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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

The restoration of Catholicism


But

now what an impression must these executions produce, combined with what preceded and followed them.

Gardiner appears in all this imperious, proud, and with that confident tone which the possessors of power assume, implying that they regard themselves as being also mentally superior; Bonner Bishop of London fanatical, without any power of discernment, and almost bloodthirsty. His attention was once drawn to the ill effects of his rough acts of violence; he replied that he must do God's work without fear of men. Under the last government they had both had much to endure: they had been deprived by their enemies and thrown into prison: now they employed the temporal arm in their own favour; they felt no scruple in sentencing their old opponents to death in accordance with the severity of the laws which they had again brought into active operation. Such was the issue of the contest between the bishops under the changing systems of government.

As Queen Mary is designated 'The Bloody,' we are astonished when we read the authentic descriptions, still extant, of her personal appearance. She was a little, slim, delicate, sickly woman, with hair already turning grey. She played on the lute, and had even given instruction in music; she had a skilful hand; on personal acquaintance she made the impression of goodness and mildness. But yet there was something in her eyes that could even rouse fear; her voice, which could

be heard at a great distance, told of something unwomanly in her. She was a good speaker in public; never did she show a trace of timidity in danger. The troubles she had experienced from her youth, her constant antagonism to the authority under which she lived, had especially hardened in her the self-will which is recognisable in all the Tudors. A peculiarity found elsewhere also in gifted women, that they are weary of all which surrounds them at home, and give to what is foreign a sympathy above its worth, had become to her a second nature. She rejected with aversion the idea of marrying Courtenay, for this reason among others that he was an Englishman. She, the Queen of England, had no sympathy for the life, the interests, the struggles of her people: she hated them from her childhood. All her sympathies were for the nation from which her mother came, for its views and manners: her husband was her ideal of a man: we are assured that she even overlooked his infidelities to her because he did not enter into permanent relations with any other woman. Besides this he was the only man who could support her in the great project for which she thought herself marked out by God, the restoration of Catholicism.[172] This is the meaning of her pledging herself in her bedchamber before a crucifix, when she had not yet seen him, to give her hand to him and to no other. For with him and his fortunes were linked the hopes of a restoration of Catholicism. Mary was absolutely determined to do all she could to strengthen it in England. Gardiner assures us, and we may believe him in this, that it was not he who prompted the revival of the old laws against the Lollards; the chief impulse to it came on the contrary from the Queen. And as those laws ordered the punishment of heretics by fire, and Parliament had consented, and the orthodox bishops offered their aid, it would have seemed to her a blameable weakness, if out of feelings of compassion she had stood in the way of the execution of those laws, to the suspension of which the bishops ascribed the spread of heretical opinions. Many of the horrors which accompanied their execution may have remained concealed from her; still it cannot be doubted, that the persecutions would never have begun without her. No excuse can free her memory from the dark shade which rests on it. For that which is done in a sovereign's name, with his will and consent, determines his character in history.


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