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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume IV. Prose and Poetry: Sir Thomas North to Michael Drayton.

XIV. Some Political and Social Aspects of the Later Elizabethan and Earlier Stewart Period

§ 9. Elizabeth’s Ministers before and after the crisis

In these years of suspense, preparation and contest, there had grown into manhood the generation which included the statesmen, soldiers and sailors, and various types of adventurers declining to be classified, who came to the front in the later years of the reign of queen Elizabeth. It was a new England on which she looked—full of men eager for glory as well as for gain, self-confident as well as self-seeking, ready to plunder the wealth of the Spanish coast and to go shares with the Dutch in appropriating the profits of the trade of the far east. And the character of the leaders seemed to have changed as the outlook of the country had become more ambitious and impatient. Burghley, indeed, who survived till 1598, was followed in his chief offices (sooner or later) by his son, a lesser man than himself, but one who proved able, before long, to command the confidence not only of the queen but of her probable successor. Walsingham, a puritan at heart, but (like the greatest of the parliamentary puritans of a later generation, Pym) not afraid of plunging his foot into the maze of court intrigues, passed away in 1590; and another partisan and affecter of puritanism, Leicester, the people’s “violent hate,” if he was the queen’s chosen companion, died two years earlier, on the very morrow of the great victory. The men to whom, together with the indispensable Robert Cecil, the queen granted her confidence in her declining years, or on whom, when that confidence was but imperfectly given, she bestowed at least the waning sunshine of her smiles, were true children of their age. Instead of circumspectly and silently choosing their path between dangers on the right and on the left, they pressed forward in the race for honour and wealth “outspoken and turbulent, overflowing with life and energy.”