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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

Tear the Spanish monarchy in pieces


We

have still to grasp clearly the event in which these antagonisms and the Queen's temperament yet once more led to a great catastrophe.

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The aged Burleigh, who had provoked the war with Spain, wished also to end it. From his past experience he concluded that he could not inflict any decisive blow on the Spanish monarchy, which still displayed a vast power of resistance; in 1597 it could again offer a high price for peace. The Spaniards, who had taken Calais from the French by a sudden attack, offered the Queen the restoration of this old English possession in exchange for the strong places in the Netherlands, entrusted to her in pledge.[283] For the Netherlands no other provision would have been thus made than was proposed in 1587: but England would have again won as strong a position on the Continent as it had before, and would have established its rule over the neighbouring seas: an open commerce would have been re-established, and Ireland freed from the hostile influence of the Spaniards: the Queen would have enjoyed peace in her advancing years. Burleigh saw as it were the conclusion of his life in this: he said that, if God granted him a good agreement with Spain, his soul would depart with joy.

But for this policy he could not possibly get the approval of the young, whose ambitious hopes were connected with the continuance of the

war. They measured the power of the country by their own thirst for action. If the Queen, so they said, would only not do everything by halves and not follow her secretaries so much, she could, especially now she had the Dutch as allies, tear the Spanish monarchy in pieces. How could they fail, with some effort, in occupying the Isthmus of Panama? And then they would at one blow deprive the monarchy of all its resources. And above all, the man who then played the most brilliant part at court, Robert Devereux Earl of Essex, was of this opinion. He was Leicester's stepson, introduced by him at court, and after his death his successor as it were in the Queen's favour. An attractive manly appearance, blooming youth, chivalrous manners, won him all hearts from the very first. With the Queen he entered into that rare relation, in which favour on the one side and homage on the other took the hues of mutual inclination, and even passion.

What Essex's idea of it was he once revealed at a dramatic festivity which he arranged for the Queen in honour of her accession. There he made a hermit, an officer of state, and a soldier come forward and address their exhortations to an esquire who was intended to represent himself. By the first the knight was desired to give up all feelings of love, by the second to devote his powers to State affairs, by the third to apply himself to war. The answer is: the knight cannot give up his passion for his lady, since she animates all his thoughts with divine fire, teaches him true policy, and at the same time qualifies him to lead an army. Essex had taken part in some campaigns of Henry IV, and afterwards commanded the squadron which was in possession of the harbour of Cadiz for a moment, but without being able to hold it: he also failed in another enterprise which was planned to seize the plate-fleet; but this did not prevent him from evermore designing fresh and comprehensive plans. His view in this matter he also once represented dramatically.[284] He brought forward a native American prince who utters the wish to be freed from the Castilians and their oppressive rule: an oracle refers him to the Queen whose kingdom lies between the old and the new world, and who is naturally inclined to come to the aid of all the oppressed.


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