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world with more innocency. Whosoever leads such a life needs be the less anxious upon how short warning it is taken from him.
DEATH AND CHARACTER OF EDWARD VI.
BURNET’s “HISTORY OF THE REFoRMATION.”
Burnet's sketch of Edward VI is both interesting and touching. Edward VI was the son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, the successor of Anne Boleyn in Henry's affections. History presents few brighter examples than the boy king, Edward VI.
1 IN the beginning of January this year (1553) he was seized with a deep cough, and all medicines that were used did rather increase than lessen it. He was so ill when the Parliament met that he was not able to go to Westminster, but ordered their first meeting and the ser. mon to be at Whitehall. In the time of his sickness Bishop Ridley preached before him, and took occasion to run out much on works of charity, and the obligation that lay on men of high condition to be eminent in good works. This touched the King to the quick; so that, presently after the sermon, he sent for the Bishop. And, after he had commanded him to sit down by him, and be covered, he resumed most of the heads of the sermon, and said he looked upon himself as chiefly touched by it. He desired him, as he had already given him the exhortation in general, so to direct him to do his duty in that 2 particular. The Bishop, astonished at this tenderness in so young a prince, burst forth in tears, expressing how much he was overjoyed to see such inclinations in him; but told him he must take time to think on it, and craved leave to consult with the Lord-Mayor and court of alder. men. So the King wrote by him to them to consult speedily how the poor should be relieved. They considered there were three sorts of poor: such as were so by natural infirmity or folly, as impotent persons, and madmen or idiots; such as were so by accident, as sick or maimed persons; and such as, by their idleness, did cast themselves into poverty. So the King ordered the Greyfriars' 3 Church, near Newgate, with the revenues belonging to it, to be a house for orphans; St. Bartholomew’s, near Smithfield, to be an hospital; and gave his own house of Bridewell to be a place of correction and work for such as were willfully idle. He also confirmed and enlarged the grant for the hospital of St. Thomas, in Southwark, which he had erected and endowed in August last. And when he had set his hand to these foundations, which was not done before the 5th of June this year, he thanked God that had prolonged his life till he had finished that design. So he was the first founder of those houses, which, by many great additions since that time, have risen to be among the noblest in Europe. He expressed, in the whole course of his sickness, 4 great submission to the will of God, and seemed glad at the approaches of death; only the consideration of religion and the church touched him much; and upon that account he said he was desirous of life. . . . His distemper rather increased than abated; so that the physicians had no hope of his recovery. Upon which a confident woman came, and undertook his cure, if he might be put into her hands. This was done, and the physicians were put from him, upon this pretense, that, they having no hopes of his recovery, in a desperate case, desperate remedies were to be applied. This was said to 5 be the Duke of Northumberland’s advice in particular; and it increased the people's jealousy of him when they
saw the King grow sensibly worse every day after he came under the woman’s care; which becoming so plain, she was put from him, and the physicians were again sent for and took him into their charge. But if they had small hopes before, they had none at all now. Death thus hastening on him, the Duke of Northumberland, who had done but half his work, except he had got the King's sisters in his hands, got the council to write to them in the King's name, inviting them to come and keep him 6 company in his sickness. But as they were on the way, on the 6th of July, his spirits and body were so sunk that he found death approaching; and so he composed himself to die in a most devout manner. His whole exercise was in short prayers and ejaculations. The last that he was heard to use was in these words: “Lord God! deliver me out of this miserable and wretched life, and take me among thy chosen; howbeit, not my will, but thine be done; Lord, I commit my spirit to thee. O Lord! thou knowest how happy it were for me to be with thee; yet, for thy chosen's sake, send me life and health, that I may truly serve thee. O my Lord God! bless my people and save thine inheritance. O Lord God! save thy chosen people of England. O Lord God! defend this realm from heresy, and maintain thy true religion, that I and my people may praise thy holy name, for Jesus Christ, his sake.” Seeing some about him, he seemed troubled that they were so near, and had heard him; but, with a pleasant countenance, he said he had been praying to God. And soon after, the pangs of death coming upon him, he said to Sir Henry Sidney, who was holding him in his arms: “I am faint; Lord, have mercy on me, and receive my spirit”; and so he breathed out his innocent soul. 7 Thus died King Edward VI, that incomparable young prince. He was then in the sixteenth year of his age, and was counted the wonder of that time. He was not only learned in the tongues, and other liberal sciences, but knew well the state of his kingdom. He kept a book in which he wrote the characters that were given him of all the chief men of the nation, all the judges, lord-lieutenants, and justices of the peace over England; in it he had marked down their way of living, and their zeal for religion. He had studied the matter of the mint, with the exchange and value of money; so that he understood it well, as appears by his journal. He also understood fortification, and designed well. He knew all the harbors and ports, both of his own dominions and of France and Scotland; and how much water they had, and what was the way of coming into them. He had acquired 8 great knowledge of foreign affairs; so that he talked with the ambassadors about them in such a manner that they filled all the world with the highest opinion of him that was possible; which appears in most of the histories of that age. He had great quickness of apprehension; and, being mistrustful of his memory, used to take notes of almost everything he heard; he wrote these first in Greek characters, that those about him might not understand them; and afterward wrote them out in his journal. He had a copy brought him of everything that passed in council, which he put in a chest, and kept the key of that always himself. In a word, the natural and acquired perfections of his 2
mind were wonderful; but his virtues and true piety were yet more extraordinary. . . . (He) was tender and compassionate in a high measure; so that he was much against taking away the lives of heretics; and, therefore, said to Cranmer, when he persuaded him to sign the warrant for the burning of Joan of Kent, that he was not will
ing to do it, because he thought that was to send her quick to hell. He expressed great tenderness to the miseries of the poor in his sickness, as hath been already shown. He took particular care of the suits of all poor persons, and gave Dr. Cox special charge to see that their petitions were speedily answered, and used oft to consult with him how to get their matters set forward. He was an exact keeper of his word; and, therefore, as appears by his journal, was most careful to pay his debts, and to keep his credit, knowing that to be the chief nerve of government, since a prince that breaks his faith, and loses his credit, has thrown up that which he can never recover, and made himself liable to perpetual distrusts and extreme contempt. 10 He had, above all things, a great regard to religion. He took notes of such things as he heard in sermons, which more especially concerned himself; and made his measures of all men by their zeal in that matter. . . . All men who saw and observed these qualities in him looked on him as one raised by God for most extraordinary ends; and, when he died, concluded that the sins of England had been great that had provoked God to take from them a prince under whose government they were like to have seen such blessed times. He was so affable and sweetnatured that all had free access to him at all times, * \ which he came to be most universally beloved; and all the high things that could be devised were said by the people to express their esteem of him.