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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

Which at once touched on the chief doctrine in dispute


But

if she resolved to give up the relation of close union in which England had hitherto stood with Spain, it was indispensable to make peace with France. It was impossible to attain this if she insisted on the restoration of Calais; she resolved to give it up, at first for a term of years. Of almost the same date as her answer of refusal to Philip's ambassador is her instruction empowering her ambassador to let Calais go, as soon as he saw that the Spaniards would conclude their peace with France without stipulating for its restoration. She was able to venture this, for however deeply the nation felt the loss of the place, the blame for it could not be imputed to her. Without repeating what was then asserted, that her distinct aim was to turn the hatred of the nation against the late government and its alliance with Spain, we may still allow that this must have been the actual result, as it really proved to be. It was indeed said that Philip II, who not merely concluded peace with France but actually married a daughter of Henry II, would make common cause with him against England: but Elizabeth no more allowed herself to be misled by this possibility, which also had much against it, than Henry VIII had been under similar circumstances. Like him and like the founder of her family, she took up an independent position between the two powers, equally ready according to circumstances for war or peace with one or the other.

Meanwhile she had already proceeded

to measures which could never have been reconciled with the Spanish alliance, and to ecclesiastical changes which first gave her position its true character.

Her earliest intimation of again deviating from the Church was given by restoring, like a devoted daughter, her father's monument, which Mary had levelled with the ground. A second soon followed, which at once touched on the chief doctrine in dispute. Before attending a solemn high mass she required the officiating bishop to omit the elevation of the host. As he refused, she left the church at the moment the ceremony was being consummated. To check the religious strife which began to fill the pulpits she forbade preaching, like her predecessors; but she allowed the Sunday Lessons, the Litany, and the Creed to be read in English. Elizabeth had hitherto conformed to the restored Catholic ritual: it could not be quite said that she belonged to either of the existing confessions. She always declared that she had read no controversial writings. But she had occupied herself with the documents of the early Church, with the Greek and Latin Fathers, and was thoroughly convinced that the Romanism of the later centuries had gone far astray from this pattern. She had made up her mind, not as to every point of doctrine, but as to its general direction: she believed too that she was upheld and guarded by God, to carry out this change. 'How wonderful are God's ordinances,' she exclaimed, when she heard that the crown had fallen to her.

What course however was now to be taken was a question which, owing to the antagonism of the factions and the close connexion of all ecclesiastical and political matters, required the most mature consideration.

The Queen was advised simply to revert to Edward VI's regulations, and to declare all things null and void that had been enacted under Mary, mainly on the ground that they had been enacted in violation of legal forms. A speech was laid before her, in which the validity of the last elections was disputed, since qualified members had been excluded from the sittings of both houses, although they were good Englishmen: the later proclamations of summons were held to be null, because in them the formula 'Supreme Head of the English Church' had been arbitrarily omitted, without a previous resolution of Parliament, though on this title so much depended for the commonwealth and people: but no one could give up a right which concerned a third person or the public interest; through these errors, which Mary had committed in her blindness, all that had then been determined lost its force and authority.[184] But the Queen and her counsellors did not wish to go so far. They remarked that to declare a Parliament invalid for some errors of form was a step of such consequence as to make the whole government of the nation insecure. But even without this it was not the Queen's purpose merely to revert to the forms which had been adopted under her brother. She did not share all the opinions and doctrines which had then obtained the upper hand: she held far more to ceremonies and outward forms than Edward VI or his counsellors: she wished to avoid a rude antagonism which would have called forth the resistance of the Catholics.


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