GOOD QUEEN BESS
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Elizabeth's Golden Speech.
It follows the full text transcript of
Elizabeth I's Golden Speech, delivered at
London, England - November 30, 1601.
WE have heard your
Declaration, and perceive your Care of Our
State, by falling into the Consideration of a
grateful Acknowledgment of such Benefits as you
have Received; and that your Coming is to
present Thanks unto Us, which I Accept with no
less Joy, than your Loves can have Desire to
offer such a Present.
I do assure you,
There is no Prince that loveth his Subjects
better, or whose Love can countervail Our Love.
There is no Jewel, be it of never so Rich a
Price, which I set before this Jewel; I mean,
your Love: For I do more Esteem of It, than of
any Treasure or Riches; for That we know how to
prize, but Love and Thanks I count invaluable.
And, though God
hath raised Me high; yet This I count the Glory
of my Crown, That I have Reigned with your
Loves. This makes me that I do not so much
rejoice, That God hath made Me to be a Queen,
as, To be a Queen over so Thankful a People.
Therefore, I have
Cause to wish nothing more, than to Content the
Subjects; and that is a Duty which I owe:
Neither do I desire to live longer days, than
that I may see your Prosperity; and That's my
And as I am that
Person, that still (yet under God) hath
delivered you; so I trust, by the Almighty Power
of God that I still shall be His Instrument to
Preserve you from Envy, Peril, Dishonor, Shame,
Tyranny, and Oppression; partly by Means of your
intended Helps, which We take very Acceptably,
because it manifests the Largeness of your Loves
and Loyalty to your Sovereign.
Of My Self, I must
say this, I was never any greedy scraping
Grasper, nor a straight, fast-holding Prince,
nor yet a Waster. My Heart was never set on
Worldly Goods, but only for my Subjects Good.
What You do bestow on Me, I will not hoard it
up, but Receive it to bestow on You again: Yea,
My own Proprieties I count Yours, and to be
Expended for your Good; and your Eyes shall see
the Bestowing of All, for your Good.
unto Them from Me, I beseech you, Mr. Speaker,
such Thanks as you imagine my Heart yieldeth,
but my Tongue cannot express.
[The Queen bids
the Commons rise up.]
You give Me
Thanks; but I doubt Me, that I have more Cause
to Thank You all, than You Me. And I charge you,
to Thank them of the Lower-House, from Me: For
had I not received a Knowledge from you, I might
have fallen into the Lapse of an Error, only for
Lack of True Information.
Since I was Queen,
yet, did I never put my Pen unto any Grant, but
that, upon Pretext and Semblance made unto Me,
it was both Good and Beneficial to the Subject
in general; though a private Profit to some of
My Ancient Servants, who had deserved well at My
Hands. But the Contrary being found by
Experience, I am exceedingly beholding to such
Subjects, as would move the same at the first.
And I am not so Simple to suppose, but that
there are some of the Lower-House, whom these
Grievances never touched. And for Them, I think
they spoke out of Zeal for their Countries, and
not out of Spleen, or Malevolent Affection, as
being Parties grieved. And I take 'it exceeding
Gratefully from them; because it gives Us to
know, that no Respects or Interests had moved
them other than the minds they bear to suffer no
diminution of our Honor, and our subjects Loves
unto Us. The zeal of which Affection, tending to
ease my People, and Knit their hearts unto Me, I
embrace with a Princely care; for (above all
earthly Treasure) I esteem my People's Love,
more than which I desire not to Merit.
That my Grants
should be grievous to my People, and Oppressions
privileged under color of our Patents; our
Kingly Dignity shall not suffer it: yea, when I
heard it, I could give no rest unto my Thoughts
until I had Reformed it.
Shall they think
to escape unpunished, that have thus Oppressed
you, and have been respectless of their Duty,
and regardless of Our Honor? No, Mr. Speaker, I
assure you, were it not more for
Conscience-sake, than for any Glory or Increase
of Love, that I desire; these Errors, Troubles,
Vexations and Oppressions done by these Varlets
and lewd Persons, not worthy the name of
Subjects, should not escape without Condign
But I perceive
they dealt with Me like Physicians, who
Administering a Drug, make it more acceptable by
giving it a good Aromatical Savor, or when they
give Pills, do Gild them all over.
I have ever used
to set the last Judgment-Day before my Eyes, as
so to Rule, as I shall be Judged to Answer
before a higher Judge, to whose Judgment Seat I
do Appeal, That never Thought was Cherished in
my Heart, that tended not to my People's Good.
And now, if my Kingly 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 perverted
what I have Committed to them; I hope God will
not lay their Culps and Offences to my Charge;
who though there were danger in repealing our
Grants, yet what danger would I not rather incur
for your Good, than I would suffer them still to
I know the Title
of a KING is a Glorious Title. But assure your
self, That the Shining Glory of Princely
Authority, hath not so dazzled the Eyes of our
Understanding; but that we well know and
remember that We also are to yield an Account of
our Actions, before the Great Judge.
To be a KING, and
wear a Crown, is a thing more Glorious to them
that see it, than it is pleasing to them that
bear it: For my self, I was never so much
enticed with the Glorious Name of a KING, or
Royal Authority of a QUEEN, as delighted that G
O D had made Me his Instrument to maintain his
Truth and Glory, and to Defend this Kingdom (as
I said) from Peril, Dishonor, Tyranny, and
There will never
Queen sit in my Seat, with more Zeal to my
country, Care for my Subjects, and that sooner
with willingness will venture her Life for your
Good and Safety, than My Self. For it is not my
desire to Live nor Reign longer, than my Life
and Reign shall be for your Good. And though you
have had, and may have many Princes, more Mighty
and Wife, sitting in this State; yet you never
had, or shall have any that will be more Careful
Shall I ascribe
any thing to my Self, and my Sexly Weakness? I
were not worthy to Live then; and of all, most
unworthy of the great Mercies I have had from
God, who hath ever yet given me a Heart, which
never yet feared Foreign or Home-Enemy. I speak
it to give God the Praise, as a Testimony before
you, and not to Attribute any thing to My Self.
For I, O Lord, What am I, whom Practices and
Perils past should not fear? Or, What can I do?
That I should
speak for any Glory, God forbid.
This, Mr. Speaker,
I pray you deliver to the House, to whom
heartily commend Me.
And so, I commit
you All to your best Fortunes, and further
Councils. And I pray you, Mr. Comptroller, Mr.
Secretary, and You of My Council, That before
these Gentlemen depart into their Countries, you
bring them All to Kiss My Hand.