« ElőzőTovább »
that he thought proper to submit, and desired to be reconciled to his brother. Yet he still nourished the same designs in secret; and his brother, suspecting his sincerity, employed spies to inform him of all his private transactions... . But it was not in the power of persuasions or unenaces to shake the adiniral's unalterable views of ambition. His spouse, the queen-dowager, had died in child-bed; and this accident, far from repressing his schemes, only seemed to promote them. He made his addresses to the princess Elizabeth, afterwards so revered by the English; and it is said that she listened to his insinuations, contrary to the will of her father, who had excluded her the succession, in caseshe married with... out the consent of council. The admiral, how. ever, it is supposed, had projects of getting over that objection; and his professions seemed to give reason to believe that he intended aiming at regalauthority. By promises and persuasions he brought over many of the principal nobility to his party ; he neglected not even the most popular persons of inferior rank; and he computed that he could, on occasion, command the service of ten thousand men among his servants, tenants, and retainers. He had already provided arms for their use: and having engaged in his interests Sir John Sharring
t on, master of the mint at Bristol, a very 1545.
corrupt man, he fattered himself that mo*. ney would not be wanting.
Somerset being well apprised of all these alarming circumstances, endeavoured by every expedient that his power or his near connection could suggest, to draw him from his designs. He reasoned, he threatened, he heaped new favours upon him; but all to no purpose. At last he resolved to make use of the last dreadful remedy, and to attaint his own brother of high treason. In
consequence of this resolution, and secretly advised to it by Dudley, earl of Warwick, a wicked. ambitious man, who expected to rise upon the downfall of the two brothers, he deprived him of his office of high admiral, and signed a warrant for committing him to the tower. Yet still the protector suspended the blow,and shewed a reluctance to ruir one so nearly comected with himselt'; he offered once more to be sincerely reconciled, and, give him his life, if he was contented to spend the remainder of his life in retirement and repentance. But finding himself unable to work on the indexible temper of his brother by any methods but severity, he ordered a charge to be drawn up against hini, consisting of thirty-three articles; and the whole to be brought into parliament, which was now become the instrument by which the administration usually punished their enemies. The charge being brought first into the house of lords, several peers, rising up in their places, gave an account of what they knew concerning lori! Seymour's conduct, and his criminal words and actions. There was more clifficulty in managing the prosecution in the house of commous: but upon receiving a messa re from the king, requiring them to proceed, the bill passedin a very full house, near four hundred voting for it, and not abové · pine or ten against it. The sentence was soon after executed, by beheading him on Tower-Hill. His death, however, was, in general, disagreeable
to the nation, who considered the lord Seymour ** 2s hardly dealt with, in being condemned upon ge
neral allegations, without having an opportunity of making a defence, or confronting his accusers.
But the chief odium jell upon the protector; and · it must be owned that there was no reason for carrying his severity to such'a length as he did.
This obstacle being removed, the protector went on to reform and regulate the new system of re'ligion, which was now become the chief concern
of the nation. A committee of bishops and dia vines had been appointed by the council to frame a liturgy for the service of the church; and this work was executed with great moderation, precia sion, and accuracy, Alaw was also enacted, permitting priests to marry; the ceremony of auricular confession, though not abolished, was left at the discretion ofthe people, who were not displeasa ed at being freed from the spiritual tyranny of their instructors; the doctrine of the real presence was the last tenet of popery that was wholly abandoned by the people, as both the clergy and laity: were loth to renounce so miraculous a benefit, as it was asserted to be. However, at last, not only this, but all the principal opinions and practices of the Catholic religion, contrary to what the scripture authorizes, were abolished; and the reformation, such as we have it, was almost entirely completed A.D. in England. With all these innovations " the people and clergy in general acquies.
ced; and Gardiner and Bonner were the only persons whose opposition was thought of any weight; they were, therefore, sent to the Tower, and threatened with the king's further displeasure in case of disobedience.
But it had been well for the credit of the refore mers, had they stopt at imprisonment only. They also resolved to become persecutors in turn; and although the very spirit of their doctrines arose fron a freedom of ihinking, yet they could not bear that any should controvert what they had been at so much pains to establish. A commission was granted to the primate and some others, to search aller all anahaptists, heretics, or contemners of the new liturgy. Among the number of
those who were supposed to incur guilt upon this occasion, was one Joan Boucher, commonly called Joan of Kent, who was so extremely obstinate, that the commissioners could gain nothing upon her. She had maintained an abstruse metaphysical sentiment, that Christ as a man, was a sinful man; but as the Word he was free from sin, and could be subject to none of the frailties of the flesh with which he was cloathed. For maintaining this doctrine, which none of them could una derstand, this poor ignorant woman was condemned to be burned to death as an heretic. The : young king, who it seems had more sense than his. ministers, refused at first to sign the death warrant, but being at last pressed by Cranmer, and vanquished by his importunities, he reluctantly complied; declaring that if he did wrong, the sin should be on the head of those who had persuaded him to it. The primate, after making a new effort to reclaim the woman from her opinions, and funding her obstinate against all his arguments, at last committed her to the flames. Some time after, one Van Paris, a. Dutchman, being accused of an heresy called Arianism, was condeinned to the same punishment. He suffered with so much satisfaction, that he hugged and caressed the faggọts that were consuming him; and died exulting in his situation. .
Althongh these measures were intended for the benefit of the nation, and in the end turned out entirely to the advantage of society; yet they were at that time attended with many inconveniencies, to which all changes whatever are liable. When the monasteries were suppressed,a prodigious number of mouks were obliged to earn their subsistence by their labour, so that all kinds of business were overstocked. The lands of the monasteries, also had been formerly farmed out to the common
people, so as to employ a great number of hands; and the rents being moderate, they were able to maintain their families on the profits of agriculture. But now these lands being possessed by the nobility, the rents were raised; and the farmers perceiving that wool was a better commodity than corn, turned all their fields into pasturage. In consequence of this practice, the price of meal rose, to the unspeakable hardship of the lower class of people. Besides, as few hands were required to manage a pasture farm, a great number of poor people were utterly deprived of subsistence, while the nation was filled with murmurs and complaints against the nobility, wlio were considered as the source of the general calamity. To add to these complaints, the rich proprietors of lands proceeded to enclose their estates; while the tenants, regarded as an useless burden, were expelled their habitations. Eren cottagers, deprived of the commons on which they formerly fed their cattle, were reduced to misery; and a great decay of people, as well as a diminution of provisions, was observed in every part of the kingdom. To add to this picture of general calamity, all the good coin of the kingdom was hoarded up or exported abroad; while a base metal was coined at home, or imported from abroad in great abundance; and this the poor were obliged to receive in payment ; but could not disburse at an equal advantage. Thus an universal diffidence and stagnation of commerce took place; and nothing but loud complaints were heard in every quarter.
The protector, who knew that his own power was to be founded on the depression of the nobility, espoused the cause of the snfferers. He appointed commissioners toexamine whether the possessors of the church-lands had fulfilled the condi