259. PRINCESS ELIZABETH IMPRISONED.
Furthermore, the nineteenth of the said month, the Lady Elizabeth, sister to the queen, was brought to the Tower, and committed to the custody of Sir John Williams, after Lord Williams of Thame; of whom her Highness was gently and courteously entreated; who afterward was had to Woodstock, and there committed to the keeping of Sir Henry Benifield, knight, of Oxborough in Norfolk; who, on the other side, both forgetting her estate, and his own duty, (as it is reported,) showed himself more hard and strait unto her, than either cause given of her part, or reason of his own part, would have led him, if either grace or wisdom in him might have seen before, what danger afterward might have ensued thereof. But herein have we to see and note, not so much the uncivil nature and disposition of that man, as the singular lenity and gracious mansuetude of that princess, who, after coming to her crown, showed herself so far from revenge of injuries taken, that whereas other monarchs have oftentimes requited less offences with loss of life, she hath scarce impaired any piece of his liberty or estimation, save only that he was restrained from coming to the court. And whereas some, peradventure, of her estate would here have used the bloody sword, her Majesty was contented with scarce a nipping word; only bidding him to repair home, and saying, "If we have any prisoner, whom we would have sharply and straitly kept, then we will send for you."
This virtuous and noble lady, in what fear she was the mean time, and in what peril greater than her fear, the Lord only best doth know: and, next, it is not unknown to herself, to whose secret intelligence I leave this matter further to be considered. This I may say, which every man may see; that it was not without a singular miracle of God that she could or did escape, in such a multitude of enemies, and grudge of minds so greatly exasperated against her; especially Stephen Gardiner, bishop of Winchester, whose head and devices were chiefly bent, as a bow, against that only person, to make her away: and no doubt would have brought it by some means to pass, had not the Lord prevented him with death; to preserve her life, to the preservation of this realm. Wherefore that is false which Dr. Story said in the parliament house, lamenting, as I heard say, "that when they went so much about the branches, they had not shot at the root herself." For why? They neither lacked their darts, or no good will, to shoot at the root, all they possibly might; but, what God's providence will have kept, it shall be kept, when all Dr. Stories have shot all their artillery in vain. But of this matter it is sufficient at this present, for of it we have to entreat more at large (the Lord willing) hereafter, in the story and life of Queen Elizabeth.