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WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED, LONDON AND PECCLES, ENGLAND.

INTRODUCTION

HEN, eight years ago, I set aside all other affairs

to write a biography of Queen Elizabeth, I VV volume by volume, would unfold her career

planned the usual chronological work that, from her birth to her death-this despite the warning of Sir Anthony Weldon, who, in A Brief History of the Kings of England (1652), omitted all particulars of the reign of Elizabeth with this cryptic explanation : “If why I omit ... Queen Elizabeth, I answer I have nothing to do with women, and I wish I never had.”

I have, however, never been able to control the MS. of this publication. The material for it, as it gradually came to light, demanded a treatment other than that provided by the original scheme ; and in the end I have had to submit to the most radical alterations of it. The same will probably be said of the succeeding volume.

At the outset I was led to a most critical reading of Froude and Lingard—a comparison of their more important statements with the facts, and a weighing of their interpretation and treatment of them.

In this I made the usual error of approaching Froude's twelve volumes from the standpoint of the ordinary reader—that is, as a continuous story of the Reformation period. Taken in this fashion, Froude is irresistible. He has had few equals as a writer of attractive English prose, and as an alluring historian none at all, except Macaulay. His many thousand pages are as fascinating as the best of romances. But even his one biographer admits that if history be the story of things as they were, Froude was not an

historian.* His basic theme—the attempted sanctification of Henry VIII., probably the most despised monarch of all the ages —is grotesque ; and when he is driven by his task to demonstrate that Anne Boleyn was destroyed by an equitable, justifiable, civilized process, at a time when the Government selected the juries, when Prime Ministers of England-although then under other title-left in their own handwriting minutes ordering the “trial and execution” of inconvenient gentlemen, when heads were falling by mere Act of Parliament whose members were Government minions, he involves himself in a very morass of illusion; and when Froude's erroneous characterization of the mother was employed by him, and others, to attack the daughter Elizabeth, even fantasy was carried too far,

Moreover, I could not admit a solid basis for Froude's unique theory that Elizabeth was not to be credited with her successes, but only with her failures; that Cecil was the Great Queen, and Elizabeth merely a figurehead. The fact that every body the world over among her contemporaries had gathered an exactly contrary impression had not the slightest influence upon Froude. His reasoning powers were as unable to save him from this as from applauding the decapitation of Anne Boleyn mainly, if not wholly, for adultery committed while married to Henry VIII. by a ceremony which he had declared void ab initio !

I am of the opinion that what misled Froude was his inherent belief that—just because she was such—no woman could possibly do what all her contemporaries and all posterity had always said Elizabeth accomplished. When she did the right thing against Burghley's advice and intense, prolonged opposition, as she did in her Scottish policy, which made Great Britain and was one of the greatest glories of her career—and time acknowledges she was indubitably and always correct and Burghley mistaken-Froude, unable—because he had already detailed Burghley's enmity thereto—to ascribe the victory to that minister, has to say that her policy" was no result of any far-sighted or generous calculation” or “wisdom,” but “the fortune which stood her friend so long."

* “ It has not yet become superfluous to insist,' said the Regius Professor of Modern History in the University of Cambridge ... that history is a science, no less and no more,' If this view is correct and exclusive, Froude was no historian. . . A mere chronicler of events he would hardly have cared to be. He had a doctrine to propound, a gospel to preach.Life of Froude, Herbert Paul, p. 72.

To the same effect is the dictum of Prof. A F. Pollard : "Froude ... has failed to convince students of the fidelity of his pictures or the truth of his conclusions ; . . . he compares the facts of history to the letters of the alphabet, which by selection and arrangement can be made to spell anything. He derided the claims of history to be treated as a science, and concerned himself exclusively with its dramatic aspect. Froude himself admits that the dramatic poet is not bound when it is inconvenient to what may be called the accidents of facts."-D.N.B., Suppl. vol. ii. p. 261.

Anybody, anything, so long as it be not a woman, would serve Froude. He could have denied the ability of any ruler who ever lived, by such pettiness. I cannot find the trace of a modern idea in him.

The unexpected thing is that, while making Elizabeth out to be a fool, he makes her out to be chaste-a choice which, to his astonishment, might not have met with much enthusiasm from the lady most concerned. “The attacks," he says, “of Lingard and others upon her personal purity I believe to be gratuitous and unjust. I intended, as briefly as I could, to undertake her vindication."

Froude's theory that Cecil was the real queen had, however, one advantage. Other historians were content to account for Leicester's prominence and overpowering success as the result of licentious relations with the Queen ; but, as we have just seen, Froude not being of this opinion, had to find another explanation ; and so, after suppressing, belittling, and misrepresenting everything that Leicester did, Froude accounts for Leicester's astoundingly successful career by making out Elizabeth so devoid of ability as always to have been deceived by him whom everybody else despised and saw through.

If Henry VIII. is to be canonized, Anne Boleyn has to be sacrificed. If Cecil is to be exalted, Elizabeth must be torn down; and one way of effecting it is to tear down Leicester-an easy task, for Leicester seems never to have cared to justify himself, nor to have been in the least concerned as to what his contemporaries or posterity would say of him. In any case, he has come down to us as a man of little, if any, talent, who secured and maintained his lofty place solely by a liaison with his queen.

The fact that for thirty years Leicester and Cecil were respectively the leaders of the two parties which alternately divided the control of the Queen's Council, and that it was Leicester's personal triumph over both Cecil and the Queen which, after a steady fight lasting for more than twenty-five years, at last forced the break with Spain, and transferred from that country to England the leadership of the world, is, I can positively assert, unknown to the great mass of his countrymen. And that this Leicester, far-sighted, powerful, patriotic, and adventurous, is at last on the way to regaining that high place in history which was not, save by envy, impugned in his lifetime, is portended by the following statement in the recent life of Cecil by M. A. S. Hume :

* Froude, Preface, vol. i. (1858 ed.). So bad a use of " gratuitous " is rare in Froude.

“Lord Burghley was thus, after a quarter of a century of striving to keep on friendly relations with Spain, forced by the policy of Leicester, Walsingham, and the strong Protestants, into the contest which he had hoped to avoid.” * Mr. Hume is the first man sufficiently courageous to make such an announcement.

Even more convincing confirmation is the following, from the pen of one of the ablest of the living Cecils, Algernon Cecil :

“In desire, perhaps, the Queen adhered to the old English tradition ... of an understanding . . . with ... the Netherlands, which had passed into the hands of Philip of Spain. This was the policy to which Burghley's cautious and conservative disposition naturally inclined, for it was a policy essentially peaceful and diplomatic, was clear of religious fanaticism.

“Over against this policy lay one infinitely more congenial to the spirit of the age, because infinitely more daring and infinitely more religious. Almost all the names which have made the Elizabethan age remembered can be cited in its support. Leicester and Walsingham, Essex and Ralegh, Drake and all the host of seamen who followed in his train, were from their standpoints for a policy that was Protestant, bellicose, imperial, productive of spoils and honours, quick in results and boundless in possibilities. The Cecils held back, doubting whether England was yet strong enough, or enough at one with herself, to seize an empire.

“ Each year that Elizabeth reigned caused Burghley's policy to appear less necessary and the other more alluring. The fall of Mary Stuart, the massacre of St. Bartholomew, the gathering flood in the Netherlands, the tardiness of Philip, the theological affinities of James, tempted Elizabeth little by little to bolder and more definite courses, which culminated in Drake's evermemorable attack on Cadiz. . . . Burghley, however, who had been in real or affected disgrace since the execution of the Queen

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The Great Lord Burghley, p. 386.

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