The Golden Speech of Queen ELIZABETH TO HER LAST PARLIAMENT, 30 November, Anno Domini, 1601.
THis Speech ought to be set in Letters of Gold, that aswell the Majesty, prudence and virtue of this Royal Queen might in general most exquisitely appear; as also that her Religious Love, and tender respect which she particularly, and constantly did bear to her Parliament in unfeigned since∣rity, might (to the shame, and perpetual disgrace and infamy of some of her Successors) be nobly and truly vindicated, and proclaimed, with all grateful recognition to God for so great a Blessing to his poor people of England, in vouchsafing them heretofore such a gracious Princess, and magnanimous Defendor of the Reformed Religion, and heroick Patroness of the liberty of her Subjects in the freedom and honour of their Parliaments; which have been under God, the continual Conservators of the Splendour, and wealth of this Common-wealth against Tyranny, and Oppression.
WEE perceive your coming is to present Thanks unto Us; Know, I accept them with no lesse Joy, than your Loves can have desire to offer such a Present, and do more esteem it, than any Treasure of Riches; for those We know how to prize, but Loyalty, Love, and Thanks, I account them invaluable: and though God hath raised Me high, yet this I account the glory of my Crown, that I have Reigned with your Loves. This makes that I do not so much Rejoyce, that God hath made Me to be a Queen, as to be a Queen over so Thankful a Peo∣ple, and to be the mean, under God, to conserve you in Safety, and to preserve you from Danger; yea, to be the Instrument to deliver you from dishonour, shame, and infamy; to keep you from servitude, and from slavery under our Enemies, and cruel tyranny, and vile Oppression intended against Us: for the better withstanding whereof, We take very acceptably your intended helps, and chiefly in that it manifesteth your loves, and largeness of heart to your So∣veraign. Of my self 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 only for my Subjects good. What you do bestow on Me, I will not hoard up, but receive it to bestow on you again; yea, Mine own Properties I account yours, to be expended for your good, and your eyes shall see the bestowing of it for your welfare.
Mr. Speaker, I would wish you, and the rest to stand up, for I fear I shall yet trouble you with longer Speech. Mr. Speaker, you give Me thanks, but I am more to thank you, and I charge you, thank them of the Lower-House from Me, for had I not received know∣ledge from you, I might a fallen into the lapse of an Error, only for want of true information. Since I was Queen, yet did I never put My Pen to any Grant but upon pretext, and semblance made Me, that it was for the good, and avail of my Subjects generally, though a private profit to some of my ancient Servants who have deserved well: But that my Grants shall be made Grievances to my People, and Oppressions, to be priviledged under colour of our Pattents, Our Princely Dignity shall not suffer it. When I heard it, I could give no rest unto my thoughts until I had reformed it, and those Varlets, lewd persons, abusers of my bounty, shall know I will not suffer it. And Mr. Speaker, tell the House from me, I take it exceeding grateful that the knowledge of these things are come unto Me from them. And though amongst them the principal Members are such as are not touched in private, and therefore need not speak from any feeling of the grief, 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 interests have moved them other then the minds they bear to suffer no dimi∣nution of our Honour, and our Subjects love unto Us. The zeal of which affection tending to ease my People, and knit their hearts unto Us, I embrace with a Princely care farre above all earthly Treasures. I esteem my peoples love, more than which I desire not to merit; And God that gave me here to sit, and placed me over you, knows that I never respected my self, but as your good was concer∣ned in Me: yet what dangers, what practices, and what perils I have passed, some, if not all of you know, but none of these things do move Me, or ever made me fear, 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 Judge∣ment-Seat I do appeal in that, never thought was cherished in my heart that tended not to my peoples good. And if my princely bounty have been abused, and my Grants turned to the hurt of my people contrary to my will and meaning, or if any in Authority under Me 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 were a Crown, is a thing more glorious to them that see it, than it is pleasant to them that bear it: for my selfe, I never was so much inticed with the glorious name of a King, or the royal authority of a Queen, as delighted that God hath made Me his Instrument to maintain his Truth and Glory, and to defend this Kingdom from dishonor, damage, tyranny, and oppression. But should I ascribe any of these things unto my self, or my sexly weaknesse, I were not worthy to live, and of all most unworthy of the mercies I have received at Gods hands: but to God only and and wholly all is given and ascribed. The cares and trouble of a Crown I cannot more fitly resemble, than to the Drugges of a learned Physitian, perfumed with some Aromatical savour, or to bit∣ter Pils gilded over, by which they are made more acceptable or lesse offensive, which indeed are bitter and unpleasant to take; and for mine own part, were it not for conscience sake to discharge the duty that God hath laid upon Me, & to maintain his Glory, and keep you in Safety, in mine own 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 or reign longer, than my life & reign shall be for your good. And though you have had and may have many mightier and wiser Princes sitting in this Seat, yet you never had, nor shall have any that will love you better.
Thus Mr. Speaker, I commend Me to your loyal Loves, and yours to my best care, and your further Councels; and I pray you Mr. Controullor, and Mr. Secretary, and you of my Councel, that before these Gentlemen depart into their Countreys you bring them all to kisse my Hand.