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he went to have an audience of her. During their intercourse Melville, who was an adroit diplomatist, took an opportunity of warmly praising the German Protestant Princes, and especially of eulogizing the Elector Palatine. On which the Queen observed that he "had reason to extol that prince, for he (the Prince) had written very favourably of him (Melville), and that he fain would have retained him longer in his service.” To this Melville replied, “that he was loath to quit the elector; and to have the better remembrance of him, he had requested to have his picture, with those of his wife, and all his sons and daughters, to carry home to Scotland.” “So soon,” says
Melville, as she heard me mention the pictures, she inquired if I had the picture of Duke Casimir, desiring to see it.” But Melville, prepared with an answer calculated to disarm suspicion, told her he had left the pictures in London, and that he was going on thence at once to Scotland. On this, Elizabeth said that he should not go till she had seen them, and told him to bring them down to her at Hampton Court.
So the next day he delivered them all to her, when she said she desired to keep them all night, and appointed a meeting with him the next morning in her garden, in the meanwhile asking Lord Robert Dudley to give his opinion of the picture of Duke Casimir. His lordship's criticism of his rival was doubtless not over favourable ; for when Melville met the Queen on the following morning, “she caused them,” says he,“ to be delivered all unto me, giving me thanks for the sight of them. I offered unto her Majesty all of the pictures, so she would let me have the old elector's and his lady's (a sly way of trying to get her to retain the portrait of the duke only), but she would have none of them. I had also sure intelligence that first and last, she despised the said Duke Casimir. Therefore I did write back from London to his father and him in cipher, dissuading them to meddle any more in that marriage."
A few months after this, Melville returned to the English Court as the accredited agent of Mary Queen of Scots, who despatched him with the especial object of pacifying Elizabeth, and apologizing for the angry letter she had written when the English Queen had offered her Lord Robert Dudley as a husband. During his stay of nine days, which
ELIZABETH AND HER ADMIRERS' PORTRAITS.
were mostly spent at Hampton Court, Elizabeth saw him every day, and sometimes three times a day, before noon, in the afternoon, and after supper, and their colloquies frequently turned on the Queen of Scots, with regard to whom Elizabeth was very curious, and for whom she professed the greatest affection. “She expressed a great desire to see her; and because their so-much-to-be-desired meeting could not hastily be brought to pass, she appeared
with great delight to look upon her Majesty's picture. She took me," continues the envoy, “to her bedchamber, and opened a little cabinet, wherein were divers little pictures wrapped within paper, and their names written with her own hand upon the papers. Upon the first that she took up was written 'My Lord's picture.' I held the candle, and pressed to see that picture so named; she appeared loath to let me see it
, yet my importunity prevailed for a sight thereof, and I found it to be the Earl of Leicester's picture." Melville then asked her to let him have it to take home with him to his queen, but she refused, alleging that she had but one picture of his ; whereupon he, seeing Leicester at the furthest part of the chamber with Cecil, said to her, “You have here the original !” After that Elizabeth took out Mary's miniature and kissed it, and Melville kissed her hand as an acknowledgment “of the great love evidenced therein to his mistress.” But as it was now late, she made an appointment with him to meet her next morning at eight o'clock.
The place appointed was the garden, where she was accustomed to take every morning, at that hour, a brisk walk, “ to catch her a heate in the colde mornings”; though, when the public eye was on her, she was careful not to fall into the vulgarity of quick walking, but "she, who was the very image of majesty and magnificence, went slowly and marched with leisure, and with a certain grandity rather than gravity.” Elizabeth, indeed, appears to have been very fond of her gardens at Hampton Court, and had them well kept up and frequently improved.
Visitors in her reign tell us that they were especially noted for the "sundry towers, or rather bowers for places of recreation and solace, and for sundry other uses,” which were placed at various points in the gardens; and for “the rosemary so nailed and planted to the walls as to cover them entirely, which is a manner exceeding common in England," and “laid out with various other plants, which are trained, intertwined and trimmed in so wonderful a manner, and in such extraordinary shapes, that the like could not easily be found.” In her reign, also, numerous plants hitherto unknown were introduced. Harrison, in his “Description of England," says, “If you looke into our gardens annexed to our houses, how wonderfullie is their beautie increased, not onelie with floures and varieties of curious and costlie workmanship, but also with rare and medicinal hearbes sought up in the land within these fortie yeares.” And after describing his own garden, he goes on, "If therefore my little plot, void of all art in keeping, be so well furnished, what shall we think of those of Hampton Court, Nonesuch, etc. ? "
But there is no occasion to dwell on the aspect of the gardens; their general state and appearance were not much
ELIZABETH'S VANITY AND LOVE OF DRESS. 143
different from what they had been in her father's time, and besides, Bacon, who knew the place well, has given us in his delightful essay the very picture of what they were.
In this interview in the garden, and in various others which Melville had with Elizabeth during his visit to Hampton Court, every sort of topic was touched upon, Mary having particularly instructed her envoy "to leave matters of gravity sometimes, and cast in merry purposes, lest she should be wearied, she being well informed of that queen's natural temper. Therefore,” proceeds he, “in declaring my observations of the customs of Dutchland, Poland and Italy, the buskins of the women were not forgot, and what country weed (dress) I thought best becoming gentlewomen.” His sagacity was soon shown not to have been at fault, for Elizabeth, entering readily into the topic, assured him that she had clothes of every sort; and gave proof of it by appearing, thenceforward, every day in dresses of different fashions; one day the French, another the English, another the Italian, and so on, asking him which became her best. Melville, who was a skilful flatterer, answered, in his judgment, the Italian dress, an opinion which he says, “I found pleased her well, for she delighted to show her goldencoloured hair, wearing a caul and bonnet as they do in Italy. Her hair was more reddish than yellow, curled in appearance naturally."
Her fondness for attiring herself in fantastical dresses is well exemplified by the curious portrait of her painted by Zucchero about this time, and still to be seen at Hampton Court, in which she wears a long loose dress of thin white material, embroidered all over with flowers and birds, and edged with lace. On her head is a high conical cap, or head-dress, and she has shoes of blue and white, embroidered with gold, and trimmed with blue braid.
Of her hair, which in all her portraits is carefully crimped and curled, she was particularly vain.
“She next desired to know of me,” continues the envoy, “what colour of hair was reputed the best, and whether my queen's hair or hers was best; and which of them was the fairest?” To this he cleverly answered, “The fairness of them both was not their worst fault." But she would not be put off by so ambiguous a compliment, and begged him again to declare which he thought the fairest. Upon which he replied, “ You are the fairest queen in England, and mine is the fairest queen in Scotland.” But still she was not satisfied. Melville, however, out of loyalty, could not be prevailed upon, even with all his desire to flatter Elizabeth, to give her the preference over his own divine queen, and would only say, “they are both the fairest ladies in their countries; your Majesty is whiter, but my queen is very lovely.” After that she inquired “which of them was of the highest stature?" To which he answered, "My queen." “Then,” said Elizabeth triumphantly, "she is too high, for I myself am neither too high nor too low!” She next asked what exercises she used. “I answered,” says the envoy, “that when I received my despatch, the queen was lately come from the Highland hunting: that when her more serious affairs permitted, she was taken up with reading of histories : that sometimes she recreated herself in playing upon the lute and virginals." On which Elizabeth asked if she played well?" "Reasonably well for a queen," was his discreet reply.
This turn in their conversation seems to have suggested to Elizabeth that she might as well take the opportunity of showing off before Mary's agent her skill in music, an accomplishment of which she was especially vain.
That same day, accordingly, by a carefully-prepared accident, Lord Hunsdon took Melville into a quiet gallery of the palace to hear some music, where, though he said he durst not avow it, they might hear the Queen play upon the virginals. “After I had hearkened awhile,” says Melville, "I took by the tapestry that hung before the door of the chamber, and seeing her back was towards the door, I entered within the chamber, and stood a pretty space, hearing her play excellently well; but she left off immediately, so soon as she turned her about and saw me. She appeared to be surprised to see me, and came forward, seeming to strike me with her hand, alleging that she used not to play before men, but when she was solitary to shun melancholy. She asked me ‘how I came there?' I answered, as I was walking with my Lord of Hunsdon, as we passed by the chamberdoor, I heard such melody as ravished me, whereby I was drawn in, ere I knew how, excusing my fault of homeli