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The Reign of Elizabeth. (Continued) page 10

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This unsatisfactory state of things in France continued till the Midsummer of 1593. Henry was continually demanding fresh aid, fresh advances of money, fresh troops, which he did not employ, as was stipulated with Elizabeth, solely against the Spaniards, but against his rebellious subjects. Elizabeth was greatly enraged at his breach of faith, but still found it impossible to refuse him, lest the Spaniards should get the upper hand, and Henry, calculating on this, went on doing with her troops just what he pleased. Elizabeth was further incensed, and went into the worst of tempers on this account, and for this cause not only dealt sharp words, but heavy blows about her on her attendants. But worst of all came the news that Henry IV. was about to embrace the Roman Catholic faith. The fact was he saw that it was impossible otherwise to maintain himself on the throne. She sent off a strong remonstrance composed by Burleigh, but before its arrival the deed was done, nor is it to be supposed that its arrival would have prevented it. Elizabeth's limited aid could not enable him to overcome the tremendous opposition arrayed against him. On the 15th of July, 1593, Henry publicly abjured the Protestant and embraced, if not the Roman Catholic faith, the profession of it. On hearing that this was done, Elizabeth burst into one of her violent passions, and heaped on him her choicest terms of abuse. She wrote to him after four months had somewhat abated her fury, but still in a strain of high remonstrance: - "Ah, what grief! ah, what regret! ah, what pangs have seized my heart, at the news which Morlant has communicated! My God! is it possible that any worldly consideration could render you regardless of the Divine displeasure? Can we reasonably expect any good result can follow such an iniquity? How could you imagine that He who has supported and upheld your cause so long, would fail you at your need? It is a perilous thing to do ill that good may come of it. Nevertheless, I yet hope that your better feelings may return, and in the meantime I promise to give you the first place in my prayers. Esau's hands may not defile the blessing of Jacob," &c.

The persecutions in England and Ireland kept up a rancorous spirit against Elizabeth, both at home and abroad. In foreign countries it was represented that she had murdered Mary of Scotland because she was the heir to her throne, and the sufferings of the persecuted were diligently disseminated, with prints of their barbarous deaths. It is no wonder, therefore, that there were fanatics found ready to assassinate her, as there were to perpetrate the same crime on Henry IV. of France and Philip of Spain. The archives of Simancas retain proofs of these designs against Philip, the most Popish of monarchs, and one of the most terrible persecutors of the Protestants. Elizabeth, in a letter to Henry IV., congratulated him on his escape from the young madman Chalet, but hinted that poison would probably be the next means resorted to. Little did she dream that she was in imminent danger from this secret agent herself about the same time.

Walsingham, the grand detective of the English Government, was dead; and Burleigh, who now in his age saw younger men usurping the queen's favour, took up his deceased colleague's particular function of maintaining spies and poisoners, on the principle of set a rogue to catch a rogue. As there was a constant rivalry betwixt Essex and the Cecils, whom he cordially detested, he also gave himself great trouble to discover any attempts of a traitorous kind. Burleigh, old, sly, and unprincipled, was generally in the advance of Essex, and when/the latter brought forward some discovery, he was mortified to find it perfectly well known to Burleigh and the queen. At length, however, fortune favoured him. Antonio Perez, the favourite secretary of Philip, had lost the favour of his master, and was a refugee in England. From such a man it was obvious that immense discoveries might be drawn by the application of the usual means, but Elizabeth took it into her head to treat him not as a useful tool, but as a traitor, with whom she would have nothing to do. Burleigh, instead of using his accustomed acumen, and engaging Perez privately, imitated his Royal mistress, and! treated him with neglect. It was a grand political blunder, and Essex instantly availed himself of it. He took Perez into his pay and patronage, and soon learned from him that Roderigo Lopez, a Jew physician, who had acquired such hold on Elizabeth, that though a prisoner at the time of the Armada, she had ever since retained him in her service, was actually in the pay of Philip,' as a spy and something worse. On hearing such a charge from Essex, Elizabeth at first refused to believe, and, no doubt, was confirmed in that feeling by the Cecils. But the importunity of Essex prevailed to have a commission of inquiry opened, in which the Cecils were conjoined with him. With such associates Essex might have calculated that he would fail, and he did so. They proceeded to the house of Lopez, searched it for papers, and cross-questioned him, but made out nothing corroborative of the charge. The Cecils triumphantly reported that there was no ground for suspecting Lopez, and Elizabeth sharply reprimanded Essex for bringing so iniquitous a charge against an honourable and innocent man, who, by-the-bye, had presented her with a rich jewel which Ibarra, the Governor of the Netherlands, had sent to him as a bribe. She called Essex a rash, temerarious youth, and the petulant youth quitted her presence in high dudgeon, shut himself up in his house, and refused to come back at her repeated solicitations, till she had by much soothing and coaxing appeased' his offended dignity. Meantime, however, stimulated by this conduct of the queen, and his hatred of the Cecils, he was pursuing the inquiry against Lopez, and soon came upon a real secret. Two followers of Don Antonio Perez, named Louis and Ferreira, swore to the treasonable practices of Lopez. Ferreira made oath that, at the instigation of Lopez, he had written to Ibarra, the Spanish governor, and Fuentes, the commander-in-chief, in the Netherlands, offering to poison Elizabeth for a reward of 50,000 crowns; and Louis declared that ho had been sent out to see that the scheme was executed.

Whether this was a charge drawn from these parties by the rack in the Tower, or the real truth, it succeeded in convincing Elizabeth, who exclaimed that Providence alone had preserved her. Lopez admitted that he had carried on a secret correspondence with the Spanish Court, but stoutly denied any intention of injuring the person of the queen. All three were found guilty, but Ferreira was saved by the influence of Essex, who afterwards took him with him to Cadiz. Lopez and Louis were executed on the 7th of June, 1593. The most important discovery resulting from the inquiry, was that of letters revealing a plot to burn the English fleet.

Elizabeth, after getting over her resentment against Henry IV. on account of his lapse of faith, found it convenient to make a league offensive and defensive with him against Philip. The consequence was that the Spaniards speedily poured into France from the Netherlands. Velasco, the constable of Castillo, penetrated into Champagne, and directed his attack against Franche-Comte. Fuentes marched into Picardy, defeated Henry's army, took Dourlens and Cambray, and threw the King of France into the greatest alarm. In vain he sent to demand aid of Elizabeth: she had heard of preparations in the Spanish ports for a second invasion of her kingdom; and so far from aiding Henry, she withdrew her troops from Brittany, complaining dreadfully of all the money and men which she had foolishly wasted on the apostate monarch of France. In March, 1596, the Archduke Albert, who had become Governor of the Netherlands, suddenly marched on Calais, pretending that his object was to raise the siege of La Fere. By this ruse ho was already under the walls of Calais with 15,000 men. The outstanding forts were soon won, and as Elizabeth was one Sunday at church at Greenwich, the distant report of the Archduke's cannonade on the walls of Calais was plainly heard. Elizabeth sprung up in the midst of the service, and vowed that she would rescue that ancient town. She sent off post-haste to order the Lord Mayor of London to immediately impress 1,000 men, and send them on to Calais; but the fit of enthusiasm was soon over, and the next morning she countermanded the order. When Henry's ambassadors urged her for assistance, she. coolly proffered it on condition that she should garrison Calais with an English army. When the proposal was made to Henry, he was so incensed that he actually turned his back on her ambassador, Sir Robert Sidney, saying he would rather receive a box on the ear from a man than a fillip from a woman. In a few days - namely, on the 14th of April - the town was carried by storm, and Elizabeth had the mortification of seeing the Spaniards in possession of a port so calculated to enable them to invade England. Henry, on his part, was excessively enraged at her duplicity and selfishness, and spoke in no sparing terms of her.

Nevertheless, his necessities soon compelled him to lower his tone, and even to condescend to flatter her in the most outrageous manner. He well knew how fulsomely her courtiers incensed her vanity, and that no dulation, however gross, was unacceptable to her, and he adopted this absurd extravagance to move her to his assistance, which was duly reported to her by Unton, her ambassador; who was no doubt prevailed upon purposely to do it. "He asked me one day," wrote Unton, "what I thought of his mistress, the fair Grabrielle, and was so impatient for my opinion that he took me into a private corner of his bed-chamber, betwixt the bed and tie wall. I answered very sparingly in her praise, and told him. that if without offence I might speak it, I had a picture of a far more excellent mistress, and yet did her picture come far short of her perfection of beauty. 'As you love me,' said Henry, 'show it me, if you have it about you.'" Unton, after making some difficulty, showed Mm the portrait, on which he went into transports, as though he had never seen a portrait of her before, and as though she was not then in her sixty-third year. "Henry," Unton continues, "beheld it with passion and admiration; saying, I had reason, 'Jo me rends;' protesting that he had never seen the like. He kissed it, took it from me, vowing that he would not forego it for any treasure; and that to possess the favour of the original of that lovely picture, he would forsake all the world." They then began to talk of business: "But I found," continues the ambassador, "that the dumb picture did draw out more speech and affection from him, than all my best arguments and eloquence."

Such was the effect of this most gross flattery that we soon find Elizabeth sending her portrait as a pretended present to Henry's sister, and Henry capping his acting by seizing it, and keeping it, which was done at a hint from Lord Sheffield; and Henry crowned all by sending her word that he felt sure she must have meant it for him, and could not find it in his heart to part with it. The upshot of this amusing farce was, that 2,000 troops were sent to garrison Boulogne and Montreuil, and thus protect them from the Spaniards.

The hostile preparations in the ports of Spain at this time occupied all the attention of Elizabeth and her Government, and the more so as during the past years she had lost her two famous commanders, Drake and Hawkins. They had been sent out on one of their predatory expeditions against the Spanish settlements in South America and the West Indies. But circumstances in these quarters had become greatly changed. The colonies had acquired population and strength: the former ravages of these commanders had put the people and the Government on their guard. Wherever the English fleet appeared, it found the ports and coasts well guarded and defended. Their attacks were repulsed, and such was the deplorable failure of the expedition, and the contrast to their former profitable and splendid exploits, that both commanders sunk under their anxiety and mortification, and died. The survivors only returned to experience the anger of the queen, who felt with equal sensibility the loss of reputation and of the accustomed booty.

The Lord Howard of Effingham, the brave high admiral who had so successfully commanded the fleet against the Armada, recommended at this crisis that the British Government should adopt the advice which he had given on the former occasion, to anticipate the intentions of Spain, and attack and destroy the menacing fleet ere it left the port. In this counsel he was ardently seconded by Essex, who loved above all things an expedition of a bold and romantic character, and the more so, because it was directly opposed to the cold and cautious policy of his enemies, the Cecils. He prevailed, and a fleet of 130 sail was fitted out to carry over an army of 14,000 land forces. The fleet was confided to the command of Lord Howard, the army to Essex; but to put some check on his fiery enthusiasm he was required to take the advice of a council of war- on all great occasions, consisting of the lord admiral, Lord Thomas Howard, Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Francis Vere, Sir George Carew, and Sir Coniers Clifford.

Sir Walter Raleigh had been for some years in disgrace. He had seduced Elizabeth Throckmorton, one of the queen's maids of honour, and had been banished from the Court, suspended from his commission of captain of the Royal guard, and put into confinement in charge of Sir George Carew. In this eclipse he had sought by out- Heroding all the rest of the courtiers in their preposterous and barefaced flattery of the queen, to recover his position. Seeing Elizabeth pass on one occasion in her barge on the Thames, he affected to become frantic, and endeavoured to force his way out to approach the adorable queen of sixty-three. Whilst attempting to restrain him, he pulled off Sir George Carew's new wig, and they drew their daggers, and were with difficulty parted. On another occasion he heard that the queen was setting out on one of her favourite progresses, and he broke out in loud lamentations mixed with praises of the old lady in this style: - "How can I live alone in prison whilst she is far off? I who was wont to behold her riding like Alexander, hunting like Diana, walking like Venus, the gentle wind blowing her fair hair about her pure cheeks like a nymph, sometimes sitting in the shade like a goddess, sometimes singing like an angel, sometimes playing like Orpheus. But one amiss hath bereaved me of all! All those past times, the loves, the sighs, the sorrows, the desires, can they not weigh down one frail misfortune? Cannot one drop of gall be hidden under such heaps of sweetness?

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Pictures for The Reign of Elizabeth. (Continued) page 10

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