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her cause though they knew it not, and her destiny would soon point to broader seas than had entered into the dreams of that prophetic pamphleteer who wrote the "Libel " of her policy. All through the change, the Tudor Henries had exercised a minute and unremitting supervision over its every phase. The object of their policy was to turn the blind workings of business into channels that should conduce to the national benefit, for they were wise enough to see that strong realms make strong kings. The question of enclosures was repeatedly taken in hand, with the especial object of keeping a numerous population on the soil to be the backbone of the services; navigation laws were passed to foster our merchant shipping; the eating of fish during Lent was enforced not so much from any religious motive as to encourage fishermen ; the very shrouds in which the dead were wrapped were made the subject of regulation; sumptuary laws regulated details of food and dress and tried to keep men in their proper stations; Trinity House was incorporated. Some of these regulations may have been ill-advised, and some unpracticable, but taken all together they tended to unite the nation, because sentiment tends to follow policy-a reason we have noticed before.
We have not space to dwell upon the troubled and bitter periods between the death of Henry VIII and the accession of his second daughter. The Reformation was able to make giant strides during the brief reign of Edward VI, or rather during the reign of his Council, but under such auspices it had little chance of getting any grasp on the nation. Of this the collapse of Northumberland's conspiracy, and the piteous fate of Lady Jane Grey are proof enough. The person who made it for ever impossible that the Bishop of Rome could restore his authority in England, except at the sword's point, was not Henry VIII nor Cranmer, but the Catholic Queen Mary. The five years of her reign taught Englishmen, as no sermons nor
pamphlets could have done, what the papal supremacy meant. This was the darkest hour of all, a darkness lit by no flicker of dawn, but streaked, ever and anon, by ghastly fires of martyrdom. Well might England have cried with Shelley's Prometheus :
"Torture and solitude,
Shame and despair-these are my empire."
Yet it would be painting the situation in false colours to talk, like Seeley, as if England had, during Mary's reign, become part of the Hapsburg Empire like the Netherlands. We did not sink as low as that. We were entrapped, through the love and faith of one of the most unhappy women in history, into a shameful and ruinous alliance, that from the first was utterly distasteful to the nation. Philip of Spain might marry our Queen and entangle our foreign policy, but he dared not assume any of the functions of sovereignty, still less land a single Spanish soldier on English soil. It was by the merest accident that he accomplished as much as he did, for with a little more energy on the part of its leader, Wyatt's insurrection must have overturned the throne. When Mary and the arch-traitor Pole, whom she had made archbishop, died on the same day, that evil dream took flight across the seas, and no Alva dared march to London to make it a reality.
E, who are accustomed to associate the name Elizabethan with the most buoyant and glorious years in our history, with Drake and Shakespeare, Spenser and Raleigh, are perhaps not apt enough to discriminate between the prolonged gloom with which the reign opens, and the radiance amid which it draws to a close. The period which we most naturally associate with the great Queen's name, that of the victories and songbooks, in fact comprises roughly but the latter half of it, nor is the full glory attained until the supreme danger which threatened us is dashed to pieces, with the hopes of all our enemies, upon the rocks of Ireland. If no joy ever thrilled a nation comparable to that which England proved after this supreme mercy, surely never was depression more hopeless and more excusable than that through which Elizabeth piloted her during the last hour before the dawn.
Let us try for a moment to put out of our minds what we know of the sequel, and view the situation as it must have presented itself to one of our countrymen at the end of the year 1558. To him it must have seemed as if the doom which had threatened England so long was now close at hand, as if the very cries of "God save the Queen!" "Long may she reign!" were but a ghastly irony. Suppose he were to turn his mind's eye upon the
past. Inglorious at the best must our record have seemed since the now almost legendary days of Harry V, a tale of little success abroad and weary dissension at home, culminating in the supreme humiliation of Calais. The reign of Elizabeth's father cannot have inspired much enthusiasm in one from whom the ultimate value of his work was hid. Such sorry triumphs as the Spurs and Boulogne, and even the great victory of Flodden, must have seemed but a poor compensation for the blood of so many of the noblest and best, not to speak of all the poor fellows who had been hanged after the Pilgrimage of Grace. As for the separation from Rome, all that work had been rendered odious by the Northumberlands and Seymours, and had been undone altogether by Mary. Now it had to be done all over again, if that were possible.
Our international position was something more than disquieting. The King of Spain was all the stronger by his freedom from the burden of Germany, and the power of Henry II was not apparently less than that of Francis. The marriage of Mary Queen of Scots with the Dauphin had revived the old Franco-Scottish danger in an acute form, and the fact that Mary was lawful heir and unlawful claimant to the English crown boded ill for the prospects of a heretic Queen, in a country more than half of whose inhabitants still inclined to Mary's religion. The Spanish marriage of the late Queen, shameful and disastrous as it had proved, had at least this to be said for it, that it neutralized the alliance of France and Scotland. Now we were to stand alone, for the alliance of Philip might at any time change to enmity, and there were enough Spanish troops in Flanders, flushed with victory, to make a blow at the heart of England a promising and not improbable move on the part of the Catholic King.
What chance had England of waging a successful war? Henry VIII had left her with a respectable fleet and a fortified coast. The forts still stood with their squat,
round towers intact, but in every other respect national defence had been allowed to go to ruin. The royal navy was meagre in numbers and tonnage. At a time when the importance of money was recognized on all hands as an essential of military strength, England had squandered her treasure, and had been saddled with a debased coinage and a substantial debt. About a year after Elizabeth's accession we find the Count de Feria, Philip's minister, remarking that when she had done all, she should not be able to maintain war above four months. For the very materials of war, such as gunpowder, we were dependent upon other countries.
Even after the experience of Tudor discipline, it did not seem probable that Elizabeth would have a united nation at her back. Her wars would be wars of religion, and except for London and the South-Eastern shires, where the Protestant faith had been literally burnt into the people, the majority was still Catholic. Some of the most powerful families, notably those of Percy, Neville and Howard, had Papists for their heads. The Queen's title was doubtful, and those who sympathized with papal pretensions were not likely to put the claims of a heretic's child before those of an orthodox and legitimate princess. Rebellion had become chronic, and the fate of Lady Jane Grey augured ill for the chances of the Protestant candidate.
Weak, humiliated, impoverished, threatened with destruction from without and from within, what must England's chances have seemed to our imaginary observer of 1558? But let us suppose him capable of looking only for a few years in advance, and his grounds for apprehension become even firmer. For as yet the Protestant religion had, through all its vicissitudes, at least enjoyed the advantage of the offensive. When Luther had gone to Rome he found himself at the headquarters of a power that was, to all appearance, not only corrupt but mori