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Elizabeth page 3

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Under Elizabeth, the Roman Catholics could not worship according to their rites, except with the deepest secresy, and were continually exposed to the vigilance of spies. In 1561 Sir Edward Waldegrave and his lady were imprisoned in the Tower for having a domestic chaplain and attending mass in their own house. This was only one case amongst great numbers, and the consequence was, that numbers of Roman Catholics went abroad, for the quiet enjoyment of their religion. Cecil, Walsingham, Bacon, and others of the queen's ministers, had, in fact, to keep the Protestants in check, who demanded more severe treatment of their enemies. The injunctions of Edward VI., which were re-issued, were much modified, and opprobrious phrases, such as "kissing and licking images," were softened down, the licking being omitted. The injunctions of Elizabeth, contrary to those of Edward, forbade the destruction of paintings and painted windows in churches. On the other hand, the remaining monastic institutions were broken up, and the monks and nuns were turned adrift. Three convents were removed to the Continent, and many of the ejected clergy followed Feria, the Spanish ambassador, to Spain.

Five of the deprived bishops - Heath, Bonner, Bourn, Turberville, and Poole - presented a petition to the queen, praying her, without loss of time, to return to the pious path of her late sister, to restore the ancient faith, and put down the prevailing heresies, before the wrath of God fell on the nation. Elizabeth, in great indignation, reminded them that they were, in her father's time, amongst the most obsequious flatterers and followers of his innovations, committed them all to prison, excommunicated them, and retained Bonner in the Marshalsea for the remaining nine years of his life. The rest, after imprisonment for terms more or less long, were then put under the care of different bishops and deans.

To replace the expelled bishops was no very easy matter, not from the paucity of candidates, but from the revolutions which had taken place in the ordinal of the Church. Dr. Matthew Parker, who had been the chaplain of Anne Boleyn, and who had stood so faithfully by her, was appointed by Elizabeth Archbishop of Canterbury - but how was he to be consecrated? His election was to be confirmed by four bishops, and his consecration to be performed by them. Where were they to be found? There was not a bishop left, except Landaff. Still more, Mary had abolished the ordinal of Edward VI., and Elizabeth had abolished that of Mary. The difficulty was, at first sight, insurmountable, and no way out of it presented itself for four months. It was then recollected that Barlowe, Hodgkins, Scorey, and Coyer-dale, the deprived Bishops of Bath, Bedford, Chichester, and Exeter, had been consecrated by the reformed ordinal, and that restoration which had been denied them at the petition of their friends, because they were married men, was now accorded as an escape from this dilemma. They were reinstated, and confirmed the election of Parker, consecrated him. according to the form of Edward VI., and helped to confirm and consecrate all the newly elected prelates. Elizabeth, however, procured the passing of two acts, by which she stripped the new bishops of a large amount of the property of their sees. She restored to the Crown the property which Mary had returned to the Church, and she empowered herself to seize on what episcopal lands she chose when the sees were vacant, on condition of giving tithes and parsonages instead, which, however, seldom approached to the same value.

Whilst Elizabeth and her ministers had been thus engaged in settling the constitution of the Church, they had also been occupied with effecting a continental peace. Philip had refused to conclude a treaty with France previous to the death of Mary, without including in it the restoration of Calais to England, and to Philibert, the Duke of Savoy, his hereditary estates. The death of Mary at once cut the actual connection of Philip with England, but he remained firm in his demand, for he had formed the design of obtaining the hand of Elizabeth. He lost no time in making the offer, observing that though they were within the prescribed degrees of affinity the Pope would readily grant a dispensation, and the union of England and Spain would give them the command of Europe. But, independent of the partnership in power which this marriage would create, Elizabeth entertained schemes of Church arrangement very different to any which would accord with Philip's ideas. She therefore, courteously, excused herself on the plea of scruples of conscience, and this refusal was followed by the non-appearance of Feria, Philip's ambassador, at her coronation. Philip, however, did not give up the suit without employing all the eloquence and the arguments that he could muster; he kept up a brisk correspondence for some time with the new queen, and even when the attempt appeared hopeless, he still offered to assist her in the treaty with France. He settled his own disputes with France by marrying the daughter of the King of France, as soon as he saw the hand of Elizabeth unattainable, and procured the sister of Henry II. for his friend Philibert.

The great demand of Elizabeth was the restoration of Calais, and at Cateau Cambresis a treaty was concluded on the 2nd of April, 1559, by which the King of France actually engaged to surrender that town to England at the end of eight years, or pay to Elizabeth 500,000 crowns; and that he should deliver, or guarantee for this sum, four French noblemen and the bonds of eight foreign merchants. But to this article was appended another, which, to any one in the least familiar with diplomacy, betrayed the fact that the whole was illusory, and that there would be no difficulty, at the end of the prescribed term, on the part of the French, in showing that England had in some way broken the contract. The article was this: that if, within that period, Henry of France, or Mary of Scotland, should make any attempt against the realm or subjects of Elizabeth, they should forfeit all claim to the retention of that town; and if Elizabeth should infringe the peace with either of those monarchs, she should forfeit all claim to its surrender or to the penalty of 500,000 crowns. The public at once saw that the French would never relinquish their hold on Calais from the force of any such condition, and the indignation was proportionate. The Government, to divert the attention of the people from this flimsy pretence of eventual restoration, ordered the impeachment of Lord Wentworth, the late governor of the castle, and of Chamberlain and Hurlestone, the captains of the castle and of the Risbank, on a charge of cowardice and treason. Wentworth, as he deserved, was acquitted by the jury; the captains were condemned, but the object of the trial being attained, their sentence was never carried into effect.

We have stated that Elizabeth, at her accession, had assumed the title of the Queen of France. Henry II< immediately, by way of retaliation, caused his daughter-in-law to be styled Queen of Scotland and England, and had the arms of England quartered with those of Scotland. Elizabeth, with her extreme sensitiveness to any claims upon her crown, and regarding this act as a declaration of her own illegitimacy and of Henry's assertion of Mary's superior right to the English throne, resented the proceeding deeply, and from that moment never ceased to plot against the peace and power of Mary till she drove her from her throne, made her captive, and finally deprived her of her life.

We have already shown that Henry VII. commenced, and Henry VIII. and Edward VI. continued, the system of bribing the Scottish nobility against their sovereign. Elizabeth, in pursuance of her plans against the Queen of Scots, now adopted the same practice, and kept in pay both the nobles and the Protestant leaders of Scotland. To understand fully her proceedings, we must, however, first take a hasty glance at the progress of the Reformation in Scotland. That kingdom received the Reformation in its simplest, most rigid, and severe form. The doctrines which had sprung up in republican Switzerland, under Calvin and Zwinglius, were imbibed there by Knox and others in their most unbending hardness. There was little of the gentle and the pliant in their tenets, but a stern asceticism, which suited well with the grave and earnest character of the Scotch. Foremost in the movement had stood the resolute John Knox, from the moment that he returned from his Algerine captivity, in 1580. During the reign of Edward VI. he was well received in England, and lent his aid in promoting those ecclesiastical changes which took place under that monarch. On the accession of Mary, he fled again to the Continent, and became minister of the English refugees at Frankfort. But there the Presbyterian system, which he pressed upon his congregation, was too unpalatable for them, and he was expelled from his pulpit, charged with treason against the Emperor, and fled to Geneva. Confirmed in the puritanism of his master, Calvin, he returned to Scotland in 1558. He found the Reformers there disposed to take a more moderate course than that which he had learned, at Geneva, to regard as the only righteous one. They were in the habit of attending mass; and as the queen-regent had, for her own purposes, shown some favour to the Reformers, they were anxious to go as far with her in conformity to the national Church as they could. Knox boldly opposed this spirit of compromise, and brought over Maitland of Lethington to his views. A more open and formal separation from the Romish Church was determined upon. He now numbered amongst his adherents men destined to figure in the religious history of their time: Erskine of Dun, a man of baronial rank and ancient family; Sir James Sandi-lands, commonly styled Lord St. John; Archibald, Lord Lorn, afterwards Earl of Argyll; the Master of Mar; James Stuart, prior of St. Andrews, a natural brother of Mary Queen of Scots, now called the Lord James; the Earl Glencairn; and the Earl-Marshal.

The opposing clergy, roused by the recommendations of Knox for separation, summoned him to appear before an ecclesiastical convention in Edinburgh. Thither he repaired, and, to his agreeable surprise, found the Reformers collected in such numbers as to overawe his enemies. He addressed a letter to the queen-regent, calling upon her to protect the reformed preachers, and even to attend their sermons. This was a stretch of assurance which Mary of Guise treated with ridicule; and the opposite party, emboldened by her secret countenance, began to plot against his safety. A period of danger seemed approaching, and Knox, to the astonishment of his friends, at this moment accepted an invitation to become pastor of the reformed congregation at Geneva, where all was prosperous and secure.

The Roman Catholic leaders exulted in the flight of Knox; they summoned him to stand his trial, and as he, of course, could not appear, condemned him, and burnt him in effigy at the High Cross in Edinburgh. The conduct of the Reformers whom he left behind him was far bolder than his own. When summoned by Mary of Guise to appear in Edinburgh and answer for their conduct, the preachers, attended by thronging thousands of the respective congregations, presented themselves in such a formidable shape, that the regent declared that she meant no injury to them; and a period of such tranquillity succeeded, that the leaders of the Reform party - the Earl of Glencairn, Lord Lorn, son of the Earl of Argyll, Erskine of Dun, Stuart, afterwards the Regent Murray - entreated Knox to return to his country, which they assured him he might do in safety. Knox resigned his charge, and had reached Dieppe in order to take ship for Scotland, when he received the intelligence that the zeal of the Reformers had cooled, that the scheme which occasioned them to write to him had been abandoned, and that the Protestants preferred worshipping God in private to daring the perils of a public contest. Knox wrote a most indignant answer, telling the nobles that if they thought they should escape tyranny and oppression by shunning danger, they grievously deceived themselves; that they would only encourage the enemy to greater insolence, and that the work of reformation was especially of the nobles. This address, accompanied by stinging private letters to Erskine of Dun and Wishart of Pitarrow, produced the intended effect. A new impulse was given to the cause of reform; the leaders of the cause came together, their zeal acquired every day more fervency, and on the 3rd of December, 1557, they drew up that League and Covenant which was destined to work such wonders in Scotland, to rouse the suffering Reformers into an actual church militant; to put arms into the hands of the excited peasants, brace the sword to the side of the preacher, and, through civil war and scenes of strange suffering, bloodshed, and resistance on moor and mountain, to work out the freedom of the faith for ever in Scotland. The Covenant engaged all who subscribed it, in a solemn vow, "in the presence of the Majesty of God and his congregation," to spread the Word by every means in their power, to maintain the Gospel and defend its ministers against all tyranny; and it pronounced the most bitter anathemas against the superstition, the idolatry, and the abominations of Rome.

This bond received the signatures of the Earls of Glencairn, Argyll, and Morton, Lord Lorn, Erskine of Dun, and many other nobles and gentlemen, who assumed the name of the Lords of the Congregation: and from this hour it became a scandalous apostacy for any one to flinch or fall away from this "solemn League and Covenant." War to the death was thus proclaimed against the established religion, and the Congregation, as the Reformers now styled themselves, passed a resolution, that in all the parishes of the realm the Common Prayer Book - that is, the book of Edward VI. - should be regularly used, with corresponding lessons from the Old and New Testament, and that the curates should read the same; but, if they were not qualified, or refused, then the next qualified person should do it for them. Preaching, or interpretation of the Scriptures, was recommended to be used also in private houses, but not in such numbers as to draw the attention of the Government till such time as God should move the prince to grant public preaching by true and faithful ministers.

The Lords of the Congregation proceeded forthwith to put these resolutions in force in all their own districts. The Earl of Argyll ordered Douglas, his chaplain, to preach openly in his own house, and a second letter was written to hasten the arrival of Knox. The Papal clergy were greatly excited, and called on the queen-regent to interpose her authority; but Mary of Guise had a difficult part to play. The marriage of her daughter with the dauphin was about to take place, but as yet the Scottish Parliament had not given its final consent. She therefore had to avoid incensing the nobles of either persuasion, and whilst she supported the views of the establishment, she was obliged to protest against proceeding to extremities with the Reformers. The Archbishop of St. Andrews was averse to persecution also; but the clergy would not let him rest, and Walter Miln, the parish priest of Lunan, in Angus, who had been condemned as a heretic in the time of Cardinal Beaton, but had escaped from prison, was now seized, and brought to the stake. He was a venerable man of upwards of eighty, and his death excited such a horror and indignation, that he was the last victim in Scotland by fire.

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