The Tower Of London by W. Harrison Ainsworth

No one has suffered more from misrepresentation than this queen. Not only have her failings been exaggerated, and ill qualities, which she did not possess, attributed to her, but the virtues that undoubtedly belonged to her have been denied her. A portrait, perhaps too flatteringly coloured, has been left of her by Michele, but still it is nearer the truth than the darker presentations with which we are more familiar. “As to the more important qualities of her mind, with a few trifling exceptions (in which, to speak the truth, she is like other women, since besides being hasty and somewhat resentful, she is rather more parsimonious and miserly than is fitting a munificent and liberal sovereign), she has in other respects no notable imperfection, and in some things she is without equal; for not only she is endowed with a spirit beyond other women who are naturally timid, but is so courageous and resolute that no adversity nor danger ever caused her to betray symptoms of pusillanimity. On the contrary, she has ever preserved a greatness of mind and dignity that is admirable, knowing as well what is due to the rank she holds as the wisest of her councillors, so that in her conduct and proceedings during the whole of her life, it cannot be denied she has always proved herself to be the offspring of a truly royal stock. Of her humility, piety, and observance of religious duties, it is unnecessary to speak, since they are well known, and have been proved by sufferings little short of martyrdom; so that we may truly say of her with the cardinal, that amidst the darkness and obscurity which overshadowed this kingdom, she remained like a faint flame strongly agitated by winds which strove to extinguish it, but always kept alive by her innocence and true faith, in order that she might one day shine to the world, as she now does.” Other equally strong testimonies to her piety and virtue might be adduced. By Camden she is termed a “lady never sufficiently to be praised for her sanctity, charity, and liberality.” And by Bishop Godwin, “a woman truly pious, benign, and of most chaste manners, and to be lauded, if you do not regard her failure in religion.” It was this “failure in religion” which has darkened her in the eyes of her Protestant posterity. With so many good qualities it is to be lamented that they were overshadowed by bigotry.

If Mary did not possess the profound learning of Lady Jane Grey, she possessed more than ordinary mental acquirements. A perfect mistress of Latin, French, Spanish, and Italian, she conversed in the latter language with fluency. She had extraordinary powers of eloquence when roused by any great emotion, and having a clear logical understanding, was well fitted for argument. Her courage was undaunted; and she possessed much of the firmness of character—obstinacy it might perhaps be termed—of her father. In the graceful accomplishment of the dance she excelled, and was passionately fond of music, playing with skill on three instruments, the virginals, the regals, and the lute. She was fond of equestrian exercise, and would often indulge in the chase. She revived all the old sports and games which had been banished as savouring of mummery by the votaries of the reformed faith. One of her sins in their eyes was a fondness for rich apparel. In the previous reign female attire was remarkable for its simplicity. She introduced costly stuffs, sumptuous dresses, and French fashions.

In personal attractions the Princess Elizabeth far surpassed her sister. She was then in the bloom of youth, and though she could scarcely be termed positively beautiful, she had a very striking appearance, being tall, portly, with bright blue eyes, and exquisitely formed hands, which she took great pains to display.

As soon as Elizabeth had taken her place behind the queen, the procession set forward. The first part of the cavalcade consisted of gentlemen clad in doublets of blue velvet, with sleeves of orange and red, mounted on chargers trapped with close housings of blue sarsenet powdered with white crosses. After them rode esquires and knights, according to their degree, two and two, well mounted, and richly apparelled in cloth of gold, silver, or embroidered velvet, “fresh and goodlie to behold.” Then came the trumpeters, with silken pennons fluttering from their clarions, who did their devoir gallantly. Then a litter covered with cloth of gold, drawn by richly-caparisoned horses, and filled by sumptuously-apparelled dames. Then an immense retinue of nobles, knights, and gentlemen, with their attendants, all dressed in velvets, satins, taffeties, and damask of all colours, and of every device and fashion—there being no lack of cloths of tissue, gold, silver, embroidery, or goldsmith’s work. Then came forty high-born damsels mounted on steeds, trapped with red velvet, arrayed in gowns and kirtles of the same material. Then followed two other litters covered with red satin. Then came the queen’s bodyguard of archers, clothed in scarlet, bound with black velvet, bearing on their doublets a rose woven in gold, under which was an imperial crown. Then came the judges; then the doctors; then the bishops; then the council; and, lastly, the knights of the Bath in their robes.

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