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greedy and raging lions; even so was I overwhelmed, and only by thee delivered. To thee, therefore, only be thanks, honour, and praise, for ever. Amen.'
"And now, having conducted Elizabeth to this triumphant moment of her life, we will leave the subject this morning," said Mr. Wilmot, "and renew it to-morrow."
"That Elizabeth was a woman endowed with a masculine mind," said Mr. Wilmot, "that she was prudent, wise, and energetic to an extraordinary degree, and that she deserves to be ranked amongst the most illustrious of sovereigns, cannot be denied; and yet, contrary to Roger Ascham's assertions, respecting her early simplicity, we find her, after ascending the throne, uniting to all this greatness of character, a vanity so unbounded, and a love of admiration so childish and weak, that we start at the contrast and inconsistency, displayed at times by this wonderful female.
"Contemporary historians have left on record several descriptions of the public festivities then in fashion; and though it must be allowed, that the spirit of the age fostered this romantic turn of disposition; yet we can hardly help mingling a smile of ridicule, with our admiration of the loftier traits of her mind, when we peruse the accounts of the entertainments with which the queen was wont to be amused, even to a late period of life. Holinshed, with his usual minuteness, has entered very fully into the relation of these festivities; and I shall abridge, for your amusement, one of the many narrations he presents us with.
"In one of her progresses, which were very frequent, she stopped at Norwich, where she was received by the mayor and corporation, with every demonstration of joy, and with a variety of orations and most doggrel rhyme.
"Two days after her arrival, Mercury, in a blue satin doublet, lined with cloth of gold, his garments 'cut and slashed in the finest manner,' with a peaked hat of the same colour, as though it would cut and sever the wind asunder; and on the same, a pair of wings, and wings at his feet, in a coach, most extraordinarily painted with birds and naked spirits, hanging by the heels in the air and clouds, and with horses winged and painted, appeared at her window, and invited her to go abroad, and see more shows; and a kind of mask, in which Venus and Cupid, with wantonness and riot, were discomfited, in no very gentle manner, by the goddess of Chastity and her attendants, was exhibited in the open air.
"A troop of nymphs and fairies lay in am
bush for her return from dining with the earl of Surry; and in the midst of these heathenish exhibitions, the minister of the Dutch church waited his opportunity to offer to her the grateful homage of his flock. After this oration, a very curious compliment was paid her, in the form of a monument, on which was artificially graven the scriptural history of Joseph; and in the middle of the same device, was a figure of a serpent, entwining itself around a dove, which bore this sentence s 'Wise as the serpent, and meek as the dove.'
"It appears that the inventing of masks, devices, and pageants, for the recreation of the queen in her progresses, was a distinct profession. George Ferrers, formerly commemorated as inventor of pastimes to Edward the Sixth; one Goldingham; and Churchyard, author of the Worthieness of Wales, of some legends in the Mirror of Magistrates, and of a prodigious quantity of verse on various subjects, were the most celebrated proficients in this branch: all three are handed down to posterity, as contributors to the 'princely pleasures of Kenilworth;' and the two latter, as the managers of the Norwich entertainments.
"But although it is not my intention to enter into all the pageants which were exhibited, during the six days of the queen's stay at Norwich, I cannot, however, pass over the very original one, representing a battle between six gentleman, apparelled only in doublet, hose, and helmet on the head: during which, 'the legs and arms of men, well and lively wrought, were to be let fall, in numbers, on the ground; as bloody as might be.' A violent shower of rain prevented Elizabeth's enjoying this delicate exhibition; and the following day she left the city, passing under wreaths, made of flowers, extended from each side of the street, and mixed with garlands, coronets, pictures, rich cloths, and a thousand devices; whilst songs of lamentation for her departure, and orations on the high honour she had done the inhabitants, saluted her ear, till she reached the purlieus of Norwich.
"Whilst I am willing to allow," said Mrs. Spencer, "that taste was as yet in its infancy, and the ludicrous incongruities, and pedantic labour, exhibited in these diversions, are characteristic of a semi-barbarous age; still I cannot but express my surprise, that a mind so highly gifted as was that of Elizabeth, could find amusement in such uncouth representations, and puerile performances. But I have not yet, Sir, remarked any evidence of personal