Asser’s Life of Alfred; the Saxon Chronicle;
Alfred’s own writings;
Bede’s Ecclesiastical History; Thorpe’s Ancient Laws and Institutes of
England; Kemble’s Saxons in England; Sir F. Palgrave’s History of the
English Commonwealth; Sharon Turner’s History of the Anglo-Saxons;
Green’s History of the English People; Dr. Pauli’s Life of Alfred;
Alfred the Great, by Thomas Hughes. Freeman, Pearson, Hume, Spelman,
Knight, and other English historians may be consulted.
WOMAN AS A SOVEREIGN.
I do not present Queen Elizabeth either as a very interesting or as a faultless woman. As a woman she is not a popular favorite. But it is my object to present her as a queen; to show with what dignity and ability a woman may fill one of the most difficult and responsible stations of the world. It is certain that we associate with her a very prosperous and successful reign; and if she was lacking in those feminine qualities which make woman interesting to man, we are constrained to admire her for those talents and virtues which shed lustre around a throne. She is unquestionably one of the links in the history of England and of modern civilization; and her reign is so remarkable, considering the difficulties with which she had to contend, that she may justly be regarded as one of the benefactors of her age and country. It is a pleasant task to point out the greatness, rather than the defects, of so illustrious a woman.
It is my main object to describe her services to her country, for it is by services that all monarchs are to be judged; and all sovereigns, especially those armed with great power, are exposed to unusual temptations, which must ever qualify our judgments. Even bad men—like Caesar, Richelieu, and Napoleon—have obtained favorable verdicts in view of their services. And when sovereigns whose characters have been sullied by weaknesses and defects, yet who have escaped great crimes and scandals and devoted themselves to the good of their country, have proved themselves to be wise, enlightened, and patriotic, great praise has been awarded to them. Thus, Henry IV. of France, and William III. of England have been admired in spite of their defects.
Queen Elizabeth is the first among the great female sovereigns of the world with whose reign we associate a decided progress in national wealth, power, and prosperity; so that she ranks with the great men who have administered kingdoms. If I can prove this fact, the sex should be proud of so illustrious a woman, and should be charitable to those foibles which sullied the beauty of her character, since they were in part faults of the age, and developed by the circumstances which surrounded her.