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QUEEN ELIZABETH, both in her natural endowments, and her fortune, was admirable amongst women, and memorable amongst princes. But this is no subject for the pen of a mere scholar, or any such cloistered writer. For these men are eager in their expressions, but shallow in their judgements; and perform the scholar's part well, but transmit things but unfaithfully to posterity. Certainly it is a science belonging to statesmen, and to such as sit at the helms of great kingdoms, and have been acquainted. with the weight and secrets of civil business, to handle this matter dexterously. Rare in all ages hath been the reign of a woman, more rare the felicity of a woman in her reign, but most rare a permanency and lasting joined with that felicity..

As for this lady she reigned four and forty years complete, and yet she did not survive her felicity. Of this felicity I am purposed to say somewhat; yet without any excursion into praises; for praises are the tribute of men, but felicity the gift of God.

First, I reckon it as a part of her felicity, that she was advanced to the regal throne from a private fortune. For this is ingenerate in the nature and opinions of men, to ascribe that to the greatest felicity, which is not counted upon, and cometh unlooked for, but this is not that I intend, it is this, princes that are trained up in their father's courts, and to an immediate and apparent hope of succession do get this by the tenderness and remissness of their education, that they become, commonly, less capable and less temperate in their affections. And therefore you shall find those to have been the ablest and most accomplished kings that were tutored by both fortunes. Such was with us, King Henry the Seventh; and with the French, Lewis the Twelfth: both which in recent memory, and almost about the same time obtained their crowns, not only from a private, but also from an adverse and afflicted fortune; and did both excel in their several ways; the former in prudence, and the other in justice. Much like was the condition of this princess, whose blossoms and hopes were unequally aspected by fortune, that afterwards when she came to crown, fortune might prove towards her always mild and constant. For Queen Elizabeth, soon after she was born, was entitled to the succession in the crown, upon the next turn.

disinherited again, then laid aside and slighted: during the reign of her brother, her estate was most prosperous and flourishing; during the reign of her sister, very tempestuous and full of hazard. Neither yet did she pass immediately from the prison to the crown, which sudden change might have been enough to make her cast off all moderation: but first she regained her liberty, then there budded forth some probable hopes of succession; and lastly, in a great still and happiness she was advanced to the imperial crown without either noise or competitor. All which I allege that it may appear that the divine Providence, intending to produce a most exquisite princess, was pleased to prepare and mould her by these degrees of discipline. Neither ought the misfortune of her mother justly to stain the pure stream of her blood; especially seeing it is very evident that King Henry the Eighth did first burn with new loves, before he was inflamed with indignation against Queen Anne: neither is it unknown to the ages since, that he was a king naturally prone to loves and jealousies; and not containing himself in those cases from the effusion of blood. Besides, the very person for whom she was suspected sheweth the accusation to be less probable, and built upon weak and frivolous suppositions; which was both secretly whispered in many men's ears at that time; and which Queen Anne herself testified by her undaunted courage, and that memorable speech of her's at the time of her death. For having gotten, as she supposed, a faithful and friendly messenger, VOL. 3.


in the very hour before her death, she delivered him these words to relate unto the king: "That she

"had ever found the king very constant and firm to "his purpose of advancing her; for first, from the "estate of a gentlewoman only, and no way pretend"ing to noble titles, he raised her to the honour of "a marchioness; next, he vouchsafed to make her "his consort both of his kingdom and bed: and "now that there remained no higher earthly honour, " he meant to crown her innocency with the glory " of martyrdom." But though the messenger durst not relate these words to the king, who was already inflamed with new loves, yet certain tradition, the conserver of truth, hath conveyed them to posterity.

Another principal thing, which I cast into Queen Elizabeth's felicity, was the time and period of her reign; not only for that it was long, but also because it fell into that season of her life, which was most active and fittest for the swaying of a sceptre, for she was fully five and twenty years old (at which age the civil law freeth from a curator) when she came to the crown, and reigned to the seventieth year of her life; so that she never suffered either the detriments of pupilage, and check of an over-awing power, or the inconveniences of an impotent and unwieldy old age; and old age is not without a competent portion of miseries, even to private men ; but to kings, besides the common burthen of years, it brings for the most part a declining in the estates they govern, and a conclusion of their lives without honour. For there hath scarce been known a king

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