428. THE LADY ELIZABETH
Illustration -- Interior of the White Tower (Tower of London)
The miraculous preservation of the Lady Elizabeth, now Queen of England, from extreme calamity and danger of life; in the time of Queen Mary, her sister.
Having thus, by the power of the Almighty, plainly and truly displayed the cruel practices and horrible persecutions of Queen Mary's reign, freely and boldly describing her tragical story, (where view is to be had of many things no less marvellous than miserable, no less dangerous than dolorous, no less uncharitable than unnatural,) and now, orderly coming to the flourishing and long-wished for reign of the most noble, virtuous, and renowned sister of the said Mary, this our dread and sovereign mistress and governess, Queen Elizabeth, I thought my travelled pen not a little refreshed with ease and gladness; not so much, for that having now overpassed the bitter and sorrowful matters of such terrible burning, imprisoning, murdering, famishing, racking, and tormenting, and spiteful handling, of the pitiful bodies of Christ's blessed saints, as also for that we are now entering into the time and reign of such a worthy princess and queen; the remembrance and story whereof ministereth not so much unto me matter to write upon, as also delectation to labour and travail about the same. For what man, reputing with himself the singular ornaments and noble graces given of God to this so princely a lady and puissant princess, the mildness of her nature, the clemency of her royal estate and majesty, the peaceableness of her reign, who, a virgin, so mildly ruleth men, governeth her subjects, keepeth all things in order, quieteth foreign nations, recovereth towns, enlargeth her kingdom, nourisheth and concilieth amity, uniteth hearts and love with foreign enemies, helpeth neighbours, reformeth religion, quencheth persecution, redresseth the dross, frameth things out of joint, so feared with such love, and so loved with such fear,-- what man, considering this, I say, either can hold his pen, though he never wrote before, or, being never so much wearied with writing, will not shake off all tediousness; entering into a matter so pleasant and delectable to entreat upon. For what can be more delectable and pleasant, than to run into such a field, to give virtue his commendation, which in all persons, as Plato saith, stirreth up great love, but especially in a prince; and, in such a prince, what natural subject will it not delight, not only to behold, but also to extend his travail and diligence in extolling and setting forth the same.
And first, to begin with our thanks, most due, to Almighty God, what cause have we all Englishmen so to do, that is, to render most ample thanksgiving to the mercifulness of God, who hath granted, conserved, and advanced, to the seat-regal of this realm, so good, godly, and virtuous a queen; such a chosen instrument of his clemency, so virtuously natured, so godly disposed, so merciful without marring, so humble without pride, so moderate without prodigality, so maidenly without pomp, through whom we cannot deny, as amends and recompence, now to be made to England, for the cruel days that were before. For as then moderation had no place, but all was ruled by rigour, contrary now, clemency hath all the operation; and, as then was no end of butcherly killing, and bloody murdering, so now is no beginning yet found of spilling any drop of blood. In prosecuting the matter, I might here speak of the heady hastiness in Queen Mary's days, in proceeding without, and before, any law, by mere affection. Bishops that were married, thrust out of parliament, and all married deans and archdeacons out of the convocation; many put out of their livings, and others restored before any law. Yea, some noblemen and gentlemen deprived of their lands given them by the king, for Winchester to be inducted. Many churches changed, many altars set up, many masses said, many diriges sung, before the law was repealed; all was done in post haste. Now we see things done with more advisement and less haste, no man now presuming to violate orders godly taken, or to stir the people to change what they list, before order be published by law. And as we have seen the coming in, the proceeding, and the ending, of the one, so let us compare, withal, the conditions of the other. She cometh in like a mother, not like a step-dame; like a lamb, not like a lion; she rusheth not in to bang and draw; her Majesty beheadeth none, burneth none, spoileth none, forgiveth all; well considering the counsel of the poet, denying gravius esse imperium vi quod fit quam quod amicitia adjungitur, that is, "that kingdom to be more firm and sure, which standeth by coaction, than what is governed with gentleness." Wherefore what cause we have to render thanks and supplications for this so worthy and excellent a prince, let all Englishmen's hearts examine and consider with themselves.
And thus our duties first premised, and thanks considered, which we justly owe to Almighty God for his blessed preservation and happy advancement of this our queen and governor, now, forasmuch as we have to enter to the time of this her Majesty's reign, the order and course of the history so requireth, before we proceed in other affairs, first, a little to persist in setting forth some part of her princely life, and singular worthiness; albeit I am not ignorant how hard a matter it is to intermeddle with princes' lives, themselves yet being alive; lest, either for flattery a man shall seem to say too much, or, saying no more than truth, to say too little. Whereof, like as I am not ignorant, so neither am I greatly afraid, first, and chiefly, considering with myself her Majesty's clemency; secondly, for that the sequel of the history so provoked me; thirdly, and moreover, for that necessity also somewhat inciteth me unto the same; fearing lest, as it happened to King Edward, her Grace's brother, the like may happen to her Majesty also; that, as he being alive, every man could extol him, but, being now gone, it is not yet seen any to have taken the pains to furnish his story; so likewise if now, in her lifetime, nothing be spoken, peradventure, when nature shall finish her course, less will be said hereafter.
First therefore, to begin with her princely birth; being born at Greenwich, anno 1533, of the famous and victorious prince, King Henry the Eighth, and of the noble and most virtuous Lady, Queen Anne, her mother -- sufficient is committed to the story before; also of the solemn celebration of her baptism, in the said town, and Grey Friars' church, of Greenwich; having to her godfather, Thomas Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury. After that, she was committed to godly tutors and governors, under whose institution her Grace did so greatly increase, or rather excel, in all manner of virtue and knowledge of learning, that I stand in a doubt, whether is more to be commended in this behalf, the studious diligence of them that brought her up, or the singular towardness of her own princely nature, to all virtuous dispositions so apt and inclinable; being, notwithstanding, both the gifts of God, for which we are all bound to give him thanks. What tongue is it that her Grace knoweth not? what language can she not speak? what liberal art or science hath not she learned? and what virtue, wherewith her noble breast is not garnished? In counsel and wisdom, what counsellor will go beyond her Majesty? If the goodness of nature, joined with the industry of her Grace's institution, had not been in her marvellous, how many things were there, besides the natural infirmity of that sex, the tenderness of youth, the nobility of estate, allurements of the world, persuasions of flatterers, abundance of wealth and pleasures, examples of the court, enough to carry her Grace away, (after the common fashion and rule of many other ladies,) from gravity to lightness, from study to ease, from wisdom to vanity, from religion to superstition, from godliness to gawishness, to be pricked up in pride, to be garish in apparel, to be fierce in condition! Eloquently it is spoken, and discreetly meant, of Tully, the eloquent orator: "To live," saith he, "a good man in other places, is no great matter; but in Asia, to keep a sober and temperate life, that is a matter indeed praiseworthy:"-- so here, why may I not affirm, without flattery, what every man's conscience can testify? In that age, that sex, in such state and fortune, in so great occasions, so many incitements, in all these to retain so sober conversation, so temperate condition, such mildness of manners, such humbleness of stomach, such clemency in forgiving, such travailing in study, briefly, in the midst of Asia, so far to degenerate from all Asia, it hath not lightly been seen in Europe. Hitherto it hath been seen in very few, whereby it may appear, not only what education or what nature may do, but what God, above nature, hath wrought in her noble breast; adorning it with so worthy virtues, of which her princely qualities and virtuous dispositions, such as have been conversant with her youth, can better testify.
That which I have seen and read, I trust I may boldly repeat without suspicion, either of feigning or flattery. For so I have read, written and testified of her Grace, by one both learned, and also that can say something in this matter; who, in a certain book, by him set forth, entreating of her Grace's virtuous bringing up, what discreet, sober, and godly women she had about her, namely, speaketh of two points in her Grace to be considered; one, concerning her moderate and maidenly behaviour; the other, concerning her training up in learning and good letters. Declaring first, for her virtuous moderation of life; that seven years after her father's death, she had so little pride of stomach, so little delight in glistering gazes of the world, in gay apparel, rich attire, and precious jewels, that, in all that time, she never looked upon those that her father left her, (and which other ladies commonly be so fond upon,) but only once, and that against her will. And moreover, after that, she so little gloried in the same, that there came neither gold nor stone upon her head, till her sister enforced her to lay off her former soberness, and bear her company in her glistering gains; yea, and then she so wore it, as every man might see, that her body bore that which her heart misliked; wherein the virtuous prudence of this princess, not reading, but following, the words of Paul and Peter, well considered true nobility to consist, not in circumstances of the body, but in substance of the heart; not in such things which deck the body, but in that which dignifieth the mind; shining and blazing more bright than pearl or stone, be it never so precious. Again, the said author, further proceeding in the same matter, thus testifieth: that he knew a great man's daughter, receiving from Lady Mary, before she was queen, goodly apparel of tinsel cloth of gold, and velvet laid on with parchment lace of gold; when she saw it she said, "What shall I do with it?" "Marry," said a gentlewoman, "wear it." "Nay," quoth she, "that were a shame to follow my Lady Mary against God's word, and leave my Lady Elizabeth which followeth God's word." Let noble ladies and gentlewomen here learn, either to give or to take good example given; and if they disdain to teach their inferiors in well-doing, yet let it not shame them to learn of their betters. Likewise also at the coming in of the Scottish queen, when all the other ladies of the court flourished in their bravery, with their hair frowsened, and curled, and double curled, yet she altered nothing, but, to the shame of them all, kept her old maidenly shamefacedness.
Let us now come to the second point, declaring how she hath been trained in learning, and that, not vulgar and common, but the purest and the best, which is most commended at these days; as the tongues, arts, and God's word; wherein she so exceedingly profited, as the aforesaid author doth witness, that, being under twenty years of age, she was not, in the best kind of learning, inferior to those that all their lifetime had been brought up in the universities, and were counted jolly fellows. And, that you may understand that there hath not been nor is in her learning only without nature, and knowledge without towardness to practise, I will tell what hath been heard of her first schoolmaster, a man very honest and learned, who reported of her to a friend of his, that he learned every day more of her than she of him; which, when it seemed to him a mystery, (as indeed it was,) and therefore desired to know his meaning therein, he thus expounded it: "I teach her words," quoth he, "and she me, things. I teach her the tongues to speak, and her modest and maidenly life teacheth me words to do; for" saith he, "I think she is the best inclined and disposed of any in all Europe." It seemed to me a goodly commendation of her, and a witty saying of him. Likewise an Italian which taught her his tongue (though that nation lightly praise not out of their own country) said once to the said party, that he found in her two qualities which are never, lightly, yokefellows in one woman; which were, a singular wit, and a marvellous meek stomach.
If time and leisure would serve to peruse her whole life past, many other excellent and memorable examples of her princely qualities and singular virtues might here be noted; but none in my mind more worthy of commendation, or that shall set forth the fame of her heroical and princely renown more to all posterity, than the Christian patience and incredible clemency of her nature, showed in her afflictions, and towards her enemies declared. Such was then the wickedness and rage of that time, wherein what dangers and troubles were among the inferior subjects of this realm of England may be easily gathered, when such a princess of that estate, being both a king's daughter, a queen's sister, an heir apparent to the crown, could not escape without her cross; and therefore, as we have hitherto discoursed the afflictions and persecutions of the other poor members of Christ, comprehended in this history before, so likewise I. see no cause why the communion of her Grace's afflictions also, among the other saints of Christ, ought to be suppressed in silence, especially seeing that the great and marvellous working of God's glory, chiefly in this story, appeareth above all the rest. And though I should, through ingratitude or silence, pass over the same, yet the thing itself is so manifest, that, what Englishman is he which knoweth not the afflictions of her Grace, to have been far above the condition of a king's daughter? for there was no more behind to make a very Iphigenia of her, but her offering up upon the altar of the scaffold; in which her storms and tempests, with what patience her Highness behaved herself, although it be best known to those who, then being her adversaries, had the mewing of her, yet this will I say by the way, that, then, she must needs be in her affliction marvellous patient, who showed herself now, in this prosperity, to be utterly without desire of revenge; or else would she have given some token, ere this day, of remembrance how she was handled. It was no small injury that she suffered in the lord protector's days, by certain venomous vipers. But, to let that pass, was it no wrong, think you, or small injury that she sustained, after the death of King Edward, when they sought to defeat both her and her sister, from her natural inheritance and right of the crown.
But when all hath been said and told, whatsoever can be recited touching the admirable working of God's present hand in defending and delivering any one person out of thraldom, never was there, since the memory of our fathers, any example to be showed, wherein the Lord's mighty power hath more admirably and blessedly showed itself, to the glory of his own name, and to the comfort of all good hearts, and to the public felicity of this whole realm, than in the miraculous custody and out-scape of this OUR SOVEREIGN LADY, now QUEEN, then Lady Elizabeth, in the strait time of Queen Mary her sister.
In which story we first have to consider in what extreme misery, sickness, fear, and peril her Highness was; into what care, what trouble of mind, and what danger of death she was brought: first, with great routs and bands of armed men, (and happy was he that might have the carrying of her,) being fetched up as the greatest traitor in the world, clapped in the Tower, and again tossed from thence, and from house to house, from prison to prison, from post to pillar, at length also prisoner in her own house, and guarded with a sort of cut-throats, which ever gaped for the spoil, whereby they might be fingering of somewhat.
Secondly, we have to consider again, all this notwithstanding, how strangely, or rather miraculously, she was delivered from danger, what favour and grace she found with the Almighty; who, when all help of man and hope of recovery was past, stretched out his mighty protection, and preserved her and placed her in this princely seat of rest and quietness, wherein now she sitteth; and long may she sit, the Lord of his glorious mercy grant, we beseech him.
In which story, if I should set forth, at large and at full, all the particulars and circumstances thereunto belonging, and as just occasion of the history requireth; besides the importunate length of the story discoursed, peradventure it might move offence to some being yet alive, and truth might get me hatred. Yet notwithstanding, I intend (by the grace of Christ) therein to use such brevity and moderation, as both may be to the glory of God, the discharge of the story, the profit of the reader, and hurt to none; suppressing the names of some, whom here, although I could recite, yet I thought not to be more cruel in hurting their names, than the queen hath been merciful in pardoning their lives.
Therefore now, to enter into the discourse of this tragical matter, first here is to be noted, that Queen Mary, when she was first queen, before she was crowned, would go no whither, but would have her by the hand, and send for her to dinner and supper: but, after she was crowned, she never dined nor supped with her, but kept her aloof from her, &c. After this it happened, immediately upon the rising of Sir Thomas Wyat, (as before was mentioned,) that the Lady Elizabeth and the Lord Courteney were charged with false suspicion of Sir Thomas Wyat's rising. Whereupon Queen Mary, whether for that surmise, or for what other cause I know not, being offended with the said Lady Elizabeth her sister, at that time lying in her house at Ashridge, the next day after the rising of Wyat, sent to her three of her councillors, to wit, Sir Richard Southwell, Sir John Williams, Sir Edward Hastings, (then master of the horse,) and Sir Thomas Cornwallis, with their retinue and troop of horsemen, to the number of two hundred and fifty; who at their sudden and unprovided coming, found her at the same time sore sick in her bed, and very feeble and weak of body. Whither when they came, ascending up to her Grace's chamber, they willed one of her ladies, whom they met, to declare unto her Grace, that there were certain come from the court, which had a message from the queen.
Her Grace, having knowledge thereof, was right glad of their coming: howbeit, being then very sick, and the night far spent, (which was at ten of the clock,) she requested them by the messenger, that they would resort thither in the morning. To this they answered, and by the said messenger sent word again, that they must needs see her, and would so do, in what case soever she were. Whereat the lady being aghast, went to show her Grace their words, but they, hastily following her, came rushing as soon as she into her Grace's chamber, unbidden. At whose so sudden coming into her bedchamber, her Grace, being not a little amazed, said unto them, "Is the haste such, that it might not have pleased you to come to-morrow in the morning?" They made answer, that they were right sorry to see her in that case. "And I," quoth she, "am not glad to see you here, at this time of the night." Whereunto they answered, that they came from the queen to do their message and duty, which was to this effect, that the queen's pleasure was, that she should be at London the seventh day of that present month. Whereunto she said, "Certes, no creature more glad than I to come to her Majesty, being right sorry that I am not in case at this time to wait on her, as you yourselves do see, and can well testify." "Indeed we see it true," quoth they, "that you do say; for which we are very sorry. Albeit, we let you to understand, that our commission is such, and so straiteneth us, that we must needs bring you with us, either quick or dead." Whereat she, being amazed, sorrowfully said, that their commission was very sore; but yet, notwithstanding, she hoped it to be otherwise, and not so strait. "Yes, verily," said they. Whereupon they, calling for two physicians, Dr. Owen and Dr. Wendy, demanded of them whether she might be removed from thence with life, or no; whose answer and judgment was, that there was no impediment in their judgment to the contrary, but that she might travel without danger of life.
In conclusion, they willed her to prepare against the next morning at nine of the clock, to go with them, declaring that they had brought with them the queen's litter for her. After much talk, the messengers declaring how there was no prolonging of times and days, so departed to their chamber, being entertained and cheered, as appertained to their Worships.
On the next morrow at the time prescribed, they had her forth as she was, very faint and feeble, and in such case that she was ready to swoon three or four times between them. What should I speak here, that cannot well be expressed, what a heavy house there was to behold the unreverent and doleful dealing of these men, but especially the carnal fear and captivity of their innocent lady and mistress.
Now to proceed in her journey from Ashridge, all sick in the litter, she came to Redbourn, where she was guarded all night. From thence to St. Alban's, to Sir Ralph Rowlet's house, where she tarried that night, both feeble in body and comfortless in mind. From that place they passed to Master Dodde's house at Mimms, where also they remained that night: and so from thence she came to Highgate, where she, being very sick, tarried that night and the next day; during which time of her abode, there came many pursuivants and messengers from the court; but for what purpose I cannot tell. From that place she was conveyed to the court, where by the way came to meet her many gentlemen, to accompany her Highness, which were very sorry to see her in that case. But especially a great multitude of people there were standing by the way, who then flocking about her litter, lamented and bewailed greatly her estate.
Now when she came to the court, her Grace was there straightways shut up, and kept as close prisoner a fortnight, which was till Palm Sunday, seeing neither king nor queen, nor lord nor friend, all that time, but only the then lord chamberlain, Sir John Gage, and the vice-chamberlain, which were attendant unto the doors. About which time Sir William Sentlowe was called before the council; to whose charge was laid, that he knew of Wyat's rebellion, which he stoutly denied, protesting that he was a true man both to God and his prince, defying all traitors and rebels. But, being straitly examined, he was in conclusion committed to the Tower.
The Friday before Palm Sunday, the bishop of Winchester, with nineteen other of the council, (who shall be here nameless,) came unto her Grace from the queen's Majesty, and burdened her with Wyat's conspiracy, which she utterly denied, affirming that she was altogether guiltless therein. They, being not contented with this, charged her Grace with business made by Sir Peter Carew, and the rest of the gentlemen of the west country: which also she utterly denying, cleared her innocency therein.
In conclusion, after long debating of matters, they declared unto her, that it was the queen's will and pleasure that she should go unto the Tower, while the matter were further tried and examined. Whereat she, being aghast, said, that she trusted the queen's Majesty would be a more gracious lady unto her, and that her Highness would not otherwise conceive of her but that she was a true woman: declaring furthermore to the lords, that she was innocent in all those matters wherein they had burdened her, and desired them therefore to be a further mean to the queen her sister, that she, being a true woman in thought, word, and deed, towards her Majesty, might not be committed to so notorious and doleful a place; protesting that she would request no favour at her hand, if she should be proved to have consented unto any such kind of matter as they laid unto her charge; and therefore, in fine, desired their Lordships to think of her what she was, and that she might not so extremely be dealt withal for her truth. Whereunto the lords answered again, that there was no remedy, for that the queen's Majesty was fully determined that she should go unto the Tower: wherewith the lords departed, with their caps hanging over their eyes.
But not long after, within the space of an hour or little more, came four of the foresaid lords of the council, which were the lord treasurer, the bishop of Winchester, the lord steward, the earl of Sussex, with the guard; who, warding the next chamber to her, secluded all her gentlemen and yeomen, ladies and gentlewomen; saving that for one gentleman-usher, three gentlewomen, and two grooms of her chamber, were appointed, in their rooms, three other men of the queen's, and three waiting women to give attendance upon her, that none should have access to her Grace. At which time there were a hundred of northern soldiers in white coats, watching and warding about the gardens all that night; a great fire being made in the midst of the hall, and two certain lords watching there also, with their band and company.
Upon Saturday following, two lords of the council (the one was the earl of Sussex, the other shall be nameless) came and certified her Grace, that forthwith she must go unto the Tower, the barge being prepared for her, and the tide now ready, which tarrieth for nobody. In heavy mood her Grace requested the lords that she might tarry another tide, trusting that the next would be better and more comfortable. But one of the lords replied, that neither time nor tide was to be delayed. And when her Grace requested him that she might be suffered to write to the queen's Majesty, he answered, that he durst not permit that; adding, that in his judgment it would rather hurt, than profit her Grace, in so doing. But the other lord, more courteous and favourable, (who was the earl of Sussex,) kneeling down, told her Grace that she should have liberty to write, and, as he was a true man, he would deliver it to the queen's Highness, and bring an answer of the same, whatsoever came thereof. Whereupon she wrote, albeit she could in no case be suffered to speak with the queen, to her great discomfort, being no offender against the queen's Majesty.
And thus the time and tide passed away for that season, they privily appointing all things ready that she should go the next tide, which fell about midnight; but for fear she should be taken by the way, they durst not. So they staid till the next day, being Palm Sunday, when, about nine of the clock, these two returned again, declaring that it was time for her Grace to depart. She answered, "If there be no remedy, I must be contented;" willing the lords to go on before. Being come forth into the garden, she did cast her eyes towards the window, thinking to have seen the queen, which she could not: whereat she said, she marvelled much what the nobility of the realm meant, which in that sort would suffer her to be led into captivity, the Lord knew whither, for she did not. In the mean time, commandment was given in all London, that every one should keep the church, and carry their palms, while in the mean season she might be conveyed without all recourse of people into the Tower.
After all this, she took her barge with the two foresaid lords, three of the queen's gentlewomen, and three of her own, her gentleman-usher, and two of her grooms, lying and hovering upon the water a certain space, for that they could not shoot the bridge, the bargemen being very unwilling to shoot the same so soon as they did, because of the danger thereof: for the stern of the boat struck upon the ground, the fall was so big, and the water was so shallow, that the boat being under the bridge, there staid again awhile. At landing she first stayed, and denied to land at those stairs where all traitors and offenders customably used to land, neither well could she, unless she should go over her shoes. The lords were gone out of the boat before,and asked why she came not. One of the lords went back again to her, and brought word she would not come. Then said one of the lords, which shall be nameless, that she should not choose: and because it did then rain, he offered to her his cloak, which she, putting it back with her hand with a good dash, refused. So she coming out, having one foot upon the stair, said, "Here landeth as true a subject, being prisoner, as ever landed at these stairs; and before thee, O God! I speak it, having no other friends but thee alone." To whom the same lord answered again, that if it were so, it was the better for her.
Illustration -- Elizabeth Arriving at the Tower
At her landing there was a great multitude of their servants and warders standing in their order. "What needed all this?" said she. "It is the use," said some, "so to be, when any prisoner comes thither." "And if it be," quoth she, "for my cause, I beseech you that they may be dismissed." , Whereat the poor men kneeled down, and with one voice desired God to preserve her Grace; who the next day were released of their cold coats.
After this, passing a little further, she sat down upon a cold stone, and there rested herself. To whom the lieutenant then being said, "Madam, you were best to come out of the rain; for you sit unwholesomely." She then replying, answered again, "It is better sitting here, than in a worse place; for God knoweth, I know not whither you will bring me." With that her gentleman-usher wept: she demanding of him what he meant so uncomfortably to use her, seeing she took him to be her comforter, and not to dismay her; especially for that she knew her truth to be such, that no man should have cause to weep for her. But forth she went into the prison.
The doors were locked and bolted upon her, which did not a little discomfort and dismay her Grace: at what time she called to her gentlewoman for her book, desiring God not to suffer her to build her foundation upon the sands, but upon the rock, whereby all blasts of blustering weather should have no power against her. The doors being thus locked, and she close shut up, the lords had great conference how to keep ward and watch, every man declaring his own opinion in that behalf, agreeing straitly and circumspectly to keep her.
Then one of them, which was the lord of Sussex, swearing, said, "My Lords, let us take heed, and do no more than our commission will bear us out in, whatsoever shall happen hereafter. And further, let us consider that she was the king our master's daughter: and therefore let us use such dealing, that we may answer it hereafter, if it shall so happen: for just dealing," quoth he, "is always answerable." Whereunto the other lords agreed that it was well said of him, and thereupon departed. Being in the Tower, within two days commandment was, that she should have mass within her house. One Master Young was then her chaplain, and because there were none of her men so well learned to help the priest to say mass, the mass staid for that day.
The next day two of her yeomen, who had gone long to school before, and were learned, had two abecies provided, and delivered them; so that upon the abecies they should help the priest. One of the said yeomen, holding the abecie in his hand, pretending ignorance at Kyrie Eleison, set the priest, making as though he could answer no further.
It would make a pitiful and a strange story, here by the way to touch and recite what examination and rackings of poor men there were, to find out that knife that should cut her throat; what gaping among my lords of the clergy, to see the day wherein they might wash their goodly white rockets in her innocent blood; but especially the bishop of Winchester, Stephen Gardiner, then lord chancellor, ruler of the roost, who then, within five days after, came unto her, with divers other of the council, and examined her of the talk that was at Ashridge, betwixt her and Sir James Croft, concerning her removing from thence to Donnington castle, requiring her to declare what she meant thereby.
At the first she, being so suddenly asked, did not well remember any such house; but within awhile, well advising herself, she said, "Indeed," quoth she, "I do now remember that I have such a place, but I never lay in it in all my life. And as for any that hath moved me thereunto, I do not remember."
Then, to enforce the matter, they brought forth Sir James Croft. The bishop of Winchester demanded of her, what she said to that man. She answered, that she had little to say to him, or to the rest that were then prisoners in the Tower. "But my Lords," quoth she, "you do examine every mean prisoner of me, wherein, methinks, you do me great injury. If they have done evil, and offended the queen's Majesty, let them answer to it accordingly. I beseech you, my Lords, join not me, in this sort, with any of these offenders. And as concerning my going unto Donnington castle, I do remember that Master Hobby and mine officers, and you, Sir James Croft, had such talk; but what is that to the purpose, my Lords, but that I may go to mine own houses at all times?"
The lord of Arundel, kneeling down, said, "Your Grace saith true, and certainly we are very sorry that we have so troubled you about so vain matters." She then said, "My Lords, you do sift me very narrowly; but well I am assured, you shall not do more to me than God hath appointed; and so God forgive you all."
At their departure Sir James Croft kneeled down, declaring that he was sorry to see the day in which he should be brought as a witness against her Grace. "But I assure your Grace," said he, "I have been marvellously tossed and examined touching your Highness, which (the Lord knoweth) is very strange to me: for, I take God to record before all your Honours, I do not know any thing of that crime that you have laid to my charge, and will thereupon take my death, if I should be driven to so strict a trial.
That day, or thereabouts, divers of her own officers, who had made provision for her diet, brought the same to the outer gate of the Tower, the common rascal soldiers receiving it; which was no small grief unto the gentlemen, the bringers thereof. Wherefore they required to speak with the lord chamberlain, being then constable of the Tower; who, coming before his presence, declared unto his Lordship, that they were much afraid to bring her Grace's diet, and to deliver it unto such common and desperate persons as they were, which did receive it, beseeching his Honour to consider her Grace, and to give such order, that her viands might at all times be brought in by them which were appointed thereunto. "Yea, sirs," said he, "who appointed you this office?" They answered, "Her Grace's council." "Council!" uoth he; "there is none of them which hath to do either in that case, or any thing else, within this place. And I assure you, for that she is a prisoner, she shall be served with the lieutenant's men, as other the prisoners are." Whereat the gentlemen said, that they trusted for more favour at his hands, considering her personage; saying, that they mistrusted not, but that the queen and her council would be better to her Grace than so. And therewith showed themselves to be offended at the ungrateful words of the lord chamberlain towards their lady and mistress. At this he sware by God, (striking himself upon the breast,) that if they did either frown or shrug at him, he would set them where they should see neither sun nor moon. Thus taking their leave, they desired God to bring him into a better mind toward her Grace, and departed from him.
Upon the occasion whereof, her Grace's officers made great suit unto the queen's council, that some might be appointed to bring her diet unto her, and that it might no more be delivered unto the common soldiers of the Tower; which being reasonably considered, was by them granted. And thereupon were appointed one of her gentlemen, her clerk of her kitchen, and her two purveyors, to bring in her provision once a day: all which was done, the warders ever waiting upon the bringers thereof.
The lord chamberlain himself, being always with them, circumspectly and narrowly watched and searched what they brought, and gave heed that they should have no talk with any of her Grace's waiting servants; and so warded them both in and out. At the said suit of her officers, were sent by the commandment of the council, to wait upon her Grace, two yeomen of her chamber, one of her robes, two of her pantry and every, one of her buttery, another of her cellar, two of her kitchen, and one of her larder; all which continued with her the time of her trouble.
Here the constable, being at the first not very well pleased with the coming-in of such a company against his will, would have had his men still to have served with her Grace's men; which her servants at no hand would suffer, desiring his Lordship to be contented, for that order was taken, that no stranger should come within their offices. At which answer being sore displeased, he brake out into these threatening words: "Well," said he, "I will handle you well enough." Then went he into the kitchen, and there would needs have his meat roasted with her Grace's meat, and said that his cook should come thither and dress it. To that her Grace's cook answered, "My Lord, I will never suffer any stranger to come about her diet, but her own sworn men, so long as I live." He said, they should. But the cook said, his Lordship should pardon him for that matter. Thus did he trouble her poor servants very stoutly; though afterward he was otherwise advised, and they more courteously used at his hands. And good cause why; for he had good cheer, and fared of the best, and her Grace paid well for it. Wherefore he used himself afterward more reverently toward her Grace.
After this sort, having lien a whole month there in close prison, and being very evil at ease there-withal, she sent for the lord chamberlain, and the Lord Chandos, to come and speak with her; who coming, she requested them that she might have liberty to walk in some place, for that she felt herself not well. To the which they answered, that they were right sorry that they could not satisfy her Grace's request; for that they had commandment to the contrary, which they durst not in any wise break. Furthermore she desired of them, if that could not be granted, that she might walk but into the queen's lodging. No, nor yet that (they answered) could by any means be obtained without a further suit to the queen and her council. "Well," said she, "my Lords, if the matter be so hard, that they must be sued unto for so small a thing, and that friendship be so strict, God comfort me." And so they departed, she remaining in her old dungeon still, without any kind of comfort but only God.
The next day after the Lord Chandos came again unto her Grace, declaring unto her, that he had sued unto the council for further liberty. Some of them consented thereunto, divers other dissented, for that there were so many prisoners in the Tower. But, in conclusion, they did all agree that her Grace might walk into those lodgings, so that he and the lord chamberlain, and three of the queen's gentlewomen, did accompany her, the windows being shut, and she not suffered to look out at any of them: wherewith she contented herself, and gave him thanks for his good will in that behalf.
Afterwards there was liberty granted to her Grace to walk in a little garden, the doors and gates being shut up, which notwithstanding was as much discomfort unto her, as the walk in the garden was pleasant and acceptable. At which times of her walking there, the prisoners on that side straitly were commanded not to speak or look out at the windows into the garden, till her Grace were gone out again, having, in consideration thereof, their keepers waiting upon them for that time. Thus her Grace, with this small liberty, contented herself in God, to whom be praise there-for.
During this time, there used a little boy, a man's child in the Tower, to resort to their chambers, and many times to bring her Grace flowers, which likewise he did to the other prisoners that were there. Whereupon, naughty and suspicious heads, thinking to make and wring out some matter thereof, called on a time the child unto them, promising him figs and apples, and asked of him when he had been with the earl of Devonshire, not ignorant of the child's wonted frequenting unto him. The boy answered, that he would go by and by thither. Further, they demanded of him, when he was with the Lady Elizabeth's Grace. He answered, "Every day." Furthermore, they examined him, what the lord of Devonshire sent by him to her Grace. The child said, "I will go know, what he will give to carry to her." Such was the discretion of the child, being yet but four years of age. "This same is a crafty boy," quoth the lord chamberlain: "how say you, my Lord Chandos?" "I pray you, my Lord," quoth the boy, "give me the figs you promised me." "No, marry," quoth he, "thou shalt be whipped, if thou come any more to the Lady Elizabeth, or the Lord Courteney." The boy answered, "I will bring my Lady my mistress more flowers." Whereupon the child's father was commanded to permit the boy no more to come up into their chambers.
The next day, as her Grace was walking in the garden, the child, peeping in at a hole in the door, cried unto her, saying, "Mistress, I can bring you no more flowers." Whereat she smiled, but said nothing, understanding thereby what they had done. Wherefore afterwards the chamberlain rebuked highly his father, commanding him to put him out of the house. "Alas, poor infant! "quoth the father. "It is a crafty knave," quoth the lord chamberlain; "let me see him here no more."
The fifth day of May, the constable of the Tower was discharged of his office of the Tower, and one Sir Henry Benifield placed in his room, a man unknown to her Grace, and therefore the more feared; which so sudden mutation was unto her no little amaze. He brought with him a hundred soldiers, in blue coats, wherewith she was marvellously discomforted, and demanded of such as were about her, whether the Lady Jane's scaffold were taken away or no; fearing, by reason of their coming, lest she should have played her part. To whom answer was made, that the scaffold was taken away, and that her Grace needed not to doubt of any such tyranny; for God would not suffer any such treason against her person. Wherewith being contented, but not altogether satisfied, she asked who Sir Henry Benifield was; and whether he was of that conscience, or no, that if her murdering were secretly committed to his charge he would see the execution thereof. She was answered, that they were ignorant what manner of man he was. Howbeit they persuaded her that God would not suffer such wickedness to proceed. "Well," quoth she, "God grant it be so. For thou, O God, canst mollify all such tyrannous hearts, and disappoint all such cruel purposes; and I beseech thee to hear me, thy creature, which am thy servant and at thy commandment, trusting by thy grace ever so to remain."
About which time it was spread abroad, that her Grace should be carried from thence by this new jolly captain and his soldiers; but whither, it could not be learned: which was unto her a great grief, especially for that such a company was appointed to her guard; requesting rather to continue there still, than to be led thence with such a sort of rascals. At last, plain answer was made by the Lord Chandos, that there was no remedy, but from thence she must needs depart to the manor of Woodstock, as he thought. Being demanded of her, for what cause: "For that," quoth he, "the Tower is like further to be furnished." She being desirous to know what he meant thereby, demanded, "Wherewith?" He answered, with such matter as the queen and council were determined in that behalf, whereof he had no knowledge; and so departed.
In conclusion, on Trinity Sunday, being the nineteenth day of May, she was removed from the Tower, the lord treasurer being then there, for the lading of her carts, and discharging the place of the same; where Sir Henry Benifield (being appointed her jailer) did receive her, with a company of rake-hells to guard her, besides the lord of Derby's band, waiting in the country about, for the moonshine in the water. Unto whom at length came my Lord of Tame, joined in commission with the said Sir Henry, for the safe guiding of her to prison; and they together conveyed her Grace to Woodstock, as hereafter followeth. The first day they conducted her to Richmond, where she continued all night, being restrained of her own men, which were lodged in out-chambers, and Sir Henry Benifield's soldiers appointed in their rooms to give attendance on her person. Whereat she being marvellously dismayed, thinking verily some secret mischief to be a-working towards her, called her gentleman-usher, and desired him with the rest of his company to pray for her: "For this night," quoth she, "I think to die."
Wherewith he being stricken to the heart, said, "God forbid that any such wickedness should be pretended against your Grace." So, comforting her as well as he could, at last he burst out into tears, and went from her down into the court, where were walking the lord of Tame, and Sir Henry Benifield.
Then he, coming to the lord of Tame, (who had proffered to him much friendship,) desired to speak with him a word or two; unto whom he familiarly said, he would with all his heart. Which when Sir Henry, standing by, heard, he asked what the matter was. To whom the gentleman-usher answered, "No great matter, sir," said he, "but to speak with my Lord a word or two."
Then when the lord of Tame came to him, he spake on this wise: "My Lord," quoth he, "you have been always my good Lord, and so I beseech you to remain. The cause why I come to you at this time is, to desire your Honour unfeignedly to declare unto me, whether any danger is meant towards my mistress this night, or no; that I and my poor fellows may take such part as shall please God to appoint: for certainly we will rather die, than she should secretly and innocently miscarry." "Marry," said the lord of Tame, "God forbid that any such wicked purpose should be wrought; and rather than it should be so, I with my men are ready to die at her foot also." And so (praised be God) they passed that doleful night, with no little heaviness of heart.
Afterwards, passing over the water at Richmond, going towards Windsor, her Grace espied certain of her poor servants standing on the other side, which were very desirous to see her. Whom when she beheld, turning to one of her men standing by, she said, "Yonder I see certain of my men: go to them and say these words from me, Like a sheep to the slaughter."
So she passing forward to Windsor, was lodged there that night in the dean of Windsor's house, a place more meet indeed for a priest than a princess.
And from thence her Grace was guarded and brought the next night to Master Dormer's house, where, much people standing by the way, some presented to her one gift, and some another, so that Sir Henry was greatly moved therewith, and troubled the poor people very sore, for showing their loving hearts in such a manner, calling them rebels and traitors, with such-like vile words.
Besides, as she passed through the villages, the townsmen rang the bells, as being joyful of her coming, thinking verily it had been otherwise than it was indeed, as the sequel proved after to the said poor men. For immediately the said Sir Henry, hearing the same, sent his soldiers thither, who apprehended some of the ringers, setting them in the stocks, and otherwise uncourteously misusing other some for their good wills.
On the morrow, her Grace, passing from Master Dormer's, (where was, for the time of her abode there, a strait watch kept,) came to the lord of Tame's house, where she lay all the night, being very princely entertained both of knights and ladies, gentlemen and gentlewomen. Whereat Sir Henry Benifield grunted, and was highly offended, saying unto them, that they could not tell what they did, and were not able to answer their doings in that behalf; letting them to understand, that she was the queen's Majesty's prisoner, and no otherwise; advising them therefore to take heed and beware of after-claps. Whereunto the lord of Tame answered in this wise: that he was well advised of his doings, being joined in commission as well as he, adding with warrant, that her Grace might and should in his house be merry. The next day, as she should take her journey from Ricot toward Woodstock, the lord of Tame with another gentleman being at tables, playing, and dropping vie crowns, the Lady Elizabeth, passing by, stayed and said she would see the game played out, which Sir Henry Benifield would scarce permit. The game running long about, and they playing drop vie crowns, "Come on," saith he. "I will tarry," saith she, "and will see this game out."
After this, Sir Henry went up into a chamber, where were appointed for her Grace a chair, two cushions, and a foot-carpet, very fair and princelike, wherein presumptuously he sat and called one Barwick, his man, to pull off his boots: which as soon as it was known among the ladies and gentles, every one mused thereat, and laughed him to scorn, observing his undiscreet manners in that behalf, as they might very well. When supper was done, he called my Lord, and willed him that all the gentlemen and ladies should withdraw themselves every one to his lodging, marvelling much that he would permit there such a company, considering so great a charge committed to him. "Sir Henry," quoth my Lord, "content yourself, all shall be voided, your men and all." "Nay, my soldiers," quoth Sir Henry, "shall watch all night." The lord of Tame answered, "It shall not need." "Well," said he, "need or need not, they shall so do;" mistrusting belike the company, which God knoweth was without cause.
The next day her Grace took her journey from thence to Woodstock, where she was enclosed, as before in the Tower of London, the soldiers guarding and warding both within and without the walls, every day to the number of threescore, and, in the night, without the walls, forty, during the time of her imprisonment there.
At length she had gardens appointed for her walk, which was very comfortable to her Grace. But always, when she did recreate herself therein, the doors were fast locked up, in as strict manner as they were in the Tower, being at the least five or six locks between her lodging and her walks; Sir Henry himself keeping the keys, and trusting no man therewith. Whereupon she called him her jailer; and he, kneeling down, desired her Grace not to call him so, for he was appointed there to be one of her officers. "From such officers," quoth she, "good Lord, deliver me!"
And now by the way, as digressing, or rather refreshing the reader, if it be lawful in so serious a story, to recite a matter incident, and yet not impertinent, to the same; occasion here moveth, or rather enforceth me, to touch briefly what happened in the same place and time by a certain merry-conceited man, being then about her Grace, who, noting the strait and strange keeping of his lady and mistress by the said Sir Henry Benifield, with so many locks and doors, with such watch and ward about her, as was strange and wonderful, spied a goat in the ward where her Grace was: and whether to refresh her oppressed mind, or to notify her strait handling by Sir Henry, or else both, he took it upon his neck, and followed her Grace therewith, as she was going into her lodging. Which when she saw, she asked him what he would do with it, willing him to let it alone. Unto whom the said party answered, "No, by St. Mary, (if it like your Grace,) will I not; for I cannot tell, whether he be one of the queen's friends, or no. I will carry him to Sir Henry Benifield, (God willing,) to know what he is." So leaving her Grace, he went with the goat on his neck, and carried it to Sir Henry Benifield, who, when he saw him coming with it, asked him, half angrily, what he had there. Unto whom the party answered, saying, "Sir," quoth he, "I cannot tell what he is. I pray you examine him, for I found him in the place where my Lady's Grace was walking, and what talk they have had I cannot tell: for I understand him not. But he should seem to me to be some stranger, and I think verily a Welshman, for he hath a white frieze coat on his back. And forasmuch as I, being the queen's subject, and perceiving the strait charge committed to you of her keeping, that no stranger should have access to her without sufficient licence, I have here found a stranger (what he is I cannot tell) in the place where her Grace was walking; and therefore, for the necessary discharge of my duty, I thought it good to bring the said stranger to you, to examine, as you see cause;" and so he set him down. At which his words Sir Henry seemed much displeased, and said, "Well, well; you will never leave this gear I see:" and so they departed.
Now to return to the matter from whence we have digressed, after her Grace had been there a time, she made suit to the council that she might be suffered to write to the queen; which at last was permitted. So Sir Henry Benifield brought her pen, ink, and paper; and standing by her while she wrote, (which he straitly observed,) always, she being weary, he would carry away her letters, and bring them again when she called for them. In the finishing thereof, he would have been messenger to the queen of the same; whose request her Grace denied, saying, one of her own men should carry them; and that she would neither trust him nor any of his therein. Then he answered again, saying, "None of them durst be so bold," he trowed, "to carry her letters, being in that case." "Yes," quoth she, "I am assured I have none so dishonest that would deny my request in that behalf, but will be as willing to serve me now as before." "Well," said he, "my commission is to the contrary, and I may not so suffer it." Her Grace, replying again, said, "You charge me very often with your commission; I pray God, you may justly answer the cruel dealing you use towards me." Then he, kneeling down, desired her Grace to think and consider how he was a servant, and put in trust there by the queen to serve her Majesty; protesting that if the case were hers, he would as willingly serve her Grace, as now he did the queen's Highness. For the which his answer her Grace thanked him, desiring God that she might never have need of such servants as he was: declaring further to him, that his doings towards her were not good nor answerable; but more than all the friends he had would stand by. To whom Sir Henry replied and said, that there was no remedy but his doings must be answered, and so they should, trusting to make good account thereof. The cause which moved her Grace so to say, was for that he would not permit her letters to be carried four or five days after the writing thereof. But, in fine, he was content to send for her gentleman from the town of Woodstock, demanding of him whether he durst enterprise the carriage of her Grace's letters to the queen, or no: and he answered, "Yea, sir, that I dare; and will with all my heart:" whereupon Sir Henry, half against his stomach, took them unto him.
Then about the eighth of June came down Dr. Owen and Dr. Wendy, sent by the queen to her Grace, for that she was sickly; who, ministering to her, and letting her blood, tarried there and attended on her Grace five or six days. Then she, being well amended, they returned again to the court, making their good report to the queen and the council of her Grace's behaviour and humbleness toward the queen's Highness; which her Majesty hearing, took very thankfully: but the bishops thereat repined, looked black in the mouth, and told the queen, they marvelled that she submitted not herself to her Majesty's mercy, considering that she had offended her Highness.
About this time, her Grace was requested by a secret friend, to submit herself to the queen's Majesty, which would be very well taken, and to her great quiet and commodity. Unto whom she answered, that she would never submit herself to them, whom she never offended. "For," quoth she, "if I have offended and am guilty, I then crave no mercy, but the law; which I am certain," quoth she, "I should have had ere this, if it could be proved by me. For I know myself (I thank God) to be out of the danger thereof, wishing that I were as clear out of the peril of my enemies; and then I am assured I should not so be locked and bolted up within walls and doors as I am. God give them a better mind when it pleaseth him."
About this time there was a great consulting among the bishops and gentlemen, touching a marriage for her Grace, which some of the Spaniards wished to be with some stranger, that she might go out of the realm with her portion; some saying one thing, and some another. A lord, who shall be here nameless, being there, at last said, that the king should never have any quiet commonwealth in England, unless her head were stricken from the shoulders. Whereunto the Spaniards answered, saying, God forbid that their king and master should have that mind, to consent to such a mischief.
This was the courteous answer of the Spaniards to the Englishmen, speaking after that sort against their own country. From that day the Spaniards never left off their good persuasions to the king, that the like honour he should never obtain, as he should in delivering the Lady Elizabeth's Grace out of prison; whereby at length she was happily released from the same. Here is a plain and evident example of the good clemency and nature of the king and his councillors toward her Grace (praised be God there-for! who moved their hearts therein). Then hereupon she was sent for shortly after, to come to Hampton Court.
But before her removing away from Woodstock, we will a little stay to declare in what dangers her life was, during this time she there remained; first, through fire, which began to kindle between the boards and ceiling under the chamber where she lay, whether by a spark of fire gotten into a cranny, or whether of purpose by some that meant her no good, the Lord doth know. Nevertheless a worshipful knight of Oxfordshire, which was there joined the same time with Sir Henry Benifield in keeping that lady, (who then took up the boards and quenched the fire,) verily supposed it to be done of purpose.
Furthermore it is thought, and also affirmed (if it be true) of one Paul Peny, a keeper of Woodstock, a notorious ruffian and a butcherly wretch; that he was appointed to kill the said Lady Elizabeth; who both saw the man, being often in her sight, and also knew thereof.
Another time, one of the privy-chamber, a great man about the queen, and chief darling of Stephen Gardiner, named Master James Basset, came to Bladon Bridge, a mile from Woodstock, with twenty or thirty privy coats, and sent for Sir Henry Benifield to come and speak with him. But as God would, which disposeth all things after the purpose of his own will, so it happened, that a little before, the said Sir Henry Benifield was sent for by post to the council, leaving strait word behind him with his brother, that no man, whatsoever he were, though coming with a bill of the queen's hand, or any other warrant, should have access to her before his return again. By reason whereof it so fell out, that Master Benifield's brother, coming to him at the bridge, would suffer him in no case to approach in, who otherwise (as is supposed) was appointed violently to murder the innocent lady.
In the life of Stephen Gardiner we declared before, how that the Lady Elizabeth being in the Tower, a writ came down, subscribed with certain hands of the council, for her execution: which, if it were certain, as it is reported, Winchester (no doubt) was deviser of that mischievous drift. And, doubtless, the same Ahithophel had brought his impious purpose that day to pass, had not the fatherly providence of Almighty God (who is always stronger than the devil) stirred up Master Bridges, lieutenant the same time of the Tower, to come in haste to the queen, to give certificate thereof, and to know further her consent, touching her sister's death. Whereupon it followed, that all that device was disappointed, and Winchester's devilish platform, which he said he had cast, through the Lord's great goodness came to no effect.
Where moreover is to be noted, that during the imprisonment of this lady and princess, one Master Edmund Tremaine was on the rack, and Master Smithwike and divers others in the Tower were examined, and divers offers made to them to accuse the guiltless lady, being in her captivity.
Howbeit, all that notwithstanding, no matter could be proved by all examinations, as she, the same time lying at Woodstock, had certain intelligence by the means of one John Gayer; who, under a colourable pretence of a letter to Mistress Cleve from her father, was let in, and so gave them secretly to understand of all this matter. Whereupon the Lady Elizabeth, at her departing out from Woodstock, wrote these verses with her diamond in a glass window.
"Much suspected by me:
Nothing proved can be.
Quoth Elizabeth, prisoner."
And thus much touching the troubles of Lady Elizabeth at Woodstock. Whereunto this is more to be added, that during the same time, the lord of Tame had laboured to the queen, and became surety for her, to have her from Woodstock to his house; and had obtained grant thereof. Whereupon preparation was made accordingly, and all things ready in expectation of her coming. But, through the procurement either of Master Benifield, or by the doing of Winchester her mortal enemy, letters came over-night to the contrary; whereby her journey was stopped.
Thus this worthy lady, oppressed with continual sorrow, could not be permitted to have recourse to any friends she had, but still in the hands of her enemies was left desolate, and utterly destitute of all that might refresh a doleful heart, fraught full of terror and thraldom. Whereupon no marvel if she, hearing upon a time, out of her garden at Woodstock, a certain milkmaid singing pleasantly, wished herself to be a milkmaid as she was; saying that her case was better and life more merry than was hers, in that state as she was.
Now, after these things thus declared, to proceed further there where we left before, Sir Henry Benifield and his soldiers, with the lord of Tame, and Sir Ralph Chamberline, guarding and waiting upon her, the first night from Woodstock she came to Ricot; in which journey such a mighty wind did blow, that her servants were fain to hold down her clothes about her: insomuch that her hood was twice or thrice blown from her head. Whereupon she, desiring to return to a certain gentleman's house there near, could not be suffered by Sir Henry Benifield so to do, but was constrained, under a hedge, to trim her head as well as she could.
After this, the next night they journeyed to Master Dormer's, and so to Colnbrooke, where she lay all that night at the George, and by the way, coming to Colnbrooke, certain of her Grace's gentlemen and yeomen met her, to the number of threescore, much to all their comforts, which had not seen her Grace of long season before: notwithstanding they were commanded in the queen's name, immediately to depart the town, to both their and her Grace's no little heaviness, who could not be suffered once to speak with them. So that night all her men were taken from her, saving her gentleman-usher, three gentlewomen, two grooms, and one of her wardrobe, the soldiers watching and warding about the house, and she close shut up within her prison.
The next day following, her Grace entered Hampton Court on the back side, into the prince's lodging, the doors being shut to her; and she, guarded with soldiers as before, lay there a fortnight at the least, ere any had recourse unto her. At length came the Lord William Haward, who marvellous honourably used her Grace. Whereat she took much comfort, and requested him to be a mean, that she might speak with some of the council; to whom, not long after, came the bishop of Winchester, the lord of Arundel, the lord of Shrewsbury, and Secretary Peter, who, with great humility, humbled themselves to her Grace. She again, likewise, saluting them, said, "My Lords, I am glad to see you: for methinks I have been kept a great while from you desolately, alone. Wherefore I would desire you to be a mean to the king and queen's Majesties, that I may be delivered from prison, wherein I have been kept a long space, as to you, my Lords, it is not unknown."
When she had spoken, Stephen Gardiner, the bishop of Winchester, kneeled down, and requested that she would submit herself to the queen's Grace; and in so doing he had no doubt but that her Majesty would be good to her. She made answer, that rather than she would so do, she would lie in prison all the days of her life; adding, that she craved no mercy at her Majesty's hand, but rather desired the law, if ever she did offend her Majesty in thought, word, or deed. "And besides this, in yielding," quoth she, "I should speak against myself, and confess myself to be an offender, which I never was, towards her Majesty, by occasion whereof the king and the queen might ever hereafter conceive of me an evil opinion. And therefore I say, my Lords, it were better for me to lie in prison for the truth, than to be abroad and suspected of my prince." And so they departed, promising to declare her message to the queen.
On the next day the bishop of Winchester came again unto her Grace, and kneeling down declared, that the queen marvelled that she would so stoutly use herself, not confessing that she had offended: so that it should seem that the queen's Majesty had wrongfully imprisoned her Grace. "Nay," quoth the Lady Elizabeth, "it may please her to punish me as she thinketh good." "Well," quoth Gardiner, "her Majesty willeth me to tell you, that you must tell another tale ere that you be set at liberty." Her Grace answered, that she had as lieve be in prison with honesty and truth, as to be abroad, suspected of her Majesty:" and this that I have said, I will," said she, "stand unto; for I will never belie myself." Winchester again kneeled down, and said, "Then your Grace hath the vantage of me, and other the lords, for your wrong and long imprisonment." "What vantage I have," quoth she, "you know: taking God to record, I seek no vantage at your hands for your so dealing with me; but God forgive you and me also!" With that the rest kneeled, desired her Grace that all might be forgotten, and so departed, she being fast locked up again.
A sevennight after, the queen sent for her Grace at ten of the clock in the night to speak with her: for she had not seen her in two years before. Yet, for all that, she, amazed at the sudden sending for, thinking it had been worse than afterwards it proved, desired her gentlemen and gentlewomen to pray for her; for that she could not tell whether ever she should see them again or no. At which time Sir Henry Benifield with Mistress Clarencius coming in, her Grace was brought into the garden, unto a stair's foot that went into the queen's lodging, her Grace's gentlewomen waiting upon her, her gentleman-usher and her grooms going before with torches; where her gentlemen and gentlewomen being commanded to stay all, saving one woman, Mistress Clarencius conducted her to the queen's bed-chamber, where her Majesty was. At the sight of whom her Grace kneeled down, and desired God to preserve her Majesty, not mistrusting but that she should try herself as true a subject towards her Majesty, as ever did any; and desired her Majesty even so to judge of her: and said, that she should not find her to the contrary, whatsoever report otherwise had gone of her. To whom the queen answered, "You will not confess your offence, but stand stoutly to your truth: I pray God it may so fall out." "If it doth not," quoth the Lady Elizabeth, "I request neither favour nor pardon at your Majesty's hands." "Well," said the queen, "you stiffly still persevere in your truth. Belike you will not confess but that you have been wrongfully punished." "I must not say so, if it please your Majesty, to you." "Why then," said the queen, "belike you will to others." "No, if it please your Majesty," quoth she, "I have borne the burden, and must bear it. I humbly beseech your Majesty to have a good opinion of me, and to think me to be your true subject, not only from the beginning hitherto, but for ever, as long as life lasteth." And so they departed with very few comfortable words of the queen, in English: but what she said in Spanish, God knoweth. It is thought that King Philip was there behind a cloth, and not seen, and that he showed himself a very friend in that matter.
Thus her Grace departing, went to her lodging again, and that day sevennight was released of Sir Henry Benifield, (her jailer, as she termed him,) and his soldiers. And so her Grace, being set at liberty from imprisonment, went into the country, and had appointed to go with her Sir Thomas Pope, one of Queen Mary's councillors, and one of her gentlemen-ushers, Master Gage; and thus straitly was she looked to, all Queen Mary's time. And this is the discourse of her Highness's imprisonment.
Then there came to Lamheyre, Master Jerningham, and Master Norris, gentleman-usher, Queen Mary's men, who took away from her Grace, Mistress Ashley to the Fleet, and three other of her gentlewomen to the Tower; which thing was no little trouble to her Grace, saying, that she thought they would fetch all away at the end. But, God be praised, shortly after was fetched away Gardiner, through the merciful providence of the Lord's goodness, by occasion of whose opportune decease, (as is partly touched in this story before,) the life of this excellent princess, the wealth of all England, was preserved. For this is credibly to be supposed, that the said wicked Gardiner of Winchester had long laboured his wits, and to this only most principal mark bent all his devices, to take this our happy and dear sovereign out of the way, as both by his words and doings before notified may sufficiently appear.
But such was the gracious and favourable providence of the Lord, to the preservation not only of her royal Majesty, but also of the miserable and woeful state of this whole island, and poor subjects of the same, whereby the proud platforms and peevish practices of this wretched Ahithophel prevailed not; but, contrariwise, both he, and all the snares and traps of his pernicious counsel laid against another, were turned to a net to catch himself, according to the proverb, Malum consilium consultori pessimism.
After the death of this Gardiner, followed the death also, and dropping away, of other her enemies, whereby, by little and little, her jeopardy decreased, fear diminished, and hope of comfort began to appear as out of a dark cloud; and, albeit as yet her Grace had no full assurance of perfect safety, yet more gentle entertainment daily did grow unto her, till at length, in the month of November, and the seventeenth day of the same, three years after the death of Stephen Gardiner, followed the death of Queen Mary, as hereafter, God granting, shall be more declared.
Although this history following be not directly appertaining to the former matter, yet the same may here not unaptly be inserted, for that it doth discover and show forth the malicious hearts of the papists towards this virtuous queen, our sovereign lady, in the time of Queen Mary her sister; which is reported, as a truth credibly told, by sundry honest persons, of whom some are yet alive, and do testify the same. The matter whereof is this.
Soon after the stir of Wyat, and the troubles that happened to this queen for that cause, it fortuned one Robert Farrer, a haberdasher of London, dwelling near unto Newgate-market, in a certain morning to be at the Rose tavern, (from whence he was seldom absent,) and falling to his common drink, as he was ever accustomed, and having in his company three other companions like to himself, it chanced the same time one Laurence Sheriff, grocer, dwelling also not far from thence, to come into the said tavern, and, finding there the said Farrer, (to whom of long time be had borne good will,) sat down in the seat to drink with him; and Farrer, being in his full cups, and not having consideration who were present, began to talk at large, and namely, against the Lady Elizabeth, and said, "That jill hath been one of the chief doers of this rebellion of Wyat; and before all be done, she and all the heretics her partakers shall well understand of it. Some of them hope that she shall have the crown; but she and they (I trust) that so hope, shall hop headless, or be fried with faggots, before she come to it."
The foresaid Laurence Sheriff, grocer, being then servant unto the Lady Elizabeth, and sworn unto her Grace, could no longer forbear his old acquaintance and neighbour Farrer, in speaking so irreverently of his mistress, but said unto him, "Farrer, I have loved thee as a neighbour, and have had a good opinon of thee: but, hearing of thee that I now hear, I defy thee; and I tell thee I am her Grace's sworn servant, and she is a princess, and the daughter of a noble king, and it evil becometh thee to call her a jill; and for thy so saying, I say thou art a knave, and I will complain upon thee." "Do thy worst," said Farrer, "for that I said, I will say again." And so Sheriff came from his company.
Shortly after, the said Sheriff, taking an honest neighbour with him, went before the commissioners to complain; the which commissioners sat then at Bonner the bishop of London's house, beside Paul's; and there were present Bonner, (then being the chief commissioner,) the Lord Mordant, Sir John Baker, Dr. Darbishire, chancellor to the bishop, Dr. Story, Dr. Harpsfield, and others. The aforesaid Sheriff, coming before them, declared the manner of the said Robert Farrer's talk against the Lady Elizabeth. Bonner answered, "Peradventure you took him worse than he meant." "Yea, my Lord," said Dr. Story, "if you knew the man as I do, you would say there is not a better catholic, nor an honester man, in the city of London." "Well," said Sheriff, "my Lord, she is my gracious lady and mistress, and it is not to be suffered that such a varlet as he is, should call so honourable a princess by the name of a jill. And I saw yesterday, in the court, that my Lord Cardinal Pole, meeting her in the chamber of presence, kneeled down on his knees, and kissed her hand: and I saw also, that King Philip meeting her, made her such obeisance, that his knee touched the ground. And then methinketh it were too much to suffer such a varlet as this is, to call her jill; and to wish them to hop headless that shall wish her Grace to enjoy the possession of the crown, when God shall send it unto her, as in the right of her inheritance." "Yea! stay there," quoth Bonner, "when God sendeth it unto her, let her enjoy it. But truly," said he, "the man that spake the words that you have reported, meant nothing against the Lady Elizabeth, your mistress; and no more do we. But he, like an honest and zealous man, feared the alteration of religion, which every good man ought to fear: and therefore," said Bonner, "good man, go your ways home, and report well of us toward your mistress; and we will send for Farrer and rebuke him for his rash and undiscreet words, and we trust he will not do the like again." And thus Sheriff came away, and Farrer had a flap with a fox-tail.
Now that ye may be fully informed of the aforesaid Farrer, whom Dr. Story praised for so good a man, ye shall understand that the same Farrer, having two daughters being handsome maidens, the elder of them for a sum of money he himself delivered to Sir Roger Cholmley, to be at his commandment; the other he sold to a knight called Sir William Godolphin, to be at his commandment, whom he made his lackey, and so carried her with him, being apparelled in man's apparel, to Boulogne; and the said Farrer followed the camp. He also was a great and a horrible blasphemer of God, and a common accuser of honest and quiet men; also a common drunkard. And now I refer the life of these catholics to your judgment, to think of them as you please. But of this matter enough, and too much.
Now let us return where we left before, which was at the death of Queen Mary; after whose decease succeeded her foresaid sister, Lady Elizabeth, into the right of the crown of England, who, after so long restrainment, so great dangers escaped, such blusterous storms overblown, so many injuries digested, and wrongs sustained, by the mighty protection of our merciful God, to our no small comfort and commodity, hath been exalted and erected out of thrall to liberty, out of danger to peace and quietness, from dread to dignity, from misery to majesty, from mourning to ruling: briefly, of a prisoner made a princess, and placed in her throne royal, proclaimed now queen, with as many glad hearts of her subjects, as ever was any king or queen in this realm before her, or ever shall be (I dare say) hereafter. Touching whose flourishing state, her princely reign, and peaceable government, with divers and sundry other things incident to the same, and especially touching the great stirs and alterations which have happened in other foreign nations, and also partly among ourselves here at home, forasmuch as the tractation hereof requireth another volume by itself, I shall therefore defer the reader to the next book or section ensuing; wherein (if the Lord so please to sustain me with leave and life) I may have to discourse of all and singular such matters done and achieved in these our latter days and memory, more at large.
Now then, after these so great afflictions falling upon this realm, from the first beginning of Queen Mary's reign, wherein so many men, women, and children were burnt, many imprisoned and in prison starved, divers exiled, some spoiled of goods and possessions, a great number driven from house and home, so many weeping eyes, so many sobbing hearts, so many children made fatherless, so many fathers bereft of their wives and children, so many vexed in conscience, and divers against conscience constrained to recant; and, in conclusion, never a good man almost in all the realm but suffered something during all the time of this bloody persecution: after all this (I say) now we are come at length (the Lord be praised!) to the seventeenth day of November, which day, as it brought to the persecuted members of Christ rest from their careful mourning, so it easeth me somewhat likewise of my laborious writing, by the death, I mean, of Queen Mary; who, being long sick before, upon the said seventeenth day of November, in the year abovesaid, about three or four o'clock in the morning, yielded life to nature, and her kingdom to Queen Elizabeth her sister. As touching the manner of whose death, some say that she died of a tympany, some (by her much sighing before her death) supposed she died of thought and sorrow. Whereupon her council, seeing her sighing, and desirous to know the cause, to the end they might minister the more ready consolation unto her, feared, as they said, that she took that thought for the king's Majesty her husband, which was gone from her. To whom she answering again, "Indeed," said she, "that may be one cause, but that is not the greatest wound that pierceth my oppressed mind:" but what that was, she would not express to them. Albeit, afterward, she opened the matter more plainly to Master Rise and Mistress Clarencius (if it be true that they told me, which heard it of Master Rise himself); who then, being most familiar with her, and most bold about her, told her, that they feared she took thought for King Philip's departing from her. "Not that only," said she, "but when I am dead and opened, you shall find Calais lying in my heart." And here an end of Queen Mary, and of her persecution.
Of Queen Mary this truly may be affirmed, and left in story for a perpetual memorial or epitaph for all kings and queens that shall succeed her, to be noted -- that before her, never was read in story of any king or queen of England, since the time of King Lucius, under whom, in time of peace, by hanging, beheading, burning, and prisoning, so much Christian blood, so many Englishmen's lives, were spilled within this realm, as under the said Queen Mary for the space of four years was to be seen, and I beseech the Lord never may be seen hereafter.