Since there can be no duer debt than princes’ word, to keep that unspotted for my part, as one that would be loath that the self thing that keepeth merchant’s credit from craze should be the cause that princes’ speeches should merit blame, and so their honor quail; an answer therefore I will make and this it is: the two proceedings that you presented me, in many words expressed, contained these two things: my sortie in marriage, and of your cares the greatest, my succession, of which two the last I think is best be touched, and of the other a silent thought may serve, for I had thought it had been so desired as none other tree’s blossoms should have been minded or hope of my fruit had been denied you.
(And by the way, if any here doubt that I am, as it were, by vow or determination bent never to trade that life, put out that heresy; your belief is awry, for as I think it best for a private woman, so do I strive with my self to think it not meet for a prince, and if I can bend my will to your needs, I will not resist such a mind.)
But, to the last, think not that you had moved this desire, if I had seen a time so fit, and it so ripe to be denounced. The greatness of the cause therefore, and need of your returns, doth make me say that which I think the wise may guess that, as a short time for so long a continuance ought not pass by rote, as many telleth tales, even so as cause by conference with the learned shall show me matter worthy utterance for your behoofs, so shall I most gladly pursue your good after my days, than with just my prayers be a means to linger my living thread.
And this much, more than I had thought, will I add for your comfort: I have good record in this place, that other means than you understood have been thought of, perchance for your good as much and for my surety no less; which if presently could conveniently have been executed, had not been deferred. But I hope I shall die in quiet with nunc dimittis; which can not be without I see some climpse of your following surety after my gravèd bones.
Speech given to Parliament on 10th April 1563
(Source: Elizabeth, Queen of England. “Speech in Parliament, April 10, 1563.”
Anniina Jokinen, ed. Luminarium. 12 Jan 2007. [accessed on 31st August 2009]. http://www.luminarium.org/renlit/elizaspeech1563.htm)