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TEMPORIZING CONDUCT OF ELIZABETH.
towards England, where thousands of brave and generous spirits were burning with impatience to hasten to their succour.
No act would have been hailed with such loud and general applause of her people as an instant renunciation by Elizabeth of all friendship and intercourse with the perjured and blood-stained Charles, the midnight assassin of his own subjects; and it is impossible to contemplate without disdain the coldness and littleness of that character which, in such a case, could consent to measure its demonstrations of indignation and abhorrence by the narrow rules of a self-interested caution. But that early experience of peril and adversity which had formed the mind of this princess to penetration, wariness and passive courage ; and given her a perfect command of the whole art of simulation and dissimulation, had at the same time robbed her of some of the noblest impulses of our nature; of generosity, of ardor, of enterprise, of magnanimity. Where more exalted spirits would only have felt, she calculated; where bolder ones would have flown to action, she contented herself with words.
Charles and his mother, while still in uncertainty how far their master-stroke of policy,--so they regarded it, --would be successful in crushing entirely the Hugonots, prudently resolved to spare no efforts to preserve Elizabeth their friend, or to prevent her at least from becoming an open enemy. Instructions had therefore been in the first instance dispatched to La Mothe Fenelon, the French ambassador in England, to communicate such an account of the massacre and its me.
TEMPORIZING CONDUCT OF ELIZABETH.
tives as suited these views, and to solicit a confirm. ation of the late treaty of amity. His reception at court on this occasion was extremely solemn : the courtiers and ladies who lined the rooms leading to the presence-chamber were all habited in deep mourning; and not one of them would vouchsafe a word or a smile to the ambassador, though himself a man of honor, and one whom they had formerly received on the footing of cordial intimacy. The queen herself, in listening to his message, assumed an aspect more composed, but extremely cold and serious. She expressed her horror at the idea that a sovereign could imagine himself under a necessity of taking such vengeance on his own subjects ; represented the practicability of proceeding with them according to law; and desired to be better informed of the reality of the treasonable designs imputed to the Hugonots. She also declared that it would be difficult for her to place reliance hereafter on the friendship of a prince who had shown himself so deadly a foe to those who professed her religion ; but, at the suit of the ambassador, she consented to suspend in some degree her judgement of the deed till further information.
Even these feeble demonstrations of sensibility to crime so enormous, were speedily laid aside. In spite of Walsingham's declared opinion, that the demonstrations of the French court towards her were so evidently treacherous that its open enmity was less to be dreaded than its feigned friendship, Elizabeth suffered her indignation to evaporate in a few severe speeches ; restrained her subjects from carrying such aid to the defenders
26 ELIZABETH SPONSOR FOR A FRENCH PRINCESS.
of Rochelle as could be made a ground of serious quarrel ; and even permitted a renewal of the shocking and monstrous overtures for her marriage with the youngest son of Catherine de' Medici herself. By this shameless woman various proposals were now made for bringing about a personal interview between herself and Elizabeth. She first named England as the place of meeting, then the sea between Dover and Calais, and afterwards the isle of Jersey; but from the first plan she herself departed ; and the others were rejected in anger by the English council, who remarked, with a proper and laudable spirit, that they who had ventured to make such propositions must imagine them strangely careless of the personal safety of their sovereign.
Charles IX. was particularly anxious that Elizabeth, as a pledge of friendship, should consent to stand sponsor to his new-born daughter; and with this request, after some difficulties and a few declarations of horror at his conduct, she had the baseness to comply. She refused however to indulge that king in his further desire, that she would appoint either the earl of Leicester or lord Burleigh as her proxy :-not choosing, apparently, to trust these pillars of state and of the protestant cause within his reach ; and she sent instead her cousin the earl of Worcester, "a good simple gentleman," as Leicester called him, and a catholic.
All this time Elizabeth was in her heart as hostile to the court of France as the most zealous of her protestant subjects; for she well knew that it was CALCULATION OF THE QUEEN'S NATIVITY.
and ever must be essentially hostile to her and her government; and in the midst of her civilities she took care to supply to the Hugonots such secret aids as should enable them still to persevere in a formidable resistance. .
It is worth recording, on the subject of these negotiations between Elizabeth and the royal family of France, that Burleigh seems to have been encouraged to expect a successful issue by a calculation of the queen's nativity, seen by Strype in his own handwriting, from which it was foretold that she should marry, in middle life, a foreign prince younger than herself; and probably be the mother of a son, who should be prosperous in his middle age. Catherine de' Medici also, to whom some female fortune-teller had predicted that all her sons should be kings, hoped, after the election of her second son to the throne of Poland, to find the full accomplishment of the prophecy in the advancement of the youngest to the matrimonial crown of England. So serious was the belief of that age in the lying oracles of judicial astrology!
Among the English travellers doomed to be eye-witnesses of the horrors of the massacre of St. Bartholomew was the celebrated Philip Sidney, then a youth of eighteen. He was the eldest son of sir Henry Sidney, lord-deputy of Ireland, and from this excellent man and parent he had received, amongst his earliest and strongest impressions, those elevated principles of honor, veracity, and moral purity which regulated and adorned the whole tenor of his after-life. An extraordinary solidity of character, with great vivacity of parts,
NOTICE OF PHILIP SIDNEY.
had distinguished him from a child, and fortune conspired with genius to bring him early before the public eye.
He was nephew and presumptive heir to the earl of Leicester, by whom he was in a manner adopted; and thus patronized, his rapid advancement was anticipated as a matter of course.
It was the practice of that day for parents in higher life to dispose of their children in marriage at an age now justly accounted immature a : and no sooner had young Sidney completed his fourteenth year, than arrangements were made for his union with Anne Cecil, daughter of the secretary. Why the connexion never took place we do not learn : sir Henry Sidney in a letter to Cecil says, with reference to this affair; “I am sorry that
you find coldness any where in proceeding, where such good liking appeared in the beginning; but, for my part, I was never more ready to perfect that affair than presently I am,” &c. Shortly after, the lady, unfortunately for herself, became the wife of the earl of Oxford; and Sidney, still unfettered by matrimonial engagements, obtained license to travel, and reached Paris in May 1572. Charles IX., in consideration no doubt of the influence of his uncle at the English court, gave him the appointment of à gentleman of his bed-chamber, a fortnight only
Thus we find sir George Manners, ancestor of the dukes of Rucland, who died in 1913, bequeathing to each of his unmarried daughters a portion of three hundred marks to be paid at the time of their marriage, or within four years after, if the husband be not twenty-one years of age; or at such time as the husband came of age.
Collins's Peerage, by sir E. Brydges.