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A certain degree of success, real or supposed, in the delineation of Queen Mary,
naturally induced the author to attempt something similar respecting "her sister and her
foe," the celebrated Elizabeth. He will not, however, pretend to have approached the
task with the same feelings; for the candid Robertson himself confesses having felt the
prejudices with which a Scottishman is tempted to regard the subject; and what so
liberal a historian avows, a poor romance-writer dares not disown. But he hopes the
influence of a prejudice, almost as natural to him as his native air, will not be found to
have greatly affected the sketch he has attempted of England's Elizabeth. I have
endeavoured to describe her as at once a high-minded sovereign, and a female of
passionate feelings, hesitating betwixt the sense of her rank and the duty she owed her
subjects on the one hand, and on the other her attachment to a nobleman, who, in
external qualifications at least, amply merited her favour. The interest of the story is
thrown upon that period when the sudden death of the first Countess of Leicester
seemed to open to the ambition of her husband the opportunity of sharing the crown of
his sovereign.
It is possible that slander, which very seldom favours the memories of persons in
exalted stations, may have blackened the character of Leicester with darker shades
than really belonged to it. But the almost general voice of the times attached the most
foul suspicions to the death of the unfortunate Countess, more especially as it took
place so very opportunely for the indulgence of her lover's ambition. If we can trust
Ashmole's Antiquities of Berkshire, there was but too much ground for the traditions
which charge Leicester with the murder of his wife. In the following extract of the
passage, the reader will find the authority I had for the story of the romance:--
"At the west end of the church are the ruins of a manor, anciently belonging (as a cell,
or place of removal, as some report) to the monks of Abington. At the Dissolution, the
said manor, or lordship, was conveyed to one -- Owen (I believe), the possessor of
Godstow then.
"In the hall, over the chimney, I find Abington arms cut in stone--namely, a patonee
between four martletts; and also another escutcheon--namely, a lion rampant, and
several mitres cut in stone about the house. There is also in the said house a chamber
called Dudley's chamber, where the Earl of Leicester's wife was murdered, of which this
is the story following:--
"Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, a very goodly personage, and singularly well featured,
being a great favourite to Queen Elizabeth, it was thought, and commonly reported, that
had he been a bachelor or widower, the Queen would have made him her husband; to
this end, to free himself of all obstacles, he commands, or perhaps, with fair flattering
entreaties, desires his wife to repose herself here at his servant Anthony Forster's
house, who then lived in the aforesaid manor-house; and also prescribes to Sir Richard