Chapter 16: Persecutions in England During the Reign of Queen Mary (44/48)
A large number of the wardens and servants of the Tower were arranged in order between whom the princess had to pass. Upon inquiring the use of this parade, she was informed it was customary to do so. “If,” said she, “it is on account of me, I beseech you that they may be dismissed.” On this the poor men knelt down, and prayed that God would preserve her grace, for which they were the next day turned out of their employments. The tragic scene must have been deeply interesting, to see an amiable and irreproachable princess sent like a lamb to languish in expectation of cruelty and death; against whom there was no other charge than her superiority in Christian virtues and acquired endowments. Her attendants openly wept as she proceeded with a dignified step to the frowning battlements of her destination. “Alas!” said Elizabeth, “what do you mean? I took you to comfort, not to dismay me; for my truth is such that no one shall have cause to weep for me.”
The next step of her enemies was to procure evidence by means which, in the present day, are accounted detestable. Many poor prisoners were racked, to extract, if possible, any matters of accusation which might affect her life, and thereby gratify Gardiner’s sanguinary disposition. He himself came to examine her, respecting her removal from her house at Ashbridge to Dunnington castle a long while before. The princess had quite forgotten this trivial circumstance, and Lord Arundel, after the investigation, kneeling down, apologized for having troubled her in such a frivolous matter. “You sift me narrowly,” replied the princess, “but of this I am assured, that God has appointed a limit to your proceedings; and so God forgive you all.”
Her own gentlemen, who ought to have been her purveyors, and served her provision, were compelled to give place to the common soldiers, at the command of the constable of the Tower, who was in every respect a servile tool of Gardiner; her grace’s friends, however, procured an order of Council which regulated this petty tyranny more to her satisfaction.
After having been a whole month in close confinement, she sent for the lord chamberlain and Lord Chandois, to whom she represented the ill state of her health from a want of proper air and exercise. Application being made to the Council, Elizabeth was with some difficulty admitted to walk in the queen’s lodgings, and afterwards in the garden, at which time the prisoners on that side were attended by their keepers, and not suffered to look down upon her. Their jealousy was excited by a child of four years, who daily brought flowers to the princess. The child was threatened with a whipping, and the father ordered to keep him from the princess’s chambers.
On the fifth of May the constable was discharged from his office, and Sir Henry Benifield appointed in his room, accompanied by a hundred ruffian-looking soldiers in blue. This measure created considerable alarm in the mind of the princess, who imagined it was preparatory to her undergoing the same fate as Lady Jane Grey, upon the same block. Assured that this project was not in agitation, she entertained an idea that the new keeper of the Tower was commissioned to make away with her privately, as his equivocal character was in conformity with the ferocious inclination of those by whom he was appointed.
A report now obtained that her Grace was to be taken away by the new constable and his soldiers, which in the sequel proved to be true. An order of Council was made for her removal to the manor Woodstock, which took place on Trinity Sunday, May 13, under the authority of Sir Henry Benifield and Lord Tame. The ostensible cause of her removal was to make room for other prisoners. Richmond was the first place they stopped at, and here the princess slept, not however without much alarm at first, as her own servants were superseded by the soldiers, who were placed as guards at her chamber door. Upon representation, Lord Tame overruled this indecent stretch of power, and granted her perfect safety while under his custody.
In passing through Windsor, she saw several of her poor dejected servants waiting to see her. “Go to them,” said she, to one of her attendants, “and say these words from me, tanquim ovis, that is, like a sheep to the slaughter.”
The next night her Grace lodged at the house of a Mr. Dormer, in her way to which the people manifested such tokens of loyal affection that Sir Henry was indignant, and bestowed on them very liberally the names of rebels and traitors. In some villages they rang the bells for joy, imagining the princess’s arrival among them was from a very different cause; but this harmless demonstration of gladness was sufficient with the persecuting Benifield to order his soldiers to seize and set these humble persons in the stocks.
The day following, her Grace arrived at Lord Tame’s house, where she stayed all night, and was most nobly entertained. This excited Sir Henry’s indignation, and made him caution Lord Tame to look well to his proceedings; but the humanity of Lord Tame was not to be frightened, and he returned a suitable reply. At another time, this official prodigal, to show his consequence and disregard of good manners, went up into a chamber, where was appointed for her Grace a chair, two cushions, and a foot carpet, wherein he presumptuously sat and called his man to pull off his boots. As soon as it was known to the ladies and gentlemen they laughed him to scorn. When supper was done, he called to his lordship, and directed that all gentlemen and ladies should withdraw home, marveling much that he would permit such a large company, considering the great charge he had committed to him. “Sir Henry,” said his lordship, “content yourself; all shall be avoided, your men and all.” “Nay, but my soldiers,” replied Sir Henry, “shall watch all night.” Lord Tame answered, “There is no need.” “Well,” said he, “need or need not, they shall so do.”