of England's relations with Spain reached a new crisis in 1598, when it was known that France and Spain were resolved on peace. Lord Burghley deemed it prudent for England to follow the example of her neighbour, and to bring the long struggle with Spain to an end by treaty. To this proposal Essex declined to give a hearing. The problem was beset with difficulties. The Low Countries warmly protested against an accommodation which would leave them at the mercy of their ancient foe. To all the younger members of the Council it seemed a point of honour to prolong the war with Spain and continue an active alliance with the Dutch Protestants. Essex charged himself with the duty of defeating Burghley's pacific scheme. His biting taunts of cowardice and bad faith roused the veteran statesman's phlegmatic temper. Drawing a prayer-book from his pocket Burghley replied to one of Essex' harangues by quoting the text from the Psalms, " The bloodthirsty and deceitful men shall not live out half their days." The Queen favoured her minister's policy. She herself intervened in one debate on his behalf, and bitterly reproached Essex for his rashness of speech and bellicose sentiments. All his fellow-competitors for her favour were present. Stung to the quick, he turned his back on the Queen with a gesture of contempt, muttering an unpardonable insult. The Queen retaliated by striking him a violent blow on the ear. Essex loudly exclaimed against the indignity.
The incident had a disastrous effect on Essex' future. Hurriedly withdrawing from Court, he involuntarily forfeited to his rivals such influence as he had lately acquired there. The effect of the warm debates in the Council was the discomfiture of the peace party. The tedious war with Spain went on after that power had made peace with France. The policy which was largely of Essex' own devising triumphed; but his impulsive utterances had cost him the rich rewards which with discretion he might have reaped from the victory. He saw his error too late. He soon apologised to the Queen for his misbehaviour, and a reconciliation followed. But it was a hollow settlement. Essex never recovered the ground he had lost.
In spite of his loss of prestige at Court, Essex had many enthusiastic admirers in the country ; and their frequent demonstrations of regard
But the prognostications of evil came true. Essex' enemies were in his absence once again all powerful in the Queen's councils ; and he returned home only to stand his trial for disobedience to royal orders and neglect of duty. After tedious litigation he was dismissed from all offices of State, and all his hopes were blighted.
Then there revived in his mind a desperate notion of forcibly removing from the Queen's councils those to whom he attributed his ruin. He would appeal from the Court to the people, whose regard he still believed that he enjoyed. Elements of discontent existed in the mercantile classes, who felt the burden of taxation, and among the Puritans, who were suffering from the penal laws. Essex and his friends vainly hoped to draw representatives of these classes into his quarrel. But with untamable presumption he aimed at enlisting the sympathy of a more influential ally. Why should not James VI of Scotland make common cause with him ? Emissaries were despatched to Edinburgh to suggest that it was in James' interest to obtain definite assurances from the Queen's ministers of his title to the English throne. It was argued that this object could be best attained by the despatch of an army to London, which on its march might combine with troops to be drawn by Essex' private influence from Ireland, Wales, and the City of London. Essex and his Scottish colleagues would then compel the Queen and her advisers to abjure all rival claims to the succession. Such plans were clearly chimerical, but Essex had a delusive ground for hope. With King James his epistolary relations had long been cordial. He had played on the Scottish King's fear by warnings that his right to the English Crown on Elizabeth's death would be resisted, unless he himself
The desperate design was doomed from the outset. The authorities were soon on the alert, and their activity forced Essex into a premature demonstration of rebellion. He believed that the citizens of London would rise at the cry that the Queen's ministers were compromising her relations with her people, and that the encroachments on her authority of which they were guilty ought to be brought to the notice of a free parliament. The manifesto evoked no response. Essex was arrested and, having been put on his trial for high treason, was convicted and suffered death. The countiy repelled the invitation to rise in arms in Essex' behalf. The episode, though of tragic interest, is of purely personal significance. The government was far too firmly founded to suffer from assaults of defeated ambition and personal resentment. Sir Robert Cecil was the protector of too powerful a tradition of rule to give any chance of success to a violent assault on his authority, which had no large public aim. The dissatisfaction of the people with absolutism was in an embryonic stage : it was not yet articulate. A leader of a calibre very different to that of Essex was needed to resist with effect the government's menaces of personal liberty.
The quarrels and rivalries of factions at Court closely affected the country's foreign policy, but directly they produced little disturbance in the general course of affairs at home. The issues at stake seemed to be remote from the substantial interests of the people, who regarded as of small moment to themselves the endeavour of this or that courtier to win ascendancy in the Queen's favour or in the Council. A different class of problems stirred the people's feelings. It was the attitude of the responsible government towards matters of property and religion that touched their lives most nearly.
The Established Church of England was in theory the most imposing embodiment of the nation's unity ; and it was by a quarrel in which an important section of the people directly engaged with the Church of England that the internal peace of the nation was most seriously threatened in the years following the Armada. Discontent on the
The activity of dissent from the established religious doctrine was always a valuable weapon in the hands of the leaders of Court factions. It lent some popular colour to their struggle with the Queen's responsible ministers. The Queen's favourite, the Earl of Leicester, and his successor in the royal regard, the Earl of Essex, both patronised dissentient ministers of religion. But the cause of nonconformity secured aid in the middle years of the Queen's reign from a more authoritative quarter. For a time the highest ecclesiastical dignitary of the kingdom gave the nonconformists open encouragement. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Grindal, countenanced evasion of the law of the land on the part of ordained ministers who doubted the scriptural sanction of the Sacraments of the Church and the Prayer Book. Under Archbishop Grindal's weak rule the power of the Bishops was paralysed, and the Calvinistic opposition to the Anglican establishment advanced by leaps and bounds. Puritan members crowded the benches of the House of Commons. A Presbyterian organisation of the clergy on self-governing lines was inaugurated in many counties. One of the Puritan leaders, Robert Browne, established a conventicle, independent of episcopal authority, at Norwich. Separatism or independence became the watchword of a formidable band of clergymen and laity, who called themselves Brownists, after the name of Robert Browne. It was forcibly argued that Church discipline was dependent alone on the word of Scripture. " The discipline of Christ's Church," wrote Cartwright, the main advocate of Presbyterianism, " that is necessary for all times is delivered by Christ, and set down in the Holy Scriptures. Therefore the true and lawful discipline is to be fetched from thence, and from thence alone. And that which resteth upon any other foundation ought to be esteemed unlawful and counterfeit." The unity of the Church, and with it the unity of the nation were in imminent peril.
To the Queen all zeal or fanaticism was obnoxious. Of a cold, intellectual temperament, she ignored the warmth of spiritual feeling which moved her Puritan subjects. Her worldly nature was antagonistic to strict Puritan theories of life. Moreover the nonconformists appeared to her to call in question one of her cherished prerogatives. She set
Grindal, who feebly temporised with dissent, was suspended from his archiépiscopal functions for five years (1577-82), and within a few months of his restoration he died. Grindal's successor, Whitgift, was a different type of churchman. If a resolute will and a genius for discipline in the chief ecclesiastical officer of the realm could restore unity to the divided Church of England, there could be no misgivings as to the result of Whitgift's promotion. He had first come into public notice as the strenuous opponent of Cartwright, the leading champion of Presbyterian forms of Church government, and had contrived to drive him temporarily from the country. A certain inconsistency of personal sentiment distinguished the new Archbishop. With those theological doctrines of Calvinism which were unconcerned with forms of Church government or ceremonies of public worship he was himself in agreement ; but in the justice and necessity of episcopacy he faithfully believed, and no private predilections for Calvinistic theology touched his conceptions of ritual or discipline. The maintenance of the royal supremacy, of episcopal authority, of uniformity of practice in the Church, was the primary article in his ecclesiastical creed.
Whitgift was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1583 till the year following the Queen's death, and he powerfully impressed his strong personality on the internal history of England during the last years of the Queen's reign. He did not underrate the value of external dignity. Possessed of a private fortune, he restored to the primacy something of the feudal magnificence which had characterised it in earlier days. He maintained an army of retainers, and conducted his visitations in princely state. He practised a lavish hospitality. At once he won the full confidence of the Queen, whose sense of the importance of dignified etiquette increased with her years. She was frequently the Archbishop's guest at Lambeth ; she playfully called him " her little black husband," and until her death the amity between them rarely knew interruption.
The stifling of Puritanism, especially in the ranks of the clergy, was Whitgift's accepted function. All opponents of the established discipline, all critics of the established ritual, merited punishment as disturbers of the public peace. No fear of stirring up intestine strife
No scrupulous sense of justice was suffered to interpose obstacles to the fulfilment of Whitgiffs purpose. Under his influence the Court of High Commission did its work with greater energy than before. Its powers were stringently employed with a view to discovering heretics and schismatics, and subjecting them, if detected, to deterrent punishment. Whitgift advised the administration to suspected ministers of an oath (called the oath ex officia), which bound them to confess on examination all breaches of the law of which they were guilty. The practice of forcing a man to convict himself of offences imputed to him has always excited disgust in England. The Archbishop's high-handed policy consequently evoked heated protests, not merely from the clergy and from many members of the Court factions, but from the House of Commons and responsible officers of State. Even Lord Burghley complained that Whitgiffs ex officio oath "too much savoured of the Spanish Inquisition." The method lacked charity; it was not likely, the Lord Treasurer pleaded, " to edify or reform." But the Archbishop was obdurate and declined all suggested modifications. He replied to Burghley's criticism : " I know your Lordship desireth the peace of the Church, but it cannot be procured after so long liberty and lack of discipline if a few persons [i.e. the Puritan ministers], so meanly qualified as most of them, are countenanced against the whole state of the clergy."
Finally, the Archbishop put the seal on his repressive policy by an attack on the liberty of public criticism. He secured early in 1586 the passage of an ordinance by the Court of Star Chamber, prohibiting under severest punishment any printer from putting any manuscript into type until it had been licensed by himself or the Bishop of London. Over the Stationers' Company, which had been licensed by royal charter of Queen Mary to regulate the printing trade, the Archbishop asserted the fullest control. The number of presses was to be diminished to such a number as he and the Bishop of London should deem convenient ; and their episcopal approval was decreed to be necessary to the choice of new master-printers for admission to the privileges of the craft. At the same time the Archbishop made it clear that, should such provisions as these fail to produce the needful effect, it was always possible to fall
At a first glance, the cause of Puritan dissent seemed unlikely to escape the toils with which the new Archbishop encircled it. Under his vigorous leadership the Bishops asserted their authority with unprecedented activity. John Aylmer, Bishop of London, exceeded Whitgift in the violence and rigour with which he ruled his clergy Soon after the defeat of the Spanish Armada, on February 9, 1589, Dr Richard Bancroft, a member of the Court of High Commission, who became eight years later Bishop of London, and was ultimately Whitgift's successor in the archbishopric, declared in an uncompromising sermon at St Paul's the Divine Right of Bishops and their apostolical succession. Resistance to episcopal dominion was identified by the governors of the Church with heresy, and any truce on their part with Puritan practices was denounced as sin.
Whitgift and his friends were in the habit of asserting that Protestant dissent affected a very small minority in the country, and its extirpation was merely a question of administration. They ignored the plain fact that Puritanism had gained too powerful a hold on the nation's sentiment to yield to force. Whitgift's policy stimulated the Puritans to new assertions of their principles. The claims to independence or separatism were more stringently defined and urged by their advocates ; and though two of the leading expounders, Henry Barrow and John Greenwood, who announced discipleship to Robert Browne, were promptly imprisoned, their arguments remained unanswered. Meanwhile a more direct mode of attack on the episcopal position was essayed. An endeavour was made to bring home to the public mind the conviction that the ecclesiastical politicians, who were committed to the paths of persecution and repression, were neglecting their spiritual duties. This mode of assault was gradually developed and proved peculiarly formidable.
While Parliament was in session in the late autumn of 1586, and chiefly concerning itself with the attainders of overzealous champions of Queen Mary Stewart, John Penry, a young Cambridge graduate of Welsh origin, drew up in the form of a petition to Parliament an elaborate statement, in which he described in moving terms the spiritual destitution of Wales, and professed to trace the responsibility for the pagan ignorance that prevailed there to the neglect of their just obligations by the Bishops and the obedient clergy. Whitgift replied by summoning Penry before the Court of High Commission. But his offence proved to be difficult of definition. The proceedings were inconclusive, and the offender suffered only a few days' imprisonment.
The balance of victory lay with Penry, and the attempt to silence him failed. Whitgift's repressive régime naturally suggested to its victims clandestine attack. Anxious to pursue his advantage
The country was startled by this open defiance of the recent endeavour of Whitgift and his colleagues of the High Commission Court and Star Chamber to suppress freedom of speech. All the detective machinery of the High Commission Court was at once set in motion, in order to track down and break up the pamphleteering conspiracy. Whitgift conducted the operations in person. But the task proved difficult of accomplishment. The Puritan advocates found numerous sympathisers, and the libellers were effectively protected. For more than a year they eluded pursuit of their episcopal foes.
Meanwhile Martin Mar-prelate excited reprisals in the press. It was difficult for the Bishops and their friends to reply to the onslaughts of the Martin Mar-prelate writers in the same unlicensed vocabulary. But they tacitly welcomed the support of professional men of letters, including John Lyly and Thomas Nash, to whom the preciseness and prudishness of Puritan ideals were obnoxious. The " Anti-Martinists," as the critics of Martin Mar-prelate were called, were not scrupulous in their diction, and their intervention added fuel to the flames. The controversy went on with increased ferocity. Each side lashed out at the other with vigour and received swingeing blows in return. Nonconformists of a philosophical turn regretted the degradation of theological discussion Moderate men of all parties agreed that the interests of religion were compromised by the polemical vulgarities. But the rival pamphleteers were thoroughly exasperated, and the fire had to burn itself out. Whitgift and his officers redoubled their exertions. But it was the exhaustion of the actors that mainly closed the conflict. The net result of the pamphleteering war was to expose much weakness in the episcopal armour. The Bishops never succeeded in unravelling the whole conspiracy. Only a few of the pamphleteers were hunted down. Penry escaped to
Scotland for the time in safety. Public opinion, so far as it could be gauged, deprecated harsh treatment of the offenders ; and, when John Udall, an aged minister, who was suspected of complicity with Penry, was capitally convicted of a seditious libel, he was promptly pardoned, although he died in prison. For the moment he was the Bishops' only victim. Despite all the legal machinery at their disposal, no means existed of avenging on a large scale this veiled attempt at rebellion against episcopacy. But Whitgift was not to be readily deterred from his goal. He had experienced a check ; but the effect could be neutralised by greater vigour hereafter. In 1593 his opportunity arrived. Three leaders of the Puritan army lay at his mercy. His action was swift and certain. Henry Barrow and John Greenwood, separatists and censurers of the Book of Common Prayer, who had long endured imprisonment, were tried and convicted, not as offenders against the law of the Church, but under the secular statute which was directed against disseminators of seditious libel. In the same year Penry was arrested in London and brought to trial, on a vague charge of traducing the Queen in notes for a sermon which were said to have been found in his study. The question of his complicity in the Martin Mar-prelate controversy was not raised. But sufficient was held to be proved against his loyalty under the criminal law of libel to warrant capital punishment. Three of the most strenuous enemies of episcopacy were thus swept from WhitgifVs path.
But it was on the Parliament which met in the spring of 1593 that Whitgift relied to put the coping-stone to his repressive policy. An Act was passed professing by its title to have the object of " restraining the Queen's subjects in obedience." It was directed in unmistakable terms against Protestant nonconformists. Active support of practices to which their principles impelled them, and the avoidance of practices from which their principles restrained them, were alike declared categorically to be heinous offences punishable by the heaviest penalties, not excluding death. The Act included in its purview anyone who should dispute the Queen's ecclesiastical authority, who should abstain from going to church, or who should attend " any assemblies, conventicles or meetings under cover or pretence of any exercise of religion." Such offenders were to be arrested and imprisoned until they gave a solemn assurance of conformity. Should they fail to offer that assurance within three months, they were to quit the realm, on oath not to return. If they refused to quit the country on this condition, or if, having abjured the realm, they returned home, they were liable to be hanged.
Legislation so stringent if put into force could not fail to reduce the militant activity of nonconformity. Death was pronounced to be the doom of any Puritan who was loyal to his convictions. If he set any value on his life, he had to choose between renouncing his principles at home and adhering to them abroad. Although the penal law of 1593 was administered with some reservation, it went as far as was practicable
As far as appearances went, the Anglican establishment was rendered homogeneous. The bounds of the Church might be narrowed ; but the Archbishop argued that, by way of compensation for loss of numbers, she had gained the concentrated strength that comes of unity. There were, however, limits to the triumph of episcopacy. Whitgift was unable to change the tendency of public opinion which facilitated evasion of his oppressive law. Nor could he prevent dissentients who openly left the fold from pursuing the agitation openly and earnestly in a foreign country. The neighbouring country of Holland eagerly welcomed the Protestant exiles. Separatist congregations were formed at Middelburg, at Leyden, at Amsterdam ; and there, instead of recanting or forgoing any of their enthusiasm, English Puritans systematised the theological principles which Whitgift deemed fatal to the peace of their own country. English Puritanism flourished in Holland in spite of Whitgift's efforts, and menaced the future of Whitgiffs Church. Though manifestations of Puritan zeal might for the time be repressed at home, its growth was not stayed. Abroad it enjoyed new and unembarrassed opportunity of winning strength and consistency. By insisting on the irreconcilability of Puritanism and Anglicanism, Whitgift had in effect cleared the decks for a life and death struggle, and had indirectly and involuntarily prepared the way for the temporary ascendancy of Puritanism in the century, that followed.
But Whitgift was content with the instrument forged by him against the spread of nonconformity in England. He deemed the coercive power of the government sufficient, and during the final years of the Queen's reign he turned his attention to schemes for improving the education of the inferior clergy, and for the remedy of the abuses of non-residence. At the same time he sought to confirm the independence of the Bishops' Courts, and he protested against appeals from them to civil tribunals. He also, with apparent self-contradiction, countenanced an endeavour to reform the Creeds of the Church and impart to them a more pronounced Calvinistic colouring. He wished to adopt the doctrines of predestinatioH and election without qualification.
Whitgift had always distinguished in his own mind between principles of theology and principles of Church government. The offences at which he aimed in his penal laws were active infringements of the political laws of the Anglican establishment. He denied the title of martyrs of religion to his Puritan victims. They suffered punishment because they had challenged the law of the land and had rebelled against the cause of order. With a view to making his theological position clearer, now that a delusive order was established, he, in 1595, summoned to Lambeth three
Bishops and some old Cambridge friends, and devised a series of nine Articles which modified on Genevan lines existing dogmas of the Church. They were known as the "Lambeth Articles," and solely involved questions of doctrine. No topics of ritual or discipline were touched. But Whitgift's Lambeth Articles were never accepted by the Church of England. Queen Elizabeth showed a surer grasp than her Archbishop of the needs of the ecclesiastical polity which he had himself helped to frame. She hastily bade him disown a manifesto which seemed to offend by its incongruity with his past action. He yielded to the royal wish, and explained to her and to his friends that the new articles were mere pious opinions of personal import, not designed to carry legal sanction ; but he at the same time assured his Cambridge friends with characteristic resolution that "he did concur with them in judgment and would to the end," nor would he suffer them to be impugned " openly or otherwise."
Few thoughtful men treated as final Whitgift's professed solution of the problem of Church government. To one sagacious contemporary Whitgift's acts and arguments presented as many false issues as might have been detected by an avowed champion, in the seventeenth or eighteenth century, of comprehension or toleration. Bacon entered the House of Commons in the year following Whitgift's acceptance of the office of Archbishop, and he at once surveyed the political situation. He perceived the dangers of a Puritan schism ; but to the policy of repressing Puritanism by force he from the first announced himself as opposed. He disclaimed any sympathy with the " preciseness " of Puritan opinions. But it seemed to him that the Bishops were taking a dangerous course in pressing too hardly on the Puritan clergy. Extreme measures of coercion proclaimed to the world that the Protestant Church of England, which embraced the nation, was a house divided against itself. Such a confession injured the repute of the Queen and the country. In the second place, however little one might approve the narrowness of Puritan doctrine, yet the Puritans were stalwart enemies of the papist superstition, and by their preaching and teaching formed a stout bulwark against the spread of Roman Catholic error. Whitgift and his colleagues ignored Bacon's pleas. But he restated them in an Advertisement touching the Controversies of the Church of England (1589), when the Martin Mar-prelate agitation was at its height. The factious temper of the Puritans, he again asserted, merited no countenance; but a rigid insistence on conformity among all English Protestants jeopardised the Protestant cause and the country's unity.
It was not, however, from the Bishops, nor from Bacon, that the most imposing comments on the Puritan revolt proceeded. Richard Hooker, a student of divinity, who held a small and ill-remunerated preferment, made a strenuous effort to define the general principles which justified the predominance of the Established Church and rendered
An Apologia for the Church of England had come from the pen of Jewel, the learned Bishop of Salisbury, at the opening of the Queen's reign, in 1562. But it was framed on restricted lines. It mainly interpreted, in a sense favourable to the laws affecting the Reformation in England, a series of quotations from the Scriptures, the Fathers, and the Councils of the medieval Church. Narrow in conception, Jewel's Apologia only satisfied those who were already convinced, and excited more dissent than agreement. Hooker appealed to his readers from a wholly différent point of view. He took little for granted. He sought to show that scriptural authority was not in itself the sole or the adequate test of ecclesiastical polity. In all relations of life man had to seek guidance from reason as well as from the Divine revelation. There was a moral law of Divine origin, which was not enshrined in the Bible ; it was deducible from other sources, and derived its sanction from man's rational faculties. Christian Churches were under an obligation to organise themselves in conformity to both moral law and the scriptural word. Hooker's ultimate object was to show that the creeds, ritual, and discipline of the Episcopal Church of England had the sanction not merely of revelation but of reason. He couched his arguments in language of singular force and dignity, and by the cogency of his logical method, and command of learning, did far more than any penal legislation to strengthen the Church of England. From many points of view Hooker's work was in advance of the age and touched topics that were not of pertinence to current affairs. It set on a firm and rational basis the principles of orderly government. But Hooker addressed himself to a minority of his countrymen. The holders of office were content to diagnose the practical needs of the hour more roughly and readily than he.
The Queen's advisers had to deal not with Puritan dissent alone. They had to face the enmity of the Roman Catholics. The relations of the government with the English Roman Catholics both at home and abroad stood on a footing different from that of their relations with
There was much to justify this view. Pope Pius V had in 1570 issued a Bull releasing the subjects of Queen Elizabeth from their fealty to her. That edict was never revoked. Pius V's successors, Gregory XIII and Sixtus V, treated it as of actively binding force. The Jesuits engaged as a body to do all that was possible to give effect to the papal decree. Philip II of Spain subsidised a strong force of English Catholics abroad, who were pledged to support the invasion and conquest of England. Both the Pope and the King of Spain undertook to lend material aid to the Irish rebels.
Queen Elizabeth's ministers were all agreed that in stringent coercive legislation lay the only safeguard against the Catholic peril ; and they gave thoroughgoing effect to their conviction. In the last half of the reign, the urgency of the danger seemed to justify the expansion of the criminal law so as to cover every manifestation of Catholic sympathy. The observance of the ceremonies of the Catholic Church and the education of the children of Catholic parents in Catholic doctrine became legal offences. The rigour of the penalties at length menaced the property, the liberty, and even the life of every adherent of the faith.
The Act of Supremacy provided at the opening of the reign for the capital punishment of anyone denying the Queen's headship of the Church. But it was not till the year following the promulgation in 1570 of the papal Bull releasing the Queen's subjects from their allegiance that the Elizabethan era of penal legislation against the Catholics may be reckoned to have set in. Another ten years intervened before the work acquired full strength. The Parliament of 1571 replied to the action of Pius V by two statutes, of which the first rendered it treasonable to call the Queen a heretic, schismatic, or usurper, and the second punished with death the introduction into the country of any papal Bull.
Meanwhile the English Catholics abroad were, under papal patronage, forging an elaborate scheme for the reconversion of the country to Catholicism. The militant leader of the English Catholics on the Continent was Father William Alien. His chief contribution to his cause was the foundation in 1568 at Douay of a college or seminary for the preparation of Englishmen for the Catholic priesthood. Alien's college was temporarily transferred for greater security to Bheims for the fifteen years 1578-93 ; but until 1585 he remained its active head. By his influence, too, an offshoot of the Douay establishment was formed at Rome in 1577, and was ultimately placed by the Pope under the government of the Jesuits, with whom Alien was in full sympathy. Both the English colleges of Douay and Borne were designed to supply an English mission, an army of priests that should spread themselves over England, and reconcile the people to the Papacy.
Between 1574 and 1580 some hundred priests from the two seminaries had come to England ; and the work of reconversion was reported to have begun. In July of the latter year the Jesuits Parsons and Campion arrived to take chief command, and the movement acquired new vigour. The English government deemed it needful to take action. A proclamation was at once issued imposing the penalty of death on any Jesuits or seminary priests who entered the Queen's dominions, and on any person harbouring them there ; the seminaries were warmly denounced as places for the propagation of sedition. But the proclamation proved ineffective. The influence of the missionaries grew. In the following year (1581) Parliament was called together to strengthen the government's hands. An Act was passed, in the words of the title, " to retain the Queen's Majesty's subjects in their due obedience." Various clauses provided that any person reconciling another to the Church of Borne was a traitor, while the convert was pronounced guilty of mis-prision of treason, and was also liable to the capital penalty. Fine, or imprisonment in default, was imposed on any persons either saying or hearing mass.
The Act was at once put into execution, and thirteen persons, including the Jesuit leader of the mission, Campion, were convicted under its provisions. The sentence of death was passed upon all, and was carried out in the case of ten, Campion being one of those who suffered. The three whose lives were spared formally renounced the deposing power of the Pope. But the missionaries were not easily daunted. The threats of invasion by Philip II and the intrigues which centred in Mary Stewart rendered the general political situation alarming. The government deemed it necessary to give statutory force to the harsh proclamation of 1580, which forbade the presence of Jesuits or seminary priests in the country. In 1585 Parliament decreed that all Jesuits and seminary priests were to leave the kingdom within forty days, under the capital penalty of treason. Catholic laymen who
In this Act of 1585 "against Jesuits, seminary priests, and other suchlike disobedient persons " the tide of the anti-Catholic penal legislation reached its high-water-mark. Among priests and the harbourers of priests it claimed a heavy toll of victims in almost every one of the eighteen years that remained of the Queen's reign. But the legislation did not answer all the expectations that were formed of it. It proved inadequate to suppress Catholic worship. In spite of the coercive restraints of law, it was still found possible to perform clandestinely the ceremonial observances of the Catholic faith. Another turn of the screw was needed to meet such evasion of the intention of the legislature. In 1593 Parliament once again devoted its attention to " Popish recusants." They were ordered to keep within five miles of their own houses ; a fine of twenty pounds a month was imposed on any omitting to attend the services in the parish church ; inability to pay this fine was to be punished by banishment ; and, should the offenders refuse to leave the country, they were to be tried for felony. One chance of escape from this repressive measure was, however, offered to those whom it affected. A formal recantation of their beliefs in the parish church would entitle them to pardon.
Despite the pertinacity with which the government pursued their coercive policy, neither its prudence nor its justice went unchallenged in the Queen's closing years. The coercive policy was based on the assumption that all Catholics were politically hostile to the Queen, and were at one with Alien and the Jesuits in seeking her deposition and the conquest of the country by Spain. The patriotic action of the •Catholics at home through the crisis of the Spanish Armada proved the weakness of this assumption. In the hour of peril the English Catholics placed loyalty to their Queen and country before all other considerations. Catholic priests and laymen joined their Protestant fellow-countrymen in concerting measures for the defeat of the threatened invasion. The injustice of imputing treachery to the whole Catholic population was proved beyond question. By the government and nation at large that revelation was grudgingly received, and only a few men of sagacity acknowledged the manifest fact. To meet the just needs of the situation some test was clearly required to distinguish between those
Not that Bacon's point of view could be wholly ignored by the Queen's ministers. Loyalty among the English Catholics steadily grew after the Armada. A large and increasing section showed a hearty dislike of the prospects of foreign dominion, and openly disclaimed sympathy with the disloyal intrigues of the leaders of the party abroad. It was impossible that Elizabethan statesmen should close their eyes to the change of sentiment which was moving a large part of the Catholic community in England and was leading the way to a revolution in its whole internal economy. The fact that the Catholic conspirators conducted their operations at a safe distance from England, outside the scope of the penal laws, was diminishing their credit with Catholics resident in England. It was only the missionaries in England and their followers who were exposed to risk of death or imprisonment. A hope was arising among some of them that if they disowned their disloyal leaders they might yet exercise their religion in peace in their native land. Aspirations such as these, in spite of the unreadiness of the Queen's ministers to acknowledge it, brought on a new phase of the Catholic question as the Queen's reign drew to its end.
The Catholic leaders abroad never withdrew from their original position. They naturally recognised an added danger to their cause in the spread of loyal sentiment among their fellow Catholics in England. A strong resident Catholic party, which should be ready to support a foreign invader, was essential to the success of their plans. The growing signs of loyalty among English Catholics at home were disconcerting to the political intriguers, but they preferred to risk division in the Catholic ranks rather than abate their hostility to Queen Elizabeth's government.
The leaders of the English Catholics abroad clung with vehemence to the policy of violence in which they placed all their hope. Father Alien had been made a Cardinal at the request of Philip II before the despatch of the Armada, in order that, so soon as the conquest of England was accomplished, he might reorganise the English Church on a Catholic
Parsons' supporters in England made at his instance a desperate bid for the control of the Catholic mission there. The extreme faction petitioned Rome for the appointment in England of a Catholic Bishop, who should enforce disloyal doctrine on all English Catholics. The Vatican was at the moment reluctant actively to pursue its old quarrel with the English government; but under Jesuit pressure the Pope agreed to create a new office, that of Archpriest. This dignitary was invested with large powers over the English secular clergy, a majority of whom favoured a policy of peace.
The papal choice fell on George Blackwell, a secular priest, who was a partisan of the Jesuits. His nomination (1598) was regarded as a triumph for the aggressive party. But it proved a doubtful victory. The English government, without committing itself to any modification of its coercive methods, intervened with some astuteness in the internal quarrel and endeavoured to draw from it an advantage for themselves in their conflict with the Catholic Powers abroad. At least it seemed feasible with the aid of the pacific faction to patch up the long-standing quarrel with the Vatican. The leaders of the English mission had been placed in comparatively easy confinement at Wisbech Castle, and facilities were given to them in 1601 for the despatch to Rome of a delegation of four representatives of the pacific clergy, who were anxious to appeal for the cancelling of the Archpriest's appointment. The arguments which the four delegates urged on the papal judges were all that the Queen's ministers could have wished. It was explained to the Cardinals that disloyal Catholic books had brought odium on the Church in
England and provoked persecution ; that attempts to reduce England by force had greatly injured the position of the faithful there ; that the withdrawal of the Jesuits from the Courts and camps of princes and a prohibition of their interference in secular politics were essential to the security of Catholicism in England. But the Vatican was not prepared for any thoroughgoing accommodation. All that the delegates could obtain from the Pope was the cancelling of the clause in the Arch-priest's instructions which bade him take counsel of the Jesuits. An official declaration against political intrigue was refused ; the Archpriest was left at liberty to organise English Catholics for rebellion, at his discretion.
The proceedings seemed to Sir Robert Cecil and his colleagues to justify their settled policy of coercion which had for a moment caused some of their friends misgivings. Coercion had never been relaxed and was applied with greater rigour as the Queen's death approached. An Act of Parliament had in 1597 excepted from a somewhat illusory general pardon all schismatics, heretics, and offenders against the ecclesiastical government of the realm. No Catholic benefited by the Queen's clemency. In 1598 an alleged conspiracy against her life was discovered ; and, although it is doubtful whether there was any genuine ground for alarm, the episode was used as an excuse for refurbishing the persecuting machinery. Edward Squire, a man of no account, who had held a post in the royal stables, was charged with having, at the instigation of a priest, rubbed poison on the pommel of the Queen's saddle with a view to her assassination. The evidence against Squire was far from conclusive ; but he was executed, and the public was duly impressed with the danger of the situation, when a special order of prayer and thanksgiving to celebrate the Queen's escape was directed by the Council to be read in all churches. After the failure of the delegates of the pacific Catholic party to obtain from Rome ?.ny condemnation of the disloyal doctrines of the Jesuits, a proclamation was once more issued banishing Jesuits and secular priests alike from the country on pain of death.
In the course of Queen Elizabeth's reign Parliament met only eleven times. During the first thirty years it met seven times, during the last fifteen four times. With the rarest exceptions, each Parliament was dissolved at the close of a single session, which lasted on the average for six weeks. The national legislature enjoyed little independence. The majority of the members of the House of Commons were nominated by the Queen's responsible ministers ; and any attempt on the part of constituencies to assert the right of a free choice of representatives was sternly reprobated. In 1597 Sir Robert Cecil officially warned the boroughs through their mayors against returning "unmeet men"; should such persons be sent up to the House of Commons, there would be "occasion,"
The economic condition of the country during the last years of the reign caused national concern. Public opinion asserted itself, and ministers were unable to resist a widespread desire among the people to bring economic grievances under the notice of Parliament, in spite of the Queen's impatience of parliamentary interference in affairs of State and her preference for enforcing her royal will by means of proclamation rather than by parliamentary statute. Bad harvests were of frequent occurrence ; agricultural labour was at a discount owing to the steadily progressing conversion of arable land into pasture. Inhabitants of the villages were crowding into the towns. Men who had engaged in the foreign wars vainly sought employment on their discharge. The scarcity of employment was a constant menace to internal peace. It was with great reluctance that the government squarely faced the economic problems that beset the nation. The maintenance of the status quo was the only principle that appealed to them. In 1580 the Queen endeavoured to stem the incursion of new-comers to London by a proclamation forbidding the erection of any more houses there. Nine years later Parliament took the matter in hand, and in the spirit of the Queen's proclamation forbade the erection of any cottage unless four acres of land were attached to it. No new cottage, moreover, might be in habited by more than a single family. Such measures, designed to keep the people distributed on the land, were ill-adapted to check the migration of the proletariat in search of work or to keep stationary the population of the towns. The causes of the popular restlessness were not faced. Later, it became necessary to approach more directly the problem of the unemployed. The policy of coercion was invoked. A law for the rigorous punishment of rogues, vagabonds, and sturdy
But it was not only among the labouring classes that economic distress bred discontent and insecurity. The commercial classes complained bitterly of the demands made on them by the government. Many quasi-legal devices were resorted to by the Queen in her last years. The Council often raised money for the country's defences without appeal to Parliament, and protests were not unfrequent. In 1596 a royal letter directed the mayor and aldermen of London to fit out ten new ships. The Lord Mayor replied with a remonstrance to the Privy Council, in which complaint was made of the excessive demands of recent years. The City's wealth was diminished owing to a three years' dearth of corn. " Many persons," the Lord Mayor continued, "before known to be of good wealth, are greatly decayed and utterly disabled for all public service, being hardly able by their uttermost endeavours to maintain the charges of their private families in very mean sort." But such appeals failed to move the Queen's ministers, and the discontent grew. Next year, the Lord Mayor pointed out that the money borrowed by the government from many citizens for the equipment of the Cadiz expedition had not yet been repaid. The Lord Mayor reported to Sir Robert Cecil that there was great anxiety among the citizens to "enter into consideration, by what authority the said payments were imposed upon them by the governors and other ministers of State."
At the extreme end of the reign the Queen was herself roused to a sense of the imprudence with which in one notable direction she had exerted her fiscal powers. She had long been in the habit of granting to ministers and favourites the sole right to manufacture and sell one
The tone of the message stemmed for the moment the tide of discontent. The tables were completely turned. Her superiority to parliamentary power was asserted with the full assent of the House of Commons. If genuine grievances needed redress she claimed the honour of performing the task, and that honour was thankfully accorded her. The parliamentary proceedings were abandoned. Three days later the Queen by proclamation suspended all patents of monopoly, until their legality should have been tested by the law officers of the Crown. The whole House proceeded to Whitehall to thank her for her prompt action. In a long, stirring speech she announced that her love for her people was the jewel of richest price. She spoke with informal indignation of the oppressions of which the patentees had been guilty, and declared that they should be well punished. Her subjects'" good was her sole aim in life, and she did not wish to live or reign any longer than her life and reign should be for her subjects' advantage. It was Queen Elizabeth's last speech to her people. There was an equivocal ring in her heated condemnation of an oppressive practice for which she was herself largely responsible. But the masterful, yet pathetic assertion of her claim to her people's affectionate loyalty illustrated at once the causes and the effects of her personal popularity.
The physical activity and intellectual vivacity which the Queen showed during her last Parliament remained unabated until within a
The Catholic intriguers long thought to find in a solution of this doubtful and difficult question a final means of upsetting the equilibrium of the State. Their chances of overthrowing Queen Elizabeth's government were nearly extinguished. Their hopes of the future depended on their success in an endeavour to secure at her death a successor amenable to their influence. The topic was one which naturally divided the two Catholic factions. The party of peace desired to leave the problem of the succession alone. Only the party of aggression regarded it as essential to solve it in their own fashion. At first the choice of Cardinal Alien and his friends had fallen on King James VI of Scotland, the son of Mary Stewart. Philip II and the Duke of Parma had also been vaguely suggested, and a proposal was made to support Arabella Stewart, a more reasonable claimant, on condition that she should be married to the Duke of Parma. But these were mere empty fancies ; and, when James of Scotland declared himself a Protestant, it was necessary to seek elsewhere a candidate in the Catholic interest. On Alien's withdrawal from active superintendence of the political business of the Catholic party, Parsons, who stepped into his place, urged that Catholic efforts should centre in the endeavour to place on the English throne the Infanta of Spain, Philip II's daughter. She was descended from John of Gaunt, whose second wife was a Spanish Princess. In 1594 Parsons published under the pseudonym of " R. Doleman " an English tract entitled A Conference about the next Succession to the Crown of England, which deeply stirred England and indeed the whole of Europe. Here, after endeavouring to prove the right of the people to alter the line of succession on the ground of religion and for other just causes, Parsons submitted to elaborate examination the genealogy of the royal house and reached the conclusion that the Infanta was Queen Elizabeth's rightful heir. By the Queen's government the manifesto was promptly denounced as treasonable and seditious, and its circulation in the country forbidden. The pacific Catholics repudiated it as pestilential, and disclaimed any manner of sympathy with a Spanish pretender to the English throne.
Parsons thought to take some obscure advantage of the rivalries of Court factions by dedicating his insolent plea for the Infanta to the
Earl of Essex. But both the responsible and irresponsible advisers of the sovereign were agreed in the resolve to exclude a Catholic from the throne. To the Queen the Infanta's name was of hateful import, and it was only heard at Court when one favourite endeavoured to steal an advantage over another by insinuating in the Queen's presence that his rival was toying with the fancy that the Spanish Princess was fitted to become monarch of England. Essex had long before his death made up his mind to support James of Scotland ; and, when his hopes of controlling the reigning sovereign dwindled, he thought to secure future power by placing under some obligation to himself the Prince who was likely to succeed Queen Elizabeth. He constantly assured the Scottish King that he was working for his succession. But it was not Essex alone who set his heart on the choice of James. Lord Burghley's son, Sir Robert Cecil, committed himself to the support of the same candidate, and opened with him a secret correspondence which, more effectual than that devised by Essex, ultimately set the Scottish King on the English throne.
Elizabeth's defiant attitude of indifference to the question strikingly illustrated the lack of consistency in her character. The Crown of the Tudors had come to be regarded as the sovereign's personal property. It lay at the testamentary disposition of the wearer. Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Queen Mary each nominated with their dying breaths the person who was to succeed to the royal estate. Edward VI's dying directions were, it is true, set aside; but their rejection rested on a well-supported plea of his having submitted to undue influence, and the accession of Queen Mary in the place of Lady Jane Grey left the monarch's prerogative of choice in all essentials unquestioned. A Tudor Parliament had, however much some members chafed in secret under royal dictation, never refused to register the royal will. Thrice it sanctioned, at a word from Henry VIII, the changes in the succession which his matrimonial vagaries necessitated.
But no precedent succeeded in moving Elizabeth to confront the topic. The terms which Wentworth had used in his suggestion of a petition to her "to entail the succession" acknowledged her full ownership of the royal estate, but such an admission failed to mollify her indignation at his raising of the question. Strong as was her ultimate sense of public duty, it failed her here. Her egotism blinded her to the dangers to which her refusal to discuss the subject was likely to expose the State. The thought that her dignities must, by the efflux of time, pass to another seems only to have suggested to her the insecurity of her own tenure of them, and the coming extinction of her authority. Such a prospect she could not nerve herself to face.
Twice during the reign-in 1571 and 1585-the word "succession" found a place in Acts of Parliament. But both enactments were framed
The work that the Queen left undone her minister, Sir Robert Cecil, took upon his own shoulders. The situation abounded in irony. A monarch whose jealousy of her prerogative seemed often to reduce her ministers' authority to a shadow, left them, by her own default, power to exercise at will one of the proudest of royal privileges. Nor did Cecil, in definitely arranging that James VI of Scotland should succeed to Elizabeth's Crown, defer to that settlement of the Crown which her father had devised-the only settlement to which a legal sanction attached, apart from the reigning sovereign's testamentary directions. There had been no repeal of the stipulation made by Henry VIII, both in Act of Parliament and in his will, that after the death without heirs of his three children, Edward, Mary, and Elizabeth, the Crown should descend to the heirs of his younger sister, Mary (who had issue only by her second husband, Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk), to the exclusion of the heirs of his elder sister Margaret (from whom her great-grandchildren, James VI of Scotland and Arabella Stewart, derived their claims). Consequently, the rightful heir, when Elizabeth lay dying, was no scion of the Scottish House, but the eldest representative of the Suffolk line-Princess Mary's great-grandson, Edward Seymour, Lord Beauchamp. But Elizabeth's ministers were not the slaves of legal niceties. The Queen's neutrality left their choice unfettered; and, though expectation of personal profit largely moved them, their action proved politic. Lord Beauchamp was a man of insignificant position and character; James VI, however contemptible in many respects, had experience as a ruler, and a contiguous kingdom to add to the endowments of the English Crown.
Every precaution to conceal the negotiation with Scotland from Elizabeth's knowledge was deemed vital to its success. A word from her could annul the plan, and her temperament might lead her to pronounce the word at any moment. Often did Sir Robert Cecil tremble at the chance of her discovering his design. The risk was great. Elizabeth, like himself, corresponded voluminously with her Scottish " cousin," and the latter's replies were often ill-considered. Fortunately no syllable about the succession escaped either royal pen.
On Wednesday, March 23, 1603, the Queen was dying at Richmond, and her Council then ventured a first and last despairing effort to obtain from her such assent to their negotiations as would place James' title beyond cavil. Representations have been made that the effort was successful; but there is small ground for crediting the Queen, even in her last hours, with any modification of her resolve to leave the subject of her succession severely alone. The French ambassador is responsible for the statement that at an earlier period of her illness she remarked that " the King of Scotland would hereafter become King of Great Britain." More
Before leaving London for the last time she is said to have told the Earl of Nottingham that "her throne had always been a throne of Kings, and none but her next heir of blood and descent should succeed her.71 " Her next heir of blood and descent " was, in the eyes of the law, Lord Beauchamp. The vague phrases attest her settled policy of evasion. According to Sir Robert Carey, on the Wednesday afternoon before her death at Richmond "she made for her Council to be called, and by putting her hand to her head when the King of Scotland was named to succeed her they all knew he was the man she desired should reign after her." Throughout her illness her hand had passed restlessly to and from her head ; and a definite meaning could only attach to the sign in the minds of those who, like the reporter, were already pledged to seat James VI in her place. Her lady-in-waiting, Lady Southwell, gives a more disinterested account of this episode of the Wednesday afternoon. The Council were not invited to the royal presence, as Carey avers. They demanded admittance " to know whom " the dying Queen " would have for King.'1 She was hardly conscious and could barely speak; but such preparation as her waning strength permitted for the interview was made by her attendants. The councillors desired her to lift her finger when they named whom she approved. They mentioned the King of France; she did not stir. They spoke of the King of Scotland; she made no sign. They named Lord Beauchamp, the rightful heir under Henry VIII's unrepealed settlement. Then only did Elizabeth rouse herself, and with something of her old vivacity she gasped, " I will have no rascal's son in my seat, but one worthy to be a King." These are the only unquestioned words which afford any clue to the Queen's wishes respecting her successor. At the best they are negative, and cannot be tortured into a formal acceptance of James. The presence of her Council at her bedside made her dimly realise that her reign was over, and it is perhaps juster to regard the utterance as a convulsive cry of anguish, wrung from her by the thought that an unworthy successor had it in his power to work injury to her fame. She died without speaking another word.
About 3 o'clock in the morning of the day following this interview (March 24, 1603) Queen Elizabeth passed away in the seventieth year of her age and forty-fourth year of her reign. Her father's and her own command of the arts of sovereignty implanted in the mass of her people a deeply-rooted respect for monarchical authority which rendered it easy for any accredited successor to assume her throne. At the moment of her death some of the awe which she herself inspired encircled those of
The net result of the forty-four years of the Queen's reign thus appeared to have set the monarchical principle of government on unshakable foundations. But, even when James VI set forth from Edinburgh on his journey south to enjoy his great inheritance, an intelligent observer might have detected grounds for doubt of the monarchy's stability. The Tudor system of rule was likened by an ambassador from Venice at the Court of Queen Mary Tudor to that of the "Grand Turk" with his bureaucratic council; and there was more to justify the comparison in the closing years of the century than in its central decades. Elizabeth's political creed, even more avowedly than that of her father, brother and sister, was the creed of despotism ; and she held it with increasing strength as time went forward. In 1591, when she issued letters-patent which set at defiance the ordinary law of the land regulating the recovery of past debts, she wrote of "our prerogative royal which we will not have argued nor brought in question." The country was frankly governed by her unfettered will. Her councillors, by whose advice and labour she profited, lived in dread of her, and only retained her favour by a sickening tone of flattery and obsequiousness. She acknowledged no power of restraint in Parliament. On rare occasions she summoned her people's representatives together, not, as she told them, " to make new laws, or lose good hours in idle speeches," but to supply her treasury when threat of foreign invasion required that it should be exceptionally full. Her appeal to Parliament was a concession rendered out of the abundance of "her mercy and grace." By prescriptive right she controlled revenues that sufficed for all the ordinary expenses of government, while additional expenditure could be met with comparative ease by forced or voluntary loans. In the result the people groaned under a taxation which was rendered the heavier by a steady rise in prices and a fall in wages. Justice, meanwhile, was administered with an almost oriental laxity. The Queen was unsparing in her exercise of an arbitrary power of arrest, which constantly involved persons obnoxious to her in restraint, without any pretence of legal warrant. Finally, gross corruption flourished at Court and in the government offices; and, if this sin could not be laid immediately at the Queen's door, her own tendency to avarice caused her to view indulgently her servants' venality.
But, although, Elizabeth's rule was infected by nearly all the vices of absolutism, it had a saving grace. Her ruthless methods worked much oppression and injustice, but her aim was noble. She regarded her " princely authority " as an instrument given her by God wherewith to maintain her kingdom in honour and prosperity. She intuitively recognised that her ascendancy rested on her people's confidence in her ability to exert her vast power for their good. She made no concealment of this conviction. She never wearied of proclaiming her anxiety to secure her people's happiness and her consequent title to her people's affections. "Far above all earthly treasure," she said repeatedly, "I esteem my people's love." The speech sank deep into her people's heart, and enlivened their spirit, so that the heavy yoke of her government sat lightly on their necks. It was the potency of her complex personality that alone made possible a sovereignty like hers over a people alive with intellectual and physical energy. The paradoxical union in her of the extremes of masculine strength and feminine weakness fascinated a liberty-loving nation, and evoked an eager acquiescence in the bondage of an unlimited monarchy. But with her death the spell broke. Despotism, deprived of the halo of her genius, was seen in its native ugliness. Her successor's graceless attempts at autocracy awoke in the country a sense of loathing for irresponsible sovereignty, and, within half a century of Elizabeth's death, despotism, such as she had practised, was itself dead in England.