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Queen Elizabeth and Her Subjects
 9781032309774, 9781003307518

Table of contents :
Cover
Half Title
Title
Copyright
Original Title
Original Copyright
Table of Contents
Introductory Note
I. Queen Elizabeth
II. William Cecil, Lord Burghley
III. Sir Philip Sidney
IV. The Earl of Essex
V. Christopher Marlowe
VI. Sir Walter Ralegh
VII. Some Women of the Queen’s Court
VIII. Cardinal Allen
IX. Three Elizabethan Actors: Alleyn, Richard Burbage and Will Kemp
X. The Elizabethan Age

Citation preview

Routledge

Queen Elizabeth

First

published

in 1935,

Revivals

and Her

Qtteen Elizabeth and

Her

Subjects

Subjects

presents

a

comprehensive history of the Elizabethan Age. Most of the sketches in the book were with exception of the last, originally delivered as talks for the B.B.C. The main bulk of the book, Chapters II-IX, consists of the series on “Queen Elizabeth’s Subjects” delivered in spring of 1934; of which Chapter III, V, VII and IX are by G, B. Harrison and the rest are by A.L. Rowse. It brings topics such as William Cecil and Lord Burghley; women of the Queen’s court; Cardinal Allen; three Elizabethan actors: Alleyn, Richard Burbage and Will Kemp and The Elizabethan Age. This book is a must read for students and scholars of British history.

Subjects Her and Elizabeth Queen

A. L. Rowse and G.B. Harrison

First published in 1935 by George Allen & Unwin Ltd This edition first published in 2022 by Routledge 4 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon, OX14 4RN and by Routledge 605 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Franci, Group, an informa bu,ine.r, © 1935 A.L. Rowse and G.B. Harrison All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Publisher's Note The publisher has gone to great lengths to ensure the quality of this reprint bur points out that some imperfections in the orig inal copies may be apparent. Disclaimer

The publisher has made every effort to trace copyright holders and welcomes correspondence from those they have been unable to contact. A Library of Congress record exists under LCCN: 35014666 ISBN: 978-1-032-30977-4 (hbk) ISBN: 978-1-003-30751-8 (ebk) ISBN: 978-1-032-30978-l (pbk) Book DOI 10.4324/978 1003307518

QUEEN

ELIZABETH AND HER

SUBJECTS

QUEEN ELIZABETH

QUEEN ELIZABETH AND HER

SUBJECTS

by A. L. ROWSE and

G. B. HARRISON

Illustrated

LONDON

GEORGE ALLEN & UNWIN LTD MUSEUM STREET

FIRST

PUBLISHED

All PRINTED UNWIN

IN

rights

IN

1935

reserved

GREAT

BROTHERS

BRITAIN

LTD.,

BY

WOKING

CONTENTS

Introductory Note11 I. II.

Queen Elizabeth13 William

Cecil,

Lord

III.

Sir

IV.

56 The Earl of Essex

V.

VI.

VII.

VIII.

IX.

X.

Burghley33

Philip Sidney45

Christopher Sir Walter

Marlowe68

Ralegh79

Some Women of the

Queen’s

Court

91

103 Cardinal Allen

Three Elizabethan Actors: Alleyn, Richard Burbage and Will Kemp 116 The Elizabethan

Age128

7

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS QUEEN

Frontispiece ELIZABETH

From the National Portrait

Frontispiece

Gallery FACING PAGE

LORD BURGHLEY 40 From the National Portrait Gallery

40

48 SIR PHILIP SIDNEY Reproduced by kind permission of H.M. The Kingfrom the miniature at Windsor the

48

THE EARL OF ESSEX 64

64

From the National Portrait

Gallery

80 SIR WALTER RALEGH the National Portrait Gallery From the

80

112 CARDINAL ALLEN

112

EDWARD ALLEYN

120

Reproduced by courtesy of Dulwich College SIR FRANCIS DRAKE

136

From the original in the National Maritime Museum

9

INTRODUCTORY

NOTE

The sketches in this book were, with the exception of the last, originally delivered as talks for the B.B.C.; and

they

are now

reprinted

at

their request.

book, Chapters II IX “Queen Elizabeth’s Subjects”

The main bulk of the consists of the series delivered in the V, VII and IX

on

-

,

spring of 1934; of which Chapters III , by Dr. Harrison, and the rest are

are

by me. To these I have added a first chapter, a broadcast address I delivered in September last year, on the

Quatercentenary of the concluding chapter which is wholly new. a

birth of on

Queen Elizabeth, and

“The Elizabethan

Age”

A. L. R.

September

1934

DOI:10.4324/9781003307518-1

II

AND

ELIZABETH

QUEEN

HER

SUBJECTS

I

QUEEN ELIZABETH THERE

people, greater

come moments

in the

when life achieves

degree

history a

of

certain

a

nation

or a

integration,

of intensity of experience,

a

a

of itself which breaks consciousness expression into

in

hundred ways. It is what we mean by “a great And such—perhaps it is the greatest we have since we came to be a nation—was the

a

Age.”

experienced Elizabethan Age. inappropriate

It is not that that time— the time of Shakespeare and Marlowe, of Spenser and Sir Philip Sidney, of Drake and the great seamen, of

Francis Bacon and the

Cecils,

no

less than of Byrd and

Tallis the divine musicians—should have come to be known after the name of the Queen upon whom the life of their whole

society centred. Perhaps something in the constitution of the English people—it has been remarked before— there may be

which makes them take

to a

For it is curious that the some

ways the

most

DOI:10.4324/9781003307518-2

with

peculiar zest. clearly defined, and in

Queen

most

distinguished periods

of

our

*3

Queen Elizabeth modern

history

centre

and Her

round the

Subjects of

figure

a

Queen;

there is that of Elizabeth, there is the reign of Queen Anne, which we think of as our Augustan Age, and there is the

profound though

of

Age

reasons

I have

be that the

Queen Victoria. There may be

for this in the heard them

never

of a

figure

woman at

of

nature

society—

out.

It may

the head of a

society

pointed

elicits all the more devotion, releases hidden springs of gallantry in the men; and, since the affairs of nations in the past have mostly been run by men, that they

her, like

flock round

a

hive of bees around the

queen-bee, society unity, giving the whole life of the it up to

keying Further, history are

higher pitch. might surmise

a

greater

a

one

that these

moments in

their greatest intensity when the system of government is fresh and new and has yet to prove itself, and when it and the social forces of the time, the the

at

current

of

sovereign,

another. It is

and the character and person of all in keeping, tuned-in to one

events are

they reinforce each other, driving their society on to a plane of greater creative activity. This was certainly true of the reign of Elizabeth; that is why it was an age of such happy success. It has become

people

as a

as

if

into the memory of the English sort of Golden Age in our history, when woven

the spirit of the nation reached one of those climaxes of the human spirit, as in fifth-century Athens, or in the Florence 14

or

Rome of the Renaissance.

And,

Queen Elizabeth happily for us, nobody was better fitted by character and gifts, by training and education, than Elizabeth for her position in her Age. She was so characteristic of it—full of Renaissance verve and vitality, at once crude in her enjoyment of things of the senses, and yet sophisticated to a degree in her gifts of mind, full of all subtlety and deceit, tortuous in her ways, yet capable of immense courage, curiously sceptical, contemptuous of the narrow

openminded, devotions of lesser minds, with that insatiable gusto for all things human—per the

molto variare la

for life and for

zest

natura

èbella—

living dangerously. She was an only her métier was

artist too, and of the first water;

the

art

of

politics.

So that it is

unfitting in these more bewildering and discouraging days, when things seem so much more complex, that we should remember that great Age, when the decisions that were to be made were surely not less dangerous: and it is most of all fitting not

that we should commemorate her, who was the centre and cynosure of the Age, Elizabeth herself, in this month when we celebrate the fourth

particularly centenary of her birth. She

was

born

at

Greenwich

in that memorable year when from Rome and from the

Church, extreme

to set

forth

dangers

on a

in the

on

September

England

moorings voyage

7, 1533, broke loose

of the Catholic

which,

beginning,

in

has led

spite of to

our

i5

Queen Elizabeth

and Her

Subjects

greatness as a nation, and to our astonishing record of political success as a people in the end. Henry and Anne Boleyn, her father and mother, had been married secretly in the preceding January, in the life-time of

Henry’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon. While the divorce-proceedings dragged on at Rome and became a matter of European complication, Henry took the decision into his

own hands, had his first marriage declared invalid and Catherine degraded to the rank of Princess Dowager. Elizabeth was baptised in great state in the Grey Friars Church at Greenwich—her

half-sister

girl of eighteen, degraded Lady Mary, being forced to bear the chrism. Cranmer stood as godfather. Here in as a all the you have, scene, figures in what later Mary,

from her title

to

now

a

that of the

tragedies!

Shakespeare, looking back over the long years of Elizabeth’s success, and at the end of his own time in London, makes Cranmer say: royal infant—Heaven still move about her!— Though in her cradle, yet now promises Upon this land a thousand thousand blessings,

“This

Which time shall A pattern

to

bring to ripeness: she shall all princes living with her,

And all that shall succeed She shall be loved and feared: her .

her; i6

.

be

.

own

shall bless

Queen Elizabeth Her foes shake like And

a

field of beaten corn, sorrow. Good grows

their heads with

hang

with her: In her

shall

in

safety, vine, plants, and sing The merry songs of peace to all his neighbours..." days

every

Under his

own

That

the

was

her: but there before that

man

eat

what he

opinion of the succeeding age about were

secure

many

haven

was

dangers

to

be traversed

reached!

I would have you keep in mind here, is that Elizabeth was not only the love-child of Henry and Anne, she was also the daughter of the English The

point

She was very obviously the first: nobody could mistake whose child she was. She had all the egoism of her father and the vanity of her mother; she had the political genius of the one, and Reformation.

all the seductiveness and feminine arts of the other. But her personal fortunes and her fate were no less

inextricably entangled

with those of the

English

Reformation from the first. They came to birth at the same time; and, when all is said and done, in much the same way. The hopes of those who were on the side of the Reformed cause—those who were in favour of “the

her, and

at

ground

of her

deal”—were always centred upon the occasion of great danger to of humiliation; in the end, it was the

new

her. For years it

times,

was

triumph

and of her claim upon B

our

17

Queen Elizabeth,

and Her

Subjects

memory. One further fact concerning her birth: along with her father and her brother she was more English than any English monarch had been for centuries before or after. I cannot but think that this had a great influence upon her understanding of the English character, and her feeling for her people. Her of herself with her people, her love for

identification

England, was the one unmistakably genuine emotion of her life. Amid so much dissimulation, amid so much affectation and false sentiment, which (I feel) was the result of the drying up of the springs of her inner emotional life, whenever she speaks of her country and her people, the accents become clear, passionate and unmistakable. “For above all

earthly treasure

love, more than which I desire

I

esteem my

not to

people’s

merit,” she said,

full of years and honours, the last time she addressed the Speaker and the Commons. “I have an

old

woman

ever

been used

the last Judgment Day before mine eyes, and so to rule as I shall be judged by a Higher Judge. To whose Judgment Seat I do appeal that

never

tended

to set

cherished in my heart that my people’s good. And though you have

thought

not to

was

had and may have many princes more mighty and wise sitting in this seat, yet you never had or shall have any

that will be

more

careful and

loving.”

Sir John Harrington, who knew her well, wrote of her: i8

Queen Elizabeth “Her

did win all

speech

affections, and her subjects

did try to show all love to her commands; for she would say: ‘her state did require her to command, what she knew her their

would

willingly

do from

love of her.’ Herein did she show her

own

wisdom

people

for who did choose

fully:

to

lose her

confidence; who would withhold

or

when their

obedience, choice, and

not

well her tables

again,

her

sovereign

a

show of love and

said it

their

own

she did

play

was

compulsion ? Surely

gain obedience without restraint; she could put forth such alterations, when to

obedience was lacking,

as

left no doubt whose

daughter

them,

and this

she was.” The Tudors had must not

Certainly

a

Welsh strain in

be overlooked in Elizabeth’s composition. it has an importance in the history of the

time, for Wales, hitherto disturbed and discontented in the forced more as

quiet

their

partnership with England, was never loyal. The Welsh looked upon them royal line, a feeling which Henry VII

and

own

recognised when he called his eldest son Arthur— quondam Rex que futurus—whose return had been the long dream of the Celtic peoples. And indeed the Welsh had reason to be proud of their part in making the ablest it

dynasty

that

ever

sat

what the Irish have

throne; somewhere, I think, there was

was

a

upon the never

English

done. Then

dash of Visconti i9

and Her

Queen Elizabeth blood in

her,

Subjects

which Mr.

Strachey attributes the face, a bony oval, and her long fine hands. But she was mostly English: was there not the stock of the Boleyns? On her mother’s side she was the great-great-grand-daughter of a Lord Mayor of London; and this strain in her may have helped to give her her extraordinary grasp of the common sense of her people. Though she had no use for democratic ideas, and might be described as a High Tory in her conception of government, she had an instinct for what the people were thinking and feeling, knew to a hair’s breadth (far more exactly remarkable

to

structure

of her

even her cleverest statesmen) how far she could and when to yield. Some people who try to make go out that Elizabeth was a puppet in the hand of Cecil,

than

that she was what he made

her, have reckoned without

host, namely, Cecil himself. In his political

their

testament to

his

brilliantly gifted

he had trained up advice

always

to

to

place

succeed

his counsel

Robert, whom him, he gave the candidly before the son

her own press her she had reached a her and experience of affairs were such, and her judgment

Queen,

but

against judgment decision, knowledge never to

once

so

penetrating. How different from the

Mary!

The

of kings could

daughter people, while the

feel with her

Mayor 20

pathetic,

made it her chief art in

not

the

religious

and would

not

descendant of the Lord

politics;

in that lies the

Queen Elizabeth success, the

success of the one and the failure of the other. But for years their pitiable, tragic lives were linked by common dangers; sometimes

danger

resounding

which threatened them both

together,

sometimes the danger which the of the very existence

threatened

caught

the other. The fact was, in the toils of history.

Catherine of Elizabeth

Aragon

was not

glee Henry

died in

much above

they

January 1536,

when in his

two years

had the Princess

in great state, and after

one

were

to

brought up dinner, “carrying

old; to

Court

her in his

arms, he showed her first to one and then to another”; and afterwards, “clad all over in yellow from top to

toe,” he danced all night. Four months later,

Elizabeth’s executed; own

mother

and she herself

was

along with her sister

and both declared

degraded Mary, illegitimate, to make way for the child of Jane Seymour on the way. It was the first of many dangers that threatened her, though she cannot have been conscious of it till later. From now on there were so many, that

her life

might be described as one of perpetual danger, tempered by prosperity and much vigilance. A second crisis

came

in the

reign of her brother,

when the Lord Admiral Seymour, the King’s uncle and brother of the Protector Somerset, tried to get her hand in

marriage he

as

a

step

to

supreme power.

establish relations of

Failing this, attempted intimacy with her, she being a girl of fifteen to sixteen, in

to

21

and Her

Queen Elizabeth on

Subjects

the threshold of womanhood. The

not more serious

than the

first,

must

danger, though have had much

influence upon the formation of her character. Seymour was handsome, virile and a bravado: the

more

of

sort

man

that

always

had

a

fascination for her.

Though he did not get very far, there were suspiciously close contacts between them; Seymour was arrested, and there were prolonged examinations both of him and her. Elizabeth gave away nothing; as it turned out, she was innocent. But Seymour, having

prejudiced government the chances of his brother’s

contributed When the

to

its ultimate

news was

ruin,

brought

to

and

went to

the block.

Elizabeth,

watched

she was at every turn and every word reported, she remarked: “This day died a man with much wit and very little judgment,” and passed on. It shows an extraordinary self-control in one so young (she was

as

sixteen); but she had learnt much

suffering.

I sometimes think

in the school of

one sees

behind the alert

and watchful eyes of her portraits, the lips held tight restraint, the inner tragedy. She adverted to his fate in the next crisis that her—the worst of all, in Mary’s reign, during the Wyatt and Courtenay conspiracies, when her life itself was in danger from the Queen. She was sent to the Tower, and for a moment her courage failed her; as in

overtook

she was taken in and

sat on

22

at

the Traitor’s

the steps

crying,

Gate, she broke down spattered by the

her shoes

Queen Elizabeth water,

saying that she wouldn’t go in, for she was

traitor. But there is

Mary—you

a

letter

which she

extant

it for

no

wrote to

in the Record

may yourself Office in her beautiful clear Italian hand—pleading see

that she

might

be

into her presence to clear herself: “I have harde in my time of many cast away

for

of comminge

brought

the presence of ther prince”; and then, going on to say, what was astonishingly cool and rusé, since it must have been calculated, “And in late days I harde my lorde of Somerset say that want

to

if his brother had bine sufferd had to

affair, she might

speke

sufferd.” There could be

never

the wind than

old

to

at

the

come

this;

to assert

same

time

before the

as

no

with him he closer

sailing

her innocence in that she

Queen

was

to

pleading

that

clear herself of

the new. And yet she was absolutely right tactically, if only that that memory would appeal to Mary’s dislike for Edward Vi’s government and all its doings.

Clearly, Mary was no match for this type of political being; and no more, as the future was to show, were all the princes and statesmen of Europe. It was this school of dangers, and quicksands of state, in which Elizabeth gained her real training for the world of politics. But meanwhile her education, in the more comfortable sense, was not neglected. Indeed, as all the world

knows,

she

was

one

of the

most

learned

of that time of learned ladies. She

was

carefully brought

up, in her earliest years, 23

and Her

Queen Elizabeth along with Edward, in Sir John Cheke, who

the New

her

Indeed,

some

instruction.

was

a

Subjects His tutor, also gave

Learning. Protestant, one

of the

root-differences Mary Mary and Elizabeth

between

was

was

that

of the first model, Colet and Sir Thomas

educated in the New

Learning

that of the Oxford

Reformers, More, which remained Catholic; while Elizabeth, taught by Cheke and Ascham, twenty years later, leaned to Protestantism, and if she had any bias as regards universities, to Cambridge. It is remarkable that her closest advisers The

Bacons, Cecils, were Essex, Canterbury,

thus

Cambridge men. Archbishops of Cambridge men; while

were

the

successive all

manned from Oxford, two opposition Cardinals, Pole and Allen, the distinguished Jesuits Campion and Parsons, a host of academic

the

to

her

was

propagandists proved who

an

inconvenient hornets’ nest

in the later years, and of whom she made

martyrs. When her education could

speak French,

little Greek and less

was

completed,

Latin and

Hebrew;

a

number of

she knew and

Italian, she knew

in her

own

a

language,

born orator, eloquent, incisive, vigorous. She danced with zest, “very high and disposedly,” it is reported. She played upon more than one she

was a

instrument, virginals; though specially

well upon the and she took great pleasure in music, as every cultivated person of the time did. But though one of the best 24

Queen Elizabeth educated

women

of the

as, I

blue-stocking, Lady Jane Grey had

not

day,

was

removed from her the

anything

at

she

was

certainly

possibility of becoming

all. Elizabeth took it all in her

used it for her

no

afraid, that Protestant prodigy in danger of becoming, if Mary

am

purpose; it

stride, and

very vigorous stride and her purposes were many. There is the famous story of her treatment of the Polish who made the mistake at his reception at Court of making a speech full of the complaints his own

was a

Ambassador,

government had against the Queen (it Latin), instead was

in

flattery and her praises. Elizabeth was furious; “Expectavi orationem,” she said, “sed mihi vero querelas adduxisti,"and went on to make a whole speech in extempore Latin, rating of

a

formal oration full of

him up hill and down dale, to her own satisfaction and everybody’s enjoyment that saw it; and then turned round to her courtiers and said, “By God’s death, my lords: I have been enforced this day to up my old Latin for this varlet; it had lain rusting long enough.” London buzzed with the rumour of the Queen’s exploit; by this time she was famous— scour

of the great Expedition to Cadiz in which Essex covered himself with glory—and her people were proud of her as a sort of national it

1596, the

was

eve

monument, perhaps where he she was; and the

which

posted

down

preparing

to

Essex

at

news

of it

Plymouth,

the Fleet for the voyage,

to

was

was

encourage

him, 25

Queen Elizabeth and

and Her

Subjects

he, being a courtier, was duly encouraged. Another

message which Cecil sent down to him time shows her in a lighter and attractive

the

same

mood,

more

at

Cecil writes: “The

Queen says, because endearing. you are poor, she sends you five shillings, which Ned Denny [he was her favourite jester] gave her and Matthias, for playing on the three lutes.” And later, when on the verge of seventy, one catches a glimpse of her

snatching away a miniature of Cecil’s (her little Elf, she always called him), and dancing about the Court with it skittishly, a regular schoolgirl. She used her accomplishments very wisely, for recreation no less than weightier matters. She read and wrote a good deal. Harrington says, “Her Highness was wont to soothe her ruffled temper with reading morning, when she had been stirred to passion council, or other matters had overthrown her gracious disposition.” She had the usual taste of her time and followed the orthodox models, translating Seneca, Cicero and, one autumn at Windsor, the

every at

the

whole of Boethius’ Consolation

of Philosophy.

The

curious volume in which she wrote may be seen in the Record Office. She was evidently bored, and set herself a kind of race, working two hours a day at

translating,

possible.

number of less than 26

to

finish the whole in

At the a

days

end, and

month all

her

Secretary triumphantly

told,

as

few

days

as

reckons up the announces

exclusive of

Sundays

it is

and

Queen Elizabeth fast-days.

She

evidently

the prose into her

intelligible jargon,

translated

own

the

most

verse

as

she

went

along,

complicated, hardly

into what

must

be

confessed be dreadful doggerel. But her aesthetic to

appreciation had little distinction and she

have

no

originality;

were the appreciated glory reign, unless they were dramatists, and then in so far as they were a good show. She was, then, what she was not only by natural gifts, but her gifts were sharpened and polished by a cannot

the poets who

of her

careful Renaissance education. The Tudors were great believers in education—at least for themselves and their children. The result is to be seen in the very high quality of their political achievement. Of the five

sovereigns of that time three were first-rate political talents—Henry VII, Henry VIII and

Elizabeth; lived;

Edward VI would have been if he had only Mary was a failure, but then she was more than half a Spaniard and her education had been too much

inspired by religion to be good politics. So equipped, one had almost said so armed, by nature and art, Elizabeth embarked upon governing this country at a most critical juncture in its history. It is not for me to retell the story of that splendid

venture; is it

not

written upon the tablets of the

English memory, which is our history? I would only ask, what, in fine, was her contribution to that history? She

skilfully piloted England through

that

most

27

Queen Elizabeth

and Her

Subjtects

difficult, most turbulent and revolutionary time. When every other

European

prey to civil violent end within and she had

to

a

country, except Spain, was and many of their rulers came to

war

Elizabeth

by assassination,

united front without. It

be alert and

nothing public opinion, was more

to

keep

her

kept

was a

ear to

the

a a

peace strain:

ground;

remarkable than her sensitiveness for her whole government was

carried

on without a standing army or a police force. As the result of that navigation, modern England, substantially the English society we know, came into

being: it dates by her father, as

from the radical but

they only long and

the result of her

Elizabeth, after the

as

I have

ghastly

said,

settled government. stood for “a new deal,”

failure of

Catholic Church in she chose

changes put through

established themselves

new men

Mary’s reign, in which the England foundered. And for it

that

were

in touch with the

new

uprising classes, pulsating with commercial energy, pushing forward into all the new fields open to enterprise: Cecil, Bacon, Walsingham, Sir Thomas Gresham. It

that

committed to that reconstruction of national life which was the English Reformation; despoiling the vast interest of the Church, removing the restrictions imposed by that mediaeval international order upon English national energies; constituting meant

we were

carrying nonproductive out

new

28

social

forms,

of which the

Anglican

Church

was

Queen Elizabeth but

a

part,

express these energies; moving forward giving outlet to the strength of the nation,

to

policy subjugating Ireland, attaching

on a

Scotland

to

English

influence and the seas to

Reformation, moving out across the colonial expansion and trade in the uncharted

regions of the New World. It involved in the end

Spain

for

our

prolonged struggle with independence Europe and for egress a

in

to

America and the

as

everybody knows, was

the ultimate outcome, victory. But when the great

outer seas;

crisis came and passed in 1588, it was already clear to all the world that we could not be crushed and that Spain would not win. I have sat before now, cold with excitement, reading the actual records of that year: the two little notes sent up from St. Keverne, near

the Lizard in

Cornwall,

to

Drake

waiting

at

Plymouth, saying that the Spanish Fleet was in their bay; I have read the letters Drake wrote to the Queen from on board the Revenge while the Armada was still in the Channel: “The Lord of all strengths is with you,” he wrote to her, and then again, after a week’s fighting in the Channel, that he hoped “ere it be long, so to handle the matter that the Duke of Sidonia shall wish himself at St. Mary Port among his orange trees.” Elizabeth

was

superbly

served

brilliant as they were, their been of little avail if they had

by

her seamen; but

would have been directed by the

seamanship not

29

Queen Elizabeth

and Her

Subjects

supreme political gifts of Elizabeth and the Cecils, the real inner governing circle. They had none of the debased modern jeering at the art of politics, either of the contemporary intellectual

or

of the

simpleton. They give-politics-the-hell-of-a-kick-in-the-pants

knew

that

lived

England

by politics,

that she owed what

she was—as she is what she is—to her But to

they

go. In the

had

a

long,

tortuous

and

political genius.

dangerous

course

of it they collected

(as who wouldn’t ?) much ignominy, many humiliations, some tragedies and

course

considerable

at times

end, after the great

Spain,

Elizabeth

She became of

crisis of

swam

But in the

1588 and the victory

into the full blaze of

living legend

a

unpopularity.

to

her

people,

over

glory.

somewhat

herself. It was de rigueur to refer to her as “the Phoenix of the world”; the French Lady Killigrew wrote to her “Vous, madame, qui

myth,

a

le

êtes

even to

phénix

du

monde”; Shakespeare, you will

in Cranmer’s

remember, speech, calls her “The bird of wonder, the maiden phœnix”; in another place he refers

to

her

as

“the mortal moon.” What wonder

that she was addressed as “peerless” by her poets? Had she not outwitted, outdared, outlasted all her contemporaries? Even the Pope, Sixtus V, who was a man and a very spirited one, declared with

admiration, King “What

by

woman! She braves the greatest land and sea,” and that “if she had not been

30

a

a

Queen Elizabeth heretic she would be worth a whole world.” He regretted that he and she were not free to marry, since they two would have bred progeny capable of ruling the whole earth. found her she

as

was to

themselves

I

Alas,

resistent

to

all the other

am

afraid he would have

his bellicose

princes

personality as flung

of Europe who

her feet. The crisis of her life and of the young English nation together once over, the tension relaxed, it gave rise to

at

tremendous outburst of national confidence.

a

Spirits anything;

were

across

soaring, they felt they could do and dare

new

the

seas

conquer lay before them, and in the still more spacious seas of worlds

to

the mind. Intellectual

pride was the keynote of that expressed in Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus,

age; you find it his Tamburlane

Great, no less than in and the philosophical empire of Francis Bacon. This is how I explain the

in

Ralegh’s

the

dream of

construction of

Age

Shakespeare:

seems to

the

Look!

we

have

through, it

come

say in every note and accent of the

dramatists,

the scientists and the

poets and

philosophers,

the statesmen and the seamen. To have made it possible was Elizabeth’s enduring claim upon our memory and our gratitude. For in this lies the ultimate after

the

all,

but the

plane

of

justification expression

public

of

Politics

politics.

of the life of

a

is,

society on

action: the field where all the

manifold contributions from all

sources are

brought 31

Queen Elizabeth together not

in

a

in

common.

good

state

and Her

If the

the

politics

society

Subjects of

cannot

a

society

are

flourish. But

the Elizabethan system justified itself by its great ability and its success. There is nothing more striking than the way it was taken for granted by Shakespeare, for example; he accepted it, he agreed with it, it seemed

to

him best—it

was not so

much

as

called in

question. The Elizabethans could afford to take it for granted: it did not come thrusting itself forward at every point through the framework of social life.

32

II

WILLIAM

CECIL,

LORD BURGHLEY

MANY of you will have noticed that in the last year or two there has been a “Tudor boom,” as it has been called. Among the most popular biographies have been lives of Henry VIII and of Elizabeth; the London

variety of plays on Tudor subjects —one of the most charming of them being that on the beautiful and unfortunate Catherine Howard, The stage has

seen a

Rose Without

a

Thorn; and

now

the film has realised

the unexhausted and apparently inexhaustible richness of the life of that age. One never knows how to explain these changing moods of taste satisfactorily; but apart from the intrinsic interest of these Tudor figures—they all lived fascinating, dangerous lives— it may be that there is something in that age which answers a felt need in our own. Is it the brilliance of

their sense sense

lives, the adventurousness, the excitement and of danger? I should suggest rather that it is the of

dangers successfully that

appeals triumph, complexities, bewildered by

into

problems

and

Elizabethans in the end

to

dealt

with,

even

turned

this age, faced with such the very intricacy of its

yet seeing a clear way out. The had their difficulties and trials; but

not

too

they

surmounted them c

DOI:10.4324/9781003307518-3

gloriously: they 33

Queen Elizabeth came

through.

There

and Her

Subjects

be

nothing

could

more

exhilarating. The life of William Cecil, Lord Burghley, was not one of external excitement—-not in the sense that Drake’s or Ralegh’s or Essex’s was. Yet, in another sense, it was one continual excitement; he had all the

agitation of navigating the new Protestant state through the treacherous waters of that age of religious wars. If Elizabeth herself was the captain, he strain and

was

the helmsman.

he had received just the training for such a task. For two generations before him —his ancestry, to his great regret, went back no further—his family had been in royal service. His

Fortunately

required

grandfather, David Cecil, laid the foundation of the family fortunes; he was Yeoman of the Chamber to Henry VII, a position of personal attendance which opened the door to royal favour—and he made the most

of his

opportunities. The

same

astuteness as

regards the main chance was to be observed in the son, Richard, Burghley’s father. He was in youth a royal page, then Groom of the Robes; like everybody else he bought Church lands, but unlike some he held on to them, leaving ample estates in the counties of

Northamptonshire and Rutland. So that his son, our William Cecil, though sprung of very moderate stock —in

fact, from that middle

estate

which has

contributed English greatness— more

34

than any other

to

William Cecil, Lord Burghley succeeded

to a

tradition of royal service and

to

possessions large enough support with independence. it

to

believed in education;

they society strongly be the key to fortune and success in the state. So William was carefully educated at the schools of Stamford and Northampton, and in 1535, at the age of fifteen, he entered St. John’s College, Cambridge, which was in the forefront of the new learning. Roger Ascham and John Cheke, the foremost scholars of the time and tutors respectively to Elizabeth and Edward VI, were among its Fellows; and here Cecil acquired a knowledge of Greek, a rare accomplishment in the sixteenth century. Here also he acquired a wife: it is one of the most creditable Tudor

knew it

to

grammar

in that otherwise careful and cautious

episodes

career.

Mary, John Cheke’s sister; and penniless marriage was not regarded though favourably by his father, he persisted in it. The lady, perhaps fortunately, died not long after. The next year he married Mildred Coke, daughter of the next most learned man after Cheke; while Mildred herself,

He lost his heart

to

this

to

Ascham,

the

most

learned

from the

sour

according

Grey

was

lady

portrait of

along with Lady Jane

England. I that lady on in

can,

Hatfield, well believe it. However, it was Cecil's conspicuous equipment that led him to the front rank, in

sixteenth-century

far

more

judging

the walls

at

intellectual as

it would

than in contemporary 35

Queen Elizabeth England.

and Her

Subjects

He attracted the notice of the Protector

Somerset and became his

personal

secretary in 1548. On Somerset’s fall from power, he spent two months in the Tower, but had the dexterity to recover his balance quickly, and under Northumberland, he

became member of the Privy Secretary of State, a

Council, and

was

knighted. As an intimate member circle, he could not avoid a

of the Northumberland

temporary reversal of fortune with the accession of he did his best

explain away his signature to the document recognising Lady Jane Grey as Queen by pleading ingeniously that he had signed only as a witness. He was in disfavour: he could never hope to win the confidence of the Catholic Mary; but his gifts were too outstanding to remain wholly unused, and in 1554 he was sent along with Paget and Hastings on the mission which brought Cardinal Pole back to England after all those years of

Mary, though

exile. The Cardinal seems Cecil lost no opportunity relations which

must

to

have taken to him, and cultivate those friendly have served him well in Mary’s to

to

reign. Still, he took out a re-insurance policy, went to everybody else at Court, and even took a priest into his house “for the better direction of his Mass with

spiritual affairs.” In Parliament, however, he was instrumental preventing a Bill for confiscating the estates of refugees; and as the reign wore on, with

in

Protestant 36

its

William

Cecil, Lord Burghley

disasters, with Mary’s failure of a Catholic heir, with the burnings at Smithfield, the war with France and the culminating loss of Calais, Cecil held deliberately aloof and cultivated relations with Elizabeth, the hope of all who were looking for a new deal. His sympathies had always been with the New Learning and the Reform; was he not a member of the class which stood to gain most by the dispersion of the Church’s lands and the plucking of the bishops ? So it was not surprising that immediately upon

insuccess and its

Elizabeth’s accession she should have summoned him

her Council and made him her Principal “This judgment I have of you,” she said to

to

Secretary. him, “that

with any manner of gift, and that you will be faithful to the State, and that without respect of my private will, you will give me that counsel that you think best.” He was then a man

you will not be

corrupted

of

henceforth their fortunes

thirty-eight;

were

irretrievably they linked.

It

was a

very critical situation that

were

called

upon to face: England drawn by Philip in the interest of Spain into a war with France, in which we had lost the last of our former continental possessions; a French army in Scotland under the control of the abroad challenging Elizabeth’s title in the name of their niece Mary, Queen of Scots; the country disorganised, discouraged, and the Government at its wits’ end for money to pay the

Guises, who

were

37

and Her

Queen Elizabeth, troops and

the

man

ships. the

religious discontents,

Subjects

lastly there were the possibility of the country And

becoming divided between Catholic and Protestant and breaking into the worst of all forms of civil war, a war of religion. That these dangers were successfully overcome was

and

to

due

no

the inherent

to

strength

than it

asserting itself, skilful handling.

less

Bit

luck

with them

of the nation’s

was to

by

being

position

Elizabeth and Cecil’s

bit the situation

bettered;

France, and it became evident peace that Spain, in spite of Elizabeth’s religious policy, was anxious to keep on friendly terms. The energies of the country could be concentrated on clearing the was

French

piece

made with

out

of

of Scotland. It

work, for

would be

to

risk

was a

delicate and

it could not be done

reopening

the

war

tricky

overtly:

that

with France. So

Elizabeth and Cecil embarked on a policy of support to the Scots Lords of the

underground authority against Congregation daughter Guise, governing in revolt

Regent Mary

of

of the

the lawful

for her

Mary Queen of Scots. It was a game that needed subtlety, the sharpest of wits, hardihood in underhand dealings with the most undependable of allies, and an equal hardihood in lying above-board to save appearances. Cecil was equal, Elizabeth more than equal to it. Her brazen-faced lying was the despair of the sedate Spanish ambassador, who wrote: “Your lordship will see what a pretty business it is

diplomatic 38

William to

with this woman, who I think must hundred thousand devils in her body, that she is for ever telling me that she yearns

have

have

a

Cecil, Lord Burghley

to treat

notwithstanding praying.”

to

be

was a

It pass her time in a cell bishop who wrote that: no doubt Elizabeth he ought to appreciate the joke: he didn’t.

a nun

and

to

thought But the

policy

was

crowned with

complete

success,

and Cecil had the pleasure (and the labour and anxieties) of negotiating the Treaty of Edinburgh, July 6, 1560, by which French rule in Scotland was ended and the cause of Catholicism in the northern

Kingdom foundered for good. The way was free now for Elizabeth and Cecil to work out their own peculiar form of religious applicable to conditions in this country; and the diplomatic successes obtained, after the miseries of the late reign, helped to smooth the path. The Elizabethan

settlement Settlement

was

compromise,

something peculiarly English;

but in its character

more

heart than after Cecil’s. He would

it

was a

after Elizabeth’s

undoubtedly

have

liked something more Protestant—his Puritan were revealed on more than one issue later in

sympathies the

that

reign. was

But Elizabeth chose for

a

national Church

roughly Protestant in doctrine, practically intact the structure

while of Catholic

maintaining respective regard organisation.

And

we

may

their

Church system, that was fashioning parts to prove strong and flexible enough to incorporate in

the

new

39

and Her

Queen Elizabeth the

majority

vast

of the nation within it and

avoid the disastrous less

Subjects so to

that racked other

religious peoples—we may regard their it very usefully to illustrate and to distinguish

politically

wars

minded

parts in the share of each in

governing.

Some hold the view that Elizabeth whose

strings

board

more to

was a

puppet

it is all

nonsense. pulled by Cecil; The final decision as to policy lay always with her; upon Cecil fell the routine work, the drudgery of the official correspondence, the duty of giving his advice —which was by no means always accepted. In the first years of their partnership, Cecil had a more formative influence upon policy than later; he had the were

himself and

him work which he he

inclined

was

thought

the

to

Queen

take upon should be

a little her spared. Perhaps he did not once an ability; reprimand ambassador for a taking up particular subject with the Queen—“A matter of such weight,” he said, “being too much for a woman’s knowledge!” But at the end of his life, he

left

as

his

testament to

giving

counsel

decision

once

to

underestimated

even

his

the

her mind

son

Queen

Robert, the advice never

to

cross

in

her

made up, her “experience of men were such.” She was

was

of affairs and

knowledge pupil, no doubt, in part a guide and friend, remained always mistress. It was perhaps a

in part his

but she

curious, but

not an

unusual

relation, and

it

was

maintained other ministry longer than English any

40

in

LORD BURGHLEY

William Cecil, Lord Burghley

history before or after; it lasted for forty People who think of Elizabeth as an inconstant,

years.

whimridden

creature, should remember this. What is to be remarked is, on Elizabeth’s side, her constancy and trust in him; and on his, his fidelity and devotion in

service to her.

These first years were decisive, for they determined the course on which the reign was set; all the later consequences, the splendour and danger of isolation in

Europe, the glory, was

no

the

long

duel with

Spain,

the

victory and

flowed from those first decisions. There

turning back. But there

were

many

more

brought the they ship safely into port, and Burghley, full of years and honours, was enabled to depart with a good conscience and with thankfulness for having seen the fruition and crises

the

to

had

be traversed before

success

of his work. There

were

the endless webs

of intrigue around the person of Mary Queen of Scots to be unravelled; there was the nerve-racking anxiety that her very existence entailed. The burden of it all fell upon Cecil; and he was mainly responsible— though all the Government were united in wishing it —for its necessary and tragic conclusion in the death of that most unfortunate Queen. There was the crisis of the Northern Rising of 1569—last flicker of the old Catholic

spirit

of the

North,

when Mass

was

said

for the last time in Durham Cathedral. Greatest crisis of all, and the most dramatic in our history, was the 41

Queen Elizabeth

and Her

Subjects

Armada, that annus mirabilis 1588. After this, though there was not peace, the tension was relaxed; Burghley could feel (he had been made a peer in 1581, and Lord High Treasurer in the year) that there was no danger of his work being

year of the

following undone.

His type

statesmanship was severely intellectual; cold, unimpassioned, cautious, crafty, and yet, in retrospect,

England

or

not

without great aims

and Scotland

was one

such)

union of

(the nor

without

a

certain candour. Her “Spirit,” the Queen, who had a nickname for everybody, called him; the “Fox” his enemies named him. And indeed both were in a sense

right; for his thoughtout, the often

on

best in

statecraft

was

pros and paper, for it seems

cons

writing. At the

same

intellectual, ordered,

carefully weighed, very as if Burghley thought

time he knew better than

take cover, how to ward off the anybody Queen’s displeasure, how to shelter himself from gusts how

to

strong to stand against. Compare his conduct in the crisis of his fortunes in 1569, when of wind

too

both the Catholic and the Leicester factions

at

Court

cabal

against him; he bent to the storm and made friends with Norfolk, the leader of it, so dividing his enemies—but it was Norfolk who perished united in

on

a

the scaffold

two years

later.

Then, too, there was his extraordinary industry and his unrivalled intelligence service. There he sat at 42

William Cecil, Lord Burghley the

centre

Escurial,

in the

outside world

writing

London, like Philip of Spain

of his web in

with all the information from the

pouring

all the time. There

written papers of his in on

every conceivable

touched

on.

him, writing away, literally thousands of

in to are

our

national

archives, and

that government then impressive than the breadth

subject

Nothing more

of his interests; besides high policy, there was his extreme financial probity and his watchful care of the nation’s resources; and not only financially, but of its in young industrial development. He was interested he tin and aided the development of lead and mines; ores. He backed up the for search on the helped Merchant Adventurers, and indeed all sorts of by sea into the New World. He was the

adventure

patron of the

Camden; he

scientifically learned like Hakluyt and watched scrupulously over the welfare

great builder—he built House and Theobalds—and he spent large

of the universities. He

Burghley sums on

gardens

and

was a

on

introducing

new trees

from

abroad. His chief hobbies seem to have been theology and genealogy; he knew the pedigrees of all the great houses of England, and when he had finished writing them down, he took to tracing, what one would have the genealogical descents of the

thought impossible, chief

figures

in the Bible. It is

member of the

new

rich of the

to

be feared

time, he

was a

that,

a

fearful

old snob. 43

Queen Elizabeth In

short, he

was

and Her

sufficiently

Subjects

a man

of the

Renaissance—though magnificent him;

the other side of that age there is no evidence that he cared for the escaped the of arts; poetry Spenser, the music of Byrd, escaped that busy, clever head. But perhaps it was due to his skill as an architect of the nation’s fortunes, more than

anybody else after Elizabeth herself, that the fabric shaken, disturbed age, in which these, poets and artists, could live and create beauty by their lives. to

held in that

44

III

SIR PHILIP SIDNEY AMONGST the were

idealists;

Literary and

subjects

of

but there

persons,

Queen Elizabeth were

especially

at a

plenty

not many of flatterers.

time when patrons

rewarded their

labours, were expert royalties at praising the living with lively expectation of gratitude to come; their praises of Sir Philip Sidney were chiefly heard when he was dead. Merely to him distinction. He was the praise gave perfect English Gentleman, and, like all perfect things, unique; and when he died it seemed that England had lost something whose like would never be seen again. not

“Perfection

peerless, virtue without pride, Honour and learning, linked with highest

—so one

of the poets

Sidney’s biography that

are

love”

began. Yet when the facts of closely examined, there is little

him apart so far from the other great men of that remarkable age. Certainly in everything he did, he excelled. As Spenser expressed it: sets

“In In

wrestling nimble, and in running swift, shooting steady, and in swimming strong:

DOI:10.4324/9781003307518-4

45

Queen Elizabeth Well made

to

strike,

and Her to

Subjects

throw, to leap,

And all the sports that

to

lift,

among. shepherds In every one he vanquished everyone, He vanquished all, and vanquished was of none.”

But a

athletic prowess is not enough. He wrote formless romance called Arcadia—much read

mere

long

generation; but few moderns,

for

a

an

omnivorous

can

are

digestion

bear with it

to

those with

for Elizabethan

the end. He

literature,

sequence of which, in their

wrote a

and Stella

called

even

Astrophel kind, unsurpassed. He wrote the first serious of critical work theory in English—The Defence of Poesy—but it is not particularly original, and the theories are mostly discarded. He took a small part

sonnets

are

own

in affairs of state; and when he died of wounds

received given unimportant battle, he in

was

an

a

magnificent funeral. Others in that age did more; but none of them aroused this peculiar exaltation amongst their contemporaries, which is not at all confined to poets. The most

remarkable

testimony

comes

from

one

who

was

Lord

of affairs—Fulke in his old age, wrote a

Greville, Brooke, who, biography, or an uncritical of rather, Sidney, in this appreciation same spirit of veneration. a

hard-headed

It

follows that with

men—the 46

man

man

was

Sidney—unlike

most

famous

greater than the achievement:

Sir he

in himself a

Philip Sidney of Nature’s

piece handiwork. quality comprehended, suggested, “grace,” “charm,” “beauty,” “nobility”—which seldom furthest, was

most rare

which is

He had that indefinable but

in such words

not

survive the man,

Philip Sidney quality which pervades

and what he

wrote.

far from it.

They

because he

was so

Philip Sidney

He

we can

still

what he

was not a

admired

sense

this

peculiar

did, what he said,

typical

Elizabethan:

him, almost with worship,

different from themselves. was born a courtier into that inner

circle from which century. His

those who knew

or at

him. With

as

statesmen came in

the sixteenth

father, Sir Henry Sidney, began his Court

employment as personal friend

Gentleman of the Bedchamber and of the young King Edward VI, and

in 1551 he married the

Lady Mary Dudley, daughter

of the ambitious Duke of Northumberland who

was

responsible for the tragedy of Lady Jane Grey and his own. Philip was their first child, and was born on the 30th of November, 1554, his godparents being Philip the Second, King of Spain (and at that time King of England also), the Earl of Bedford, and the widowed Duchess of Northumberland. With the accession of Queen Elizabeth in 1558, the

now

Lady Mary (who friend of the personal great beauty) to was commanded and Court, but not for Queen,

Sidney family continued was

a

long,

to

was

for in

nursing

the

prosper. a

Queen during

an

epidemic 47

Queen Elizabeth

and Her

Subjects

smallpox she caught the disease herself, and her beauty was so marred by its scars that she retired as much as possible into private life. of

Sir

made Lord President of Wales, one important administrative posts, for the this time were half independent and wholly

Henry

of the

most

Welsh

at

lawless. As

a

was

result, Philip Sidney

was sent to

school

with Fulke Greville. He was now ten, little boy, “with such staidness of serious very mind, lovely and familiar gravity, as carried grace, and reverence above greater years. His talk ever of at

Shrewsbury

and

a

knowledge, and his very play tending to enrich his mind; so as even the teachers found something in him to observe and learn, above that which they had

usually read or taught.” Four years later—he was not quite fourteen—he went up to Christ Church, Oxford. Already he was attracting notice and affection insomuch that both the great Earl of Leicester, his uncle, and Sir William Cecil, Lord Burghley, were jealously competing for his friendship. The next stage in his education was foreign travel. In his eighteenth year he was attached to the embassy of the Earl of Lincoln who was sent to Paris to ratify treaty. In Paris again he attracted notice. The French King made him Gentleman of his bedchamber. He was soon a friend of Henry of Navarre; but before he a

had been in Paris two months he saw the horrible of St. Bartholomew’s Eve; and so, with the

massacre

48

SIR PHILIP SIDNEY

Sir

help

of Sir Francis

Philip Sidney Walsingham,

then

Paris, Frankfort, Ambassador-in-Ordinary he

at

thence

to

Heidelberg, Strasbourg

Venice and Padua. All the time with learned men, and learning

travels continued he

mixing

was

and and Vienna. His

went on to

to

himself, Italian, last, French and Greek. He

made

having

(according proposed

as

home

at

that

European reputation

a

great

so

came

his

story) King of Poland.

to one

name

was

afterwards

Philip Sidney’s education was now finished, and the next step was to give him some responsible work. Early in 1576—he was now in his twenty-second year —he was sent as Ambassador Extraordinary to Prague to condole with the Emperor Rudolph on the death of his father, and to congratulate him on his accession. It

ceremonious occasion and very little more, though Sidney on his way visited the Courts of the Princes. As before, he impressed all who met him. was a

German

At

Heidelberg the

Prince

John

Casimir wanted him for

brother-in-law; so did William of Orange. Nothing came of either proposal, and he returned to England. In the

next

few years he

wrote

he is still remembered. The collection of

Stella, which

sonnets

and

was not

his death. It

Sidney infinitely

was

was

greater

most

lyrics published

then read

wrote was sure

those works by which

of

important is Astrophel

called

the and

till four years after

avidly. Anything

that

public, but his collection than anything which had a

D

49

Queen Elizabeth

and Her

Subjects

appeared for the last fifty years. For the poems are very charming and skilful, personal and intimate, and they told a story, well known to many, of Sidney’s hopeless love for Penelope Devereux, now unhappily Lady Rich. It was rather a pathetic story. When Penelope was aged fourteen, she was proposed as a suitable match for Sidney. Marriages in those days were arranged for the parties, and at the earliest possible moment. Sidney was not greatly attracted, and the proposal was dropped. A husband was found for Penelope in Lord Rich, whom she loathed. When Sidney next met her, he fell violently in love, but it was now too late. They met at Court, and they parted. Not all the poems came from the heart; some of them were little more than exercises or translations, but Sidney knew from experience that however much a

poet may borrow words from others, the

must

first be felt in his

own

heart. It

was

emotion

almost

a

discovery, for the poets of his generation—he ahead of the great flowering of Elizabethan lyric poetry—mostly looked for their inspiration in the work of their predecessors. The best of Sidney’s sonnets are well known: few anthologies omit the fresh

was

39th, which

runs:

“Come, Sleep; O Sleep! the The

baiting place

certain knot of peace,

of wit, the balm of woe,

The poor man’s health, the prisoner’s release, Th’ indifferent judge between the high and low; 5°

Sir

Philip Sidney

With shield of proof shield Of those fierce darts O make in

me

me

Despair

these civil

from

at me

wars to

the prease doth throw: out

cease;

good tribute pay, if thou do so. Take thou of me smooth pillows, sweetest bed, A chamber deaf to noise, and blind of light,

I will

A rosy garland and a weary head; And if these things, as being thine

by right,

thy heavy grace, thou shalt in me, Livelier than elsewhere, Stella’s image see.” Move

not

result, immediate and obvious, of the publication of Astrophel and Stella, was that every poet with a mistress, or a muse, tripped off to the printer with his sheaf of sonnets, immediately inspired with the great example; and amongst them, Drayton, Spenser The

and

Shakespeare.

Then there

was

Sidney’s Defence of Poesy, some

months with

sister, the Countess of Pembroke, at Salisbury. The year before one Stephen

Wilton, near Gosson, one

probably

in

1580, when he spent

written

his

of those noisy, self-righteous people who suspect sin behind every haystack, had published a little pamphlet called The School of Abuse, which contained, as he put

it, “a pleasant invective against poets, pipers, players, jesters and such-like caterpillars of the setting up the flag of defiance to their

commonwealth, and overthrowing their bulwarks by mischievous exercise

profane writers,

natural reason, and

common

experi5i

Queen Elizabeth

and Her

Subjects

ence.” In this strain Gosson went on to lament the good old days before Englishmen had grown effeminate, and to abuse players, poets, dancers and singers for the universal degeneracy of the manners, morals and manhood of Elizabethan Englishmen. Gosson had the supreme stupidity Philip Sidney himself.

to

dedicate the

thing

to

Sir

Sidney therefore set about answering Gosson—not directly, for the only direct answer to his kind is a handful of luscious mud—but with perfect manners he displayed the arguments (such as would appeal to his contemporaries) to show that the poet from the first had honour as a prophet, and that morality owed more to him than to the historian or the philosopher, “cometh

for the

to

you with words

set in

poet delightful accompanied with, prepared proportion, either

or

for, the well-enchanting skill of music; and with a tale forsooth he cometh unto you, with a tale that holdeth children from play, and old men from the

chimneycorner.” Sidney The final

himself was

a

answer to

the critics

was

that

poet.

years, Sidney had little opportunity of distinction. He lived as a courtier without appointment or salary, and he was without means. For the

The

next two

Queen did not, or would not, give him his chance,

Sidneys were in less favour than before. In the daughter of Sir Francis Walsinghe married 1583 ham, a lady born for sorrow, for she afterwards and the

52

Sir Philip Sidney married the luckless Earl of Essex.

Sidney was now more involved in politics, and employed on various missions of minor importance. The next year he planned to go with Drake on his voyage to the west, no enthusiasm for such a partner, and the last moment Sidney was recalled to Court. By this time Queen Elizabeth was helping the Dutch in their revolt against Philip of Spain, and

but Drake had at

towards the end of 1585 Sidney was sent out to be Governor of Flushing. About a year later Sidney in the

fighting unimportant action.

was

Zutphen. It was quite an Spaniards sent a convoy to

before The

provision the town. The Earl of Leicester, who was in command, decided to stop it if he could. It was a morning of thick autumn fog. As Sidney rode out of camp, he noted that the Marshal of the Camp was not wearing his thigh pieces, and being unwilling to appear better protected, he threw away his own. When the

fog lifted, the convoy was seen with its escort of cavalry, musketeers and pikemen. The English cavalry charged again and again. Sidney had one horse shot under him, but in the last charge he was hit in the unprotected thigh above the knee, and the bone was broken. His horse bolted away from the firing, and carried him back to the place where Leicester was watching the action; and here—to follow Greville again—“being thirsty with excess of bleeding, he called for

drink, which

was

presently brought him; 53

Queen Elizabeth but

as

he

was

putting

and Her

the bottle

to

Subjects

his

mouth,

he

saw

poor soldier carried along, who had eaten his last the same feast, ghastly casting up his eyes at the same bottle. Which Sir Philip perceiving, took it from his head before he drank, and delivered to the poor

a

at

soldier, with these words, ‘Thy necessity than mine.’ And when he had he

was

presently

At first it

though turned

will,

was

carried

to

generally

is greater

pledged this poor soldier

Arnheim.” believed that the wound

fatal, but after a few days it septic. He prepared himself for death, made his severe was not

and

died. He

on was

“Indeed he conquest,

the afternoon of October 17, 1586, he thirty-two years of age. was a true

model of worth;

plantation, reformation,

or

a man

fit for

what action

soever withal, such greatest, and hardest among is

a

men:

lover of mankind and

goodness,

that whosoever had

any real parts, in him found comfort, participation and protection to the uttermost of his power; like Zephyrus he giving life where he blew. The Universities abroad, and at home, accompted him a general Maecenas of

Learning;

dedicated their books

to

him; and

communicated every invention improvement of or

knowledge

with him. Soldiers honoured him, and were so honoured by him, as no man thought he marched under the true banner of Mars, that had not obtained Sir

Philip Sidney’s approbation. Men of affairs in most parts of Christendom, entertained correspondency 54

Sir with him. But what

Philip Sidney speak

I of

these,

with whom his

ways, and ends did concur? Since (to descend) his heart, and capacity were so large, that there was not a cunning painter, a skilful engineer, an excellent own

any other artificer of extraordinary fame, that made not himself known to this famous spirit,

musician,

or

and found him his true friend without hire; and the common rendezvous of work in his time.” These again are Greville’s words; but his most

poignant church

at

tribute is briefer. On his

Warwick,

he caused this

own

tomb in the

inscription

to

be

carved: “Fulke Greville: Servant to Queen Elizabeth: Councillor to King James: Friend to Sir Philip

Sidney.”

55

ESSEX OF EARL THE IV

Philip Sidney was the romance of the Age, and Burghley’s its solid history, that was its tragedy. All the elements of great

If the life of Sir Elizabethan of Essex

there. Given the characters of the two protagonists, Elizabeth and Essex, the one subtle, elusive, a politician to her finger-tips, but whose

tragedy

nature

were

and

position led her

to

combine the other

pleasure and gifted, real political

politics dangerously together; the darling of fortune, with no judgment endeavouring to press a woman far his superior intellectually into an impossible position, while she gave way to the fascination of his personality and spoiled him; each of them trying to use the other for purposes that were confused, partly to serve the country, partly for their own pleasure and self-will: given such a situation, what could be expected but

headstrong,

failure,

a

disaster of

some

sort? But the disaster of

their relations was more than a personal tragedy. One of them was a Queen, the other a young nobleman who had been raised by her favour to a brilliant

position

next

the throne. And

they

were not

alone;

they lived in the environment of a Court, full of ambitious men, some of them Essex’s rivals in the DOI:10.4324/9781003307518-5

of Essex

The Earl

power at each other’s expense, willing to do any mutual service or disservice to gain their ends—a Court divided into factions always ready to exacerbate and to exploit the

Queen’s favour,

anxious

climb

to

to

quarrels of its leading figures. So that what was already a personal tragedy became a political tragedy of the first order. dissensions and

The truth about Essex brilliant

accomplishments

which made him such

a

was

that,

in

spite

oi

his

those

and

gifts, precisely fascinating figure at Court,

for Court-life. His nature was passionate, too truthful. He was made simple, after an heroic or rather a romantic mould; he was a Don Quixote, not a Macchiavelli, or even a Robert he

was not

really fitted too

too

Cecil. Camden says of him: “And indeed he seemed

not a man

made for the

any unhandsome Court, being not easily induced Action, of a softly and easie Nature to take offence, to

to remit it, and one that could not conceal carried his love and his Hatred always in but himself, his Brow, and could not hide it. In a word, No man was more ambitious of Glory by virtuous and noble

but harder

Deeds,

no man more

But when he first his

favour; precise), he

he

careless of all

came to

was

young

things else.”

Court, everything was

(only

seventeen to

in

be

handsome, and he had the memory of his father’s misfortune in the Queen’s service to recommend him. Still more important, he came under was

57

Queen Elizabeth

and Her

Subjects

the star of the Earl of Leicester, who had married his widowed mother. It was said that Leicester had brought him to Court to counteract the impression that the young Walter Ralegh was making upon the Queen, ever susceptible to the charm of able and attractive young men. If this is so, it more than succeeded in its object; the young Earl soon came to hold first place in the Queen’s affections, while the between him and Ralegh grew into a mutual

rivalry

hatred which was a factor that entered into the Nemesis that overtook them both. As for the Queen, the pointed pen of Sir Robert Naunton observed that she entertained “a violent incident to old age, where it

indulgencie (which is encounters with a pleas-

ing and suitable object) towards this Lord”; and correspondent from Court wrote: “When she

a

is

near her but my L. of Essex; and at at cards, or one game or another is Lord night my with her, and he cometh not to his own lodging till

abroad, nobody

sing in the morning.” Indeed, in this morning of

birds

his

youth and fortune,

he

irresistible. He had such style. He had his first baptism of fire, and bore himself very gallantly, at was

Philip Sidney was killed. During of the Armada, the Queen kept him about

Zutphen, where

Sir

the summer her person at Tilbury and forbade him to leave the Court. So that next year, when the great Expedition was preparing to sail for Portugal,

DrakeNorris 58

The Earl

it; he took horse in evening and arrived the Saturday morning, at once setting

away from Court to join James’s Park one Thursday

he

ran

St. at

of Essex

Plymouth on in the Swiftsure,

to sea

to

avoid the couriers

after him. Arrived off the

coast

of

hurrying Portugal, he was

land, wading in the surf to the attack on Peniche. Two years later, after constantly petitioning the first

to

abroad, he was sent in command of an expedition to help the impecunious Henry of Navarre in the siege of Rouen. Henry, as usual, was elsewhere; and Essex distinguished himself by riding with only a small band a hundred miles through enemy country to Compiègne, where he made a spectacular entry, preceded by six pages in orange velvet embroidered with gold; and in the jousts and tournaments that followed he “did overleap them all.” It was all very like the Elizabethan Age. When he returned to Rouen, in a purposeless piece the

Queen

for

some

service

of bravado beneath the walls, he lost his brother “the half-arch of my house,” as he later said of him in a noble passage. That, too, was not unlike the Age. But what sent his

name

and fame

ringing throughout

great exploit of the capture of Cadiz, five years later. In this, the greatest single action in the war with Spain, and the

England, and through Europe, was his

most

elegant

for it

was

Fleet

and

complete, who

the honours

were

for the

responsible Ralegh entering the bay, which was the key was

divided,

English

to success.

59

Queen Elizabeth

and Her

Subjects

Essex who landed the army and led the assault on the town; by morning the citadel had and Essex’s flag was flying over the richest

But it

was

surrendered

King of Spain’s dominions. It was a victory and created consternation in Spain; the emporium of the trade with America in the hands of the enemy, and the great galleons laden with goods burning in the river. But what created almost equal impression was the extraordinary chivalry and of the English commander. All the women and children were allowed to depart in safety; protection was vouchsafed to nuns; "Tan hidalgo no he visto entre herejes,” said Philip. It was a greater honour to be celebrated by the divine poet:

port

in the

brilliant

generosity particular

Glory and the world’s wide wonder, dreadful name late through all Spain did

“Great England’s Whose

thunder, And Hercules

pillars standing near Did make to quake and fear. Fair branch of honour, flower of chivalry, That fillest England with thy triumph’s fame, Joy have thou of thy noble victory!” two

his share of the spoil of Spain after a descent a few days later on the town of Faro, a library of books belonging to the Bishop, who Essex

brought home

as

fortunately for himself was out of town that summer day. These he brought home for Thomas Bodley— 6o

of Essex

The Earl and

now

they

repose, after all these years, after

extraordinary a venture, upon Bodleian Library at Oxford. After was a

Cadiz,

he

was at

the

the apex

power in the state, he

quiet shelves

so

of the

or his lortunes: he

popular hero—and brought him in the greater political im-

was a

What had

there lay the danger. last few years to a position of portance than his ability warranted was the remarkable service organised for him by the Bacons. These two

brothers, Anthony and Francis, were, as all the world knows, exceptionally able; but though they were cousins of the Cecils, Burghley was careful to do nothing for them, after the manner of an affectionate father looking after the interests of his own son, Robert. The Bacons looked then to Essex; Francis became his political adviser, while Anthony established himself

at

Essex

correspondence

House, organising the

vast

foreign

rival the

which enabled Essex intelligence from abroad—Essex to

Cecils in their official

House became a sort of rival Foreign Office—and so gave him a powerful position on the Council. The aim of the Bacons, certainly of Francis, was to make for Essex a position of “domestical greatness” such as his

stepfather Leicester

had

enjoyed in

the

state.

The

Queen herself would not have objected to this; so far that extraordinary, deep-set mind can be read, she

as

wished

to

Cecil and

in the new generation between the combination of noble favourite

keep going Essex,

61

Queen Elizabeth

and Her

Subjects

and dependable civil servant, that had worked so well in the old, with Leicester and Burghley. But the Queen and the Bacons alike, were mistaken in their man. Essex could not be tamed: it was the secret of his attractiveness statesman.

sober

as a

Alas,

qualities

man, the

key

to

his disaster

that it should be so!—that the

political ability

of great

unexciting, hardly

understood

ever

as a

solid,

should be

by people;

so

while

the glitter and fascination of a forward spirit like Essex’s, always crying out for Action! Action at all costs! should win their hearts, though the action lead to nothing but disaster; for in the end he was without the capacity for political leadership, the sane

judgment of the statesman. He was not enough. The Cecils, industrious, tortuous, with their ear always to the ground, were right; they were the better guides for the country; and he was wrong.

and cautious clever

Francis Bacon seen saw

it, began impending.

to

asked him

doing,

to

came to see this in time, and having draw away from the dangers that he But first, he gave Essex warning; he

do what

least of all

so

Essex,

to

few

people

look

at

are

capable

himself

outside. “A man of a wrote, “of an estate not

nature not to

a

of

as

of

if from

be ruled,” he his greatness; of

grounded to a military dependence; I popular reputation; can be a more there demand whether dangerous image than this represented to any monarch living, much more to a lady, and of her Majesty’s apprehension?” 62

The Earl He

went on to

of Essex

outline the

course

which he should

follow, advising him particularly to avoid a military position or aiming at military power; and then, with that clear, penetrating intellect of his, summing up the political motives that moved the Queen’s mind: “For her

Majesty loveth peace. Next, she loveth not charge. Thirdly, that kind of dependence maketh a suspected greatness.” to

It was all in vain, he was indeed “of a nature not be ruled.” Worse for him, he was convinced that

the

Queen could only be ridden by keeping

rein; whereas the truth at

was, she

all, by anybody. But,

fatal end

Queen

to

it

as

was not to

Bacon said

a

strong be ridden

later, after the

all, he “had a settled opinion that the brought to nothing but by a kind of authority. I well remember when by

could be

necessity and

any time he had got his will, he ” would ask me, ‘Now, Sir, whose principles be true?’

violent

courses at

He put pressure on her at every great appointment of state that was made. The Secretaryship was not filled for years because Essex pressed for Davison, opposed Robert Cecil, who nevertheless did all the work and in the end himself of

proved could

not

agitated

gained such ability

such that

experience and his appointment

be resisted. Then for months and years he

for Francis Bacon’s

appointment as

Attorney-General, failing that, and

end,

it

was

the

Solicitor-General. In the who offered the barrier to this as

Queen

63

and Her

Queen Elizabeth

Subjects

ceaseless pressure; it would have made her position intolerable as a ruler if she had allowed herself to be hemmed in by Essex’s nominees. She would have been in the hands of

one

a

party,

puppet; she rule herself.

was

determined long as

as

she lived

to

But all this wore down her patience and broke the old happy relations between them. Bitter words passed from

by

one to

the other and

those whose interest it occasion the

one

valued herself On

another,

much

as

he

Queen

at as

Essex was

great wrote

in the

sedulously reported

were

was to

divide them. On

him

message that she he valued himself.

sent

a

price as (as usual in his superb style,

a

wrong):

“When the vilest of

all indignities are done unto me, doth religion enforce me to sue? Doth God require it? Is it impiety not to do it? What, cannot princes err? Cannot subjects receive wrong? Is an earthly power or authority infinite? Pardon me, pardon me, my good Lord, I can never subscribe to these principles.” There had been

quarrels and reconciliations; but this was after a culminating row in the Council Chamber, when Essex, balked of what he wanted, turned his back on many

the

Queen

and she boxed his

ears.

Stung

to

fury

he

clapped his hand on his sword and swore that he would not have put up with it from her father’s hands. After this, there could be no mutual confidence between them; their relations went from bad to worse “like

64

an

instrument

ill-tuned, and lapsing

to

discord.”

THE EARL

OF ESSEX

The Earl of Essex Essex

his old courses, wilder and popular with the people as He drew all the young men of action around

kept on irresponsible, but

more ever.

him,

the war-flame when Elizabeth and the Cecils

fanning

wanted peace for

personal stand

as

a

harassed country,

building

party when the

up

political system could opposition—the mechanism

a

not

was organised differentiated—it was as a sufficiently regarded challenge to government and bordering on treason. an

not

He

came to

pressing

entirely

be the leader of the party of action,

the war; as for the men of war, “I do love them,” he said. “Now that I know their on

virtues, I would choose them for friends if I had them not, but before I had tried them, God in his providence chose them for me. I love them for my own sake, for I find sweetness in their conversation, strong assistance in their

employments with me, and happiness in their I love them for my country’s sake, for friendship. are they England’s best ancient armour of defence, and weapons of offence; if we have peace they have purchased it; if we have war, they must manage it.” ...

It

was

beautiful but there

was

no

sense

in

it; the

country needed peace. One day at the Council table during the endless debates on the issue of peace or renewed war, old and

Burghley drew

silently pointed

to

the

and deceitful

verse

forth

a

Prayer Book

in the Psalm: “The

shall

not live bloodthirsty a their days.” It made profound impression. men

E

out

half

Queen Elizabeth The final issue of the resistance in Ireland

one

and Her

Subjects

war

depended

way

or

on

another,

ending

for it

the

was an

unbearable drain on the nation’s resources. Essex had manoeuvred himself into a position where it was

impossible for any but himself to undertake the task; he had prevented the appointment of Lord Mountjoy as Deputy, for if he were to succeed that would rob him of his own military laurels. At length he went as Lord Deputy, with the largest army that had ever been sent to Ireland. The campaign was an unrelieved disaster—more, it ended in ignomy and possibly treason. Having wasted the whole summer in purposeless campaigning in the south of Ireland, he went against Tyrone, the head and fount of the Rebellion, too

late and with his forces

too

do anyrealising the

weakened

to

agreement. Then, patch up thing and his utter failure, of his situation, hopelessness but

left Ireland

an

precipitately with a

few followers

to

he

throw

himself upon Elizabeth’s mercy. She did not know whether he had not come to overawe her with armed force; she was at Nonsuch in the country, with no when the famous scene was enacted and Essex

guards,

all bemired from his journey into her bedroom find an old woman, her grey hair hanging about her. In the months following his disgrace—it was the end of his career of public service—the idea of forcing her hand came more and more into his mind, to into the so-called Essex Conspiracy and the came

to

develop 66

The Earl

the City on Sunday, 8, 1601. The wheel had come full circle; nothing more but for him to stand his trial,

fatal, futile outbreak

February there

was

of Essex

into

days, with courage and dignity. courtyard of the Tower, Sir Walter Ralegh looking on from a window of the White Tower, on February 25 th. He was just thirty-four. as

they all

did in those

He was led

It

he the

was

to

execution in the

the last crisis of Elizabeth’s reign; but when something was lost to the Elizabethan Age,

died, spring had gone

out

of the

morning.

67

V

CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE is the first of the great Elizabethan dramatists, and one of the most interesting; what we know of him is mostly bad, and what we

do

not

know is he

contemporaries

probably worse. was

sudden and dramatic mark of God’s

so

To his orthodox

bad that when he

end, it was considered

good judgment;

a

met a

singular

that he should have

been commemorated with statuary and tablets both at Canterbury and at Cambridge, they would have regarded as an incredible and monstrous triumph of the Devil. Marlowe

born

Canterbury in February 1564, respectable and prosperous shoemaker. He was educated at the King’s School, Canterbury, and thence proceeded in 1581 to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where he was a pensioner, and not, like Spenser, a poor scholar. He was elected to a scholarship, took his B.A. degree in 1584 and was

where his father

his M.A. in he

at

was

1587—the

disappeared

from

a

year before the Armada. Then

Cambridge for a while,

and there

that, like so many young men of his he had standing, gone overseas to Rheims and turned Catholic. Actually he had been otherwise employed were rumours

$8

DOI:10.4324/9781003307518-6

Christopher

Marlowe

mission for the

Government, sufficiently important for the Privy Council to write a special on

some

letter

to

the

were to

be

University to the effect that these rumours allayed, for he had done the Queen good

service and deserved

dealing. Probably spies employed

to

be rewarded for his faithful

he had become

at

this

dangerous

one

of the many by Master

time

Secretary Walsingham. In the

plays

next four or five years Marlowe wrote the that have made him famous: the two parts of

Tamburlane, The Jew of Malta, Edward the Second, The Massacre at Paris, Dr. Faustus and Dido. Only these

survive, but they revolutionised English drama. Marlowe had luck in his times, for he came on the

seven

scene

when there

was

in Edward

Alleyne

a

great

and

enterprising tragedian on the lookout for good parts, which would give ample scope for his robust

methods of rhetoric and histrionics.

apparently the first of his plays. The historical, the real Tamburlane being Timur Khan, the Tartar, who died in 1405. Marlowe tells how Tamburlane, the ferocious Scythian shepherd, conquered the Near East, fell in love with Zenocrate, and finally was beaten only by Death. Tamlurlane was

story is

more or

less

Nothing like it had ever been seen, or rather heard, before. English audiences and actors had hitherto been

with and crude In the famous Lamentable the

simple doggerel dramatisation. Life Tragedy of content

6c,

and Her

Queen Elizabeth

Subjects

of Cambyses, King of Persia, for instance, when the tyrant falls in love, he utters his passions to the lady in this fashion: “For since I entered in this

place

and

on

you fixed

mine eyes,

Most burning fits about my heart in

ample wise did

rise.

The heat of them such force doth they scorch, alas! And burns the

same

with

yield, my corpse

wasting heat,

doth the grass. And, sith this heat is kindled

so

as

Titan

and fresh in heart

of me, There is

no

must

way but of the is that

love doth

give

you And you my

Consent

the

quencher you

be.

My meaning To

same

beauty

wound;

love mind

me

out are

yours my heart with

to

content; my heart hath

found; she

must

be my

wife,

else shall I end

days. to

crown

this, and be with

my queen,

to wear

the

praise.”

This is the kind of stuff that Marlowe

contemptuously rhyming flung jiggling away

as

“the

vein of

mother wits.” When his Tamburlane falls in thunders: 7©

love, he

Marlowe

Christopher “Ah,

fair

Zenocrate,

‘Fair’ is too foul

and he goes

an

divine

Zenocrate, epithet for thee;"

on:

“If all the pens that ever poets held Had fed the feeling of their master’s

thoughts,

And every sweetness that inspir’d their hearts, Their minds and muses on admired themes; If all the

heavenly quintessence they still

From their immortal flowers of poesy,

Wherein, The

as

highest

in

a

mirror

we

perceive

reaches of a human wit—

If these had made

poem’s period, beauty’s worthiness,

one

And all combin’d in

Yet should there hover in their restless heads

thought, one grace, one wonder at the least, Which into words no virtue can digest.” One

And

that,

very

briefly,

is what Marlowe did for

English poetry. All the same, Tamlurlane is not a great play. Scene scene until it is time for the conqueror to die,

follows

but there is very little plot or conflict or real dramatic interest. On the other hand, in The Jew of Malta there is little poetry but abundant action. Barabas the

Jew is

one

of the earliest

specimens

in

English

of those

sinister international crook financiers who used

figure

as

to

the villains in the thrillers of the late William 7i

Queen Elizabeth Le

Queux. Marlowe

and Her

seems to

Subjects

have had considerable

admiration for the man who got on by sheer remorseless drive, for Barabas has no weaknesses; he acknow-

ledges no moral laws, and so is not hampered by those trifling doubts which would make more scrupulous folk hesitate for

a

moment over a

score

or

so

of

murders. Except for his hate for all Christians, he is moved simply by sublime egoism. Such affections as divided between his daughter, Abigail, and his ducats, and when his daughter is converted to he has

are

Christianity

and

convent, he

neatly poisons Nevertheless, though rather a has life, and Marlowe gives him

enters a

the whole sisterhood.

stagy some

villain, Barabas fine speeches of hatred:

“We

Jews can fawn like spaniels when we please; we grin, we bite; yet are our looks

And when

As innocent and harmless

as a

I learn’d in Florence how

to

lamb’s.

kiss my

hand,

Heave up my shoulders when they call me And duck as low as any bare-foot friar; Hoping to see them starve upon a stall Or else be

gather’d

That when the

Even for It

offering

charity,

might almost be

I may

Nazi

Marlowe’s best-known 72

for in

our

basin

spit

dog,

synagogue, comes to

me,

into’t.

propaganda. play is Dr. Faustus.

Here

Christopher

Marlowe

again he dramatised the theme of power. Faustus, the scholar, reaches his power through forbidden knowof necromancy he summons up Lucifer and sells his soul in return for twenty-four

ledge; by

the

art

years of earthly power. It is all very simple and crude compared with Goethe’s Faust, for when Marlowe had

brought

Faustus

to

sign the pact, he

was

rather

baffled at filling in the space between the pact and the fatal ending when Lucifer claims his bargain; the intermediate passages are mostly a series of silly pieces of clowning; but the final scene where Faustus watches the clock

race

round the last hour is

a

magni-

ficent dramatisation of horror. No other Elizabethan dramatist did better than this

picture

of

a

soul in the

agonies of mortal terror. Marlowe’s English Chronicle

Second, suffers rather because too

quickly;

Gaveston

at

play, Edward the the history is hustled

for the play opens with the recall of Edward’s accession and ends with his

ghastly murder

in

Berkeley Castle,

so

that in

a matter

of less than 2,700 lines Marlowe squeezes the events of twenty years. Kings, favourites, armies, rush over France and Ireland and back

again in five or six minutes of stage time. Nevertheless, there are moments of tense drama, such as Edward’s renunciation of the throne, or his slowly drawn out death; and, as in all his plays, not a little of Marlowe himself. One of the to

best of these touches is

a

short passage where

Spenser, 73

and Her

Queen Elizabeth

Subjects

the younger, gives Balduck, the tutor, the art of getting on in this world:

“Then, Balduck,

you

must cast

a

few

the scholar

And learn

to court it

like

a

gentleman.

'Tis

black

and

a

little

not a

coat

tips

on

off,

band,

A

velvet-cap’d cloak, fac’d before with serge, And smelling to a nosegay all the day, Or holding of a napkin in your hand, Or

long grace at a table’s end, Or making low legs to a nobleman, Or looking downward with your eyelids close, And saying, ‘Truly, an’t may please your honour,’ saying

a

Can get you any favour with great men; must be proud, bold, pleasant, resolute,

You And

and then

now

Marlowe himself

stab,

as

occasion serves.”

have lived up to these lucky chance, the events

seems to

rather crude

principles. By days of his life can be followed in some detail. In April 1593, the Privy Council were greatly alarmed by mysterious signs of some dangerous of the last few

Secret meetings of Puritans revolutionary movement.

discovered—and

Puritan

to

times

a

as

Communist

a

was

74

frequently

regarded

some

mysterious notices, most

were

the Government in Elizabethan

on

as a

revolutionary much

few years ago.

and lewd

Moreover, rhymes, kept appearing,

the walls of the Dutch Church.

Christopher

Marlowe

Special Commission was appointed to sift the matter out. Accordingly they made a round up of likely offenders, and included in the bag was Thomas Kyd, who wrote the most successful of all Elizabethan plays, The Spanish Tragedy. Kyd was apparently quite A

innocent, divinity denying manuscript but when his papers pages of a treatise

were

searched

some

of Christ

the

discovered. This was a far more serious matter, Kyd was asked to explain. He answered—his memory having been assisted with a few turns of the rack—that the pages were not his, but Marlowe’s, who had most unhappily left them behind when were

and

they

had been

writing plays together

two

years

before. The

days

next move was to examine

appeared before him, telling him

later he

remanded further

the to

Marlowe, and

Privy report

two

Council who

daily

whilst

inquiries were made. Soon some choice reports opinions were handed in.

of Marlowe’s heretical

was accused of all kinds of blasphemies, of them very nasty; amongst the milder charges was that he had declared that Moses was but a juggler, and that Harriot—a remarkable scientist in his own time—could do more than he; that the first beginning of religion was only to keep men in awe; that all who

Marlowe some

loved

not

tobacco

were

practise coining; that he before Sir Walter

fools;

that he

had read

Ralegh;

an

proposed

to

atheist lecture

that he had

persuaded 75

a

Queen Elizabeth certain Richard

become

and Her

Cholmeley,

a most

Subjects

dangerous

charac-

atheist.

ter, The report was considered so important that a copy was made and shown to the Queen herself. No action, to

an

however, was

necessary. On May 30th, Marlowe with companions called Frizer, Skeres and Poley at an inn in Deptford. After dinner they walked about the garden, and then went back to the Frizer and the other two sat at the table with three dined

diningchamber. their backs towards

Marlowe, who lay down on a bed. They began to quarrel about the reckoning. Then Marlowe suddenly rose, drew Frizer’s dagger, which was at the back of his girdle, and struck him on the head with it. Frizer sprang up and caught Marlowe’s wrist, but in the struggle the dagger was jabbed into Marlowe’s eye, and after a few moments of agony he was dead. That,

least, was the account given by the inquest; it may be true.

at

survivors at the

Four years afterwards there appeared a sensational book called The Theatre of God’s Judgments, written by one Thomas Beard. It was a vast collection of

examples sinners, the

of the fearful

one

punishments

the wicked took

7