Nonfiction > Henry Craik, ed. > English Prose > Vol. II. Sixteenth Century to the Restoration
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Henry Craik, ed.  English Prose.  1916.
Vol. II. Sixteenth Century to the Restoration
 
Public Fears
By John Hayward (1564?–1627)
 
From Annals of Elizabeth

THE LAST sickness of Queen Mary was both exceeding sharp and of long continuance, her body being wearied, and almost wasted, with the violence of her disease; her mind anguished with thoughts, no less strange for variety, than strong for the great importance they drew, whereof some (doubtless) were secret and singular. And whilst she lay thus languishing under the heavy hand of death, many false rumours were spread abroad that she was dead: whereupon a notable example might have been seen how in a royal state the surety of the common people depends much upon the life and safety of their prince. For every man’s mind was then travailed with a strange confusion of conceits, all things being immoderately either dreaded or desired. Every report was greedily both inquired and received, all truths suspected, divers tales believed, many improbable conjectures hatched and nourished. Invasion of strangers, civil dissension, the doubtful disposition of the succeeding prince, were cast in every man’s conceit as present perils; but no man did busy his wits in contriving remedies. They who held themselves in danger, seemed to desire nothing but safety; they who apprehended any opinion of safety, did rise into unreasonable desire of liberty; wherein they were as various as in anything beside, as well for the particulars, as for the limits of that which they desired. In this medley of thoughts, some thought to save themselves by adherents, some by adjoining to those who had more to lose than themselves; some stood upon their proper strength, either for their own preservation, or for abating of such as they esteemed too great. Generally, the rich were fearful, the wise careful, the honestly-disposed doubtful, the discontented and the desperate, and all such whose desires were both immoderate and evil, joyful, as wishing trouble, the gate of spoil.
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