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she valued handsome features and gallant bearing. She loved a soldier,' says Naunton, and had a propension in her nature to regard and always to grace them.'* Unlike James I., she had no objection to see swords flash out among the fiery courtiers who surrounded her throne and competed for her smiles; for she lived in times when the nation was menaced on all sides, and nothing but the indomitable pluck of Englishmen could have surmounted the dangers that threatened her. But, besides all this, noble blood and ancient descent were always a passport to her good graces, provided that the possessor of them did not come too near to her sceptre. In these respects, Sir Robert Cecil had nothing to mar his advancement. He was not allied by birth to the ancient aristocracy of the realm, though he came of a good family. He was sickly from his youth; and with the exception of a handsome but pale face, and dark, melancholy eyes, he was not qualified by the graces of his person to shine in the gay throng that crowded round the Queen, or take part in the amusements of a Court, where every lady was expected to dance, and every gentleman to wear a sword and seek occasions for using it. A head, squarely set on rounded and disproportioned shoulders, gave him the appearance of being deformed; and the effect was exaggerated by the dress and fashion of the times. The large ruff, the trunk-hose gartered above the knee, the scarlet or yellow stockings drawn tightly over the legs, and the lightest shoes of Spanish leather, made the men, especially those of small stature, look top-heavy-a very unfair advantage for tall, slim, and graceful men, over their less favoured brethren. Unlike Essex, the idol of both sexes; unlike Raleigh, with his handsome and wellcompacted person,' his ready wit, his pleasing and plausible tongue, Cecil needed the powerful ægis of the Queen's protection to shelter him from contempt.

And to need that protection, what greater recommendation to a woman's graces? Or even to be thought to need it? Never did his enemies make a greater mistake than when they attempted to undermine his influence by maligning his motives, his person, or his actions. It served only to create a stronger prejudice in his favour, a more fixed determination on her part to appear in his vindication. He had too much good sense, too much self-control and moderation, to be moved by the perpetual calumnies to which he was exposed, wisely remarking, He that will not be patient of slander must procure himself a chair out of this world's circle.' But if he was unwilling to justify himself or vindicate his own conduct, that task was much more

*Frag. Regal. p. 215, ed. 1808.


effectually undertaken for him by the Queen. Here is one proof

among many.

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In 1601, Sir Robert Sidney, governor of the cautionary towns of Flushing, had occasion to send over to England a confidential messenger, named Browne. Elizabeth gave him audience the next morning after his arrival. I had no sooner kissed her sacred hand,' says he, but that she presently made me stand up, and spoke somewhat loud, and said, "Come hither, Browne, and pronounced that she held me for an old faithful servant of hers, and said: "I must give content to Browne," or some such speeches. Then, as the train followed her, she said: "Stand back, stand back; will you not let us speak but you will be hearers?" Then she walked a turn or two'-it was in the open air- protesting her most gracious opinion of myself. "And before God, Browne," said she, "they do me wrong, that will make so honest a servant be jealous that I should mistrust him,” meaning Sidney. I forgot to tell your lordship that when I first kneeled I delivered your lordship's letter, which she received, but read it not till I was gone. Then, assuring him of her "affiance to my lord," and taking a turn or two, she asked for a stool, which was set under a tree, and I,' says Browne, 'began to kneel, but she would not suffer me; insomuch that after two or three denials which I made to kneel still, she was pleased to say that she would not speak with me unless I stood up. Whereupon I stood up.' She then discussed many topics with the messenger, showing her complete mastery, notwithstanding her advanced age, of the minutest points of foreign policy. As the conversation turned upon the perils of the Zealanders, she said, ""Alas! poor Zealanders, I know that they love me with all their hearts." I added,' continues Browne, that they prayed continually for her. "Yea, Browne," said she, "I know it well enough, and I will tell thee one thing. Faith, there is a Church of their countrymen in London "-(meaning the Dutch church in Austinfriars)-"I protest, next after the Divine Providence that governs all my well-doing, I attribute much of the happiness that befals me, to be given me of God by those men's effectual and zealous prayers, who, I know, pray with that fervency for me as none of my subjects can do more." Secretary Cecil came in, 'who was pleased to grace me,' says Browne, still more and more, and talk was ministered again of the army.' After some remarks on this subject, her Majesty presently said unto me, "Dost thou see that little fellow that kneels there?" (meaning Cecil); "it hath been told you that he hath been an enemy to soldiers. On my faith, Browne, he is the best friend the soldiers have." Cecil answered,



"that it


was from her Majesty alone from whom flowed all soldier's good." I shall think of it during my life,' says the narrator; and well he might, for Elizabeth possessed in perfection that rarest of all royal virtues, the art of being gracious. She knew how to reach at once the hearts of her subjects, because, rigid as she was in exacting implicit obedience, praise from her fell with double effect, because it was never given except when she felt it was deserved.


If complete devotion to her service, which none appreciated better than Elizabeth, could win her approbation, none did more than Sir Robert to deserve it. His time, his thoughts, and his abilities were given up to his royal mistress. It has been cast in his teeth that he had no friends; and if by that it be meant that he had no powerful political associates, that he headed no party, sought no friends and no allies, the reproach is just. But if it be meant that he was cold and insensible to affection, there never was a greater mistake. The correspondence at Hatfield furnishes a continual disproof of such an assumption. He was the last man to wear his heart upon his sleeve; but beneath that cold and reserved exterior lay hid a force of character, a depth of passion, an energy of affection, which nothing but repeated acts of ingratitude or unworthiness could alienate. Sero sed serio was the motto he adopted in preference to the old motto of his house, and nothing could better express his character. He was slow to give his confidence, but where he had once given it he was slow to change it. He was cautious in bestowing his affections, and bore much and long before he withdrew them. Slow to take offence, when once offended he was not hasty in relenting. Cool, calm, moderate in his judgment, when once his determination was fixed he was not easily shaken from it. In all these respects he formed the most striking contrast to the headstrong, impetuous, rash, and passionate Earl of Essex-now quarrelling with his best friends for some trifle, light as air; now opening his heart to his most dangerous enemies. Now the saddest soul on earth,' sighing, sorrowing, languishing, wishing to die because he had offended his Sovereign, and the next moment guilty of the most unpardonable rudeness. Now all for Puritan sermons, exercises, and devotions, then indulging in the profanest oaths or intriguing with Lady Derby, Miss Southwell, or Miss Brydges; the gayest Lothario at the Court.†



* At the same time, probably, as he altered his crest. Cecil is labouring for peace He has found a new pedigree by his grandmother from the Walpoles, and altered his crest from a sheaf of wheat between two lions to two sheaves of arrows crossed and covered with a helmet, to distinguish his retinue from his brother's.'-Fran. Cordale, 21 July, 1599.

† See the letter addressed to him by Lady Bacon on his carnal backsliding in Birch's

In one respect it was no disadvantage to Cecil that he had no friends, in the sense that a powerful minister has friends for whose advancement the world expects, as they themselves expect, that he is to exert his influence in high quarters. In this he was the reverse of Essex; for Essex, unhappily, was a man of many friends, who measured his importance by his ability to procure for them office and emoluments. Flattered by this persuasion, he pressed their suits with passionate zeal and indiscretion, with utter contempt for the claims of others, and bitter hostility towards all whose opposition he suspected. Because the Queen would not suffer him to speak insolently of Raleigh in her presence, he burst out into a torrent of abuse, raking up his private history, and telling her that he disdained his competition of love,' and could have no comfort to give himself to the service of a mistress that was in awe of such a man!' To add to the unmanliness of this attack, wholly unprovoked except by his own jealous and suspicious temper, he avows, and even glories in the avowal, that he spoke as loud as he could, that Raleigh, who was Captain of the Guard, and stood near the door, ' might very well hear the worst that I spoke of him.' The editor of his letters thinks this an indication how little he owed to the wiles of the

Birch's Mem. of Eliz.' ii. 218. From a letter of the same lady to the Earl, in the Hatfield Papers, never before published, we take the following curious extract:

'I crave leave and also pardon, my special good Lord, for uttering my unfeigned Christian affection to your honour in this simple manner, which much rather I would have done by humble speech, if my health and access to your own person might conveniently have concurred. Therefore, now, thus upon it is, my good Lord, I was made to be thus bold. Lately in a place of a preaching minister, in the city, frequented as I may, the lecture finished, I said to a Court friend of mine apart, one I am sure must and doth love you well, and then was there; "I wish many time," quoth I," that her Majesty's self did hear such wholesome and fruitful doctrine, as we do hear and enjoy under her." "That were," quoth he, "happiest for her and comfortable to us all." Surely," quoth I, "her want thereof and also of catechising in that high place causeth great want of the right knowledge of sin, and thereby great carelessness for sin; yet is there one nobleman that in his youth doth remember his Creator, and loveth both the Word of God and the good preacher, and goeth beyond his ancients in avoiding swearing and gaming, with such common corruption there." "Whom mean

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you?" inquit. Even one," inquam, "to whom I am so much bound, that I owe to wish him daily increase of godliness with blessed success in his worldly state;" and named indeed the Earl of Essex. "Is it he you mean?" inquit, would to God he did so; but he sweareth as mighty oaths, woe am I for it! Sorry," inquam, "I am to hear it, but yet I trust not ordinarily with great grievous oaths." "Alas!" inquit, "he is a terrible swearer," which words methought struck my heart in respect of the Earl. "Lo," inquam, "the hurt of no catechising in Court! for by expounding well the law and commandments of God, sin is laid open and disclosed to the hearers, and worketh in them by God's spirit more hatred of evil, and checketh our proneness natural to all sin, by lack whereof even our counsellors, both old and young, are pitifully infected with that contagion to their own danger and lamentable example of others what degree soever;" and so we parted.'-Hatfield MSS., cxxvii. 68.


courtier.' We think it an indication how little he owed to good manners, or regard for others whenever he suspected them, rightly or wrongly, of crossing his path.

In 1596, after the death of Walsingham, when the duties of the Secretary's place were executed by Sir Robert in consequence of his father's sickness, Essex was anxious to secure the appointment for Sir Thomas Bodley. He had already endeavoured to detach Bodley from the Cecils for no other reason than to make Bodley dependent on himself. His conduct on this occasion was disgraced with the same arrogance, the same jealousy, the same imperiousness as he had displayed on the former. Sir Thomas confesses that Essex sought by all devices to divert the liking and love of the Queen, both from the father and the son, [Burghley and Sir Robert], but from the son in special. And to draw my affection from the one to the other, and to win me altogether to depend upon himself, did so often take occasion to entertain the Queen with some prodigal speeches of my sufficiency for a secretary, which were ever accompanied with words of disgrace against the present Lord Treasurer (Sir Robert) . . . that both my Lord Burghley and his son waxed jealous of my courses.' On talking over the subject with Cecil afterwards, the latter freely confessed to him that the Earl's daily provocations were so bitter and sharp, and his comparisons so odious, when he professed to balance the claims of the two, that naturally enough the Cecils had no great desire to further the promotion of one who was thus pushed forward to their disparagement.*

It was the same on all occasions, whether he wished to advance Bacon, or Southampton, or Blount, or Sir Gilly Merrick. He could endure no rival, he could allow no merit in others who differed from him, and he always sought to disparage it. He scrupled at no means in supplanting those who seemed to enjoy any share of the Queen's favour; and he resented every honour she bestowed upon others as an injury to himself. Such men are neither sagacious nor discreet; and it is not surprising that Essex should never have understood the character and temper of the Queen; still more that he should have fallen into the fatal mistake of imagining that force would avail where persuasion failed. He might as well have attempted to hold a lion by the paw as over-awe a Tudor. Strong and determined always, never were they more strong and more determined than in the face of opposition; never so calm and courageous as in the presence of danger. Strong monarchs all, they sometimes

*Birch, ii. 62.


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