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It is my belief, Watson, founded upon my experience, that the lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside.

-- Arthur Conan Doyle 1892

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Chapter 1.3

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After the disgrace and death of queen Katharine Howard, Elizabeth resided chiefly with her sister Mary, at Havering-Bower. Inthe summer of I543, she was present when Mary gave audience to the imperial ambassadors: [Note 1] she was then ten years old. Soon after, king Henry offered her hand to the earl of Arran for his son, in order to win his co-operation in his darling project of uniting the crowns of England and Scotland by a marriage between the infant queen, Mary Stuart, and his son prince Edward. Henry had previously an idea of espousing Elizabeth to an infant of Portugal [Note 2] but all his matrimonial schemes for his children were doomed to remain unfulfilled, and Elizabeth, instead of being sacrificed in her childhood to some ill-assorted state marriage, had the good fortune to complete a most superior education under the auspices of the good and learned Katharine Parr, Henry's sixth queen, and her fourth step-mother. Katharine Parr was well acquainted with Elizabeth before she became queen, and greatly admired her wit and manners. As a preliminary to her marriage with the king, Katharine induced him to send for the young princess to court, and to give her an apartment in the palace of Whitehall contiguous to her own, and bestowed particular attention on all her comforts. Elizabeth expressed her acknowledgements in the following letter.-
"The affection that you have testified in wishing that I should he suffered to be with you in the court, and requesting this of the king my father with so much earnestness is a proof of your goodness. So great a mark of your tenderness for me obliges me to examine myself a little, to see if I can find any thing in me that can merit it; but I can find nothing but a great zeal and devotion to the service of your majesty. But as that zeal has not yet been called into action so as to manifest itself, I see well that it is only the greatness of soul in your majesty which makes you do me this honour, and this redoubles my zeal towards your majesty. I can assure you also that my conduct will be such, that you shall never have cause to complain of having done me the honour of calling me to you; at least, I will make it my constant care that I do nothing but with a design to show always my obedience and respect. I await with much impatience the orders of the king my father for the accomplishment of the happiness for which I sigh, and I remain, with much submission,
"Your majesty's very dear
"ELIZABETH." [Note 3]


1 [State-paper MS.; see Life of Mary, vol. III]Back

2 [Marillac's Despatches.]Back

3 [Leti's Elizabeth. This, and the preceding, addressed to Anne of Cleves, are the earliest letters ever written by Elizabeth. There is another, two or three years later, addressed by her to sir Thomas Carden, who was one of her father's gentlemen of the privy chamber, a great favourite of his. This person had the care of the castle and lands of Donnington, once belonging to Chaucer, and at this time an appanage presented to Elizabeth by her father. It was convenient for her to forget afterward, she had such a house as Donnington; nevertheless, she was perfectly well informed as to its minutest details before the death of Henry VIII. The letter itself is not worth transcribing, being a perplexed piece of composition, in which the young princess, commencing "Gentle Mr. Carden," proceeds to exonerate herself from having listened to an enemy of his, "one Mansel, a person of evil inclination and Worse life:" she subscribes herself, "Your loving friend, Elizabeth."]Back

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