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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

The Catholic tendency showed itself


To appreciate the motives which led Henry VIII to attach such importance to a male heir, and to exclude his daughter by the Spanish marriage from the succession, we need only cast our eyes on what happened under her, when in spite of all she had become Queen. The idea with which the Tudors had ascended the throne, and administered the realm, that of founding a political power strong in itself and alike independent of home factions and foreign influence, was sacrificed by Mary to her preference for the nation from which her mother came and from which she chose her husband. The military power of England served to support the Spanish monarchy at a dangerous and doubtful moment in the course of its formation. And while Mary's father and brother had made it the object of their policy to deprive the hierarchy of all influence over England, she on the contrary reinstated it: she put the power and all the resources of the State at its disposal. Though historically deeply rooted, the Catholic tendency showed itself, through the reactionary rule which it brought about and through its alliance with the policy of Spain, pernicious to the country. We have seen what losses England suffered by it, not merely in its foreign possessions, but--what was really irreparable--in men of talent and learning, of feeling and greatness of soul; and into what a state of weakness abroad and dissolution at home it thereby fell. A new order of things must arise, if the national element, the creation of which
had been the labour of centuries, was not to be crushed, and the mighty efforts of later ages were not to succumb to religious and political reaction.

CHAPTER I.

ELIZABETH'S ACCESSION. TRIUMPH OF THE REFORMATION.

During Mary's government, which had been endurable only because men foresaw its speedy end, all eyes were directed to her younger sister Elizabeth. She was the daughter of Anne Boleyn, who bore her under her heart when she was crowned as Queen. After many changes, Henry VIII, in agreement with Parliament, had recognised her right of inheritance; the people had risen against the enterprise of the Duke of Northumberland for her as well as for Mary. And it had also been maintained against Mary herself. Once, in Wyatt's conspiracy, letters were found, which pointed at Elizabeth's having a share in it: she was designated in them as the future Queen. The predominant Spanish-Catholic party had her examined and would have much wished to find her guilty, in order to rid themselves of her for ever. But Elizabeth was not so imprudent as to lend her hand to a movement, which if unsuccessful--a result not hard to foresee--must destroy her own good title. And moreover she, with her innate pride, could not possibly have carried out the wishes of the French by marrying Courtenay, whom her sister had rejected. The letter, which she wrote to Mary at this crisis, is full of unfeignedly loyal submission to her Queen, before whom she only wishes to bend her knee, to pray her not to let herself be prejudiced by false charges against her sister; and yet at the same time it is highminded and great in the consciousness of innocence. Mary, who was now no longer her friend, did not vouchsafe her a hearing, but sent her to the Tower and subjected her to a criminal examination. But however zealously they sought for proofs against her, yet they found none: and they dared not touch her life unless she were first publicly found guilty. She was clearly the heiress to the throne appointed under the authorisation of Parliament: the people would not give up the prospects of the future which were linked with her. When she appeared in London at this moment of peril, surrounded by numerous attendants, in an open litter, with an expression in which hopeful buoyant youth mingled with the feeling of innocence and distress, pale and proud, she swayed the masses that crowded round her with no doubtful sympathy.[180] When she passed through the streets after her liberation, she was received with an enthusiasm which made the Queen jealous on her throne.


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