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sent a solemn Embassy to London, to offer the sovereignty of their provinces to Queen Elizabeth, if she would exert her power in their defence. Though Elizabeth was induced by many motives to decline the offer, she however sent them 20,0001. to pay the troops, and agreed to furnish them with 5000 foot and 1000 horse, to be maintained by them, and to lend them 100,0001. on receiving the bonds of some of the chief cities, for repayment within the year. This treaty was signed on the 7th of January, 1778.
In the following years the war of the revolted provinces with Spain was carried on with various success, till the assassination of the heroic Prince of Orange, by Balthasar Gerard, on the 10th of July, 1584, filled the inhabitants of the Netherlands with grief and dismay, and being very hard pressed, they saw the absolute necessity of foreign aid, and applied, as related in the text, to Queen Elizabeth.
When the Earl of Leicester landed in the Netherlands he was received with great honours, and many fancied that being in certain respects more independent, and supported by a powerful Queen, he would be able to do more than even William of Orange, and Leicester himself appeared to be of the same opinion. The States thinking to interest Elizabeth still further in their favour, conferred on Leicester the title of Governor and Captain-general of the United Provinces, appointed a guard to attend him, and treated him in some respects as their sovereign. But Elizabeth was displeased with this proceeding, and severely reprimanded both the States and Leicester. She was, however, pacified by the excuses of Leicester, and the representations of the States, but the latter soon grew dissatisfied with him, and, from his advocates, became his enemies. They complained of his management of the war, and of his imperious conduct; and, at the end of the campaign, applied to him for redress of their grievances. But he soon afterwards departed for England, without giving them any satisfaction. In February, 1587, the States, without
concealing their discontent with Leicester, again sent to offer the sovereignty of the country to Elizabeth, requesting, at the same time, a large body of troops, and supplies of money. But Elizabeth, (to whom Leicester had on his part complained of the conduct of the States,) answered, “Instead of fulfilling the former treaties, and properly acquainting me with the state of affairs, you now come and suddenly require extensive aid. Within a year I furnished you with 15,000, nay, 18,000 men, but you almost let them perish with hunger, so that they met with more civility from the Spaniards than from you. You elevated Leicester without my knowledge and consent, and then neither esteemed nor obeyed him. You say that I must support you for my own safety. Dreams! England can protect itself, and can more easily make peace with Spain without the Netherlands.” To this warm rebuke, (which took place on the 5th of February, 1587, a few days before the execution of Queen Mary,) Elizabeth, however, added more mildly, that she would not make peace without the Netherlands, and only enquire, before she lent greater aid, what was the state of affairs in the Low Countries, and what was intended. It had been feared, after such accusations and strong language, that a total breach between the Netherlands and England would ensue; but the personal altercations ceased when Leicester resigned his post as Governor, in December, 1587, and Philip's mighty preparations for invading England made all other considerations and differences appear wholly insignificant.
From the Death of Elizabeth to the Accession of Charles I.
The History of England, in the second half of the sixteenth and the first half of the seventeenth century, presents a most striking and remarkable contrast. If in the former the whole derives life and unity from the superiority of the understanding and character of Queen Elizabeth, if all refers to her person and there has its centre, in the latter, from the want of eminent personal qualifications, all seems to fall to pieces, and to tend to different directions. Yet in each of these directions there is such an extraordinary abundance of ideas, such an instructive series of gradations and transitions, that, independently of the extent of the effects, we are inclined to declare the history of the English revolution more attractive and diversified than the French, partly because the latter appears to be only a repetition of what had been already said and done in the former; and likewise because, in France, everything relating to the church and religion was put
out of the question at the very outset; whereas in England, it was everywhere connected in the most various forms with political events. Did not the plan of our work imperatively prescribe certain limits, we would willingly have given more room to this most important development of new ideas, views, and principles relative to the state and church, royalty and republicanism, to civil rights and duties, &c., for we cannot here arbitrarily compress the narrative as in the account of merely external events or fruitless wars. However, as the history of the reign of James I. is far less important and memorable than that of his son Charles I., we shall take the liberty of considering the former merely as an introduction to the latter, and mention, with all brevity, only the principal matters, without strict regard to the order of time, viz., first, James's accession, his personal character and principles of government, and then his relations to foreign states, the Parliament, and the church.
The arguments which had been produced against the hereditary rights of Mary Stuart, were partly applicable to James I. also, but after the death of Elizabeth, the most important of them certainly lost their force.
In the will of Henry VIII., confirmed by the Parliament, which many persons still considered as the foundation of the law of succession to the English throne, the descendants of his eldest sister,
Margaret, who was married to James IV., King of Scotland, were entirely passed over, and after the death of some descendants, the crown was left to the heirs of his youngest sister, Mary, Duchess of Suffolk. Her granddaughters, Catharine Grey and Elinor, Countess of Cumberland, might accordingly have made claims for themselves and their children, and have alleged that James was the son of Mary, a stranger, and of a detested race. On the other hand, this exclusion of the elder line, for which there was no reasonable ground, appeared to be only one of the many arbitrary caprices of that monarch; and James, who had not forfeited his rights by any fault of his own, appeared to be unquestionably the nearest natural heir. Elizabeth, therefore, who was equally entitled with Henry to regulate the succession, gave her consent to his elevation to the throne; and her most eminent minister, Cecil, had previously entered into secret negociations with the King of Scotland. All the other statesmen and courtiers joined him, no other candidate appeared, and such men as Raleigh, Cobham, and others, who were of opinion that security should be obtained against the Scotch, before the coronation, by various conditions, were unpopular, as enemies of the Earl of Essex. Besides, the long and moderate reign of Elizabeth had entirely banished from the minds of the English all apprehensions of excessive pretensions in a King.