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Reign of Queen Elizabeth. (Continued) page 8

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But though the influence of Leicester was for a time weakened, Simier found that he made little progress. The public were averse to the match, and it was vehemently assailed from the pulpit. On the 16th of June, 1579, Simier, therefore, demanded a final answer; and Elizabeth, employing her old artifice, that she could not marry a man whom she had never seen, suddenly found herself taken at her word. The duke, in September, landed at Greenwich, without any previous notice, and in disguise. Notwithstanding the accounts of his ugliness, and the late ravages of the small-pox, Elizabeth was not only surprised but enchanted at his presence. He was young, lively, and showed the most devoted attention to her; and after a few days of ardent courtship he had made such an impression that he took his leave with the fullest hopes of success both as to his marriage and to his claims on the Netherlands.

On the 2nd of October, 1579, Elizabeth summoned a council, and submitted to them the question of her marriage. Such a proposition at one time would have thrown the Council and Parliament into ecstacies; but that time was long gone by. There were now no anxious and importunate prayers that she should make up her mind. The queen was nearly fifty, and there was no longer any hope of offspring. Men had pretty well settled in their own minds who would be the heir, and were in no hurry, even for the queen's life, to subject themselves to a foreign prince, and a Roman Catholic. The Council, therefore, deliberated for a week, and came to no conclusion; and Elizabeth, perceiving what was the prevailing opinion, became greatly chagrined, and shed many passionate tears. This has been considered a proof that Elizabeth was at last really in love, and vexed to see any coldness shown towards her chosen husband; but we attribute her tears to a very different cause. All her life she had been fond to distraction of flirtation with some fresh prince; but in every case, as at last in this, she dismissed her lover with some frivolous excuse. She was from her youth wedded to the love of undivided power - a love which could admit of no rival: but what mortified her now was to perceive that her councillors and subjects no longer deemed her marriage of any consequence. Their indifference implied that there was no chance of heirs from her, but that the law of succession had pointed out what she herself never would - the heir in another quarter. From that source, undoubtedly, flowed her tears.

Her ministers, to keep up some degree of appearance of interest in the affair, diligently prosecuted with Simier the particulars of the matrimonial contract.

Meantime the contest in the Netherlands went on. On March loth, 1580, Philip published a ban, offering 25,000 crowns for the head of the Prince of Orange; and Anjou, on the other hand, prosecuted his claim to the Netherlands. Elizabeth, who probably was now looking for a plausible excuse for dismissing Anjou, professed to doubt 'how far, if he succeeded in making himself master of those provinces, she could keep her engagement to marry him, as it would, probably, be dangerous to the trade and independence of England; and, moreover, if she did marry Anjou, would not such a marriage be as hateful to her subjects as that of Mary with Philip? Yet, immediately afterwards, she consented to his acceptance of the government of the Netherlands, and made him a present of 100,000 crowns, by means of which he put his army in motion. In April, 1581, in consequence of this return of regard for Anjou, a distinguished embassy was sent over from France, and was received by the nobles and the City authorities with great éclat. The ambassadors persuaded themselves that this time success would attend them; but they were greatly astonished to find that the queen had now discovered a new objection to the match: that it would involve her in a war with Philip, who had lately become additionally formidable by the acquisition of Portugal, and proposed to enter, instead of marriage} into a league, offensive and defensive, with France. By the perseverance of the ambassadors, however, these scruples were also overcome, and the marriage was definitively settled to take place in six weeks, provided that the league of perpetual amity were signed within that time. The six weeks expired, and Elizabeth still continuing undetermined, Anjou, who had crossed the frontier with 16,000 men, and expelled the Prince of Parma from the siege of Cambray, hastened over to settle his wavering mistress.

Elizabeth received him with every demonstration o! affection, and great rejoicings and discharge of fireworks testified that the public ceased to regard the match with aversion. Elizabeth exacted a written promise from the duke, and gave him a similar one in return, to look on each other's enemies as their own, to assist each other in all emergencies, and that neither of them should make a treaty with the King of Spain without the consent of the other. This being done, she took a ring from her finger, and placing it on that of Anjou, in the presence of the foreign ambassadors and of the English Court, she pledged herself by that ceremony to become his wife, and ordered Walsingham, Bedford, Leicester, Hatton, the Bishop of Lincoln, and the Earl of Sussex, to draw up a programme of the rites to be observed, and the contract to be signed on the occasion. Anybody would have deemed the matter settled at last; and so satisfied were the foreign ambassadors, that Castelnau posted a despatch to France, and St. Aldegonde to the Netherlands, that all was finally arranged; and at Brussels the marriage was celebrated as if already accomplished, by the discharge of artillery, by fireworks, and all the usual demonstrations of rejoicing.

Nothing, however, was farther from completion. The next day the duke received a message from the queen, requesting him to go to her, when he found her pale and drowned in tears. She declared that she had passed the night in the greatest anguish from the determined opposition of her ministers and the grief and alarm of her ladies; that she found the prejudices of her people against her marriage insuperable, and that, much as she loved him, she must give it up. Hatton, who was present - showing that this was not meant for a private interview - supported her view of the case with various arguments; and the duke, returning to his apartment in high dudgeon, flung the ring from him, and swore that the Englishwomen were as fickle and capricious as their climate.

This breach was still, however, kept private. Elizabeth, who probably really liked the duke, though she could not find in her heart to marry him, still entreated him to remain, as she might prevail over her difficulties, and effect the marriage. She displayed every sign of the warmest attachment in public and in private, and did everything possible to amuse him. Three months went over in this extraordinary manner, the public out of doors all the time deeming the matter a settled one, and venting its dislike in all manner of ways. The people asked how it was that the queen had so soon forgotten St. Bartholomew, and heaped all sorts of al use on both the devoted Anjou and the French nation at large; whilst in France the Catholics were equally violent at one of their princes marrying a heretic, and the grand supporter and promoter of heresy.

Elizabeth, roused to a pitch of terrible wrath by vile reports, which her enemies spread abroad concerning her and her favourite, let her vengeance fall on the author of a pamphlet called "The Gaping Gulf," showing the dangers of this marriage. The author was one John Stubbs, a student of Lincoln's Inn. Elizabeth laid hold on him, his printer and publisher, and had them condemned in the Court of Queen's Bench to have their right hands cut off. The printer was suffered to depart, but the sentence was executed on Stubbs and his publisher in the market-place of Westminster, by driving a cleaver through the wrist with a mallet. What would our authors and publishers say to such treatment now-a-days? The foolish Stubbs, the moment his hand was off, waving his cap with the left, cried – "Long live the queen!"

At the end of three months Anjou grew weary of this silly farce, and announced his determination to depart. Even, then Elizabeth would not permit him to go without exacting a promise that he would soon return. She stormed, she raved, she called the states of the Netherlands, which summoned him to his duties there, des coquins, and accompanied the duke to Canterbury, where she parted from him weeping like a girl.

Truly did the great Elizabeth present a very undignified figure before the nation at this moment. As Anjou pursued his journey thence to Sandwich, she sent after him constant messengers to inquire after his health and comfort; and scarcely had he got on board his ship when the Earl of Sussex appeared with a passionate request that he would return. On her journey home, Her Majesty carefully avoided the very sight of Whitehall, lest it should remind her of the happy hours she had spent there with the beloved Anjou.

On his arrival in the Netherlands, Anjou found plenty of employment in contending with the genius and the forces of the Prince of Parma. He found, also, that the real authority in the country was centred in the Prince of Orange, and resolving to make himself the actual master of it, he laid a plan of seizing all the chief towns in the states on the same day. He failed. The Dutch, resenting the attempt, attacked his troops on all sides, and soon compelled him to fly back to France, where he terminated his existence at Chateau Thierry, in June, 1584, not without suspicion of poison. So great was Elizabeth's fondness for this prince, whom she might have married, and would not, that even at this period no one dare for some time inform her of his death, which she appeared to bewail with all the symptoms of real and deep grief.

Within one month of the death of Anjou there fell a far more noble and important man. The Prince of Orange, the great champion and founder of the independence of Holland, perished by the hand of an assassin. The ban of Philip had not failed to operate, though at a distance of four years, Balthazar Gerard, impelled by fanaticism and the 25,000 crowns offered by Philip, shot him on the 10th of July, 1584.

It is now necessary to trace the course of events in Ireland and Scotland during the years we have just passed over. A great work had been going on in the former, the object of which was to reduce the turbulent native chiefs to obedience, and to establish English settlers in the lands of those who were driven out or exterminated.

The most distinguished of those chiefs was Shane O'Neil, the Earl of Tyrone. Henry VIII. had granted the succession to Matthew, an illegitimate son of the old earl's; but Shane, the eldest legitimate son, would not submit to this arrangement. He was supported in his claims by the people, and vindicated his rights. By the persuasion of the Earl of Sussex, at that time governor, he was induced to appear at the Court of Elizabeth in 1362. He laid his claims before her, and excited a great sensation by appearing in his native costume, attended by a guard armed with battle-axes and clad in saffron-coloured vests. Elizabeth did not grant all his requests, but expressed herself highly pleased with his presence, and made him great promises. But Shane was too sensitive and independent in his feelings and ideas to be a very orderly subject. Frequently he did essential service as the ally of the English Government, but more frequently was compelled to seek vengeance for injuries and encroachments. In 1565, in three years after his appearance at the English Court, he was driven into open rebellion; and after a severe struggle was compelled to seek refuge in the wilds of Ulster amongst the Scots. There, at the instigation of Piers, an English officer, he was assassinated, his estates confiscated, with those of all his followers, comprising one-half of Ulster, and the name and dignity of O'Neil abolished for ever.

That which was done in Ulster had to be done in every other province of Ireland. Whenever insurrection broke out and was suppressed, the lands were forfeited to the Crown. But so long as the Crown held nominally these lands, the natives continued to hold them really. To remedy this and to ensure a certain forfeiture to the rebels, and a reward to the English conquerors, Sir Thomas Smith proposed that these lands should be granted in various portions to English settlers, who, in prosecution of their own claims, would drive out the rebel natives and cultivate the country. It needs no reflection to perceive that this system must be fruitful beyond conception in crimes, murders, and miseries. Lands were granted to a bastard son of the projector's, and to numerous other adventurers. They drove out the Irish, and these came back in infuriated numbers, with fire and desolation. Under this frightful system the country soon became a desert. To put an end to these sanguinary scenes, Walter Devereux, Earl of Essex, represented that it needed only a sufficient force on the part of the English. He offered to bring under subjection, and to colonise, the district of Clanhuboy in Ulster. His proposals were that the queen and himself should furnish equal shares of the charge, and the colony being organised, should be divided equally between them. The courtiers who had envied him his favour with Elizabeth, pretended to promote his design till he had embarked all his fortune in it, when they threw all possible obstacles in his way. Through these hindrances, it was late in the summer of 1573 before he arrived in Ireland, and then only to find that the Lord-deputy Fitzwilliam questioned his powers; and on proceeding to the lands of Clanhuboy, Phelim O'Neil and his adherents contended with him for its possession fort by fort. He maintained his ground, however, through the winter, though grievously suffering from the bad quality of the provisions furnished by the queen's contractors, and from the ill-armed condition of his troops - for the evils which mowed down our army in the Crimea, were among the most ancient evils of the English Government. Essex is said to have invited Phelim O'Neil to a banquet.,, and there assassinated him and his attendants; but this did not mend his position. The Lords Dacre and Rich, and many gentlemen, abandoned the enterprise and returned home. Though deserted and unable to conquer his own allotted territory, he assisted the lord-deputy to suppress the rebels in other parts of the island. He returned to England in 1575, and was appointed Earl Marshal of Ireland, but with no adequate force; and ultimately died, September 22nd, 1576, at Dublin, as it was asserted, by poison administered to him at the instigation of Leicester. That villain noble, the great favourite of Elizabeth, who had murdered his first wife, Amy Robsart, next married, or pretended to marry, Douglas Howard, the widow of Lord Sheffield. After having a son by her he repudiated the marriage, and, as she herself asserted, attempted to poison her so that her hair and nails fell off, and commenced an intrigue with the wife of Essex, by whom he is said to have had two children whilst Essex was absent in Ireland. On the death of Essex, Sir Francis Knollys compelled him to marry his daughter, Essex's widow; which marriage, as we have seen, Simier, the ambassador of Anjou, revealed to Elizabeth, who from that day hated the lady, one of the handsomest and most charming women of her time, with a deadly and undying hatred.

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