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of his age.
this time have I disembled.”. He was immediate- Cranmer possessed neither the genius nor the ly led to the stage which had been erected for his learning of the German theologian ; and though execution, opposite Baliol College, where he put naturally as candid and truth-loving, did not exoff his clothes in haste, and standing in his shirt, hibit the same ingenuous buoyancy in troubled and without shoes, was fastened with a chain to waters. The truth is, the very virtues of his the stake. Some of the crowd urged him to de- character united with its defects in unfitting him clare in favour of his former recantations. He an- for high stations in times like those which it was swered, showing his hand, “ This is the hand that his fate to live in. wrote it, and the it shall suffer punishment.” He was constitutionally wedded to peace and Fire being applied to him, he stretched out his quietness; and wanting, as we have seen, firmright hand into the flame, and held it there unmov- ness and decision of purpose, and the higher and ed (except that once with it he wiped his face) sterner elements of moral greatness, was too glad till it was consumed, crying with a loud voice, to embrace repose from toil and danger upon al“ This hand hath offended—this unworthy right most any terms. Hence we may conclude that, hand.” At last, the fire getting up, he soon ex- had his lot been confined to private life, his conpired, never stirring or crying out all the while, duct would have been unexceptionably amiable, only keeping his eyes fixed on heaven, and re- and himself universally respected ; and hence we peating more than once,“ Lord Jesus, receive my may also affirm, that under no circumstances spirit !” Cranmer thus perished, in the 67th year could he have been a great man.
As it is, we
pity much more than we condemn him, and It is hardly necessary to offer additional remarks willingly shut our eyes on his defects and errors, on the character of Cranmer, as, we persuade when we recollect his cruel death, and his servi. ourselves, its leading features have been sufficient- ces in aid of the reformation. These it is that have ly displayed to the reader in the course of our nar- snatched his name from oblivion, or from indifferrative. His contemporaries unite in attributing ence, perhaps contempt, and that, in the teeth of to him all the virtues that adorn a private station. mutually admitted facts, have kept alive a conHe was humble and affectionately kind to the troversy on the real merits of his character. By poor, ever attentive to their wants, ever happy in our own zealots he is held up to our admiration, relieving them. To the rich and powerful he is as the most glorious and faultless martyr of the also represented as uniformly courteous and re- Church of England; by the Romanists, his name spectful, equally remote from obsequiousness and, is branded with every epithet of meanness and what has been considered as not unusual in men inconsistency: as if, in this most absurd logoof his rank, episcopal arrogance. In the mildness machy, the character of the reformation, or the and yielding gentleness of his temper, and in the gospel purity of the rival creeds, were to be de" vicious feeblenesses” to which the excess of termined, or for a moment affected, by the conthose excellent qualities invariably leads, he very duct of indivduals ; and as if it was not among much resembled Philip Melancthon. Like that the most wonderful of the dispensations of Proviamiable man, too, he wanted the enthusiastic con- dence, which “out of evil seeks to bring forth fidence in the goodness of his cause which spurns good,” that it has sometimes been pleased to emthe aid of unworthy expedients, and fearlessly ploy the guiltiest instruments in effecting its highpursues its straightforward course in all times
est and holiest purposes. and seasons. But here the resemblance ends.
WILLIAM CECIL, LORD BURLEIGH.
WILLIAM CECIL*, descended from an ancient and respectable family, was born at Bourn in Lincolnshire, in the year 1520. Both his father and grandfather held honourable appointments under Henry VIII. His father was master of the robes ; an office, in that age, of considerable distinction. During his early education, his progress either exhibited nothing remarkable, or has been overlook
ed by his biographers, amidst the splendour of his succeeding transactions; for we are merely informed, that he received the first rudiments of learning at the grammar schools of Grantham and Stamford.* But at St. John's college, Cambridge, to which he was removed in the fifteenth year of his age, he gave strong indications of the qualities calculated to raise him to future eminence. He suffered no irregularity to interrupt his pursuits ; and seemed resolute to excel his fellow-students,
* Life of William Lord Burghley, by one of his domestics, edited by Collins in 1732, p. 6.
* This life is taken by permission from Macdiarmid's British Statesmen.
| Lord Burleigh's Diary, in the British Museum, Harleian MS No. 46.
by the certain means of incessant application. That he might daily devote several hours to study, without any hazard of interruption, he made an agreement with the bell-ringer to be called up every morning at four o'clock. The strength of his constitution, however, did not correspond with the ardour of his mind; for, in consequence of much sitting, without proper intervals of exercise, he contracted a painful humour in his legs; and though subsequently cured of this distemper, his physicians considered it as a principal cause of that inveterate gout which embittered the latter part of his life.*
His indefatigable industry soon led to a proficiency which drew on him the particular notice of his teachers. The master of the college encourag. ed his perseverance by occasional presentst, but his ambition seems to have required no such stimulant. He began, at sixteen, to put in practice the methods then usual of acquiring literary celebrity, by delivering a public lecture. His first topic was the logic of the schools ; but, three years afterwards, he ventured to comment on the Greek language, which had hitherto been cultivated with more eagerness than success. He was afterwards ambitious of excelling as a general scholar; and successively directed his industry to the various branches of literature then cultivated at the university. I
When he was supposed to have laid a sufficient fo'ındation of useful knowledge, he was removed from the university to Gray's Inn, where he applied himself to the study of the law, with the same method and industry as he had observed at Cambridge. He found leisure also for several collateral pursuits: the antiquities of the kingdom, and more especially the pedigrees and fortunes of the most distinguished families, occupied much of his attention ; and such was his progress in these pursuits, that no man of his time was accounted a more complete adept in heraldry.Ş This species of information, had he adhered to the destination for the bar, might have been of little utility; but, in his career of a statesman, it often proved of essential advantage. His practice was to record with his pen every thing worthy of notice which occurred to him either in reading or observation, arranging this information in the most methodical manner,—a singular example of diligence, which is authenticated to posterity by collections of his manuscripts, still preserved in many public and private libraries. While, from this practice, he derived, besides other advantages, an uncommon facility in committing his thoughts to writing, he neglected not to cultivate an accomplishment still more essential to his intended profession,-a ready and graceful enunciation. By frequenting various companies, and entering into free discussion, he
* Life of William Lord Burghley, p. 6. | Fuller's History of the University of Cambridge,
Life of William Lord Burghley, p: 7. & Bacon's Works, vol. iv. p. 358. edit. 1740.
learnt to express himself with ease and confidence; while the extent of his information, and the sound. ness of his judgment, prevented his fluency from degenerating into declamation.
These acquisitions, united to a singular industry, must have raised him, at an early period, to great eminence in his profession, had not an incident, which introduced him to the notice of Henry VIII., soon diverted his attention to a different career. Cecil, having accidentally met, in the presence chamber, with two Irish priests, who had come to court in the train of O'Neil, their chieftain, happened to enter into an argument with them on the pope's supremacy, of which they were zealous abettors; and, by his superior knowledge and fluency, so baffled his antagonists, that they began to vent their uneasy feelings in violent expressions. This contest was conducted in Latin ; and the particulars of it having been reported to Henry, the monarch, pleased with this indication of talents, and still more with the successful refuta. tion of the pope's supremacy, desired to see the young man ; and, in the course of a long conversation, conceived so favourable an opinion of his abilities, that he resolved to take him into his service, and directed his father (the master of the robes) to find out an office which might suit him. As no suitable situation happened to be vacant at the time, his father pitched on the reversion of the custos brevium in the Common Pleas, which was readily granted. *
From the time of this introduction at court, which happened within the first year of his attendance at Gray's Inn, and in the twenty-second year of his age, though Cecil still continued his application to the law, his mind appears to have been more intently fixed on political advancement. A very prudent and honourable alliance, which he this year contracted by marriage, proved an effectual channel to future preferment. Introduced by his father-in-law, sir John Cheke, a man of great respectability and influence, to the earl of Hertford, maternal uncle to the young prince Edward, and afterwards better known as duke of Somerset, he was enabled to cultivate a connection which, in a few years, elevated him to the highest offices.t
About the commencement of the reign of Ed ward VI. he succeeded to his office of custos brevium, which brought him a revenue of 2401. a year, equal to more than 10001. in the present age. While this accession to his fortune placed him in comparative affluence, and enabled him to prosecute his plans more at ease, a new family connection, which he formed about the same time, opened to him the fairest access to royal patronage. His first wife having died in the second year of their marriage, leaving him a son, he now married a daughter of sir Anthony Cook, the director of the
* Life of William Lord Burghley, p. 9. | Camden's Annal. Eliz, p. 774.
young king's studies, a gentleman who derived which took place in little more than a year. Sofrom his situation an influence confirmed by his
merset appears to have been one of those unfortutalents and virtue.* Few men have more directly nate men, whose errors proceeded rather from accelerated their rise by matrimonial alliances than weakness than from vice, and whose good intenCecil; yet such were the excellent qualities of his tions are perpetually counteracted by a lamentalady, that we might consider his attachment to her ble imprudence. Ambitious, rather than qualified the result rather of personal affection, than of a to govern, he had taken advantage of his populaview to political advancement.
rity to engross, in his own person, the whole powHis preferment under the new reign was not ers of the council of regency, to which Henry, by neglected by Somerset, to whose friendship he was his will, had intrusted the government; and recommended by various circumstances. While though he showed no inclination to abuse his his talents and consummate application rendered authority, yet he displayed his ascendancy with an him most useful to any one placed at the head of offensive ostentation. A profusion and magnifiaffairs, his decided attachment to the reformation cence, which might have served to increase his ingave him at this period a particular claim to public fluence, contributed, by his imprudent managetrusts. The protector, eager to extend his popu- ment, to ruin the popularity which he so fondly larity by accelerating those changes in religion, courted. While he too eagerly grasped at wealth which were now so generally desired, committed to support his expenses, a fortune which he suddenthe departments of government to the hands of ly amassed made his integrity suspected; and, on such as were known to be firm advocates of the his pulling down several churches to procure more reformation ; and, on this occasion, he created splendid materials for erecting his palace, the act Cecil master of the requests,-an appointment of was reprobated as sacrilege, and his impiety retrust and distinction.f
garded with horror. Even the best intended In the latter part of the same year, the young measures often became, in his unskilful hands, the statesman attended his patron in the expedition source of new calamities. By his rash and ill against Scotland, and was present at the battle concerted attempts to redress the grievances of of Pinkey, where the arms of England proved so the common people, he not only provoked the nodecisively victorious. Here he very narrowly es- bility, but led the inflamed minds of the people caped destruction: a friend, observing a cannon themselves into excesses, which he was afterwards directly pointed at him, pushed him out of its line, obliged to repress by severe military executions. and, in the very act, had his own arm unfortunately His popularity at length became so much reduced, shattered by the ball. Cecil, with his usual dili- that the other members of the council of regency, gence, wrote an account of this expedition. On whom he had stripped of their just authority, venhis returning home, he enjoyed various advanta- tured to attempt his overthrow; and, by a well ges for prosecuting his views at court, and his planned conspiracy, succeeded in committing him talents were well calculated to second his oppor- and his principal adherents to the Tower. tunities. The insight into the characters of those The chief actor in this plot against Somerset around him, which he derived from careful habits was the earl of Warwick, son to Dudley, the inof observation, enabled him to suit his behaviour famous tool of Henry VII.'s extortions. Warto persons and circumstances; and the prudent wick inherited all the avarice and faithlessness of reserve of his conversation, joined to a perfect his father; and being possessed of talents both for command of temper, preserved him from those peace and war, he procured the patronage of Henry imprudences which so often bar the way to pro- VIII., who could readily overlook hereditary taint motion. He applied himself to gain the entire contracted in ex ting the mandates of tyranny. confidence of Somerset; and having unrestrained By the favour of that monarch, Dudley was sucaccess to the young prince, both from the friendship cessively raised to the rank of nobility, created an of the protector, and the situation of his father-in- admiral, and appointed a member of the council law, he quickly acquired the esteem and attach
Yet, inflamed with an ambition ment of Edward. Somerset readily listened to which no subordinate honours could satiate, he the solicitations of his nephew in behalf of their looked on the minority of Edward as a favourable mutual favourite, and, in the following year, pro- opportunity for engrossing the chief direction of moted Cecil to the office of secretary of state. the government; and only delayed his attempts
With a rapidity proportioned to his merits and until the increasing unpopularity of Somerset, to his address, Cecil had now attained one of the which he contributed by every art, should ensure highest stations in the government; but his conti- their accomplishment. Succeeding, by the connuance on this envied height depended so much on spiracy which he had planned, to the power, the conduct of others, that the most consummate though not to the title, of the protector, he surroundprudence on his part could not render him secure. ed the young king with his creatures, compelled He, also, was drawn along in the fall of his patron, the council to submit to his dictates, and proceeded * Life of William Lord Burghley, p. 9.
to secure his ascendancy by new acquisitions of † Life of William Lord Burghley, p. 10.
fortune and rank. The last earl of Northumber| Ibid. § Lord Burgley's Diary.
land having died without issue, and his brother
having been attainted, the title was now extinct, indiscretion of Somerset, soon converted their ex. and the estate vested in the crown. Warwick
ternal appearances of amity into more fatal dis procured a grant of these large possessions, and sensions. Although the late protector, by his immade himself be created duke of Northumber- prudence and want of spirit, had become much land.
degraded in the public estimation, yet, in the day The views of this new ruler did not long prove of his humiliation, the envy once felt towards him adverse to Cecil ; for, after having been detained subsided into a better feeling; while the pride and in the Tower about three months, he was dis- ambition of his rival failed not to excite considera. charged, and again found himself on the road to ble odium. His reviving popularity awakened the fortune. Northumberland, though awed by the jealousy of Northumberland, and his indiscretion, previous popularity of Somerset, entertained little ere long, afforded a pretext for his destruction. apprehension of his talents, and justly calculated While the mortifications which he had experienced that his partisans might be weaned by new pros- could not fail to rankle in his bosom, his crafty pects from their attachment to so feeble a leader. antagonist endeavoured to goad him on to some In Cecil he perceived the double advantage of in- rash and criminal enterprise. The creatures of fluence over the young king, and of an uninter- Northumberland, who gained his confidence to rupted application to business, while others wasted precipitate his ruin, first inftamed his resentment, their time in cabals and intrigues. Aware, also, and then caught his hasty expressions of revenge ; that with Cecil ambition was a predominant princi- they suggested to him plans of insurrection, for ple, while his prudence was such as to divert him assassinating Northumberland, and then disclosed from all dangerous schemes, Northumberland them as accusations against him. When a sufmight expect that this statesman would be faithful ficient number of such charges had been accumuto those immediately possessed of power, and lated, Somerset was suddenly arrested ; tried bewould prefer the prospect of present aggrandise- fore a jury of peers, among whom were Northumment to the forlorn generosity of adhering to the berland and some of his principal enemies ; found ruined fortunes of Somerset. But whatever were guilty of a capital crime; and led, along with sevethe views of Northumberland, Cecil was, by his ral of his friends, to the scaffold. means, again appointed secretary of state; and, The part which Cecil acted, during these renewreceiving the honour of knighthood, was admitted ed calamities of his early patron, seems more reinto the privy council.*
concilable to prudence than to gratitude. It is This sudden release and subsequent elevation, said, that when Somerset, some time before his by the enemy of his old patron, have exposed the arrest, sent for him, and communicated to him his motives of Cecil to suspicion. It has been al- apprehensions, the secretary, instead of suggestleged, that he had a secret understanding with ing any means to avoid his impending danger, Northumberland even before the fall of Somerset, coldly replied, “That if he was innocent, he might and that his new preferment was the reward of trust to that; and if he were otherwise, he could his treachery. But while no grounds are pro- only pity him."* Pity, indeed, if he really felt it, duced for these accusations, the events which they was all that he bestowed; for it does not appear are adduced to explain seem otherwise sufficiently that he interposed, either publicly or privately, to accounted for. In joining Northumberland, Cecil avert the destruction of his former patron. And abandoned none of his principles; for the same when we consider the character of Somerset, we measures, both in regard to religion and politics, must allow that such an interposition would have were now pursued, as under the protector: and been as imprudent as it was likely to be unavailif his conduct, in uniting with the decided enemy ing. The weakness and irresolution of this no of his patron, be thought little consistent with
bleman were such, that no dependence could be honour or generosity, he only acted a part which placed on his executing any scheme proposed for Somerset himself speedily imnitated. Northum- his safety; and as he was surrounded by spies berland, having completed the degradation of his who insinuated themselves into his confidence, rival, by extorting from him a public confession any beneficial intelligence communicated to him, that he had been guilty of rashness, folly, and in- could scarcely have failed to reach his inveterate discretion, accounted him now so little formidable, adversary. In these circumstances, Cecil, by atthat he ventured to affect the praise of generosity, tempting the preservation of Somerset, would have by restoring him, not only to liberty, but to his incurred an imminent hazard of sharing in his deseat in the council. Somerset, as mean in adver- struction. Without benefiting his patron, he sity as ostentatious in his better fortune, gladly would probably have lost his fortune, his liberty, accepted the boon; and, after all the indignities or his life; leaving behind him only the praise of which he had undergone, consented to give his unsuccessful generosity. daughter, lady Jane Seymour, in marriage to lord But whether we respect his prudence, or cenDudley, the son of his adversary.
sure his ingratitude on this occasion, we cannot but But the ambition of Northumberland, and the applaud his conduct as a minister. While the
King Edward's Journal. Stow's Annals.
* King Edward's Journal.
court of England teemed with cabals, which occu- celerated the industry of this realm. The native pied the incessant attention of the other public merchants had often remonstrated against the men, the secretary was diligently employed in exe- privileges of these foreigners; but Cecil seems to cuting his official duties, and in devising schemes have been the first minister who effectually attendfor the discharge of the public debt, or the im- ed to their complaints. In consequence of his provement of commerce. There still remains a
representations to the council, the merchants of the complete statement of the king's debts in the Steel-yard were deprived of their charter, and month of February, 1551, printed from a manu- subjected to the same impositions as other aliens.* script drawn up by Cecil, and which must have From this measure, as it was speedily followed comprehended the whole of the public responsi- by a large increase of the shipping and foreign bility at that period, since neither the debts nor the commerce of England, Cecil has derived much revenues of the king were as yet separated from reputation; yet, it is but too indicative of the un. those of the nation.*
acquaintance of the age with the principles of An important change, effected about this time trade. To abrogate the monopoly was a measure in the commerce of London, is also attributed to of evident propriety, in as much as, like all monohis counsels. The carrying trade of the north of polies, it tended to limit the extent of commercial Europe, and of England in particular, had hitherto dealings, obliging our countrymen to sell their been engrossed, almost exclusively, by the mer- commodities somewhat lower, and to pay for chants of the Hanse Towns. As the foreign in- foreign articles somewhat higher than they would tercourse, conducted through this channel, was have done had the competition been open. But, found particularly productive to the revenue, it be- in what way ought this irregularity to have been came an object with our monarchs to promote it remedied ? Not merely by cancelling the privito the utmost ; and with this view, Henry III. in- leges of the Steel-yard merchants, and subjectduced a company of these merchants to settle in ing them to the same extra duties as other England, by the lure of a patent containing vari- alicns, but by putting all merchants, natives or ous privileges, exempting them from the heavy du- foreign, on a footing of equality. Such a measure ties paid by other aliens, and placing them nearly would, it may be alleged, have retarded the rise of on a footing with natives. This corporation was the native merchants, inferior as they then were to called, from their place of residence, the merchants foreigners in capital and experience: but in this, as of the Steel-yard, and effectually excluded all in all other cases, the course which industry and rivals from a competition - other foreigners by capital would of themselves have taken, would their exclusive privileges, and the English by their have been the most advantageous to all parties. superior capital and skill. They continued, ac- Our merchants, confining themselves for a season cordingly, from the time of their settlement, to en- to the inland trade, it would have expanded more gross nearly the whole continental trade of Eng- promptly, when our foreign trade absorbed little land. Their commerce was advantageous to the of our pecuniary means; and the latter also would natives, as it opened a market to their produce, have fallen eventually into their hands, in conseand induced them to devote their labour and capis quence not of acts of exclusion, but of the vatal to agriculture and manufactures ; but it was rious advantages possessed by natives over foattended, in the eye of the public, with various reigners. disadvantages. The gains of each individual, But had Cecil, or any other statesman in that who partook of this monopoly, were apparently age, attempted to admit foreigners on the footing greater than those of the natives engaged in of natives, he would have been represented by agriculture, manufactures, or internal commerce; public clamour as aggravating the evil which he and the collective wealth of these foreign mer- professed to remedy. The disadvantages under chants was doubly conspicuous from their resi- which Cecil laboured are apparent in the fate of dence in one spot. The jealousy of the English another project, which he entertained for the bewas strongly excited. They complained that the nefit of commerce. As the means of conveying natives had but toil for their portion, while stran- mercantile intelligence were in former times exgers ran away with all the profit. Besides these tremely defective, and the regulations for levying imaginary evils, this mode of carrying on trade the revenue were very imperfect, it was usual to was attended with some real disadvantages. As fix by law a staple or regular market, for the chief it was chiefly conducted by foreign vessels and commodities of a country, and oblige all its inhabitforeign seamen, it afforded little accession to the
ants to convey them thither for sale. Foreign maritime strength of the country; a circumstance merchants might thus reckon on a regular market, which, on the breaking out of a war, was felt as a and government had the best opportunity of levyserious evil. Moreover, these merchants, on real- ing its imposts both on exports and imports. The ising a fortune, were apt to depart, and transfer to staple of our wool, and other chief articles of extheir own country that capital which, in the hands portation, was fixed by an early act of parliament of natives, would have improved the soil, and ac- in certain towns of England, but was afterwards,
* See this paper in Strype's Memorials of Edward VI., book ü.
* Hayward's Life and Reign of Edward VI.