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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

Memoire sur Elizabeth et Henri IV


In

every great life there comes a moment when the soul feels that it no longer lives in the present world, and draws back from it.

Once more Elizabeth had the English Liturgy read in her room: there she sat afterwards day and night on the cushions with which it was covered, in deep silence, her finger on her mouth: she rejected physic with disdain.[294] Most said and believed she did not care to recover or to live any longer, that she wished to die. When she was at last got to bed, and had a moment left of consciousness and interest in the world, she had the members of her Privy Council summoned: she then either said to them directly that she held the King of Scotland to be her lawful and deserving successor, or she designated him in a way that left no doubt.[295]

Amidst the prayers of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was kneeling by her bed, she breathed her last.

It is not merely the business of History to point out how far great personages have attained the ideals which float before the mind of man, or how far they have remained below them. It is almost more important for it to ascertain how far the universal interests, in the midst of which eminent characters appear, have been advanced by them, whether their inborn force was a match for the opposing elements, whether it allowed itself to be conquered by them or not. There never was a sovereign who maintained a conflict of

world-wide importance amidst greater dangers and with greater success than Queen Elizabeth. Her grandfather had begun a political emancipation from the ruling influences of the continent, her father an ecclesiastical one: Elizabeth took up their task and accomplished it victoriously against Rome and against Spain, while her people had an ever-increasing part in public affairs, and thus entered into a new stage of development. Her memory is inseparably connected with the independence and power of England.

NOTES:

[274] Elizabeth to James VI, August 1588, in Rymer and Bruce 53.

[275] Molino: 'Fu prudentissima nel governare diligente nel consultare, perche voleva assistere a tutti li negotii, perspicasissima nel provedere le cose ed accuratissima perche le deliberationi fatte fossero eseguite.'

[276] One of her expressions was: 'He that placed her in that seat would preserve her in it.' Contemporary notice in Ellis, Letters ii. iii. 194.

[277] Hentzner, Itinerarium 137.

[278] De Maisse, in Prevost-Paradol, Memoire sur Elizabeth et Henri IV. Seances et travaux de l'academie des sciences morales, tom. 34.

[279] Ockland, in Strype iii. 2, 237: 'Somni perparcus, parce vinique cibique in mensa sumens, semper gravis atque modestus.'

[280] Letter to a friend, in Strype iii. 2, 379. Certain true general notes upon the actions of Lord Burleigh, in Strype iii. 2, 505. A letter from Leicester is in existence, in which he tries to prove that William Cecil had obligations to his father and not merely to the Protector.

[281] Naunton, Fragmenta regalia.

[282] Sir H. Nicolas, Life and Times of Christopher Hatton, communicates (p. 30) fragments of the Queen's letters, which lead him to remark that the supposition of an immoral relation (which he elsewhere adopts) is refuted by them. The Queen inquires for instance, What is friendship? 'The union of two minds bound to each other by virtue. He is no more a friend who desires more than the other can reasonably grant.'


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