| Our Island Story|
|by H. E. Marshall|
|A child's history of England from earliest legendary times delightfully retold. Beginning with the stories of Albion and Brutus, it relates all the interesting legends and hero tales in which the history of England abounds through the end of the reign of Queen Victoria. Ages 9-12 |
ELIZABETH—THE STORY OF THE QUEEN'S FAVOURITE
 ANOTHER brave and handsome man, who was a great favourite
with the Queen, was the Earl of Essex. He was so handsome
and graceful that the Queen liked to have him always near
her, although she quarrelled with him very often.
Essex loved fighting more than attending upon the Queen, and
twice when there was war he ran away without leave.
Elizabeth was angry, but Essex did great deeds and helped to
make the name of England famous, so she forgave him. Later
she made him commander of an expedition which, however, was
not very successful. Again they quarrelled.
One day the Queen and her councillors were talking about who
should govern Ireland. Elizabeth wanted one man, Essex
another. He grew so angry because she would not take his
advice, that he turned his back upon her. This was a very
rude thing to do, for one must never turn one's back to a
king or queen, but must even walk out of the room backwards
when leaving their presence.
Elizabeth was furious, and, springing up, she boxed the
Essex had been angry before, now he was in a terrible rage.
Forgetting that a man must never fight with a woman, he laid
his hand upon his sword. Then a
gentle-  man who was there
threw himself between the angry Queen and Earl, trying to
calm them both.
But Essex would not be calmed. "I will take a blow from no
one," he cried. "I would not have endured it from her
father, King Henry. I will not take it from a king in
petticoats." And, swearing dreadfully, he flung himself out
of the room, refusing to return.
For some time the advisers of the Queen, and the friends of
the Earl, tried to make peace between them, but in vain.
Essex would not apologise, the Queen would not say that she
was sorry. But in the end the Queen forgave Essex, and he
came back to court.
As they had quarrelled over who should be sent to govern
Ireland, Elizabeth decided to send Essex himself. This was
not at all what Essex wanted. It was a very difficult post,
and he did not wish to accept it, but he was obliged to do
He went to Ireland, but he did not succeed in ruling as the
Queen would have liked. She wrote bitter, angry letters to
him, and he replied with letters as bitter and angry as
At last Essex decided to come back to England to see the
Queen, and try to make friends with her again. Elizabeth
forbade him, but in spite of her orders, he came.
Early one morning he arrived in London, dusty, dirty, and
untidy from his long journey. He was in such haste to see
the Queen that he did not stop to make himself fit to appear
at court. Dusty and untidy as he was, he rushed straight to
the palace. It was so early that the Queen was not up.
Hearing that, Essex ran to her room, without even waiting
till some one had told her that he had arrived.
The Queen was sitting in her room with her hair
down, waiting for her ladies to dress her, when Essex rushed
in and, flinging himself on his knees beside her, kissed her
hand again and again. The Queen was so surprised to see
Essex, and so sorry when she saw how miserable he looked,
that she spoke gently to him and comforted him. So presently
he rose from his knees, and went away feeling that he was
But it was only surprise which had made the Queen kind to
Essex. Later in the day she received him very coldly. Later
still she sent him to prison.
For some time Essex was kept a prisoner, then he was set
free, but he could not again win the Queen's favour. Her
unkindness hurt him so much, that he grew more and more
unhappy, and more and more angry. He began to say unkind
things about the Queen, calling her a foolish old woman who
was growing crooked in mind and body.
It was quite true that Elizabeth was growing old and, being
as vain as ever, she liked to think that she was still young
and pretty. She covered her grey hair with a wig and painted
her face; she sang and danced although she was nearly
seventy years old. But it was wrong and foolish of Essex to
speak as he did, and people were not slow to carry his words
to the Queen.
At last Essex grew so angry, that he tried to raise a
rebellion against Elizabeth. The rebellion failed, and Essex
and those who had helped him were sent to the Tower.
In spite of all their quarrels Elizabeth really loved Essex.
Now she felt it very hard to condemn him to death. Still she
Long before this, Elizabeth had one day given Essex a ring
telling him, that if ever she should be angry with him, she
would forgive him, if he sent this ring back to her.
 When Essex heard that he was to die he remembered this
promise, and he made up his mind to send the ring to
Elizabeth, hoping that she would pardon him. But he did not
know how to send it. He was afraid to give it to any of the
Queen's courtiers, for he knew that many of them were his
enemies. They were only too glad that he should be in
disgrace, and would never deliver the ring to the Queen.
At length one day, as he looked sadly from his prison
window, he saw a boy passing. The boy had a pleasant, honest
face, and Essex felt sure that he might be trusted. He
called to him and, throwing the ring down, told him to take
it to his cousin, who was a kind lady and loved him. "Tell
the lady," he said, "to show this ring to the Queen, and all
will be well."
The boy took the ring, promising to do as he was asked.
Then Essex threw down a purse full of gold, as a reward for
his kindness, and the boy went away very pleased.
But by mistake he gave the ring to the wrong lady. Instead
of giving it to the cousin of Essex, who loved him, he gave
it to another lady, who hated him. This lady showed the ring
to her husband, and as he, too, hated Essex, they resolved
to keep the ring and say nothing about it. So Elizabeth
never knew that Essex had sent it.
She, too, had remembered her promise, and hoped that Essex
would send the ring. She waited and waited, but day after
day went past, and it never came. At last, thinking that he
was too proud to ask forgiveness, she ordered his head to be
cut off. So proud and foolish Essex died, believing his
Queen was still angry with him.
Elizabeth was growing old; many of her friends had died and
left her, and after the death of Essex she was
 often very
sad. The people too, who had loved Essex, were angry with
her for having put him to death, and that made her more sad
When the lady who had kept back the ring was about to die
she felt very sorry for what she had done. She could not
find peace until she had confessed to the Queen, and asked
her forgiveness. She sent a message to the Queen, begging
her to come to her. Elizabeth came, but when she heard the
story, instead of forgiving the poor dying lady, she shook
her fiercely, saying, "God may forgive you, I never can."
At last Elizabeth herself grew very ill, but she would not
go to bed. She sat day and night upon cushions on the floor,
doing nothing but staring before her, with her finger in her
Then Sir Robert Cecil, the son of the great Lord Burleigh,
who had been so wise and faithful a friend to Elizabeth,
said, "For the sake of your people, madam, you must go to
"Must!" exclaimed the Queen, " 'must' is not a word to use
to princes. Little man, little man, your father would not
have dared to use that word. But you know I must die, and
that makes you so bold."
But at last she allowed herself to be carried to bed. Some
of her lords, knowing that she had not long to live, asked
whom she wished to reign after her. "I will have no rascal's
son in my seat," she said, and would say no more.
Later they asked again, "Do you desire your cousin, the King
of Scotland, to have the crown?"
The Queen only moved her head, but it seemed to those around
that she meant to say, "Yes." She never spoke again.
On March 24, 1603 A.D., this great queen died, having
 reigned forty-five years. She had loved her country and her
people, and her people loved her and wept for her at her
death. No ruler had ever before been so mourned.
She was the last of the Tudor sovereigns, and with her
successor, James, a new race of kings, called the Stuarts,
began to reign in England.
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