Abbildungen der Seite

opinions, but even to the popish clergy who maintained them. On the other hand, Jane Grey was strongly attached to the reformers; and though yet but sixteen, her judgment had attained to such a degree of maturity as few have been found to possess. All historians agree that the solidity of her understanding, improved by continual application, rendered her the wonder of her age. Ascham, tutor to Elizabeth, informs us, that, having visited lady Jane at her father's house in Leicestershire, he found her reading Plato's works in Greek, while all the rest of the family were hunting in the park. Upon his testifying his surprise at her situation, she assured him that Plato was a higher amusement to her than the most studied refinements of sensual pleasure; and she, in fact, seemed born for philosophy, and not for ambition. Such were the present rivals for power; but lady Jane had the start of her antagonist. Northumberland, now resolving to secure the succession, carefully concealed the death of Edward, in hope of securing the person of Mary, who, by an order of council, had been required to attend her brother during his illness; but being informed of his death, she immediately prepared to assert her pretensions to the crown. This crafty minister, therefore, finding that farther dissimulation was needless, went to Sion-house, accompanied by the duke of Suffolk, the earl of Pembroke, and others of the mobility, to salute lady Jane Grey, who resided there. Jane was in a great measure ignorant of all these transactions; and it was with equal grief and surprise that she received intelligence of them. She shed a flood of tears, appeared inconsolable, and it was not without the utmost difficulty that she yielded to the entreaties of Northumberland and the duke her father. At length, however, they exhorted: her to consent, and next day conveyed her to the Tower, where it was usual for the sovereigns of England to pass some days after their accession. Thither also all the members of the council were obliged to attend her, and thus were in some measure made prisoners by Northumberland, whose will they were under a necessity of obeying. Orders were also given for proclaiming her throughout the kingdom; but these were very remissly obeyed. When she was proclaimed in the city, the people heard her accession made public without any signs of pleasure: no applause ensued, and some even expressed their scorn and contempt. In the mean time, Mary, who had retired, upon the news of the king's death, to Kenning-Hall in Norfolk, sent circular letters to all the great towns and nobility in the kingdom, reminding them of her right, and commanding them to proclaim her without delay. Having taken these steps, she retired to Framlingham-Castle in Suffolk, that she might be near the sea, and escape to Flanders in case of failure. But she soon found her affairs wear the most promising aspect. The men of Suffolk came to pay her their homage; and, being assured by her that she would defend the laws and the religion of her predecessor, they enlisted themselves in her cause with alacrity and affection. The people of Norfolk soon after came in ; the earls of Bath and Sussex, and the eldest sons of lord Wharton and lord Mordaunt, joined her; and lord Hastings, with four thousand men, who had been raised to oppose her, revolted to her side. Even a fleet, that had been sent to lie off the coast of Suffolk to prevent her escaping, engaged in her service; and now, but too late, Northumberland saw the deplorable end of all his schemes and ambition. *This minister, with the consent of the council, had assembled some troops at Newmarket, had set on foot new levies in London, and appointed the duke of Suffolk general of the army, that he might himself continue with and over-awe the deliberations of the council. But he was diverted from this mode of managing his affairs, by considering how unfit Suffolk was to head the army; so that he was obliged himself to take upon him the military command. It was now, therefore, that the council, being free from his influence, and no longer dreading his immediate authority, began to declare against him. The earl of Arundel led the opposition, by representing the injustice and cruelty of Northumberland, and the exorbitancy of his ambition. Pembroke seconded him with declarations that he was ready to fight all of a contrary opinion ; the mayor and aldermen, who were sent for, readily came into the same measures; the people expressed their approbation by shouts and applauses; and even Suffolk himself, finding all resistance fruitless, threw open the gates of the Tower, and joined in the general cry. Mary's claims now became irresistible; in a little time she found herself at the head of a powerful army; while the few who attended Northumberland continued irresolute; and he even feared to lead them to the encounter. Lady Jane, thus finding that all was lost, resigned her royalty, which she had held but nine days, with marks of real satisfaction, and retired with her mother to her own habitation. Northumberland also, who found his affairs desperate, and that it was impossible to stem the tide of popular opposition, attempted to quit the kingdom; but he was prevented by the band of penisioner guards, who informed him that he must stay to justify their conduct in being led out against their lawful sovereign. Thus circumvented on all sides, his cunning was now his only resource; and he began by endeavouring to recommend himself to Mary, by the most extravagant protestations of zeal in her service. He repaired to the market-place in Cambridge, proclaimed her queen of England, and was the first to throw up his cap in token of joy. But he reaped no advantage from his mean duplicity; he was the next day arrested in the queen's name by the earl of Arundel, at whose feet he fell upon his knees begging protection with the most abject submission. Three of his sons, his brother, and some more of his followers, were arrested with him, and committed to the Tower of London. Soon after, the lady Jane Grey, the duke of Suffolk her father, and lord Guilford Dudley her husband, were made prisoners by order of the queen, whose authority was now confirmed by universal assent. Northumberland was the first who suffered for opposing her, and was the person who deserved punishment the most. When brought to his trial, he openly Adesired permission to ask two questions of the peers who were appointed to sit on his jury: “Whether a man could be guilty of treason, who obeyed orders given him by the council under the great seal; and whether £hose involved in the same guilt with himself could act as his judges?” Being told that the great seal of an usurper was no authority, and that his judges were proper, as they were unimpeached, he acquiesced, and pleaded Guilty. At his execution, he owned himself a papist, and exhorted the people to return to the catholic faith, as they hoped for happiness and tranquillity. Sir John Gates and sir Thomas Palmer, two of the infamous tools of his power, suffered with him; and the queen's resentment was appeased by the lives of three men, who had forfeited them by several former crimes. Sentence, was pronounced against lady Jane and lord Guilford, but without any intention for the present of putting it in execution: the youth and innocence of the persons, neither of whom had completed their seventeenth year, pleaded powerfully in their favour. Mary now entered London, and, with very little effusion of blood, saw herself joyfully proclaimed, and peaceably settled on the throne. This was the crisis of English happiness: a queen whose right was the most equitable, in some measure elected by the people, the aristocracy of the last reign almost wholly suppressed, the house of commons by this means reinstated in its ancient authority, the pride of the clergy humbled, and their vices detected, peace abroad, and unanimity at home; this was the flattering prospect on Mary's accession: but soon this pleasing phantom was dissolved. Mary was morose, and a bigot; she was resolved to give back their former power to the clergy, and thus once more to involve the kingdom in all the horrors it had just emerged from. The queen had promised the men of Suffolk, who first came to declare in her favour, that she would suffer religion to remain in the situation in which she found it. This promise, however, she by no means intended to perform ; she had determined on bringing the sentiments of the people to correspond with her own; and her extreme ignorance rendered her utterly incapable of doubting her own belief, or of granting indulgence to the doubts of others. Gardiner, Bonner, Tonstal, Day, Heath, and Vesey, who had been confined, or suffered losses, for their catholic opinions, during the late reign, were taken from prison, reinstated in their sees, and their former sentences repealed. On pretence of discouraging controversy, she silenced, by her prerogative, all preachers throughout England, except such as should obtain a particular licence, which she was previously determined to grant only to those of her own persuasion. Men now foresaw that the Re

« ZurückWeiter »