Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

most occasions, seemed only met to give countenance to her various severities. The nobles, whose only religion was that of the prince who governed, were easily gained over; and the house of commons had long been passive under all the variations of regal caprice. But a new enemy had started up against the reformers, in the person of the king, who, though he took all possible care to conceal his aversion, yet secretly influenced the queen, and influenced all her proceedings. Philip had for some time been in England, and had used every endeavour to increase that share of power which had been allowed to him by parliament, but without effect. The queen, indeed, who loved him with a foolish fondness, that sat but ill on a persyn of her years and disagreeable person, endeavoured to please him by every concession she could make or procure , and finding herself incapable or satisfying his ambition, she was not remiss in concurring with his zeal ; so that hereties began to be persecuted with inquisitorial severity. The old sanguinary laws were now revived ; orders were given that the bishops and priests who had married should be ejected ; that the mass should be restored ; that the pope's authority should be established ; and that the church and its privileges, all but their goods and estates, should be put upon the same foundation on which they were before the commencement of the reformation. As the gentry and nobles had already divided the church lands among them, it was thought inconvenient, and indeed impossible, to make a restoration of these.

At the head of those who drove such measures forward, but not in an equal degree, were Gardiner bishop of Winchester, and Cardinal Pole, who had lately arrived in England from the continent. Pole, who was nearly allied by birth to the royal family, had always conscientiously adhered to the Catholic religion, and had incurred Henry's displeasure, not only by refusing his assent to his measures, but by writing against him. It was for this adherence that he was cherished by the pope, and now sent over to England as legate from the holy see. Gardiner was a man of a very different character: his chief aim was to please the reigning prince, and he had already shewn many instances of his prudent conformity. He now perceived that the king and queen were for rigorous measures ; and he knew that it would be the best means of paying his court to them, even to outgo them in severity. Pole, who had never varied in his principles, declared in favour of toleration ; Gardiner, who had often changed, was for punishing those changes in others with the utmost rigour. However, he was too prudent to appear at the head of a persecution in person; he therefore consigned that odious office to Bonner, bishop of London, a cruel, brutal, and ignorant man.

This bloody scene began in 1555 by the martyrdom of Hooper, bishop of Gloucester, and Rogers, prebendary of St. Paul's. They were examined by commissioners appointed by the queen, with the chancellor at the head of them. It was expected that by their recantation they would bring those opinions into disrepute which they had so long inculcated: but the persecutors were deceived, they both continued stedfast in their belief ; and they were accordingly condemned to be burned, Rogers in Smithfield, and Hooper in his own diocese at Gloucester. Rogers, beside the care of his own preservation, lay under very powerful temptations to deny his principles, and save his life ; for he had a wife whom he tenderly loved, and ten children ; but nothing could move his resolution. Such was his serenity after condemnation, that the jailors, we are told, waked him from a sound sleep on the approach of the hour appointed for his execution. He desired to see his wife before he died ; but Gardiner told him, that being a priest he could have no wife. When the faggots were placed around him, he seemed no way daunted at the preparation, but cried out, "I resign my life with joy, in testimony of the doctrine of Jesus !” When Hooper was tied to the stake, a stool was set before

him with the queen's pardon upon it, in case he should recant ; but he ordered it to be removed, and prepared cheerfully to suffer his sentence, which was executed in its full severity. The fire, either from malice or neglect, had uot been sufficiently kindled ; so that his legs and thighs were first burned, and one of his hands dropped off, while with the other he continued to beat his breast. He was three quarters of an hour in torture, which he bore with inflexible constancy.

Sanders and Taylor, two other clergymen, whose zeal had been distinguished in carrying on the reformation, were the next that suffered. Taylor was put into a pitch barrel ; and before the fire was kindled, a faggot from an unknown hand was thrown at his head, which made it stream with blood. Still, however, he continued undaunted, singing the thirty-first psalm in English ; which one of the spectators cbserving, struck him a blow on the side of the head, and commanded him to pray in Latin. Taylor continued a few minutes silent, and with his eyes steadfastly ixed upwards, when one of the guards, either through impatience or compassion, struck him down with his halberd, and thus happily put an end to his torments.

The death of these only served to increase the savage appetite of the popish bishops and monks for fresh slaughter. Bonner, bloated at once with rage and luxury, let loose his vengeance without restraint, and seemed to take a pleasure in the pains of the unhappy sufferers ; while the queen, by her letters, exhorted him to pursue the pious work without pity or interruption. Soon after, in obedience to her commands, Ridley, bishop of London, and the venerable Latimer, bishop of Worcester, were condemned together. Ridley had been one of the ablest champions for the reformation ; his piety, learning, and solidity of judgment, were admired by his friends, and dreaded by his enemies. The night before his execution, he invited the mayor of Oxford and his wife to see him ; and when he beheld them melted into tears, he himself appeared quite unmoved, inwardly supported and comforted in that hour of agony. When he was brought to the stake to be burnt, he found his old friend Latimer there before him. Of all the prelates of that age, Latimer was the most remarkable for his unaffected piety, and the simplicity of bis manners. He had never learned to flatter in courts; and his open rebuke was dreaded by all the great, who at that time too much deserved it. His sermons, which remain to this day, show that he was possessed both of learning and wit, and there is an air of sincerity running through them not to be found elsewhere. When Ridley began to comfort his ancient friend, Latimer, on his part, was as ready to return the kind office. “Be of good cheer, brother,” cried he, “we shall this day kindle such a torch in England, as, I trust in God, shall never be extinguished.” A furious bigot ascended to preach to them and the people ; Ridley gave a most serious attention to his discourse. No way distracted by the preparations about him, he heard him to the last, and then told him that he was ready to answer all that he had preached upon, if a short indulgence should be permitted : but this was refused him. At length fire was set to the pile : Latimer was soon out of pain ; but Ridley continued to suffer much longer, his legs being consumed before the fire reached his vitals.

One Thomas Hankes, when conducted to the stake, had agreed with his friends, that if he found the torture supportable he would make them a signal for that purpose in the midst of the flames. His zeal for the cause in which he suffered was so strong, that when the spectators thought him near expiring, by stretching out his arms he gave his friends the signal that the pain was not too great to be borne. This example, with many others of the like constancy, encouraged multitudes not only to suffer, but even to aspire after martyrdom.

But women seemed persecuted with as much severity even as men. A woman in Guernsey, condemned for heresy, was delivered of a child in the midst of tho

Bannes. Some of the spectators humanely ran to snatch the infant from danger; but the magistrate, who was a papist, ordered it to be flung in again, and there it was consumed with the mother.

Cranmor's death followed soon after, and struck the whole nation with horror. This prelate, whom we have seen acting so very conspicuous a part in the refcrmation during the two preceding reigns, had been long detained a prisoner, in consequence of his imputed guilt in obstructing the queen's succession to the crown, But it was now resolved to bring him to punishment; and, to give it all its malignity, the queen ordered that he should be punished for heresy rather than for treason. He was accordingly cited by the pope to stand hie trial at Rome ; and though he was kept a prisoner at Oxford, yet, upon his not appearing, he was condemned as contumacious. But his enemies were not satisfied with his tortures, without adding to them the poignancy of self-accusation. Persons were therefore employed to tempt him by flattery and insinuation, by giving him hopes of once more being received into favour, to sign his recantation, in which he acknowledged the doctrines of the papal supremacy and the real presence. His love of life prevailed. In an unguarded moment he was induced to sign this paper; and now his enemies, as we are told of the devil, after having rendered him completely wretched, resolved to destroy him. But it was determined, before they led him out to execution, that they should try to induce him to make a recantation in the church before the people. The unfortunate prelate, either having a secret intimation of their designs, or having recovered the native vigour of his mind, entered the church prepared to surprise the whole audience with a contrary declaration. When he had been placed in a conspicuous part of the church, a sermon was preached by Cole, provost of Eton, in which he magnified Cranmer's conversion as the immediate work of heaven itself

. He assured the archbishop, that nothing could bare been so pleasing to God, the queen, or the people ; he comforted him, by intimating that, if he should suffer, numberless dirges and masses should be said for his soul; and that his own confession of faith would still more secure his soul from the pains of purgatory. During the whole rhapsody Cranmer expressed the utmost agony, anxiety, and interual agitation ; he lifted up his eyes to heaven, he shed a torrent of tears, and groaned with uputterable anguish. He uttered a prayer, filled with the most pathetic expressions of horror and remorse. He then said he was well apprised of his duty to his sovereign ; but that a superior duty, the duty which he owed his Maker, obliged him to declare that he had signed a paper contrary to his conscience ; that he took this opportunity of atoning for his error by a sincere and open recantation , he was willing, he said, to seal with his blood that doctrine, which he firmly believed to be communicated from heaven : and that, as his hand had erred by betraying his heart, it should undergo the first punishment The assembly, consisting chiefly of papists, who hoped to triumph in th, last words of such a convert, were equally confounded and incensed at this declaration. They called aloud to him to leave off dissembling; and led him forward, amidst the insults and reproaches of his audience, to the stake at which Latimer and Ridley had suffered. He resolved to triumph over their insults by his constancy and fortitude: and the fire beginning to be kindled round him, he stretched forth his right hand, ani held it in the flames till it was consumed, while he frequently cried out in the midst of his sufferings, “That unworthy hand !” at the same time exhibiting no appearance of pain or disorder. When the fire attacked his body, he seemed to be quite insensible of his tortures ; his mind was occupied wholly upon the hopes of a future reward. After his body was destroyed, his heart was found entire: an emblem of the constancy with which he suffered.

17).-THE REIGN OF ELIZABETH.

PENNY CYCLOPÆDIA. Elizabeth, Queen of England, the daughter of Henry VIII. by his second wife, Anne Boleyn, was born at Greenwich, 7th September, 1533. She was not threc years old therefore when her mother was brought to the ock, in May, 1536. Very soon after her birth it was declared, by the Act 25 Henry VIII., c. 22, that if Queen Anne should decease without issue male, to be begotten of the body of the king, then the crown, on the death of the king, should go “to the Lady Elizabeth, now princess, and to the heirs of her body lawfully begotten.” By this act, therefore, Henry's female issue by his present quced was placed in the order of succession before the male issue he might have by any future wife. By the 28 Henry VIII., c. 7, however, passed after his marriage wtth Jane Seymour, his two former marriages were declared to be unlawful and void, and both Elizabeth and her elder sister Mary were bastardized. But finally, by the 35 Henry VIII., c. 1, passed soon after his marriage with his last wife, Catharine Parr, it was declared that if Prince Edward should die without heirs, then the crown should remain first to the Lady Mary, and, failing her, to the Lady Elizabeth. This was the last legal settlement of the crown, by which her position was affected, made previous to Elizabeth's accession ; unless, indeed, she might be considered to be excluded by implication by the act 1 Mary, st. 2, c. 1, which legitimatized her sister Mary, declared the validity of Henry's first marriage, and pronounced his divorce from Catherine of Aragon to be void.

In 1535 a negotiation was entered into for the marriage of Elizabeth to the Duke of Angoulême, the third son of Francis I. of France; but it was broken off before any agreement was come to. In 1546 also Henry proposed to the Emperor Charles V., with the view of breaking off a match then contemplated between the emperor's son, the Prince of Spain, afterwards Philip II., with a daughter of the French king, that Philip should marry the Princess Elizabeth ; but neither alliance took place. Elizabeth's next suitor, though he does not seem to have formally declared his pretensions, was the protector Somerset's unfortunate brother, the Lord Seymour of Sudley. He is said to have made some advances to her even before his marriage with Queen Catharine Parr, although Elizabeth was then only in her fourteenth year. Catharine, who died a few months after her marriage (poisoned, as many supposed, by her husband), appears to have been made somewhat uncomfortable while she lived by the freedoms the princess continued to allow Sudley to take with her, which went beyond ordinary flirtation ; the scandal of the day indeed was, that “the Lady Elizabeth did bear some affection to the admiral.” After his wife's death he was accused of having renewed his designs upon her hand ; and it was part of the charge on which he was attainted that he had plotted to seize the king's person, and to force the princess to marry him ; but his execution in the course of a few months stopped this and all his other ambitious schemes.

In 1550, in the reign of Edward VI., it was proposed that Elizabeth should be married to the eldest son of Christian III. of Denmark; but the negotiation seems to have been stopped by her refusal to consent to the match. She was a favourite with her brother, who used to call her his “sweet sister Temperance ;" but he was nevertheless prevailed upon by the artful and interested representations of Dudley, to pass over her, as well as Mary, in the settlement of the crown which he made by will a short time before his death,

Camden gives the following account of the situation and employments of Elizabeth at this period of her life, in the introduction to his history of her reign. She

was both, he says, “in great grace and favour with King Edward, her brother, as likewise in singular esteem with the nobility and people ; for she was of admirable beauty, and well deserving a crown, of a modest gravity, excellent wit, royal soul, happy memory, and indefatigably given to the study of learning ; insomuch, as before she was seventeen years of age she understood well the Latin, French and Italian tongues, and had an indifferent knowledge of the Greek. Neither did she neglect music, so far as it became a princess, being able to sing sweetly, and play handsomely on the lute. With Roger Ascham, who was her tutor, she read over Melancthon's Common-Places, all Tully, a great part of the histories of Titus Livius, certain select orations of Isocrates (whereof two she turned into Latin), Sophocles's Tragedies, and the New Testament in Greek, by which means she both framed her tongue to a pure and elegant way of speaking,” &c. (English Translations in Kennet's Collection.)

It appears from what Ascham himself tells us in his “Schoolmaster,” that Elizabeth continued her Greek studies after she ascended the throne : “ After dinner," (at Windsor Castle, 10th December, 1563), he says, “I went up to read with the Queen's Majesty : we read there together in the Greek tongue, as I well remember, that noble oration of Demosthenes against Æschines for his false dealing in his embassage to King Philip of Macedonia.

On the death of Edward, Camden says that an attempt was made by Dudley to induce Elizabeth to resign her title to the crown for a sum of money, and certain lands to be settled on her : her reply was, “ that her elder sister, the Lady Mary, was first to be agreed withal ; for as long as the said Lady Mary lived she, for her part, could challenge no right at all.” Burnett says that both she and Mary, having been allured by messengers from Dudley, who no doubt wished to get them into his hands, were on their way to town, when the news of Edward's approaching end induced them to turn back. When Mary came to London after being proclaimed queen, the Lady Elizabeth went to meet her with 500 horse, according to Camden, others say with 2000. Fox, the martyrologist, relates that “Queen Mary, when she was first queen, before she was crowned, would go no whither, but would have her by the hand, and send for her to dinner and supper.” At Mary's coronation, in October, 1553, according to Holinshed, as the queen rode through the city towards Westminster, the chariot in which she sat was followed by another “having a covering of cloth of silver, all white, and six horses trapped with the like, wherein sate the Lady Elizabeth and the Lady Anne of Cleve." Another account says that Elizabeth carried the crown on this occasion.

From this time Elizabeth, who had been brought np in their religion, became the hope of the Protestant party. Her position however was one of great difficulty. At first she refused to attend her sister to mass, endeavouring to soothe Mary by appealing to her compassion : after some time however she yielded an outward compliance. The Act passed by the parliament, which, although it did not mention her by name, bastardized her by implication, by annulling her father's divorce from his first wife, could not fail to give her deep offence. Availing herself of an order of Mary, assigning her a rank below what her birth entitled her to, as an excuse for wishing to retire from court, sbe obtained leave to go to her house at Ashridge, in Buckinghamshire, in the beginning of December. About the same time Mary is supposed to have been irritated against her sister by the preference shown for Elizabeth by her kinsman Edward Courtenay, whom, after releasing from the Tower, the queen had restored to his father's title of earl of Devon, and is said to have had some thoughts of marrying. It appears to have been part of the design of the rash and unfortunate attempt of Wyat, in the beginning of the following year, to bring about a marriage between Elizabeth and Courtenay, who was one of those engaged in the

« AnteriorContinuar »