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cludes, perhaps, for ever, the possibility of unravelling the course of policy which distinguished his administration. In his days, the press was but in its embryo stage of existence. As there were then no public means of mutual communication, such as we now possess in happy abundance, little curiosity was generally felt by the people at large about the motives which actuated the ruling powers; and the community seemed perfectly well contented to ascertain the nature of the policy which a given ministry pursued, by the practical results that were developed before their eyes. In addition to this, we find all the authorities agreed as to one peculiarity of Burghley-his extreme taciturnity. He uniformly reserved himself, both in parliament and in his correspondence, on all pending questions of a political nature. Under the most pressing provocations in the House of Commons, before his promotion to the peerage, he never swerved from that obligation to silence by which he appeared to have been bound. These circumstances were very favourable to the reputation of Burghley; for as it was impossible that a man who never stated an opinion, should be guilty either of inconsistency or rash judgment, so did this lucky statesman obtain all the credit of avoiding the one fault as well as the other. We have traced, in one of our volumes for 1828, the personal history of Cecil* up to the date of Elizabeth's accession. This may regarded as the commencement of his career, as the ruler of the destinies of England. We can scarcely apply the term “ sagacity” to the conduct of Burghley, when, at an early period, he abandoned the fortunes of Queen Mary, and directed all his attentions to the Princess Elizabeth. Though the latter was at the time living in obscurity and neglect, and though it might be hastily said of him, who preferred the princess to the queen, that he was philosophically sacrificing his interests to his sense of justice; yet it would require no more than a very slight portion of cunning in any person, with the opportunities for acquiring genuine information which fell to the lot of Cecil, to see that, in the feelings of the universal people, there was a certain assurance that the cause of Elizabeth was the one which would finally prevail. Burghley, therefore, saw clearly the course he should pursue; and, with consummate skill and foresight, he took a decisive step in favour of Elizabeth, at a moment when all the world but himself supposed that the measure was a desperate one, and compromised his fortunes. His claims then upon the new queen were irresistible. He was made secretary of state and member of the privy council in the very first days of her reign, and commenced, what we should certainly, in our own time, designate as a vigorous administration, by measures for the "set
* Dr. Nares, with that want of ordinary tact which is so frequently exemplified in these volumes, uses the title of Burghley indiscriminately with the name of Cecil, at a period of this history, long before the former title was conferred.
tlement of religion,” as it was called—and for the restoration of the coin of the realm. The latter of these acts of policy, which is one of the brightest jewels in the historic crown that entwines the brows of Elizabeth, receives the particular attention of Dr. Nares, for a space of time no longer than that, during which he is engaged in inditing some dozen and a half of words! The scent of the reformation, however, had, just at the moment, begun to agitate his nervous system, and it was more than human frailty is equal to, to resist the solicitation which such an appeal to the senses involved. But Dr. Nares ought to have done justice to this favorite subject in all its multifarious details. We are importuned with whole pages about the machinations of the priests, and the turbulent treachery of popish subjects--but not a word does Dr. Nares concede to such trifling topics as the resumption of the First Fruits and Tenths, by Elizabeth, which her predecessor had so consistently relinquished. Neither does he present, in his record, a single allusion to that important document, which may be found in “Weaver's Funeral Monuments,"containing a most pathetic enumeration of the frauds and oppressions which continued still to be practised since the dissolution of monasteries, in a former reign, by royal authority, Amongst the numerous omissions of interesting and important measures adopted in the early part of Elizabeth's reigy, and consequently forming a substantial part of the biography of her principal minister, we may mention the law of the 5th of that queen, which seems to have been the first statute enacted for the relief of the poor. Neither has Dr. Nares ventured to touch upon the causes which led to the introduction of “an Act for erecting of Hospitals," “a notable piece of charity," observes an old author, “to give the people leave to relieve the distressed out of their own estates.” It would have been, no doubt, with great reluctance, that Dr. Nares would have ventured upon such incidents as these ; for it would have sadly damped his triumphant panegyric of the Reformation, to have reminded his readers, how many large hospitals, and houses of reception for the poor, had been buried in ruins, and their revenues plundered in consequence of that event; and how many thousands of destitute creatures were left to perish on the highways, until, at last, a sense of policy, more than an impulse of humanity, induced the government to direct its attention to these wretched creatures. But we cannot expect better from such an organ as Dr. Nares, seeing the straits to which, in common with his brethren, he is now reduced, even for the existence of their order.
Amongst those early proceedings of Elizabeth's reign, which we have been just considering, we are struck with a resolution of the government to proclaim a restriction on the common fashions of wearing apparel. The nature of the extravagancies to which a taste for dress had carried our ancestors, has been described rather imperfectly by most authors. The evidence of a contemporary, however, who, for good reasons, must have made this growing
luxury a subject of much meditation, cannot fail to interest the antiquarian reader. The following extract is from the sermon of an arch bishop, who, at the time alluded to, thought it a part of his duty to bring the terrors of the pulpit in aid of the arm of civil authority, in order to curb the licentiousness of the national costume.
• “These five-fingered rufflers, with their sables about their necks, corked slippers, trimmed buskins, and warm mittens, furred stomachers, and long gowns: these tender parnels must have one gown for the day, another for the night : one long, another short : one for winter, another for summer : one furred through, and another but faced: one for the work day, another for the holiday: one of this colour, another of that : one of cloth, another of silk or damask. Change of apparel: one afore dinner, another at after : one of Spanish fashion, another of Turkey: and to be brief, never content with enough, but always devising new fashions and strange. Yea, a ruffian* will have more in his ruff and his hose, than he should spend in a year: he which ought to go in a russet coat, spends as much on apparel for him and his wife as his father would have kept a good horse with.
Cecil seemed to have inspired universal confidence in his ability, his prudence, and jullgment. There was scarcely a national or municipal contention, of which he was not selected as the final umpire. Sometimes he discharged the duties of a judge—sometimes he was appointed an arbitrator—again, he had to act as referee; and, too frequently, he was appealed to as capable of deciding the most delicate cases of theological casuistry. A rivalship was set up between Travers, a furious churchman, and Hooker, so celebrated in his day, for an office in the temple: the questions between the competitors, consisting chiefly of difficult points on doctrine and discipline, were submitted to Cecil. An archbishop, in Ireland, requested him to restrict the ambitious activity of Sir John Perrott, who lives in history by the title of a “Troubler of Bishops :” he next receives a communication from the Bishop of Winchester, who invokes his judgment on the merits of a dispute in Corpus Christi College, Oxford. The Bishop of Man, meantime, sends a remonstrance to Cecil, respecting an exorbitant rate in his diocese : the Bishop of Durham urges, about the same time, the dilapidated state of Sherborne hospital; and the Bishop of Hereford complains of an utterer of seditious expressions, who had made a visitation to his flock. The senate and town of Geneva consult Cecil as to the speediest means of getting rid of famine and war, in which that city was involved. Thomas Cartwright, the famous nonconformist, seeks to conter with the minister on the bad estate of his hospital at Warwick. Sir James Smith calls for his interference to arrest the suppression of his book on military discipline; whilst despatches were daily pouring into his closet from Topcliff, the travelling agent of the Reformation, the very mention
• * One who wears a ruff.
of whose name should make Protestants ashamed to reproach Roman Catholics with the inquisition. In reference to Cartwright, just spoken of, it is proper to mention, that he very early protested against the ceremonies and the government of the Church of England. He declared the distinctions of the new hierarchy to be no more than officia et nomina impietatis, and that true religion was inconsistent with their existence. Cartwright and his followers so alarmed the high-church party by their zeal and ability, that the latter sought protection in the great influence of Cecil. The heads of the colleges at Cambridge addressed him with the greatest earnèstness, they implored his assistance, and, perhaps, in the hope that his exertions would be corresponding, they attributed to him the mightiest powers. They did not hesitate to exaggerate his influence, so as, in a great measure, to compromise their own confidence in the omnipotence of the Deity; for with something like blasphemy, they concluded their memorial to Cecil in these remarkable words : “ Jesus Christ, for his infinite mercy's sake, deliver us, in these dangerous days, and grant you long life and power to be a patron of his glory!"
The importunity of the zealots still pursued Cecil throughout his career-and, even at the time, when in the decline of life he had commenced a solemn preparation for his passage to another state, his hours of meditation were intruded on by an application from two fiery divines, who solicited him to determine between their inconsistent views of our Lord's descent into hell.
It appeared to be no part of the public policy of Lord Burghley to conform at all times to the stern dictates of morality. Hence, notwithstanding all the decision and zeal which he avowed in favour of the new religion, he did not scruple to fill the bishopricks with men, whom, in several instances, he knew to be inimical to the established church. Certainly the great object of all his exertions seemed to have been the extirpation of the Roman Catholic religion—and he thought it best, perhaps, as a skilful politician, to enlist every sect of Christians not professing the Catholic tenets, on the side of the Protestant faith. At all events, it is quite true, that the rankest Puritans occupied some of the most important dignities in the church, and that occasional conformity was as well known in the days of Elizabeth, as it was during the reign of any of her successors. The orthodox part of the clergy did not partake of the indifference which the government showed, as to the character of the ministers to whom they entrusted spiritual functions; and it was by no means the easiest portion of the duties imposed upon Burghley, to evade the expostulations which these conscientious men continually addressed to the government, out of a well founded jealousy, and impatience of their heterodox colleagues.
These remonstrances, which frequently contained passages of great asperity, amounting sometimes to the offensive, were coolly received by the great minister. The inferior clergy he scarcely condescended to
notice-a dean or bishop could expect nothing at best, save a brief acknowledgement of the favour of a communication-but when such a dignitary as an archbishop so far forgot himself, as to become troublesome in his importunity, Burghley had a very pretty, and we venture to believe, a very successful, method of rebuking first, and finally silencing the most reverend suitor. The following epistle, addressed by him to an angry archbishop, is a very fair specimen of the manner in which he could administer a just measure of castigation, without, in the slightest degree, compromising the serenity of his temper. The reader who is versed in the history of the last few months, will smile as he reads the second paragraph of this reply.
“ My good Lord,—Your lordship's letter is too full of choler for me to answer directly without adding of choler; and so I should addere oleum igni, add oil to the fire, but I am otherwise disposed, both for reverence to your spiritual vocation, and for charity lo mine own familiar acquaintance. For the opinion by you conceived of me as not bearing you good will, surely your lordship doth therein misinform yourself; and for answer, coram Domino, I protest that I bear you no kind of disfavour. That I have said to you of your wasting of timber, I spake as a public officer, and will speak the like upon like occasion to any of your estate, how dearly soever I love them.
«« For reprehension of the common risusage by bishops, chancellors, commissaries, summoners, and such like, I say with grief of mind that I see therein no true use of the discipline meant at the first erection of these offices (which I allow well of) but a corrupting of them to private gain, and not to the public benefit and edifying of the church. And it grieveth me to see the fond, light, pretended reformers, to have occasion ministered unwisely to condemn the officers, where they should condemn the misuse thereof.
6" And so, my lord, lest in much writing, I should by heat of argument stir your choler, I end, and pardon your taunts sparkled in your letter.
• “ Your lordship's, with reverence and Christian charity, ““ Westminster, May 26, 1579.”'
666 W. BURGHLEY."
The misfortune of Lord Burghley's situation was, that the Nonconformists had staunch friends in the Privy Council—whilst the indefatigable exertions--the enthusiastic zeal--the splendid and popular talents, at the command of this large party, raised it too much in general estimation, to permit that any government should treat it with levity or disrespect. The leaders of the Non-conformists consequently maintained a tone in correspondence, with the consideration which they were conscious of having inspired.
““ If it be lawful,” they eloquently declared,“ to speak but truth for ourselves, this is our course : we serve her Majesty and the country, not according to our fantasies, as the world falsely bears us in hand, but according to the law and statutes of England. We reverence both the law and the law maker. Law speaketh, and we keep silent. Law commandeth and