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FRANCIS LANCELOTT, ESQ. Queens of England. Vol.1.

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FRANCIS LANCELOTT, ESQ.
Queens of England. Vol.1.
page 534



CHAPTEB VI, Horrible persecution of the Protestants—Mary*s reply to the council on the subject—•Intolerant views entertained by her and Cranmer—The Parliament more than her to blame—Her severe illness—Disappointment of issue—Inconstancy of her husband—He departs to the continent—He, and not Mary, governs the nation—Death of Gardiner—Martyrdom of Cranmer—Plot to place Elizabeth on the throne— Friendly intercourse between Mary and Elizabeth—Mary resists her husband's efforts to force Elizabeth to marry—War with France—Loss of Calais—Mary attached wilh fever—Receives a letter from Philip—Names Elizabeth her successor —Sends her her jewels—Her death—Burial— Will—Customs and social condition of the people. • Τ this period commenced the horrible , persecution of the Protestants, which has so deeply stained tbe memory of Mary, and, until recently, been attributed chief ly to excessive bigotry, malice, cruelty, and other attributes of a diabolical disposition on her part. AVho was the instigator of this terrible persecution is a matter of uncertainty. All that we know being, that it was frequently discussed by the lords of the council after Mary's marriage; and when they communicated their final resolution to her in November, she replied, " Touching the punishment of heretics, we think it might he done without rashness, not leaving in the meantime to do justice to such as by learning would seem to deceive the simple, and the rest so to be used, that the people might well perceive them not to be condemned without just occasion, by which they shall both understand the truth and beware not to do the like. And especially, within London, I would wish none to be burnt without some of the council's presence ; and both there and everywhere good sermons at the same time." An evident proof that Mary, in common with the majority of her contemporaries, both Catholic and Protestant, conscientiously accredited the intolerant doctrine which Cranmer and Hidley had laboured to instil into the mind of Edward the Sixth, "That as Moses ordered blasphemers to be put to death, so it was the duty of a Christian sovereign, and more so of one who bore the title of ' Defender of the Faith,' to eradicate the cockle from the field of God's church, to cut out the gangrene, that it might not spread to the sounder parts." She, however, could have bad hut little hand in the horrible persecution. To restore the Howard and the Percy estates, and the lands and property of the church seized by the crown, she had reduced herself to abject poverty. She had no standing army : and thrice in two years she had sent the Commons back to their constituents. In fact, she had voluntarily deprived herself of the means to rule by bribery or force ; and, therefore, prudent as she was, it may be presumed that she had no wish so to do. Had the Parliaments been as upright and honest as herself, and refused to pass sanguinary laws regarding religion, the privy council and the prelates could not have dared to send to the stake or the scaffold any one who opposed them. To call the" lords who legalized this wickedness, and who, be it remembered, were tho same individuals who had established the Protestant church, bigots, is surely a mistake, for tbe term implies honest, though obstinate, unreasonable attachment to one creed, whilst these hypocritical, unprincipled peers worshipped no God but Mammon; and as they professed any religion to secure their worldly good, many of them twice professed Protestant and twice professed Catholic tenets. ι L 2


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