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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

And the complete pacification of the Netherlands


It

was under these circumstances that Mary Stuart appeared in England with a demand for help. If in the Netherlands the attempts of the nobles and the Protestant tendencies had been alike defeated, they had on the other hand, by a similar union, achieved a decisive victory in Scotland. Was Elizabeth to join Mary in combating them?

Elizabeth disliked the proceedings of the Scotch nobles towards their lawful Queen; the adherents of the Scotch church-system were already troublesome to her in England: but, however much she found to blame in them, in the great contest of the world they were her allies. Mary on the other hand held to that great system of life and thought with which the English Queen and her ministers had broken. Whatever Elizabeth might have previously promised, she did not mean to be bound by it under circumstances so completely altered.[232] Had she chosen to restore Mary, she would have opened the island to all the influences which she desired to exclude. Nor did she wish to let her retire to France, for while Mary had resided there previously, England had not had a single quiet day: without doubt the Catholic zeal prevailing there would have been at once excited in support of her claims to the English throne. An attempt was again made to reconcile the Scotch nobles with their Queen: but as this led to an enquiry respecting her share in the guilt of the King's murder--those letters of Mary to Bothwell now first came to the knowledge

of the public--the dissension became rather greater and quite irreconcilable.

One now begins to feel sympathy with the Queen of Scots, especially as her share in the crime imputed to her is not quite clear. Of her own free will she had come to England to seek for assistance on which she thought she could reckon: but high considerations of policy not merely prevented its being given but also made it seem prudent to detain her in England.[233] Elizabeth and her ministers brought themselves to prefer the interests of the crown to what was in itself right and fit. Mary did not however on this account vanish from the stage of the world: rather she obtained an exceedingly important position by her presence in England, where one party acknowledged her immediate claim to the throne, the other at least her claim to the succession; and hence arose not merely inconveniences but very serious dangers for the English government. Even in 1569, at a moment when the Catholic military power had the superiority in France and the Netherlands, Mary's uncle, the Cardinal of Lorraine, proposed to the King of Spain an offensive alliance against Queen Elizabeth.[234] In the civil wars of France they had just won the victory in two great battles. Who could say what the result would have been if in the still very unprepared condition of England an invasion had been undertaken by the combined Catholic powers?

But the life and the destiny of Europe depend on the fact that the great general antagonisms are perpetually crossed by the special ones of the several states. Philip did not wish for an alliance with the French; it seemed to him untrustworthy, too extensive and, even if it led to victory, dangerous. He declared with the greatest distinctness, that he thought of nothing but of putting down his rebels (including at the time the Moriscoes), and the complete pacification of the Netherlands; he would not hear of a declaration of war against England. The difficulty of this sovereign's position on all sides and his natural temperament were the determining element in the history of the second half of the sixteenth century. His great object, the re-establishment and extension of the Catholic religion, he never leaves out of sight for a moment; but yet he pursues it only in combination with his own special interests. He is accustomed to weigh all the chances, to proceed slowly, to pause when the situation becomes critical, to avoid dangerous enterprises. Open war is not to his taste, he loves secret influences.


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