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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

Which the Queen thought advisable


to the most important affairs

of State, she had to pay regard to the tone of the two Houses: however much she might be loved, yet men's minds are easily moved and not thoroughly trustworthy. In its forms Parliament studied to express the devotion which the Queen claimed as Queen and Lady, while she tried to make amends for acts by which the assembly had been previously offended: for statements of grievances, as in the instance of the monopolies, she even thanked them, as for a salutary reminder. A French ambassador remarks in 1596 that the Parliament in ages gone by had great authority, but now it did all the Queen wished. Another who arrived in 1597 is not merely astonished at its imposing exterior, but also at the extent of its rights. Here, says he, the great affairs are treated of, war and peace, laws, the needs of the community and the mode of satisfying them.[278] The one statement is perhaps as true as the other. The solution of the contradiction depends on this, that Queen and Parliament were united as to the general relations of the country and the world. The Queen, as is self-evident, could not have ruled without the Parliament: from the beginning of her government she supported herself by it in the weightiest affairs; but a simple consideration teaches us how much on the other hand Parliament owed precisely to that introduction into these great questions, which the Queen thought advisable. They avoided, and were still able to avoid, any enquiry into their respective rights and the boundaries of
those rights. And besides Elizabeth guarded herself from troubling her Parliament too much by demands for money. She has been often blamed for her economy which sometimes became inconvenient in public affairs: as in most cases, nature and policy here also coincided. That she was sparing of money, and once was actually in a condition to decline a grant offered her, gave the administration an independence of any momentary moods of Parliament, which suited her whole nature, and without this might have been easily lost.

William Cecil, Lord Burleigh, her treasurer, as economical as herself, was likewise her first minister. He had assisted her with striking counsel even before her accession, and since lived and moved in her administration of the state. He was one of those ministers who find their calling in a boundless industry,--he needed little sleep, long banquets were not to his taste:[279] never was he seen inactive even for half an hour; he kept notes of everything great and small; business accompanied him even to his chamber, and to his retirement at S. Theobald's. His anxious thoughts were visible in his face, as he rode on his mule along the roads of the park; he only lost sight of them for a moment when he was sitting at table among his growing children: then his heavy eyebrows cleared up, light merriment even came from his lips. Every other charm of life lay far from him: for poetry and poets he had no taste, as Spenser was once made to feel: in literature he patronised only what was directly useful; he recommended no one except for his being serviceable. Magnanimous he was not; he was content with being able to say to himself, that he drew no advantage from any one's ill fortune. He was designated even then as the man who set the English state in motion: this he always denied, and sought his praise in the fact that he carried out the views of the Queen, as she adopted them after hearing the plans proposed or even after respectful remonstrances. He had to bear many a slander: most of the reproaches made against him he brought himself to endure quietly: but if, he said, it could be proved against him that he neglected the Queen's interest, the war against Spain, and the support of the Netherlands, then he was willing to become liable to eternal blame. He was especially effective also through a moral quality--he never lost heart. It was remarked that he worked with the greatest alacrity when others were most doubtful. For he too had an absolute confidence in the cause which he defended. When the enemies' fortune stood highest, he was heard to say with great tranquillity, 'they can do no more than God will allow.'[280]


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