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Reign of Queen Elizabeth. (Continued) page 2

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This sect of severe religionists Elizabeth had done all in her power to force upon Scotland; but she was by no means desirous of having them herself in England. As Knox in Scotland, so the leaders of the Puritans in England, who had been driven out during the persecutions in Mary's reign, had many of them visited Geneva, and imbibed the hard and persecuting spirit of Calvin. Though they were ready to fight for their own liberties, they were not a whit more inclined to allow any religious freedom to others. Whether in the Commonwealth of England, when in power, or in the new regions of America, we shall find them displaying, with all their virtues, this intolerant spirit. Elizabeth and the Puritans were wide as the poles asunder in their ideas of a reformed religion, though they were of precisely the same spirit in maintaining those ideas. They were determined as much as possible to have their own way. The Puritans were for the utmost simplicity in the externals of religion. They thought the Reformation had stopped half way. They would have no images, no crucifix. The ring in marriage, the observance of times and seasons, of festivals, chanting of psalms, church music, and robes and surplices for the clergy, they declared were the masks and livery of the beast.

On the other hand, Elizabeth had never gone far out of the regions of Popery. Like her father, she rather resisted the Papal power than the Papal spirit. Her cardinal religious tenet was that Elizabeth must do as she pleased in ecclesiastical as in temporal matters. She had always kept the great silver crucifix in her chapel, though she had in 1559 issued an order for the removal of all crucifixes from everybody else's churches and chapels. She kept candles burning before her crucifix to the end of her life, and was fond of all sorts of gorgeous robes and ceremonies - so that no one would readily perceive the difference betwixt her Protestantism and Popery, except that she had not absolutely the celebration of mass. In her hatred of the marriage of the clergy she was a thorough Papist, and never would repeal the statute of her sister Mary for the maintenance of clerical celibacy.

Though the clergy submitted to be brow-beaten and insulted concerning their marriages, their wives regarded as mere concubines, and their children actually bastardised, the Puritans showed no such moderation. They spoke out with their usual boldness, and denounced the celibacy of the clergy as a rag of the woman of Babylon. An ill feeling grew quickly betwixt Elizabeth and them: each of them were intolerant, but Elizabeth had the power, and exercised it, with the certain result on such a people of provoking a daring and ud sparing retaliation. They attacked with right good will her favourite doctrine of the royal supremacy, declared that the Church was in its nature independent of the State, and that the simple Presbyterian form of Church government was the true one, and not the episcopal, with its proud bishops and dignitaries, in all their semi-Popish gear. Thomas Cartwright, the Lady Margaret professor of divinity at Cambridge, preached vehemently against the anti-Christian institution of bishops, whom he characterised as merely the tools of the State, and against all the Papistical rites and ceremonies of the Church as maintained by Elizabeth. And, in these crusades against the Anglican Church, undaunted reformers found much secret support from the ministers of Elizabeth themselves, at the very time they seemed to be conforming most obediently to her model. Bacon, Walsingham, Sadler, Knollys, the Earls of Bedford, Warwick, and Huntingdon, were all forerunners, in secret, of the Puritans. Leicester especially patronised and made use of them. He was particularly fond of Cartwright, who shouted from his pulpit, in the loudest tones, that "princes ought to submit their sceptres, to throw down their crowns, before the Church; yea, as the prophet speaketh, to lick the dust of the feet of the Church." These ministers found it very convenient, when they could not themselves persuade the queen to moderation, to rouse the Puritans, who made a popular commotion, and rendered it necessary to draw in. Leicester had no more efficient means of thwarting any scheme of foreign marriage for the queen than by rousing the Dissenters against such Popish schemes.

The House of Commons was almost wholly leavened with the Puritans, and this Session they brought in no less than seven bills to carry forward their ideas of the thorough reformation of the Church. These projected reforms were so many attacks on the favourite rites, tenets, and ecclesiastical pomps of Elizabeth, and she was thrown into a passion of amazement by their audacity. William Strickland, an old sea-captain, was the introducer of these bills. Though they were strongly supported by the House, Elizabeth, in her rage, sent a message commanding Strickland to cease to meddle with matters which concerned her prerogative as supreme head of the Church; but Strickland replied, "The salvation of their souls was concerned, to which all the kingdoms of the earth were nothing in comparison." Enraged at this bold conduct, the queen sent for Strickland to appear before her in Council, and ordered him to appear no more in the House of Commons. But the House was of another temper to that which it had shown in her father's time. It called Strickland to its bar, and demanded what was the reason that he absented himself from his duties. Strickland stated the cause, nothing loth; and the House then declared that its privileges had been invaded in his person; that such proceedings could not be submitted to without a betrayal of its trust to the people; that the queen could neither make nor break the laws; and that the House, which had the authority to determine the right to the crown itself, was certainly competent to treat of all matters concerning the Church, its discipline, and ceremonies.

The Speaker, after a consultation with some of the ministers, proposed to suspend the debate; but the next morning Strickland appeared in his place, and was greeted by the acclamations of the House. Elizabeth took the hint, and suffered the matter to pass; but she did not forget it. On dismissing Parliament at the end of the Session, she ordered the Lord Keeper Bacon to inform the members that their conduct had been strange, undutiful, and unbecoming; that as they had forgotten themselves, they should be otherwise remembered; and that the queen's highness did utterly disallow and condemn their folly in meddling with things not appertaining to them, nor within the capacity of their understandings.

But the example of independence had been shown, and it was not lost. This stern resistance to the will of the monarch in Parliament, in fact, constituted a new era. To the spirit of the Puritans we owe the establishment of the supremacy of Parliament, and its defence against the encroachments of the sovereign, however powerful; for the battle that commenced was continued with various but advancing success, till it terminated in the expulsion cf the Stuarts, and the passing of the Bill of Eights. Not the less, however, did Elizabeth rage against it; and if she found Parliament invulnerable, she attacked the liberties of the subject in detail, by her Court of High Commission - a mere variation of the High Court of Star Chamber. This court consisted of a number of commissioners, with Parker, the primate, at their head, who were empowered to inquire, on the oath of the person accused, and on the oaths of witnesses, into all heretical, erroneous, and dangerous opinions; into absence from the public worship and the frequenting of conventicles; Into the possession of seditious books, libels against the queen, her magistrates, and ministers; into adulteries, and all offences against decency and morals; and to punish the offender by spiritual censures, by fine, imprisonment, and deprivation. As there was no jury, it was clearly a breach of Magna Charta, and wholly unconstitutional, and was a species of inquisition liable to great abuses, and to become an instrument to the grossest injustice. Its powers were first turned against the Papists, but the sturdy character and acts of the Puritans very soon brought them under its notice, and they became ere long the great objects of its oppressive rigour. This rigour only tended to drive so high-spirited a class of subjects into open schism, and to the conventicles which sprang up fast and far. These Parker attacked with fury. At a meeting at Plumber's Hall more than a hundred persons were seized and brought into the High Commission Court, and of these twenty-four men and seven women, who refused to confess themselves guilty of any offence, were punished with twelve months' imprisonment. This course was now pursued towards the Dissenters everywhere. They were driven out of their meetings, and subjected to insult and imprisonment, some of them for life. Parker, with his bench of bishops and delegates, grew more and more ferocious. Ha declared that the Puritans were cowards, and that they would soon succumb to a strong hand; but, like many another persecutor, whilst he thought he was destroying, he was only disseminating the obnoxious principles; and the cowards, as he called them, in two more reigns, laid the monarch in his blood, and the throne in the dust. Had the primate been a man of any deep insight into human nature, the hardy answer of Mr. Wentworth, one of the most eloquent debaters of the House of Commons, would have caused him to reflect. He called him before him to interrogate him regarding certain omissions in the Thirty-nine Articles, which the Commons had taken upon themselves to make. "He asked me," said Wentworth, "why we did put out of the book the articles for the homilies, consecration of bishops, and such like. 'Surely, sir,' said I, 'because we were so occupied in other matters that we had no time to examine them how they agree with the word of God.' 'What!' said he 'surely you mistake the matter: you will refer yourselves wholly to us therein.' 'No, by the faith I bear to God,' said I, 'we will pass nothing before we understand what it is; for that were put to make you Popes. Make you Popes who list,' said I, 'for we will make you none.'"

In the January of 1571 the queen went in great state to dine with Sir Thomas Gresham in the City, who had invited her to open the new Exchange which he had built at his own expense on Cornhill. After the ceremony, she dined with the great merchant at his house in Bishopsgate Street, where she was accompanied by La Mothe Fenelon, the French ambassador. After dinner she indulged herself in her favourite topic in private - that of marrying - though she hated nothing more than to have this subject broached to her in public by her Parliament. "Among other things," Fenelon says, "she told me that she was determined to marry, not from any wish of her own, but for the satisfaction of her subjects, and also to put an end, by the authority of a husband or by the birth of offspring, if it pleased God to give them to her, to the enterprises which she felt would be perpetually made against her person and realm if she became so old a woman that there was no longer any pretence for taking a husband, or hope that she might have children. She added that, 'in truth, she greatly feared not being loved by him whom she might espouse, which would be a greater misfortune than the first, for it would be worse to her than death, and she could not bear to reflect on such a possibility.'"

The ambassador, of course, flattered, and recommended, to her one of the French princes - the Duke of Anjou. Elizabeth was fain to listen to this proposal, because she thought that so long as she could amuse the French Court with the project, she should be safe from any movement on its part for the Queen of Scots. Yet this could only be temporary, for assuredly Elizabeth never seriously contemplated marrying; but a flirtation, either public or private, was to her always an irresistible fascination. Besides Leicester, she had now another favourite, Christopher Hatton, who, having casually appeared at the palace amongst the gentlemen of the Inns of Court at a masque, so charmed the queen by his fine form and fine dancing, that she at once placed him on her band of pensioners, the tallest and handsomest men in England. Soon after she dined with Sir Thomas Gresham she made Cecil Lord of Burleigh; his uncle, Lord William Howard, lord privy seal; the Earl of Sussex chamberlain - that office being vacated by Lord William Sir Thomas Smith, principal secretary of state; and Hatton, who was a lawyer, captain of the guard: rising, however, in Elizabeth's regard, she afterwards made him vice-chamber lain, and finally lord chancellor. Gray, the poet, has humorously alluded to the fortunes of Lord Chancellor Hatton, and their cause, in his "Long Story:" -

"Full oft within the spacious walls,
"When he had fifty winters o'er him,
My grave lord-keeper led the brawls,
And seals and maces danced before him.
"His bushy beard and shoe-strings green,
His high-crowned hat and satin doublet,
Moved the stout heart of England's queen,
Though Pope and Spaniard could not trouble it."

So rapid and extravagant grew Elizabeth's passion for the handsome and capering Hatton, that Leicester could not avoid attempting to ridicule his rival by offering to introduce to her a dancing-master who excelled Hatton in all the dances which he so much charmed her in. But his project was not lucky. Elizabeth, after hearing him, exclaimed, "Pish! I will not see your man: it is his trade." She gave way to the most ridiculous fondness for her new favourite. They corresponded together in the most fond and foolish style, of which the shelves of the State Paper Office bear heaps of proof. Nothing could be too much or too good to bestow upon him. He fell in love with the house and gardens of the Bishop of Ely, on Holborn Hill, then open, and celebrated for its pleasantness and flowers, and Elizabeth called on the bishop to give them up. He was not at all inclined to do so, on which the love-sick queen wrote to him in a style rather different to that in which she addressed Hatton: -

Proud prelate, - You know what you were before I made you what you now are. If you do not immediately comply with my request, I will unfrock you, by God! elizabeth.

The bishop lost no time in resigning his pleasant palace and gardens, with the gatehouse of his palace, on Holborn Hill - and several acres of land are since called Hatton Garden - only reserving a right of way through the gatehouse, of walking in the garden, and of gathering annually twenty bushels of roses.

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