OF all the sovereigns that have worn the crown of England, Queen Elizabeth is the most puzzling, the most fascinating, the most blindly praised, and the most unjustly blamed. To make lists of her faults and virtues is easy. One may say with little fear of contradiction that her intellect was magnificent and her vanity almost incredibly childish; that she was at one time the most outspoken of women, at another the most untruthful; that ...
OF all the sovereigns that have worn the crown of England, Queen Elizabeth is the most puzzling, the most fascinating, the most blindly praised, and the most unjustly blamed. To make lists of her faults and virtues is easy. One may say with little fear of contradiction that her intellect was magnificent and her vanity almost incredibly childish; that she was at one time the most outspoken of women, at another the most untruthful; that on one occasion she would manifest a dignity that was truly sovereign, while on another the rudeness of her manners was unworthy of even the age in which she lived. Sometimes she was the strongest of the strong, sometimes the weakest of the weak.
At a distance of three hundred years it is not easy to balance these claims to censure and to admiration, but at least no one should forget that the little white hand of which she was so vain guided the ship of state with most consummate skill in its perilous passage through the troubled waters of the latter half of the sixteenth century.
EVA MARCH TAPPAN
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Baby Princess
The Child Elizabeth
A Boy King
Giving Away a Kingdom
A Princess in Prison
From Prison to Throne
A Sixteenth Century Coronation
A Queen's Troubles
Elizabeth and Philip
Entertaining a Queen
The Great Sea-Captains
The New World
The Queen of Scots
The Spanish Armada
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
Elizabeth, Queen of England ... Frontispiece.
Princess Elizabeth as a Child.
Lady Jane Grey and Roger Ascham.
Mary Queen of Scots and Lord Darnley.
Kenilworth in Elizabeth's Time.
Elizabeth Signing the Death Warrant of Mary Stuart.
Mary Stuart Receiving Her Death Sentence.
Last Moment of Mary, Queen of Scots.
The Spanish Armada Attacked by the English Fleet.
Last Moments of Elizabeth.
* * * * *
An excerpt from the beginning of the first chapter:
THE BABY PRINCESS
TWO ladies of the train of the Princess Elizabeth were talking softly together in an upper room of Hunsdon House.
"Never has such a thing happened in England before," said the first.
"True," whispered the second, "and to think of a swordsman being sent for across the water to Calais! That never happened before."
"Surely no good can come to the land when the head of her who has worn the English crown rolls in the dust at the stroke of a French executioner," murmured the first lady, looking half fearfully over her shoulder.
"But if a queen is false to the king, if she plots against the peace of the throne, even against the king's very life, why should she not meet the same punishment that the wife of a tradesman would suffer if she strove to bring death to her husband? The court declared that Queen Anne was guilty."
"Yes, the court, the court," retorted the first, "and what a court! If King Henry should say, 'Cranmer, cut off your father's head,' and 'Cromwell, cut off your mother's head,' they would bow humbly before him and answer, 'Yes, sire,' provided only that they could have wealth in one hand and power in the other. A court, yes!"
"Oh, well, I'm to be in the train of the Princess Elizabeth, and I'm not the one to sit on the judges' bench and say whether the death that her mother died yesterday was just or unjust," said the second lady with a little yawn. "But bend your head a bit nearer," she went on, "and I'll tell you what the lord mayor of London whispered to a kinsman of my own. He said there was neither word nor sign of proof against her that was the queen, and that he who had but one eye could have seen that King Henry wished to get rid of her. But isn't that your brother coming up the way?"
"Yes, it is Ralph. He is much in the king's favor of late because he can play the lute so well and can troll a poem better than any other man about the court. He will tell us of the day in London."
Ralph had already dismounted when his sister came to the hall, too eager to welcome him to wait for any formal announcement of his arrival.
"Greeting, sister Clarice," said he as he kissed her cheek lightly. "How peaceful it all is on this quiet hill with trees and flowers about, and breezes that bring the echoes of bird-notes rather than the noise and tumult of the city."
"But I am sure that I heard one sound of the city yesterday, Ralph. It was the firing of a cannon just at twelve. Was not that the hour when the stroke of the French ruffian beheaded the queen? Were there no murderers in England that one must needs be sent for across the water?"
"I had hardly thought you could hear the sound so far," said her brother, "but it was as you say. The cannon was the signal that the deed was done."