119. Bishop Quadra to the Duchess of Parma.
Since writing, news of importance is current here which I convey
to your Highness.
The Queen told me she was sure the French did not lack the will
to injure her but only the power, and that they (the French) had
not dismissed any of their troops.
She had promised me an answer about the marriage by the third
instant, and said she was certain to marry, but now she coolly tells
me she cannot make up her mind and will not marry. After this
I had an opportunity of talking to Cecil, who I understood was in
disgrace, and Robert was trying to turn him out of his place. After
exacting many pledges of strict secresy, he said the Queen was
conducting herself in such a way that he thought of retiring. He
said it was a bad sailor who did not enter port if he could when
he saw a storm coming on, and he clearly foresaw the ruin of the
realm through Robert's intimacy with the Queen, who surrendered
all affairs to him and meant to marry him. He said he did not
know how the country put up with it, and he should ask leave to
go home, although he thought they would cast him into the Tower
first. He ended by begging me in God's name to point out to the
Queen the effect of her misconduct, and persuade her not to abandon
business entirely but to look to her realm ; and then he repeated
twice over to me that Lord Robert would be better in Paradise
I expressed sorrow at what he said, and reminded him how
earnestly I had always tried to advise the Queen to act aright and
live peacefully and marry. He knew how little my advice had
availed, although the Queen willingly listened to me. I would not
tire of well-doing however, but would take the first opportunity of
speaking again, although I understood that it was hopeless to expect
a peaceful settlement of her quarrel with the French. Cecil answered
me in a way that seemed as if he would like to excuse the French.
He said the Queen did not like foreigners, and thought she could
do without them, and that she had an enormous debt which she
would not think of paying. She had, therefore, lost her credit with
the London merchants.
He ended by saying that Robert was thinking of killing his wife,
who was publicly announced to be ill, although she was quite well,
and would take very good care they did not poison her. He said
surely God would never allow such a wicked thing to be done. I
ended the conversation by again expressing my sorrow without
saying anything to compromise me, although I am sure he speaks
the truth and is not acting crookedly.
This mishap of the Secretary must produce great effect, as he has
many companions in discontent, especially the duke of Norfolk,
whom he mentioned.
The next day the Queen told me as she returned from hunting
that Robert's wife was dead or nearly so, and asked me not to
say anything about it. Certainly this business is most shameful
and scandalous, and withal I am not sure whether she will marry
the man at once or even if she will marry at all, as I do not think
she has her mind sufficiently fixed. Cecil says she wishes to do
as her father did.
Their quarrels cannot injure public business, as nobody worse
than Cecil can be at the head of affairs, but the outcome of it all
might be the imprisonment of the Queen and the proclamation of
the earl of Huntingdon (fn. 1) as King. He is a great heretic, and the
French forces might be used for him. Cecil says he is the real
heir of England, and all the heretics want him. I do not like
Cecil's great friendship with the bishop of Valence. Perhaps I
am too suspicious, but with these people it is always wisest to
think the worst. The cry is that they do not want any more
women rulers, and this woman may find herself and her favourite
in prison any morning. They would all confide in me if I mixed
myself up in their affairs, but I have no orders, and am temporising
until I receive your Highness' instructions. Your Highness should
advise the King not to wait until the Queen mends matters.
Since writing the above I hear the Queen has published the
death of Robert's (wife), and, said in Italian, "She broke her neck."
She must have fallen down a staircase.—London, 11th September