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The Reign of Elizabeth. (Continued) page 8


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This great piece of misgovernment occasioned much disappointment amongst the brave seamen, both officers and men, a few ships only being able to follow the Spaniards as far as the Frith of Forth. Walsingham, in a letter to the Lord Chancellor at the time, said, "I am. sorry the lord admiral was forced to leave the prosecution of the enemy through the want he sustains. Our half doings doth breed dishonour, and leaveth the disease uncured." But the winds and waves did for the English what they themselves left undone in a great measure. A terrible tempest assailed the flying Armada to the north of Scotland, and scattered its unhappy ships amongst the iron-bound islands of the Orkneys and Hebrides. To save themselves, the Spaniards threw overboard their horses, mules, artillery, and baggage, arid In many instances to no purpose. On many a wild spot of the shores of the Western Isles, and those of Scotland and Ireland, you are still told, "Here was stranded one of the great ships of the Invincible Armada." How many summer tourists hear this at Tobermory, in the Isle of Mull; and how many visitors to the Giant's Causeway are shown the terrible cliffs of Port-na-Spagna, still bearing the name from the awful catastrophe which occurred there. More than thirty of these vessels were stranded on the Irish coast; others went down at sea, every soul on board perishing; and others were driven to Norway, and stranded there.

Never was there so fearful a destruction; and well might the triumphant Protestants exult in. the idea that the wrath of an avenging deity was let loose against this devoted navy. No mercy was shown, to the wretched sufferers in general who escaped to land. In Ireland the fear of their joining the natives made the Government scandalously cruel. Instead of taking those prisoners who came on shore, they cut them down in cold blood, and upwards of 200 are said to have been thus mercilessly butchered. Some of the scattered vessels were compelled to light their way back down the English Channel, and were the prey of the English, the Dutch, and of French Huguenots, who had equipped a number of privateers to have a share in the destruction, and plunder of their hated enemies. The Duke of Medina eventually reached the port of St. Andero in September, with the loss of more than half his fleet, and of 10,000 men, those who survived looking more like ghosts than human beings.

Philip, though he must have been deeply mortified by this signal failure of his costly and ambitious enterprise, was too proud to show it. He received the news without a change of countenance, and thanked God that his kingdom was so strong and flourishing that it could well bear such a loss. He gave 50,000 crowns to relieve the sufferers; forbade any public mourning, assigning the mishap, not to the English, but the weather; and wrote to the Duke of Parma - whom, the English Government had tempted at this crisis to throw off his allegiance and make himself master of the Catholic provinces of the Netherlands, as the Prince of Orange had clone of the Protestant ones - to thank him for his readiness to have carried out his design, and to assure him of his unshaken favour.

In following the fate of the Spanish fleet, and the bravery and address of England's naval commanders, we have left unnoticed the less striking proceedings of the army on shore. The chief camp at Tilbury, which would have come first into conflict with the Spanish army had it effected a landing, was put under the command of Leicester - -a man who had been tried in the Netherlands, and found wanting in every qualification of a general. To such a man had Elizabeth confided the destinies of England, and to the son of his wife, the Earl of Essex, now rising also in favour with this lover-loving queen. Had Parma landed, it assuredly would not have been the talents or the bravery of the commander-in-chief which would have repelled him. Elizabeth herself talked loudly of taking the field in person, and, no doubt, would not have flinched there; but Leicester wrote her a very loving and familiar letter, declaring that he could not allow "her person, the most dainty and sacred thing in the world," to be exposed to danger; but that she might, if she pleased, draw to her house of Havering Bower; and he added, "To comfort this army and people of these counties, you may, if it please you, spend two or three days to see both the camps and forts. And thus far, but no farther, can I consent to adventure your person." Accordingly, Elizabeth lay still whilst the danger continued; but, on the 9th of August - the Armada at the time being in full flight, and the English fleet returned to port the day before - she rode through the camp on a white palfrey, with a light cuirass on her back and a marshal's truncheon in her hand, whilst the army of raw recruits rent the air with acclamations, and expressed their sorrow that the Spaniards had not allowed them an opportunity of beating them.

At Tilbury the scene was still more dramatic. Leicester and the new stripling favourite, Essex, led her bridle rein, whilst she is said to have delivered this harangue: "My loving people! we have been persuaded by some that are careful of our safety, to take heed how we commit ourselves to armed multitudes, for fear of treachery; but I assure you I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving people. Let tyrants fear! I have always so behaved myself that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and good-will of my subjects; and, therefore, I am come amongst you at this time not as for my recreation and sport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live or die amongst you all - to lay down for my God, for my kingdom, and for my people, my honour and my blood, even in the dust. I know that I have but the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart of a king, and a King of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma, or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm: to which, rather than any dishonour should grow by me, I myself will take up arms - I myself will be your general - the judge and re warder of every one of your virtues in the field. I already know by your forwardness that you have deserved rewards and crowns; and we do assure you, on the word of a prince, they shall be duly paid to you. In the meantime my lieutenant-general shall be in my stead - than whom never prince commanded a more noble or more worthy subject; nor will I suffer myself to doubt that, by your obedience to my general, by your concord in the camp, and your valour in the field, we shall shortly have a famous victory over those enemies of my God, of my kingdom, and my people."

Lingard, however, does not even insert the speech in his history, observing that he does not believe that it ever was delivered, for that "she certainly could not exhort the soldiers to fight after the enemy was gone, and when she had resolved to disband the army directly."

On Lord Howard, as admiral of the fleet, rewards and favours were conferred; but neither he, nor the other heroes of his immortal contest at sea, received a tithe of the honour of Leicester, who had done nothing but write a love-letter to the queen from Tilbury camp. Nothing that she had done or could do appeared adequate to his incomprehensible merits. She determined to create a new and most invidious office in his favour; and the warrant for his creation of Lord Lieutenant of England and Ireland lay ready for the royal signature, when the remonstrances of Burleigh and Hatton delayed, and the sudden death of the favourite put an end to it. In ten days after the queen's visit to the camp he had disbanded the army, and was on his way to his castle of Kenilworth, when he was seized with sickness at Cornbury Park, in Oxfordshire, and died on the 4th of September, with every symptom of being poisoned. He had discovered or suspected a criminal connection betwixt his wife, the Countess of Essex, and Sir Christopher Blount, He had attempted to assassinate Blount, but failed; and his countess, profiting by his own instructions in getting rid of her former husband, is supposed to have administered the fatal dose.

Leicester appears to have been the most thorough and accomplished scoundrel of that age - by no means famous for moral principle. His fine person and courtier-like manners placed him above all his rivals in the affections of Elizabeth. The contemporary authorities detail the extraordinary scandals of their intercourse. There is no doubt of Elizabeth having promised him marriage; and the dispatches of the Bishop of Aquila, still preserved in the archives of Salamanca, testify to the fact that both Leicester and Elizabeth, whilst he was ambassador in England, importuned him to obtain the approbation of Philip of this marriage; and Aquila finally informs that sovereign that they had been privately contracted at the house of the Earl of Pembroke. The world at the time gave them credit for having several children.

In his written correspondence Leicester affected a religious style. Naunton, in his "Fragmenta Regalia," says, "I never yet saw a style or phrase more seemingly religious, or fuller of the strains of devotion;" and his letters remaining bear out the assertion; but in his life he was one of the most haughty, rapacious, and cold-blooded villains existing. His murder of his first wife, Amy Robsart; his desertion of the second; his poisoning of the Earl of Essex, and adultery with his wife before; his recommendation of dispatching the Queen of Scots with poison; and his ready use of poison or steel where any one stood in the way of his ambition, sufficiently stamp him as a scoundrel of the first magnitude. Only two of the ladies about the Court, married or single, are said to have remained uncorrupted by him: and this could only be through his person and address; for, as a general or a statesman, ho was contemptible. Elizabeth showed violent sorrow for his loss; but she soon recovered sufficiently to look after money which, she said, he owed her, and for which she ordered a sale of his effects. Besides, the youthful Robert Devereaux, the Earl of Essex, was fast seizing on the matronly queen's imagination, and greatly curtailed the period of her bereavement.

The first use which Elizabeth made of her victory was to take vengeance on the Papists - not because they had done anything disloyal, but because they were of the same religion as the detested Spaniards. All their demonstrations of devotion to the cause of their country and their queen during the attempted invasion went for nothing. A commission was appointed to try those already in prison; and six priests, three laymen, and a lady of the name of Ward, for having harboured priests, four other laymen, for having been reconciled to the Roman Catholic Church, and fifteen persons, all charged with being connected with them, in all thirty individuals, were, within a period of three months, condemned as traitors, and executed with all the embowelling and other atrocities attending that sentence. Their only crime was the practice of their religion, or the succouring their clergymen.

The queen's attention was next turned to a victim who had long been suffering her severity as a prisoner. This was the Earl of Arundel, who, after enjoying Elizabeth's favour, and leading a gay life at Court, was imprisoned in 1588 for having turned Roman Catholic, and endeavouring to escape out of the kingdom. For a time preceding the coming of the Armada, his imprisonment had been relaxed through a bribe of his countess to the Lieutenant of the Tower. It was, however, suspected that Elizabeth was perfectly cognisant of this connivance, and that the increased liberty was intended as a trap, for he was allowed to go into the cell of an imprisoned priest, where he heard mass, and occasionally met two others of the same faith, Gerard and Shelley. He was now examined on the charge of having prayed for the success of the invaders; and every endeavour was used to induce Bennet, Gerard, and Shelley to give evidence against him. Though much force and menace were used, the result was not successful; yet he was condemned to die. He requested, before his death, to be allowed to see his wife and child, but was not permitted. He was not, however, executed, but allowed to live till 1595, with the expectation that every day or hour his sentence might be put in force. He then died, as it was supposed, of poison - a mode of getting rid of him, after ten years' confinement, which many imagined was employed because Elizabeth had executed his father, and shrank from the odium of executing the son also, without some more clearly-established cause. The rancour with which, for some unknown offence, Elizabeth pursued this nobleman, she transferred after his death to his wife, who was not allowed, during the queen's life, to enter London, except for medical advice; and if the queen came to town during such a visit, Lady Arundel received orders to quit London immediately.

The rage of persecution which now distinguished the queen, continued the greater part of her life; old ago alone appearing to abate her virulence as it dimmed her faculties and subdued her spirits. Sixty-one Roman Catholic clergymen, forty-seven laymen, and two ladies suffered death for their religion. The fines for recusancy were levied with the utmost rigour, 20 per lunar month being the legal sum, so that many gentlemen were fleeced of their entire income. Besides this, they were liable to a year's imprisonment and a fine of 100 marks every time they heard mass. The search for concealed priests was carried on with great avidity, because it gave occasion for plunder, and on conviction of such concealment, forfeiture of the whole of their property, followed with ample gleaning to the informers. The poorer recusants were, for some time, imprisoned; but the prisons becoming full, officers were sent through the country, visiting all villages and remote places, and extorting what they could.

As Elizabeth grew in years she more and more resembled her father, and persecuted the Puritans as zealously as the Papists. In these Reformers, however, she found a sturdy class of men, who would not endure so quietly her oppressions. Hume blames the Nonconformists for not setting up separate congregations of their own; but he forgot the 20 a month, which would have been levied on every individual that could pay, and the imprisonments and harassing of others. Where, however, the Nonconformists could not preach, they printed. Books and pamphlets flew in all directions; and there was set up a sort of ambulatory press, which was conveyed from place to place, till at length it was hunted down and destroyed near Manchester. In 1590, Sir Richard Knightley, Hooles, of Coventry, and Wigmore and his wife, of Warwick, were fined, in the Star Chamber, as promulgates of a book called "Martin Marprelate," the first 2,000, the second 1,000 marks, the third 500, the fourth 100, and to be imprisoned during the queen's pleasure.

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