For a year, at least, after the death of her royal father, Elizabeth continued to pursue her studies under the able superintendence of her accomplished stepmother, with whom she resided, either at the dower-palace at Chelsea, or the more sequestered shades of Hanworth. Throckmorton, the kinsman of queen Katharine Parr, draws the following graceful portrait of the manners of the youthful princess at this era of her life :-
"Elizabeth, there sojourning for a time,Elizabeth, while residing with queen Katharine Parr, had had her own ladies and officers of state, and a retinue in all respects suitable to her high rank as sister to the reigning sovereign. Her governess, Mrs. Katharine Ashley, to whom she was fondly attached, was married to a relative of the unfortunate queen her mother, Anne Boleyn; and it is to be observed that Elizabeth, although that mother's name was to her a sealed subject, bestowed, to the very end of her life, her chief favour and confidence on her maternal kindred. The learned William Grindal was Elizabeth's tutor till she was placed under the still more distinguished preceptorship of Roger Ascham. The following letter from that great scholar was addressed to Mrs. Katharine Ashley before he had obtained the tutelage of her royal charge, and, both on account of the period at which it was written and its quaint English, it is very curious: [Note 2]
Gave fruitful hope of blossom blown in prime.
For as this lady was a princess born,
So she in princely virtues did excel;
Humble she was, and no degree would scorn,
To talk with poorest souls she liked well:
The sweetest violets bend nearest to the ground,
The greatest states in lowliness abound.
If some of us, that waited on the queen,
Did aught for her she past in thankfulness,
I wondered at her answers, which have been
So fitly placed in perfect readiness;
She was disposed to mirth in company,
Yet still regarding civil modesty." [Note 1]
"GENTLE MRS. ASTLEY, On the death of his friend, William Grindal, Ascham was appointed tutor to the lady Elizabeth, then about sixteen, with whom he read nearly the whole of Cicero's works, Livy, the orations of Isocrates, the tragedies of Sophocles, and the New Testament in Greek. Some disturbances in Ascham's own family separated him from his royal pupil in I550.
"Would God my wit wist what words would express the thanks you have deserved of all true English hearts for that noble imp [Elizabeth], by your labour and wisdom now flourishing in all goodly godliness, the fruit whereof doth even now redound to her grace's high honour aud profit.
"I wish her grace to come to that end in perfectness, with likelihood of her wit and painfulness in her study, true trade of her teaching, which your diligent overseeing doth most constantly promise. And although this one thing be sufficient for me to love you, yet the knot which hath knit Mr. Astley and you together doth so bind me also to you, that if my ability would match my good-will, you should find no friend faster. He is a man I loved for his virtue before I knew him through acquaintance, whose friendship I account among my chief gains gotten at court. Your favour to Mr. Grindal and gentleness towards me, are matters sufficient enough to deserve more good-will than my little power is able to requite.
NOTES:1 [ Throckmorton MS.] Back
2 [ Whittaker's History of Richmondshire, vol. ii. p. 270.] Back
"My good-will hath sent you this pen of silver for a token. Good Mrs. I would have you in any case of labour, and not to give yourself to ease. I wish all increase of virtue and honour to that my good lady [Elizabeth], whose wit, good Mrs. Astley, I beseech you somewhat favour. Blunt edges be dull, and [en-]dure much pain to little profit; the free edge is soon turned, if it be not handled thereafter. If you pour much drink at once into a goblet, the most part will splash out and run over; if ye pour it softly, you may fill it even to the top; and so her grace, I doubt not, by little and little may be increased in learning, that at length greater cannot be required. And if you think not this, gentle Mrs. Astley, yet I trust you will take my words as spoken, although not of the greatest wisdom, yet not of the least good-will. I pray commend you to my good lady of Troy, and all that company of godly gentlewomen. I send my lady [Elizabeth] her pen, an Italian book, a book of prayers. Send the silver pen which is broken, and it shall be mended quickly.
So I commit and commend you all to the Almighty's merciful protection. "Your ever obliged friend,
"To his very loving friend, Mrs. Astley." [Note 3]
The improper conduct of the lord admiral sir Thomas Seymour to Elizabeth, while under the care of his consort the queen-dowager at Chelsea, Hanworth, and Seymour-place, has been already detailed. [Note 4] The boisterous romping, to which the queen was at first a party, was repeated in her absence; and when Mrs. Ashley remonstrated with the admiral on the indecorum of his behaviour to the young princess, and entreated him to desist, he replied, with a profane oath, "that he would not, for he meant no harm." [Note 5]Few girls of fifteen bye ever been placed in a situation of greater peril than Elizabeth was at this period of her life, and if she passed through it without incurring the actual stain of guilt, it is certain that she did not escape scandal. The queen-dowager, apparently terrified at the audacious terms of familiarity on which she found her husband endeavouring to establish himself with her royal step-daughter, hastened to prevent further mischief by effecting an immediate separation between them.
The time of Elizabeth's departure from the house and protection of queen Katharine Parr, was a week after Whitsuntide 1548. She then removed with her governess, Mrs. Katharine Ashley, and the rest of her establishment, to Cheston, and afterwards to Hatfield and Ashridge. [Note 6]That Katharine Parr spoke with some degree of severity to Elizabeth on the levity of her conduct, there can be no doubt, from the allusions made by the latter, in the following letter, to the expressions used by her majesty when they parted. Nothing can be more meek and conciliatory than the tone in which Elizabeth writes, although the workings of a wounded mind are perceptible throughout. The penmanship of the letter is exquisitely beautiful.
NOTES:3 [ Ascham spells Katharine Ashley's name, Astley.] Back
4 [See Life of Katharine Parr, vol. iii,] Back
5 [ Haynes' State Papers. ] Back
6 [ Ibid.] Back
THE PRINCESS ELIZABETH TO KATHARINE PARR.[Note 7]From another letter addressed by Elizabeth to her royal step-mother, which has been printed in the memoir of that queen, there is every reason to believe that they continued to write to each other on very friendly and affectionate terms. Queen Katharine even sanctioned a correspondence between her husband and the princess, and the following elegant, but cautious letter was written by Elizabeth, in reply to an apology which he had addressed to her, for not having been able to render her some little service which he had promised:-
"Although I could not be plentiful in giving thanks for the manifold kindnesses received at your highness's hand at my departure, yet I am something to be borne withal, for truly I was replete with sorrow to depart from your highness, especially seeing you undoubtful of health; and albeit I answered little, I weighed it more deeper when you said 'you would warn me of all evilnesses that you should hear of me;' for if your grace had not a good opinion of me. you would not have offered friendship to me that way at all, -meaning the contrary. But what may I more say, than thank God for providing such friends for me? desiring God to enrich me with their long life and me grace to be in heart no less thankful to receive it, than I am now made glad in writing to show it. And although I have plenty of matter here, I will stay, for I know you are not quick to rede. From Cheston, this present Saturday
"Your highness's humble daughter,
Superscribed, "To the Queen's highness."
THE LADY ELIABETH TO THE LORD ADMIRAL.[Note 8]Katharine Parr, during her last illness, wished much to see Elizabeth. [Note 9] She had often said to her, "God has given you great qualities: cultivate them always, and labour to Improve them, for I believe that you are destined by Heaven to be queen of England." [Note 10]
"You needed not to send an excuse to me, for I could not mistrust the not fulfilling your promise to proceed from want of good-will, but only that opportunity served not. Wherefore I shall desire you to think that a greater matter than this could not make me impute any unkindness in you, for I am a friend not won with trifles, nor lost with the like. Thus I commit you and your affairs into God's hand, who keep you from all evil. I pray you to make my humble commendations to the queen's highness. "Your assured friend to my little power,
One of the admiral's servants, named Edward, came to Cheston, or Cheshunt, where the lady Elizabeth was then residing with her governess and train, and brought the news of queen Katharine's death. He told the officers of Elizabeth's household "that his lord was a heavy," that is to say, a sorrowful "man, for the loss of the queen his wife." [Note 11] Elizabeth did not give Seymour much credit for his grief; for when her governess, Mrs. Ashley, advised her, as he had been her friend in the lifetime of the late queen, to write a letter of condolence to comfort him in his sorrow, she replied, "I will not do it, for he needs it not." "Then," said Mrs. Ashley, "if your grace will not, then will I." She did, and showed the letter to her royal pupil, who, without committing herself in any way, tacitly permitted it to be sent. [Note 12]
NOTES:7 [ State-Paper MS. Edw. VI., No. 27.] Back
8 [ Hearne's Sylloge.] Back
9 [ Leti says she left her half her jewels and a rich chain of gold; but as there is no trace of any such legacy in the will of Katharine Parr, it must have been merely a verbal request that it should be so.] Back
10 [ Leti's Elizabeth.] Back
11 [ Haynes' State-Papers.] Back
12 [ Ibid.] Back
Lady Tyrwhitt, soon after, told Mrs. Ashley "that it was the opinion of many, that the lord admiral kept the late queen's maidens together to wait on the lady Elizabeth, whom he intended shortly to marry." Mrs. Ashley also talked with Mr. Tyrwhitt about the marriage, who bade her "take heed, for it were but undoing if it were done without the council's leave." At Christmas the report became general that the lady Elizabeth should marry with the admiral; but when sir Henry Parker sent his servant to ask Mrs. Ashley what truth were in this rumour, she replied "that he should in nowise credit it, for it was ne thought ne meant." [Note 13]
Mrs. Ashley, however, by her own account, frequently told her royal pupil "that she wished that she and the admiral were married." Elizabeth, who had only completed her fifteenth year two days after the death of queen Katharine Parr, had no maternal friend to direct and watch over her, -there was not even a married lady of noble birth or alliance in her household, a household comprising upwards of one hundred and twenty persons; so that she was left entirely to her own discretion, and the counsels of her intriguing governess, Mrs. Katharine Ashley, and the unprincipled cofferer or treasurer of her house, Thomas Parry, in whom, as well as in Mrs. Ashley, she reposed unbounded confidence.
These persons were in the interest of the lord admiral, and did everything in their power to further his presumptuous designs. Very soon after the death of queen Katharine, the admiral presented himself before Elizabeth, clad in all the external panoply of mourning, but having, as she suspected, very little grief in his heart. He came as a wooer to the royal maid, from whom he received no encouragement, but he endeavoured to recommend his cause to her through her female attendants. One of her bedchamber women, of the name of Mountjoy, took the liberty of speaking openly to her youthful mistress in favour of a marriage between her and the admiral enlarging at the same time on his qualifications in such unguarded language, that Elizabeth, after trying in vain to silence her, told her at last, "that she would have her thrust out of her presence, if she did not desist." [Note 14]
There can, however, be little doubt that a powerful impression was made on Elizabeth by the addresses of Seymour, seconded as they were by the importunity of her governess, and all who possessed her confidence. The difference of nearly twenty years in their ages was probably compensated by the personal graces which had rendered him the Adonis of her father's court, and she was accustomed to blush when his name was mentioned, and could not conceal her pleasure when she heard him commended. In a word, he was the first, and perhaps the only man whom Elizabeth loved, and for whom she felt disposed to make any sacrifice. She acknowledged that she would have married him, provided he could have obtained the consent of the council. [Note 15]
To have contracted wedlock with him in defiance of that despotic junta by which the sovereign power of the crown was then exercised, would have involved them both in ruin; and even if passion had so far prevailed over Elizabeth's characteristic caution and keen regard to her own interest, Seymour's feelings were not of that romantic nature which would have led him to sacrifice either wealth or ambition on the shrine of love. My lord admiral had a prudential eye to the main chance, and no modern fortune-hunter could have made more particular inquiries into the actual state of any lady's finances than he did into those of the fair and youthful sister of his sovereign, to whose hand he, the younger son of a country knight, presumed to aspire. The sordid spirit of the man is sufficiently unveiled in the following conversation between him and Thomas Parry, the cofferer of the princess Elizabeth, as deposed by the latter before the council:- [Note 16]
NOTES:13 [ Haynes' State.Papers, p. lOl. ] Back
14 [ Leti's Elizabeth.] Back
15 [ Haynes' State-Papers.] Back
16 [ Ibid.] Back
"When I went unto my lord admiral the third and fourth time," says Parry, "after he had asked me how her grace did, and such things, he had large communications with me of her; and he questioned me of many things, and of the state of her grace's house, and how many servants she kept; and I told him '120 or 140, or thereabouts.' Then he asked me, what houses she had, and what lands?' I told him where the lands lay, as near as I could, in Northamptonshire, Berkshire, Lincoln, and elsewhere. Then be asked me 'if they were good lands or no?' and I told him they were out on lease, for the most part, and therefore the worse.[Note 17]When these communications had been made to the lady Elizabeth, she caused Mrs. Ashley to write two letters to the admiral. One of these letters appears to have been cautiously worded, for fear of accidents, "requesting him not to come without permission from the council;" the other, containing her real sentiments, an assurance "that she accepted his gentleness, and that he would be welcome; but if he came not, she prayed God to speed his journey." Mrs. Ashley added these words to the private letter herself: "No more hereof until I see my lord myself, for my lady is not to seek of his gentleness or good will."
"He asked me, also, 'whether she had the lands for term of life, or how?' and I said, 'I could not perfectly tell; but I thought it was such as she was appointed by her father's will and testament, the king's majesty that then was.' The admiral inquired 'if the lady Elizabeth had had her letters-patent out?' and Parry replied, 'No; for there were some things in them that could not be assured to her grace yet, [probably till she was of age,] and that a friend of her grace would help her to an exchange of lands that would be more Commodious to her.' The admiral asked, 'What friend?' and Parry replied, 'Morisyn, [Note 18] who would help her to have Ewelm for Apethorpe.' Then the admiral proposed making an exchange with her himself, and spake much of his three fair houses, Bewdley, Sudely, and Bromeham, and fell to comparing his bouse-keeping with that of the princess, [Note 19] said 'that he could do it with less expense than she was at,' and offered his house in London for her use; observing that 'Ashridge was not far out of his way, and he might come to see her in his way up and down, and would be glad to see her there.' Parry told him, 'He could not go to see her grace, till he knew what her pleasure was.' 'Why,' said the admiral, 'it is no matter now, for there hath been a talk of late that I shall marry my lady Jane' adding, 'I tell you this merrily,-I tell you this merrily.'"[Note 20]
There is reason to suppose that, by the connivance of her governess and state-officers, Seymour had clandestine interviews with the royal girl, at times and places not in accordance with the restraints and reserves with which a maiden princess, of her tender years, ought to have been surrounded. Reports of a startling nature reached the court, and the duchess of Somerset severely censured Katharine Ashley, "because she had permitted my lady Elizabeth's grace to go one night on the Thames in a barge, and for other light parts;" saying, "that she was not worthy to have the governance of a king's daughter." [Note 21]
NOTES:17 [ Haynes' State-Papers.] Back
18 [ This was sir R Morrison, an influential member of king Edward's council.] Back
19 [ Haynes' State-Papers.] Back
20 [ Ibid. ] Back
21 [ Haynes' State-Papers.] Back
When Elizabeth was preparing to pay her Christmas visit to court, she was at a loss for a town residence, Durham house, which had formerly been granted to her mother, queen Anne Boleyn, before her marriage with king Henry, and to which Elizabeth considered she had a right, having been appropriated by king Edward's council to the purpose, of a mint. Elizabeth made application by her cofferer, Thomas Parry, to the lord admiral for his assistance in this matter, on which he very courteously offered to give up his own town-house for her accommodation and that of her train, adding "that he would come and see her grace." [Note 22]
"Which declaration," says Parry, " she seemed to take very gladly, and to accept it joyfully. On which, casting in my mind the reports which I had heard of a marriage between them, and observing that, at all times when by any chance talk should be had of the lord admiral, she showed such countenance that it should appear she was very glad to hear of him, and especially would show countenance of gladness when he was well spoken of, I took occasion to ask her whether, if the council would like it, she would marry with him? To which she replied, 'When that comes to pass, I will do as God shall put into my mind.'[Note 23]
"I remember well," continues Parry, "that when I told her grace how that the lord admiral would gladly she should sue out her 'letters patent,' she asked me, 'whether he were so desirous or no indeed?' I said, 'Yes; in earnest he was desirous of it.' And I told her farther 'how he would have had her have lands in Gloucestershire, called Prisley, as in parcel of exchange, and in Wales;' and she asked me 'what I thought he meant thereby?' and I said, 'I cannot tell, unless he go about to have you also; for he wished your lands, and would have them that way.'"[Note 24]
This broad hint Elizabeth received, as it appears, in silence; but when Parry proceeded to inform her that the admiral wished her to go to the duchess of Somerset, and by that means to make suit to the protector for the exchange of the lands, and for the grant of a house, instead of Durham house, for herself, and so to entertain the duchess for her good offices in this affair, the spirit of her royal ancestors stirred within her, and she said, "I dare say he did not say so, nor would." "Yes, by my faith!" replied the cofferer. "Well," quoth she, indignantly, "I will not do so, and so tell him," expressing her anger that she should bc driven to make such suits, and said, "In faith I will not come there, nor begin to flatter now."[Note 25]
NOTES:22 [ Bath-inn, a house of the Bishops of Bath and Wells, which had been torn from that see by the Seymours, was the Town residence of the lord admiral at that time, which, with all its furniture, he offered to Thomas Parry for the use of the princess Elizabeth during her stay in London.-Burleigh, StatePapers.] Back
23 [ Haynes' State-Papers.] Back
24 [ Ibid.] Back
25 [ Ibid.] Back
Shortly after, the lady Elizabeth asked Parry "whether he had told Kate Ashley of the lord admiral's gentleness and kind offers, and those words and things that had been told to her?", He replied that he had not. "Well," said Elizabeth, "in any wise go tell it her, for I will know nothing but she shall know it. In faith, I cannot be quiet until ye have told her of it." When Parry told the governess, she said "that she knew it well enough." And then this trusty confidante proceeded to discuss matters of the utmost delicacy, which had occurred during the previous intercourse between the lord admiral and her royal pupil, and the jealousy queen Katharine had conceived of them; but suddenly recollecting herself, she told Parry "she repented of having disclosed so many particulars to him, especially of the late queen finding her husband with his arms about the young princess," and besought the cofferer "not to repeat it; for if he did, so that it got abroad, her grace should be dishonoured for ever, and she likewise undone." [Note 26] Parry replied, "that he would rather be pulled with horses than he would disclose it." Yet it is from his confession that this scandalous story has become matter of history.
Russell, the lord privy-seal, surprised Seymour by saying to him, as they were riding together after the protector Somerset, in the procession to the parliament house, "My lord admiral, there are certain rumours bruited of you, which I am very sorry to hear." When Seymour demanded his meaning, Russell told him "he was informed that he made means to marry either with the lady Mary, or else with the lady Elizabeth;" adding, "my lord, if ye go about any such thing, ye seek the means to undo yourself, and all those that shall come of you." Seymour replied "that he had no thought of such an enterprise;" and so the conversation ended for that time. [Note 27]
A few days afterwards Seymour renewed the subject in these words, "Father Russell, you are very suspicious of me; I pray you tell me who showed you of the marriage that I should attempt, whereof ye brake with me the other day " Russell replied, that "He would not tell him the authors of that tale, but that they were his very good friends; and he advised him to make no suit of marriage that way," meaning with either of the princesses. "It is convenient for them to marry" rejoined Seymour, significantly, "and better it were that they were married within the realm than in any , foreign place without the realm; and why" continued he, "might not I, or another man raised by the king their father, marry one of them?" -"My lord," said Russell, "if either you, or any other within this realm, shall match himself in marriage, either with my lady Mary or my lady Elizabeth, he shall undoubtedly, whatsoever he be, procure unto himself the occasion of his utter undoing, and you especially, above all others, being of so near alliance to the king's majesty."
And, after explaining to the admiral the perilous jealousies which would be excited by his marrying with either of the heirs of the crown, he asked this home question: "And I pray you, my lord, what shall you have with either of them?" -"He who marries one of them shall have three thousand a-year," replied Seymour. "My lord it is not so," said Russell: "for ye may be well assured that he shall have no more than ten thousand pounds in money, plate, and goods, and no land; and what is that to maintain his charges and estate who matches himself there?" -"They must have the three thousand pounds a-year also," rejoined Seymour. Russell, with a tremendous oath, "protested that they should not;" and Seymour, with another, insisted "that they should, and that none should dare to say nay to it." [Note 28] Russell, with a second oath, retorted "that he would say nay to it, for it was clean against the king's will."
The most remarkable feature in this curious dialogue, is the anxiety displayed by Seymour on the pecuniary prospects of his royal love. He sent one of his servants, about this time, to lady Browne, (celebrated by Surrey under the poetic name of 'the fair Geraldine,') who appears to have been a very intimate friend and ally of his, advising her to break up housekeeping, and to take up her abode with the lady Elizabeth's grace, to save charges. Lady Browne replied "that she verily purposed to go to the lady Elizabeth's house that next morning;" but she appears to have been prevented by the sickness and death of her old husband. The protector and his council, meantime, kept a jealous watch on the proceedings of the admiral, not only with regard to his clandestine addresses with the lady Elizabeth, but his daring intrigues to overthrow the established regency, and get the power into his own hands. There was an attempt, on the part of Somerset, to avert the mischief by sending the admiral on a mission to Boulogne; and the last interview the princess Elizabeth's confidential servant, Parry, had with him was in his chamber at the court, where he was preparing for this unwelcome voyage.[Note 29]
The following conversation then took place. The admiral asked, "How doth her grace? and when will she be here?" Parry replied "that the lord protector had not determined on the day." -" No," said the admiral, bitterly. "that shall be when I am gone to Boulogne." Parry presented Mrs. Ashley's commendations, and said "it was her earnest wish that the lady Elizabeth should be his wife." -"Oh!" replied the admiral, "it will not be;" adding, "that his brother would never consent to it." [Note 30]
NOTES:26 [ Haynes' State-Papers, p. 96.] Back
27 [ TytLer's State-Papers, vol i. p. 6.] Back
28 [ Tytler's State-Papers.] Back
29 [ Haynes' State-Papers.] Back
30 [ Ibid.] Back