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appearance of a sweet and placid sleep. So likewise in the last illness of Elizabeth there was nothing miserable, nothing terrible, nothing revolting to human nature. She was not tormented either with desire of life, or impatience of sickness, or pangs of pain : none of the symptoms were frightful or loathsome; but all of that kind which showed rather the frailty than the corruption and dishonour of nature. For a few days before her death, by reason of the exceeding dryness of her body, wasted as it was with the cares of government and never refreshed with wine or a more generous diet, she was struck with paralysis ; and yet she retained her powers of speech (a thing not usual in that disease) and of mind and of motion; only somewhat slower and duller. And this state of her body lasted only a few days, as if it were less like the last act of life than the first step to death. For to continue long alive with the faculties impaired is a miserable thing; but to have the sense a little laid asleep and so pass quickly to death, is a placid and merciful period and close of life.
To crown all, as she was most fortunate in all that belonged to herself, so was she in the virtue of her ministers. For she had such men about her as perhaps till that day this island did not produce. But God when he favours kings raises also and accomplishes the spirits of their servants.
Her death was followed by two posthumous felicities, more lofty and august perhaps than those which attended her in life; her successor, and her memory. For successor she has got one who, though in respect of masculine virtue and of issue and of fresh accession of empire he overtop and overshadow her, nevertheless both shows a tender respect for her name and honour, and bestows upon her acts a kind of perpetuity; having made no change of any consequence either in choice of persons or order of proceedings; insomuch that seldom has a son succeeded to a father with such silence and so little change and perturbation. And as for her memory, it is so strong and fresh both in the mouths and minds of men that, now death has extinguished envy and lighted up fame, the felicity of her memory contends in a manner with the felicity of her life. For if any factious rumour (bred of party feeling and religious dissension) still wanders abroad (and yet even this seems now timid and weak and overborne by general consent), sincere it is not, enduring it cannot be. And on this account chiefly it
is that I have put together these observations, such as they are, concerning her felicity and the marks she enjoyed of the divine favour, that malevolent men may fear to curse what God has so highly blessed.
And if any man shall say in answer, as was said to Cæsar, “Here is much indeed to admire and wonder at, but what is there to praise ?” surely I account true wonder and admiration as a kind of excess of praise. Nor can so happy a fortune as I have described fall to the lot of any, but such as besides being singularly sustained and nourished by the divine favour, are also in some measure by their own virtue the makers of such fortune for themselves. And yet I think good to add some few remarks upon her moral character; confining myself however to those points which seem most to give opening and supply fuel to the speeches of traducers.
In religion Elizabeth was pious and moderate, and constant, and adverse to innovation. Of her piety, though the proofs appear most clearly in her actions, yet no slight traces were to be found likewise in her ordinary way of life and conversation. Prayers and divine service, either in her chapel or closet, she seldom failed to attend. Of the Scriptures and the writings of the Fathers, especially those of St. Augustine, she was a great reader. Some prayers upon particular occasions she herself composed. If she chanced even in common talk to speak of God, she almost always both gave him the title of her Maker, and composed her eyes and countenance to an expression of humility and reverence; a thing which I have myself often observed. And as for that which some have given out, that she could not endure the thought of mortality and was impatient of all allusion either to old age or death, that is utterly untrue. For very often, many years before her death, she would pleasantly call herself an old woman, and would talk of the kind of epitaph she would like to have upon her tomb; saying that she had no fancy for glory or splendid titles, but would rather have a line or two of memorial, recording in few words only her name, her virginity, the time of her reign, the reformation of religion, and the preservation of peace. It is true that in the flower of her years, while she was yet able to bear children, being questioned about declaring a successor, she replied that she would not have her winding sheet spread before her eyes while she was alive; and yet not many years before her death, being in a thoughtful mood, meditating probably upon her mortality, and being interrupted by one of her familiars with a complaint that many great offices in the commonwealth were too long vacant, she rose up and said in some displeasure, it was clear that her office would not be vacant for an instant.
With regard to her moderation in religion there may seem to be a difficulty, on account of the severity of the laws made against popish subjects. But on this point I have some things to advance which I myself carefully observed and know to be true.
Her intention undoubtedly was, on the one hand not to force consciences, but on the other not to let the state, under pretence of conscience and religion, be brought in danger. Upon this ground she concluded at the first that, in a people courageous and warlike and prompt to pass from strife of minds to strife of hands, the free allowance and toleration by public authority of two religions would be certain destruction. Some of the more turbulent and factious bishops also she did, in the newness of her reign when all things were subject to suspicion, - but not without legal warrant - restrain and keep in free custody. The rest, both clergy and laity, far from troubling them with any severe inquisition, she sheltered by a gracious connivency. This was the condition of affairs at first. Nor even when provoked by the excommunication pronounced against her by Pius Quintus (an act sufficient not only to have roused indignation but to have furnished ground and matter for a new course of proceeding), did she depart almost at all from this clemency, but persevered in the course which was agreeable to her own nature. For being both wise and of a high spirit, she was little moved with the sound of such terrors ; knowing she could depend upon the loyalty and love of her own people, and upon the small power the popish party within the realm had to do harm, as long as they were not seconded by a foreign enemy.
About the twenty-third year of her reign however, the case was changed. And this distinction of time is not artificially devised to make things fit, but expressed and engraved in public acts.
For up to that year there was no penalty of a grievous kind imposed by previous laws upon popish subjects. But just then the ambitious and vast design of Spain for the subjugation of the kingdom came gradually to light. Of this a principal part was the raising up within the bowels of the realm of a disaffected and revolutionary party which should join with the invading enemy; and the hope of effecting this lay in our religious dissensions. To this object therefore they addressed themselves with all their might; and, the seminaries beginning then to blossom, priests were sent over into England for the purpose of kindling and spreading a zeal for the Romish religion, of teaching and inculcating the power of Romish excommunication to release subjects from their obedience, and of exciting and preparing men's minds with expectation of a change. About the same time an attempt was made upon Ireland with open arms, the name and government of Elizabeth was assailed with a variety of wicked libels, and there was a strange ferment and swelling in the world, forerunner of some greater disturbance. And though I do not say that all the priests were acquainted with the design, or knew what was doing; for they may have been only the tools of other men's malice; yet it is true, and proved by the confessions of many witnesses, that from the year I have mentioned to the thirtieth of Elizabeth (when the design of Spain and the Pope was put in execution by that memorable armada of land and sea forces) almost all the priests who were sent over to this country were charged among the other offices belonging to their function, to insinuate that matters could not long stay as they were, that a new aspect and turn of things would be seen shortly, and that the state of England was cared for both by the Pope and the Catholic princes, if the English would but be true to themselves. Besides which, some of the priests had plainly engaged themselves in practices tending directly to the shaking and subversion of the state ; and above all, letters were intercepted from various quarters by which the plan upon which they were to proceed was discovered; in which letters it was written, that the vigilance of the Queen and her council in the matter of the Catholics would be eluded; for that she was only intent upon preventing the Catholic party from getting a head in the person of any nobleman or great personage, whereas the plan now was to dispose and prepare everything by the agency of private persons and men of small mark; and that too without their having any communication or acquaintance one with another ; but all to be done under the seal of confession. Such were the arts then resorted to-arts with which these men (as we have seen lately in a case not much unlike) are practised and familiar. This so great tempest of dangers made it a kind of necessity for Elizabeth to put some severer constraint upon that party of her subjects which was estranged from her and by these means poisoned beyond recovery, and was at the same time growing rich by reason of their immunity from public offices and burdens. And as the mischief increased, the origin of it being traced to the seminary priests, who were bred in foreign parts, and supported by the purses and charities of foreign princes, professed enemies of this kingdom, and whose time had been passed in places where the very name of Elizabeth was never heard except as that of a heretic excommunicated and accursed, and who (if not themselves stained with treason) were the acknowledged intimates of those that were directly engaged in such crimes, and had by their own arts and poisons depraved and soured with a new leaven of malignity the whole lump of Catholics, which had before been more sweet and harmless; there was no remedy for it but that men of this class should be prohibited upon pain of death from coming into the kingdom at all ; which at last, in the twenty-seventh year of her reign, was done. Nor did the event itself which followed not long after, when so great a tempest assailed and fell with all its fury upon the kingdom, tend in any degree to mitigate the envy and hatred of these men; but rather increased it, as if they had utterly cast off all feeling for their country, which they were ready to betray to a foreign servitude. And though it is true that the fear of danger from Spain, which was the spur that goaded her to this severity, did afterwards subside or abate; yet because the memory of the time past remained deeply printed in men's minds and feelings, and the laws once made could not be abrogated without the appearance of inconstancy, or neglected without the appearance of weakness and disorder, the very force of circumstances made it impossible for Elizabeth to return to the former state of things as it was before the twenty-seventh year of her reign. To which must be added the industry of some of her officers to improve the exchequer, and the solicitude of her ministers of justice who saw no hope of salvation for the country but in the laws; all which demanded and pressed the execution of them. And yet what her own natural disposition was appears plainly in this, that she so