Elizabeth I's Speech to her Last Parliament (The Golden Speech)
Q U E E N E
E L I Z A B E T H
S P E E C H
T O H E R
L A S T
P A R L I A M E N T.
The 30 of November
her Maiestie being set vnder 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-score, presenting themselves
at her Maeisties feet, for that so graciously and speedily shee had heard
and yeelded to her Subiects desires, and proclaimed the same in their hearing
perceiue your comming is to present
thankes vnto Vs; Know I accept them with no lesse ioy then your loues can
haue desire to offer such a Present, and doe more esteeme it then any Treasure
of Riches, for those Wee know how to prize, but Loyaltie, Loue, and Thankes,
I account them invaluable, and though God hath raysed Mee high, yet this
I account the glorie of my Crowne, that I haue reigned with your Loues.
This makes that I doe not so much reioyce that God hath made Mee to bee
a Queene, as to bee a Queene ouer so thankfull a People, and to bee the
meane vnder God to conserue you in safety, and preserue you from danger,
yea to bee the Instrument to deliuer you from dishounour, from shame, and
from infamie; to keepe you from out of seruitude, and from slaverie vnder
our Enemies; and cruell tyranny, and vilde oppression intended against
Vs: for the better withstanding wherof, Wee take very acceptably your intended
helpes, and chiefely in that it manifesteth your loues and largenesse of
heart to your Soveraigne. Of My selfe I must say this, I neuer was any
greedy scraping grasper, nor a strict fast holding Prince, nor yet a waster.
My heart was neuer set vpon any worldly goods, but onely for my Subiects
good. What you doe bestow on Me, I will not hoard vp, but receiue 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.
Speaker, I would wish you and the rest to stand vp, for I feare I shall
yet trouble you with longer speech.
Speaker, you give me thankes, but I am more to thank 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
Since I was Queene
yet did I neuer put my Pen to any Grant but vpon pretext and semblance
made Me, that it was for the good and availe of my Subiects generally,
though a private profit to some of my ancient Servants who had deserved
well: But that my Grants shall be made Grievances to my People, and Oppressions,
to bee priviledged vnder colour of Our Patents, Our Princely Dignitie shall
not suffer it.
When I heard
it, I could give no rest vnto my thoughts vntill I had reformed it, &
those Varlets, lewd persons, abusers of my bountie, shall know I will not
suffer it. And Mr. Speaker, tell the House from mee,
I take it exceeding gratefull, that the knowledge of these things are come
vnto 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 haue heard that other Gentlemen also
of the House, who stand as free, haue spoken as freely in it, which giues
Vs to know that no respects or intrests haue moved them other then the
mindes they beare to suffer no diminution of our Honour, and our Subiects
loue vnto Vs. The zeale of which affection tending to ease my People, &
knit their hearts vnto vs, I embrace with a Princely care farre aboue all
earthly Treasures. I esteeme my Peoples loue, more then which I desire
not to merit: And God that gaue me here to sit, and placed me ouer you,
knowes that I neuer respected my selfe, but as your good was conserued
in mee; yet what dangers, what practices, and what perills I have passed,
some, if not all of you know: but none of these things doe mooue mee, or
euer made mee feare, but it is God that hath delivered me.
And in my gouerning
this Land, I haue euer set the last Iudgement day before mine eyes, and
so to rule, as I shall be Iudged and answer before a higher Iudge, to whose
Iudgement Seat I doe appeale in that neuer thought was cherished in my
heart that tended not to my Peoples good.
And if my Princely
bountie haue beene abused, and my Grants turned to the hurt of my People
contrary to my will and meaning, or if any in Authoritie vnder mee haue
neglected, or converted what I haue committed vnto them, I hope God they
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 neuer 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 dishonour, dammage, tyrannie,
and oppresion; But should I ascribe any of these things vnto my selfe,
or my sexly weaknesse, I were not worthy to liue, and of all most vnworthy
of the mercies I haue receiued at Gods hands but to God onely and wholly
all is giuen and ascribed.
The cares and
trouble of a Crowne I cannnot more fitly resemble then to the Drugges of
a learned Physitian, perfumed with some Aromaticall sauour, or to bitter
Pils guilded ouer, by which they are made more exceeptable or lesse offensiue,
which indeed are bitter and vnpleasant to take; and for my owne part, were
it not for Conscience sake to discharge the dutie that God hath layd vpon
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 liue nor to reign longer then my life and reigne shall bee for your
good. And though you haue had and may haue many mightier and wiser Princes
sitting in this Seat, yet you neuer had nor shall haue any that will loue
Speaker, I commend mee to your loyall Loues, and yours to my best
care and your further Councels,
& I pray you Mr. Controullor,
& Mr. Secretary,
you of my councell, that before
these Gentlemen depart into their
you bring them all to kisse my
F I N I S.
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