of life; though he acknowledged them fit, and absolutely necessary to be practiced in those employments. He was, in truth, so precise in the practic principles he prescribed himself, (to all others he was as indulgent) as if he had lived in Republica Platonis, non in fæce Romuli.

Two reasons prevailed with him to receive the seals, and but for those he had resolutely avoided them; the first the consideration that his refusal might bring some blemish upon the king's affairs, and that men would have believed, that he had refused so great an honour and trust, because he must have been with it obliged to do somewhat else not justifiable; and this he made matter of conscience, since he knew the king made choice of him before other men, especially because he thought him more honest than other men, The other was, lest he might be thought to avoid it out of fear to do an ungracious thing to the House of Commons, who were sorely troubled at the displacing sir Harry Vane, whom they looked upon as removed for having done them those offices they stood in need of; and the disdain of so popular an incumbrance wrought upon him next to the other. For as he had a full appetite of fame by just and generous actions, so he had an equal contempt of it by any servile expedients; and he so much the more consented to, and approv

ed the justice upon sir Harry Vane, in his own private judgment, by how much he surpassed most men in the religious observation of a trust, the violation whereof he would not admit of any excuse for.

For these reasons, he submitted to the king's command, and became his secretary, with as humble and devoted an acknowledgment of the greatness of the obligation, as could be expressed, and as true sense of it in his heart. Yet two things he could never bring himself to, whilst he continued in that office; that was to his death; for which he was cono tented to be reproached, as for omissions in a most necessary part of his place. The one, employing of spies, or giving any countenance, or entertainment to them. I do not mean such emissaries, as with danger would venture to view the enemy's camp, and bring intelligence of their number, or quartering, or any particulars that such an observation can comprehend; but those who by communication of guilt, or dissimulation of manners, wind themselves into such trusts and secrets as enable them to make dis coveries. The other, the liberty of opening letters upon a suspicion that they might contain matter of dangerous consequence. For the first, he would say, “such instruments must be void of all ingenuity and common honesty, before they could be of use; and afterwards they could never be fit to be credited: and that no single preservation could be worth so general a wound and corruption of human society, as the cherishing such persons would carry with it.” The last he thought “such a violation o. the law of nature, that no qualification by office could justify him in the trespass; and though he was convinced by the necessity and iniquity of the time, that those advantages of information were not to be declined, and were necessary to be practiced, he found means to put it off from himself, whilst he confessed he needed excuse and pardon for the omission; so unwilling was he to resign any part of good nature to an obligation in his office.

In all other particulars he filled his place with great sufficiency, being well versed in languages, to understand any that are used in business, and to make himself again understood. To speak of his integrity and his high disdain of any bait that might seem to look towards corruption, in tanto viro, injuria virtutum fuerit. Some sharp expressions he used against the archbishop of Canterbury; and his concurring in the first bill to take away the votes of bishops in the house of peers, gave occasion to some to believe, and opportunity to others to conclude, and publish, “ That he was no friend to the church, and the established government of it; and troubled his

very friends much, who were more confident of the contrary, than prepared to answer the allegations.

The truth is, he had unhappily contracted some

prejudice to the archbishop; and having observed his passions, when, it may be, multiplicity of business, or other indisposition had possessed him, did wish him less intangled and engaged in the business of the court, or state; though I speak it knowingly, he had a singular estimation and reverence of his great learning, and confessed integrity; and really thought his own letting himself loose to those expressions which implied a disesteem of the archbishop, or at least an acknowledgment of his infirmities, would enable him to shelter him from part of the storm he saw raised for his destruction; which he abominated with his soul.

The giving his consent to the first bill for the displacing the bishops, did proceed from two grounds: the first, his not understanding then the original of their right and suffrage there: the other, an opinion that the combination against the whole government of the church by bishops, was so violent and furious, that a less composition than the dispensing with their intermeddling in secular affairs, would not preserve the order. And he was persuaded to this by the profession of many persons of honour, who declared, They did desire the one, and would not then press the other;" which in that particular, misled many men. But when his observation and experience made him discern more of their intentions than he before suspected, with great frankness he

[ocr errors]

opposed the second bill that was preferred for that. purpose; and had, without scruple, the order itself in perfect reverence, and thought too great encou-' ragement could not possibly be given to learning, nor too great rewards to learned men. He was never in the least degree swayed or moved by the objections which were made against that government in the church, (holding them most ridiculous) or affected to the other, which those men fancied to themselves.

He had a courage of the most clear and keen temper, and so far from fear, that he seemed not with out some appetite of danger; and therefore, upon any occasion of action, he always engaged his person in those troops which he thought by the forwardness of the commanders, to be most like to be farthest engaged; and in all such encounters, he had about him an extraordinary cheerfulness, without at all affecting the execution that usually attended them; in which he took no delight, but took pains to prevent it, where it was not, by resistance, made necessary; insomuch, that at Edge-hill, when the enemy was routed, he was like to have incurred great peril, by interposing to save those who had thrown away their arms, and against whom, it may be, others were more fierce for their having thrown them away: so that a man might think, he came into the field chiefly out of curiosity to see the

« ElőzőTovább »