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The Reign of Elizabeth. (Continued) page 19

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As to freedom under Elizabeth, there was little or none. She had all the overweening notions of the Tudors of divine right. She constantly told her parliaments, like her father, that she had no occasion for them, but called them together not as a matter of right, but of courtesy; and as to the lives of her subjects, she held them as so many balls in her hands, which she tossed away at pleasure. The heads of the Dukes of Northumberland and Norfolk, of the Earls of Arundel and Essex, and of Mary of Scotland, besides those of numbers of lesser men, and the hundreds of people who perished at Tyburn and other places for their religion, testify to the lawless nature of her royal will. Of the foibles of her character we say little. Her vanity, her irresolution, her belief in astrology, her thousand dresses which were discovered at her decease in her wardrobes, her being painted up in her old age, face, neck, and arms, her numerous heads of false hair, or even her cursing, swearing, and beating with her own lusty fists her maids of honour and her very ministers, may be passed over. But we will quote two paragraphs from the historian Lingard in proof that we have taken no singular view of the real character of Elizabeth and her reign: - "The historians who celebrate the golden days of Elizabeth have described with a glowing pencil the happiness of the people under her sway. To them might be opposed the dismal picture of national misery drawn by the Catholic writers of the same period. But both have taken too contracted a view of the subject. Religious dissension had divided the nation into opposite parties of almost equal numbers - the oppressors and the oppressed. Under the operation of the penal statutes many ancient and honourable families had been ground to the dust; new families had sprung up in their places; and these, as they shared the plunder, naturally eulogised the system to which they owed their wealth and their ascendancy. But their prosperity was not the prosperity of the nation, it was that of one half obtained at the expense of the other.

"It is evident that neither Elizabeth nor her ministers understood the benefits of civil and religious liberty. The prerogatives which she so highly prized have Ion since withered away. The bloody code which she enacted against the rights of conscience has ceased to stain the pages of the statute-book; and the result has proved that the abolition of despotism and intolerance adds no less to the stability of the throne than to the happiness of the people."

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