Chapter 16: Persecutions in England During the Reign of Queen Mary (43/48)

The sixth of May, Sunday, the wind served. In taking leave of his hostess, who had been married eight years without having a child, he gave her a fine handkerchief and an old royal of gold, and said, “Be of good comfort; before that one whole year be past, God shall give you a child, a boy.” This came to pass, for, that day twelve-month, wanting one day, God gave her a son.

Scarcely had he arrived at Antwerp, when he learned that King Philip had sent to apprehend him. He next flew to Augsburg, in Cleveland, where Dr. Sands tarried fourteen days, and then traveled towards Strassburg, where, after he had lived one year, his wife came to him. He was sick of a flux nine months, and had a child which died of the plague. His amiable wife at length fell into a consumption, and died in his arms. When his wife was dead, he went to Zurich, and there was in Peter Martyr’s house for the space of five weeks.

As they sat at dinner one day, word was suddenly brought that Queen Mary was dead, and Dr. Sands was sent for by his friends at Strassburg, where he preached. Mr. Grindal and he came over to England, and arrived in London the same day that Queen Elizabeth was crowned. This faithful servant of Christ, under Queen Elizabeth, rose to the highest distinction in the Church, being successively bishop of Worcester, bishop of London, and archbishop of York.

Queen Mary’s Treatment of Her Sister, the Princess Elizabeth

The preservation of Princess Elizabeth may be reckoned a remarkable instance of the watchful eye which Christ had over His Church. The bigotry of Mary regarded not the ties of consanguinity, of natural affection, of national succession. Her mind, physically morose, was under the dominion of men who possessed not the milk of human kindness, and whose principles were sanctioned and enjoined by the idolatrous tenets of the Romish pontiff. Could they have foreseen the short date of Mary’s reign, they would have imbued their hands in the Protestant blood of Elizabeth, and, as a sine qua non of the queen’s salvation, have compelled her to bequeath the kingdom to some Catholic prince. The contest might have been attended with the horrors incidental to a religious civil war, and calamities might have been felt in England similar to those under Henry the Great in France, whom Queen Elizabeth assisted in opposing his priest-ridden Catholic subjects. As if Providence had the perpetual establishment of the Protestant faith in view, the difference of the duration of the two reigns is worthy of notice. Mary might have reigned many years in the course of nature, but the course of grace willed it otherwise. Five years and four months was the time of persecution allotted to this weak, disgraceful reign, while that of Elizabeth reckoned a number of years among the highest of those who have sat on the English throne, almost nine times that of her merciless sister!

Before Mary attained the crown, she treated Elizabeth with a sisterly kindness, but from that period her conduct was altered, and the most imperious distance substituted. Though Elizabeth had no concern in the rebellion of Sir Thomas Wyat, yet she was apprehended, and treated as a culprit in that commotion. The manner too of her arrest was similar to the mind that dictated it: the three cabinet members, whom she deputed to see the arrest executed, rudely entered the chamber at ten o’clock at night, and, though she was extremely ill, they could scarcely be induced to let her remain until the following morning. Her enfeebled state permitted her to be moved only by short stages in a journey of such length to London; but the princess, though afflicted in person, had a consolation in mind which her sister never could purchase: the people, through whom she passed on her way pitied her, and put up their prayers for her preservation.

Arrived at court, she was made a close prisoner for a fortnight, without knowing who was her accuser, or seeing anyone who could console or advise her. The charge, however, was at length unmasked by Gardiner, who, with nineteen of the Council, accused her of abetting Wyat’s conspiracy, which she religiously affirmed to be false. Failing in this, they placed against her the transactions of Sir Peter Carew in the west, in which they were as unsuccessful as in the former. The queen now signified that it was her pleasure she should be committed to the Tower, a step which overwhelmed the princess with the greatest alarm and uneasiness. In vain she hoped the queen’s majesty would not commit her to such a place; but there was no lenity to be expected; her attendants were limited, and a hundred northern soldiers appointed to guard her day and night.

On Palm Sunday she was conducted to the Tower. When she came to the palace garden, she cast her eyes towards the windows, eagerly anxious to meet those of the queen, but she was disappointed. A strict order was given in London that every one should go to church, and carry palms, that she might be conveyed without clamor or commiseration to her prison.

At the time of passing under London Bridge the fall of the tide made it very dangerous, and the barge some time stuck fast against the starlings. To mortify her the more, she was landed at Traitors’ Stairs. As it rained fast, and she was obliged to step in the water to land, she hesitated; but this excited no complaisance in the lord in waiting. When she set her foot on the steps, she exclaimed, “Here lands as true a subject, being prisoner, as ever landed at these stairs; and before Thee, O God, I speak it, having no friend but Thee alone!”

Foxe’s Book of the Martyrs, Chapter 16

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