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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

Essex was induced to give it up


conditions which that chief demanded in return for his submission are exceedingly comprehensive: complete freedom of the Catholic church under the Pope, and a transfer of the dignities of state to the natives, so that only a viceroy, who should always belong to the high nobility, was to come from England: the chief Irish families were to be restored to their old possessions, and freed from the most oppressive laws, for instance that of wardship; and the Irish were to be allowed free trade with England.[286] These stipulations would have promised a free development to the Irish nation, and made the yoke of England exceedingly light. Essex accepted them, because the Spaniards were just now threatening an attack on England, and Tyrone could only be separated from them on these conditions; even then Tyrone begged that for the present they might be kept a profound secret, that he might not quarrel with the Spaniards too soon.

But how could such comprehensive concessions be expected from the proud Queen? How could her counsellors, who always preferred direct negociation with Spain, have accepted them?

The idea occurred to the Earl of Essex to return to England with a part of his troops, and at their head enforce the acceptance of his treaty, after which he would throw himself with all his might into the Spanish war. And without doubt this would have been the only way to carry out his plan, and become altogether master

of the government.

But it was represented to him that this looked exactly like an attempt at rebellion. Essex was induced to give it up, and make everything yet once more depend on the influence which he was confident he could exercise on the Queen by appearing in person. Even this however was a great risk: he not merely had no leave to do so, but it had been expressly forbidden him just previously: he thought it however the only way of obtaining his end. Without even having announced his departure to the Queen, he suddenly appeared with slight attendance at Nonsuch, her country house.[287] He dismounted before the door, and did not even take time to change his dress: as he was, with the dust of the journey on his face and clothes, he hastened to the Queen: that he did not find her in the reception-room did not check him; he rushed on into her chamber, where he entered without being announced, and kissed her hand: her hair was still flying about her face. At the first moment she received him graciously--in a couple of hours he might see her again: when he returned to her at table, she began to reproach him. From minute to minute the Queen predominated in her over the friend: by evening his arrest was announced to him.

Already by his conduct in Ireland Essex had supplied food for the slander of his enemies: how much more must this have been the case through his self-willed return! As he was fond of tracing his descent from royal blood, he was accused of even aspiring to the throne, after the example of Bolingbroke: for this purpose he had leagued himself with Tyrone and the Irish grandees, whose loyalty he praised notwithstanding their revolt. We can say with certainty that the views of the Earl of Essex never went so far. In the question as to the Queen's successor, which occupied every one, he had taken his side for the rights of the King of Scotland: he imputed to his enemies the design of favouring on the other hand the claim of the Infant of Spain (which was at that time put forward in all seriousness in a book much read) with the view of purchasing peace by his recognition. He assigned, as the motive for his conduct, his inability to endure the atheists, papists, and Spanish partisans in the Queen's council: as a Christian he could not possibly look on while religion perished, and as an Englishman he would not stand aloof while his fatherland was being ruined.[288] He had never wished to be anything else than a subject--but 'only of his Queen, not the underling of an unworthy and low vassal.' So far as men saw, he stood in connexion with both the parties opposed to the prevailing system. He was prayed for in the churches of the Puritans: Cartwright was one of his friends; the Scotch doctrine, that the Supreme Power, if it showed itself negligent in matters of religion, could be compelled by those immediately under it to take them in hand, is said to have been preached with reference to him. As Earl Marshal of England, Essex indeed thought he possessed an independent right of interference. But the mitigation of the ecclesiastical laws would also have benefited the Catholics; and it was among them that he had perhaps the most decided allies. If we might combine his views into a whole, they were directed towards raising the natives of America against Spain, at the same time that by toleration both in England and Ireland he united all patriots in the war against that power, in which he discerned that the chief interest of the nation lay.

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