The queen valued these brave men much, but she liked none so well as Lord Essex, till at last he displeased her, and she sent him to govern Ireland. There he fell into difficulties, and she wrote angry letters, which made him think his enemies were setting her against him. So he came back without leave; and one morning came straight into her dressing chamber, where she was sitting, with her thin grey hair being combed, before she put on one of her thirty wigs, or painted her face. She was very angry, and would not forgive him, and he got into a rage, too; and she heard he had said she was an old woman, crooked in temper as in person. What was far worse, he raised the Londoners to break out in a tumult to uphold him. He was taken and sent to the Tower, tried for treason, and found guilty of death. But the queen still loved him, and waited and waited for some message or token to ask her pardon. None came, and she thought he was too proud to beg for mercy. She signed the death warrant, and Essex died on the block. But soon she found that he had really sent a ring she once had given him, to a lady who was to show it to her, in token that he craved her pardon. The ring had been taken by mistake to a cruel lady who hated him, and kept it back. But by-and-by this lady was sick to death. Then she repented, and sent for the queen and gave her the ring, and confessed her wickedness. Poor Queen Elizabeth—her very heart was broken. She said to the dying woman, “God may forgive you, but I cannot.” She said little more after that. She was old, and her strength failed her. Day after day she sat on a pile of cushions, with her finger on her lips, still growing weaker, and begging for the prayers the archbishop read her. And thus, she who had once been so great and spirited, sank into death, when seventy years old, in the year 1602.
James I. A.D. 1602—1625.
After Queen Elizabeth’s death, the next heir was James, the son of Mary of Scotland, and had reigned there ever since his mother had been driven away. He had been brought up very strictly by the Scottish Reformers, who had made him very learned, and kept him under great restraint; and all that he had undergone had tended to make him awkward and strange in his manners. He was timid, and could not bear to see a drawn sword; and he was so much afraid of being murdered, that he used to wear a dress padded and stuffed out all over with wool, which made him look even more clumsy than he was by nature.
The English did not much admire their new king, though it really was a great blessing that England and Scotland should be under the same king at last, so as to end all the long and bloody wars that had gone on for so many years. Still, the Puritans thought that, as James had been brought up in their way of thinking, they would be allowed to make all the changes that Queen Elizabeth had stopped; and the Roman Catholics recollected that he was Queen Mary’s son, and that his Reformed tutors had not made his life very pleasant to him as a boy, so they had hopes from him.