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NARES'S MEMOIRS OF LORD BURGHLEY.*
[EDINBURGH REVIEW, 1832.)
Tue work of Doctor Nares has filled us with radox. Of the rules of historical perspective astonishment similar to that which Captain he has not the faintest notion. There is neither Lemuel Gulliver felt, when first he landed in foreground nor background in his delineation. Brobdignag, and saw corn as high as the oaks The wars of Charles the Fifth in Germany are in the New Forest, thimbles as large as detailed at almost as much length as in Robertbuckets, and wrens of the bulk of turkeys. son's Life of that prince. The troubles of The whole book, and every component part of Scotland are related as fully as in M'Crie's it, is on a gigantic scale. The title is as long Life of John Knox. It would be most unjust as an ordinary preface. The presatory matter to deny that Doctor Nares is a man of great would furnish out an ordinary book ; and the industry and research; but he is so utterly inbook contains as much reading as an ordinary competent to arrange the materials which he library. We cannot sum up the merits of the has collected, that he might as well have left stupendous mass of paper which lies before us, them in their original repositories. better than by saying, that it consists of about Neither the facts which Doctor Nares has two thousand closely printed pages, that it discovered, nor the arguments which he urges, occupies fifteen hundred inches cubic measure, will, we apprehend, materially alter the opinion and that it weighs sixty pounds avoirdupois
. generally entertained by judicious readers of Such a book might, before the deluge, have history concerning his hero. Lord Burghley been considered as light reading by Hilpa and can hardly be called a great man. He was not Shallum. But unhappily the life of man is now one of those whose genius and energy change threescore years and ten; and we cannot but the fate of empires. He was by nature and think it somewhat unfair in Doctor Nares to habit one of those who follow, not one of those demand from us so large a portion of so short who lead. Nothing that is recorded, either of an existence.
his words or of his actions, indicates intellectual Compared with the labour of reading through or moral elevation. But his talents, though these volumes, all other labour-the labour of not brilliant, were of an eminently useful thieves on the tread-mill, of children in facto- kind; and his principles, though not inflexible, ries, of begroes in sugar plantations—is an were not more relaxed than those of his asso. agreeable recreation. There was, it is said, a ciates and competitors. He had a cool temper, criminal in Italy, who was suffered to make his a sound judgment, great powers of application, choice between Guicciardini and the galleys. and a constant eye to the main chance. In his He chose the history. But the war of Pisa was youth he was, it seems, fond of practical jokes. too much for him. He changed his mind, and Yet even out of these he contrived to extract went to the oar. Guicciardini, though certainly some pecuniary profit. When he was studynot the most amusing of writers, is an Herodotus, ing the law ai Gray's Inn, he lost all his fur. or a Froissart, when compared with Doctor niture and books to his companion at the Nares. It is not merely in bulk, but in specific gaming-table. He accordingly bored a hole gravity also, that these memoirs exceed all in the wall which separated his chambers froin other human compositions. On every subject those of his associate, and at midnight bellowwhich the professor discusses, he produces ed through his passage threats of damnation three times as many pages as another man; and calls to repentance in the ears of the vicioand one of his pages is as tedious as another rious gambler, who lay sweating with fear all man's three. His book is swelled to its vast night, and refunded his winnings on his knees dimensions by endless repetitions, by episodes next day. “Many other the like merry jests," which have nothing to do with the main action, says his old biographer, “I have heard hini by quotations from books which are in every telí, too long to be here noted.” To the last, circulating library, and by reflections which, Burghley was somewhat jocose; and some of when they happen to be just, are so obvious his sportive sayings have been recorded by that they must necessarily occur to the mind Bacon. They show much more shrewdness of every reader. He employs more words in than generosity; and are, indeed, neatly exexpounding and defending a truism, than any pressed reasons for exacting money rigorously, other writer would employ in supporting a pa- and for keeping it carefully. It must, however,
be acknowledged, that he was rigorous and * Memoirs of the Life and Administration of the Right careful for the public advantage, as well as for Hanoureble William Cecil Lord Burghley, Secretary of State in the Reign of King Edward the sixth, and Lord his own. To extol his moral character, as High Treasurer of England in the Reiyn of Queen Eliza- Doctor Nares has extolled it, would be absurd. beth. Containing en Historical View of the Times in which It would be equally absurd to represent him a3 he lived, and of the many eminent and illustrious Persons with whom he was connected; with extracts from his Pri. a corrupt, rapacious, and bad-hearted man. He rate and Oficial Correspondence and other Papers, nou first paid great attention to the interest of the state, published from the Originals. By the Reverend EDWARD and great attention also to the interest of his NARES, D.D. Regius Professor of Modern History in the University of Oxford. 3 vols. 410. London. 1828, 1832. own family. He never deserted his friends till
it was very inconvenient to stand by them; estates to his son, and carried arms about his was an excellent Protestant when it was not person. His best arms, however, were his savery advantageous to be a Papist; recommend-gacity and his self-command. The plot in ed a tolerant policy to his mistress as strongly which he had been an unwilling accomplice, as he could recommend it without hazarding ended, as it was natural that so odious and her favour; never put to the rack any person absurd a plot should end, in the ruin of its from whom it did not seem probable that very contrivers. In the mean time, Cecil quietly useful information might be derived; and was extricated himself, and, having been succes. so moderate in his desires, that he left only sively patronised by Henry, Somerset, and uhree hundred distinct landed estates, though he Northumberland, continued to flourish under might, as his honest servant assures us, have the protection of Mary. Teli much more, “if he would have taken money He had no aspirations after the crown of out of the exchequer for his own use, as many martyrdom. He consessed himself, therefore, treasurers have done."
with great decorum, heard mass in Wimbledon Burghley, like the old Marquess of Win-church at Easter, and, for the better ordering chester, who preceded him in the custody of of his spiritual concerns, took a priest into his the White Staff, was of the willow, and not of house. Doctor Nares, whose simplicity passes the oak. He first rose into notice by defend that of any casuist with whom we are acing the supremacy of Henry the Eighth. He quainted, vindicates his hero by assuring us, was subsequently favoured and promoted by that this was not superstition, but pure unthe Duke of Somerset. He not only contrived mixed hypocrisy. “That he did in some man. to escape unhurt when his patron fell, but ner conform, we shall not be able, in the face became an important member of the adminis- of existing documents, to deny; while we feel tration of Northumberland. Doctor Nares as- in our own minds abundantly satisfied, that, sures us over and over again, that there could during this very trying reign, he never aban. have been nothing base in Cecil's conduct on doned the prospect of another revolution in fathis occasion; for, says he, Cecil continued to vour of Protestantism.” In another place, the stand well with Cranmer. This, we confess, doctor tells us, that Cecil went to mass “ with hardly satisfies us. We are much of the mind no idolatrous intention.” Nobody, we believe, of Falstaff s tailor. We must have better as- ever accused him of idolatrous intentions. surance for Sir John than Bardolph's. We The very ground of the charge against him is, like not the security.
that he had no idolatrous intentions. Nobody Through the whole course of that miserable would have blamed him if he had really gone intrigue which was carried on round the dying to Wimbledon church, with the feelings of a bed of Edward the Sixth, Cecil so demeaned good Catholic, to worship the host. Doctor himself as to avoid, first, the displeasure of Nares speaks in several places, with just seNorthumberland, and afterwards the displea- verity, of the sophistry of the Jesuits, and with sure of Mary. He was prudently unwilling to just admiration of the incomparable letters of put his hand to the instrument which changed Pascal. It is somewhat strange, therefore, that ine course of the succession. But the furious he should adopt, to the full extent, the jesuitiDudley was master of the palace. Cecil, there- cal doctrine of the direction of intentions. core, according to his own account, excused We do not blame Cecil for not choosing to himself from signing as a party, but consented be burned. The deep stain upon his memory Lo sign as a witness. It is not easy to describe is, that, for differences of opinion for which he his dexterous conduct at this most perplexing would risk nothing himself, he, in the day of crisis, in language more appropriate than that his power, took away without scruple the lives which is employed by old Fuller: "His hand of others. One of the excuses suggested in wrote it as secretary of state,” says that quaint these Memoirs for his conforming, during the writer; “but his heart consented not thereto. reign of Mary, to the Church of Rome, is, that Yea, he openly opposed it; though at last he may have been of the same mind with yielding to the greatness of Northumberland, those German Protestants who were called in an age when it was present drowning noi | Adiaphorists, and who considered the popish to swim with the stream. But as the philoso- rites as matters indifferent. Melancthon was pher tells us, that, though the planets be whirl-cne of these moderate persons, and “appears," ed about daily from east to west, by the motion says Doctor Nares, to have gone greater C! :ho primum mobile, yet have they also a con- lengths than any imputed to Lord Burghley." trary proper motion of their own from west to We should have thought this not only an ex. east, which they slowly, though surely, move cuse, but a complete vindication, if Burghley at their leisure; so Cecil had secret counter- had been an Adiaphorist for the benefit of endeavours against the strain of the court others, as well as for his own. If the popish herein, and privately advanced his rightful in- rites were matters of so little moment, that a tentions against the foresaid duke's ambition.” good Protestant might lawfully practise them
This was undoubtedly the most perilous for his safety, how could it be just or humane conjuncture of Cecil's life. Wherever there that a Papist should be hanged, drawn, and was a safe course, he was safe. But here quartered, for practising them from a sense of every course was full of danger. His situa- duty. Unhappily, these non-essentials soon tion rendered it impossible for him to be neu- became matters of life and death. Just at the tral. If he acted on either side, if he refused very time at which Burghley attained the highlo act at all, he ran a fearful risk. He saw est point of power and favour, an act of Par. all the difficulties of his position. He sent his liament was passed, by which the penalties of
oney and plate out of London, made over his high treason were den unced against persons
NARES'S MEMOIRS OF LORD BURGHLEY.
ut his who should do in sincerity what he had done | knee. For Burghley alone, a chair was set in from cowardice.
her presence; and there the old minister, by Early in the reign of Mary, Cecil was em- birth only a plain Lincolnshire esquire, took plikten ployed in a mission scarcely consistent with his ease, while the haughty heirs of the Fitz
the character of a zealous Protestant. He alans and the De Veres humbled themselves to
was sent to escort the Papal legate, Cardinal the dust around him. At length, having surDEUT
Pole, from Brussels to London. That great vived all his early coadjutors and rivals, he hody of moderate persons, who cared more for died full of years and honours. His royal the quiet of the realm than for the controvert- mistress visited him on his death-bed, and ed points which were in issue between the cheered him with assurances of her affection churches, seem to have placed their chief and esteem; and his power passed, with little
hope in the wisdom and humanity of the gen- diminution, to a son who inherited his abilicheon tle cardinal. Cecil, it is clear, cultivated the ties, and whose mind had been formed by his
friendship of Pole with great assiduity, and re-counsels.
But the best protection of Cecil, during the with one of the most important periods in the gloomy and disastrous reign of Mary, was that history of the world. It exactly measures the which he derived from his own prudence and time during which the house of Austria held from his own temper;-a prudence which unrivalled superiority, and aspired to univer. could never be lulled into carelessness, a tem- sal dominion. In the year in which Burghley per which could never be irritated into rash- was born, Charles the Fifth obtained the impeness. The Papists could find no occasion rial crown. In the year in which Burghley against him. Yet he did not lose the esteem died, the vast designs which had for nearly a even of those sterner Protestants who had century kept Europe in constant agitation, preferred exile to recantation. He attached were buried in the same grave with the proud 1592 himself to the persecuted heiress of the throne, and sullen Philip. and entitled himself to her gratitude and confi- The life of Burghley was commensurate dence. Yet he continued to receive marks of also with the period during which a great mofavour from the queen. In the House of Com-ral revolution was effected; a revolution, the mons, he put himself at the head of the party consequences of which were felt, not only in opposed to the court. Yet so guarded was his the cabinets of princes, but at half the firesides
1 language, that even when some of those who in Christendom. He was born when the great acted with him were imprisoned by the Privy religious schism was just commencing. He Council, he escaped with impunity.
lived to see the schism complete, to see a line At length Mary died. Elizabeth succeeded, of demarcation, which, since his death, has and Cecil rose at once to greatness. He was been very little altered, strongly drawn between sworn in privy counsellor and secretary of Protestant and Catholic Europe. state to the new sovereign before he left her The only event of modern times which can prison of Hatfield; and he continued to serve be properly compared with the Reformation, is her for forty years, without intermission, in the the French Revolution; or, to speak more achighest employments. His abilities were pre-curately, that great revolution of political feelcisely those which keep men long in power. ing which took place in almost every part of He belonged to the class of the Walpoles, the the civilized world during the eighteenth cen. Pelhams, and the Liverpools; not to that of tury, and which obtained in France its most the St. Johns, the Carterets, the Chathams, and terrible and signal triumph. Each of these the Cannings. If he had been a man of origi- memorable events may be described as a rising nal genius, and of a commanding mind, it up of human reason against a caste. The would have been scarcely possible for him to one was a struggle of the laity against the keep his power, or even his head. There was clergy for intellectual liberty; the other was a not room in one government for an Elizabeth struggle of the people against the privileged and a Richelieu. What the haughty daughter orders for political liberty. In both cases, the of Henry needed, was a moderate, cautious, spirit of innovation was at first encouraged by flexible minister, skilled in the details of busi- the class to which it was likely to be most preness, competent to advise, but not aspiring to judicial. It was under the patronage of Frecommand. And such a minister she found in derick, of Catharine, of Joseph, and of the Burghley. No arts could shake the confidence French nobles, that the philosophy which which she reposed in her old and trusty ser-afterwards threatened all the thrones and arisvant.
The courtly graces of Leicester, the tocracies of Europe with destruction, first bebrilliant talents and accomplishments of Es- came formidable. The ardour with which men sex, touched the fancy, perhaps the heart, of betook themselves to liberal studies at the close the woman; but no rival could deprive the of the fifteenth and the beginning of the sixTreasurer of the place which he possessed in teenth century, was zealously encouraged by the favour of the queen. She sometimes chid the heads of that very church, to which liberal him sharply; but he was the man whom she studies were destined to be fatal. In both cases delighted to honour. For Burghley, she forgot when the explosion came, it came with a vioher usual parsimony both of wealth and of lence which appalled and disgusted many of dignities. For Burghley, she relaxed that se- those who had previously been distinguished vere etiquette to which she was unreasonably by the freedom of their opinions. The violence attached. Every other person to whom she of the democratic party in France made Burke addressed her speech, or on whom the glance a tory, and Alfieri a courtier; the violence of of her eagle eye fell, instantly sank on his 'the chiefs of the German schism made
as effected by
mus a defender of abuses, and turned the au- ; of their spiritual bondage was thor of Utopia into a persecutor. In both cases, plagues and by signs, by wonders and by war." the convulsion which had overthrown deeply. We cannot but remember, that, as in the case seated errors, shook all the principles on which of the French Revolution, so also in the case society rests to their very foundations. The of the Reformation, those who rose up against minds of men were unsettled. It seemed for a tyranny were themselves deeply tainted with time that all order and morality were about to the vices which tyranny engenders. We can. perish with the prejudices with which they had not but remember, that libe's scarcely less been long and intimately associated. Frightful scandalous than those of Herbert, mummeries craelties were commitied. Immense masses scarcely less absurd than those of Clootz, and of property were confiscated. Every part of crimes scarcely less atrocious than those of Europe swarmed with exiles. In moody and Marat, disgrace the early history of Protestturbulent spirits, zeal soured into malignity, or antism. The Reformation is an event long foamed into madness. From the political agi- past. The volcano has spent its rage. The tation of the eighteenth century sprang the Ja- wide waste produced by its outbreak is forgotcobins. From the religious agitation of the ten. The landmarks which were swept away sixteenth century sprang the Anabaptists. The have been repiaced. The ruined edifices have partisans of Robespierre robbed and murdered been repaired. The lava has covered with a in the name of fraternity and equality. The rich incrustation the fields which it once defollowers of Cnipperdoling robbed and mur- vastated; and after having turned a garden dered in the name of Christian liberty. The into a desert, has again turned the desert into feeling of patriotism was, in many parts of a still more beautiful and fruitful garden. The Europe, almost wholly extinguished. All the second great eruption is not yet over. The old maxims of foreign policy were changed. marks of its ravages are still all around us. Physical boundaries were superseded by mo- The ashes are still hot beneath our feet. In some ral boundaries. Nations made war on each directions, the deluge of fire still continues to other with new arms; with arms which no for- spread. Yet experience surely entitles us to tifications, however strong by nature or by art, believe that this explosion, like that which precould resist; with arms before which rivers ceded it, will fertilize the soil which it has departed like the Jordan, and ramparts fell down vastated. Already, in those parts which have like the walls of Jericho. Those arms were suffered most severely, rich cultivation and opinions, reasons, prejudices. The great mas- secure dwellings have begun to appear amidst ters of fleets and armies were often reduced to the waste. The more we read of the history confess, like Milton's warlike angel, how hard of past ages, the more we observe the signs of they found it
these times, the more do we feel our hearts " To exclude
filled and swelled up with a good hope for the Spiritual substance with corporeal bar." future destinies of the human race.
The history of the Reformation in England Europe was divided, as Greece had been di- is full of strange problems. The most promi. vided during the period concerning which Thu- nent and extraordinary phenomenon which it cydides wrote. The conflict was not, as it is presents to us, is the gigantic strength of the in ordinary times, between state and state, but government contrasted with the feebleness of between two omnipresent factions, each of the religious parties. During the twelve or which was in some places dominant, and in thirteen years which followed the death of other places oppressed, but which, openly or Henry the Eighth, the religion of the state was covertly, carried on their strife in the bosom of thrice changed. Protestantism was establishevery society. No man asked whether another ed by Edward; the Catholic Church was rebelonged to the same country with himself, but stored by Mary; Protestantism was again es. whether he belonged to the same sect. Party tablished by Elizabeth. The faith of the nation spirit seemed to justify and consecrate acts seemed to depend on the personal inclinations which, in any other times, would have been of the sovereign. Nor was this all. An estaba considered as the foulest of treasons. The lished church was then, as a matter of course, a French emigrant saw nothing disgraceful in persecuting church. Edward persecuted Cathobringing Austrian and Prussian hussars to lics. Mary persecuted Protestants. Elizabeth Paris. The Irish or Italian democrat saw no persecuted Catholics again. The father of those impropriety in serving the French Directory three sovereigns had enjoyed the pleasure of against his own native government. So, in the persecuting both sects at once; and had sent sixteenth century, the fury of theological facto death, on the same hurdle, the heretic who tions often suspended all national animosities denied the real presence, and the traitor who and jealousies. The Spaniards were invited denied the royal supremacy. There was nointo France by the League; the English were thing in England like that fierce and bloody invited into France by the Huguenots. opposition, which, in France, each of the relie
We by no means intend to underrate or to gious factions in its turn offered to the goverit palliate the crimes and excesses which, during ment. We had neither a Coligni nor a Mayihe last generation, were produced by the spirit enne ; neither a Moncontour nor an Ivry. No of democracy. But when we find that men English city braved sword and famine for the zealous for the Protestant religion, constantly reformed doctrines with the spirit of Rochelle; represent the French Revolution as radically nor for the Catholic doctrines with the spirit and essentially evil on account of those crimes of Paris. Neither sect in England formed a and excesses, we cannot but remember, that league. Neither sect extorted a recantatio the deliverance of our ancestors from the house from the sovereign. Neither sect could obtaua
NARES'S MEMOIRS OF LORD BURGHLEY.
from an adverse sovereign even a toleration. liaments were as obsequious as his Parlia-
sisted. Her power consisted in the willing The explanation of these circumstances obedience of her subjects, in their attachment which has generally been given, is very sim- to her person and to her office, in their respect ple, but by no means satisfactory. The power for the old line from which she sprang, in their of the crown, it is said, was then at its height, sense of the general security which they en. and was, in fact, despotic. This solution, we joyed under her government. These were the own, seems to us to be no solution at all.
means, and the only means, which she had at It has long been the fashion, a fashion intro- her command for carrying her decrees into duced by Mr. Hume, to describe the English execution, for resisting foreign enemies, and monarchy in the sixteenth century as an abso- for crushing domestic treason. There was not lute monarchy. And such undoubtedly it ap- a ward in the city, there was not a hundred in pears to a superficial observer. Elizabeth, it any shire in England, which could not have is true, often spoke to her Parliaments in lan- overpowered the handful of armed men who guage as haughty and imperious as that which composed her household. If a hostile sovethe Great Turk would use to his divan. She reign threatened invasion, if an ambitious no. punished with great severity members of the ble raised the standard of revolt, she could House of Commons, who, in her opinion, car- have recourse only to the trainbands of her ried the freedom of debate too far. She as- capital, and the array of her counties, to the sumed the power of legislating by means of citizens and yeomen of England, commanded proclamation. She imprisoned her subjects by the merchants and esquires of England. without bringing them to a legal trial. Torture Thus, when intelligence arrived of the vast was often employed, in defiance of the laws of preparations which Philip was making for the England, for the purpose of extorting confes- subjugation of the realm, the first person to sions from those who were shut up in her whom the government thought of applying dungeons. The authority of the Star-Chamber for assistance was the Lord Mayor of London. and the Ecclesiastical Commission was at its They sent to ask him what force the city would highest point. Severe restraints were imposed engage to furnish for the defence of the kingon political and religious discussion. The dom against the Spaniards. The mayor and number of presses was at one time limited. common council, in return, desired to know No man could print without a license; and what force the queen's highness desired them every work had to undergo the scrutiny of the to furnish. The answer was-fifteen ships primate or the Bishop of London. Persons and five thousand men. The Londoners deliwhose writings were displeasing to the court berated on the matter, and two days after were cruelly mutilated, like Stubbs, or put to “humbly entreated the council, in sign of their death, like Penry. Non veriformity was severely perfect love and loyalty to prince and country, punished. The queen prescribed the exact to accept ten thousand men, and thirty ships rule of religious faith and discipline; and who- amply furnished.” ever departed from that rule, either to the right People who could give such signs as these or to the left, was in danger of severe penal- of their loyalty were by no means to be misgoties.
verned with impunity. The English in the Such was this government. Yet we know sixteenth century were, beyond all doubt, a free that it was loved by the great body of those people. They had not, indeed, the outward who lived under it. We know that, during the show of freedom; but they had the reality. fierce contests of the sixteenth century, both They had not a good constitution, but they had the hostile parties spoke of the time of Eliza- that without which the best constitution is as beth as of a golden age. The great queen has useless as the king's proclamation against vice now been lying two hundred and thirty years and immorality, that which, without any conin Henry the Seventh's chapel. Yet her me- stitution, keeps rulers in awe-force, and the mory is still dear to the hearts of a free spirit to use it. Parliaments, it is true, were people.
rarely held; and were not very respectfully The truth seems to be, that the government treated. The Great Charter was often violated. of the Tudors was, with a few occasional de But the people had a security against gross viations, a popular government under the forms and systematic misgovernment, far stronger of despotism. At first sight, it may seem that the than all the parchment that was ever marked prerogatives of Elizabeth were not less ample with the sign manual, and than all the war than those of Louis the Fourteenth, that her Par- that was ever pressed by the great seal.