free ebooks

A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

She liked to ascribe successes to herself


It

is surely the greatest happiness that can be granted to any human being, while defending his own interest, to be maintaining the interests of all. Then his personal existence expands into a central part of the world's history.

That personal and universal interest was likewise a thoroughly English one. Commerce grew amidst arms: the maintenance of internal peace filled the country with wellbeing and riches; palaces were seen rising where before only huts had stood: as the philosophic Bacon remarks, England now won her natural position in the world.

Elizabeth was one of those sovereigns who have beforehand formed an idea for themselves as to the duties of government. Four qualities, she says once, seemed to her necessary for it: justice and self-control, highmindedness and judgment; she might pride herself on the two first: never in a case of equal rights had she favoured one person more than another: never had she believed a first report, but waited for fuller knowledge: the two others she would not claim for herself, for they were men's virtues. But the world ascribed a high degree of these very virtues to her. Men descried her subtle judgment in the choice of her servants, and the directing them to the services for which they were best fitted. Her high heart was seen in her despising small advantages, and in her unshaken tranquillity in danger. While the storm was coming on from Spain, no cloud was seen on

her brow: by her conduct she animated nobles and people, and inspirited her councillors. Men praised her for two things, for zealous participation in deliberation and for care in seeing that what was decided on was carried into effect.[275]

But we may not look for an ideal female ruler in Queen Elizabeth. No one can deny the severities which were practised under her government even with her knowledge. The systematic hypocrisy imputed to her may seem an invention of her enemies or of historians not thoroughly informed; she herself declares truthfulness a quality indispensable for a prince; but in her administration, as well as in that of most other rulers, reasonings appear which rather conceal the truth than express it; in each of her words, and in every step she took, we perceive a calculation of what is for her advantage; she displays striking foresight and even a natural subtlety. Elizabeth was very accessible to flattery, and as easily attracted by an agreeable exterior as repelled by slight accidental defects; she could break out at a word that reminded her of the transitory nature of human affairs or of her own frailty: vanity accompanied her from youth to those advancing years, which she did not wish to remark or to think were remarked. She liked to ascribe successes to herself, disasters to her ministers: they had to take on themselves the hatred felt against disagreeable or doubtful regulations, and if they did not do this quite in unison with her mood, they had to fear her blame and displeasure. She was not free from the fickleness of her family: but on the other hand she displayed also the amiable attention of a female ruler: as when once during a speech she was making in a learned language to the learned men of Oxford, on seeing the Lord Treasurer standing there with his lame foot, she suddenly broke off, ordered a chair to be brought him, and then continued; indeed it was said she at the same time wished to let it be remarked that no accident could discompose her. As Harrington, who knew her from personal acquaintance, expresses himself: her mind might be sometimes compared to a summer morning sky, beneficent and refreshing: then she won the hearts of all by her sweet and modest speech. But she was repellent in the same degree in her excited state, when she paced to and fro in her chamber, anger in every look, rejection in every word:


eBook Search
Social Sharing
Share Button
About us

freefictionbooks.org is a collection of free ebooks that can be read online. Ebooks are split into pages for easier reading and better bookmarking.

We have more than 35,000 free books in our collection and are adding new books daily.

We invite you to link to us, so as many people as possible can enjoy this wonderful free website.

© 2010-2013 freefictionbooks.org - All Rights Reserved.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Us