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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 successo moderate in his desires, that he left only sively patronised by Henry, Somerset, and three hundred distinct landed estates, though he Northumberland, continued to flourish under might, as his honest servant assures us, have the protection of Mary. left much more, "if he would have taken money out of the exchequer for his own use, as many treasurers have done."
He had no aspirations after the crown of martyrdom. He confessed himself, therefore, with great decorum, heard mass in Wimbledon church at Easter, and, for the better ordering of his spiritual concerns, took a priest into his house. Doctor Nares, whose simplicity passes that of any casuist with whom we are ac quainted, vindicates his hero by assuring us, that this was not superstition, but pure unmixed hypocrisy. "That he did in some manner conform, we shall not be able, in the face of existing documents, to deny; while we feel in our own minds abundantly satisfied, that, during this very trying reign, he never abandoned the prospect of another revolution in favour of Protestantism." In another place, the doctor tells us, that Cecil went to mass "with no idolatrous intention." Nobody, we believe, ever accused him of idolatrous intentions. The very ground of the charge against him is, that he had no idolatrous intentions. Nobody would have blamed him if he had really gone to Wimbledon church, with the feelings of a good Catholic, to worship the host. Doctor Nares speaks in several places, with just se verity, of the sophistry of the Jesuits, and with just admiration of the incomparable letters of Pascal. It is somewhat strange, therefore, that he should adopt, to the full extent, the jesuiti cal doctrine of the direction of intentions.
Through the whole course of that miserable intrigue which was carried on round the dying bed of Edward the Sixth, Cecil so demeaned himself as to avoid, first, the displeasure of Northumberland, and afterwards the displeasure of Mary. He was prudently unwilling to put his hand to the instrument which changed the course of the succession. But the furious Dudley was master of the palace. Cecil, therefore, 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 o 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 not 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- one of these moderate persons, and “appears,” ed about daily from east to west, by the motion says Doctor Nares, to have gone greater of the 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 exeast, 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 Papfst 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 highto act at all, he ran a fearful risk. He saw est point of power and favour, an act of Parall 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 denounced against persons
Burghley, like the old Marquess of Winchester, who preceded him in the custody of the White Staff, was of the willow, and not of the oak. He first rose into notice by defending the supremacy of Henry the Eighth. He was subsequently favoured and promoted by the Duke of Somerset. He not only contrived to escape unhurt when his patron fell, but became an important member of the administration of Northumberland. Doctor Nares assures us over and over again, that there could have been nothing base in Cecil's conduct on this occasion; for, says he, Cecil continued to stand well with Cranmer. This, we confess, hardly satisfies us. We are much of the mind of Falstaff s tailor. We must have better assurance for Sir John than Bardolph's. We like not the security.
who should do in sincerity what he had done from cowardice.
knee. For Burghley alone, a chair was set in her presence; and there the old minister, by birth only a plain Lincolnshire esquire, took his ease, while the haughty heirs of the Fitzalans and the De Veres humbled themselves to the dust around him. At length, having survived all his early coadjutors and rivals, he died full of years and honours. His royal mistress visited him on his death-bed, and cheered him with assurances of her affection and esteem; and his power passed, with little diminution, to a son who inherited his abili ties, and whose mind had been formed by his counsels.
The life of Burghley was commensurate with one of the most important periods in the history of the world. It exactly measures the time during which the house of Austria held unrivalled superiority, and aspired to universal dominion. In the year in which Burghley was born, Charles the Fifth obtained the imperial crown. In the year in which Burghley died, the vast designs which had for nearly a century kept Europe in constant agitation, were buried in the same grave with the proud and sullen Philip.
Early in the reign of Mary, Cecil was employed in a mission scarcely consistent with the character of a zealous Protestant. He was sent to escort the Papal legate, Cardinal Pole, from Brussels to London. That great hody of moderate persons, who cared more for the quiet of the realm than for the controverted points which were in issue between the churches, seem to have placed their chief hope in the wisdom and humanity of the gentle cardinal. Cecil, it is clear, cultivated the friendship of Pole with great assiduity, and received great advantage from his protection.
But the best protection of Cecil, during the gloomy and disastrous reign of Mary, was that which he derived from his own prudence and from his own temper;-a prudence which could never be lulled into carelessness, a temper which could never be irritated into rashness. The Papists could find no occasion against him. Yet he did not lose the esteem even of those sterner Protestants who had preferred exile to recantation. He attached himself to the persecuted heiress of the throne, and entitled himself to her gratitude and confidence. Yet he continued to receive marks of favour from the queen. In the House of Com-ral mons, he put himself at the head of the party opposed to the court. Yet so guarded was his language, that even when some of those who acted with him were imprisoned by the Privy Council, he escaped with impunity.
The life of Burghley was commensurate also with the period during which a great morevolution was effected; a revolution, the consequences of which were felt, not only in the cabinets of princes, but at half the firesides in Christendom. He was born when the great religious schism was just commencing. He lived to see the schism complete, to see a line of demarcation, which, since his death, has been very little altered, strongly drawn between Protestant and Catholic Europe.
The only event of modern times which can be properly compared with the Reformation, is the French Revolution; or, to speak more ac
At length Mary died. Elizabeth succeeded, and Cecil rose at once to greatness. He was sworn in privy counsellor and secretary of state to the new sovereign before he left her prison of Hatfield; and he continued to serve her for forty years, without intermission, in the highest 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 cenPelhams, and the Liverpools; not to that of tury, and which obtained in France its most the St. Johns, the Carterets, the Chathamis, 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 vio her 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 Burko 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
mus a defender of abuses, and turned the author of Utopia into a persecutor. In both cases, the convulsion which had overthrown deeplyseated errors, shook all the principles on which society rests to their very foundations. The minds of men were unsettled. It seemed for a time that all order and morality were about to perish with the prejudices with which they had een long and intimately associated. Frightful cruelties were committed. Immense masses of property were confiscated. Every part of Europe swarmed with exiles. In moody and turbulent spirits, zeal soured into malignity, or foamed into madness. From the political agitation of the eighteenth century sprang the Jacobins. From the religious agitation of the sixteenth century sprang the Anabaptists. The partisans of Robespierre robbed and murdered in the name of fraternity and equality. The followers of Cnipperdoling robbed and murdered in the name of Christian liberty. The feeling of patriotism was, in many parts of Europe, almost wholly extinguished. All the old maxims of foreign policy were changed. Physical boundaries were superseded by moral boundaries. Nations made war on each other with new arms; with arms which no fortifications, however strong by nature or by art, could resist; with arms before which rivers parted like the Jordan, and ramparts fell down like the walls of Jericho. Those arms were opinions, reasons, prejudices. The great masters of fleets and armies were often reduced to confess, like Milton's warlike angel, how hard they found it
"To exclude Spiritual substance with corporeal bar."
of their spiritual bondage was effected "by plagues and by signs, by wonders and by war" We cannot but remember, that, as in the case of the French Revolution, so also in the case of the Reformation, those who rose up against tyranny were themselves deeply tainted with the vices which tyranny engenders. We can not but remember, that libe's scarcely less scandalous than those of Herbert, mummeries scarcely less absurd than those of Clootz, and crimes scarcely less atrocious than those of Marat, disgrace the early history of Protestantism. The Reformation is an event long past. The volcano has spent its rage. The wide waste produced by its outbreak is forgot ten. The landmarks which were swept away have been replaced. The ruined edifices have been repaired. The lava has covered with a rich incrustation the fields which it once devastated; and after having turned a garden into a desert, has again turned the desert into a still more beautiful and fruitful garden. The second great eruption is not yet over. The marks of its ravages are still all around us. The ashes are still hot beneath our feet. In some directions, the deluge of fire still continues to spread. Yet experience surely entitles us to believe that this explosion, like that which preceded it, will fertilize the soil which it has devastated. Already, in those parts which have suffered most severely, rich cultivation and secure dwellings have begun to appear amidst the waste. The more we read of the history of past ages, the more we observe the signs of these times, the more do we feel our hearts filled and swelled up with a good hope for the future destinies of the human race.
The history of the Reformation in England is full of strange problems. The most promi
Europe was divided, as Greece had been divided during the period concerning which Thu-nent and extraordinary phenomenon which it cydides wrote. The conflict was not, as it is in ordinary times, between state and state, but between two omnipresent factions, each of which was in some places dominant, and in other places oppressed, but which, openly or covertly, carried on their strife in the bosom of every society. No man asked whether another belonged to the same country with himself, but whether he belonged to the same sect. Party spirit seemed to justify and consecrate acts which, in any other times, would have been considered as the foulest of treasons. The French emigrant saw nothing disgraceful in bringing Austrian and Prussian hussars to Paris. The Irish or Italian democrat saw no impropriety in serving the French Directory against his own native government. So, in the sixteenth century, the fury of theological factions often suspended all national animosities and jealousies. The Spaniards were invited into France by the League; the English were invited into France by the Huguenots.
We by no means intend to underrate or to palliate the crimes and excesses which, during the last generation, were produced by the spirit of democracy. But when we find that men zealous for the Protestant religion, constantly represent the French Revolution as radically and essentially evil on account of those crimes and excesses, we cannot but remember, that the deliverance of our ancestors from the house
presents to us, is the gigantic strength of the government contrasted with the feebleness of the religious parties. During the twelve or thirteen years which followed the death of Henry the Eighth, the religion of the state was thrice changed. Protestantism was established by Edward; the Catholic Church was restored by Mary; Protestantism was again established by Elizabeth. The faith of the nation seemed to depend on the personal inclinations of the sovereign. Nor was this all. An established church was then, as a matter of course, a persecuting church. Edward persecuted Catholics. Mary persecuted Protestants. Elizabeth persecuted Catholics again. The father of those three sovereigns had enjoyed the pleasure of persecuting both sects at once; and had sent to death, on the same hurdle, the heretic whe denied the real presence, and the traitor who denied the royal supremacy. There was nothing in England like that fierce and bloody opposition, which, in France, each of the religious factions in its turn offered to the govern ment. We had neither a Coligni nor a Mayenne; neither a Moncontour nor an Ivry. No English city braved sword and famine for the reformed doctrines with the spirit of Rochelle; nor for the Catholic doctrines with the spirit of Paris. Neither sect in England formed a league. Neither sect extorted a recantatio from the sovereign. Neither sect could obra..
ments, that her warrant had as much authority as his lettre-de-cachet. The extravagance with which her courtiers eulogized her personal and mental charms, went beyond the adulation of Boileau and Molière. Louis would have blushed to receive from those who composed the gor
The explanation of these circumstances which has generally been given, is very ple, but by no means satisfactory. The power of the crown, it is said, was then at its height, and was, in fact, despotic. This solution, we own, seems to us to be no solution at all.
from an adverse sovereign even a toleration. | liaments were as obsequious as his Parlia The English Protestants, after several years of domination, sank down with scarcely a struggle under the tyranny of Mary. The Catholics, after having regained and abused their old ascendency, submitted patiently to the severe rule of Elizabeth. Neither Protestants nor Catholics engaged in any great and well-orga-geous circles of Marli and Versailles, the outnized scheme of resistance. A few wild and ward marks of servitude which the haughty tumultuous risings, suppressed as soon as they Britoness exacted of all who approached her. appeared, a few dark conspiracies, in which But the power of Louis rested on the support only a small number of desperate men en- of his army. The power of Elizabeth rested gaged-such were the utmost efforts made by solely on the support of her people. Those these two parties to assert the most sacred of who say that her power was absolute do not human rights, attacked by the most odious sufficiently consider in what her power contyranny. sisted. Her power consisted in the willing obedience of her subjects, in their attachment sim-to her person and to her office, in their respect for the old line from which she sprang, in their sense of the general security which they enjoyed under her government. These were the 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 nopunished 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 trainhands 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 formity was severely perfect love and loyalty to prince and country, panished. 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 or to the left, was in danger of severe penalties.
People who could give such signs as these of their loyalty were by no means to be misgoverned with impunity. The English in the sixteenth century were, beyond all doubt, a free people. They had not, indeed, the outward show of freedom; but they had the reality. They had not a good constitution, but they had that without which the best constitution is as useless as the king's proclamation against vice and immorality, that which, without any con
Such was this government. Yet we know that it was loved by the great body of those who lived under it. We know that, during the fierce contests of the sixteenth century, both the hostile parties spoke of the time of Elizabeth as of a golden age. The great queen has now been lying two hundred and thirty years in 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 treated. The Great Charter was often violated. But the people had a security against gross and systematic misgovernment, far strenger than all the parchment that was ever marked with the sign manual, and than all the wax that was ever pressed by the great seni
The truth seems to be, that the government of the Tudors was, with a few occasional deviations, a popular government under the forms of despotism. At first sight, it may seem that the prerogatives of Elizabeth were not less ample than those of Louis the Fourteenth, that her Par
It is a common error in politics to confound governs in conformity with certain rules es means with ends. Constitutions, charters, pe-tablished for the public benefit; and the sanetitions of right, declarations of right, repre- tion of those rules is, that every Afghan ap sentative assemblies, electoral colleges, are not proves them, and that every Afghan is a solgood government; nor do they, even when dier. most elaborately constructed, necessarily produce good government. Laws exist in vain for those who have not the courage and the means to defend them. Electors meet in vain where want renders them the slaves of the landlord; or where superstition renders them the slaves of the priest. Representative assemblies sit in vain unless they have at their command, in the last resort, the physical power which is necessary to make their deliberations free, and their votes effectual.
The monarchy of England in the sixteenth century was a monarchy of this kind. It is called an absolute monarchy, because little respect was paid by the Tudors to those institutions which we have been accustomed te consider as the sole checks on the power of the sovereign. A modern Englishman can hardly understand how the people can have had any real security for good government un der kings who levied benevolences and chid the House of Commons as they would have chid a pack of dogs. People do not sufficiently, consider that, though the legal checks were feeble, the natural checks were strong. There was one great and effectual limitation on the royal authority—the knowledge that if the pa tience of the nation were severely tried, the nation would put forth its strength, and that its strength would be found irresistible. If a large body of Englishmen became thoroughly discontented, instead of presenting requisitions, holding large meetings, passing resolutions, signing petitions, forming associations and unions, they rose up; they took their halberds and their bows; and if the sovereign was not sufficiently popular to find among his subjects other halberds and other bows to oppose to the rebels, nothing remained for him but a repetition of the horrible scenes of Berkeley and Pomfret. He had no regular army which could by its superior arms and its superior skill overwe or vanquish the sturdy commons of his realm, abounding in the native hardihood of Englishmen, and trained in the simple discipline of the militia.
The Irish are better represented in Parliament than the Scotch, who indeed are not represented at all. But are the Irish better governed than the Scotch? Surely not. This circumstance has of late been used as an argument against reform. It proves nothing against reform. It proves only this; that laws have no magical, no supernatural virtue; that laws do not act like Aladdin's lamp or Prince Ahmed's apple; that priestcraft, that ignorance, that the rage of contending factions may make good institutions useless; that intelligence, sobriety, industry, moral freedom, firm union, may supply in a great measure the defects of the worst representative system. A people whose education and habits are such, that, in every quarter of the world, they rise above the mass of those with whom they mix, as surely as oil rises to the top of water; a people of such temper and self-government, that the wildest popular excesses recorded in their history partake of the gravity of judicial proceedings, and of the solemnity of religious rites; a people whose national pride and mutual attachment have passed into a proverb; It has been said that the Tudors were as aba people whose high and fierce spirit, so forci- solute as the Caesars. Never was parallel so bly described in the haughty motto which en- unfortunate. The government of the Tudors circles their thistle, preserved their independ- was the direct opposite to the government of ence, during a struggle of centuries, from the Augustus and his successors. The Cæsars encroachments of wealthier and more power- ruled despotically, by means of a great standful neighbours,-such a people cannot being army, under the decent forms of a republilong oppressed. Any government, however can constitution. They called themselves citiconstituted, must respect their wishes, and zens. They mixed unceremoniously with other tremble at their discontents. It is indeed most citizens. In theory they were only the elective desirable that such a people should exercise a magistrates of a free commonwealth. Instead direct influence on the conduct of affairs, and of arrogating to themselves despotic power, should make their wishes known through con- they acknowledged obedience to the senate. stitutional organs. But some influence, direct They were merely the lieutenants of that veor indirect, they will assuredly possess. Some nerable body. They mixed in debate. They organ, constitutional or unconstitutional, they even appeared as advocates before the courts will assuredly find. They will be better go- of law. Yet they could safely indulge in the verned under a good constitution than under a wildest freaks of cruelty and rapacity while bad constitution. But they will be better go- their legions remained faithful. Our Tudors, verned under the worst constitution than some on the other hand, under the titles and forms other nations under the best. In any general of monarchical supremacy, were essentially classification of constitutions, the constitution popular magistrates. They had no means of of Scotland must be reckoned as one of the protecting themselves against the public haworst, perhaps as the worst in Christian Eu- tred; and they were therefore compelled to ope. Yet the Scotch are not ill governed. court the public favour. To enjoy all the state And the reason is simply that they will not and all the personal indulgences of absolute bear to be ill governed. power, to be adored with Oriental prostrations, to dispose at will of the liberty and even of the life of ministers and courtiers-this the nation granted to the Tudors. But the condition on which they were suffered to be the tyrants of
In some of the Orienta: monarchies, in Afghanistan, for example, though there exists nothing which a European publicist would all a constitution, the sovereign generally