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THE FOURTH VOLUME.
ELIZABETH WHEN PRINCESS, from the family group at Hampton-
ELIZABETH AND THE FLOWER CHILD...
(Described page 95.1
ELIZABETH WHEN QUEEN, from an original Portrait in the posses
sion of the EARL OF STRADBROKE, at Henham Hall. The
(Described pages 785-6.)
ALTOGRAPH OF QUEEN ELIZABETH
THE QUEENS OF ENGLAND.
SECOND QUEEN-REGNANT OF ENGLAND AND IRELAND.
CHAPTER I. Birth of Elizabeth at Greenwich-palace—Her christening—Placed first in the
succession-Marriage-negotiation with France-Execution of her motherElizabeth declared illegitimate—Her want of apparel --Altered fortunesEarly promise—Education—Her first letter-Residence with her sister Mary
-Offered in marriage to the heir of Arran—Her letter to queen Katharine Parr—Proficiency in languages—Her brother's love—Shares his studiesHer father's death--Her grief-Is wooed by Seymour the lord admiralRefuses his hand-Resides with queen Katharine Parr—Her governess Mrs. Ashley, and Roger Ascham-Freedoms of the admiral—The queen's jealousy -Elizabeth removes to Cheston-Death of queen Katharine Parr—The lord admiral's clandestine courtship Elizabeth's conferences with Parry—Her restraint at Hatfield—Letter to the protector—Her confessions—Lady Tyrwhitt-Elizabeth's disdain-Serious scandals on Elizabeth-Execution of the
admiral—Elizabeth's regard for his memory. The most distinguished name in the annals of female royalty is that of the great Elizabeth, second queen-regnant of England. The romantic circumstances of her birth, the vicissitudes of her childhood, and the lofty spirit with which she bore herself amidst the storms and perils that darkened over her during her sister's reign, invested her with almost poetic interest as a royal heroine, before her title to the regal succession was ratified by the voice of a generous people, and the brilliant success of her government,
during a long reign, surrounded her maiden diadem with a blaze of glory, which has rendered her the most popular of our monarchs, and blinded succeeding generations to her faults. It is not, perhaps, the most gracious office in the world, to perform, with strict impartiality, the duty of a faithful biographer to a princess so endeared to national pride as Elizabeth, and to examine, by the cold calm light of truth, the flaws which mar the bright ideal of Spenser's Gloriana, and Shakspeare's
“ Fair vestal, throned by the west.” Like the wise and popular Augustus Cæsar, Elizabeth understood the importance of acquiring the good-will of that class, whose friendship or enmity goes far to decide the fortunes of princes,—the might of her throne was supported by the pens of the master-spirits of the age. Very different might have been the records of her reign if the reasoning powers of Bacon, the eloquence of Sidney, the poetic talents of Spenser, the wit of Harrington, and the genius of Shakspeare had been arrayed against her, instead of combining to represent her as the impersonation of all earthly perfection,scarcely, indeed, short of divinity. It has been truly said, however, that no man is a hero to his valet-de-chambre, and it is impossible to enter into the personal history of England's Elizabeth without showing that she occasionally forgot the dignity of the heroine among her ladies in waiting, and indulged in follies which the youngest of her maids of honour would have blushed to imitate. The web of her life was a glittering tissue, in which good and evil were strangely mingled; and as the evidences of friend and foe are woven together, without reference to the prejudices of either, or any other object than to show her as she was, the lights and shades must sometimes appear in strong and even painful opposition to each other, for such are the inconsistencies of human nature, such the littlenesses of human greatness.
Queen Elizabeth first saw the light at Greenwich-palace, the favourite abode of her royal parents, Henry VIII. and Anne Boleyn. Her birth is thus quaintly but prettily recorded by the contemporary historian Hall:-“On the 7th