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Emory Women Writers Resource Project

Queene Elizabeth's Speech to Her Last Parliament, an electronic edition

by Elizabeth [Queen] [Elizabeth I, Queen]

date: 1642
source publisher:
collection: Early Modern through the 18th Century

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The 30 of November 1601, her Maiestie being set ronder State in the Councell Chamber at Whitehall, the Speaker, accompanied with Privy Councellours, besides Knights and Burgesses of the lower House to the number of eight-scoore, presenting themselves at her Maiesties feet, for that so graciously and speedily shee had heard and yielded to her Subjects desires, and proclaimed the same in their bearing as followeth.

Mr. Speaker,

Wee perceive your comming is to present thankes unto Us, Know I accept them with no lesse joy then your loves can have desire to offer such a Present, and doe more esteeme it them any Treasure or Riches, for those Wee know how to prize, but Loyaltie, Love, and Thankes, I account them invaluable; and though God hath raysed Mee high, yet this I account the glorie of my Crowne, that I have reigned with your Loves. This makes that I doe not so much rejoyce that God hath made Mee to bee a Queene | | A2 as to bee a Queene over so thankefull a People, and to bee the meane under God to conserne you in safety, and preserve you from danger, yea to bee the Instrument to deliver you from dishonour, from shame, and from infamie; to keepe you from out of servitude, and from slaverie under our Enemies, and cruell tyranny, and vilde oppression intended against us: for the better withstanding wherof, Wee take very acceptably your intended helpes, and chiefely in that it manifesteth your loves and largenesse of heart to your Soverigne. Of My selfe I must say this, I never was any greedy scraping grasper, nor a strict fast-holding Prince, nor yet a waster, My heart was never set upon any worldly goods, but onely for my Subjects good. What you doe bestow on Me, I will not hoard up, but receive it to bestow on you againe; yea Mine owne Properties I account yours to bee expended for your good, and your eyes shall see the bestowing of it for your wellfare.

Mr. Speaker, I would wish you and the rest to stand up, for I feare I shall yet trouble you with longer speech.

Mr. Speaker, you give me thankes, but I am more to thanke you, and I charge you, thanke them of the Lower-House from Me, for had I not received knowledge from you, I might a fallen into the lapse of an Error, onely for want of true information.

Since I was Queene yet did I never put My Pen to any Grant but upon pretext and semblance made Me, that it was for the good and availe of my subjects generally, though a private profit to some of my ancient Servants who have deserved well: But that my Grants shall bee made Grievances to my People, and Oppressions, to bee privileged under colour of Our Pattents, Our Princely Dignitie shall not suffer it.

When I heard it, I could give no rest unto my thoughts untill I had reformed it, & those Varlets, lewd persons, abusers of my bountie, shall know I wil not suffer it. And Mr. Speaker, tell the House from mee, I take it exceeding gratefull, that the knowledge of these things are come unto mee from them. And though amongst them the principall Members are such as are not touched in private, and therefore need not speake from any feeling of the griefe, yet We have heard that other Gentlemen also of the House, who stand as free, have spoken as freely in it; which gives Us to know that no respects or intrests have moved them other then the mindes they beare to suffer no diminution of our Honour, and our Subjects love unto Us. The zeale of which affection tending to ease my People, & knit their hearts unto us, I embrace with a Princely care farre above all earthly Treasures. I esteeme my Peoples love, more then which I desire not to merit: And god that gave me here to sit, and placed mee over you, knowes that I never respected | | A3 my selfe, but as your good was conserved in mee; yet what dangers, what practises, and what perills I have passed, some, if not all of you know: but none of these things doe moove mee, or ever made mee feare, but it is God that hath delivered me.

And in my governing this Land, I have ever set the last Judgement day before mine eyes, and so to rule, as I shall be judged and answer before a higher Judge, to whose judgement Seat I doe appeale in that never thought was cherished in my heart that tended not to my Peoples good.

And if my Princely bountie have beene abused, and my Grants turned to the hurt of my People contrary to my will and meaning, or if any in Authoritie under mee have neglected, or converted what I have committed unto them, I hope God will not lay their culps to my charge.

To be a King, and weare a Crown, is a thing more glorious to them that see it, then it is pleasant to them that beare it: for my selfe, I never was so much inticed with the glorious name of a King, or the royall authoritie of a Queene, as delighted that God hath made me His Instrument to maintaine His Truth and Glorie, and to defend this Kingdome from dishounour, dammage, tyrannie, and oppression. But should I ascribe any of these things unto my selfe, or my sexly weaknesse, I were not worthy to line, and of all most unworthy of the mercies I have received at Gods hands but to God onely and wholly all is given and ascribed.

The cares and trouble of a Crowne I cannot more fitly resemble then to the Drugges of a learned Physitian, perfumed with some Aromaticall Savour, or to bitter Pils guilded over, by which they are made more exceptable or lesse offensive, which indeed are bitter and unpleasant to take; and for my owne part, were it not for Conscience sake to discharge the dutie that God hath layd upon me, and to maintaine his glorie, and keepe you in safetie, in mine owne disposition I should be willing to resigne the place I hold to any other, and glad to be freed of the Glory with the Labors, for it is not my desire to live nor to reign longer then my life and reigne shall bee for your good. And though you have had and may have many mightier and wiser Princes fitting in this Seat, yet you never had nor shall have any that will love you better.

Thus Mr. Speaker, I commend mee to your loyall Loves, and yours to my best care and your further Councels, & I pray you Mr. Controullor, & Mr. Secretary, and you of my Councell, that before these Gentlemen depart into their Countreys you bring them all to kisse my Hand.