The Lady Elizabeth, who in the Low Countries and some parts of Germany is called the Queen of Bohemia, and, for her winning, princely comportment, the Queen of Hearts. — The Familiar Letters of James Howell. (1622.)
THE band in the Schlossgarten has played its last waltz and is still. Over yonder, on the lofty terrace whose angle cuts the sky sharply, a few promenaders yet linger. But here, on this broad Altan — great platform or balcony — at the west front of the castle, no footfall wakes the echoes. Lean on the stone balustrade and let the sight plunge downward through a wilderness of gardens, built up slope above slope on walls of solid masonry, intersected by steep pathways and stairs, pierced and tunneled by all manner of passages, vaults, arcades, — a hanging labyrinth of rock work and greenery. Far below are the red roofs of the narrow city, and the sound of the swift-rushing Neckar stream comes up through the twilight. The sun has set behind the Odenwald, and the vineyards on the opposite slope are already indistinguishable. Over the Rhine plain ascend masses of dun rolling vapor, streaked with flames which lend a deeper tinge to the red sandstone façade of the Friedrichs - Bau, — façade etwas überladen, say the guidebooks, with its rich Renaissance sculptures. Momently the sunset fades, and the whole vast ruin — Alhambra of the North — with its background of black forest-covered mountain sinks into the arms of night.
Alt Heidelberg, du feine, now is your time again. With each new film of gathering darkness, the present recedes and the past takes its place on the stage and begins to
“ Rehearse its youth’s great part
’Mid thin applauses of the ghosts.”
It was on the platform at Elsinore that Hamlet met the Ghost, and legions of historic spectres haunt the Altan of the Heidelberger Schloss, — Tilly with his Bavarians, Turenne with his Frenchmen. The images of the old Electors descend from their niches and hobble up and down across the stony pavement. But was not that the rustle of silk that passed us in the dark ? And that wandering perfume, as of civet or pomander ball, — came it from the perruque or natural hairy covering of one of those old Electors ? Do the locks of old Ruprecht or of old Otto Heinrich, then, thus breathe forth ambrosial odors as from the spicy shore of Araby the blest, after all these centuries ?
And again ! — Ah, pardon, fair princess, that in the darkness we mistook. It is indeed Elizabeth,—Elizabeth of England — of the Palatinate — of Bohemia. In the darkness we mistook, but now the moon is rising, and, as your own poet sang, —
Which poorly satisfy our eyes
More by your number than your light,
You common people of the skies,
What are you when the moon shall rise ? ” 1
It is now nearly three centuries since Frederick V., Elector Palatine of the Rhine and builder of this FriedrichsBau, brought his young bride to Heidelberg, where her memory is still preserved in the Elisabethen-Pforte which gives admission to the Stückgarten and the little Elisabethen-Bau beyond. The gate was erected and the garden laid out in her honor, with fountains, grottoes, parterres, and “ orchards of English trees transplanted entire.” She was the eldest daughter of James I., and her life is not the least tragic chapter in the history of the Stuart house, so rich in the materials of tragedy and romance. Through her daughter, Sophia, the mother of George I., she is also the ancestress of Queen Victoria, and the link between the older and the later dynasty of English sovereigns.
Granddaughter of Mary, Queen of Scots, and godchild of the great Elizabeth of England, our princess was a little Scotch lassie seven years old, playing with her dolls in Linlithgow palace, when her father was called to the English throne. She was intrusted to the guardianship of Lord and Lady Harington, and reared at their country seat, Combe Abbey, Warwickshire, about two miles from Coventry, where she had a little court of her own, with masters in music, writing, dancing, French, and Italian : physicians, nurses, ladies in waiting, grooms of the bedchamber and of the stable, yeomen, footmen, sumptermen, sempstresses, laundresses, and finally a stud of nineteen or twenty horses.” Combe Abbey was an old Cistercian monastery; and here among the deer and the swans, the great oaks and ancient cloisters, Elizabeth passed her girlhood. She became passionately fond of animals and of the chase. A portrait of the royal child, taken at this period, represents her in company with a parrot, macaw love-bird, dog, and monkey. Through her long years of widowhood and exile, hunting was her favorite amusement and the chief solace of her cares, and some little bird or beast the most acceptable present that could be made her.2
At the time of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605 an attempt was made to seize Elizabeth, with the design of proclaiming her queen and converting her to Catholicism. Sir Everard Digby and a number of Catholic gentlemen assembled for a hunt on Dun more heath, and secretly withdrawing from the hunting party, rode rapidly toward Combe Abbey. But meanwhile an alarm had been given ; the Protestant gentry of the neighborhood were on foot; a courier who had ridden post all night from London brought news of the discovery and frustration of the plot; the princess, escorted by Lord Harington and his household, fled to Coventry, and put herself under the protection of the citizens ; and the country rose upon the conspirators, hunted them down, and brought them to justice.
The effect of this exciting incident and of the narrow escape from death of her father and brothers, with both houses of Parliament, was naturally to confirm in Elizabeth the Protestant principles which had been inculcated in her by her guardians. A stubborn Protestant she always remained, and circumstances afterwards made her one of the foremost martyrs of the cause in Germany. She called Richelieu an “ ulcerous priest.” Among the trials of her later years none were sharper than the apostasy of two of her children. Her fourth son, Edward, married a lady of the French court and turned Catholic; her second daughter, Louise, fled secretly to a monastery in Antwerp and then into France, where she was confirmed by the papal nuncio, and took the veil at the Abbey of Maubuisson, of which she eventually became abbess. On the first of these occasions Elizabeth wrote to her eldest son that she would rather have died than see a child of hers renounce the faith of his fathers ; and when it was proposed that this eldest son should be replaced in the Electorate on condition of abjuring Protestantism, she exclaimed that she would strangle him first with her own hands. She is the only Stuart of whom Carlyle fiuds anything good to say. “ Alles für Ruhm und ihr,” he writes, “ ‘ All for glory and her,’were the words Duke Bernhard of Weimar carried on his flag through many battles of that Thirty Years’ War. She was of Puritan tendency, understood to care little about the four surplices at Allhallowtide and much for the root of the matter.”
But it is only in a very qualified sense that Elizabeth can be called a Puritan. Her Protestantism was inbred : her marriage to a prince who stood at the head of the league of evangelical princes in Germany made her popular among the English Puritans, who hated Spain and distrusted the Spanish leanings of James I. Her marriage furthermore removed her to a court of which the official religion was Calvinism. She was absent from England for half a century, all through the struggles of James I. and Charles I. with their Parliaments, through the Civil War and the Protectorate. We have no means of knowing what she thought of the High Church Laudian Episcopacy and the “ four surplices at Allhallowtide,” or whether she thought at all of such matters. But she was faithful to the fortunes of her family. She was deeply shocked — how could she be otherwise ? — by the execution of her brother, Charles I. ; and what she said of Cromwell would not have pleased Cromwell’s biographer. “ There never was so great a hypocrite. Sure Cromwell is the beast in the Revelations, that all kings and nations do worship. I wish him the like end and speedily.”
Elizabeth was no Puritan. She had the gay, pleasure-loving spirit of her race, the Stuart fondness for masques and revels, games, dances, court pageantry, and shows of state. We read that during her winter at Prague, as Queen of Bohemia, her love of the drama gave offense to the stricter Calvinists ; and that afterwards at The Hague, the Dutch ministers were equally scandalized by the Arminianism of her chaplain, a protégé of Archbishop Laud, by her attendance at French plays, and by her low-necked dresses. They remonstrated with Elizabeth, who resented their interference, and with the Prince of Orange, who gave them cold comfort, and assured them that if they would preach better “ the plays would be less frequented.” As she grew older and was summoned more often to court, she entered into such pleasures with the eager enjoyment which is innocent and natural in a young girl, but which is assuredly not “ of Puritan tendency.” The retirement of Combe Abbey became irksome to the princess : rooms were fitted up for her in Hampton Court and Whitehall, and her residence was fixed at Kew.
When she was fourteen, suitors for her hand began to present themselves. There was talk of France, of Spain, of Savoy ; of a Duke of Brunswick and a Prince of Hesse, both of whom came to woo in person ; of Count Maurice of Nassau, of an English Howard, and of a Scotch Hamilton. A proposal came from the great Gustavus Adolphus, destined at no distant day to champion the cause of German Protestantism, and incidentally the cause — alas, already lost beyond retrieve — of this same little English princess, who by a slight turn of the dice might have chanced to be the queen of the victorious hero Swede, instead of the wife of an outcast, broken-hearted Winter-König, or mockery snow monarch, — a king without a kingdom.
For the turn of the dice allotted her finally to Frederick V., the Palsgrave (Pfalzgraf) or Elector Palatine of the Rhine, who arrived in England in October, 1612, and conducted a four months’ courtship with circumstances of great splendor on both sides, which moved contemporary Jenkins to flights of almost Asiatic eloquence and temporarily bankrupted the English court. There were all manner of receptions, processions, entertainments, banquets, marriage settlements and negotiations, interchange of gifts, bestowals of the Order of the Garter, ceremonies of betrothal; where glittered all manner of jewels, velvets, laces, feathers, silks. It is true, the death of Henry, Prince of Wales, in November cast a shadow over the festivities and plunged the court into mourning. But the funeral baked meats were soon disposed of, and the poets who had celebrated the obsequies of the deceased strung their lyres anew, and got ready their epithalamia.
The youthful pair, both of an age, and neither of them yet seventeen, were wedded on St. Valentine’s Day, 1613, and Dr. Donne came to the rescue with spousal verses:—
All the air is thy diocese,
And all the chirping choristers
And other birds are thy parishioners.
Thou marryest every year
The lyric lark and the grave, whispering dove,
The sparrow that neglects his life for love,
The household bird with the red stomacher :
Thou makest the blackbird speed as soon
As doth the goldfinch or the halcyon :
The husband cock looks out, and straight is sped,
And meets his wife, which brings her featherbed :
This day more cheerfully than ever shine,
This day which might inflame thyself, old Valentine.”
It is estimated that a folio volume would hardly contain all the poetry composed on this occasion. The University of Oxford alone emitted two hundred and forty-two epithalamia, mostly in Latin. Thomas Heywood, reckoned to be the most voluminous dramatist in English, or possibly in any language, — whose plays, either extant or providentially lost, are computed to have exceeded two hundred and twenty, — swelled his mellifluous throat in A Marriage Triumph, which fills some thirty pages in the publications of the Percy Society. The spring, it seems, fell early in that year of grace, 1613, and the poet says : —
To be at this high state’s solemnizing;
Who, lest he should be wanting at that day,
Brings February in attired like May,
And hath, for haste to show his glorious prime,
Slept o’er two months and come before his time. . . .
Bacchus hath cut his most delicious vine,
And sent it through his swiftest river Rhine,
Lest to those bridals it might come too late.”
And in the Nuptial Hymn which closes his poem, he predicts that the princess will equal in fame her illustrious godmother, and, —
Shall memorize Elizabeth.”
These expensive proceedings are duly chronicled in Nichols’ Progresses. They included tournaments, pageants, and triumphs by land and water, fireworks on the Thames, with a sham naval battle, and the like. Three court masques were presented, composed by Dr. Thomas Campion, George Chapman, and Francis Beaumont, — the “devices” of the last by no less a person than Francis Bacon, its title, The Marriage of the Thames and the Rhine. The best of these was Campion’s ; and in reading its congratulatory prophecies, Fate, with ironic thumbnail, indents for us the margin of that well-known madrigal in its author’s Book of Airs: —
Of masques and revels which sweet youth did make,
Of tourneys and great challenges of knights,
And all these triumphs for thy beauty’s sake :
When thou hast told these honors done to thee,
Then tell, O tell how thou didst murder me.”3
But the best and the best known of all the Muse’s tributes to Elizabeth were Wotton’s famous lines To his Mistress, the Queen of Bohemia.4 Sir Henry Wotton, for many years English ambassador at Venice, and afterwards provost of Eton College, was a man of many accomplishments. He was wit, scholar, diplomat, poet. It was Wotton who defined an ambassador as “an honest gentleman employed to lie abroad for his country.” He was a correspondent of Milton, and the subject of a pleasant biography by his friend and brother of the angle, Izaak Walton. He entertained and professed for Elizabeth that chivalrous devotion which her charms as a woman and her misfortunes as a queen inspired in so many gallant gentlemen, in Bernhard of Weimar, Christian of Brunswick, and the Earl of Craven. After the loss of Bohemia and the Palatinate, Wotton did his best, as English ambassador at the Imperial court of Vienna, to negotiate their partial restoration. When the Emperor presented him with a jewel valued at £1000, as a token of his personal esteem, he gave it away to an Italian lady, and explained to the Emperor, as courteously as possible, that he could keep no gift that came from an enemy of his royal mistress. Elizabeth sent him a portrait of herself, painted in her robes of state, and this Wotton bequeathed in his will to Charles II.
But now the curtain rises upon a very different scene in our drama. Frederick and Elizabeth had passed six years of wedded happiness at Heidelberg. She had borne her husband three children, — two boys and a girl. In 1619 the Protestant kingdom of Bohemia deposed the Emperor Ferdinand of Austria, and offered the Bohemian crown to the Elector Palatine. This was the beginning of the Thirty Years’ War in Germany, and it was Elizabeth’s hand which set the match to that terrible conflagration. Frederick was not deficient in physical courage, but he was a man of only moderate abilities and of no very strong character : tender, honorable, loyal, but selfdistrustful, moody, irresolute, and easily influenced. “ Par boutades,” wrote Wotton, “ the Elector is merry, but for the most part cogitative or, as they here call it, mélancholique: ” — clearly not a leader of men, nor fitted to cope with the stern crisis which was at hand. He hesitated long and, as the event proved, wisely. His mother, the Electress-Dowager, a plain and shrewd old Dutchwoman, the daughter of William the Silent, besought him not to accept. “ They are carrying the Palatinate into Bohemia,” were her prophetic words, when her son and daughter-in-law finally set out for Prague. For Elizabeth was of a different temper from her lord, —high-spirited, ambitious, sanguine, with the readiness to undertake and the recklessness of consequences which proceeds as much from levity and ignorance, as from courage : from a failure to know or to imagine the momentous issues which it confronts : the courage of a fly, of a weasel: the courage of all the Stuart pretenders : the courage of Rupert’s charging Cavaliers before the Ironsides had taught them caution.
The one shadow on Elizabeth’s marriage had been the opposition of her mother. She wanted her daughter to be a queen — if possible, Queen of Spain. She thought a petty German Elector a match very much below the dignity of an English princess, and used to refer scornfully to Elizabeth as “ Goody Palsgrave.” Whether this taunt still rankled or not, it is certain that Elizabeth was urgent with her husband to take the Bohemian crown. She offered to sell all her jewels to maintain the cause, and proudly assured him : “ Sie wollte lieber mit einem König Sauerkraut, als mit einem Kurfürsten Gebratens essen.” And so, in the autumn of 1619, while Europe held its breath, and all about the horizon were ominous storm-clouds
and the greatest and grimmest war of modern times was preparing, this girl and boy set out to take seizin of their new kingdom, light-heartedly she, but he with many misgivings. They never saw Heidelberg again, nor ever again had any home of their own, any “continuing city,” but spun about till their death day, like feathers or straws, in the black whirlwind that they had let loose. To grasp and hold that crown of Bohemia; to keep one’s seat in that Siege Perilous and maintain that Castle Dangerous against assault, the strongest arm, the coolest head, the wariest eye were needed. Scarcely would a Henry of Navarre or a William of Orange have been equal to the emprise; and what chance had Frederick in that combat of giants, in a war where the generals were Tilly, Wallenstein, Gustavus ?
The rest is history. On the 4th and 7th of November respectively Frederick and Elizabeth were crowned at Prague. Just a year later they were hunted fugitives, fleeing for their lives through Silesia and Brandenburg, to find an asylum at last at The Hague. “ Questo principe e intrato in un bello labyrinto,” said Pope Paul IV., when he heard of Frederick’s acceptance of the Bohemian throne. At first the new king and queen were popular with their subjects, — Elizabeth especially, whose frank and cheerful manners always easily won her friends. But soon difficulties began to thicken about them. The Imperial armies were gathering: Spinola overran the Palatinate, and Frederick was placed under the ban of the Empire. His soldiers were unpaid and mutinous, and disaffection showed itself among his people. He had brought with him to Prague ids chaplain, Scultetus (Abraham Schultze), a bigoted Calvinist, who offended by his intolerance the Bohemian Protestants, the great majority of whom were Lutherans. Scultetus persuaded Frederick to remove, as idolatrous, the ancient images of saints which stood on the bridge over the Moldau. These were objects of reverence to the populace of Prague, and Frederick’s order for their removal provoked a riot, which was quieted only by a proclamation recalling the former order. Finally on Novem her 8, 1620, the Imperialists won a battle just outside of Prague, while Frederick was entertaining the foreign ambassadors at a state dinner in the royal palace ; and the Winter King and Queen of Bohemia fled headlong, leaving kingdom, crown, crown jewels, and all to the mercies of the Austrian. The walls of Catholic Antwerp were placarded with pasquinades and caricatures, representing Elizabeth as an Irish beggarwoman with a child at her back, and her father carrying a cradle behind her, — a delicate allusion to her numerous progeny and almost annual confinements. The streets of the same city resounded with satirical ballads on the same theme; and the Jesuits devised a play “ in which they feigned a post to come puffing upon the stage ; and being asked what news, he answered that the Palsgrave was like to have shortly a huge formidable army ; for the King of Denmark was to send one hundred thousand, the Hollanders, one hundred thousand, and the King of Great Britain, one hundred thousand. But being asked thousands of what, he replied, the first would send him a hundred thousand red herrings, the second a hundred thousand cheeses, and the last a hundred thousand ambassadors.”
This was a sneer at the timid policy of James, who preferred to negotiate rather than fight, and never could be brought to take up arms in his daughter’s behalf, nor to recognize his son-in-law’s royal title, for fear of offending Spain. A war for the recovery of the Palatinate would have been popular in England, and the Parliament would cheerfully have voted supplies. The young gentlemen of the Middle Temple, with sword in one hand and wine cup in the other, pledged the health of the Lady Elizabeth, and, kissing their sword-blades, vowed to live and die in her service. And though the King of England would not declare war, thousands of English volunteers served in the Protestant armies of Germany under Sir Horace Vere and later, in Charles I.’s reign, under the Marquis of Hamilton.
The States - General of Holland received the dethroned sovereigns with the kindest hospitality. They assigned them a pension and a residence at The Hague, where Elizabeth held a sort of little court. A great novelist5 of our own day has drawn a picture of such a court: of the life of one of those wrecks of broken dynasties with which the capitals of modern Europe are familiar, with its intrigues and conspiracies ; its hollow etiquette, meaningless ceremonial, petty squabbles over questions of precedence : its debts, jealousies, deferred hopes, pathetic loyalties, and shabby-genteel imitation of royal state. Elizabeth bore the ordeal best. Her character was superficial: she had a certain elasticity, levity, and toughness of disposition : a buoyancy as of cork or other light bodies : an unfailing zest in life, and an ability to forget great sorrows in the pleasure of the moment. “ I am still of my wild humor,” she wrote to Sir Thomas Rowe, “ to be as merry as I can in spite of fortune.” But Frederick’s sensitive nature suffered more deeply. A dependent on the hospitality of a foreign state and the bounty of a grudging and dictatorial father-in-law, his position was most humiliating. His restlessness and despondency increased, and he absented himself as much as possible from The Hague. He took service with the Prince of Orange and afterwards with Gustavus Adolphus, but he had no talent for command. With the aid of Duke Christian of Brunswick and that valorous soldier of fortune, Count Mansfeld, he maintained for some years a hopeless struggle for the recovery of the Palatinate.
It would be tedious to follow the history of the tiresome diplomacies and hardly less tiresome campaigns which were directed to this end. All was in vain : Heidelberg was taken by Tilly, plundered, and burned. The death of Gustavus on the field of Lützen extinguished Frederick’s last hope, and he died shortly after, in 1632, at Mentz and was buried at Sedan. History affords few examples of a royal pair more loving and faithful in prosperity and adversity alike than Frederick V. of the Palatinate and his English wife. Long years of exile and widowhood were in reserve f oiher, and she bore them with still unfailing spirit. Her father died and was succeeded on the British throne by her brother Charles, and her brother was brought to the block. In the Civil War, her favorite son, the fiery Rupert (Ruprecht), born at Prague during her short tenure of the Bohemian crown, had distinguished himself as a dashing cavalry general in the royal service. Elizabeth was naturally outspoken in her indignation at the execution of Charles and in denunciation of the Commonwealth. The Parliament thereupon withdrew the annual pension that it had voted her, and she was plunged deeply into debt. Ever shabbier grew the worn velvets and faded upholstery of her court at The Hague, — the presence chamber constantly hung with black since her husband’s death. So that when princely and noble strangers, traveling through Holland, sought an interview with “ the crowned and elected Queen of Bohemia,” she arranged to meet them in the gardens of the Prince of Orange, or at some other place, to avoid the exposure of her poverty.
The Treaty of Westphalia had finally settled the Lower Palatinate upon her eldest living son, Charles Louis (Karl Ludwig), a mean-spirited man, who truckled to the English Parliament, withheld from his mother her dower rights in the Palatinate, and declined to receive her at Heidelberg. She wrote to her correspondent, Sir Edward Nicholas, that the wine which the Elector sent her as a douceur was “ stark naught.” Elizabeth got little comfort from her children, — thirteen of them in all. Two turned Catholic. One of her sons was drowned at Rotterdam and another at sea. A third was killed at the siege of Rethel. She quarreled with two of her daughters, and, in one way or another, all her children had left her before 1660, when the Restoration put her nephew, Charles II., on the English throne. Very much against the wish of that Merry Monarch, she returned in 1661 to England, which she had not seen for half a century. No apartments were assigned her at court, and she died a few months later at Leicester House, February 13, 1662. “ It is pity,” wrote the Earl of Leicester, “ that she lived not a few hours more, to die upon her wedding day, and that there is not as good a poet to make her epitaph as Dr. Donne, who wrote her epithalamium upon that day unto St. Valentine.”
Elizabeth Stuart was not a great woman, but she was a very charming one. Her biographer, Mrs. Green, attributes to her genius as well as beauty. She says that she “ had a warm appreciation of literature,” and that she “conversed freely in six languages.” She praises her letters and certain verses and prayers of her composition, not only as “ beautiful specimens of calligraphy,” but as “intellectual efforts.” But with all respect to Mrs. Green, Elizabeth’s verses — like her son the Elector’s wine — are stark naught; and her letters, several hundred of which are preserved, do not show any uncommon powers of intellect. They show only that vivacity of temperament which is often mistaken for brightness of mind. Nor was her character, any more than her intellect, constructed on large lines. It was sound, but shallow, without seriousness, distinction, nobility, — quite unlike the great queens of history. She had many engaging traits, but few royal ones. She was affable, gracious, lively, good-natured to a fault, generous to extravagance: qualities that made her popular among her entourage, whom she was quite incapable of governing. Her light-heartedness carried her victoriously through — or, rather, over — the tragic calamities of her later days. From her quarrels with her children, one suspects that she had something, too, of that Stuart obstinacy and unreasonableness which seemed like firmness, but was only its narrow-minded counterfeit, and had a fatal way of announcing itself at the wrong time, —irritating where it could not control.
Even her beauty has been questioned. By courtesy all princesses are beautiful, and, if we may believe the poets, Elizabeth was one of the most beautiful. Pepys, who saw her at The Hague in 1660, describes her as “a very debonair but a plain lady.” But she was then sixty - four years old. Likenesses of Elizabeth abound : paintings at Combe Abbey, Hampton Court, Kensington Palace, and in many private galleries ; and engraved portraits in the print-room of the British Museum and elsewhere. From an analysis of four of these, by Honthorst, Derick, and Mierevelt, Mr. H. S. Wilson6 ungallantly concludes that the Queen of Bohemia could never have been beautiful. Her hair, it seems, was red ; complexion “ opaquely white,” the lips thin, the forehead narrow ; and though the hands were fine and the bearing queenly, one retains “an impression of shrewdness and vivacity, coupled with a mean intellect and with a calculating heart.”
The last words seem over-harsh. The only portrait of Elizabeth known to me, or easily accessible to the American reader, is the engraved frontispiece in Mrs. Green’s Princesses of England,7 which is the picture of a pretty woman, if not of a beauty, and strongly recalls the face of her grandmother, the Queen of Scots. The features are good and the expression pleasant and bright. The face has the Stuart oval and that fullness of the eye which was a family trait, but not the pointed chin which is mentioned as a feature in some of the portraits. When all allowances have been made for the exaggerations of contemporary praise, there was enough that was gracious and winning about Elizabeth’s personality to account for the interest that her misfortunes aroused and the devotion that she herself inspired. She was the only royal princess of England, the other daughters of James I. having died in infancy, and high hopes followed her abroad.
After the loss of her crown, two champions, in particular, took the field in her behalf. The first of these, her cousin, Duke Christian of Brunswick, administrator of the Bishopric of Halberstadt, was more like some knight-errant in the old chivalry romances than a soldier of modern Europe. He wore her glove on his helmet, and inscribed upon his banner the motto Tout pour Dieu et ma trés chère reine. He wrote to her, after his defeat by Tilly, “ I entreat you most humbly not to be angry with your faithful slave for this misfortune, nor take away the good affection which your majesty has hitherto shown me, who love you above all in this world. Consider that victory is in God’s hands, not mine, and that I cannot challenge victory, although my courage in dying for your majesty and serving you will never fail me ; for I esteem your favour a hundred times dearer than life: and be assured that I shall try, with all my power, not only to reassemble my troops, but also, moreover, to raise as many more, that I may be in better condition to serve faithfully your majesty, whom I love outre le possible, assuring you that as long as God gives me life, I shall serve you faithfully and expend all I have in the world for you. —Your most humblest, most constant, most faithful, most affectionate and most obedient slave, who loves you and will love you infinitely and incessantly to death.”
Christian’s left arm was wounded in action. He had the trumpets sound while it was amputated, and sent word to Elizabeth that he had another arm left to fight God’s battles and hers. The Duke of Brunswick was a mediæval and slightly fantastic figure. But Elizabeth’s other champion, the Earl of Craven, served her in a more modern way, with equal chivalry and to better purpose. He was the son of a Lord Mayor of London, from whom he inherited an immense fortune. He first met Elizabeth in Holland, in the days of her exile ; and, resigning from the Dutch service, was made a commander of the English volunteers operating in Germany with Frederick and Gustavus in 1632. He fought in those wars with reckless daring, was twice wounded, taken prisoner with Prince Rupert by the Imperialist general Hatzfeld, and ransomed himself for .£20,000. He volunteered to contribute £30,000 to raise a fleet for the Palatinate. When Elizabeth’s pension from the English Parliament remained unpaid, Craven paid it. He gave £50,000 to Charles II., and his own estates were sequestrated by Parliament for his devotion to the royal cause. By 1649 he had become a permanent figure in Elizabeth’s court at The Hague, where he was known as “ the little Lord Craven ” and the vieux milord, —nicknames bestowed by the young princesses, for whom he used to buy jewelry and sweetmeats, and who made fun of their benefactor, just as that scapegrace of a George Osborne in Vanity Fair made fun of Major Sugarplums. Indeed we have to go to fiction to find his like, for history records few instances of a lifelong devotion, so delicate, so self-sacrificing, so disinterested. So disinterested, indeed, that the censorious world could not quite believe in it, and whispered that there was a private marriage between Elizabeth and the earl. But he died unmarried in 1697.
When Elizabeth returned to England in 1661 and found no provision for her entertainment at court, Lord Craven’s hospitality placed at her service his house in Drury Lane, where she was his guest for several months, until arrangements were completed for the lease of Leicester House. Combe Abbey, where she had spent her girlhood, was purchased by Craven from Lucy, Countess of Bedford. At Elizabeth’s death, she bequeathed her papers and portraits to this old and faithful friend, who deposited them at Combe Abbey, where they still remain.
Henry A. Beers.
- Sir Henry Wotton, To his Mistress, the Queen of Bohemia.↩
- Evelyn, the diarist, who kissed her hand at The Hague in 1641, mentions her favorite lap-dog, Apollo, in his correspondence with Sir Edward Nicholas. “ Of little dogs and monkeys,” wrote Sir Dudley Carleton, “ she hath no great want, having sixteen or seventeen in her own train.”↩
- For the ingenious but unconvincing theory that The Tempest was written for Elizabeth’s marriage, see Essays of an ex-Librarian, by Richard Garnett, New York and London, 1901, and William Shakespeare, by George Brandes, pp. 647-653. For the lost play of Cardenno, by Fletcher and Shakespeare, acted at court, “ during the Princess Elizabeth’s marriage festivities,”see A Life of William Shakespeare, by Sidney Lee, p. 258. (1898.)↩
- See p. 393.↩
- Alphonse Daudet, Les Rois en Exil.↩
- Studies in History, Legend, and Literature. London. 1884.↩
- The portrait by Honthorst is reproduced in Rait’s Five Stuart Princesses. New York. 1902.↩