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any way eclipse or overshade the imperial power. And for the people and state in general, they were in such lowness of obedience, as subjects were like to yield, who had lived almost four and twenty years under so politic a King as his father; being also one who came partly in by the sword; and had so high a courage in all points of regality; and was ever victorious in rebellions and seditions of the people. The crown extremely rich, and full of treasure, and the kingdom like to be so in a short time. For there was no war, no dearth, no stop of trade, or commerce; it was only the crown which had sucked too hard, and now being full, and upon the head of a young King, was like to draw less. Lastly, he was inheritor of his father's reputation, which was great throughout the world. He had strait alliance with the two neighbour states, an ancient enemy in former times, and an ancient friend, Scotland and Burgundy. He had peace and amity with France, under the assurance, not only of treaty and league, but of necessity and inability in the French to do him hurt, in respect that the French King's designs were wholly bent upon Italy: so that it may be truly said, there had scarcely been seen, or known, in many ages, such a rare concurrence of signs and promises, of a happy and flourishing reign to ensue, as were now met in this young King, called after his father's name, Henry the eighth
HISTORY OF GREAT BRITAIN.
By the decease of Elizabeth Queen of England, the issues of King Henry the eighth failed, being spent in one generation, and three successions. For that King, though he were one of the goodliest persons of his time, yet he left only by his six wives three children; who reigning successively, and dying childless, made place to the line of Margaret, his eldest sister, married to James the fourth King of Scotland. There succeeded therefore to the kingdom of England James the sixth then King of Scotland, descended of the same Margaret both by father and mother: so that by a rare event in the pedigrees of Kings, it seemed as if the divine providence, to extinguish and take away all envy and note of a stranger, had doubled upon his person, within the circle of one age, the royal blood of England by both parents. This succession drew towards it the eyes of all men, being one of the most memorable accidents that had happened a long time in the Christian world. For the kingdom of France having been reunited in the age before in all the provinces thereof formerly dismembred: and the kingdom of Spain being, of more fresh memory, united and made entire, by the annexing of Portugal in the person of Philip the second; there remained but this third and last union, for the counterpoising of the power of these three great monarchies; and the disposing of the affairs of Europe thereby to a more assured and universal peace and concord. And this event did hold mens observations and discourses the more, because the island of
Great Britain, divided from the rest of the world, was never before united in itself under one King, notwithstanding the people be of one language, and not separate by mountains or great waters; and notwithstanding also that the uniting of them had been in former times industriously attempted both by war and treaty. Therefore it seemed a manifest work of providence, and a case of reservation for these times; insomuch that the vulgar conceived that now there was an end given, and a consummation to superstitious prophecies, the belief of fools, but the talk sometimes of wise men, and to an ancient tacit expectation, which had by tradition been infused and inveterated into mens minds. But as the best divinations and predictions are the politic and probable foresight and conjectures of wise men, so in this matter the providence of King Henry the seventh was in all mens mouths; who being one of the deepest and most prudent princes of the world, upon the deliberation concerning the marriage of his eldest daughter into Scotland, had, by some speech uttered by him, shewed himself sensible and almost prescient of this event.
Neither did there want a concurrence of divers rare external circumstances, besides the virtues and condition of the person, which gave great reputation to this succession. A King in the strength of his years, supported with great alliances abroad, established with royal issue at home, at peace with all the world, practised in the regiment of such a kingdom, as might rather enable a King by variety of accidents, than corrupt him with affluence or vain-glory; and one that besides his universal capacity and judgment, was notably exercised and practised in matters of religion and the Church: which in these times, by the confused use of both swords, are become so intermixed with considerations of estate, as most of the counsels of sovereign princes or republics depend upon them but nothing did more fill foreign nations with admiration and expectation of his succession, than the wonderful and, by them, unexpected consent of all estates and subjects of England, for the
receiving of the King without the least scruple, pause, or question. For it had been generally dispersed by the fugitives beyond the seas, who, partly to apply themselves to the ambition of foreigners, and partly to give estimation and value to their own employments, used to represent the state of England in a false light, that after Queen Elizabeth's decease there must follow in England nothing but confusions, interreigns, and perturbations of estate, likely far to exceed the ancient calamities of the civil wars between the houses of Lancaster and York, by how much more the dissentions were like to be more mortal and bloody, when foreign competition should be added to domestical; and divisions for religion to matter of title to the crown. And in special, Parsons the Jesuit, under a disguised name, had not long before published an express treatise, wherein, whether his malice made him believe his own fancies, or whether he thought it the fittest way to move sedition, like evil spirits, which seem to foretel the tempest they mean to move; he laboured to display and give colour to all the vain pretences and dreams of succession which he could imagine; and thereby had possessed many abroad that knew not the affairs here with those his vanities. Neither wanted there here within this realm, divers persons both wise and well affected, who though they doubted not of the undoubted right, yet setting before themselves the waves of people's hearts, guided no less by sudden and temporary winds, than by the natural course and motion of the waters, were not without fear what might be the event. For Queen Elizabeth being a Princess of extreme caution, and yet one that loved admiration above safety; and knowing the declaration of a successor might in point of safety be disputable, but in point of admiration and respect assuredly to her disadvantage; had from the beginning set it down for a maxim of estate, to impose a silence touching succession. Neither was it only reserved as a secret of estate, but restrained by severe laws, that no man should presume to give opinion, or main
tain argument touching the same: so, though the evidence of right drew all the subjects of the land to think one thing; yet the fear of danger of law made no man privy to others thought. And therefore it rejoiced all men to see so fair a morning of a kingdom, and to be thoroughly secured of former apprehensions; as a man that awaketh out of a fearful dream. But so it was, that not only the consent, but the applause and joy was infinite, and not to be expressed, throughout the realm of England upon this succession: whereof the consent, no doubt, may be truly ascribed to the clearness of the right; but the general joy, alacrity, and gratulation, were the effects of differing causes. For Queen Elizabeth, although she had the use of many both virtues and demonstrations, that might draw and knit unto her the hearts of her people; yet nevertheless carrying a hand restrained in gift, and strained in points of prerogative, could not answer the votes either of servants or subjects to a full contentment; especially in her latter days, when the continuance of her reign, which extended to five and forty years, might discover in people their natural desire and inclination towards change: so that a new court and a new reign were not to many unwelcome. Many were glad, and especially those of settled estate and fortune, that the fears and uncertainties were overblown, and that the dye was cast. Others, that had made their way with the King, or offered their service in the time of the former Queen, thought now the time was come for which they had prepared and generally all such as had any dependence upon the late earl of Essex, who had mingled the service of his own ends with the popular pretence of advancing the King's title, made account their cause was amended. Again, such as might misdoubt they had given the King any occasion of distaste, did contend by their forwardness and confidence to shew, it was but their fastness to the former government, and that those affections ended with the time. The papists nourished their hopes, by collating the case of the papists in England, and under Queen Elizabeth,