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Elizabeth the first, of England, has fascinated many historians. Various enigmas have served as the theme of speculation and wonder. British subjects feel a subtle mixture of awe, reverence, and love for their rulers which makes the royal sovereign occupy a position of respect and fealty for which we in the United States have no counterpart and no substitute. But this sacrosanct state has tended to be an inhibiting influence on historians and biographers who set about peering into the inner secrets of such a marvelous and complex person as the first Elizabeth. Some years ago, after I had met Sir Arthur MacNalty, he sent me a copy of his delightful book, Henry VIII: A Difficult Patient. Though the emphasis in the Queen's biography is found in the subtitle, The Lonely Queen, he might perhaps equally well have said a Difficult Person.
We all marvel at the virtuosity of the