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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

How far she would unite herself with Spain


But

if this, as we see, involved in its very essence a hostile attitude towards France and Scotland, on the other hand the question was at once laid before the Queen, and in the most personal way imaginable, how far she would unite herself with Spain, the great Power which was now on her side. Philip resolved, inasmuch as propriety in some measure allowed it, to ask for her hand--not indeed from personal inclination, of which there is no trace, but from policy and perhaps from religion: he hoped by this means to keep England firm to the Spanish alliance and to Catholicism.[182] And on the English side also much might be said for it. An ally was needed against France, even to obtain a tolerable peace: there was some danger that Philip, if rejected by the Queen, might perhaps marry a French princess; to be secure against the French claims the Queen seemed to need the support of Spain. Her first answer was not in the negative. She declared she must consult with Parliament as to the King's proposal: but he might be assured that, if she ever married, she would not give any one else the preference over him.

Well considered, these words announce at once her resolution not to marry. Between Mary Tudor who thought to bring the crown to the heir of Spain, and Mary Stuart similarly pledged to the heir of France, nothing was left for her--since she would not wish the husband of her choice to be of inferior rank--but to remain unmarried. From listening to Philip's

wooing she was kept back by her sister's example, whose marriage had destroyed her popularity. And for Elizabeth there would have been yet another danger in this alliance. Was not her legitimacy dependent on the invalidity of her father's marriage with his brother's widow? It would be a very similar case if she were to marry her sister's husband. Besides she would have needed the Pope's dispensation for such a union--as Philip had already explained to her--while her birth and crown were the results of a Papal dispensation being declared a nullity. She would thus have fallen into a self-contradiction, to which she must have succumbed in course of time. When told that Philip II had done her some service, she acknowledged it: but when she meditated on it further, she found that neither this sovereign nor any other influence whatever would have protected her from her enemies, had not the people shown her an unlimited devotion.[183] This devotion, on which her whole existence depended, she would not forfeit. After a little delay she let Philip know that she felt some scruples as to the Papal dispensation. She gave weight to the point which had been under discussion, but added that she was altogether disinclined to marry. We may doubt whether this was her immoveably formed resolution, considering how often afterwards she negociated about her marriage. It might seem to her allowable, as an instrument of policy, to excite hopes which she did not mean to fulfil: or her views may in fact have again wavered: but these oscillations in her statements can mean nothing when set over against a great necessity: her actual conduct shows that she had a vivid insight into it and held firm to it with tenacious resolution. She was Henry's daughter, but she knew how to keep herself as independent as he had thought that only a son could possibly do. There is a deep truth in her phrase, that she is wedded to her people: regard to their interests kept her back from any other union.


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