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found a centre in her. Philip also wished to be conciliatory towards her, partly because he hoped by that means to ingratiate himself with the English people, and partly perhaps with a view to eventually making her his wife, if, as he probably suspected would be the case, Mary should after all be childless, and not live long. Mary also, on the advice of Philip, had at length made up her mind to pardon her sister, against whom, in spite of strong suspicion, nothing treasonable had ever yet been proved.
Bedingfield, under whose custody she was at Woodstock, had received orders on the 17th of April to bring her with all speed to Court, with her servants and guards; and the party set out on the journey, with every precaution, on the 25th, arriving four days after at Hampton Court. But if Elizabeth had expected that her sister intended at once to pardon her and receive her in a way befitting the heiress to the throne, she was disappointed. For, instead of being brought in state through the principal entrance and ushered into the royal presence, Bedingfield and his guards conducted her like a prisoner to a back gate, whence she was taken to the apartments assigned to her, and closely guarded. The rooms she occupied were in the Water Gallery, which is shown on the right in the engraving on the preceding page, and which was doubtless selected on account of its isolation from the rest of the building. All communication with anyone was forbidden, and for a day or two she only saw her own bed-chamber women and Bedingfield.
But on the ist or 2nd of May a message came from the Queen directing her to prepare herself to receive Philip, and to attire herself in the most splendid robe she possessed.
Of what passed at the interview—the first that ever took place between these two illustrious persons, who were destined afterwards to become such deadly enemies—we have no record. The King came to the Princess's apartment by a private passage or cloister; and the visit was kept so profound a secret that none except those immediately concerned knew it had taken place at all, and no mention has ever been made of it by any English historian. Information of it, however, reached the French and Venetian ambassadors, from whom nothing that happened in the palace could be concealed, and they duly reported it to their respective Courts.
We may assume that the impression made on the King by Elizabeth was a favourable one, as his subsequent conduct proves, though there is nothing to support the conjecture of some authors that he fell in love with her.
After the King's visit, Elizabeth was suffered to remain for about a fortnight in dismal solitude, being permitted neither to go out nor to receive any visitors. uncle, however, Lord William Howard, was allowed to see her, and "used her very honourably, condoled with her, and raised her dejected spirits with comfortable speeches," and promised her that he would use his influence to procure her an interview with some of the Council. This exactly fell in with Mary's view, who thought that thereby her sister might be induced to throw herself on her mercy and acknowledge her guilt.
But nothing was further from Elizabeth's mind than to retreat at this time from the high position of injured innocence, which she had assumed throughout her troubles. Accordingly, when Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, soon after presented himself, with Petre and Lords Arundel and Shrewsbury, she at once divined their object, and was a match for their mancuvring. With great humility, we are told, they “humbled themselves before her Grace; and she was not behind them in courtesy, but lovingly saluted them again ;” and, without waiting to hear their mission, she addressed them first. “My honourable Lords," said she, “I am glad with all my heart to see you, for methinks I have been kept a great while from you desolately alone. Committed to the hands of a strict keeper, my humble request is to all your Lordships, that you would be the happy instrument of my further enlargement. It is not unknown to you what I have suffered now a long time; I beseech you, therefore, to take me into your loving consideration.” When she had spoken, the bishop, kneeling down, answered by saying, “ Let me request your Grace but to submit yourself to the Queen, and then I doubt not but that you
presently enjoy an happy issue of your desires. But if he thought that in this way he could extort the avowal which she had with innate sagacity persistently refused to make, he was much mistaken. No,” she replied, “rather than I will so do, I will lie in prison all the days of my life. If ever I
ELIZABETH IN CONFINEMENT.
have offended her Majesty in thought, word, or deed, then not mercy but the law is that which I desire. If I yield, I should then against myself confess a fault which was never on my part intended, by occasion whereof the King and Queen may then justly conceive an evil opinion of me. No, no, my Lords,” she continued, “it were much better for me to lie in prison for the truth, than to be at liberty, suspected by my Prince.”
Her answer was carried to the Queen, and the next day Gardiner and his colleagues came again, and kneeling before her, told her that “the Queen marvelled at her boldness in refusing to confess her offence, so that it might seem as if her Majesty had wrongfully imprisoned her Grace.” “No," answered Elizabeth, “I never had such a thought; it may please her Majesty to punish me as she thinketh good.” "Well,” replied Gardiner, “her Majesty willeth me to tell you, that you must tell another tale before you are set at liberty.” Alas!" rejoined Elizabeth, "I had rather be here in custody, with honesty and truth, than abroad suspected of her Majesty. And this which I have said, I will stand to, for I will never belie myself.” “Why, then," said Gardiner, “your Grace hath the advantage of me and the rest of the Lords, for your long and wrong imprisonment.” advantage I had," she answered, “God and your own conscience can best tell, and here before Him I speak it, for that dealing which I have had amongst you I seek no remedy, but pray that God may forgive you all.” Amen, amen,” said he; and so they departed," she being fast locked up again."
A week elapsed before anything further happened. But at the end of that time, one night at ten o'clock, Elizabeth suddenly received a message that she was to go at once to the Queen. Such a summons at that late hour was enough to fill even her stout heart with apprehension. While she hastily prepared herself for the meeting, visions of imprisonments, visions of the rack, possibly of murder or the scaffold, floated before her imagination: and she begged her ladies and attendants to offer up their prayers on her behalf
, for she could not tell whether they would ever see her again.
At the foot of the stairs of her apartment, Elizabeth, accompanied by her ladies in waiting, was met by Beding
field and Mistress Clarence, a lady in waiting to the Queen, who conducted her across the garden, while her gentlemen ushers and grooms went before her, carrying torches, and led her up the privy stair to the Queen's lodgings. There her ladies and gentlemen were commanded to remain while Mary's confidential attendant ushered her into the Queen's bedroom, where her Majesty was.
Everything had been done so far to impress the imagination and play upon the fears of Elizabeth; and the same course was followed now. When Elizabeth entered the room she found Mary alone, seated on a chair of State, to receive her not as a sister, scarcely even as a queen, but rather as a judge.
Nearly eighteen months had passed since they had met, but the lapse of time had done little to soften the feeling of resentment and aversion with which the elder sister regarded the younger; and their meeting now was rather due to policy than any feeling of forgiveness. The Princess curtseyed three times as she advanced, and then, falling on her knees, “she desired God to preserve her Majesty, not mistrusting but that she should prove herself as true a subject towards her Majesty as ever did any, and even so desired her Majesty to judge her; and said that she should not find her to the contrary whatever report otherwise had gone of her.”
But the Queen answered sharply, “Then you will not confess yourself to be a delinquent, I see; but rather stand stoutly on your truth. I pray
become manifest.” “If not,” said the Princess, “I will request for neither favour nor pardon at your Majesty's hands.” “Well, then," answered the Queen, "you stand so stiffly on your truth, belike you have been wrongfully punished and imprisoned.” “I cannot and must not say so to your Majesty," was Elizabeth's adroit reply. “Why then, belike you will report it so to others?" rejoined Mary. "Not so, an please your Majesty,” answered she; I have borne and must bear the burden myself; and if I may but enjoy your Majesty's good opinion of me, I shall be the better enabled to bear it still, and I pray God when I shall cease to be one of your Majesty's truest and loyal subjects, that then I may cease to be at all."