THE WORLD'S GREATEST BOOKS
ARTHUR MEE Editor and Founder of the Book of Knowledge
J.A. HAMMERTON Editor of Harmsworth's Universal Encyclopaedia
VOL. X LIVES AND LETTERS
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Table of Contents
HUGO, VICTOR Deeds and Words
HUME, MARTIN Courtships of Elizabeth Love Affairs of Mary Queen of Scots
IRVING, WASHINGTON Life of Christopher Columbus Life of George Washington
JOSEPHUS, FLAVIUS Autobiography
LA ROCHEFOUCAULD: See ROCHEFOUCAULD
LOCKHART, JOHN GIBSON Life of Sir Walter Scott Life of Robert Burns
LUTHER, MARTIN Table Talk
MIRABEAU, COMTE DE Memoirs
MOORE, THOMAS Life of Byron
MORISON, J.A.C. Life of St. Bernard
MORLEY, JOHN Life of Cobden
PEPYS, SAMUEL Diary
PLINY THE YOUNGER Letters
RICHELIEU, CARDINAL Political Testament
ROUSSEAU, JEAN JACQUES Confessions
ROCHEFOUCAULD, FRANCOIS DUC de LA Memoirs
SEVIGNE, Mme. de Letters
SOUTHEY, ROBERT Life of Nelson
STAAL, Mme. de Memoirs
STANHOPE, EARL Life of Pitt
STANLEY, A.P. Life of Thomas Arnold, D.D.
STRICKLAND, AGNES Life of Queen Elizabeth
SWIFT, JONATHAN Journal to Stella
TOLSTOY, COUNT LYOF N. Childhood, Boyhood, Youth My Confession
VILLARI, PASQUALE Life of Girolamo Savanarola
WESLEY, JOHN Journal
WOOLMAN, JOHN Journal
A Complete Index of THE WORLD'S GREATEST BOOKS will be found at the end of Volume XX.
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Acknowledgement and thanks for permitting the use of the following selections in this volume, viz., "The Courtships of Queen Elizabeth," and "The Love Affairs of Mary Queen of Scots," by Major Martin Hume, are herewith tendered to Everleigh Nash, of London, England.
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Deeds and Words
"Deeds and Words" ("Actes et Paroles"), which is dated June, 1875, is the record of Victor Hugo's public life, speeches and letters, down to the year of his death, which occurred on May 32, 1885; but it is most important as a defence of his political career from 1848 onwards. It does not, however, tell us how changeable his opinions had actually been. His inconstant attachments are thus summed up by Dr. Brandes: "He warmly supports the candidacy of Louis Napoleon for the post of President of the Republic ... lends him his support when he occupies that post, and is even favourable to the idea of an empire, until the feeling that he is despised as a politician estranges him from the Prince-President, and resentment at the coup d'etat drives him into the camp of the extreme Republicans. His life may be said to mirror the political movements of France during the first half of the century." (See FICTION.)
I.—Right and Law
All human eloquence, among all peoples and in all times, may be summed up as the quarrel of Right against Law.
But this quarrel tends ever to decrease, and therein lies the whole of progress. On the day when it has disappeared, civilisation will have attained its highest point; that which ought to be will have become one with that which is; there will be an end of catastrophes, and even, so to speak, of events; and society will develop majestically according to nature. There will be no more disputes nor factions; no longer will laws be made, they will only be discovered. Education will have taken the place of war, and by means of universal suffrage there will be chosen a parliament of intellect.
In that serene and glorious age there will be no more warriors, but workers only; creators in the place of exterminators. The civilisation of action will have passed away, and that of thought will have succeeded. The masterpieces of art and of literature will be the great events.
Frontiers will disappear; and France, which is destined to die as the gods die, by transfiguration, will become Europe. For the Revolution of France will be known as the evolution of the peoples. France has laboured not for herself alone, but has aroused world-wide hopes, and is herself the representative of all human good-will.
Right and Law are the two great forces whose harmony gives birth to order, but their antagonism is the source of all catastrophe. Right is the divine truth, and Law is the earthly reality; liberty is Right and society is Law. Wherefore there are two tribunes, one of the men of ideas, the other of the men of facts; and between these two the consciences of most still vacillate. Not yet is there harmony between the immutable and the variable power; Right and Law are in ceaseless conflict.
To Right belong the inviolability of human life, liberty, peace; and nothing that is indissoluble, irrevocable, or irreparable. To Law belong the scaffold, sword, and sceptre; war itself; and every kind of yoke, from divorceless marriage in the family to the state of siege in the city. Right is to come and go, buy, sell, exchange; Law has its frontiers and its custom-houses. Right would have free and compulsory education, without encroaching on young consciences; that is to say, lay instruction; Law would have the teaching of ignorant friars. Right demands liberty of belief, but Law establishes the state religions. Universal suffrage and universal jury belong to Right, but restricted franchise and packed juries are creatures of the Law.
What a difference there is! And let it be understood that all social agitation arises from the persistence of Right against the obstinacy of Law. The keynote of the present writer's public life has been "Pro jure contra legem"—for the Right which makes men, against the Law which men have made. He believes that liberty is the highest expression of Right, and that the republican formula, "Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity," leaves nothing to be added or to be taken away. For Liberty is Right, Equality is Fact, and Fraternity is Duty. The whole of man is there. We are brothers in our life, equal in birth and death, free in soul.
II.—Days of Childhood
At the beginning of this nineteenth century there was a child who lived in a great house, surrounded by a large garden, in the most deserted part of Paris. He lived with his mother, two brothers, and a venerable and worthy priest, who was his only tutor, and taught him much Latin, a little Greek, and no history at all. Here, at the time of the First Empire, the three boys played and worked, watched the clouds and trees and listened to the birds, under the sweet influence of their mother's smile.
It was the child's misfortune, though no one's fault, that he was taught by a priest. What can be more terrible than a system of untruth, sincerely believed? For a priest teaches falsehoods, ignorant of the truth, and thinks he does well; everything he does for the child is done against the child, making crooked that which nature has made straight; his teaching poisons the young mind with aged prejudices, drawing evening twilight, like a curtain, over the dawn.
That ancient, solitary house and garden, formerly a convent and then the home of his childhood, is still in his old age a dear and religious memory, though its site is now profaned by a modern street He sees it in a romantic atmosphere, in which, amid sunbeams and roses, his spirit opened into flower. What a stillness was in its vast rooms and cloisters. Only at long intervals was the silence broken by the return of a plumed and sabred general, his father, from the wars. That child, already thoughtful, was myself.
One night—it was some great festival of the empire, and all Paris was illumined—my mother was walking in the garden with three of my father's comrades, and I was following them, when we saw a tall figure in the gloom of the trees. It was the proscribed Victor du Lahorie, my godfather. He was even then conspiring against Bonaparte in the cause of liberty, and was shortly after executed. I remember his saying, "If Rome had kept her kings, she had not been Rome," and then, looking on me, "Child, put liberty first of all!" That one word outweighed my whole education.
III.—Before the Exile
It was not until the writer saw, in 1848, the triumph of all the enemies of progress that he knew in the depths of his heart that he belonged, not to the conquerors, but to the vanquished. The Republic lay inanimate; but, gazing on her form, he saw that she was liberty, and not even the sure fore-knowledge of the ruin and exile that must follow could prevent his espousal with the dead. On June 15 he made his protest from the tribune, and from that day he fought relentless battle for liberty and the republic. And on December 2, 1851, he received what he had expected—twenty years of exile. That is the history of what has been called his apostasy.
Throughout that strange period before his exile, the frightful phantom of the past was all-powerful with men. Every kind of question was debated—national independence, individual liberty, liberty of conscience, of thought, of speech, and of the Press; questions of marriage, of education, of the right to work, of the right to one's fatherland as against exile, of the right to life as against penal law, of the separation of Church and state, of the federation of Europe, of frontiers to be wiped out, and of custom-houses to be done away—all these questions were proposed, debated, and sometimes settled.
In these debates the author of this memoir took his part and did his duty, and was repaid with insults. He remembers interjecting, when they were insisting on parental rights, that the children had rights, too. He astounded the assembly by asserting that it was possible to do away with misery. On July 17, 1851, he denounced the conspiracy of Louis Bonaparte, unveiling the project of the president to become emperor. On another day he pronounced from the tribune a phrase which had never yet been uttered—"The United States of Europe." Contempt and calumny were poured upon him, but what of that? They called George Washington a pickpocket.
These men of the old majority, who were doing all the evil that they could—did they mean to do evil? Not a bit of it. They deceived themselves, thinking that they had the truth, and they lied in the service of the truth. Their pity for society was pitiless for the people, whence arose so many laws, so many actions, that were blindly ferocious. They were rather a mob than a senate, and were led by the worst of their number. Let us be indulgent, and let night hide the men of night.
What do our labours and our troubles and our exiles matter if they have been for the general good; if the human race be indeed passing from December to its April; if the winter of tyrannies and of wars indeed be finished; if superstitions and prejudices no longer fall on our heads like snow; and if, after so many clouds of empire and of carnage have rolled away, we at last descry upon the horizon the rosy dawn of universal peace?
O my brothers, let us be reconciled! Let us set out on the immense highway of peace. Surely there has been enough of hatred. When will you understand that we are all together on the same ship, and that the immense menace of the sea is for all of us together? Our solidarity is terrible, but brotherhood is sweet.
The sovereignty of the people, universal suffrage, and the liberty of the Press are all the same thing under three different names. The three together constitute the whole of our public right; the first is its principle, the second its manner, and the third its expression. The three principles are indissoluble from one another. The sovereignty of the people is the life-giving soul of the nation, universal suffrage its government, the Press its illumination; but they are all really one, and that unity is the republic. It is curious to notice how these principles appear again in the watchword of the republic; for the sovereignty of the people creates liberty, universal suffrage creates equality, and the Press, which enlightens the general mind, creates fraternity.
Wherever these three great principles exist in their powers and plenitude there is the republic, even though it be known as monarchy. Wherever, on the other hand, they are betrayed, hindered, or oppressed, the actual state is a monarchy or an oligarchy, even though it goes under the name of a republic. In the latter case we see the monstrous phenomenon of a government betrayed by its proper guardians, and it is this phenomenon that makes the stoutest hearts begin to be doubtful of revolutions. For revolutions are vast, ill-guided movements, which bring forth out of the darkness at one and the same time the greatest of ideas and the smallest of men; they are movements which we welcome as salutary when we look at their principles, but which we can only call catastrophes when he consider the character of their leaders.
Let us never forget that our three first principles live with a common life, and mutually defend one another. If the Liberty of the Press is in danger, the suffrages of the people arise and protect it; and, again, if the franchise is threatened, it is safeguarded by the freedom of the Press. Any attempt against either of them is a treachery to the sovereignty of the people.
The movement of this great nineteenth century is the movement not of one people only, but of all. France leads, and the nations follow. We are passing from the old world to the new, and our governors attempt in vain to arrest ideas by laws. There is in France and in Europe a party inspired by fear, which is not to be accounted the party of order; and its incessant question is: Who is to blame?
In the crisis through which we are passing, though it is a salutary crisis which will lead only to good, everyone exclaims at the dreadful moral disorder and the imminent social danger. Who, then, is guilty of these ravages? Whom shall we punish? Throughout Europe, the party of fear answers "France." Throughout France, it answers "Paris." In Paris, it blames the Press. But every thoughtful man must see that it is none of these, but is the human spirit.
It is the human spirit that has made the nations what they are. From the beginning, through infinite debate and contradiction, it has sought, unresting, to solve the problem eternally placed before the creature by his Creator. It is the human spirit which takes from age to age the form of the great revolts of history; it has been in turn, and sometimes altogether, error, illusion, heresy, schism, protest, and the truth. The human spirit is ever the great shepherd of the generations, proceeding always towards the just, the beautiful, and the true, enlightening the multitude, ennobling souls, directing the mind of man towards God.
Let the party of fear throughout Europe consider the magnitude of the task which they have undertaken. When they have destroyed the Press, they have yet to destroy Paris. When Paris is fallen, there remains France. Let France be annihilated, there still remains the human spirit—a thing intangible as the light, inaccessible as the sun.
Nothing is more terrible than exile. I do not say for him who suffers, but for the tyrant who inflicts it. A solitary figure paces a distant shore, or rises in the morning to his philosophic labours, or calls on God among the rocks and trees; his hairs become grey, and then white, in the slow passing of the years and in his longing for home; his lot is a sorrowful one; but his innocence is terrible to the crowned miscreant who sent him there. From 1852 to 1870 I was in exile.
How pleasant are those islands of the Channel, and how like France! Jersey, perhaps, more charming than Guernsey, prettier if less imposing; in Jersey the forest has become a garden; the island is like a bouquet of flowers, of the size of London, a smiling land, an idyll set in the midst of the sea.
The exile soon learns that, though the tyrant has placed him afar, he does not release his hold. Many and ingenious are the snares laid for the banished. A prince calls on you, but though he is of royal blood, he is also a detective of police. A grave professor stays at your house, and you surprise him searching your papers. Everything is permitted against you; you are outside the law, outside of common justice, outside of respect. They will say that they have your authority to publish your conversations, and will attribute to you words that you have never spoken and actions that you have never done. Never write to your friends—your letters are opened on the way. Beware of all who are kindly to you in exile; they are ruining you in Paris. You are isolated as a leper. A mysterious stranger whispers in your ear that he can procure the assassination of Bonaparte; it is Bonaparte offering to kill himself. Every day of your life is a new outrage. Only one thing is open to the exile; it is to turn his thought to other subjects.
He is at least beside the sea; let its infinity bring him wisdom. The eternal rioting of the surges against the rocks is as the agitation of impostures against the truth. It is a vain convulsion; the foam gains nothing by it, the granite loses nothing, and only sparkles the more bravely in the sun.
But exile has this great advantage—one is free to contemplate, to think, to suffer. To be alone, and yet to feel that one is with all humanity; to consolidate oneself as a citizen, and to purify oneself as a philosopher; to be poor, and begin again to work for one's living, to meditate on what is good and to contrive for what is better; to be angry in the public cause, but to crush all personal enmity; to breathe the vast, living winds of the solitudes; to compose a deeper indignation with a profounder peace—these are the opportunities of exile. I accustomed myself to say, "If, after a revolution, Bonaparte should knock at my door and ask shelter, let never a hair of his head be injured."
Yes, an exile becomes a well-wisher. He loves the roses, and the birds' nests, and the flitting hither and thither of the butterflies. He mingles with the sweet joys of the creatures, and learns a changeless faith in some secret and infinite goodness. The green glades are his chosen dwelling and his life is April; he reclines amazed at the mysteries of a tuft of grass; he studies the ant-hills of tiny republicans; he learns to know the birds by their songs; he watches the children playing barefoot in the edge of the sea.
Against this dangerous man governments are taking the most strenuous precautions. Victoria offers to hand over the exiles to Napoleon, and messages of compliment are passed from one throne to the other. But that gift did not take place. The English royalist Press applauded, but the people of London would have none of it. The great city muttered thunder. Majesty clothed in probity—that is the character of the English nation. That good and proud people showed their indignation, and Palmerston and Bonaparte had to be content with the expulsion of the exiles.
During the whole long night of my exile I never lost Paris from my view. When Europe and even France were in darkness, Paris was never hidden. That is because Paris is the frontier of the future, the visible frontier of the unknown. All of to-morrow that can be seen to-day is in Paris. The eyes that are searching for progress come to rest on Paris, for Paris is the city of light.
VI.—After the Exile
This triology, "Before, During, and After the Exile," is no work of mine, it is the doing of Napoleon III. He it is who has divided my life in this way, observing, as one might say, the rules of art. Returning to my country on September 5, 1870, I found the sky more gloomy and my duty more clamant than ever.
Though it is sad to leave the fatherland, to return to it is sometimes sadder still; and there is no Frenchman who would not have preferred a life-long banishment, to seeing France ground beneath the Prussian heel, and the loss of Metz and Strasburg. This was an invasion of barbarians; but there is another menace that is not less formidable. I mean the invasion of our land by darkness, an invasion of the nineteenth century by the middle ages. After the emperor, the pope; after Berlin, Rome; after the triumph of the sword, the triumph of night. For the light of civilisation may be extinguished in either of two ways, by a military or by a clerical invasion. The former threatens our mother, France; the latter our child, the future.
A double inviolability is the most precious possession of a civilised people—the inviolability of territory and the inviolability of conscience; and as the soldier violates the first, so does the priest violate the other. Yet the soldier does but obey his orders and the priest his dogmas, so that there are only two who are ultimately culpable—Caesar, who slays, and Peter, who lies. There is no religion which has not as its aim to seize forcibly the human soul, and it is to attempts of this kind that France is given up to-day.
One may say, indeed, that in our age there are two schools, and that these two schools sum up in themselves the two opposed currents which draw civilisation, the one towards the future and the other towards the past. One of these schools is called Paris and the other Rome. Each of them has its book; the one has the "Declaration of the Rights of Man," the other has the "Syllabus"; and the first of these books says "Yes" to progress, but the second of them says "No." Yet progress is the footstep of God.
Paris means Montaigne, Rabelais, Pascal, Corneille, Moliere, Montesquieu, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire, Mirabeau, Danton. Rome, on the other hand, means Innocent III., Pius V., Alexander VI., Urban VIII., Arbuez, Cisneros, Lainez, Guillandus, Ignatius.
To educate is nothing less than to govern; and clerical education means a clerical government, with a despotism as its summit and ignorance as its foundation.
Rome already holds Belgium, and would now seize Paris. We are witnesses of a struggle to the death. Against us is all that manifold power which emerges from the past, the spirit of monarchy, of superstition, of the barrack and of the convent; we have against us temerity, effrontery, audacity, and fear. On our side there is nothing but the light. That is why the victory will be with us. For to enlighten is to deliver. Every increase in liberty involves increased responsibility. Nothing is graver than freedom; liberty has burdens of her own, and lays on the conscience all the chains which she unshackles from the limbs. We find rights transforming themselves into duties. Let us therefore take heed to what we are doing; we live in a difficult time and are answerable at once to the past and to the future. The time has come, in this year 1876, to replace commotions by concessions. That is how civilisation advances. For progress is nothing other than revolution effected amicably.
Therefore, legislators and citizens, let us redouble our good-will. Let all wounds be healed, all animosities extinguished; by overcoming hatred we shall overcome war; let no disturbance that may come be due to our fault. Our task of entering into the unknown is difficult enough without angers and bitterness. I am one of those who hope from that unknown future, but only on condition that we make use from the first of every means of pacification that is in our power. Let us act with the virile kindness of the strong.
Let us then calm the nations by peace, and the hearts of men by brotherhood, and let us never forget that we are ourselves responsible for this last half of the nineteenth century, and that we are placed between a great past, the Revolution of France, and a great future, the Revolution of Europe.
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The Courtships of Elizabeth
Major Martin Andrew Hume, born in London on December 8, 1847, and educated at Madrid, comes of an English family, the members of which have resided in Spain for a hundred years. He began life in the British Army, from which he retired with the rank of major. Major Hume was appointed editor of the Spanish state papers published by the Record Office; he is also lecturer in Spanish History and Literature at Cambridge, and examiner and lecturer in Spanish at the Birmingham University. He has written numerous works on the history of Spain; but perhaps he is best known for his historical studies of the Tudor period, of which may be mentioned "The Courtships of Queen Elizabeth," "The Love Affairs of Mary Queen of Scots," and "The Wives of Henry VIII." In the first-named work, published in 1896, Major Hume has presented an exceedingly interesting human document, and classified a tangled mass of material. The epitome here presented has been prepared for THE WORLD'S GREATEST BOOKS by the author himself.
The greatest diplomatic game ever played on the world's chessboard was that consummate succession of intrigues which, for nearly half a century, was carried on by Queen Elizabeth and her ministers with the object of playing off one great Continental power against another for the benefit of England and Protestantism, with which the interests of the queen were inextricably involved. Those in the midst of the strife worked mostly for immediate aims, and neither saw, nor cared, for the ultimate results; but we, looking back, see that out of that tangle of duplicity there emerged a new era of civilisation and a host of vigorous impulses which move us to this hour.
The victory of England in that struggle meant the dominance of modern ideas of liberty and of the imperial destiny of our race, and it seems as if the result could only have been attained in the peculiar combination of circumstances and persons then existing. Elizabeth triumphed as much by her weakness as by her strength. Honest Cecil kept his hand upon the helm so long because the only alternative to him was the greedy crew of councillors eager for foreign bribes. Without Leicester as a permanent matrimonial possibility, the queen could never have held the balance between her foreign suitors; and, but for the follies of Mary Stuart, the English Catholics would not have been subjected so easily, whilst the religious dissensions in France and the character of Philip II. aided Elizabeth's diplomacy. Elizabeth was more than once betrothed in her childhood to aid her father's policy, but when Henry died, in 1547, his younger daughter was unbetrothed.
During her residence with the Queen-Dowager, Catharine Parr, who soon married Thomas, Lord Seymour, the fourteen-year-old girl was exposed to peril from the designs of the ambitious Seymour. The indecorous romping, perhaps innocent at first, that took place between her and her married host provided grave scandal which touched even the honour of the girl, and her keen wits alone saved her on this occasion from disgrace. Her crafty reticence served her well, when the intrigues of Wyat, Courtenay, and the French party threatened Mary's throne; but when Mary was married, the Spanish party at once became interested in securing Elizabeth to their side by her marriage. Mary's jealousy, and Elizabeth's own determination not to be made a tool, frustrated Philip's attempt to marry the princess to his cousin, the Duke of Savoy; and when the Protestant Swedes clandestinely offered her the hand of Prince Eric, her discreet wariness again protected her from the dangerous proposal.
When Mary lay dying, Feria, the Spanish ambassador, hurried to Hatfield to salute the rising sun, and hinted even thus early that Elizabeth might marry her powerful Spanish brother-in-law. But she resented his patronage, and though she coquetted, as usual, with the proposal of marriage, she took care not to pledge herself or submit England to foreign dictation. To Spain it was vital that England should be at her bidding. If the queen could not marry Philip, surely she could only wed one of his Austrian cousins; or, if not, then England must be conquered by the sword. All that Elizabeth wanted was time, and tardy Philip played into her hands. One English noble after the other was taken up and dropped, in the intervals of foreign philandering. Lord Arundel, foolish, old, and vain, had high hopes; Sir William Pickering's chances looked bright, and France and Spain sought to patronise each English candidate in his turn, especially Lord Robert Dudley, the queen's friend from childhood, though he was already married to Amy Robsart.
At length, after many days of dallying, great Philip decided to sacrifice himself for Spain and marry his enigmatical sister-in-law. She must, of course, renounce Protestantism and all the laws that made her legally a queen; which was absurd, as Feria soon saw, and frankly told his master. So then Philip half-heartedly patronised the suit of his Austrian cousin, the Archduke Charles. If the latter would be an obedient Spanish instrument he could have Philip's support; but German Lutherans and English Protestants had also to be considered, and Elizabeth's court was divided into those who feared any consort not wholly Protestant and those who were eager for any marriage that shielded England from Spanish attack.
Elizabeth thought she could avoid the latter danger without marriage at all, so she dexterously played with all her suitors, English and foreign, while strengthening her position and gaining popularity. Sometimes she swore she would never marry, and the next day would grow sentimental over the archduke, or flirted with Dudley—keeping them all in suspense and afraid of offending her. The French, having no marriageable prince of their own, supported Dudley, or any other English candidate whom they could use against Spain; whilst Dudley himself pretended to favour the archduke, till matters looked serious, and then found means of frustrating him, often to Elizabeth's rage, for she wished to play her own deep game unhampered. She knew she could always choke off the Austrian when she wished by making fresh religious demands. The English nobles were furious at Dudley's selfish manoeuvres to keep the queen unwed till he was free, and they planned to marry the queen to Arran, the next heir of Scotland. This looked promising for months, but Dudley and his sister, Lady Sidney, checked the plan.
II.—The Nine Years' Comedy
In September, 1559, Dudley and his sister warmly took up the archduke's cause, and assured Quadra, the Spanish ambassador, that if the suitor would flatter the queen by coming to England on chance, she would marry him. But Elizabeth and Cecil, though they hinted much, would not clearly confirm Dudley's promise, and Philip and the emperor dared not expose the archduke to the risk of being repulsed. The English nobles, in good faith, urged the archduke's suit, and said that Dudley was plotting to kill his wife and marry the queen; but they and the Spanish ambassador were outwitted at every point by Elizabeth's diplomacy, and through 1559 and 1560 all the rivals were kept between hope and fear.
Then, in September 1560, the long-predicted murder of Amy Robsart set Dudley free, and made the nobles and Cecil more anxious than ever that the archduke should be bold, take the risk, and come to England. The queen, to weaken the new friendship between France and Spain, herself again pretended eagerness for the Austrian's coming; but the trick was stale now, and neither Philip nor the emperor believed her. To checkmate Dudley the Protestants were actively urging the suit of Eric of Sweden, when, in January 1561, the former made a bold bid for Spanish support. He was, he said, quite innocent of his wife's death, and he promised Quadra that if the King of Spain would urge his (Dudley's) suit upon the queen, England should send envoys to the Council of Trent, receive a papal legate, and become practically Catholic. He might promise, but such a thing was impossible, and Cecil, when he learnt of the intrigue, promptly embroiled matters and spoilt the plan.
Elizabeth, too, saw whither she was drifting, and by pretended levity turned it into a joke. At one time she invited the old Spanish bishop to marry her to Dudley, and next day said she would never marry at all. But she never ceased to flirt with Dudley, who, when his intrigue with Spain fell through, cynically appealed to the French Protestants for support. They were in no position to help him, and by January 1562, he was cringing to Spain, and pretending to be Catholic. But English Catholics hated him, and he was now no fit instrument for Philip.
In her own court it was firmly believed that Elizabeth was secretly married to Dudley—it was high time, said the gossips; but in truth the international importance of her marriage was now (1562-63) partially obscured by that of the widowed Mary Queen of Scots. Before the latter were dangled Eric of Sweden, the Archduke Charles, the Earl of Arran, and Darnley; but the match which Mary most wished for, and the most threatening to Elizabeth, was that with the vicious young lunatic, Don Carlos, the heir of Philip of Spain. The match with Darnley, too, as he was in the English succession, was distasteful to Elizabeth; but in order to divert the Spanish match—which, really, though she knew it not, was out of the question—she pretended to favour Darnley's suit at first.
In order still more to avert the Catholic alliance, Elizabeth sent active help to the French Huguenots, and drew closer to the Protestants of Germany and Holland, where distrust of their Spanish sovereign was already brewing. In these circumstances, Elizabeth for the first time could defy Spain, and Quadra, accused of conspiring against the queen, was expelled the country. When the Darnley match for Mary Stuart looked too serious, Elizabeth diverted it for a time by proposing that Dudley—now Earl of Leicester—should marry Mary. It was, of course, but a trick, through which the Scottish queen saw, with the object of preventing the Darnley marriage and discrediting Mary in the eyes of foreign princes; but it served its turn for a time.
In July 1564, when the league of France and Spain again menaced her, Elizabeth set her cap at the boy Don Carlos, and even swore to the Spanish ambassador that she was really a Catholic.
The further to alienate the Catholic powers from each other, she simultaneously approached the emperor to revive the proposal of marriage with the Archduke Charles, and to Catherine de Medici to drop a hint that she—Elizabeth—might marry the young King of France, Charles IX., a youth barely half her age—anything to prevent a combination against her and the marriage of Don Carlos with Mary Stuart. Catherine de Medici had her own reasons at the time for smiling upon Elizabeth's suggestion. She did not wish to be bound too tightly to Spain and the Catholics, for fear of the Huguenots; and in February 1565, she wrote to Elizabeth, saying that she would be the happiest of mothers if she could see her dearly beloved sister of England married to her son, Charles IX.
Elizabeth was full of maidenly hesitation. She was too old for him; perhaps he would not think her beautiful, and so on; but she took care to say that there was no one else she could marry, as she would not wed a subject. The Huguenots actively pushed the proposal, and Leicester pretended to favour it, though Cecil was against it on many grounds. But it was never seriously meant. It brought the Huguenots to Catherine's side on the eve of her voyage to renew the Catholic league with Philip, and it brought the Archduke Charles once more forward as a suitor for Elizabeth's hand. When it had thus served its purpose, the idea of the mature English queen marrying the boy Charles IX. was dropped.
The Austrian's new advances were looked upon somewhat askance by Spain, until his attitude towards religion was assured, and, to have a second string, the Spanish ambassador, Guzman, affected to favour Leicester's suit. Cecil and the conservative nobles were sincere now in their advocacy of the archduke, and between the two parties Elizabeth steered coquettishly and diplomatically, modestly urging the archduke's coming, and yet flirting desperately with Leicester. The breach between the English nobles was profound, as all but Leicester wished the question of the queen's marriage and succession to be settled; and Leicester's chances were stronger than ever when it became clear, late in 1565, that the archduke would not come to England without a firm pledge. The French played off Leicester, too, against the archduke; sometimes even again suggesting their own king when Leicester's star waxed pale.
Later, in 1566, the Lords and Commons urged the queen to marry, even Leicester joining in the remonstrance. But Elizabeth wished to play the game in her own way, and soundly scolded them. She did not mean to marry the archduke, or perhaps anyone, but whilst she kept him dangling, she knew she need not fear the Catholic combination. Soon all danger from that quarter disappeared for a time. Philip was in death struggle with his Protestant subjects in Holland; civil war was again raging in France, and Mary Stuart was a disgraced prisoner in the hands of her enemies. In the nine years that Elizabeth had carried on the marriage comedy she had kept the balance whilst England was growing stronger. Now, in 1568, she could afford to rest from her labours until danger from abroad again loomed.
III.—Catholics and Heretics
The peace of St. Germain in 1570 ended the long religious war in France, and the Guises and Catholics there, free from the strife, planned the rescue of the imprisoned Mary Stuart by force, and her marriage with the Duke of Anjou, the heir and brother of Charles IX. This was a danger both to Elizabeth and to the Huguenots, and was at once counteracted by their bringing forward the suggestion that the Queen of England might marry Anjou. He was, it is true, a fanatical Catholic, but the Huguenots thought that with England as a bait, and the powerful mind of Elizabeth to guide him, the youth might change his views. Leicester offered his help—for he knew the match was unlikely—and soon Catherine de Medici's agents were busy by Elizabeth's side. Elizabeth, as usual, was coy and maidenly. She was too old, she said, the thought of marriage was shocking to her; but, withal, the courtship went on actively. Anjou's charms and rumoured gallantries were the staple gossip at her court, and Elizabeth never tired of hearing praises of her young suitor.
But soon the Guises and the Catholic League took fright, and urged Anjou not to be drawn into a match with a heretic too old for him. Better, said they, win England by force and marry Mary. To England the marriage, or a similar one, seemed really necessary. The Catholics at home and abroad were busily plotting against Elizabeth. Philip and Alba were ready to connive at her murder; the Protestants in Holland and France were powerless, and this match with Anjou seemed the only way to meet the danger. Anjou, under Catholic influence, was scornful, whilst Catherine, anxious for the greatness of her favourite son, was in despair at his "assottedness."
Lord Buckhurst went, as ambassador to Paris, to forward the match in March 1571; but it soon became evident that Elizabeth could never concede the terms demanded by the French on religion. For many months the Huguenots, and Walsingham, as Elizabeth's ambassador, tried to reconcile the differences; and Catherine's agents in England laboured hard in the same cause. Elizabeth herself was ambiguous, though loving, and sometimes even Anjou was almost persuaded by his mother to accept the English crown matrimonial at the price demanded. For Elizabeth it was necessary to keep up the pretence at all costs, for the Spaniards were plotting her murder; and to split the Catholic party whilst secretly aiding the rebel Netherlanders seemed her only chance of safety. On one occasion, when Spain and France drew together, Elizabeth professed to be willing to marry Anjou on his own terms; but the prince grew ever more opposed to the match, and in January 1572, Catherine suddenly suggested that, as Anjou was so bigoted on religion, her youngest son, Alencon, might marry Elizabeth on any conditions she liked.
The lad was but seventeen—a swarthy, pock-marked youth—and Elizabeth was inclined at first to resent the way in which Anjou had flouted her. She was thirty-nine, and her vanity was wounded; but yet the friendship or neutrality of France was vital to her. "How tall is he?" she asked Cecil. "About as tall as I am," replied the elderly minister. "As tall as your grandson, you mean!" snapped the queen. But Walsingham, Smith, and the French envoys plied her busily with descriptions of Alencon's manly charms, and a treaty between France and England was settled by which the Huguenots for a time became paramount in France conjointly with the marriage of the Huguenot Henry of Navarre with Margaret, the king's sister. Feasts and cordiality were the rules on both sides of the Channel now, and the Huguenot leaders urged the Alencon match with Elizabeth with all their force. In reply to all these offers, Elizabeth replied that, though the discrepancy of age was a great drawback, yet the pock-marks on the suitor's face were a greater objection still; yet if he would let her see him, without a pledge, she might like him. She would never, she said, marry a man she had not seen.
But already Charles IX. and his mother were chafing under the Huguenot yoke and cooling towards England. They were determined not to be drawn by their new treaty with England into war with Spain; so, under the pretence of keeping up the negotiations for the Alencon match, they sent the youth La Mole to England in the autumn of 1572, really for the purpose of dissociating France from the Huguenot-English aid to the Protestant Netherlanders. La Mole was a gallant young lover, with whom Elizabeth was charmed, and when he played the vicarious wooer for Alencon, she could not make enough of him. But whilst he was philandering with her at Kenilworth, and she was losing patience at his political mission, there fell like a thunderbolt the awful news of the massacre of St. Bartholomew at Navarre's fatal wedding. At once the scene changed. La Mole and the French envoy hurried away amidst curses upon all false Frenchmen. Elizabeth, in a panic, smiled upon Spaniards again, and, for a time, the project of a French consort for her slept.
But not for long. Alencon had no part in the massacre, and was known to favour Huguenots. He wrote a fervent love-letter to Elizabeth, and proposed to escape to England; whilst his agent Maisonfleur joined with Mauvissiere, the official French ambassador, in wooing Elizabeth anew for Alencon and for France. Gradually the parties drew together again, for Catherine was already alarmed at the effect of St. Bartholomew. All the Protestant world was arming, the English ports were full of privateers to attack Catholic shipping, and aid in plenty was being sent from England to the Huguenots of Rochelle and the rebel Dutchmen.
France could therefore not afford to quarrel with England, but Anjou and Charles IX. took care to hold Alencon tight, that he might not escape and strengthen the Protestant cause in union with Elizabeth, whilst they still kept up the appearance of marriage negotiations. Elizabeth was ever on the alert to serve her cause, and in March 1573, said she would go no further in the Alencon match unless the Protestants in Rochelle were allowed fair terms and the siege raised. Anjou, already tired of the war, consented, and soon afterwards Catherine asked whether Elizabeth would now proceed with the Alencon plan. The lad had grown much, she said, and his budding beard covered some of his facial imperfections. It was settled that the prince should make a flying visit to Dover, but soon Catherine began to make fresh conditions. It would be such a shame to them, she said, if her son went and returned unmarried.
IV.—The Lovelorn Alencon
In the meanwhile, Alencon's love-letters to his mature flame grew warmer; but much as Elizabeth liked such attentions, she dreaded to go too far. Charles IX. was sinking fast, and the next heir was Anjou. With Alencon for heir-presumptive of France, the position would be changed; and once more the queen began to get doubtful about those unfortunate pock-marks on her lover's face. Once Alencon planned with Henry of Navarre to escape from his mother's custody and make a dash for England on his own account, but Catherine held him firmly.
Both the Huguenots and the French king wished for the marriage, but each party frustrated the other because their objects were different. When the French ambassador, therefore, asked Elizabeth when Alencon might come to see her, she refused to name a time, because she knew secretly that a great Huguenot movement in France was pending, and she wished Alencon to be there as figurehead at the time—the very thing that the official French Government wished to avoid. The projected movement was betrayed and suppressed, and Alencon's life was for a time in danger; but when Henry III. (Anjou) was seated on the throne, Alencon kept openly a rival court to that of his brother, and the Huguenots around the prince were at deadly feud with the minions of the king.
At last the crisis came. Alencon escaped from Paris in disguise, pursued by his mother, and, joining the Huguenots in arms, defied the king and the Guises. France was not big enough to hold both brothers in peace, and Catherine told Alencon that as Elizabeth seemed so ready to help him and his Huguenots, he ought to reopen the marriage negotiations. But Alencon was useless to England as a counterbalance to Spain unless France herself could be pledged as well, and Elizabeth considered it safest for the time, since that could not be done, to feign a new cordiality with Philip.
The Catholic party in France was again paramount, and by bribery and Catherine's diplomacy, Alencon and his friends were bought over. For the next three years the young prince held aloof from affairs, but in 1578 the hollow truce ended; he was suspected and placed under arrest, all his friends being cast into the Bastille. In February, 1578, Alencon broke his prison and fled, and all France was plunged into turmoil. Elizabeth was profoundly moved. The keynote of English policy was the exclusion of France from Flanders, and if Alencon was secretly supported in his action by his brother, then Elizabeth must oppose to the death any interference in Flanders.
And so began the long and clever juggle by which she used Alencon's ambition to wed her as a means to compass her ends without marrying him. Huguenots flocked to Alencon's standard, whilst he sent by every post love-lorn epistles to Elizabeth, praying her to aid him to free Flanders from the bloodthirsty Spaniards. On July 7, 1578, Alencon entered Flanders with his army, and Elizabeth, still full of distrust of Frenchmen, feigned to Spaniards her deep disapproval, whilst she took care that many English and Germans in her pay slipped into Flanders at the same time, to prevent any French national domination. Presently, persuaded that Alencon had no secret pact with his brother, Elizabeth took Alencon and the Flemish revolt into her own hands, and effusively welcomed Alencon's envoys who came to promote his love suit.
He chose for his emissary one Jehan Simier, an experienced gallant, who soon wooed Elizabeth to such good purpose that she fell violently in love with the messenger, as well as with his absent master. Protestant England took fright at the pending marriage of the queen with a papist of half her age. Simier, whom she called her "monkey," had bewitched her, said the courtiers, and remonstrances from all sides came to the queen.
V.—The Battle of Wits
Alencon's demands were high, but Elizabeth seems really for once to have lost her head, and but for the strong opposition of her Council, might have been drawn into the marriage. Simier, seeing the deadlock, decided to bring Alencon over at all risks. Leicester, deadly jealous, tried to assassinate Simier, who revenged himself by divulging to the queen Leicester's secret marriage. Elizabeth was beside herself with rage, and more in love than ever with Alencon and his envoy. At length, in August 1579, the young French prince, in disguise, suddenly appeared at Greenwich. The queen's vanity was flattered, and though the visit was supposed to be secret, she hardly left her young lover, whilst he, to judge by his letters, was as badly smitten as she. But though she promised him marriage, he had to return with little else, and as soon as he had gone she found many good reasons for delay and hesitation.
In October 1580, a new Catholic combination forced Elizabeth's hands, and she promised greater help to Alencon's project, whilst trying to draw France also into open war with Spain. The combat of wits was keen and cynical, each party trying to pledge the other and to keep free himself. A great French embassy came to England in April 1581, to negotiate an alliance and the queen's marriage with Alencon, who had now re-entered Flanders and was immersed in the struggle against the Spaniards. The discussions in England were becoming interminable, for the French ambassadors asked hard terms, when Alencon, in June 1581, losing patience, suddenly rushed over to England to plead his own cause independently of his brother's envoys, whom he distrusted with good reason. This suited Elizabeth, for it made Alencon more dependent upon her, and again she sent her lover back full of great promises to help him.
In August Alencon again entered Flanders, depending entirely upon Elizabeth for support, and thenceforward he looked alone to his marriage with her for his salvation. She was sparing, and the poor prince retired to France in September. In desperation he came to England again to press for money and marriage in November 1581; and for months the love-making was fast and furious. Frantic prayers, sighs, and tears on his part were answered by kisses and promises on hers, but she gave as little money as would serve to get rid of him. On February 1, 1582, Alencon sailed for Holland to Elizabeth's professed grief and real joy; and thenceforward the prince, first in Flanders as sovereign, and afterwards in France a fugitive, supplicated and threatened his betrothed for money, and ever more money. But Elizabeth had now taken the Netherlands revolt into her own hands, and thenceforward her French lover was useless to her there. So, though she still kept up the pretence of her willingness to marry him on impossible conditions, and drove the poor creature to love-lorn despair, Alencon had served his matrimonial purpose before he died, in 1584, and Elizabeth's courtships with a political object came to an end. She and England were strong enough now to face her possible foes without fear.
* * * * *
The Love Affairs of Mary Queen of Scots
Mary Queen of Scots was one of the most remarkable women who ever presided over the destinies of a nation. She was born at Linlithgow on December 8, 1542, a few days before the death of her father, James V., thus becoming a queen before she was a week old. Her complex personality and varied accomplishments have inspired many and various historians, but it has remained for Major Martin Hume to demonstrate the historical fatality of Mary's love affairs. In "The Love Affairs of Mary Queen of Scots," published in 1903, Major Hume gives a convincing and logical reason for Mary's political failure, inasmuch as it did not spring from her goodness or badness as a woman, but from a certain weakness of character. This epitome has been prepared by Major Hume himself.
I.—Betrothed in her Cradle
When in the great hall at Worms, on that ever-memorable April day in 1521, before the panic-stricken princes, Luther insolently flung at the emperor his defiance of the mediaeval church, the crash, though all unheard by the ears of men, shook to their base the crumbling foundations upon which, for hundreds of years, the institutions of Europe had rested. The sixteenth century thenceforward was a period of disintegration and reconstruction, in which fresh lines of cleavage between old political associates were opened, new affinities were formed, and the international balance re-adjusted.
In the long struggle of the house of Aragon, and its successor, Charles V., with France for the domination of Italy, the only effectual guarantee against England's actively aiding its traditional ally, the ruler of Spain and Flanders, against its traditional enemy, France, was for the latter country to keep a tight hold of its alliance with Scotland, by means of which English force might be diverted at any time. The existence of the Scottish "back door" to England, with the ever probable enemy behind it, had long been a check upon English power, and a humiliation to English kings in their efforts to hold the balance between the Continental rivals. But with the spread of Lutheranism in Germany and Henry VIII.'s defiance of the Papacy, the Catholic powers, drawn together in the face of common danger, found a fresh bond of union in their orthodoxy which partially superseded old rivalries.
In these circumstances the English policy, which had aimed at the control of Scottish foreign relations to the exclusion of French influence, became not only desirable as it always had been, but vitally necessary to preserve England's independence.
Henry VIII.'s policy towards Scotland had been that of divide et impera, and a series of royal minorities and the greed and poverty of the semi-independent Scottish nobles had aided him. The rout of the Scots at Solway Moss, and the pathetic passing of the gallant James V., leaving his new-born daughter, Mary, as queen (December 1542), seemed at length to place Scotland in England's power. The murder of Cardinal Beaton, the bribery of the Douglases, and the marriage of Lennox with Henry's sister were all subsequent moves in the same game. Mary was betrothed in her cradle to the heir of England, and France, whose sheet anchor for centuries had been the "auld alliance" with the Scots, appeared to be helpless against a coalition of England and the emperor.
Thenceforward, England's main object was to keep a tight grip upon Scotland by religion or otherwise, while at first France, and subsequently the Catholic league, strove ceaselessly, with the help of Mary Stuart, to free Scotland from English influence. The marriage juggle of Elizabeth was largely inspired by her Scottish aims, and if the fortuitous adjustment of her qualities kept England Protestant, and France wavering for all those critical years, if she secured the inactivity of Spain, the resistance of Protestant Holland, and the freedom of navigation by her skilful statecraft, her rival Mary Stuart was a hardly less powerful factor in the final triumph of England by reason of certain defects in her character, the consequences of which are dealt with in this book.
Mary possessed a finer and nobler nature than Elizabeth; she was a woman of higher courage and greater conviction, more generous, magnanimous, and confiding, and, apart from her incomparably greater beauty and fascination, she possessed mental endowments fully equal to those of the English queen. But, whilst caution and love of mastery in Elizabeth always saved her from her weakness at the critical moment, Mary Stuart possessed no such safeguards, and was periodically swept along helplessly by the irresistible rush of her amorous passion.
French intrigue and money, aided by the queen-regent of Scotland, Mary of Guise, succeeded, after Henry's death and Somerset's invasion of Scotland, in gaining firm hold upon Scotland, and Mary, as the betrothed wife of the dauphin Francis, was carried to France in 1548, at the age of six, to be reared by her cunning kinsmen of Lorraine, and made, as it was hoped, a future powerful instrument to aid Catholic French objects against England, and the reformation in France and elsewhere. As she grew towards womanhood in the bravest and most amorous court in Europe, the queen-dauphiness became a paragon of beauty, charm, accomplishments, the theme of poets, the despair of lovers innumerable worshipping her from afar.
The boy Francis de Valois, to whom she was affianced, was a poor, bilious, degenerate weakling, stunted in figure, uncomely of face. He was shy and timid, shunning active exercises, and though at the time of his marriage (1558) he was too young to have been actively engaged in the vices of the outwardly devout court, he appears to have been fully alive to the desirability of his bride. Mary was precocious and ambitious; she was surrounded by profligates, male and female, and, though she can hardly have been in love with her young husband, she appears to have been fully reconciled to the union.
With unsurpassed magnificence the wedding of Mary and Francis took place in Paris, but it signified to the world much more than the wedding of a boy and girl. So far as men could see, it meant the triumph of the papal Guises in France, and a death-blow to Protestant hopes of ranging Scotland on the side of the reformation.
II.—Intrigue, Plot, and Intrigue
Francis died after sixteen months reign, and Mary Stuart and her Guisan uncles, hated jealously by the queen-mother, Catharine de Medici, and by the reforming Bourbons, fell, for a time, into the background. Mary can hardly have loved her puny boy husband, but she nursed him night and day in his long sickness and his death so affected her that "she would not receive any consolation, but, brooding over her disasters with constant tears and passionate, doleful lamentations, she universally inspired deep pity." She had, indeed, lost much besides her royal husband; and in a poem written by her afterwards, the waste of her youth in widowhood, the loss of her great position as Queen of France, and her powerlessness any longer to enforce her rule in Scotland by French power, are the main burden of her complaints against Providence, not pity for the husband she had lost.
The Guises were loath to surrender power without a struggle, and as soon as Francis died they sought to sell their niece in marriage again. Their first idea was for her to marry her child-brother-in-law, the new King Charles IX., but Catharine de Medici at once stopped that plan, though the boy himself was anxious for it and Mary was not averse. That failing, Cardinal Lorraine turned to the heir of Spain, Don Carlos, as a husband for her. This would have been a death-blow to Elizabeth, and Philip feigned to listen to it; but all the strength and cunning of Huguenots and Protestants, joined by those of Catharine and Elizabeth, were brought into play against this threatening move, and Mary went to Scotland with a sinking, sad, and angry heart in 1561, fearing her uncouth subjects, foreign to her now, vexed with the Protestant party for standing in the way of her ambitious marriage, and determined to oppose Elizabeth to the utmost in her designs against the independence of Scotland.
With these views, gay and winsome though she was, it was not long before Mary was at issue with her dour Protestant subjects and their spokesman, John Knox. It was hoped by her brother, James Stuart (Murray), and Secretary Lethington that a modus vivendi might be found by persuading Elizabeth to secure to Mary the English succession in case she herself died childless, on the undertaking of Mary that her marriage and policy should be dictated by England; but it was not Elizabeth's plan to pledge the future of England, and her nimble evasiveness drove the Scottish statesmen to despair.
Brawls and bitterness grew in Mary's court around the Catholicism of the queen, and English money and intrigue were freely lavished to set Scotland by the ears. Half the nobles were disaffected, and Murray and Lethington, having failed to secure Scottish interests by moderate counsels and the conciliation of Elizabeth, were forced to take a strong course. Of foreign suitors Mary had many, some promoted by the Protestants, some by the Pope and the Guises, while the Catholics of England were secretly intriguing to force Elizabeth's hand by arranging Mary's marriage with young Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, eldest son of Margaret, Countess of Lennox, niece of Henry VIII., who lived at Elizabeth's court. Cecil's spies were everywhere, and the plot was soon known and stopped by Elizabeth, violently angry with her kinswoman for listening to such a scheme.
But Murray and Lethington, in desperation, were aiming at higher game even than this. They were Protestant, they had tried their best to win Elizabeth's recognition; but they were Scotsmen first, and if their country was to be independent it must have a great ally behind it. France was out of the question while the Guises were in the shade and Catharine was queen-mother. So the ministers of Mary turned their eyes to the Protestant heir of the Catholic king. Elizabeth soon heard of this, too, and suddenly pretended to be in favour of the Darnley match for Mary, while she developed the most cordial friendship for Mary herself; for the Guises had again become paramount in France, and Elizabeth could not afford to flout all the Catholic interests at once.
That danger soon passed, for the Huguenots flew to arms, and Guise was murdered, Mary losing thus her principal prop abroad. And Lethington now pushed vigorously what seemed to be Scotland's only chance of safety—the marriage of Mary with the semi-idiot heir of Spain.
The English Catholics were drawn into the plot. "Only let Mary marry the heir of Spain, and we will salute her as our leader," said they. But Elizabeth soon gained wind of it, as usual, and was ready with her antidote—a most extraordinary one—the proposal that Mary should wed her own lover, Lord Robert Dudley, with the assurance of the English succession after Elizabeth's death without issue. It was a mere feint, of course, but it divided Scotland, and unsettled Mary herself.
Meanwhile, Philip, with his leaden methods, was pondering and seeking fresh pledges and guarantees from the English Catholics. Before his temporising answer came Elizabeth had frightened Mary's advisers into doubt, while she was holding the English Catholics in check by dangling Darnley and Dudley before Mary's eyes, and swearing deadly vengeance if she married the Spaniard.
Elizabeth's first aim was to embroil Mary's prospects by discrediting her in the eyes of foreign powers. To this end was directed the offer alternately of Dudley and Darnley as a husband, and Elizabeth's pretence of shocked reprobation of Mary in connection with Chastelard's escapade. It must be confessed that Mary's imprudence aided Elizabeth's object, and the sour bigotry of Knox, which looked upon all gaiety as a sin, served the same purpose. All this drove the unhappy queen more and more into the arms of the Catholic party as her only means of defence.
III.—Prudence Overcome by Passion
The intrigue to wed Mary to the Spanish prince was met by Elizabeth cordially taking up Lady Lennox, and her son, Darnley, who by many was now regarded as the intended heir of England, and was held out to Mary as an ideal husband for her. So long as she had hopes of the Spanish prince she gave but evasive answers; but late in 1564 the cunning diplomacy of Catharine and the falseness of Cardinal Lorraine had diverted that danger; and Philip gave Mary to understand that the match with his son was impossible, Mary's great hope had been founded upon this marriage. Unless she could have a foreign Catholic husband strong enough to defy Elizabeth she knew that she must make terms with Elizabeth's enemies, the English Catholics, and thus bring pressure to bear upon her by internal dissensions.
It was a dangerous game to play, for it meant conspiracy; and so long as the Lennoxes and their effeminate, lanky son were basking in Elizabeth's favour, the English queen held her trump card. But Lady Lennox was intriguing and ambitious, the head of English Catholic disaffection, and could only be held to Elizabeth's side by delusive hopes of the English succession for her son. Lennox himself, with some misgiving, was allowed to go to Scotland to claim his forfeited estates, and there, to Elizabeth's anger, was received with marked respect, which made the English queen hold Darnley and his mother more firmly than ever, and again push forward Dudley as a suitor for Mary's hand. Anxious to get Darnley to Scotland, not necessarily to marry him, but as a useful instrument, Mary feigned willingness to accept Dudley; and, in face of this, Elizabeth was induced to allow young Darnley to go to Scotland for a short time, ostensibly on business of the family estates.
In February 1565, Darnley, aged nineteen, crossed the border, to the dismay of the English agents in Scotland. It was soon after Mary had received news that the Spanish match was at an end, and she was ready for a new plan to circumvent Elizabeth. Darnley as a husband would bring to her the support of English Catholics, and a new claim to the English crown. So when her eyes first lit upon the fair stripling at Wemyss Castle, she looked upon him with favour as "the properest tall man she ever saw." He was on his best behaviour, and danced delightfully with the queen. Up to this time Mary had played her game with self-command and policy, but now for the first time her heart ran away with her, and she took a false step.
To have married Darnley as part of a transaction with Elizabeth, and with the approval of her own Protestant subjects, would have been a master-stroke. But she fell in love with the "long lad," and could not wait for negotiation; so she at once sent off to pray King Philip to support her with money and men against England and the Protestants if she married Darnley and became the tool of Spain. Philip, nothing loth, consented, and welcomed the coming union as a Catholic alliance and a powerful weapon against Elizabeth. Mary thus made herself the head of a vast Catholic conspiracy looking to Spain for support, and Elizabeth was furious both with Mary and Darnley for having apparently beaten her at her own cunning game.
How Elizabeth sought a diversion, at first by new matrimonial schemes of her own, has been told elsewhere, but her more effectual weapon was to arouse the fears of Scottish Protestants, and breed dissension in Mary's realm. "The young fool," Darnley, insolent and proud of his new greatness, offended all the nobles, whilst Mary grew daily more infatuated with him. They were married in July 1565, and the great conspiracy against Elizabeth and Protestantism was complete. Already the Scottish Protestant lords were in a panic, and after an abortive rising, they fled before Mary's bold attack, taking refuge in England.
The queen herself led her forces, armed and mounted, with her stripling husband by her side; but she was followed close by the shaggy, stern, martial figure of James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, just returned from exile to serve her; and upon him she looked with kindling eyes as a stouter man than the fribble she had wed. Mary had now apparently triumphed by her Darnley marriage, but the avalanche was gathering to crush her. She looked mainly to Spain and the Pope for help, and had all Protestantism against her, led by Elizabeth, whose hate and fury knew no bounds. It was a duel now of life or death between two systems and two women, one with a heart and the other without; and, as usual, the heartless won.
English money and skill honeycombed Scottish loyalty. Darnley, vicious, vain, and passionate, was an easy prey to intrigue. The tools of England whispered in his ear that his wife was too intimate with the Italian secretary Rizzio, who had conducted the correspondence with the Catholic powers. Darnley, who had earned his wife's contempt already, was beside himself with jealousy, and himself led the Protestant conspirators and friends of England, who murdered Rizzio in the queen's presence at Holyrood (March 1566). From that hour Darnley's doom was sealed.
He had thought to be king indeed now, but Mary outwitted him; for she recalled her exiled lords, welcomed her brother Murray, and threw herself into the arms of Darnley's Protestant foes, the very men who had risen in arms against the marriage. As she fled by night with Darnley after Rizzio's murder, to betray him, she swore over Rizzio's new-made grave that a "fatter one" than he should lie there ere long. Whether she knew of the plot of his foes to murder her husband is not proved, but she almost certainly did so, and welcomed the deed when it was done. She made no pretence of love for him after Rizzio's death, and her husband repaid her coldness by sulky loutishness and bursts of drunken violence. Mary's conduct toward Bothwell, too, began to arouse scandal. By November 1566, matters had reached a crisis, and Mary, at Kelso, said that unless she was freed from Darnley she would put an end to herself. She spoke not to deaf ears. Morton, and the rest of Rizzio's slayers and bitter enemies, were pardoned, and the deadly bond was signed.
On February 9, 1567, as the doomed consort lay sick and sorry outside Edinburgh at the lone house of Kirk o' Field, he was, done to death by Bothwell and the foes of the Lennoxes; and Mary Stuart's first true love affair was ended in tragedy. But already the second was in full blast. Bothwell had recently married; he was disliked by the Scottish nobles, and the queen's constant association with him had already brought discredit upon her. There had been a good political excuse for her union with Darnley, but Bothwell could bring no support to her cause; for his creed was doubtful, and he had no friends. Nothing, indeed, but the infatuation of an amorous woman for a brutally strong man could have so blinded her to her own great aims as to make her take Bothwell, the prime mover of Darnley's murder, for her husband.
As soon as the crime was known, all fingers were pointed to Bothwell and the queen as the murderers, and Protestants everywhere hastened to cast obloquy upon Mary for it. But for the nobles' jealousy of Bothwell, and the religious animus, probably Darnley's death would soon have been forgotten or condoned; but as it was, Scotland blazed out in denunciation of it, and though Bothwell was put upon a mock trial and acquitted, the hate against him grew, especially when he arranged to divorce his wife in April 1567, and, ostensibly by force, but clearly by Mary's connivance, abducted the queen and bore her off to his castle of Dunbar.
On her return to Edinburgh a few weeks later Mary publicly married Bothwell—she swore afterwards against her will, but, in any case, to the anger and disgust of her subjects. She found her new husband an arrogant tyrant rather than her slave, and he watched her closely. The dire infatuation of the lovelorn woman soon wore off, and again she sighed to be free; but it was too late, for the Catholic powers stood aloof from her now that she had married a divorced man, and all her nobles had abandoned her. So Mary clung to Bothwell still, for he was strong, and all Scotland cried shame upon her.
In June, Mary and her husband, fearing attack or treachery, fled from Edinburgh Castle, which at once opened its gates to Morton and the rebel lords. A parley was sent to Mary offering submission if she would leave Bothwell to his fate. She indignantly refused, for she feared the lords and hated Morton. Bothwell was strong, she thought, and he was the father of her unborn child; be might protect her. So by Bothwell's side she rode out at the head of the border clansmen, and met the rebel army at Carberry Hill, hard by Edinburgh.
It was agreed that the dispute should be decided by the single combat between Bothwell and Lindsay, but before the duel began Mary's bordermen became disordered, and then she knew that all was lost. Kirkaldy of Grange came from her opponents to parley with her and offer safety for her, but not for Bothwell. Whilst they were speaking, Bothwell attempted to murder Grange; and when Mary forbade such treachery, he lost his nerve and began to whimper. In a moment the scales fell from Mary's eyes. This man was but a lath painted like steel. His strength was but a lie, and he was unworthy of her. She turned from him in contempt, and surrendered to the lords; while Bothwell fled, and unhappy Mary saw him no more.
V.—Langside and After
Cursed by crowds, who reviled her as a murderess and adulteress, Mary was led, a captive, to her capital. By night, to save her from the fury of the mob, she was smuggled out of Edinburgh and lodged, a prisoner, in the island fortress of Lochleven. During her long incarceration there the story of her wrongs and sufferings stirred the Catholics at home and abroad in her favour, and her friends and foes were again sharply divided according to their religious creeds. The rulers of Scotland, too, headed by her brother Murray, were far from easy; for the Catholics were strong, and foreign crowned heads looked black at those who kept a sovereign in durance. So attempts were made to conciliate her by proposing marriage with some harmless Scottish noble, conjoined with her abdication. But her heart was high still, and she would bate no jot of her queenship; rather would she exercise her glamour upon her gaolers and escape to power and sovereignty again. Her fascination was irresistible, and Murray's half-brother, young George Douglas, a mere lad, fell a victim to her smiles. Once more Mary fell in love, and proposed to marry the youth who had endeavoured to aid her escape.
Murray was shocked, and had his brother expelled the castle; but in April 1568 the faithful George planned her evasion of the guard and joyfully welcomed her on the shore of the lake. To her standard flocked the Catholic lords, and, safe at Hamilton, Mary, again a queen, swore vengeance upon her foes. On her way with her army to Dumbarton she met Murray's force at Langside, near Glasgow. She had been strong at Carberry Hill with Bothwell at her side. Here she was weak, for no man of weight or character was with her, and as her men wavered she turned rein and fled.
For sixty miles on bad roads she struggled on, almost without sleep, and living on beggar's fare. With no adviser or woman near her, in her panic and despair she took the fatal resolve and crossed the Solway into Elizabeth's realm, trusting to the magnanimity of the woman whom she had tried to ruin and supplant. Again her heart had deceived her. Elizabeth had no pity for a vanquished foe, and for the rest of her miserable life, well nigh a score of years, Mary Stuart was a prisoner. But in all those years she never ceased to plot and plan for the overthrow of Elizabeth and her own elevation to the Catholic throne of all Britain.
Amidst her many weapons, that of marriage and her personal fascination were not forgotten. Twice, at least, she tried to make her love affairs serve her political ambition. Poor, feckless Norfolk was drawn by his vanity and ambition into her net. Love epistles, breathing eternal devotion, passed between them, but murder was behind it all—the murder of Elizabeth, and the subjection of England to Spain to work Mary's vengeance on her foes, and Norfolk lost his head deservedly.
Again she dreamed of marrying the Christian champion, Don Juan of Austria, and conquering and ruling over a Catholic England. But this plot, too, was discovered, and Don Juan, like all the rest of Mary's lovers, died miserably. Mary thenceforward was the centre of Spain's great conspiracy against England's queen, but she sought the end no more by love; for that had failed her every time she tried. She and her cause were beaten because her heart of fire was pitted against a heart of ice, and she lost all because she loved too much.
* * * * *
Life of Christopher Columbus
Washington Irving, American historian and essayist, was born on April 3, 1783, in New York, of a family which came originally from Scotland. He knew Europe well, and was equally at home in London, Paris, and Madrid; he held the offices, in 1829, of Secretary to the American Embassy in London, and, in 1842, of American Minister in Spain. He was deeply interested in Spanish history, and besides the "Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus," he wrote "The Voyages of the Companions of Columbus," "The Conquest of Granada," "The Alhambra," and "Legends of the Conquest of Spain." He was an industrious man of letters, having an excellent style, wide knowledge, and pleasant humour. His chief work was the "Life of George Washington," of which we give an epitome elsewhere. Other writings include "A History of New York, by Diedrich Knickerbocker," the celebrated "Sketch Book," "Bracebridge Hall," "Tales of a Traveller," and a "Life of Goldsmith." Irving did not marry, and died on November 28, 1859, in his home at Sunnyside on the Hudson River, and is buried at Tarrytown. The "Life of Columbus" was published in 1828 and is now obtainable in a number of popular editions.
The Years of Waiting
Christopher Columbus was born in Genoa about 1435, of poor but reputable parents. He soon evinced a passion for geographical knowledge, and an irresistible inclination for the sea. We have but shadowy traces of his life till he took up his abode in Lisbon about 1470. His contemporaries describe him as tall and muscular; he was moderate and simple in diet and apparel, eloquent, engaging, and affable. At Lisbon he married a lady of rank, Dona Felipa. He supported his family by making maps and charts.
Portugal was prosecuting modern discovery with great enthusiasm, seeking a route to India by the coast of Africa; Columbus's genius conceived the bold idea of seeking India across the Atlantic. He set it down that the earth was a terraqueous globe, which might be travelled round. The circumference he divided into twenty-four hours. Of these he imagined that fifteen hours had been known to the ancients; the Portguese had advanced the western frontier one hour more by the discovery of the Azores and the Cape de Verde Islands; still, about eight hours remained to be explored. This space he imagined to be occupied in great measure by the eastern regions of Asia. A navigator, therefore, pursuing a direct course from east to west, must arrive at Asia or discover intervening land.
The work of Marco Polo is the key to many of the ideas of Columbus. The territories of the Great Khan were the object of his search in all his voyages. Much of the success of his enterprise rested on two happy errors; the imaginary extent of Asia to the east, and the supposed smallness of the earth. Without these errors he would hardly have ventured into the immeasurable waste of waters of the Atlantic.
A deep religious sentiment mingled with his thoughts; he looked upon himself as chosen from among men, and he read of his discovery as foretold in Holy Writ. Navigation was still too imperfect for such an undertaking; mariners rarely ventured far out of sight of land. But knowledge was advancing, and the astrolabe, which has been modified into the modern quadrant, was being applied to navigation. This was the one thing wanting to free the mariner from his long bondage to the land.
Columbus now laid his great project before the King of Portugal, but without success. Greatly disappointed, he sailed to Spain, hoping to receive the patronage of Ferdinand and Isabella. It was many months before he could even obtain a hearing; his means were exhausted, and he had to contend against ridicule and scorn, but the royal audience was at length obtained. Ferdinand assembled learned astronomers and cosmographers to hold a conference with Columbus. They assailed him with citations from the Bible. One objection advanced was, that should a ship ever succeed in reaching India, she could never come back, for the rotundity of the globe would present a mountain, up which it would be impossible to sail. Finally, after five years, the junta condemned the scheme as vain and impossible.
Columbus was on the point of leaving Spain, when the real grandeur of the subject broke at last on Isabella's mind, and she resolved to undertake the enterprise. Articles of agreement were drawn up and signed by Ferdinand and Isabella. Columbus and his heirs were to have the office of High Admiral in all the seas, lands, and continents he might discover, and he was to be viceroy over the said lands and continents. He was to have one-tenth of all profits, and contribute an eighth of the expense of expeditions. Columbus proposed that the profits from his discoveries should be consecrated to a crusade.
The First Voyage
(August, 1492—March, 1493)
Columbus set out joyfully for Palos, where the expedition was to be fitted out. He had spent eighteen years in hopeless solicitation, amidst poverty, neglect, and ridicule. When the nature of the expedition was heard, the boldest seamen shrank from such a chimerical cruise, but at last every difficulty was vanquished, and the vessels were ready for sea. Two of them were light, half-decked caravels; the Santa Maria, on which Columbus hoisted his flag, was completely decked. The whole number of persons was one hundred and twenty.
Columbus set sail on August 3, 1492, steering for the Canary Islands. From there they were wafted gently over a tranquil sea by the trade wind, and for many days did not change a sail. The poor mariners gradually became uneasy at the length of the voyage. The sight of small birds, too feeble to fly far, cheered their hearts for a time, but again their impatience rose to absolute mutiny. Then new hopes diverted them. There was an appearance of land, and the ships altered their course and stood all night to the south-west, but the morning light put an end to their hopes; the fancied land proved to be an evening cloud.
Again the seamen broke forth into loud clamours, and insisted on abandoning the voyage. Fortunately, the following day a branch with berries on it floated by; they picked up also a small board and a carved staff, and all murmuring was now at an end. Not an eye was closed that night. Columbus took his station on the top of the cabin. Suddenly, about ten o'clock, he beheld a light. At two in the morning the land was clearly seen, and they took in sail, waiting for the dawn. The great mystery of the ocean was revealed.
When the day dawned, Columbus landed, threw himself upon his knees, kissed the earth, and returned thanks to God. Rising, he drew his sword, displayed the royal standard, and took possession in the names of the Castillian sovereigns, naming the island San Salvador. It is one of the Bahama Islands, and still retains that name, though also called Cat Island.
The natives thought that the ships had descended from above on their ample wings, and that these marvellous beings were inhabitants of the skies. They appeared to be simple and artless people, and of gentle and friendly dispositions. As Columbus supposed that the island was at the extremity of India, he called them Indians. He understood them to say that a king of great wealth resided in the south. This, he concluded, could be no other than Cipango, or Japan. He now beheld a number of beautiful islands, green, level, and fertile; and supposed them to be the archipelago described by Marco Polo. He was enchanted by the lovely scenery, the singing of the birds, and the brilliantly colored fish, though disappointed in his hopes of finding gold or spice; but the natives continued to point to the south as the region of wealth, and spoke of an Island called Cuba.
He set sail in search of it, and was struck with its magnitude, the grandeur of its mountains, its fertile valleys, sweeping plains, stately forests, and noble rivers. He explored the coast to the east end of Cuba, supposing it the extreme point of Asia, and then descried the mountains of Hayti to the south-east. In coasting along this island, which he named Hispaniola, his ship was carried by a current on a sandbank and lost. The admiral and crew took refuge in one of the caravels. The natives, especially the cacique Guacanagari, offered him every assistance. The Spanish mariners regarded with a wistful eye the easy and idle existence of these Indians, who seemed to live in a golden world without toil, and they entreated permission to remain.
This suggested to Columbus the idea of forming the germ of a future colony. The cacique was overjoyed, and the natives helped to build a fort, thus assisting to place on their necks the yoke of slavery. The fortress and harbour were named La Navidad.
Columbus chose thirty-nine of those who volunteered to remain, charged them to be circumspect and friendly with the natives, and set sail for Spain. He encountered violent tempests, his small and crazy vessels were little fitted for the wild storms of the Atlantic; the oldest mariners had never known so tempestuous a winter, and their preservation seemed miraculous. They were forced to run into Tagus for shelter. The King of Portugal treated Columbus with the most honourable attentions. When the weather had moderated he put to sea again, and arrived safely at Palos on March 15, having taken not quite seven months and a half to accomplish this most momentous of all maritime enterprises.
Columbus landed and walked in procession to the church to return thanks to God. Bells were rung, the shops shut, and all business suspended. The sovereigns were dazzled by this easy acquisition of a new empire. They addressed Columbus as admiral and viceroy, and urged him to repair immediately to court to concert plans for a second expedition. His journey to Barcelona was like the progress of a sovereign, and his entrance into that city has been compared to a Roman triumph. On his approach the sovereigns rose and ordered him to seat himself in their presence. When Columbus had given an account of his voyage, the king and queen sank on their knees, and a Te Deum was chanted by the choir of the royal chapel. Such was the manner in which the brilliant court of Spain celebrated this sublime event.
The whole civilised world was filled with wonder and delight, but no one had an idea of the real importance of the discovery. The opinion of Columbus was universally adopted that Cuba was the end of Asia; the islands were named the West Indies, and the vast region was called the New World.
The Second Voyage
(September, 1493—June, 1496)
Extraordinary excitement prevailed about the second expedition, and many hidalgos of high rank pressed into it. They sailed from Cadiz in September 1493; all were full of animation, anticipating a triumphant return. When they reached La Navidad they found the fortress burnt. At length, from some natives they heard the story of the brawls of the colonists between themselves, and their surprise and destruction by unfriendly Indians. Columbus fixed upon a new site for his colony, which he named Isabella. Two small expeditions were sent inland to explore, and returned with enthusiastic accounts of the promise of the mountains, and Columbus sent to Spain a glowing report of the prospects of the colony.