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young king's studies, a gentleman who derived which took place in little more than a year. Sofrom his situation an influence confirmed by his merset appears to have been one of those unfortutalents and virtue.* Few men have more directly nate men, whose errors proceeded rather from accelerated their rise by matrimonial alliances than weakness than from vice, and whose good inten. Cecil ; yet such were the excellent qualities of his tions are perpetually counteracted by a lamentalady, that we might consider his attachment to her ble imprudence. Ambitions, rather than qualified the result rather of personal affection, than of a to govern, he had taken advantage of his populaview to political advancement.

rity to engross, in his own person, the whole powHis preferment under the new reign was not ers of the council of regency, to which Henry, by neglected by Somerset, to whose friendship he was his will, had intrusted the government; and recommended by various circumstances. While though he showed no inclination to abuse his his talents and consummate application rendered authority, yet he displayed his ascendancy with an him most useful to any one placed at the head of offensive ostentation. A profusion and magnifiaffairs, his decided attachment to the reformation cence, which might have served to increase his ingave him at this period a particular claim to public fluence, contributed, by his imprudent managetrusts. The protector, eager to extend his popu- ment, to ruin the popularity which he so fondly larity by accelerating those changes in religion, courted. While he too eagerly grasped at wealth which were now so generally desired, committed to support his expenses, a fortune which he suddenthe departments of government to the hands of ly amassed made his integrity suspected; and, on such as were known to be firm advocates of the his pulling down several churches to procure more reformation ; and, on this occasion, he created splendid materials for erecting his palace, the act Cecil master of the requests,-an appointment of was reprobated as sacrilege, and his impiety retrust and distinction.t

garded with horror. Even the best intended In the latter part of the same year, the young measures often became in his unskilful hands, the statesman attended his patron in the expedition source of new calamities. By his rash and ill against Scotland, and was present at the battle concerted attempts to redress the grievances of of Pinkey, where the arms of England proved so the common people, he not only provoked the nodecisively victorious. Here he very narrowly es- bility, but led the inflamed minds of the people caped destruction: a friend, observing a cannon themselves into excesses, which he was afterwards directly pointed at him, pushed him out of its line, obliged to repress by severe military executions. and, in the very act, had his own arm unfortunately His popularity at length became so much reduced, shattered by the ball. Cecil, with his usual dili- that the other members of the council of regency, gence, wrote an account of this expedition. On whom he had stripped of their just authority, venhis returning home, he enjoyed various advanta- tured to attempt his overthrow; and, by a well ges for prosecuting his views at court, and his planned conspiracy, succeeded in committing him talents were well calculated to second his oppor- and his principal adherents to the Tower. tunities. The insight into the characters of those The chief actor in this plot against Somerset around him, which he derived from careful habits was the earl of Warwick, son to Dudley, the inof observation, enabled him to suit his behaviour famous tool of Henry VII.'s extortions. Warto persons and circumstances; and the prudent wick inherited all the avarice and faithlessness of reserve of his conversation, joined to a perfect his father; and being possessed of talents both for command of temper, preserved him from those peace and war, he procured the patronage of Henry imprudences which so often bar the way to pro- VIII., who could readily overlook hereditary taint motion. He applied himself to gain the entire contracted in executing the mandates of tyranny. confidence of Somerset; and having unrestrained By the favour of that monarch, Dudley was sucaccess to the young prince, both from the friendship cessively raised to the rank of nobility, created an of the protector, and the situation of his father-in- admiral, and appointed a member of the council law, he quickly acquired the esteem and attach

of regency.

Yet, inflamed with an ambition ment of Edward. Somerset readily listened to which no subordinate honours could satiate, he the solicitations of his nephew in behalf of their looked on the minority of Edward as a favourable mutual favourite, and, in the following year, pro- opportunity for engrossing the chief direction of moted Cecil to the office of secretary of state. the government; and only delayed his attempts

With a rapidity proportioned to his merits and until the increasing unpopularity of Somerset, to his address, Cecil had now attained one of the which he contributed by every art, should ensure highest stations in the government; but his conti- their accomplishment. Succeeding, by the connuance on this envied height depended so much on spiracy which he had planned, to the power, the conduct of others, that the most consummate though not to the title, of the protector, he surroundprudence on his part could not render him secure. ed the young king with his creatures, compelled He, also, was drawn along in the fall of his patron, the council to submit to his dictates, and proceeded * Life of William Lord Burghley, p. 9.

to secure his ascendancy by new acquisitions of | Life of William Lord Burghley, p. 10.

fortune and rank. The last earl of Northumber1 Ibid. § Lord Burgley's Diary. land having died without issue, and his brother

having been attainted, the title was now extinct, indiscretion of Somerset, soon converted their ex. and the estate vested in the crown. Warwick

ternal appearances of amity into more fatal dis procured a grant of these large possessions, and sensions. Although the late protector, by his immade himself be created duke of Northumber- prudence and want of spirit, had become much land.

degraded in the public estimation, yet, in the day The views of this new ruler did not long prove of his humiliation, the envy once felt towards him adverse to Cecil ; for, after having been detained subsided into a better feeling; while the pride and in the Tower about three months, he was dis- ambition of his rival failed not to excite considera. charged, and again found himself on the road to ble odium. His reviving popularity awakened the fortune. Northumberland, though awed by the jealousy of Northumberland, and his indiscretion, previous popularity of Somerset, entertained little ere long, afforded a pretext for his destruction. apprehension of his talents, and justly calculated While the mortifications which he had experienced that his partisans might be weaned by new pros- could not fail to rankle in his bosom, his crafty pects from their attachment to so feeble a leader. antagonist endeavoured to goad him on to some In Cecil he perceived the double advantage of in- rash and criminal enterprise. The creatures of fluence over the young king, and of an uninter- Northumberland, who gained his confidence to rupted application to business, while others wasted precipitate his ruin, first inftamed his resentment, their time in cabals and intrigues. Aware, also, and then caught his hasty expressions of revenge ; that with Cecil ambition was a predominant princi- they suggested to him plans of insurrection, for ple, while his prudence was such as to divert him assassinating Northumberland, and then disclosed from all dangerous schemes, Northumberland them as accusations against him. When a sufmight expect that this statesman would be faithful ficient number of such charges had been accumuto those immediately possessed of power, and lated, Somerset was suddenly arrested ; tried bewould prefer the prospect of present aggrandise- fore a jury of peers, among whom were Northumment to the forlorn generosity of adhering to the berland and some of his principal enemies ; found ruined fortunes of Somerset. But whatever were guilty of a capital crime; and led, along with sevethe views of Northumberland, Cecil was, by his ral of his friends, to the scaffold. means, again appointed secretary of state; and, The part which Cecil acted, during these renewreceiving the honour of knighthood, was admitted ed calamities of his early patron, seems more reinto the privy council.*

concilable to prudence than to gratitude. It is This sudden release and subsequent elevation, said, that when Somerset, some time before his by the enemy of his old patron, have exposed the arrest, sent for him, and communicated to him his motives of Cecil to suspicion. It has been al- apprehensions, the secretary, instead of suggestleged, that he had a secret understanding with ing any means to avoid his impending danger, Northumberland even before the fall of Somerset, coldly replied, “That if he was innocent, he might and that his new preferment was the reward of trust to that; and if he were otherwise, he could his treachery. But while no grounds are pro- only pity him."* Pity, indeed, if he really felt it, duced for these accusations, the events which they was all that he bestowed; for it does not appear are adduced to explain seem otherwise sufficiently that he interposed, either publicly or privately, to accounted for. In joining Northumberland, Cecil avert the destruction of his former patron. And abandoned none of his principles; for the same when we consider the character of Somerset, we measures, both in regard to religion and politics, must allow that such an interposition would have were now pursued, as under the protector: and been as imprudent as it was likely to be unavailif his conduct, in uniting with the decided enemy ing. The weakness and irresolution of this no of his patron, be thought little consistent with

bleman were such, that no dependence could be honour or generosity, he only acted a part which placed on his executing any scheme proposed for Somerset himself speedily imnitated. Northum- his safety; and as he was surrounded by spies berland, having completed the degradation of his who insinuated themselves into his confidence, rival, by extorting from him a public confession any beneficial intelligence communicated to him, that he had been guilty of rashness, folly, and in- could scarcely have failed to reach his inveterate discretion, accounted him now so little formidable, adversary. In these circumstances, Cecil, by atthat he ventured to affect the praise of generosity, tempting the preservation of Somerset, would have by restoring him, not only to liberty, but to his incurred an imminent hazard of sharing in his deseat in the council. Somerset, as mean in adver- struction. Without benefiting his patron, he sity as ostentatious in his better fortune, gladly would probably have lost his fortune, his liberty, accepted the boon; and, after all the indignities or his life; leaving behind him only the praise of which he had undergone, consented to give his unsuccessful generosity. daughter, lady Jane Seymour, in marriage to lord But whether we respect his prudence, or cenDudley, the son of his adversary.

sure his ingratitude on this occasion, we cannot but But the ambition of Northumberland, and the applaud his conduct as a minister. While the

*

King Edward's Journal. Stow's Annals.

* King Edward's Journal.

court of England teemed with cabals, which occu- celerated the industry of this realm. The native pied the incessant attention of the other public merchants had often remonstrated against the men, the secretary was diligently employed in exe- privileges of these foreigners; but Cecil seems to cuting his official duties, and in devising schemes have been the first minister who effectually attendfor the discharge of the public debt, or the im- ed to their complaints. In consequence of his provement of commerce. There still remains a

representations to the council, the merchants of the complete statement of the king's debts in the Steel-yard were deprived of their charter, and month of February, 1551, printed from a manu- subjected to the same impositions as other aliens.* script drawn up by Cecil, and which must have From this measure, as it was speedily followed comprehended the whole of the public responsi- by a large increase of the shipping and foreign bility at that period, since neither the debts nor the commerce of England, Cecil has derived much revenues of the king were as yet separated from reputation; yet, it is but too indicative of the un. those of the nation.*

acquaintance of the age with the principles of An important change, effected about this time trade. To abrogate the monopoly was a measure in the commerce of London, is also attributed to of evident propriety, in as much as, like all monohis counsels. The carrying trade of the north of polies, it tended to limit the extent of commercial Europe, and of England in particular, had hitherto dealings, obliging our countrymen to sell their been engrossed, almost exclusively, by the mer- commodities somewhat lower, and to pay for chants of the Hanse Towns. As the foreign in- foreign articles somewhat higher than they would tercourse, conducted through this channel, was have done had the competition been open. But, found particularly productive to the revenue, it be- in what way ought this irregularity to have been came an object with our monarchs to promote it remedied ? Not merely by cancelling the privito the utmost ; and with this view, Henry III. in- leges of the Steel-yard merchants, and subjectduced a company of these merchants to settle in ing them to the same extra duties as other England, by the lure of a patent containing vari- alicns, but by putting all merchants, natives or ous privileges, exempting them from the heavy du- foreign, on a footing of equality. Such a measure ties paid by other aliens, and placing them nearly would, it may be alleged, have retarded the rise of on a footing with natives. This corporation was the native merchants, inferior as they then were to called, from their place of residence, the merchants foreigners in capital and experience: but in this, as of the Steel-yard, and effectually excluded all in all other cases, the course which industry and rivals from a competition - other foreigners by capital would of themselves have taken, would their exclusive privileges, and the English by their have been the most advantageous to all parties. superior capital and skill. They continued, ac- Our merchants, confining themselves for a season cordingly, from the time of their settlement, to en- to the inland trade, it would have expanded more gross nearly the whole continental trade of Eng- promptly, when our foreign trade absorbed little land. Their commerce was advantageous to the of our pecuniary means; and the latter also would natives, as it opened a market to their produce, have fallen eventually into their hands, in conseand induced them to devote their labour and capis quence not of acts of exclusion, but of the vatal to agriculture and manufactures ; but it was rious advantages possessed by natives over foattended, in the eye of the public, with various reigners. disadvantages. The gains of each individual, But had Cecil, or any other statesman in that who partook of this monopoly, were apparently age, attempted to admit foreigners on the footing greater than those of the natives engaged in of natives, he would have been represented by agriculture, manufactures, or internal commerce; public clamour as aggravating the evil which he and the collective wealth of these foreign mer- professed to remedy. The disadvantages under chants was doubly conspicuous from their resi- which Cecil laboured are apparent in the fate of dence in one spot. The jealousy of the English another project, which he entertained for the bewas strongly excited. They complained that the nefit of commerce. As the means of conveying natives had but toil for their portion, while stran- mercantile intelligence were in former times exgers ran away with all the profit. Besides these tremely defective, and the regulations for levying imaginary evils, this mode of carrying on trade the revenue were very imperfect, it was usual to was attended with some real disadvantages. As fix by law a staple or regular market, for the chief it was chiefly conducted by foreign vessels and commodities of a country, and oblige all its inhabitforeign seamen, it afforded little accession to the

ants to convey them thither for sale. Foreign maritime strength of the country; a circumstance merchants might thus reckon on a regular market, which, on the breaking out of a war, was felt as a and government had the best opportunity of levyserious evil. Moreover, these merchants, on real- ing its imposts both on exports and imports. The ising a fortune, were apt to depart, and transfer to staple of our wool, and other chief articles of extheir own country that capital which, in the hands portation, was fixed by an early act of parliament of natives, would have improved the soil, and ac- in certain towns of England, but was afterwards,

* See this paper in Strype's Memorials of Edward VI., book ü.

* Hayward's Life and Reign of Edward VI.

in the reign of Edward IH., wholly removed to Calais, which at that period came into our possession. * It was thence transferred to the flourishing but distant port of Antwerp, where it still remained in the reign of Edward VI. Cecil, perceiving the infinite disadvantages to which the exportation of England was subjected by this regulation, proposed to abolish the staple at Antwerp, and, as a far more desirable substitute, to open two free ports in England ; one at Southampton, and another at Hull. A paper is still extant, containing the whole of this scheme clearly digested, exhibiting the arguments in its favour, and refuting the objections by which it might be opposed. But his colleagues in office were too little advanced in commercial knowledge, and too much engrossed with state intrigues, to perceive the advantages or concur in the execution of this project.

Cecil, in the mean time, did not neglect to cultivate the attachment of the young king. That prince, whose diligence, knowledge, and discretion, far exceeded his years, seems to have been particularly delighted with a man so eminently distinguished for these qualities. The secretary was admitted into his inmost confidence, and was supposed to have had no snall share in the productions ostensibly attributed to Edward. It is said that the princess Mary, on receiving a letter from her brother, exhorting her to abjure the errors of popery, could not help exclaiming as she read it, “ Ah! Mr. Cecil's pen has taken great pains here.” Yet he never employed his ascendancy over the young prince to procure extravagant grants, after the example which had been set by Somerset, Northumberland, and the other courtiers. Aware that a fortune accumulated by such means always exposed the possessor to envy, and might probably, in these unsettled times, be the cause of his destruction, he preferred the slower but more secure method of acquiring wealth by the economical management of his regular salaries. By his appointment as chancellor of the order of the garter, his income now received an addition of a hundred marks a year ; and it appears that, after his father's decease, he also held the post of master of the robes.

Soon after this accession of honour and emolument, he found himself exposed, by his official situation, to dangers which all his prudence seemed insufficient to avert. The young king, who, by the extraordinary virtues and accomplishments of his early youth, had taught the nation to look forward with fond expectation to his more mature years, began to exhibit indubitable symptoms of a rapid decline. Amidst the alarm which this unexpected calamity diffused, the ambitious Northumberland began to meditate more daring plans for the confirmation of his power, and even undertook

to fix the succession to the crown in his own family, Four females stood next in the order of inheritance : Mary and Elizabeth, daughters of Henry VIII. ; Mary queen of Scots, grand-daughter of Henry's eldest sister; and the duchess of Suffolk, daughter of his second sister. The title of the last, although evidently posterior to the others, Northumberland resolved to enforce as preferable to the whole. He represented to Edward that his two half-sisters, Mary and Elizabeth, having been declared illegitimate by act of parliament, were for ever debarred from the succession ; that the queen of Scots, having been passed over in his father's will, was also to be considered as excluded ; and that, even had this objection not existed, she ought to be prevented from reducing England as well as Scotland to a province of France,-an event which, unless prevented by her exclusion, her marriage with the dauphin rendered inevitable. Availing himself of the king's attachment to the protestant religion, he depicted the dangers to which it would be exposed, if such bigoted catholics as either of the Marys ascended the throne ; and as this objection did not apply to Edward's favourite sister Elizabeth, who had been educated in the principles of the reformation, he urged that it was impossible to devise any pretext for excluding one sister, without excluding both. The prince, enfeebled by disease, and surrounded by the creatures of Northumberland, was at length overcome by bis arguments and importunities, and consented to fix the succession in the duchess of Suffolk, who was willing to wave her title in favour of her daughter, the lady Jane Grey. To complete this artful scheme, Northumberland now procured the lady Jane in marriage to his fourth son, lord Guilford Dudley, and enjoyed the prospect of continuing to manage the affairs of the kingdom at his pleasure, and of transmitting the kingdom to his posterity.

For this alteration in the succession to the throne, Northumberland obtained from the prince a patent, and required that it should be signed by all the members of the privy council ; a concession which the dread of his vengeance extorted, even from those most averse to the transaction. Cecil, among the rest, affixed his name to the patent; but whether from inclination or compulsion has been disputed. While he is charged by some with having been very active in the enterprises of the duke, and with having assisted in drawing up the instrument for altering the succession*, he himself, in a memorial which he afterwards drew up in his justification, asserts that both threats and promises were employed in vain to extort his concurrence in the attempt; that he refused to subscribe the patent as a privy councillor; and that he was at length only prevailed on, by the king's earnest entreaty, to write his name as witness to the royal signature. The character of Cecil leaves us, indeed, no room

*

* 27 Edward III. cap. vii.

| See a letter to him from sir Edward Dymocke, in Lodge's Illustrations of British History, vol. i.

p. 185.

* Hayward, vol. ii. p. 237.

to suspect that he entered into the views of Nor- embarking in the new government. The bigotry thumberland farther than his own immediate safety of Mary, and the violence of her prime minister, required. He might have been sufficiently willing, bishop Gardiner, made it easy to foresee that the had a fair opportunity offered, to set aside Mary, restoration of the catholic religion would be atthe next heiress, from whose bigoted attachment tempted by fire and sword ; and in the conflict to popery he had nothing to hope, and every thing between the zeal of the court, and the resistance to apprehend. But the reasons which might have of the great majority of the nation, it was imposled him to oppose Mary would have induced him

sible not to anticipate sanguinary executions and to support Elizabeth; and he knew that the objec- dangerous convulsions. Cecil appears to have tions against the title of lady Jane were too weighty adopted the resolution of keeping aloof from the to be removed by the patent of a minor on his cabals of either party, and of cultivating the private death-bed. Although parliament, with whom the friendship of some of the new ministers, without ultimate right of confirming or altering the order giving any sanction to their public measures. By of succession was acknowledged to reside, had this means he both provided for his own safety, enabled Henry VIII. to dispose of the crown by and was enabled to give occasional support to the will, yet, as it had not empowered Edward to alter cause which he favoured, without exciting the this disposition, his patent could not confer a legal jealousy and resentment of the government. title till ratified by a new act of the legislature. The court soon became divided into two facBut amidst the general indignation excited by the tions, of which the one urged the extirpation of ambition and rapacity of Northumberland, was heretics by fire and sword, while the other, confidsuch a sanction likely to be obtained ? or, if ob- ing in the ultimate success of what they deemed tained, to ensure a general acquiescence? Influ- the true religion, were of opinion that these vioenced by such considerations, Cecil seems to have lent methods would only harden the minds of men withdrawn himself, as far as personal safety would against it. Of these parties, the former was ruled allow, from an enterprise originating in extravagant by bishop Gardiner, a man very indifferent about ambition, and likely to terminate in the ruin of its religion, but naturally of a severe and violent temabettors. It is said, that when he found the pro- per, and exasperated, by some injuries, against ject in agitation, he made such a disposition of his the protestants: while the moderate party was effects as might give them the best chance of secu- headed by cardinal Pole, a man extremely devoted rity, in the event of his being imprisoned, or oblig- to his religious tenets, but too politic, if not too ed to quit the kingdom.*

humane, to attempt their propagation by violence. On the death of Edward, Cecil found himself, Expecting the safety of the protestants chiefly from along with the rest of the privy council, in the the ascendancy of the cardinal's counsels, Cecil power of Northumberland ; but perceiving that attached himself warmly to his interests. He total failure was soon to overtake the illegal mea- had procured himself to be nominated one of the sures of that infatuated nobleman, he resolutely honorary mission which had been sent by the refused to draw up the proclamation declaring the court to invite over this prelate, who resided in title of lady Jane, or to write in its vindication ;, Italy at the time of Mary's accession; and he apand the duke was not then in a situation to punish pears to have exerted himself successfully in achis disobedience. Soon afterwards he found means, quiring his confidence, since we find him, in the along with ihe other privy councillors, to escape, following year, attending Pole on an embassy to and join Mary, who had already been proclaimed the continent. queen, and who was pleased to receive him very It soon, however, became necessary for Cecil to graciously. As he knew that, among her partisans, take a more open part in defence of the proteshe had many enemies, and that they had already tants. The parliament having been induced, by made some unsuccessful attempts to prejudice her the intrigues of Gardiner, and the bribes which against him, he took advantage of her present fa- he scattered among the members, to revive the vourable disposition, to obtain a general pardon old sanguinary laws against heretics, the court for whatever might have been culpable in his past proceeded to carry them into execution with the conduct; and, with this indemnity, he determined most unrelenting cruelty. Bishops, venerable for for the present to retire from public affairs. Mary, age and virtue, were burnt in their own dioceses, acquainted with his sagacity and great talents for and women are said to have been thrown, in the business, was desirous to retain him in her service, agonies of childbirth, into the midst of the flames. and tendered to him the appointment which he had Nothing could exceed the horror of the cruelties hitherto held ; but, as the change of his religion perpetrated, or the frivolity of the accusations on was an indispensable condition, he could not be which the sufferers were condemned. Arrested on prevailed on to accept these offers. He was at- mere suspicion, and without having made any tached firmly and conscientiously to the reformed open profession of their creed, they were allowed

but had his religious principles been less only the alternative of signing a list of religious sincere, prudence might have withheld him from

* Life of William Lord Burghley, p. 11. * Burnet's Hist. of Reform. vol. ii. p. 233.

| Burnet, vol. iii. p. 264, from an account of thos. † Life of William Lord Burghley, p. 11.

transactions written or corrected by Cecil.

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