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The Reign of Queen Mary page 2

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On the following morning, whilst Lady Jane's party were feeling the chill of this inauspicious beginning, the messenger of Mary arrived, commanding the Council to see that she was duly proclaimed, and warning them to desist from their treasonable purposes. Scarcely had they returned their uncourteous refusal, when news came pouring in that Mary had taken possession of the castle of Framlingham, and that the nobility, gentry, and people of Suffolk were flocking to her standard.

Northumberland saw that no time was to be lost. It was necessary that forces should be instantly dispatched to check the growth of Mary's army, and to disperse it altogether. But who should command it? There was no one so proper as himself; but he suspected the fidelity of the Council, and was unwilling to remove himself to a distance from them; he therefore recommended the Duke of Suffolk, the father of Lady Jane, to the command of the expedition. The Council, who were anxious to get rid of Northumberland in order that they might themselves escape to Mary's camp, represented privately that Suffolk was a general of no reputation, that everything depended on decisive proceedings in the outset, and that he alone was the man for the purpose. They moreover so excited the fears of Lady Jane that she entreated in tears that her father might remain with her. "Whereupon," says Stow, "the Council persuaded the Duke of Northumberland to; take that voyage upon himself, saying that no man was so fit therefor, because he had achieved the victory in Norfolk once already, and was so feared there that none durst lift up their weapons against him; besides, that he was the best man of war in the realm, as well for the ordering of his camp and soldiers, both in battle and in their tents, as also by experience, knowledge, and wisdom, he could animate his army with witty persuasions, and also pacify and allay his enemies pride with his stout courage, or else dissuade them, if need were, from their enterprise. Finally, they said, this is the short and long, the queen will in no wise grant that her father should take it upon him."

Northumberland consented, though with many misgivings. He equally distrusted the Council and the citizens. On the 13th of July he set out, urging on the Council at his departure fidelity to the trust reposed in them, and received from them the most earnest protestations of zeal and attachment. If these assurances did not inspire him with confidence, far less did the aspect of the people as he marched out of the city with his little army, so that he could not help remarking to Sir John Gates, " The people come to look at us, but not one exclaims, 'God speed you!'" The people, in fact, now regarded him as a desperate adventurer. They said, they now saw through him and all his actions; that he had incited Somerset to put to death his own brother, and then he had got Somerset executed, so that the young king might be stripped of his nearest relatives, his natural j protectors, and left in his own hands; and that now he had poisoned him to make way for his daughter-in-law, Lady Jane, and thus too for his son.

To remove these impressions as much as possible, he now sent for the most eminent preachers, and especially Ridley, and exhorted them to disabuse the people in their sermons whilst he was away. Accordingly, Ridley preached on the following Sunday at St. Paul's Cross, before the lord mayor, aldermen, and a great concourse of the people. In his sermon he drew a striking contrast betwixt the daughters of Henry VIII., and especially Mary, and the Lady Jane. He represented that not only the illegitimacy of the two princesses had induced their brother Edward to omit them from the succession, but the certain prospect of destruction to the reformed religion if Mary succeeded, and the equally certain prospect of its maintenance if the amiable, able, and pious Lady Jane was queen. On the one hand, there were the bigoted Spanish connections of Mary, the supporters of the Inquisition, and most probably a prince of that despotic house as her husband; on the other hand, there would be a noble Protestant queen surrounded by the prelates and councillors who had so stoutly combated for the pure faith. To satisfy them of the determined Popery of Mary, he related a personal interview which he had with her before the late king's death. He had ridden over in September from his house at Hadlam to her residence at Hunsdon, to pay his respects to her. She had invited him to stay and dine, and after dinner he informed her that he intended on Sunday to come as her diocesan and preach before her. Mary replied that certainly the parish church would' be open to him, but that he must not calculate on seeing her or her household there. He had answered that he hoped she would not refuse God's word. She answered that she did not know what they called God's word now, but certainly it was not the same as in her father's time. "God's word," rejoined Ridley, "was the same at all times, but had been better understood and practised in some ages than others." She replied, that he durst not have avowed his present faith in her father's lifetime, and asked if he were of the Council. He said he was not; and on his retiring, she thanked him for coming to see her, but not at all for his proposal to preach before her.

But not all the eloquence of Ridley, nor the terrors of Mary's bigotry, could move the people, who had a simple, strong conviction that a deed of flagrant wrong was attempted. Northumberland meantime was pursuing his melancholy march towards Framlingham. He was accompanied by his son, - the Earl of Warwick, the Marquis of Northampton, the Earl of Huntingdon, and Lord Grey. His army amounted only to 8,000 infantry and 2,000 cavalry, but it was so superior in discipline and military supplies, that under ordinary circumstances, with the same vigour and address which he had formerly shown in Scotland and in Norfolk, the superior number of the enemy would have availed nothing against him. Here the circumstances were significantly different. He was no longer battling against a national foe, with a bold heart, and the hope of glory and advancement; he was fighting against his true sovereign, and everything around him or which reached his ears made him feel, moreover, that he was fighting against the convictions of the nation. Instead of the animation of the conqueror, the terrors of the traitor fell over him. At every step some expectation was falsified, or some disastrous news met him. The promised reinforcements did not arrive, but he heard of them taking the way to the camp of Mary instead of his own. He heard of the defection of the fleet; and lastly, a prostrating blow, of the Council having gone over to Queen Mary. Struck with dismay at this accumulation of evil tidings, he retreated from Bury St. Edmunds, which he had reached, to Cambridge, and there betrayed the most pitiable indecision.

Scarcely had he left London before the Council, whilst outwardly professing much activity for the interests of Queen Jane, was really at work to terminate as soon as possible the perilous farce of her Royalty. On the very evening of Sunday the 16th, on which Ridley had preached to the people, the Lord Treasurer left the Tower and made a visit to his own house, contrary to the positive order of Northumberland, who had strictly enjoined Suffolk to keep the whole Council within its walls. On the 19th the Lord Treasurer and Lord Privy Seal, the Earls of Arundel, Shrewsbury, and Pembroke, Sir Thomas Cheney, and Sir John Mason, left the Tower on the plea that it was necessary to levy forces, and to receive the French ambassador, and that Baynard's Castle, the residence of the Earl of Pembroke, was a much more convenient place for these purposes. As they professed to be actuated by zeal for the cause of his daughter, Suffolk, a very weak person, was easily duped. No sooner had they reached Baynard's Castle, than they unanimously declared for Queen Mary. They sent for the lord mayor and the aldermen, and the Earl of Arundel announced to them that the Council had resolved to proclaim Queen Mary, denouncing the opposition in no measured terms. The Earl of Pembroke starting up as he finished, and drawing his sword, exclaimed, "If the arguments of my Lord Arundel do not persuade you, this sword shall make Mary queen, or I will die in her quarrel." Shouts of applause echoed his declaration, and they all forthwith rode to St. Paul's Cross, where the garter king-at-arms, arrayed in his heraldic coat, blew his trumpet and proclaimed Mary Queen of England, France, and Ireland. This time there was no gloomy silence, but triumphant acclamations; and the whole body of nobles and civic gentlemen went in procession to St. Paul's, and together sung "Te Deum." Beer, wine, and money were distributed amongst the people, and the day was finished amid the blaze of bonfires, illuminations, and loud rejoicings.

Immediately after proclaiming the new queen, the Council sent to summon the Duke of Suffolk to surrender the Tower, which he did with all alacrity, and, proceeding to Baynard's Castle, signed the proclamations which the Council were issuing. Poor Lady Jane resigned her uneasy and unblessed crown of nine days with unfeigned joy, and the next morning returned to Sion House. This brief period of queenship, which had been thrust upon her against her own wishes and better judgment, had been embittered not only by her own sense of injustice towards her kinswoman, the Princess Mary, and by apprehension of the consequences to herself and all her friends, but still more by the harshness and insatiate ambition of her husband and his mother. In Lady Jane's own letter to Mary from the Tower, we find that whilst in that Royal fortress, her husband, Lord Guildford, insisted on being crowned with her, which she did not think it advisable at once to accede to. A very warm altercation ensued, and she then thought she could give him the crown by Act of Parliament. On reflection, however, she felt it best to waive this question, which so much incensed her husband that he refused to go near her. His mother then upbraided her so severely that she became very ill, and imagined from her sensations that they had given her poison. In the Italian version of her own account, as preserved by Pollini and Rosso, she says that the duchess treated her very ill, "molto malamente," and with the most angry disdain. It was clearly to her a deep and bitter baptism of misery.

The Council dispatched a letter to Northumberland by Eichard Rose, the herald, commanding him to disband his army and return to his allegiance to Queen Mary, under penalty of being declared a traitor. But before this reached him he had submitted himself, and in a manner the least heroic and dignified possible. On the Sunday he had induced Dr. Sandys, the vice-chancellor of the university, to preach a sermon against the title and religion of Mary. The very next day the news of the revolution at London arrived, and Northumberland proceeding to the market-place proclaimed the woman he had thus denounced, and flung up>his cap as if in joy at the event, whilst the tears of grief and chagrin streamed down his face. Turning to Dr. Sandys, who was again with him, he said, "Queen Mary was a merciful woman, and that, doubtless, all would receive the benefit of her general pardon." But Sandys, who could not help despising him, bade him "not flatter himself with that; for if the queen were ever so inclined to pardon, those who ruled her would destroy him, whoever else were spared."

Immediately after, Sir John Gates, one of his oldest and most obsequious instruments, arrested him when he had his boots half-drawn on, so that he could not help himself; and, on the following morning, the Earl of Arundel arriving with a body of troops, took possession of Northumberland, his captor, Gates, and Dr. Sandys, and sent them off to the Tower. The conduct of the duke on his arrest by Arundel was equally destitute of greatness as his proclamation of the queen; he fell on his knees before the earl, who had a great hatred of him, and abjectly begged for life. The arrest of Northumberland was the signal for the leaders of his party to hasten to the queen at Framlingham, and to endeavour to make their peace. Amongst these were the Marquis of Northampton, Lord Robert Dudley, and Bishop Ridley. They were all sent to the Tower; Ridley's great crime being the vehement sermon preached at St. Paul's Cross against the queen at the instance of Northumberland.

The camp at Framlingham broke up on the last day of July, and Mary set forward towards the metropolis, at every step receiving the homage of her now eagerly-flocking subjects. Amongst the very first to hasten to her presence was Cecil, who presented himself at Ipswich, her first resting-place. He made the most plausible excuse for his conduct in assisting to plant a rival on her throne, protesting all the time his heart was not in it; it was all necessity. The account we have of his conduct is one drawn up under his own eye, and found in the State Paper Office by Mr. Tytler, stamping him as a most consummate hypocrite. At the queen's second halting-place, Ingatestone, the seat of Sir William. Petre, the Council who had been the supporters of Queen Jane were presented, and kissed her hand; Cecil was again the first to pay this homage, and endeavour by every display of assumed devotion to win her favour. But though he added to his political pliancy a most sedulous devotion to Popery, as suddenly assumed, Mary was never imposed upon by him, and steadily excluded him from the sweets of office. At Wanstead Mary was met by her sister Elizabeth, attended by a company of 1,000 horse, by knights, ladies, gentlemen, and their retainers. Elizabeth had taken no active part in the late transactions. She professed to be suffering indisposition, and so remained quiescent. If she showed no ardent sympathy as a sister, she had boldly stated to the emissaries of Northumberland, when they came to offer her ample lands and pensions, on condition that she resigned her right to the succession, that they must agree with Mary first, for during her lifetime she had no right to resign. Now, on hearing of the approach of her sister, she rode forth with this gallant company to meet her, and, on the 3rd of August, they proceeded together to London. The Venetian ambassador, who was present, describes these remarkable sisters thus: "The queen," he says, "was of small stature, slender and delicate in person, totally unlike both her father and mother. She had very lively, piercing eyes, which inspired not reverence only, but fear. Her face was well-formed, and when young she must have been good-looking. Her voice was thick and loud like a man's, and when she spoke she was heard a good way off. She was then about forty years of age; was dressed in violet velvet, and rode a small white, ambling nag, with housings fringed with gold. Elizabeth was about half her age, still in the bloom of youth, with a countenance more pleasing than handsome; a tall and portly figure, large blue eyes, and hands the elegant symmetry of which she was proud to display."

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