Billeder på siden

solation of religion, and his name is never mentioned without his crimes, which excitę universal execration.

Edward VI, who was ripped from his mother's womb, succeeded his father at the age of nine years, and was proclaimed head of the Church of England. His uncle Somerset was declared protector of the realm; the principal measures of whose administration were the destruction of church property and innovation in religion, to the enriching of himself and his favourites. He caused, the death of his own brother, and was afterwards executed himself. The young king was compelled by Cranmer and Latimer to sign the death warrants of Boucher and Von Paris, who were burned for heresy, and in two years after the king was carried off by death, not without suspicion of being poisoned. During his sway general discontent pervaded the kingdomn; a law was passed in the first year of his reign by which two justices of the peace might order the letter V to be burnt on the breast of every poor man, who should be found loitering about three days for want of employ, and adjudge him to become the slave of the informer, who might fix an iron ring round his neck, arm, or leg, and make him “ labour at any work, however vile it might be, by beating, chaining, " or otherwise." If the poor fellow absented himself a fortnight from his occupation, the letter S was to be burnt on his cheek or forehead, and he became a slave for life. (See Stat. I Ed. VI. 3.) This infamous law under “ Protestant-ascendency” was in force two years, when it was repealed. Insurrections broke out in Oxfordshire, Devonshire, and Norfolk, in consequence of the extension of inclosures and a new mode of letting rack rents, and the want of that relief formerly distributed at the gates of the monasteries. "In his fifth year;" says Baker, in his Chronicle, "a sweating sickness infested first Shrewsbury, and then

the north parts, and afterwards grew most extreme in London, so as " in the first week there died eight hundred persons; and was so vio“ lent that it took men away in four and twenty hours, sometimes in ".twelve, and sometimes in less. Amongst others of account that died " of this sickness, were the two song of Charles Brandon, duke of Suf“ folk, who died within an hour after one another, in such order that « both of them died dukes. This disease was proper to the English na“tion, for it followed the English wheresoever they were in foreign "parts, but seized upon none of any other country.” As to the national morals, if we may judge from the portraits drawn by the reforined preachers themselves, they were at the lowest ebb. Strype has col. lected several passages from the old preachers on this point. "They of assert," writes Dr. Lingard," that the sufferings of the indigent were

viewed with indifference by the hard heartedness of the rich; that in

the pursuit of gain the most barefaced frauds were avowed and jus"tified; that robbers and murderers escaped punishment by the partiality

of juries, and the corruption of judges, that church livings were given " to laymen, or converted to the use of the patrons ; that marriages were

repeatedly dissolved by private authority; and that the haunts of pros: “titution were multiplied beyond measure.'

Mary, the eldest daughter of Henry, succeeded her brother, after a feeble attempt to supplant her on the throne on the part of“ Protestantascendency.” She promised liberty of conscience on as suming the

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

sceptre, being a Roman Catholic, and during the first two years of her reign not an individual suffered for religious opinions. This is a fact, that deserves particular notice, and we shall take occasion to establish it beyond contradiction, when we come to expose the lies of John Fox in this queen's reign. During the above space, however, Mary was disturbed by insurrections, conspiracies and seditions, and her council at length determined to try the force of persecution. In her fourth year, Baker

says, the people were afflicted with hot-burning agues, and other strange diseases, of which po less than seven aldermen of London died. Calais was taken by the French, and after a short reign of five years Mary died of a broken heart.

Her half sister Elizabeth next mounted the throne, and she in her turn persecuted the Catholics with the most relentless fury. Her reign, which is usually represented by interested writers as glorious to the nation, was one of blood, rapine, and proscription. Her court was the most lewd and licentious ever seen before in England. Her deeds were marked by despotism, and her ministers the most profligate and mercenary that ever cursed a people. She beheaded a female sovereign, the beautiful Mary Stuart, and cut off the head of her own paramour Essex. She established domiciliary researches, made new treasons, encouraged informers, and created the star chamber. The courts of justice were corrupted by her connivance, imprisonment exercised at her pleasure, and loans raised by force and exaction. Torture was used to extort confession, and her whole reign in short was one of arbitrariness and cruelty. Such a succession of unchristian proceedings could not go unpunished; Baker in his Chronicle relates that in her third


the spire of St. Paul's cathedral was destroyed by lightning. Many strange births also happened. In her sixth year the pestilence was brought into England, of which there died in London 21,500 persons in one year. In her thirteenth year a prodigious earthquake occurred in the east parts of Herefordshire. In her sixteenth year there was a great dearth. In the year following, the river Thames ebbed and flowed twice within the hour, and in the month of November the heavens seemed to be all on fire. "? On the 24th of February,” in the succeeding year, the same Chronicler writes," being a great frost, after a great

flood, there came down the river Severn such a swarm of flies and

beetles, that they were judged to be above a hundred quarters; the "mills thereabouts were dammed up by them for the space of four days, " and were then cleaned by digging them out with shovels.” In her nineteenth year, it is related by Mr. Anthony Wood, the Protestant historian of Oxford, that on the 4th of July, Mr. Roland Jinks, a Catholic bookseller in Oxford, for having in his shop the pope's bulls and Catholic papers, was cast into prison, and most unjustly condemned to lose all his property, and to have both his ears nailed to the pillory, and to deliver himself by cutting them off with his own hands; but no sooner was the sentence passed, than a most dreadful disease burst forth in the midst of the court, and seized upon all there present. Great numbers dropped down dead on the spot; others rushed out of the court half suffocated, and died a few hours afterwards. In the space of two days, nearly all the witnesses died; and in the first night about 600 lost their lives, and the next day it seized upon 100 in the nearest streets,



The disease was a kind of fury; for the sick leaped out of bed, and beat with their sticks all those who came to assist them; some ran through the courts and streets like madmen; and others threw themselves down headlong into deep waters. Every hall, every college, every house had their dead; and what is more remarkable, all the grand jury, except one or two, died as soon as they had left Oxford. Hist. Anti. Univ. Oxon. 1. p. 294.) “ In her two and twentieth year," writes Baker,

strange apparition appeared in Somersetshire, threescore personages “ all clothed in black, a furlong in distance from those that beheld

them; after their appearing, and a little while tarrying, they va“nished away, but immediately another strange company in like man

ner, colour, and number, appeared in the same place; and they encountered one another, and so vanished away: and a third time ap

peared that number again, all in bright armour, and encountered one “another and so vanished away: This was examined before sir George Norton, and sworn by four honest men that saw it to be true. In her " three and twentieth year, in the beginning of April, about six o'clock “ after noon, happened an earthquake not far from York, which in some

places struck the very stones out of buildings, and made the bells in “ churches to jangle. The night following the earth trembled once or “ twice in Kent, and again the first day of May." In her twenty-sixth year, (A. D. 1588,) a similar earthquake happened in Dorsetshire as had taken place in Herefordshire in 1571. In her thirty-fifth year there was such a drought that the springs were dried up and cattle died for want of water: the Thames was so low that a man on horseback might ride over it at London bridge. The year following there was a great plague in London and the suburbs, of which there died, besides the Lord Mayor and three aldermen, 17,890 persons. In her thirty-eighth year, lord Hundsdon, being sick to death, saw six of his companions, already dead, come to him one after another. The first was Dudley, earl of Leicester, all in fire; the second was secretary Walsingham, also in fire and flame; the third, Pickering, so cold and frozen, that touching Hundsdon's hand, he thought he should die of cold; the fourth, Hatton, lord chancellor; the fifth, Henneage; and the sixth, Knolles. These three last were also on fire: they told him that sir William Cecil, one of their companions yet living, was to prepare himself to come shortly to them. All this was affirmed upon oath by the said lord Hundsdon, who a few days after died suddenly. This is recorded by Fr. Costerus, in Compendio veteris Orthodoxæ Fidei ; and also by Philip D'Oultreman, in his book entitled Pedegogue Chretienne, p. 186. It is stated by F. Parsons in his Discussion of Barlow's Answer, printed in 1612, p. 218, that queen Elizabeth, in the beginning of her last sickness, told two of her ladies that she saw one night, as she lay in bed, her own body exceeding lean and fearful, in a light of fire. Camden, the panegyrist of this queen, and the writer of her history, gives this account of her last sickness. “In the beginning of her sickness, the almonds of her * throat swelled, but soon abated again; then her 'appetite failed her * by degrees; and withal she gave herself over to melancholy, and 6 seemed to be much troubled with a peculiar grief, for some reason

or other; whether it were through the violence of her disease, or for "' want of Essex, &c. She looked upon herself as a miserable forlorn uo«

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

man, and her grief and indignation extorted from her such speeches

as these : They have yoked my neck. I have none whom I can trust. My "condition is strangely turned upside down." (See Cambd. Hist. lib. v, pp. 659, 660.) F. Parsons in his Discussion before mentioned, says

that " she sat two days and three nights upon her stool ready dressed, and “could never be brought by any of her council to go to bed, or to eat

or drink, only the lord admiral persuaded her to take a little broth : “she told him if he knew what she had seen in her bed, he would not "persuade her as he did. Shaking her head, she said with a pitiful

voice, My lord, I am tied with a chain of įron about my neck; I am tied, " and the case is altered with me."

Dr. Lingard, in his recently published History of England, thus relates her conduct during her illness.—“Sir John Harrington, her godson, “who visited the court about seven months after the death of Essex, " has described in a private letter, the state he found the queen. She

was altered in her features and reduced to a skeleton. Her food was nothing but manchet bread and succory pottage. Her taste for dress

gone: she had not changed her clothes for many days. Nothing “could please her: she was the torment of the ladies who waited upon her

person. She stamped with her feet and swore violently at the objects of her anger. For her protection she had ordered a sword to “ be placed by her

table, which she often took in her hand, and thrust with violence into the tapestry of her chamber. About a year later he “ returned to the palace, and was admitted to her presence. I found

her,' he says, “in a most pitiable state. She bad the archbishop ask me, if I'had seen Tyrone. I replied, with reverence, that I had seen

him with the lord deputy. She looked up with much choler and grief “ in her countenance, and said, «now it mindeth me, that you was

one who saw this man elsewhere ;' and hereat she dropped a tear, " and smote her bosom. She held in her hand a golden cup, which she " often put to her lips : but, in truth, her heart seemed too full to need more filling. In January she was troubled with a cold, and about the end of the month removed, on a wet stormy day, from Westmin

ster to Richmond. Her indisposition increased : but, with her cha"racteristic obstinacy, she refused the advice of her physicians. Loss "of appetite was accompanied with lowness of spirits, and to add to "her distress, it chanced thåt her intimate friend, the countess of Not

tingham, died. Elizabeth now spent her days and nights in sighs "and tears : or, if she condescended to speak, she always chose some

unpleasant and irritating subject : the treason and execution of Essex, or the pretensions of Arabella Stuart, or the war in Ireland, and the pardon of Tyrone. At last she fell into a state of stupor, and for some hours lay as dead. As soon as she recovered, she ordered cushions to be brought and spread on the floor. On these she seated herself, under a strange notion, that if she were once to lie down in bed, she should never rise again. No prayers of the secretary, or the archbishop, or the physicians, could induce her to remove, or to take any medicine. For ten days she sat on the cushions, generally with her finger in her mouth, and her eyes wide open, and fixed on the ground. "Her strength rapidly decayed: it was evident she had but a short ".time to live." (Vol. v. pp. 610, 611, 4to. edit.)


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

Her death was that of one in despair, and after her decease her body burst the coffin which contained it with so great a violence, attended with such a dreadful noise, that it split the wood, lead, and tore the velvet, to the horror and astonishment of the six ladies who were watching it. So states F. Parsons in the aforesaid work. The demise of this queen took place in the year 1602, and the 45th of her reign.We have been thus prolix from the length of her sway over these realms, and her being the foundress and she-pope of the Church as by lawy established. How different was the conduct of this monarch in forming a new religion to that of Constantine on embracing Christianity, and how dissimilar their ends. The Christian emperor submitted with resignation to the decrees of heaven with the utmost piety and humility, after a reign of thirty-one years; while the Protestant queen fell into a state of melancholy and despair at her approaching dissolution.

James the first of England, and sixth of Scotland, next ascended the throne. He was the son of Mary queen of Scotland, so unjustly put to death by Elizabeth, and was baptized and confirmed in the Catholic church. His reign was a continued scene of confusion and struggling between him and his parliaments. The flame of irreligious fanaticism ignited, and while the Puritans were contending against the members of the establishment, both cordially agreed in persecuting the Catholics. In the first year of his reign the plague in London was so great that there died of it no fewer than 38,244. persons.

In his fourth year, two great inundations occurred, the one in Somersetsbire and Gloucestershire-the other at Coventry. Stratford upon Avon was burnt down, and 160 houses in Bury St. Edmund's shared the same fate in his sixth year. His eldest son, prince Henry, was carried off by a premature death, and the king himself was suspected of being poisoned.

The reign of his son and successor, Charles I. was marked by the most deep-rooted hatred to Catholicism, and the most disastrous civil wars, which ended in the public execution of the king, and the overthrow of the church. After an interregnum or commonwealth, Charles II. was restored to his throne, aud perjury of the most horrible nature was resorted to, for the purpose of exciting “a hatred and abhorrence of "the (pretended) corruptions and crimes of Popery and its professors." The lives of innocent Catholics were sworn away without the least remorse, and the city of London experienced a most dreadful visitation by fire, which continued burning three days and three nights, laying waste 600 streets, 89 churches, St. Paul's cathedral, and more than 30,000 houses. The year previous the plague carried off 109,000 inhabitants of that city. In 1675 the town of Northampton was almost totally consumed by fire; and in the year succeeding, no fewer than 600 houses were burned in the borough of Southwark. Several comets were also seen in this reign.

James II. succeeded his brother Charles, but, being a Roman Catholic, was soon driven from his throne to make way for a Dutchman, who had married his daughter. In the reign of William III, the nation was continually involved in continental wars, and the foundation of the present enormous debt was laid. The death of this king was occasioned by a fall from his hotse. Anne, the daughter of Janies II, succeeded him. A great part of her reign too was occupied in fighting battles and rais

« ForrigeFortsæt »