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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

The leading ecclesiastics and the temporal dignitaries


Queen Elizabeth, who perceived the connexion of these hostilities, now reverted to the necessity of carrying on the war again on a larger scale. Her view was chiefly directed to a new enterprise against Portugal: its separation from Castile she held to be the greatest European success that was possible: but she hoped to bring about a change in Italy as well: there Venice was to attack the nearest Spanish territories. When she called the Venetians to aid--among other things she wished also to obtain a loan from the government--she put them in mind how much her resistance to the Spanish monarchy had benefited the European commonwealth: hence it was that Spain had been prevented from carrying out her tyrannical views throughout the world, in the Netherlands and in Germany, in France and Italy; the Republic, which loved freedom, would recognise this. Elizabeth thought to resume the war, if possible, at the head of all that part of Europe which was opposed to Spain, and in league with Henry IV, with whom she negociated on this subject. In the beginning of 1603 a squadron was fitted out under Sir Richard Lawson to attack the coasts of the Pyrenean peninsula. Men discussed the comparative forces which the two kingdoms could bring into the field.

But the Queen's days were already drawing to a close.

In February 1603 the Venetian secretary Scaramelli had an audience of her, and gives a report of it from which we see

that she still completely preserved her wonted demeanour. He found the whole court, the leading ecclesiastics and the temporal dignitaries, assembled around her: they had been entertained with music. When he entered, the Queen rose in her usual rich attire, with a diadem of precious stones, almost encircled with pearls: rubies hung from her neck; and in her mien no one could detect any decay of her powers. 'It is time at last,' she said to the secretary, who wished to throw himself on his knees before her, while she raised him with both hands, 'it is time at last for the Republic to send its representative to a Queen by whom it has been always honoured.' The letter of the Republic was handed to her, and she gave it to the Secretary of State; after he had opened it and given it back to her again, she sat down to read it: it contained a complaint that Venetian ships had been seized by the English privateers, who then made all seas unsafe. The English nation, she then said, is not so small but that evil and thievish men may be found in it: while she promised enquiry and justice, she nevertheless reverted to her main point that she had received nothing from the republic during the forty-four years of her government but grievances and demands,--even the loan had been refused;--Venice had hitherto, contrary to her custom, not sent any embassy to her; not, she thought, because she was a woman, but through fear of other powers. Scaramelli answered that no temporal or even spiritual sovereign had any influence on the Republic in such matters; he ascribed the neglect to circumstances which no one could control. The Queen broke off: I do not know, she added, whether I have expressed myself in good Italian: I learned the language as a child, and think I have not forgotten it. After that serious address she again seemed gracious, and gave the secretary her hand to kiss, when she dismissed him. The next day commissioners were appointed to enquire into his grievances.[290]

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