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was willing enough to use them for her purposes, knowing that she had nothing to fear from the enmity of her formidable neighbonrs, whilst she could keep alive intestine commotions in their dominions.
France and Spain retorted this subtle policy, and strove to * return the poisoned chalice' to the lips of Elizabeth herself, by fomenting discord and unquietness within England. Their scheme was singularly favoured by the circumstances of the times. The spirit of enquiry which arose in Germany at the commencement of the sixteenth century, had found in England some men—and those amongst the best and wisest in the country -already prepared for its reception. In their minds the altar was erected, the wood was laid, the victim slain; and there needed but that fire which Luther sent abroad, to make the sacri. fice complete. But with the mass of the people this was not 80; and the separation from Rome, which was necessary before the passions of Henry VIII. could be gratified, and the dissolution of the monasteries—the wealth of which was wanted to secure the concurrence of the nobility-were forced on by the Government before the people were thoroughly prepared to receive them. After a few years the scene was altogether changed. The Government, no longer lured onwards by the light which beamed from Boleyn's eyes, thought the Reformation sufficient, but not so the people; and thus matters stood at the death of Henry VIII. During the reign of Edward VI. the spirit of enquiry went forth over the land, and made many proselytes; whilst the five years of Mary's reign multiplied the ranks of Protestantism, and prepared the people, on the accession of Elizabeth, to demand an ample measure of ecclesiastical reform. What was granted did not satisfy them; and, in a few years, the - Church found itself standing between the persevering Puritans, comprehending many of the clergy-principally those who had been driven to the Continent in Queen Mary's time—and some few inhabitants of towns, on the one hand ; and, on the other, the zealous Catholics, who numbered many of the chief aristocracy, and the great mass of the northern rural population. The Catholics, moreover, had assurances of assistance from the Pope and the neighbouring Catholic states; and, above all, judging that the Queen would never marry, they looked forward with hope to the restoration of their ascendency upon the accession of the youthful heiress-presumptive, Mary of Scotland. Such was the state of parties when Mary, driven from her throne by her subjects, sought an asylum in England. The possession of her person—at first considered by the Protestants as a sort of triumph—was soon found to be a source of additional trouble. The question of her treatment brought discord into Elizabeth's council, occasioned additional excitement between the Catholic and Protestant portions of her subjects, and was a perpetual plea for the interference of foreign courts. The Catholic powers made the most of this confusion; and under the management of the ambassadors of Spain and France, and of Ridolfy, a secret agent of the Pope, a plot was formed early in 1569. Its nature and object are detailed in the following secret . Memoir, • to be communicated to the Queen [Mother of France), upon • her promise not to mention its contents to any person in the 6 world :'
• The Sieur Robert Ridolfy, a Florentine, having received charge and commandment from the Pope in person, to treat with the Catholic noblemen of this country for the restoration of the Catholic religion in England, has chiefly conferred with the Earl of Arundel and my Lord Lumley, with whom he formerly had business respecting a loan of money ; a circumstance which afforded him an excellent opportunity of holding communication with them upon the present occasion, without exciting suspicion. He found them well disposed to promote his object, but not bold enough to undertake it, unless the Duke of Norfolk could be brought over to their party, which was very difficult to manage. But at length, having been persuaded, he now takes up the matter more warmly than the other two; and, by reason of his great influence in the kingdom, the Earls of Derby, Salisbury, Pembroke, and Northumberland, with several others, who are not yet confirmed in the new religion, have stated that, as soon as he gives them a hint, they are ready to follow his example. But, in order to avoid giving displeasure to their Queen, whom they greatly honour and respect, and to bring the matter about without arms or bloodshed, they have come to the conclusion, that, before they let appear what they intend to do for the Catholic religion, it is absolutely necessary to withdraw out the hands of Secretary Cecil, and those of his party-who are all strong for the new religion—the management of the state, which they have held since the accession of this Queen ; so tbat, having the power in their own bands, they may afterwards, of their own authority and without opposition, manage the business of the Catholic religion with safety.
• Thus, stimulated by ambition and the recollection of some offences which they have received from the said Cecil, they hope that, as they are amongst the noblest and most powerful persons in the kingdom, and are well regarded by the people in comparison with the others, who are almost all men of no family and with few followers ; and as they have to do with a princess whom, althongh they are anxious to treat her with respect, they believe to be timid, and afraid of being deserted, they shall have little difficulty in bringing their enterprise to its desired termination. To facilitate which the more, they have thought it necessary, in what relates to the management of the state, to gain over the Earl of Leicester, without as yet giving him any intimation of their ultimate design ; and also, that one and all of them should show, by a certain cold,
ness and disinclination to be present at the council, that they disapprove of the measures there decided upon. Both these objects bave been happily effected. They have, moreover, determined forcibly to remonstrate with the Queen touching her grandeur and reputation, and the honour of her Crown, and to appeal to her to extricate herself from the difficulties, dangers, and expenses in which she has been unnecessarily involved by Cecil and his party. They have worked upon the people to join with them in their opinions, and are also in hope that they shall receive assistance from the neighbouring princes.
• The success of their scheme, so far as regards the Earl of Leicester, will appear from what I have before stated ; and they assure themselves that, in a few days, they shall have been entirely successful; and that, shortly afterwards, they shall be able to do what is requisite for the interests of religion and peace, both at home and abroad.' – Vol. i. 258-260.
Fénélon then relates, that he had aided the plot by all the means in his power; but that these lords' thought it best not to stir whilst Cecil seemed more and more to embroil the affairs of England, both with France and the Low Countries; that, for that reason, they were rejoiced at a recent seizure of English merchandise at Rouen ; and he adds that, although it would not be politic to irritate Elizabeth more than had been done already, yet that it would be better not to restore the goods seized, until he gave further intelligence respecting the progress of events in England. He further states, that these lords and • Ridolfy,' had brought about a very good understanding between himself and the Spanish ambassador; so that all international jealousy would be laid aside, and every endeavour made by both of them to aid the English plotters.
"And in conclusion, he [the ambassador] mentioned to the said Ri. dolfy, that he had it in charge from the Queen, his mistress, to promote to the utmost of his power the re-establishment of the Catholic religion in this country; whereupon he [Ridolfy) thought it good that the said Queen should be let into the secret of this conspiracy, conjuring her, beyond all things, for God's sake, not to revealit to any person in the world ; for she will recollect, that in consequence of a high personage in France not having kept the secret of an attempt which was about to be made upon Tuscany by the late King Henry, he had been the cause of the death of six gentlemen, whom the Duke of Florence had executed, and there would be the like danger in this country; but that, in a little while, he himself, on his route to Rome, would be passing near the said Queen, possibly with credentials and a commission from these lords, and he would then give her an account of the whole matter, and confer with her as to treating between the Pope and her as to what would be necessary in this affair ; desiring, however, that her Majesty should authorize the said Sieur La Mothe, on behalf of the King and herself, to promote the scheme and good-will of the said lords, add to give them assistance when they stand in need of it. And the said Ridolfy hopes, that, on his re
turn from Rome, he shall be the bearer of a Papal brief to this Queen, which these lords, being then in power, will boldly present to her, and in that manner will begin to busy themselves about the re-establishment of the Catholic religion.-Vol. i. 261-2.
The course and success of these conspirators, which answered but little to their expectations, is detailed pretty minutely, up to a certain point, in the volumes before us; but, in this respect, they are like three acts of a tragedy ;—they exhibit the parties, they involve them in confusion, they excite our interest, and then-the curtain drops. The volumes for 1570 and 1571, will explain the full extent and progress of a conspiracy which entangled many of the noblest men in England, and poured out some of its best blood upon the scaffold; but at present, the information we receive, although interesting and important, is incomplete ; and to dwell upon it would be to run a risk of falling into those mistakes, which we have before noticed as consequent upon a partial examination of papers of this description. In the mean time, however, we may profitably consider the information which these volumes give respecting the persons in whose hands the destinies of England seemed at that time to rest.
The Queen had occupied the throne for ten years, and had attained the mature age of thirty-five. Her early popularitythe result of her youth, of the recollection of the misfortunes of her mother and her own narrow escape, of her Protestantism, and, above all, of her anxious endeavours to secure golden • opinions from all sorts of people'—had stood the test of the heart-burnings consequent upon the alteration in the established faith; of the want of success in the expedition to France in 1564; of the scandalous rumours respecting her intimacy with Leicester; of her coquetry in regard to marriage; and, finally, of her indiscreet obstinacy as to the succession. All these circumstances, under which a sovereign possessed of no sterling qualities would have sunk into comparative disregard, had left Elizabeth with an authority not merely unimpaired, but more closely riveted upon the minds of her subjects. The explanation is to be found in that which is more and more forced upon our attention by every additional piece of information respecting this period-her own commanding ability. The volumes before us contain minute details of many interviews with her upon public business, in the course of which she was called upon to express opinions upon matters of great moment, under circumstances in which she could have derived but little advantage from previous conference with her advisers; and, even if we consent to take from her conduct every atom of apparent sincerity, and allow that she was a mere actor, we must still concede that she played her part admirably. Or, if we could suppose that it was use which enabled her to discuss questions of policy with the most experienced, and that it was irritability of temper which instinctively aroused her to resent every thing calculated to lessen her importance ; still, when we observe how cleverly she could fence with objections which she either could not or did not choose to answer, and mark the policy which overruled even the very whirlwind of her passion,' we cannot but reiterate that she played her part most admirably.
Much of her influence upon those around her is to be traced to the skill with which she could express herself. She often wrote confusedly—a common fault with crafty people—but, in speaking, her sentences were singularly terse and forcible. Few sovereigns have said more sharp and witty things; and even, when speaking in French, there was a vigour and fire in her language, a boldness of expression, and a seeming scorn and defiance of her enemies, which are certainly very striking ; and, considering her position, may easily be conceived capable of producing a wonderful effect. “I am of the race of the lion,' she said to Fénélon upon his first interview, soon tamed if • kindly used, and as easily roused if provoked. When told that some of her subjects had been taken fighting in France in the ranks of the Huguenots, and had been instantly sent to the gallows, she quickly exclaimed, that it was not the act of soldiers, but of butchers, and that she would be revenged. When sharply urged, with reference to her treatment of Mary of Scotland, she replied, that, although accountable to no one, she would justify her conduct towards Mary in such sort, that all other princes should know that she had no cause to blush-would to God the same could be said of the Queen of Scots! I have tried to be a mother to the Queen • of Scots,' she said at another time, and, in return, she • has formed conspiracies against me even in my own king. dom : she who ill-uses a mother, deserves a stepdame. And . then,' continues Fénélon, calling round her those of her council, • and the Bishop of Ross, she repeated to them in French the greater part of what I had said to her, and the answer she had given me; and, recapitulating in English certain grave charges against the Queen of Scots, she threatened to cut off the heads of the wisest and noblest amongst them,' (ii. 169.)
None of her peculiarities evidenced her descent from Henry VIII. more strikingly, than the grosses parolles' (ii. 236) with which she daunted many a malapert orator ;' although, when it suited her purpose, she could moderate her speech in a manner to