The History of England in Three Volumes, Vol.I., Part D. - From Elizabeth to James I.
by David Hume
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* Winwood, vol. i. p. 300.

** Winwood, vol. i. p. 302.

*** Dr. Barlow's Sermon on Essex's Execution. Bacon, vol. iv. p. 534

Sir Walter Raleigh, who came to the Tower on purpose, and who beheld Essex's execution from a window, increased much by this action the general hatred under which he already labored: it was thought, that his sole intention was to feast his eyes with the death of an enemy; and no apology which he could make for so ungenerous a conduct could be accepted by the public. The cruelty and animosity with which he urged on Essex's fate, even when Cecil relented,[*] were still regarded as the principles of this unmanly behavior.

* Murdin, p. 811.

The earl of Essex was but thirty-four years of age, when his rashness, imprudence, and violence brought him to this untimely end. We must here, as in many other instances, lament the inconstancy of human nature, that a person endowed with so many noble virtues—generosity, sincerity, friendship, valor, eloquence, and industry—should, in the latter period of his life, have given reins to his ungovernable passions, and involved, not only himself, but many of his friends, in utter ruin. The queen's tenderness and passion for him, as it was the cause of those premature honors which he attained, seems, on the whole, the chief circumstance which brought on his unhappy fate. Confident of her partiality towards him, as well as of his own merit, he treated her with a haughtiness which neither her love nor her dignity could bear; and as her amorous inclinations, in so advanced an age, would naturally make her appear ridiculous, if not odious, in his eyes, he was engaged, by an imprudent openness, of which he made profession, to discover too easily those sentiments to her. The many reconciliations and returns of affection, of which he had still made advantage, induced him to venture on new provocations, till he pushed her beyond all bounds of patience; and he forgot, that though the sentiments of the woman were ever strong in her, those of the sovereign had still in the end appeared predominant.

Some of Essex's associates, Cuffe, Davers, Blount, Meric, and Davies, were tried and condemned, and all of these except Davies, were executed. The queen pardoned the rest; being persuaded that they were drawn in merely from their friendship to that nobleman, and their care of his safety, and were ignorant of the more criminal part of his intentions.

Southampton's life was saved with great difficulty; but he was detained in prison during the remainder of this reign.

The king of Scots, apprehensive lest his correspondence with Essex might have been discovered, and have given offence to Elizabeth sent the earl of Marre and Lord Kinloss as ambassadors to England, in order to congratulate the queen on her escape from the late insurrection and conspiracy. They were also ordered to make secret inquiry, whether any measures had been taken by her for excluding him from the succession, as well as to discover the inclinations of the chief nobility and counsellors, in case of the queen's demise.[*] They found the dispositions of men as favorable as they could wish; and they even entered into a correspondence with Secretary Cecil, whose influence, after the fall of Essex, was now uncontrolled,[**] and who was resolved, by this policy, to acquire in time the confidence of the successor. He knew how jealous Elizabeth ever was of her authority, and he therefore carefully concealed from her his attachment to James: but he afterwards asserted, that nothing could be more advantageous to her than this correspondence; because the king of Scots, secure of mounting the throne by his undoubted title, aided by those connections with the English ministry was the less likely to give any disturbance to the present sovereign. He also persuaded that prince to remain in quiet, and patiently to expect that time should open to him the inheritance of the crown, without pushing his friends on desperate enterprises, which would totally incapacitate them from serving him. James's equity, as well as his natural facility of disposition, easily inclined him to embrace that resolution;[***] and in this manner the minds of the English were silently but universally disposed to admit, without opposition, the succession of the Scottish line: the death of Essex, by putting an end to faction, had been rather favorable than prejudicial to that great event.

The French king, who was little prepossessed in favor of James, and who, for obvious reasons, was averse to the union of England and Scotland,[****] made his ambassador drop some hints to Cecil of Henry's willingness to concur in any measure for disappointing the hopes of the Scottish monarch; but as Cecil showed an entire disapprobation of such schemes.

* Birch's Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 510.

** Osborne, p. 615.

*** Spotswood, p. 471, 472

**** Winwood, vol. i. p. 352

The court of France took no further steps in that matter; and thus the only foreign power which could give much disturbance to James's succession, was induced to acquiesce in it.[*]

* Spotswood, p. 471

Henry made a journey this summer to Calais; and the queen, hearing of his intentions, went to Dover, in hopes of having a personal interview with a monarch, whom, of all others, she most loved and most respected. The king of France, who felt the same sentiments towards her, would gladly have accepted of the proposal; but as many difficulties occurred, it appeared necessary to lay aside, by common consent, the project of an interview. Elizabeth, however, wrote successively two letters to Henry, one by Edmondes, another by Sir Robert Sidney; in which she expressed a desire of conferring about a business of importance, with some minister in whom that prince reposed entire confidence. The marquis of Rosni the king's favorite and prime minister, came to Dover in disguise; and the memoirs of that able statesman contain a full account of his conference with Elizabeth. This princess had formed a scheme for establishing, in conjunction with Henry, a new system in Europe, and of fixing a durable balance of power, by the erection of new states on the ruins of the house of Austria. She had even the prudence to foresee the perils which might ensue from the aggrandizement of her ally; and she purposed to unite all the seventeen provinces of the Low Countries in one republic, in order to form a perpetual barrier against the dangerous increase of the French as well as of the Spanish monarchy. Henry had himself long meditated such a project against the Austrian family; and Rosni could not forbear expressing his astonishment, when he found that Elizabeth and his master, though they had never communicated their sentiments on this subject, not only had entered into the same general views, but had also formed the same plan for their execution. The affairs, however, of France were not yet brought to a situation which might enable Henry to begin that great enterprise; and Rosni satisfied the queen that it would be necessary to postpone for some years their united attack on the house of Austria. He departed, filled with just admiration at the solidity of Elizabeth's judgment, and the greatness of her mind; and he owns, that she was entirely worthy of that high reputation which she enjoyed in Europe.

The queen's magnanimity in forming such extensive projects was the more remarkable, as, besides her having fallen so far into the decline of life, the affairs of Ireland, though conducted with abilities and success, were still in disorder, and made a great diversion of her forces. The expense incurred by this war lay heavy upon her narrow revenues; and her ministers, taking advantage of her disposition to frugality, proposed to her an expedient of saving, which, though she at first disapproved of it, she was at last induced to embrace. It was represented to her, that the great sums of money remitted to Ireland for the pay of the English forces, came, by the necessary course of circulation, into the hands of the rebels, and enabled them to buy abroad all necessary supplies of arms and ammunition, which, from the extreme poverty of that kingdom and its want of every useful commodity, they could not otherwise find means to purchase. It was therefore recommended to her, that she should pay her forces in base money; and it was asserted that, besides the great saving to the revenue, this species of coin could never be exported with advantage, and would not pass in any foreign market. Some of her wiser counsellors maintained, that if the pay of the soldiers were raised in proportion, the Irish rebels would necessarily reap the same benefit from the base money, which would always be taken at a rate suitable to its value; if the pay were not raised, there would be danger of a mutiny among the troops, who, whatever names might be affixed to the pieces of metal, would soon find from experience that they were defrauded in their income.[*] But Elizabeth, though she justly valued herself on fixing the standard of the English coin, much debased by her predecessors, and had innovated very little in that delicate article, was seduced by the specious arguments employed by the treasurer on this occasion; and she coined a great quantity of base money, which he made use of in the pay of her forces in Ireland.[**]

* Camden, p. 643

** Rymer, tom, xvi. p. 414.

Mountjoy, the deputy, was a man of abilities; and foreseeing the danger of mutiny among the troops, he led them instantly into the field, and resolved, by means of strict discipline, and by keeping them employed against the enemy, to obviate those inconveniencies which were justly to be apprehended. He made military roads, and built a fortress at Moghery; he drove the Mac-Genises out of Lecale; he harassed Tyrone in Ulster with inroads and lesser expeditions; and by destroying every where, and during all seasons, the provisions of the Irish, he reduced them to perish by famine in the woods and morasses, to which they were obliged to retreat. At the same time, Sir Henry Docwray, who commanded another body of troops, took the Castle of Derry, and put garrisons into Newton and Ainogh; and having seized the monastery of Donnegal, near Balishannon, he threw troops into it, and defended it against the assaults of O'Donnel and the Irish. Nor was Sir George Carew idle in the province of Munster. He seized the titular earl of Desmond, and sent him over, with Florence Macarty, another chieftain, prisoner to England. He arrested many suspected persons, and took hostages from others. And having got a reenforcement of two thousand men from England, he threw himself into Corke, which he supplied with arms and provisions; and he put every thing in a condition for resisting the Spanish invasion, which was daily expected. The deputy, informed of the danger to which the southern provinces were exposed, left the prosecution of the war against Tyrone, who was reduced to great extremities; and he marched with his army into Munster.

At last the Spaniards, under Don John d'Aquila, arrived at Kinsale; and Sir Richard Piercy, who commanded in the town with a small garrison of a hundred and fifty men, found himself obliged to abandon it on their appearance. These invaders amounted to four thousand men, and the Irish discovered a strong propensity to join them, in order to free themselves from the English government, with which they were extremely discontented. One chief ground of their complaint, was the introduction of trials by jury;[*] an institution abhorred by that people, though nothing contributes more to the support of that equity and liberty for which the English laws are so justly celebrated.

* Camden, p 644.

The Irish, also, bore a great favor to the Spaniards, having entertained the opinion that they themselves were descended from that nation; and their attachment to the Catholic religion proved a new cause of affection to the invaders. D'Aquila assumed the title of general "in the holy war for the preservation of the faith" in Ireland; and he endeavored to persuade the people that Elizabeth was, by several bulls of the pope, deprived of her crown; that her subjects were absolved from their oaths of allegiance; and that the Spaniards were come to deliver the Irish from the dominion of the devil.[*] Mountjoy found it necessary to act with vigor, in order to prevent a total insurrection of the Irish; and having collected his forces, he formed the siege of Kinsale by land, while Sir Richard Levison, with a small squadron, blockaded it by sea. He had no sooner begun his operations than he heard of the arrival of another body of two thousand Spaniards under the command of Alphonso Ocampo, who had taken possession of Baltimore and Berehaven; and he was obliged to detach Sir George Carew to oppose their progress. Tyrone, meanwhile, with Randal, Mac-Surley, Tirel, baron of Kelley, and other chieftains of the Irish, had joined Ocampo with all their forces, and were marching to the relief of Kinsale. The deputy, informed of their design by intercepted letters, made preparations to receive them; and being reenforced by Levison with six hundred marines, he posted his troops on an advantageous ground, which lay on the passage of the enemy, leaving some cavalry to prevent a sally from D'Aquila and the Spanish garrison. When Tyrone, with a detachment of Irish and Spaniards, approached, he was surprised to find the English so well posted, and ranged in good order, and he immediately sounded a retreat: but the deputy gave orders to pursue him; and having thrown these advanced troops into disorder, he followed them to the main body, whom he also attacked and put to flight, with the slaughter of twelve hundred men.[**] Ocampo was taken prisoner; Tyrone fled into Ulster; O'Donnel made his escape into Spain; and D'Aquila, finding himself reduced to the greatest difficulties, was obliged to capitulate upon such terms as the deputy prescribed to him; he surrendered Kinsale and Baltimore, and agreed to evacuate the kingdom. This great blow, joined to other successes gained by Wlimot, governor of Kerry, and by Roger and Gavin Harvey, threw the rebels into dismay, and gave a prospect of the final reduction of Ireland.

The Irish war, though successful, was extremely burdensome on the queen's revenue; and besides the supplies granted by parliament, which were indeed very small, but which they ever regarded as mighty concessions, she had been obliged, notwithstanding her great frugality, to employ other expedients, such as selling the royal demesnes and crown jewels,[***] and exacting loans from the people,[****] in order to support this cause, so essential to the honor and interests of England.

* Camden, p. 645.

** Winwood, vol. i. p. 369.

*** D'Ewes, p. 629.

**** D'Ewes, p. 629.

The necessity of her affairs obliged her again to summon a parliament; and it here appeared, that though old age was advancing fast upon her, though she had lost much of her popularity by the unfortunate execution of Essex, insomuch that when she appeared in public she was not attended with the usual acclamations,[*] yet the powers of her prerogative, supported by her vigor, still remained as high and uncontrollable as ever.

The active reign of Elizabeth had enabled many persons to distinguish themselves in civil and military employments; and the queen, who was not able from her revenue to give them any rewards proportioned to their services, had made use of an expedient which had been employed by her predecessors, but which had never been carried to such an extreme as under her administration. She granted her servants and courtiers patents for monopolies; and these patents they sold to others, who were thereby enabled to raise commodities to what price they pleased, and who put invincible restraints upon all commerce, industry, and emulation in the arts. It is astonishing to consider the number and importance of those commodities which were thus assigned over to patentees. Currants, salt, iron, powder, cards, calf-skins, fells, pouldavies, ox-shin-bones, train oil, lists of cloth, potashes, aniseseeds, vinegar, seacoals, steel, aquavitae, brushes, pots, bottles, saltpetre, lead, accidences, oil, calamine stone, oil of blubber, glasses, paper, starch, tin, sulphur, new drapery, dried pilchards, transportation of iron ordnance, of beer, of horn, of leather, importation of Spanish wool, of Irish yarn: these are but a part of the commodities which had been appropriated to monopolists.[**] When this list was read in the house, a member cried, "Is not bread in the number?" "Bread," said every one with astonishment. "Yes, I assure you," replied he, "if affairs go on at this rate, we shall have bread reduced to a monopoly before next parliament." [***] These monopolists were so exorbitant in their demands, that in some places they raised the price of salt from sixteen pence a bushel, to fourteen or fifteen shillings.[****]

* D'Ewes, p 629. Osborne, p. 604.

** D'Ewes, p 648, 650, 652.

*** D'Ewes, p. 648.

**** D'Ewes, p. 647.

Such high profits naturally begat intruders upon their commerce; and in order to secure themselves against encroachments, the patentees were armed with high and arbitrary powers from the council, by which they were enabled to oppress the people at pleasure, and to exact money from such as they thought proper to accuse of interfering with their patent.[*] The patentees of saltpetre, having the power of entering into every house, and of committing what havoc they pleased in stables, cellars, or wherever they suspected saltpetre might be gathered, commonly extorted money from those who desired to free themselves from this damage or trouble.[**] And while all domestic intercourse was thus restrained, lest any scope should remain for industry, almost every species of foreign commerce was confined to exclusive companies, who bought and sold at any price that they themselves thought proper to offer or exact.

These grievances, the most intolerable for the present, and the most pernicious in their consequences, that ever were known in any age or under any government, had been mentioned in the last parliament, and a petition had even been presented to the queen, complaining of the patents; but she still persisted in defending her monopolists against her people. A bill was now introduced into the lower house, abolishing all these monopolies; and as the former application had been unsuccessful, a law was insisted on as the only certain expedient for correcting these abuses. The courtiers, on the other hand, maintained, that this matter regarded the prerogative, and that the commons could never hope for success, if they did not make application, in the most humble and respectful manner, to the queen's goodness and beneficence. The topics which were advanced in the house, and which came equally from the courtiers and the country gentlemen, and were admitted by both, will appear the most extraordinary to such as are prepossessed with an idea of the privileges enjoyed by the people during that age, and of the liberty possessed under the administration of Elizabeth. It was asserted that the queen inherited both an enlarging and a restraining power; by her prerogative she might set at liberty what was restrained by statute or otherwise, and by her prerogative she might restrain what was otherwise at liberty:[***] that the royal prerogative was not to be canvassed, nor disputed, nor examined;[****] and did not even admit of any limitation.[v]

* D'Ewes, p. 644, 646, 652.

** D'Ewes, p. 653.

*** D'Ewes, p. 644, 675.

**** D'Ewes, p. 644, 649.

v D'Ewes, p. 646. 654.

That absolute princes, such as the sovereigns of England, were a species of divinity;[*] that it was in vain to attempt tying the queen's hands by laws or statutes; since, by means of her dispensing power, she could loosen herself at pleasure:[**] and that even if a clause should be annexed to a statute, excluding her dispensing power, she could first dispense with that clause and then with the statute.[***] After all this discourse, more worthy of a Turkish divan than of an English house of commons, according to our present idea of this assembly, the queen, who perceived how odious monopolies had become, and what heats were likely to arise, sent for the speaker, and desired him to acquaint the house, that she would immediately cancel the most grievous and oppressive of these patents.[****] [38]

The house was struck with astonishment, and admiration and gratitude, at this extraordinary instance of the queen's goodness and condescension. A member said, with tears in his eyes, that if a sentence of everlasting happiness had been pronounced in his favor, he could not have felt more joy than that with which he was at present over whelmed.[v] Another observed, that this message from the sacred person of the queen was a kind of gospel or glad tidings, and ought to be received as such, and be written in the tablets of their hearts.v And it was further remarked, that in the same manner as the Deity would not give his glory to another, so the queen herself was the only agent in their present prosperity and happiness.[v**] The house voted, that the speaker, with a committee, should ask permission to wait on her majesty, and return thanks to her for her gracious concessions to her people.

When the speaker, with the other members, was introduced to the queen, they all flung themselves on their knees, and remained in that posture a considerable time, till she thought proper to express her desire that they should rise.[v***]

* D'Ewes, p. 649.

** D'Ewes, p. 649.

*** D'Ewes, p. 640, 646.

**** See note LL, at the end of the volume.

v D'Ewes, p. 654.

v* D'Ewes, p. 656.

v** D'Ewes, p. 657.

v*** We learn from Hentzner's Travels, that no one spoke to Queen Elizabeth without kneeling; though now and then she raised some with waving her hand. Nay, wherever she turned her eye, every one fell on his knees. Her successor first allowed his courtiers to omit this ceremony; and as he exerted not the power, so he relinquished the appearance of despotism. Even when Queen Elizabeth was absent, those who covered her table, though persons of quality, neither approached it nor retired from it without kneeling, and that often three times.

The speaker displayed the gratitude of the commons, because her sacred ears were ever open to hear them, and her blessed hands ever stretched out to relieve them. They acknowledged, he said, in all duty and thankfulness acknowledged, that, before they called, her "preventing grace" and "all-deserving goodness" watched over them for their good; more ready to give than they could desire, much less deserve. He remarked, that the attribute which was most proper to God, to perform all he promiseth, appertained also to her; and that she was all truth, all constancy, and all goodness. And he concluded with these expressions: "Neither do we present our thanks in words or any outward sign, which can be no sufficient retribution for so great goodness; but in all duty and thankfulness, prostrate at your feet, we present our most loyal and thankful hearts, even the last drop of blood in our hearts, and the last spirit of breath in our nostrils, to be poured out, to be breathed up, for your safety." [*]

* D'Ewes, p. 658, 659.

The queen heard very patiently this speech, in which she was flattered in phrases appropriated to the Supreme Being; and she returned an answer full of such expressions of tenderness towards her people, as ought to have appeared fulsome after the late instances of rigor which she had employed, and from which nothing but necessity had made her depart. Thus was this critical affair happily terminated; and Elizabeth, by prudently receding, in time, from part of her prerogative, maintained her dignity, and preserved the affections of her people.

The commons granted her a supply quite unprecedented, of four subsidies and eight fifteenths; and they were so dutiful as to vote this supply before they received any satisfaction in the business of monopolies, which they justly considered as of the utmost importance to the interest and happiness of the nation. Had they attempted to extort that concession by keeping the supply in suspense, so haughty was the queen's disposition, that this appearance of constraint and jealousy had been sufficient to have produced a denial of all their requests, and to have forced her into some acts of authority still more violent and arbitrary.

{1602.} The remaining events of this reign are neither numerous nor important. The queen, finding that the Spaniards had involved her in so much trouble, by fomenting and assisting the Irish rebellion, resolved to give them employment at home; and she fitted out a squadron of nine ships, under Sir Richard Levison, admiral, and Sir William Monson, vice-admiral, whom she sent on an expedition to the coast of Spain. The admiral, with part of the squadron, met the galleons loaded with treasure; but was not strong enough to attack them. The vice-admiral also fell in with some rich ships, but they escaped for a like reason; and these two brave officers, that their expedition might not prove entirely fruitless, resolved to attack the harbor of Cerimbra, in Portugal; where, they received intelligence, a very rich carrack had taken shelter. The harbor was guarded by a castle: there were eleven galleys stationed in it; and the militia of the country, to the number, as was believed, of twenty thousand men, appeared in arms on the shore: yet, notwithstanding these obstacles, and others derived from the winds and tides, the English squadron broke into the harbor, dismounted the guns of the castle, sunk, or burnt, or put to flight the galleys, and obliged the carrack to surrender.[*] They brought her home to England, and she was valued at a million of ducats:[**] a sensible loss to the Spaniards, and a supply still more important to Elizabeth.[***]

* Monson, p. 181.

* Camden, p. 647.

* This year the Spaniards began the siege of Ostend, which was bravely defended for five months by Sir Francis Vere. The states then relieved him, by sending a new governor; and on the whole, the siege lasted three years, and is computed to have cost the lives of one hundred thousand men.

The affairs of Ireland, after the defeat of Tyrone and the expulsion of the Spaniards, hastened to a settlement. Lord Mountjoy divided his army into small parties, and harassed the rebels on every side: he built Charlemont and many other small forts, which were impregnable to the Irish, and guarded all the important passes of the country: the activity of Sir Henry Docwray and Sir Arthur Chichester permitted no repose or security to the rebels; and many of the chieftains, after skulking during some time in woods and morasses, submitted to mercy, and received such conditions as the deputy was pleased to impose upon them.

{1603.} Tyrone himself made application by Arthur Mac-Baron, his brother, to be received upon terms; but Mountjoy would not admit him, except he made an absolute surrender of his life and fortunes to the queen's mercy. He appeared before the deputy at Millefont, in a habit and posture suitable to his present fortune; and after acknowledging his offence in the most humble terms, he was committed to custody by Mountjoy, who intended to bring him over captive into England, to be disposed of at the queen's pleasure.

But Elizabeth was now incapable of receiving any satisfaction from this fortunate event: she had fallen into a profound melancholy; which all the advantages of her high fortune, all the glories of her prosperous reign, were unable in any degree to alleviate or assuage. Some ascribed this depression of mind to her repentance of granting a pardon to Tyrone, whom she had always resolved to bring to condign punishment for his treasons, but who had made such interest with the ministers as to extort a remission from her. Others, with more likelihood, accounted for her dejection by a discovery which she had made, of the correspondence maintained in her court with her successor, the king of Scots, and by the neglect to which, on account of her old age and infirmities, she imagined herself to be exposed. But there is another cause assigned for her melancholy, which has long been rejected by historians as romantic, but which late discoveries seem to have confirmed:[*] some incidents happened which revived her tenderness for Essex, and filled her with the deepest sorrow for the consent which she had unwarily given to his execution.

* See the proofs of this remarkable fact collected in Birch's Negotiations, p. 206. And Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 481, 505, 506, etc.

The earl of Essex, after his return from the fortunate expedition against Cadiz, observing the increase of the queen's fond attachment towards him, took occasion to regret, that the necessity of her service required him often to be absent from her person, and exposed him to all those ill offices which his enemies, more assiduous in their attendance, could employ against him. She was moved with this tender jealousy; and making him the present of a ring, desired him to keep that pledge of her affection, and assured him, that into whatever disgrace he should fall, whatever prejudices she might be induced to entertain against him, yet, if he sent her that ring, she would immediately upon the sight of it recall her former tenderness, would afford him a patient hearing, and would lend a favorable ear to his apology. Essex, notwithstanding all his misfortunes, reserved this precious gift to the last extremity; but after his trial and condemnation, he resolved to try the experiment, and he committed the ring to the countess of Nottingham, whom he desired to deliver it to the queen. The countess was prevailed on by her husband, the mortal enemy of Essex, not to execute the commission; and Elizabeth, who still expected that her favorite would make this last appeal to her tenderness, and who ascribed the neglect of it to his invincible obstinacy, was, after much delay and many internal combats, pushed by resentment and policy to sign the warrant for his execution. The countess of Nottingham, falling into sickness, and affected with the near approach of death, was seized with remorse for her conduct; and having obtained a visit from the queen, she craved her pardon, and revealed to her the fatal secret. The queen, astonished with this incident, burst into a furious passion: she shook the dying countess in her bed; and crying to her, "that God might pardon her, but she never could," she broke from her, and thenceforth resigned herself over to the deepest and most incurable melancholy. She rejected all consolation: she even refused food and sustenance: and throwing herself on the floor, she remained sullen and immovable, feeding her thoughts on her afflictions, and declaring life and existence an insufferable burden to her. Few words she uttered; and they were all expressive of some inward grief which she cared not to reveal: but sighs and groans were the chief vent which she gave to her despondency, and which, though they discovered her sorrows, were never able to ease or assuage them. Ten days and nights she lay upon the carpet, leaning on cushions which her maids brought her; and her physicians could not persuade her to allow herself to be put to bed, much less to make trial of any remedies which they prescribed to her.[*]

* Strype, vol. iv. No. 276.

Her anxious mind at last had so long preyed on her frail body, that her end was visibly approaching; and the council, being assembled, sent the keeper, admiral, and secretary, to know her will with regard to her successor. She answered with a faint voice, that as she had held a regal sceptre, she desired no other than a royal successor. Cecil requesting her to explain herself more particularly, she subjoined, that she would have a king to succeed her; and who should that be but her nearest kinsman, the king of Scots? Being then advised by the archbishop of Canterbury to fix her thoughts upon God, she replied, that she did so, nor did her mind in the least wander from him. Her voice soon after left her and senses failed; she fell into a lethargic slumber, which continued some hours; and she expired gently, without further struggle or convulsion, in the seventieth year of her age, and forty-fifth of her reign.

So dark a cloud overcast the evening of that day which had shone out with a mighty lustre in the eyes of all Europe. There are few great personages in history who have been more exposed to the calumny of enemies and the adulation of friends than Queen Elizabeth; and yet there scarcely is any whose reputation has been more certainly determined by the unanimous consent of posterity. The unusual length of her administration, and the strong features of her character, were able to overcome all prejudices; and obliging her detractors to abate much of their invectives, and her admirers somewhat of their panegyrics, have at last, in spite of political factions and, what is more, of religious animosities, produced a uniform judgment with regard to her conduct. Her vigor, her constancy, her magnanimity, her penetration, vigilance, address, are allowed to merit the highest praises, and appear not to have been surpassed by any person that ever filled a throne: a conduct less rigorous, less imperious, more sincere, more indulgent to her people, would have been requisite to form a perfect character. By the force of her mind, she controlled all her more active and stronger qualities, and prevented them from running into excess: her heroism was exempt from temerity, her frugality from avarice, her friendship from partiality, her active temper from turbulency and a vain ambition; she guarded not herself with equal care or equal success from lesser infirmities; the rivalship of beauty, the desire of admiration, the jealousy of love, and the sallies of anger.

Her singular talents for government were founded equally on her temper and on her capacity. Endowed with a great command over herself, she soon obtained an uncontrolled ascendant over her people; and while she merited all their esteem by her real virtues, she also engaged their affections by her pretended ones. Few sovereigns of England succeeded to the throne in more difficult circumstances; and none ever conducted the government with such uniform success and felicity. Though unacquainted with the practice of toleration, the true secret for managing religious factions, she preserved her people, by her superior prudence, from those confusions in which theological controversy had involved all the neighboring nations: and though her enemies were the most powerful princes of Europe, the most active, the most enterprising, the least scrupulous, she was able by her vigor to make deep impressions on their states; her own greatness, meanwhile, remained untouched and unimpaired.

The wise ministers and brave warriors who flourished under her reign, share the praise of her success; but instead of lessening the applause due to her, they make great addition to it. They owed all of them their advancement to her choice; they were supported by her constancy; and, with all their abilities, they were never able to acquire any undue ascendant over her. In her family, in her court, in her kingdom, she remained equally mistress: the force of the tender passions was great over her, but the force of her mind was still superior; and the combat which her victory visibly cost her, serves only to display the firmness of her resolution, and the loftiness of her ambitious sentiments.

The fame of this princess, though it has surmounted the prejudices both of faction and bigotry, yet lies still exposed to another prejudice, which is more durable because more natural, and which, according to the different views in which we survey her, is capable either of exalting beyond measure, or diminishing the lustre of her character. This prejudice is founded on the consideration of her sex. When we contemplate her as a woman, we are apt to be struck with the highest admiration of her great qualities and extensive capacity; but we are also apt to require some more softness of disposition, some greater lenity of temper, some of those amiable weaknesses by which her sex is distinguished. But the true method of estimating her merit, is to lay aside all these considerations, and consider her merely as a rational being placed in authority, and intrusted with the government of mankind. We may find it difficult to reconcile our fancy to her as a wife or a mistress; but her qualities as a sovereign, though with some considerable exceptions, are the object of undisputed applause and approbation.


The party among us who have distinguished themselves by their adhering to liberty and a popular government, have long indulged their prejudices against the succeeding race of princes, by bestowing unbounded panegyrics on the virtue and wisdom of Elizabeth. They have even been so extremely ignorant of the transactions of this reign, as to extol her for a quality which, of all others, she was the least possessed of; a tender regard for the constitution, and a concern for the liberties and privileges of her people. But as it is scarcely possible for the prepossessions of party to throw a veil much longer over facts so palpable and undeniable, there is danger lest the public should run into the opposite extreme, and should entertain an aversion to the memory of a princess who exercised the royal authority in a manner so contrary to all the ideas which we at present entertain of a legal constitution. But Elizabeth only supported the prerogatives transmitted to her by her predecessors: she believed that her subjects were entitled to no more liberty than their ancestors had enjoyed: she found that they entirely acquiesced in her arbitrary administration: and it was not natural for her to find fault with a form of government by which she herself was invested with such unlimited authority. In the particular exertions of power, the question ought never to be forgotten, What is best? But in the general distribution of power among the several members of a constitution, there can seldom be admitted any other question than, What is established? Few examples occur of princes who have willingly resigned their power; none of those who have, without struggle and reluctance, allowed it to be extorted from them. If any other rule than established practice be followed, factions and dissensions must multiply without end: and though many constitutions, and none more than the British, have been improved even by violent innovations, the praise bestowed on those patriots to whom the nation has been indebted for its privileges, ought to be given with some reserve, and surely without the least rancor against those who adhered to the ancient constitution.[*]

In order to understand the ancient constitution of England, there is not a period which deserves more to be studied than the reign of Elizabeth. The prerogatives of this princess were scarcely ever disputed, and she therefore employed them without scruple: her imperious temper—a circumstance in which she went far beyond her successors—rendered her exertions of power violent and frequent, and discovered the full extent of her authority: the great popularity which she enjoyed, proves that she did not infringe any established liberties of the people: there remains evidence sufficient to ascertain the most noted acts of her administration: and though that evidence must be drawn from a source wide of the ordinary historians, it becomes only the more authentic on that account, and serves as a stronger proof, that her particular exertions of power were conceived to be nothing but the ordinary course of administration, since they were not thought remarkable enough to be recorded even by contemporary writers. If there was any difference in this particular, the people in former reigns seem rather to have been more submissive than even during the age of Elizabeth;[**] it may not here be improper to recount some of the ancient prerogatives of the crown, and lay open the sources of that great power which the English monarchs formerly enjoyed.

* By the ancient constitution, is here meant that which prevailed before the settlement of our present plan of liberty. There was a more ancient constitution, where, though the people had perhaps less liberty than under the Tudors, yet the king had also less authority: the power of the barons was a great check upon him, and exercised great tyranny over them. But there was still a more ancient constitution, viz., that before the signing of the charters, when neither the people nor the barons had any regular privileges; and the power of the government during the reign of an able prince was almost wholly in the king. The English constitution, like all others, has been in a state of continual fluctuation.

** In a memorial of the state of the realm, drawn by Secretary Cecil in 1569, there is this passage: "Then followeth the decay of obedience in civil policy, which being compared with the fearfulness and reverence of all inferior estates to their superiors in times past, will astonish any wise and considerate person, to behold the desperation of reformation," Haynes, p, 586. Again, p. 538.

One of the most ancient and most established instruments of power was the court of star chamber, which possessed an unlimited discretionary authority of fining, imprisoning, and inflicting corporal punishment; and whose jurisdiction extended to all sorts of offences, contempts, and disorders that lay not within reach of the common law. The members of this court consisted of the privy council and the judges; men who all of them enjoyed their offices during pleasure; and when the prince himself was present, he was the sole judge, and all the others could only interpose with their advice. There needed but this one court in any government to put an end to all regular, legal, and exact plans of liberty; for who durst set himself in opposition to the crown and ministry, or aspire to the character of being a patron of freedom, while exposed to so arbitrary a jurisdiction? I much question whether any of the absolute monarchies in Europe contain, at present, so illegal and despotic a tribunal.

The court of high commission was another jurisdiction still more terrible; both because the crime of heresy, of which it took cognizance, was more undefinable than any civil offence, and because its methods of inquisition, and of administering oaths, were more contrary to all the most simple ideas of justice and equity. The fines and imprisonments imposed by this court were frequent: the deprivations and suspensions of the clergy for nonconformity were also numerous, and comprehended at one time the third of all the ecclesiastics of England.[*] The queen, in a letter to the archbishop of Canterbury, said expressly, that she was resolved "that no man should be suffered to decline, either on the left or on the right hand, from the drawn line limited by authority, and by her laws and injunctions."[**]

But martial law went beyond even these two courts in a prompt, and arbitrary, and violent method of decision. Whenever there was any insurrection or public disorder, the crown employed martial law; and it was, during that time, exercised not only over the soldiers, but over the whole people; any one might be punished as a rebel, or an aider and abettor of rebellion, whom the provost martial, or lieutenant of a county, or their deputies, pleased to suspect. Lord Bacon says, that the trial at common law granted to the earl of Essex and his fellow-conspirators, was a favor; for that the case would have borne and required the severity of martial law.[***]

* Neal, vol. i. p. 479.

** Vol. iv. p. 510.

**** Murden, p. 183.

We have seen instances of its being employed by Queen Mary in defence of orthodoxy. There remains a letter of Queen Elizabeth's to the earl of Sussex, after the suppression of the northern rebellion, in which she sharply reproves him, because she had not heard of his having executed any criminals by martial law;[*] though it is probable that near eight hundred persons suffered, one way or other, on account of that slight insurrection. But the kings of England did not always limit the exercise of this law to times of civil war and disorder. In 1552, when there was no rebellion or insurrection, King Edward granted a commission of martial law; and empowered the commissioners to execute it, "as should be thought by their discretions most necessary."[**] Queen Elizabeth too was not sparing in the use of this law. In 1573, one Peter Burchet, a Puritan, being persuaded that it was meritorious to kill such as opposed the truth of the gospel, ran into the streets, and wounded Hawkins, the famous sea captain, whom he took for Hatton, the queen's favorite. The queen was so incensed, that she ordered him to be punished instantly by martial law; but upon the remonstrance of some prudent counsellors, who told her that this law was usually confined to turbulent times, she recalled her order, and delivered over Burchet to the common law.[***] But she continued not always so reserved in executing this authority. There remains a proclamation of hers, in which she orders martial law to be used against all such as import bulls, or even forbidden books and pamphlets from abroad;[****] and prohibits the questioning of the lieutenants or their deputies for their arbitrary punishment of such offenders, "any law or statute to the contrary in anywise notwithstanding."

* MS. of Lord Royston's, from the paper office.

** Strype's Eccles. Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 373, 458, 459.

*** Camden, p. 446. Strype, vol. ii. p. 288.

**** Strype, vol. iii. p. 570

We have another act of hers still more extraordinary. The streets of London were much infested with idle vagabonds and riotous persons: the lord mayor had endeavored to repress this disorder: the star chamber had exerted its authority, and inflicted punishment on these rioters: but the queen, finding those remedies ineffectual, revived martial law, and gave Sir Thomas Wilford a commission of provost-martial: "Granting him authority, and commanding him, upon signification given by the justices of peace in London or the neighboring counties, of such offenders worthy to be speedily executed by martial law, to attach and take the same persons, and in the presence of the said justices, according to justice of martial law, to execute them upon the gallows or gibbet openly, or near to such place where the said rebellious and incorrigible offenders shall be found to have committed the said great offences."[*] I suppose it would be difficult to produce an instance of such an act of authority in any place nearer than Muscovy. The patent of high constable, granted to Earl Rivers by Edward IV., proves the nature of the office. The powers are unlimited, perpetual, and remain in force during peace as well as during war and rebellion. The parliament in Edward VI.'s reign acknowledged the jurisdiction of the constable and martial's court to be part of the law of the land.[**]

The star chamber, and high commission, and court martial, though arbitrary jurisdictions, had still some pretence of a trial, at least of a sentence; but there was a grievous punishment very generally inflicted in that age, without any other authority than the warrant of a secretary of state or of the privy council;[***] and that was, imprisonment in any jail, and during any time, that the ministers should think proper. In suspicious times, all the jails were full of prisoners of state; and these unhappy victims of public jealousy were sometimes thrown into dungeons, and loaded with irons, and treated in the most cruel manner, without their being able to obtain any remedy from law.

This practice was an indirect way of employing torture: but the rack itself, though not admitted in the ordinary execution of justice,[****] was frequently used, upon any suspicion, by authority of a warrant from a secretary or the privy council. Even the council in the marches of Wales was empowered, by their very commission, to make use of torture whenever they thought proper.[v]

* Rymer, vol. xvi. p. 279.

** 7 Edw. VI. cap. 20. See Sir John Davis's Question concerning Impositions, p. 9.

*** In 1588, the lord mayor committed several citizens to prison, because they refused to pay the loan demanded of them. Murden, p. 632.

**** Harrison, chap. 11.

v Haynes, p 196. See further, La Boderie, vol. i. p. 211.

There cannot be a stronger proof how lightly the rack was employed than the following story, told by Lord Bacon. We shall give it in his own words: "The queen was mightily incensed against Haywarde, on account of a book he dedicated to Lord Essex, being a story of the first year of Henry IV., thinking it a seditious prelude to put into the people's heads boldness and faction:[*] she said, she had an opinion that there was treason in it, and asked me if I could not find any places in it that might be drawn within the case of treason? Whereto I answered, For treason, sure I found none; but for felony, very many: and when her majesty hastily asked me, Wherein? I told her, the author had committed very apparent theft; for he had taken most of the sentences of Cornelius Tacitus, and translated them into English, and put them into his text. And another time, when the queen could not be persuaded that it was his writing whose name was to it, but that it had some more mischievous author, and said with great indignation, that she would have him racked to produce his author; I replied, Nay, madam, he is a doctor; never rack his person, but rack his style: let him have pen, ink, and paper, and help of books, and be enjoined to continue the story where it breaketh off, and I will undertake, by collating the styles, to judge whether he were the author or no."[**] Thus, had it not been for Bacon's humanity, or rather his wit, this author, a man of letters, had been put to the rack for a most innocent performance. His real offence was his dedicating a book to that munificent patron of the learned, the earl of Essex, at a time when this nobleman lay under her majesty's displeasure.

* To our apprehension, Haywarde's book seems rather to have a contrary tendency. For he has there preserved the famous speech of the bishop of Carlisle, which contains, in the most express terms, the doctrine of passive obedience. But Queen Elizabeth was very difficult to please on this head.

** Cabala, p. 81. anciently common of fining, imprisoning, or otherwise punishing the jurors, merely at the discretion of the court, for finding a verdict contrary to the direction of these dependent judges, it is obvious that juries were then no manner of security to the liberty of the subject.

The queen's menace of trying and punishing Haywarde for treason could easily have been executed, let his book have been ever so innocent. While so many terrors hung over the people, no jury durst have acquitted a man when the court was resolved to have him condemned. The practice, also, of not confronting witnesses with the prisoner, gave the crown lawyers all imaginable advantage against him. And indeed there scarcely occurs an instance during all these reigns, that the sovereign or the ministers were ever disappointed in the issue of a prosecution. Timid juries, and judges who held their offices during pleasure, never failed to second all the views of the crown.

The power of pressing, both for sea and land service, and obliging any person to accept of any office, however mean or unfit for him, was another prerogative totally incompatible with freedom. Osborne gives the following account of Elizabeth's method of employing this prerogative: "In case she found any likely to interrupt her occasions," says he, "she did seasonably prevent him by a chargeable employment abroad, or putting him upon some service at home, which she knew least grateful to the people; contrary to a false maxim, since practised with far worse success, by such princes as thought it better husbandry to buy off enemies than reward friends."[*] The practice with which Osborne reproaches the two immediate successors of Elizabeth, proceeded partly from the extreme difficulty of their situation, partly from the greater lenity of their disposition. The power of pressing, as may naturally be imagined, was often abused, in other respects, by men of inferior rank; and officers often exacted money for freeing persons from the service.[**]

* Page 392.

* Murden, p. 181.

The government of England during that age, however different in other particulars, bore in this respect some resemblance to that of Turkey at present: the sovereign possessed every power, except that of imposing taxes; and in both countries, this limitation, unsupported by other privileges, appears rather prejudicial to the people. In Turkey, it obliges the sultan to permit the extortion of the pashas and governors of provinces, from whom he afterwards squeezes presents or takes forfeitures: in England, it engaged the queen to erect monopolies, and grant patents for exclusive trade; an invention so pernicious, that had she gone on during a tract of years at her own rate, England, the seat of riches, and arts, and commerce, would have contained at present as little industry as Morocco or the coast of Barbary.

We may further observe that this valuable privilege, valuable only because it proved afterwards the means by which the parliament extorted all their other privileges, was very much encroached on, in an indirect manner, during the reign of Elizabeth, as well as of her predecessors. She often exacted loans from her people; an arbitrary and unequal kind of imposition, and which individuals felt severely; for though the money had been regularly repaid, which was seldom the case,[*] it lay in the prince's hands without interest, which was a sensible loss to the persons from whom the money was borrowed.[**]

There remains a proposal, made by Lord Burleigh, for levying a general loan on the people, equivalent to a subsidy;[***] a scheme which would have laid the burden more equally, but which was, in different words, a taxation imposed without consent of parliament. It is remarkable, that the scheme thus proposed, without any visible necessity, by that wise minister, is the very same which Henry VIII. executed, and which Charles I., enraged by ill usage from his parliament, and reduced to the greatest difficulties, put afterwards in practice, to the great discontent of the nation.

The demand of benevolence was another invention of that age for taxing the people. This practice was so little conceived to be irregular, that the commons in 1585 offered the queen a benevolence; which she very generously refused, as having no occasion at that time for money.[****] Queen Mary, also, by an order of council, increased the customs in some branches; and her sister imitated the example.[v] There was a species of ship money imposed at the time of the Spanish invasion: the several ports were required to equip a certain number of vessels at their own charge: and such was the alacrity of the people for the public defence, that some of the ports, particularly London, sent double the number demanded of them.v

* Bacon, vol. iv. p. 362.

** In the second of Richard II., it was enacted that in loans which the king shall require of his subjects, upon letters of privy seal, such as have "reasonable" excuse of not lending, may there be received without further summons, travel, or grief. See Cotton's Abridg. p. 170. By this law, the king's prerogative of exacting loans was ratified; and what ought to be deemed a "reasonable" excuse was still left in his own breast to determine.

*** Haynes, p. 518, 519.

**** D'Ewes, p. 494.

v Bacon, vol. iv p. 362.

v* Monson, p 267.

When any levies were made for Ireland, France, or the Low Countries, the queen obliged the counties to levy the soldiers, to arm and clothe them, and carry them to the seaports at their own charge. New-year's gifts were at that time expected from the nobility, and from the more considerable gentry.[*]

Purveyance and preemption were also methods of taxation, unequal, arbitrary, and oppressive. The whole kingdom sensibly felt the burden of those impositions; and it was regarded as a great privilege conferred on Oxford and Cambridge, to prohibit the purveyors from taking any commodities within five miles of these universities. The queen victualled her navy by means of this prerogative, during the first years of he reign.[**]

Wardship was the most regular and legal of all these impositions by prerogative; yet was it a great badge of slavery and oppressive to all the considerable families. When an estate devolved to a female, the sovereign obliged her to marry anyone he pleased: whether the heir were male or female, the crown enjoyed the whole profit of the estate during the minority. The giving of a rich wardship was a usual method of rewarding a courtier or favorite.

The inventions were endless which arbitrary power might employ for the extorting of money, while the people imagined that their property was secured by the crown's being debarred from imposing taxes. Strype has preserved a speech of Lord Burleigh to the queen and council, in which are contained some particulars not a little extraordinary.[***]

* Strype's Memoirs, vol. i. p. 137.

** Camden, p. 388.

*** Annals, vol. iv. p. 234 et seq.

Burleigh proposes, that she should erect a court for the correction of all abuses, and should confer on the commissioners a general inquisitorial power over the whole kingdom. He sets before her the example of her wise grandfather, Henry VII., who by such methods extremely augmented his revenue; and he recommends that this new court should proceed, "as well by the direction and ordinary course of the laws, as by virtue of her majesty's supreme regiment and absolute power, from whence law proceeded." In a word, he expects from this institution greater accession to the royal treasure than Henry VIII. derived from the abolition of the abbeys, and all the forfeitures of ecclesiastical revenues. This project of Lord Burleigh's needs not, I think, any comment. A form of government must be very arbitrary indeed, where a wise and good minister could make such a proposal to the sovereign.

Embargoes on merchandise was another engine of royal power, by which the English princes were able to extort money from the people. We have seen instances in the reign of Mary. Elizabeth, before her coronation, issued an order to the custom-house, prohibiting the sale of all crimson silks which should be imported, till the court were first supplied.[*] She expected, no doubt, a good pennyworth from the merchants while they lay under this restraint.

The parliament pretended to the right of enacting laws, as well as of granting subsidies; but this privilege was, during that age, still more insignificant than the other. Queen Elizabeth expressly prohibited them from meddling either with state matters or ecclesiastical causes; and she openly sent the members to prison who dared to transgress her imperial edict in these particulars. There passed few sessions of parliament, during her reign where there occur not instances of this arbitrary conduct.

But the legislative power of the parliament was a mere fallacy, while the sovereign was universally acknowledged to possess a dispensing power, by which all the laws could be invalidated, and rendered of no effect. The exercise of this power was also an indirect method practised for erecting monopolies. Where the statutes laid any branch of manufacture under restrictions, the sovereign, by exempting one person from the laws, gave him in effect the monopoly of that commodity.[**] There was no grievance at that time more universally complained of, than the frequent dispensing with the penal laws.[***]

But in reality the crown possessed the full legislative power, by means of proclamations, which might affect any matter, even of the greatest importance, and which the star chamber took care to see more rigorously executed than the laws themselves. The motives for these proclamations were sometimes frivolous, and even ridiculous. Queen Elizabeth had taken offence at the smell of woad; and she issued an edict prohibiting any one from cultivating that useful plant.[****]

* Strype, vol. i. p. 27.

** Rymer, tom. xv. p. 756. D'Ewes, p. 645.

*** Murden, p. 325.

**** Townsend's Journals, p. 250. Stow's Annals.

She was also pleased to take offence at the long swords and high ruffs then in fashion: she sent about her officers to break every man's sword, and clip every man's ruff which was beyond a certain dimension.[*] This practice resembles the method employed by the great Czar Peter to make his subjects change their garb.

The queen's prohibition of the "prophesyings," or the assemblies instituted for fanatical prayers and conferences, was founded on a better reason, but shows still the unlimited extent of her prerogative. Any number of persons could not meet together, in order to read the Scriptures and confer about religion, though in ever so orthodox a manner, without her permission.

There were many other branches of prerogative incompatible with an exact or regular enjoyment of liberty. None of the nobility could marry without permission from the sovereign. The queen detained the earl of Southampton long in prison, because he privately married the earl of Essex's cousin.[**] No man could travel without the consent of the prince. Sir William Evers underwent a severe persecution because he had presumed to pay a private visit to the king of Scots.[***] The sovereign even assumed a supreme and uncontrolled authority over all foreign trade; and neither allowed any person to enter or depart the kingdom, nor any commodity to be imported or exported, without his consent.[****]

The parliament, in the thirteenth of the queen, praised her for not imitating the practice usual among her predecessors, of stopping the course of justice by particular warrants.[v] There could not possibly be a greater abuse, nor a stronger mark of arbitrary power; and the queen, in refraining from it, was very laudable. But she was by no means constant in this reserve. There remain in the public records some warrants of hers for exempting particular persons from all law-suits and prosecutions;v If and these warrants, she says, she grants from her royal prerogative, which she will not allow to be disputed.

* Townsend's Journals, p. 250. Stow's Annals. Strype, vol. i p 603.

** Birch's Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 422.

*** Birch's Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 511.

**** Sir John Davis's Question concerning Impositions, passim

v D'Ewes, p. 141.

v* Rymer, tom, xv. p 652 708, 777.

It was very usual in Queen Elizabeth's reign, and probably in all the preceding reigns, for noblemen or privy counsellors to commit to prison any one who had happened to displease them by suing for his just debts; and the unhappy person, though he gained his cause in the courts of justice, was commonly obliged to relinquish his property in order to obtain his liberty. Some, likewise, who had been delivered from prison by the judges, were again committed to custody in secret places, without any possibility of obtaining relief; and even the officers and serjeants of the courts of law were punished for executing the writs in favor of these persons. Nay, it was usual to send for people by pursuivants, a kind of harpies who then attended the orders of the council and high commission; and they were brought up to London, and constrained by imprisonment, not only to withdraw their lawful suits, but also to pay the pursuivants great sums of money. The judges, in the thirty-fourth of the queen, complain to her majesty of the frequency of this practice. It is probable that so egregious a tyranny was carried no farther down than the reign of Elizabeth; since the parliament who presented the petition of right found no later instances of it.[*] And even these very judges of Elizabeth, who thus protect the people against the tyranny of the great, expressly allow, that a person committed by special command of the queen is not bailable.

It is easy to imagine that, in such a government, no justice could by course of law be obtained of the sovereign, unless he were willing to allow it. In the naval expedition undertaken by Raleigh and Frobisher against the Spaniards, in the year 1592, a very rich carrack was taken, worth two hundred thousand pounds. The queen's share in the adventure was only a tenth; but as the prize was so great, and exceeded so much the expectation of all the adventurers, she was determined not to rest contented with her share. Raleigh humbly and earnestly begged her to accept of a hundred thousand pounds in lieu of all demands, or rather extortions; and says that the present which the proprietors were willing to make her of eighty thousand pounds, was the greatest that ever prince received from a subject.[**]

* Rushworth, vol. i. p. 511. Franklyn's Annals, p. 250, 251.

** Strype, vol. iv. p. 128, 129.

But it is no wonder the queen, in her administration, should pay so little regard to liberty, while the parliament itself, in enacting laws, was entirely negligent of it. The persecuting statutes which they passed against Papists and Puritans are extremely contrary to the genius of freedom; and by exposing such multitudes to the tyranny of priests and bigots, accustomed the people to the most disgraceful subjection. Their conferring an unlimited supremacy on the queen, or, what is worse, acknowledging her inherent right to it, was another proof of their voluntary servitude.

The law of the twenty-third of her reign, making seditious words against the queen capital, is also a very tyrannical statute; and a use no less tyrannical was sometimes made of it. The case of Udal, a Puritanical clergyman, seems singular even in those arbitrary times. This man had published a book, called a Demonstration of Discipline, in which he inveighed against the government of bishops; and though he had carefully endeavored to conceal his name, he was thrown into prison upon suspicion, and brought to a trial for this offence. It was pretended, that the bishops were part of the queen's political body; and to speak against them, was really to attack her, and was therefore felony by the statute. This was not the only iniquity to which Udal was exposed. The judges would not allow the jury to determine any thing but the fact, whether Udal had written the book or not, without examining his intention, or the import of the words. In order to prove the fact, the crown lawyers did not produce a single witness to the court: they only read the testimony of two persons absent, one of whom said, that Udal had told him he was the author; another, that a friend of Udal's had said so. They would not allow Udal to produce any exculpatory evidence; which, they said, was never to be permitted against the crown.[*] And they tendered him an oath, by which he was required to depose that he was not the author of the book; and his refusal to make that deposition was employed as the strongest proof of his guilt. It is almost needless to add, that notwithstanding these multiplied iniquities, a verdict of death was given by the jury against Udal; for, as the queen was extremely bent upon his prosecution, it was impossible he could escape.[**] He died in prison, before execution of the sentence.

* It was never fully established that the prisoner could legally produce evidence against the crown, till after the revolution. See Blackstone's Commentaries, vol. iv. p. 352.

** State Trials, vol. i. p. 144. Strype, voL iv. p. 21. Strype's Life of Whitgift, p. 343.

The case of Penry was, if possible, still hardier. This man was a zealous Puritan, or rather a Brownist, a small sect, which afterwards increased, and received the name of "Independents." He had written against the hierarchy several tracts, such as Martin Marprelate, Theses Martinianae, and other compositions, full of low scurrility and petulant satire. After concealing himself for some years, he was seized; and as the statute against seditious words required that the criminal should be tried within a year after committing the offence, he could not be indicted for his printed books. He was therefore tried for some papers found in his pocket, as if he had thereby scattered sedition.[*] It was also imputed to him, by the lord keeper, Puckering, that in some of these papers, "he had only acknowledged her majesty's royal power to establish laws ecclesiastical and civil; but had avoided the usual terms of making, enacting, decreeing, and ordaining laws; which imply," says the lord keeper, "a most absolute authority."[**] Penry for these offences was condemned and executed.

Thus we have seen, that the "most absolute" authority of the sovereign, to make use of the lord keeper's expression was established on above twenty branches of prerogative, which are now abolished, and which were, every one of them totally incompatible with the liberty of the subject. But what insured more effectually the slavery of the people, than even these branches of prerogative, was, the established principles of the times, which attributed to the prince such an unlimited and indefeasible power, as was supposed to be the origin of all law, and could be circumscribed by none. The homilies published for the use of the clergy, and which they were enjoined to read every Sunday in all the churches, inculcate every where a blind and unlimited passive obedience to the prince, which on no account, and under no pretence, is it ever lawful for subjects in the smallest article to depart from or infringe. Much noise has been made because some court chaplains, during the succeeding reigns, were permitted to preach such doctrines; but there is a great difference between these sermons, and discourses published by authority, avowed by the prince and council, and promulgated to the whole nation.[***]

* Strype's Life of Whitgift, book iv. chap. 11. Neal, vol. i. p. 564.

** Strype's Annals, vol. iv. p. 177.

*** Gifford, a clergyman, was suspended in the year 1584, for preaching up a limited obedience to the civil magistrate, Neal, vol. i. p. 435.

So thoroughly were these principles imbibed by the people, during the reigns of Elizabeth and her predecessors, that opposition to them was regarded as the most flagrant sedition; and was not even rewarded by that public praise and approbation, which can alone support men under such dangers and difficulties as attend the resistance of tyrannical authority.[*] It was only during the next generation that the noble principles of liberty took root, and spreading themselves under the shelter of Puritanical absurdities, became fashionable among the people.

It is worth remarking, that the advantage usually ascribed to absolute monarchy, a greater regularity of police, and a more strict execution of the laws, did not attend the former English government, though in many respects it fell under that denomination. A demonstration of this truth is contained in a judicious paper which is preserved by Strype,[**] and which was written by an eminent justice of peace of Somersetshire, in the year 1596, near the end of the queen's reign; when the authority of that princess may be supposed to be fully corroborated by time, and her maxims of government improved by long practice.

* It is remarkable, that in all the historical plays of Shakspeare, where the manners and characters, and even the transactions of the several reigns, are so exactly copied, there is scarcely any mention of civil liberty, which some pretended historians have imagined to be the object of all the ancient quarrels, insurrections, and civil wars. In the elaborate panegyric of England, contained in the tragedy of Richard II., and the detail of its advantages, not a word of its civil constitution, as anywise different from or superior to that of other European kingdoms; an omission which cannot be supposed in any English author that wrote since the restoration, at least since the revolution.

** Annals, vol. iv. p. 290

This paper contains an account of the disorders which then prevailed in the county of Somerset. The author says, that forty persons had there been executed in a year for robberies, thefts, and other felonies; thirty-five burnt in the hand, thirty-seven whipped, one hundred and eighty-three discharged: that those who were discharged were most wicked and desperate persons, who never could come to any good, because they would not work, and none would take them into service: that notwithstanding this great number of indictments, the fifth part of the felonies committed in the county were not brought to trial; the greater number escaped censure, either from the superior cunning of the felons, the remissness of the magistrates, or the foolish lenity of the people: that the rapines committed by the infinite number of wicked, wandering, idle people, were intolerable to the poor countrymen, and obliged them to keep a perpetual watch over their sheepfolds, their pastures, their woods, and their cornfields: that the other counties of England were in no better condition than Somersetshire; and many of them were even in a worse: that there were at least three or four hundred able-bodied vagabonds in every county, who lived by theft and rapine; and who sometimes met in troops to the number of sixty, and committed spoil on the inhabitants: that if all the felons of this kind were assembled, they would be able, if reduced to good subjection, to give the greatest enemy her majesty has a "strong battle:" and that the magistrates themselves were intimidated from executing the laws upon them; and there were instances of justices of peace who, after giving sentence against rogues, had interposed to stop the execution of their own sentence, on account of the danger which hung over them from the confederates of these felons.

In the year 1575, the queen complained in parliament of the bad execution of the laws; and threatened, that if the magistrates were not for the future more vigilant, she would intrust authority to indigent and needy persons, who would find an interest in a more exact administration of justice.[*] It appears that she was as good as her word. For in the year 1601, there were great complaints made in parliament of the rapine of justices of peace; and a member said, that this magistrate was an animal who, for half a dozen of chickens, would dispense with a dozen of penal statutes.[**] It is not easy to account for this relaxation of government, and neglect of police, during a reign of so much vigor as that of Elizabeth. The small revenue of the crown is the most likely cause that can be assigned. The queen had it not in her power to interest a great number in assisting her to execute the laws.[***] [39]

* D'Ewes, p. 234.

** D'Ewes, p. 661-694.

*** See note MM, at the end of the volume.

On the whole, the English have no reason, from the example of their ancestors, to be in love with the picture of absolute monarchy; or to prefer the unlimited authority of the prince and his unbounded prerogatives, to that noble liberty, that sweet equality, and that happy security, by which they are at present distinguished above all nations in the universe. The utmost that can be said in favor of the government of that age and perhaps it may be said with truth, is, that the power of the prince, though really unlimited, was exercised after the European manner, and entered not into every part of the administration; that the instances of a high exerted prerogative were not so frequent as to render property sensibly insecure, or reduce the people to a total servitude; that the freedom from faction, the quickness of execution, and the promptitude of those measures which could be taken for offence or defence, made some compensation for the want of a legal and determinate liberty; that as the prince commanded no mercenary army, there was a tacit check on him, which maintained the government in that medium, to which the people had been accustomed; and that this situation of England, though seemingly it approached nearer, was in reality more remote from a despotic and Eastern monarchy, than the present government of that kingdom, where the people, though guarded by multiplied laws, are totally naked, defenceless, and disarmed; and besides, are not secured by any middle power, or independent powerful nobility, interposed between them and the monarch.

We shall close the present Appendix with a brief account of the revenues, the military force, the commerce, the arts, and the learning of England during this period.

Queen Elizabeth's economy was remarkable; and in some instances seemed to border on avarice. The smallest expense, if it could possibly be spared, appeared considerable in her eyes; and even the charge of an express, during the most delicate transactions, was not below her notice.[*] She was also attentive to every profit, and embraced opportunities of gain which may appear somewhat extraordinary. She kept, for instance, the see of Ely vacant nineteen years, in order to retain the revenue;[**] and it was usual with her, when she promoted a bishop, to take the opportunity of pillaging the see of some of its manors.[***]

* Birch's Negot. p. 21.

** Strype, vol. iv. p.. 351.

*** Strype, vol. iv. p. 215. There is a curious letter of the queen's written to a bishop of Ely, and preserved in the register of that see. It is in these words: "Proud prelate, I understand you are backward in complying with your agreement: but I would have you know, that I, who made you what you are, can unmake you; and if you do not forthwith fulfil your engagement, by God I will immediately unfrock you. Yours, as you demean yourself, Elizabeth." The bishop, it seems, had promised to exchange some part of the land belonging to the see for a pretended equivalent; and did so, but it was in consequence of the above letter. Annual Register. 1761, p. 15.

But that in reality there was little of no avarice in the queen's temper, appears from this circumstance, that she never amassed any treasure; and even refused subsidies from the parliament when she had no present occasion for them. Yet we must not conclude, from this circumstance, that her economy proceeded from a tender concern for her people; she loaded them with monopolies and exclusive patents, which are much more oppressive than the most heavy taxes levied in an equal and regular manner. The real source of her frugal conduct was derived from her desire of independency, and her care to preserve her dignity, which would have been endangered had she reduced herself to the necessity of having frequent recourse to parliamentary supplies. In consequence of this motive, the queen, though engaged in successful and necessary wars, thought it more prudent to make a continual dilapidation of the royal demesnes,[*] than demand the most moderate supplies from the commons. As she lived unmarried, and had no posterity, she was content to serve her present turn, though at the expense of her successors; who, by reason of this policy, joined to other circumstances, found themselves on a sudden reduced to the most extreme indigence.

The splendor of a court was during this age a great part of the public charge; and as Elizabeth was a single woman, and expensive in no kind of magnificence, except clothes, this circumstance enabled her to perform great things by her narrow revenue. She is said to have paid four millions of debt, left on the crown by her father, brother, and sister; an incredible sum for that age.[**] The states at the time of her death owed her about eight hundred thousand pounds; and, the king of France four hundred and fifty thousand.[***]

* Rymer, tom. xvi. p. 141. D'Ewes, p. 151,457,525,629. Bacon, vol. iv. p. 363.

** D'Ewes, p. 473. I think it impossible to reconcile this account of the public debts with that given by Strype, (Eccles. Mem. vol. ii. p. 344,) that in the year 1553 the crown owed but three hundred thousand pounds. I own that this last sum appears a great deal more likely. The whole revenue of Queen Elizabeth would not in ten years have paid four millions.

*** Winwood, vol. i. p. 29, 54.

Though that prince was extremely frugal, and after the peace of Vervins was continually amassing treasure, the queen never could, by the most pressing importunities, prevail on him to make payment of those sums which she had so generously advanced him during his greatest distresses. One payment of twenty thousand crowns, and another of fifty thousand, were all she could obtain, by the strongest representations she could make of the difficulties to which the rebellion in Ireland had reduced her.[*] The queen expended on the wars with Spain, between the years 1589 and 1593, the sum of one million three hundred thousand pounds, besides the pittance of a double subsidy, amounting to two hundred and eighty thousand pounds, granted her by parliament.[**] In the year 1599, she spent six hundred thousand pounds in six months on the service of Ireland.[***] Sir Robert Cecil affirmed, that in ten years Ireland cost her three millions four hundred thousand pounds.[****] She gave the earl of Essex a present of thirty thousand pounds upon his departure for the government of that kingdom.[v] Lord Burleigh computed, that the value of the gifts conferred on that favorite amounted to three hundred thousand pounds; a sum which, though probably exaggerated, is a proof of her strong affection towards him. It was a common saying during this reign, "The queen pays bountifully, though she rewards sparingly."v

It is difficult to compute exactly the queen's ordinary revenue, but it certainly fell much short of five hundred thousand pounds a year.[v**] In the year 1590, she raised the customs from fourteen thousand pounds a year to fifty thousand, and obliged Sir Thomas Smith, who had farmed them, to refund some of his former profits.[v***]

* Winwood, vol. i. p. 117—195.

** D'Ewes, p. 483.

*** Camden, p. 167.

**** Appendix to the Earl of Essex's Apology.

v Birch's Memoirs, vol. ii.

v* Nanton's Regalia, chap. 1.

v** Franklyn, in his Annals, (p. 9,) says that the profit of the kingdom, besides wards and the duchy of Lancaster, (which amounted to about one hundred and twenty thousand pounds,) was one hundred and eighty-eight thousand one hundred and ninety-seven pounds: the crown lands seem to be comprehended in this computation.

v*** Camden, p. 558. This account of Camden is difficult or impossible to be reconciled to the state of the customs in the beginning of the subsequent reign, as they appear in the journals of the commons. See Hist. of James, chap. 46.

This improvement of the revenue was owing to the suggestions of one Caermarthen; and was opposed by Burleigh, Leicester, and Walsingham: but the queen's perseverance overcame all their opposition. The great undertakings which she executed with so narrow a revenue, and with such small supplies from her people, prove the mighty effects of wisdom and economy. She received from the parliament, during the course of her whole reign, only twenty subsidies and thirty-nine fifteenths. I pretend not to determine exactly the amount of these supplies; because the value of a subsidy was continually falling; and in the end of her reign it amounted only to eighty thousand pounds,[*] though in the beginning it had been a hundred and twenty thousand. If we suppose that the supplies granted Elizabeth during a reign of forty-five years amounted to three millions, we shall not probably be much wide of the truth.[**] This sum makes only sixty-six thousand six hundred and sixty-six pounds a year; and it is surprising, that while the queen's demands were so moderate, and her expenses so well regulated, she should ever have found any difficulty in obtaining a supply from parliament, or be reduced to make sale of the crown lands. But such was the extreme, I had almost said, absurd parsimony of the parliaments during that period.

* D'Ewes, p. 630.

* Lord Salisbury computed these supplies only at two millions eight hundred thousand pounds, Journ. 17th Feb. 1609. King James was certainly mistaken when he estimated the queen's annual supplies at one hundred and thirty-seven thousand pounds. Franklyn, p. 44. It is curious to observe that the minister, in the war begun in 1754, was in some periods allowed to lavish in two months as great a sum as was granted by parliament to Queen Elizabeth in forty-five years. The extreme frivolous object of the late war, and the great importance of hers, set this matter in still a stronger light. Money too, we may observe, was in most particulars of the same value in both periods: she paid eight pence a day to every foot soldier. But our late delusions have much exceeded any thing known in history, not even excepting those of the crusades. For I suppose there is no mathematical, still less an arithmetical demonstration, that the road to the Holy Land was not the road to paradise, as there is, that the endless increase of national debts is the direct road to national ruin. But having now completely reached that goal, it is needless at present to reflect on the past. It will be found in the present year, 1776, that all the revenues of this island north of Trent and west of Reading, are mortgaged or anticipated forever. Could the small remainder be in a worse condition were those provinces seized by Austria and Prussia? There is only this difference, that some event might happen in Europe, which would oblige these great monarchs to disgorge their acquisitions. But no imagination can figure a situation which will induce our creditors to relinquish their claims, or the public to seize their revenues. So egregious indeed has been our folly, that we have even lost all title to compassion in the numberless calamities that are awaiting us.

They valued nothing in comparison of their money: the members had no connection with the court; and the very idea which they conceived of the trust committed to them, was, to reduce the demands of the crown, and to grant as few supplies as possible. The crown, on the other hand, conceived the parliament in no other light than as a means of supply. Queen Elizabeth made a merit to her people of seldom summoning parliaments.[*] No redress of grievances was expected from these assemblies: they were supposed to meet for no other purpose than to impose taxes.

Before the reign of Elizabeth, the English princes had usually recourse to the city of Antwerp for voluntary loans; and their credit was so low, that, besides paying the high interest of ten or twelve per cent., they were obliged to make the city of London join in the security. Sir Thomas Gresham, that great and enterprising merchant, one of the chief ornaments of this reign, engaged the company of merchant-adventurers to grant a loan to the queen; and as the money was regularly repaid, her credit by degrees established itself in the city, and she shook off this dependence on foreigners.[**]

In the year 1559, however, the queen employed Gresham to borrow for her two hundred thousand pounds at Antwerp, in order to enable her to reform the coin, which was at that time extremely debased.[***] She was so impolitic as to make, herself, an innovation in the coin; by dividing a pound of silver into sixty-two shillings, instead of sixty, the former standard. This is the last time that the coin has been tampered with in England.

* Strype, vol. iv. p. 124.

** Stowe's Survey of London, book i. p. 286.

*** MS. of Lord Royston's, from the paper office, p. 295.

Queen Elizabeth, sensible how much the defence of her kingdom depended on its naval power, was desirous to encourage commerce and navigation: but as her monopolies tended to extinguish all domestic industry, which is much more valuable than foreign trade, and is the foundation of it, the general train of her conduct was ill calculated to serve the purpose at which she aimed, much less to promote the riches of her people. The exclusive companies also were an immediate check on foreign trade. Yet, notwithstanding these discouragements, the spirit of the age was strongly bent on naval enterprises; and besides the military expeditions against the Spaniards, many attempts were made for new discoveries, and many new branches of foreign commerce were opened by the English. Sir Martin Frobisher undertook three fruitless voyages to discover the north-west passage: Davis, not discouraged by this ill success, made a new attempt, when he discovered the straits which pass by his name. In the year 1600, the queen granted the first patent to the East India Company: the stock of that company was seventy-two thousand pounds; and they fitted out four ships, under the command of James Lancaster, for this new branch of trade. The adventure was successful; and the ships returning with a rich cargo, encouraged the company to continue the commerce.

The communication with Muscovy had been opened in Queen Mary's time by the discovery of the passage to Archangel: but the commerce to that country did not begin to be carried on to a great extent till about the year 1569. The queen obtained from the czar an exclusive patent to the English for the whole trade of Muscovy;[*] and she entered into a personal as well as national alliance with him. This czar was named John Basilides, a furious tyrant, who, continually suspecting the revolt of his subjects, stipulated to have a safe retreat and protection in England. In order the better to insure this resource, he purposed to marry an English woman; and the queen intended to have sent him Lady Anne Hastings; daughter of the earl of Huntingdon: but when the lady was informed of the barbarous manners of the country, she wisely declined purchasing an empire at the expense of her ease and safety.[**]

The English, encouraged by the privileges which they had obtained from Basilides, ventured farther into those countries than any Europeans had formerly done. They transported their goods along the River Dwina in boats made of one entire tree, which they towed and rowed up the stream as far as Walogda. Thence they carried their commodities seven days' journey by land to Yeraslau, and then down the Volga to Astracan. At Astracan they built ships, crossed the Caspian Sea, and distributed their manufactures into Persia. But this bold attempt met with such discouragements, that it was never renewed.[***]

* Camden, p. 408.

** Camden, p. 493.

*** Camden, p. 418.

After the death of John Basilides, his son Theodore revoked the patent which the English enjoyed for a monopoly of the Russian trade: when the queen remonstrated against this innovation, he told her ministers, that princes must carry an indifferent hand, as well between their subjects as between foreigners; and not convert trade, which, by the laws of nations, ought to be common to all, into a monopoly for the private gain of a few.[*] So much juster notions of commerce were entertained by this barbarian than appear in the conduct of the renowned Queen Elizabeth! Theodore, however, continued some privileges to the English, on account of their being the discoverers of the communication between Europe and his country.

The trade to Turkey commenced about the year 1583; and that commerce was immediately confined to a company by Queen Elizabeth. Before that time, the grand seignior had always conceived England to be a dependent province of France;[**] but having heard of the queen's power and reputation, he gave a good reception to the English, and even granted them larger privileges than he had given to the French.

* Camden, p. 493.

** Birch's Memoirs, vol. i. p. 36

The merchants of the Hanse Towns complained loudly, in the beginning of Elizabeth's reign, of the treatment which they had received in the reigns of Edward and Mary. She prudently replied, that as she would not innovate any thing, she would still protect them in the immunities and privileges of which she found them possessed. This answer not contenting them, their commerce was soon after suspended for a time, to the great advantage of the English merchants, who tried what they could themselves effect for promoting their commerce. They took the whole trade into their own hands; and their returns proving successful, they divided themselves into staplers and merchant adventurers; the former residing constantly at one place, the latter trying their fortunes in other towns and states abroad with cloth and other manufactures. This success so enraged the Hanse Towns, that they tried all the methods which a discontented people could devise, to draw upon the English merchants the ill opinion of other nations and states. They prevailed so far as to obtain an imperial edict, by which the English were prohibited all commerce in the empire: the queen, by way of retaliation, retained sixty of their ships, which had been seized in the River Tagus with contraband goods of the Spaniards. These ships the queen intended to have restored, as desiring to have compromised all differences with those trading cities; but when she was informed, that a general assembly was held at Lubec, in order to concert measures for distressing the English trade, she caused the ships and cargoes to be confiscated: only two of them were released to carry home the news, and to inform these states, that she had the greatest contempt imaginable for all their proceedings.[*]

Henry VIII., in order to fit out a navy, was obliged to hire ships from Hamburgh, Lubec, Dantzic, Genoa, and Venice, but Elizabeth, very early in her reign, put affairs upon a better footing; both by building some ships of her own, and by encouraging the merchants to build large trading vessels which, on occasion, were converted into ships of war.[**] In the year 1582, the seamen in England were found to be fourteen thousand two hundred and ninety-five men;[***] the number of vessels twelve hundred and thirty-two; of which there were only two hundred and seventeen above eighty tons. Monson pretends, that though navigation decayed in the first years of James I., by the practice of the merchants, who carried on their trade in foreign bottoms,[****] yet, before the year 1640, this number of seamen was tripled in England.[v]

The navy which the queen left at her decease appears considerable, when we reflect only on the number of vessels, which were forty-two: but when we consider that none of these ships carried above forty guns; that four only came up to that number; that there were but two ships of a thousand tons; and twenty-three below five hundred, some of fifty, and some even of twenty tons; and that the whole number of guns belonging to the fleet was seven hundred and seventy four;v we must entertain a contemptible idea of the English navy, compared to the force which it has now attained.[*] In the year 1588, there were not above five vessels fitted out by the noblemen and seaports, which exceeded two hundred tons.[v**] [40]

* Lives of the Admirals, vol. i. p. 470.

** Camden, p. 388.

*** Monson, p. 256.

**** Monson, p. 300.

v Monson, p. 210, 256.

v* Monson, p. 196. The English navy at present carries about fourteen thousand guns.

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