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SECOND QUEEN REGNANT OF ENGLAND & IRELAND.
Birth of Elizabeth at Greenwich Palace-Chamber of the Virgios
Remark of her mother, queen Anne Boleyn-Christening-Placed first in the succession-Marriage negotiation with France-Execution of her mother-Elizabeth declared illegitimate-Her governess -Want of apparel-Altered fortunes, Appears at her brother's christening-Her early promise-Education-Her first letter-Patronised by Anne of Cleves and Katharine Howard-- Residence with her sister Mary-Offered in marriage to the heir of Arran–Her letter to queen Katharine Parr-Proficiency in languages-Her early compositions—Her brother's love for her—Shares his studies-Her father's death—Her grief-Wooed by Seymour, the lord admiralRefuses his hand-Offended at his marriage with the queen dowager -Princess Mary invites her to live with her-She resides with queen Katharine Parr-Her governess, Mrs. Ashley, and Roger AschamFreedoms of the admiral—The queen's jealousy_Elizabeth removes to Cheston-Her letters to the queen and admiral-Death and bequest of queen Katharine Parr—The admiral's clandestine courtship of Elizabeth—Injurious reports concerning it—Elizabeth's conferences with Parry-Her governess Ashley sent to the Tower-Examination of Elizabeth-Restraint at Hatfield—Defends her governess—Letter to the protector—Her confessions-Her governess superseded by lady Tyrwhit—Disdainful conduct of Elizabeth—She writes again to the protector—Serious scandals on Elizabeth—She intercedes for her governess—Execution of the admiral—Elizabeth's regard for his memory -The ladies of her household.
We now come to the most distinguished name in the annals of female royalty, that of the great Elizabeth, second queen regnant of England. The romantic circumstances of her birth, the vicissitudes of her child
hood, and the lofty spirit with which she bore herself, amidst the storms and perils that darkened over her during her sister's reign, invested her with almost poetic interest, as a royal heroine, before her title to the regal succession was ratified by the voice of a generous people, and the brilliant success of her government, during a long reign, surrounded her maiden diadem with a blaze of glory which has rendered her the most popular of our monarchs, and blinded succeeding generations to her faults.
It is not, perhaps, the most gracious office in the world to perform, with strict impartiality, the duty of a faithful biographer to a princess so endeared to national pride as Elizabeth, and to examine, by the cold calm light of truth, the flaws which mar the bright ideal of Spenser's “ Glorianna,” and Shakespeare's
“ Fair vestal throned by the west." Like the wise and popular Augustus Cæsar, Elizabeth understood the importance of acquiring the good will of that class whose friendship or enmity goes far to decide the fortunes of princes; the might of her throne was supported by the pens of the master spirits of the age. Very different might have been the records of her reign, if the reasoning powers of Bacon, the eloquence of Sidney, the poetic talents of Spenser, the wit of Harrington, and the genius of Shakespeare had been arrayed against her, instead of combining to represent her as the impersonification of all earthly perfection-scarcely, indeed, short of divinity.
It has been truly said, however, that no man is a hero to his valet de chambre, and it is impossible to enter into the personal history of England's Elizabeth without shewing that she occasionally forgot the dignity of the heroine among her ladies in waiting, and indulged in follies which the youngest of her maids of honour would have blushed to imitate. The web of her life was a glittering tissue, in which good and evil were strangely mingled, and as the evidences of friend and foe are woven together, without reference to the prejudices of
either, or any other object than to shew her as she was, the lights and shades must sometimes appear in strong and even painful opposition to each other, for such are the inconsistencies of human nature, such the littlenesses of human greatness.
Queen Elizabeth first saw the light at Greenwich palace, the favourite abode of her royal parents, Henry VIII. and Anne Boleyn. Her birth is thus quaintly but prettily recorded by the contemporary historian, Hall “On the 7th day of September, being Sunday, between three and four o'clock in the afternoon, the queen was delivered of a faire ladye, on which day the duke of Norfolk came home to the christening."
The apartment in which she was born was hung with tapestry representing the history of holy virgins, and was from that circumstance called the Chamber of the Virgins. When the queen, her mother, who had eagerly anticipated a son, was told that she had given birth to a daughter, she endeavoured, with ready tact, to attach adventitious importance to her infant, by saying to the ladies in attendance :-" They may now, with reason, call this room the Chamber of Virgins, for a virgin is now born in it on the vigil of that auspicious day, on which the church commemorates the nativity of the Virgin
Heywood, though a zealous eulogist of the Protestant principles of Elizabeth, intimates that she was under the especial patronage of the blessed Virgin from the hour of her birth, and for that cause devoted to a maiden life. “ The lady Elizabeth,” says he, “ was born on the eve of the Virgin's nativity, and died on the eve of the Virgin's annunciation. Even that she is now in heaven with all those blessed virgins that had oil in their lamps.
Notwithstanding the bitter disappointment_felt by king Henry at the sex of the infant, a solemn Te Deum was sung in honour of her birth, and the preparations for her christening were made with no less magnificence than if his hopes had been gratified by the birth of a male heir to the crown.
1 Leti's Life of Queen Elizabeth.
The solemnization of that sacred rite was appointed to take place on Wednesday, 10th of September, the fourth day after the birth of the infant princess. On that day the lord mayor, with the aldermen and council of the city of London, dined together at one o'clock, and then, in obedience to their summons, took boat in their chains and robes, and rowed to Greenwich, where many lords, knights, and gentlemen, were assembled to witness the royal ceremonial.
All the walls between Greenwich palace and the convent of the Grey Friars were hung with arras and the way strewn with
green rushes. The church was likewise hung with arras. Gentlemen with aprons and towels about their necks guarded the font, which stood in the middle of the church, it was of silver and raised to the height of three steps, and over it was a square canopy,
of crimson satin fringed with gold-about it, a space railed in, covered with red say. Between the choir and chancel, a closet with a fire had been prepared lest the infant should take cold in being disrobed for the font. When all these things were ready, the child was brought into the hall of the palace, and the procession set out to the neighbouring church of the Grey Friars ; of which building no vestige now remains at Greenwich.
The procession began with the lowest rank, the citizens two and two led the way, then gentlemen, esquires, and chaplains, a gradation of precedence, rather decidedly marked, of the three first ranks, whose distinction is by no means definite in the present times; after them the aldermen, and the lord mayor by himself, then the privy council in robes, then the peers and prelates followed by the earl of Essex, who bore the gilt covered basons ; then the marquis of Exeter, with the taper of virgin wax; next the marquis of Dorset, bearing the salt, and the lady Mary of Norfolk (the betrothed of the young duke of Richmond) carrying the chrisom, which was very rich with pearls and gems; lastly came the royal infant, in the arms of her great-grandmother, the dowager duchess of Norfolk, under a stately canopy which was supported by the uncle of the babe, George Bo