Much suspected by me,
Nothing proved can be,
Quoth Elizabeth prisoner.
WRITTEN ON A WALL AT WOODSTOCK, 1554-5
Oh Fortune, thy wresting wavering state
Hath fraught with cares my troubled wit,
Whose witness this present prison late
Could bear, where once was joy's loan quit.
Thou causedst the guilty to be loosed
From bands where innocents were inclosed,
And caused the guiltless to be reserved,
And freed those that death had well deserved.
But all herein can be nothing wrought,
So God send to my foes all they have thought.
THE DOUBT OF FUTURE FOES, 1568-70
The doubt of future foes exiles my present joy,
And wit me warns to shun such snares as threaten mine annoy;
For falsehood now doth flow, and subjects' faith doth ebb,
Which should not be if reason ruled or wisdom weaved the web.
But clouds of joys untried do cloak aspiring minds,
Which turn to rain of late repent by changed course of winds.
The top of hope supposed the root upreared shall be,
And fruitless all their grafted guile, as shortly ye shall see.
The dazzled eyes with pride, which great ambition blinds,
Shall be unsealed by worthy wights whose foresight falsehood finds.
The daughter of debate that discord aye doth sow
Shall reap no gain where former rule still peace hath taught to know.
No foreign banished wight shall anchor in this port;
Our realm brooks not seditious sects, let them elsewhere resort.
My rusty sword through rest shall first his edge employ
To poll their tops that seek such change or gape for future joy.
THAT WHICH OUR SOVEREIGN LADY WROTE IN DEFIANCE OF FORTUNE, 1568-70
Never think you fortune can bear the sway
Where virtue's force can cause her to obey.
ON MONSIEUR'S DEPARTURE, 1582
I grieve and dare not show my discontent,
I love and yet am forced to seem to hate,
I do, yet dare not say I ever meant,
I seem stark mute but inwardly do prate.
I am and not, I freeze and yet am burned,
Since from myself another self I turned.
My care is like my shadow in the sun,
Follows me flying, flies when I pursue it,
Stands and lies by me, doth what I have done.
His too familiar care doth make me rue it.
No means I find to rid him from my breast,
Till by the end of things it be supprest.
Some gentler passion slide into my mind,
For I am soft and made of melting snow;
Or be more cruel, love, and so be kind.
Let me or float or sink, be high or low.
Or let me live with some more sweet content,
Or die and so forget what love ere meant.
When the Assembly of Parliament was now to be dissolved, they all thought good that the Third Estate, or Lower House, should advise the Queen to marry betimes: yet would not the Temporal Lords joyn with them, lest any of them might seem to propound it in hope to prefer himself. Thomas Gargrave therefore, Speaker of the Lower House, with some few selected men, after leave obtained, came unto the Queen, and making his excuse by his Office, the Queen's Courtesie, and the Weightiness of the matter, went forward to this purpose: There is nothing which with more ardent affection we beg of God in our daily prayers, than that our Happiness hitherto received by your most gratious Government may be perpetuated to the English Nation unto all eternity, Whilstin our mind and cogitation we cast many ways how this may be effected, we can find none at all, unless your Majesty should either reign for ever, (which to hope for is not lawfull;) or else by Marriage bring forth Children, Heirs both of their Mother's Vertue and Empire, (which God Almighty grant.) This is the single, the onely, the all-comprehending Prayer of all English-men. All other men, of what place and degree soever, but especially Princes, must have a care, that though themselves be mortal, yet the Commonwealth may continue immortal. This immortality may your Majesty give to the English, if (as your humane nature, Age, Beauty and Fortune do require,) you will take some man to your Hus band, who may be a Comfort and Help unto you, and a Consort in Prosperity and Adversity. For (questionless) more availeth the Help of one onely Husband for the effecting of matters, than the joynt Industry of many men. Nothing can be more contrary to the publick Respects, than that such a Princess, in whose Marriage is comprehended the Safety and Peace of the Commonwealth, should live unmarried, and as it were a Vestal Virgin. A Kingdom received from Ancestours is to be left to Children, who will be both an Ornament and Strength to the Realm. The Kings of England have never been more carefull of any thing, than that the Royal Family might not fail of Issue. Hence it was, that within our fresh memory Henry the VII. your Grandfather, provided his Sons Arthur and Henry of Marriage even in their tender years. Hence it was that your Father sought to procure Mary Queen of Scots to be a Wife for his young Son Prince Edward, then scarce eight years old: and very lately your Sister, Queen Mary, being well in years, married Philip of Spain . If lack of Children use to be inflicted by God as a great Punishment as well upon Royal as private Families; what and how great a Sin may it be, if the Prince voluntarily pluck it upon himself, whereby an infinite heap of Miseries must needs overwhelm the Commonwealth with all Calamities which the mind even dreadeth to remember? Which that it may not come to pass, not onely we few that are here to present, but even all England , yea all English men, do prostrate our selves at your feet, and with humble voice and frequent Sighs do from the bottom of our hearts most submissively pray and beseech you. These things spake he eloquently and more amply.
ELIZABETH'S REPLY: (She
answered briefly:) In a matter most unpleasing, most pleasing to
me is the apparent Good will of you and my People, as proceeding from a very
good mind towards me and the Commonwealth. Concerning Marriage, which ye so
earnestly move me to, I have been long since perswaded, that I was sent into
this world by God to think and doe those things chiefly which may tend to
his Glory. Hereupon have I chosen that kind of life which is most free from
the troublesome Cares of this world, that I might attend the Service of God
alone. From which if either the tendred Marriages of most Potent Princes,
or the danger of Death intended against me, could have removed me, I had long
agone enjoyed the honour of an Husband. And these things have I thought upon
when I was a private person. But now that the publick Care of governing the
Kingdom is laid upon me, to draw upon me also the Cares of Marriage may seem
a point of inconsiderate Folly. Yea, to satisfie you, I have already joyned
my self in Marriage to an Husband, namely, the Kingdom of England. And behold
(said she which I marvell ye have forgotten,) the Pledge of this my Wedlock
and Marriage with my Kingdom. (And therewith she drew the Ring from her Finger,
and shewed it, wherewith at her Coronation she had in a set form of words
solemnly given her self in Marriage to her Kingdom.) Here having made a pause,
And do not (saith she) upbraid me with miserable lack of Children: for every
one of you, and as many as are Englishmen, are Children and Kinsmen to me;
of whom if God deprive me not, (which God forbid) I cannot without injury
be accounted Barren. But I commend you that ye have not appointed me an Husband,
for that were most unworthy the Majesty of an absolute Princess, and unbeseeming
your Wisedom, which are Subjects born. Nevertheless if it please God that
I enter into another course of life, I promise you I will doe nothing which
may be prejudicial to the Commonwealth, but will take such a Husband, as
near as may be, as will have as great a Care of the Commonwealth as my self.
But if I continue in this kind of life I have begun, I doubt not but God
will so direct mine own and your Counsels, that ye shall not need to doubt
of a Successour which may be more beneficial to the Commonwealth than he
which may be born of me, considering that the Issue of the best Princes many
times degenerateth. And to me it shall be a full satisfaction, both for the
memorial of my Name, and for my Glory also, if when I shall let my last breath,
it be ingraven upon my Marble Tomb, Here lieth Elizabeth, which Reigned a
Virgin, and died a Virgin.
Like as the rich man daily gathereth riches to riches, and one bag of
money layeth a great sort till it come to infinite, so methinks your Majesty,
not being sufficed with many benefits and gentleness showed to me afore this
time, doth now increase them in asking and desiring where you may bid and
command, requiring a thing not worthy the desiring for itself, but made worthy
for your Highness's request. My picture, I mean, in which if the inward
good mind toward your Grace might as well be declared as the outward face
and countenance shall be seen, I would not have tarried the commandment but
prevent it, nor have been the last to grant but the first to offer it. For
the face, I grant, I might well blush to offer, but the mind I shall never
be ashamed to present. For though from the grace of the picture the colours
may fade by time, may give you weather, may be spotted by chance; yet the
other nor time with her swift wings shall overtake, nor the misty clouds
with their lowerings may darken, nor chance with her slippery foot may overthrow.
Of this although yet the proof could not be great because the occasion hath
been but small, notwithstanding as a dog hath a day, so may I perchance have
time to declare it in deeds where now I do write them in words. And further
I shall most humbly beseech your Majesty that when you shall look on my picture,
you will vouchsafe to think that as you have but the outward shadow of the
body before you, so my inward mind wisheth that the body itself were oftener
in your presence; howbeit because both my so being I think could do your
Majesty little pleasure, though myself great good; and again because I see
as yet not the time agreeing thereunto, I shall learn to follow this saying
of Horace, ' Feras non culpes quod vitari non potest.' And thus I will (troubling
your Majesty I fear) end with my most humble thanks.
Beseeching God long to preserve you to His Honour, to your comfort, to the Realm's profit, and to my joy. From Hatfield this 15th day of May.
Your Majesty's most humble sister and servant,
If any ever did try this old saying, 'that a king's word was more than
another man's oath,' I most humbly beseech your Majesty to verify it to
me, and to remember your last promise and my last demand, that I be not not
condemned without answer and due proof, which it seems that I now am; for
without cause proved, I am by your council from you commanded to go to the
Tower, a place more wanted for a false traitor than a true subject, which
though I know I desire it not, yet in the face of all this realm it appears
proved. I pray to God I may die the shamefullest death that any ever died,
if I may mean any such thing; and to this present hour I protest before God
(Who shall judge my truth, whatsoever malice shall devise), that I never
practised, counselled, nor consented to anything that might be prejudicial
to your person anyway, or dangerous to the state by any means. And therefore
I humbly beseech your Majesty to let me answer afore yourself, and not suffer
me to trust to your Councillors, yea, and that afore I go to the Tower, if
it be possible; if not, before I be further condemned. Howbeit, I trust assuredly
your Highness will give me leave to do it afore I go, that thus shamefully
I may not be cried out on, as I now shall be; yea, and that without cause.
Let conscience move your Highness to pardon this my boldness, which innocency
procures me to do, together with hope of your natural kindness, which I trust
will not see me cast away without desert, which what it is I would desire
no more of God but that you truly knew, but which thing I think and believe
you shall never by report know, unless by yourself you hear. I have heard
of many in my time cast away for want of coming to the presence of their
Prince; and in late days I heard my Lord of Somerset say that if his brother
had been suffered to speak with him he had never suffered; but persuasions
were made to him so great that he was brought in belief that he could not
live safely if the Admiral lived, and that made him give consent to his death.
Though these persons are not to be compared to your Majesty, yet I pray to
God the like evil persuasions persuade not one sister against the other,
and all for that they have heard false report, and the truth not known. Therefore,
once again, kneeling with humbleness of heart, because I am not suffered
to bow the knees of my body, I humbly crave to speak with your Highness, which
I would not be so bold as to desire if I knew not myself most clear, as I
know myself most true. And as for the traitor Wyatt, he might peradventure
write me a letter, but on my faith I never received any from him. And as
for the copy of the letter sent to the French King, I pray God confound me
eternally if ever I sent him word, message, token, or letter, by any means,
and to this truth I will stand in till my death.
Your Highness's most faithful subject, that hath been from the beginning, and will be to my end,