Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση
[ocr errors]

cence.

a few noblemen of the first rank and fortune, he superiority of her expedients.* His services, both kept a regular table, with a certain number of co- before and after her elevation to the throne, were vers for gentlemen, and two others for persons of of the most important nature ; for, besides his inferior condition. These, always open, were serv- great qualities as a minister, his vigilance had reved alike whether he was present or absent; and, peatedly preserved her life, while his fidelity had in correspondence with this proud hospitality, he endangered his own. had around him many young persons of distinc- These services were sincerely felt by Elizabeth : tion, who acted as his retainers, and lived in his with a magnanimity not always to be found family. Promotion was not yet attainable by among princes, she freely acknowledged her obliopen competition; the house of a minister was the gations, and demonstrated her gratitude by attengrand preparatory school; and Burleigh was un- tions which, from a sovereign, were the most flatder Elizabeth what cardinal Morton had been un- tering of rewards. Interesting herself in his doder Henry VII. Among the retainers of Bur- mestic concerns, and entering into the joys and leigh, there could, we are told, be reckoned, at one sorrows of his family, we find her at one time time, twenty young gentlemen, each of whom standing sponsor for one of his children, and at possessed, or was likely to possess, an income of another hastening in person to enquire for his 1000l. ; and among his household officers there daughter in a sudden illness. In promoting the were persons who had property to the amount of marriage of his son with a lady of rank and for10,0001.* His houses were not large, but his equi- tune, she also took an active part, and visited the page and furniture were splendid ; his plate is re- lady in behalf of the suitor. Although extremely ported to have amounted to 14,000 pounds in jealous of her real authority, Elizabeth had too weight, and about 40,0001. in value. His public much sense as well as policy to impede her serentertainments corresponded with this magnifi- vice by unmeaning forms. When the treasurer,

It was customary for Elizabeth to receive in the latter part of his life, was much afflicted sumptuous entertainments from her principal no- with the gout, the queen always made him sit bility and ministers; and, on these instances of down in her presence with some obliging exprescondescension, Burleigh omitted nothing which sion, “My lord,” she would say, “we make use could show his sense of the honour conferred on of you, not for your bad legs, but for your good him by his royal guest. B sides the short private head.” When the severity of his illness rendered visits which she often paid him, he entertained her him unable to quit his apartment, she repaired in a formal manner twelve different times, with thither with her council to enjoy the benefit of his festivities which lasted several weeks, and on each

advice;

and when his disease assumed a dangeroccasion cost him two or three thousand pounds. ous aspect, she appeared in person among the His seat at Theobalds, during her stay, exhibited anxious enquirers for his health.† a succession of plays, sports, and splendid devices;

Her majesty was, however, far from being aland here she received foreign ambassadors, at the ways so accommodating; and it often required expense of her treasurer, in as royal state as at no small degree of patience to bear the effects any of her palaces. This magnificence, doubt- of her violent passions and unreasonable caprice. less, acquired him a considerable ascendancy

The manners of that age were much less refined both at court and among the people; but it was

than those of the present; yet, even then, it apattended with much envy, and often brought him peared no ordinary breach of decorum in a queen vexation. At bis death, he left, besides his plate

to load her attendants with the coarsest epithets, and furniture, 11,0001. in money, and 40001. a year

or to vent her indignation in blows. The style of in lands, of which he had received only a small gallantry with which she encouraged her courtiers portion by inheritance. I

to approach her, both cherished this overbearing We come next to the interesting topic of his temper, and made her excesses be received conduct towards Elizabeth, and the deportment of

rather as the ill-humour of a mistress than the her majesty in return. He was often heard to say,

affronts of a sovereign. It was customary for her that he thought there never was a woman so wise

statesmen and warriors to pretend not only loyalin all respects as Elizabeth ; that she knew the ty to her throne, but ardent attachment to her perstate of her own and foreign countries better than son; and in some of Raleigh's letters, we find all her counsellors; that, in the most difficult de- her addressed, at the age of sixty, with all the enliberations, she would surprise the wisest by the thusiastic raptures of a fond lover. To leign a * Life of William Lord Burghley, p. 40. The wri

dangerous distemper arising from the influence of ter of the treatise from which these particulars are ta

her charms was deemed an effectual passport to ken was himself one of lord Burghley's retainers, and her favour; and when she appeared displeased, an eye-witness of all these circumstances.

the forlorn courtier took to his bed in a paroxysm | Life of William Lord Burghley, p. 37–41. These protracted visits of Elizabeth to her principal courtiers

of amorous despondency, and breathed out his seem to have had in view economy as well as popularity. She had no objection to honour her subjects

* Life of William Lord Burghley, p. 71. by her presence, and she accounted it fair that they † Birch's Memoirs, vol. i. p. 294. 128. Lloyd's

pay
for this honour.

State Worthies.
| Ibid. p. 44.

| Cayley's Life of Raleigh, p. 127. 134. 4to. edit.

should

issue ;

tender melancholy in signs and protestations. We find Leicester, and some other ministers, endeavouring to introduce one Dyer to her favour; and the means which they employed was, to persuade her that a consumption, from which the young man had with difficulty recovered, was brought on by the despair with which she had inspired him.* Essex, having on one occasion fallen under her displeasure, became exceedingly ill, and could be restored to health only by her sending him some broth, with kind wishes for his recovery. Raleigh, hearing of these attentions to his political rival, got sick in his turn, and received no benefit from any medicine till the same sovereign remedy was applied. With courtiers who submitted to act the part of sensitive admirers, Elizabeth found herself under no restraint: she expected from them the most unlimited compliance, and if they proved refractory, she gave herself up to all the fury of passion, and loaded them with opprobrious epithets.

Burleigh, by uniformly approaching her with the dignified demeanour of a grave and reserved counsellor, was far less liable to such indignities. Yet even on him she sometimes vented her chagrin ; and, in moments of sudden violence, seemed to forget his age, his character, and his station. On one occasion, when, in opposition to her wish, he persisted in a resolution to quit the court a few days for the benefit of his health, she petulantly called him a froward old foolt; and when he ventured, as already has been mentioned, to maintain some claim of the earl of Essex, which she had determined to disallow, she wrathfully reproached him as a miscreant and a coward who deserted her cause. As he had generally to perform the disagreeable task of announcing to her any untoward accidents in the course of her affairs, he was exposed to the first ebullitions of her chagrin ; and so much, we are told, did the unprosperous event of her plans for the tranquillisation of Ireland, in 1594, irritate her mind, that she severely reproached her aged minister even while he laboured under sickness. But it was not only hasty bursts of passion that he had to dread : we have seen that, on particular occasions, she chose to execute her designs under a veil of consummate hypocrisy ; and made no scruple to shield herself from public reproach by affecting resentment against her ministers for the very acts which had given her the highest gratification. Fortunately for Burleigh, she found means to satisfy appearances, without carrying her injustice to him beyond some temporary indignities.

These mortifications were aggravated by the obstinacy with which she occasionally opposed his

designs. While certain counsellors, from attractions of person and manner, acquired at times an undue influence over her, some of her passions and prejudices were too powerful to be counter acted by his cool and rational suggestions; and it is alleged that she more than once rejected his

ounsels, merely to prove to him that his ascen dancy over her was not absolute.

The even temper of Burleigh enabled him to suffer many of these disgusts with apparent calm ness ; yet at times they exceeded his endurance. A very few years after the accession of Elizabeth, we find him already desiring to quit a station in which his toil and mortification were so great.* As he advanced in life, his increasing bodily infirmities, and some domestic misfortunes which affected him very deeply, made such causes of chagrin more poignant ; and he frequently solicited the queen to accept of his resignation. But that princess, though too impetuous to refrain from giving offence, could not endure to be de prived of the zeal, industry, and wisdom on which she had so long relied with the most prosperous

and his resignation was a theme to which she could never be brought to listen. Laying aside the stateliness of the queen, she undertook to al. ter his purpose and dispel his chagrin, by assum ing the playfulness of the woman. Their still remain several of her letters, in which she so artfully mingles strokes of gratitude and attachment with raillery, that it is no wonder the old states man should have been moved by these indications of warm interest from his sovereign.t

The private life of Burleigh may be discussed in a short compass. Hurried along, from an early period of life, amidst affairs too complicated not to require his utmost industry, too important not to engage all his attention, he had very little leisure for domestic enjoyments. His hours of relaxation were few, seldom exceeding what was necessary for the refreshment of nature ; and if he at any time indulged in a greater cessation from his public labours, it was chiefly when his bodily infirmities demanded such an intermission with a call not to be refused.

The principal scene of his amusements was his seat at Theobalds, near London, whither he fled with eagerness to enjoy the short intervals of leisure which he could snatch from public affairs. In these days the buildings had not extended so far; the house was surrounded with gardens, on which he had expended large sums of money, which were laid out under his own direction, with taste and magnificence. Here he was often scen riding up and down the walks on his mule, enjoying the progress of his improvements, or overlooking those who amused themselves by shooting with arrows or playing at bowls ; but he never joined in these

* Letter of Gilbert Talbot to the Earl of Shrewsbury, in Lodge, vol. ii. p. 101.

| Birch's Memoirs of Queen Elizabeth, vol. i. p. 448. Ibid. vol. ii.

p.

148. Ibid. vol. i. p. 169.

* Letter in Hardwicke's Miscellaneous State Papers, vol. i. p. 170.

f Strype's Annals, vol. iv. p. 77.

:

cau.

resource,

or any other diversions. The weakness of his constitution, and more especially the distempers of his feet and legs, disqualified him for active sports, even if he had been led to them by inclination : but his mind seems to have been so thoroughly engrossed by important business, that he had as little relish as leisure for amusements ; nor did he play at any of those games with which the less busy endeavour to relieve the languor of existence. *

His principal and favourite recreation was reading. Books were to him what cards are to a great portion of the world—his frequent and most valued

They frequently interfered with the exercise necessary to his health ; for when he got home to take a morning's ride, if he found a book which pleased him, he willingly postponed his excursion.t Nor was he insensible to the pleasures of domestic society and exhilarating conversation. At his table, in the company of a few select friends, or of his children and kinsmen, whom he always loved to see around him, he appeared to throw all his cares aside, and to yield himself up to unrestrained enjoyment. Whatever fatigue or anxiety, in the course of the day, his mind might have experienced from the pressure of public affairs, every uneasy circumstance seemed at these periods to be forgotten. His countenance was cheerful, his conversation lively ; and those who saw him only in these short intervals of relaxation would have imagined that pleasure was the business of his life. As the mildness of his demeanour towards all ranks, in the intercourse of public life, procured him many friends, the frankness and familiarity which he displayed in his private circle gave a relish to his society. His conversation often sparkled with wit and gaiety, and his observations were generally not less pleasant than shrewd. The topics discussed at his table were various ; literary conversation was preferred, politics were always avoided. The magnificent style in which he lived, the number of his attendants, and the concourse of persons of distinction, seem, at first, adverse to the freedom of his social entertainments. But Burleigh was accustomed to live in a crowd ; and few of his visitors were so exalted above him by rank that he could not with grace relax himself in their presence.

A share in conversation was the chief pleasure which he enjoyed at table; for he was distinguished for temperance in an age when that virtue was

* Life of William Lord Burghley, p. 61.

| Life of William Lord Burghley, p. 63, 64. It is curious to hear the peevishness with which learning is often cried down, even by those who derive from it the principal pleasures of their life. Though Burleigh found nearly all his recreation in books, in a letter to the earl of Shrewsbury, he wishes that nobleman's son " all the good education that may be mete to teach him to fear God, love his natural father, and to know his friends, without any curiosity of human learning, which, without the fear of God, doth great hurt to all youth in this time and age."--Lodge vol. ii. p. 133.

Ibid. p. 62, 63.

not common. He ate sparingly, partook of few dishes, never drank above thrice at a meal, and very seldom of wine. Although the dinner hour in that age was not later than twelve or one o'clock, it was not uncommon with him to refrain from supper. * The gout, with which he was grievously tormented in the latter part of his life, probably contributed to render him more tiously abstemious: if his temperance failed to ba nish this uneasy guest, he never at least encourag ed its stay by rich wines and strong spices.

Nor was the private life of Burleigh destitute of nobler virtues. At a period when the poor had so few resources for their industry, and when many willing to work were reduced to want, a portion of his ample fortune was benevolently appropriated to their necessities. His certain and regular alms amounted to 5001. a year, besides farther and large disbursements on extraordinary occasions. Part was employed, under proper superintendence, in affording relief to poor prisoners, or in releasing honest debtors; the rest was confided to the

management of certain parishes for the use of their most destitute inhabitants. From the low state of husbandry at that period, and the very limited intercourse between nations, one bad sea son was sufficient to subject a kingdom to the miseries of famine; corn, in certain districts, was sold at the most exorbitant prices, and rendered as inaccessible to the poorer classes as if none had existed in the country. In such times of scarcity, then of frequent occurrence, and attended with consequences revolting to humanity, it was usual for Burleigh to buy up large quantities of corn, which he sold at low prices to the poor in the neighbourhood of his different seats; and by this well-judged assistance, relieved their necessities without relaxing their industry. I

The mind of Burleigh appears to have been strongly tinctured with piety. Placed amidst dan gers which his utmost vigilance could not always avoid, and from which he often escaped by unex pected accidents, his views were naturally extended to that Power on whose will depended the dura-tion of his life. His faith had been endeared to him by persecution; his picty was exalted by the sacrifice of his interest to religion. Regular in his attendance on public worship, and in the performance of his private devotions, he strove, both by example and influence, to inspire his family and connections with religious sentiments. During the greatest pressure of business, it was his custom, morning and evening, to attend prayers at the queen's chapel. When his increasing infirmities rendered him nolonger able to go abroad, he caused a cushion to be laid by his bedside, and on his knees performed his devotions at the same regular hours. Unable at length to kneel, or to en dure the fatigue of reading, he caused the prayers

* Life of William Lord Burghley, p. 62, 63.
† Nugæ Antique, vol. ii. p. 82.
Life of William Lord Burghley, p. 38. 42.

to be read aloud to him as he lay on his bed.* “I will trust,” he said, “no man if he be not of sound religion ; for he that is false to God can never be true to man.”+ The strictness of his morals was in correspondence with his piety, and both liad a powerful effect in confirming his fortitude in times of peril. At the awful period when Philip was preparing his armada, and when the utter destruction of the Englis!ı government was confidently expected abroad, and greatly dreaded at home, Burleigh was uniformly collected and resolute; and when the mighty preparations of the Spaniards were spoken of in his presence with apprehension, he replied with firmness, “ They shall do no more than God will suffer them.”I

In his intercourse with his family and dependants, this grave statesman was kind and condescending. In his leisure moments he delighted in sporting with his children, forbearing, however, such indications of intemperate fondness as might have rendered them regardless of bis authority, and ready to give the rein to their caprices. In his old age no scene so much delighted him as to have his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, collected around his table, and testifying their happiness by their good-humour and cheerfulness. While his eldest son passed into the rank of hereditary nobility, it was to his second son, Robert, that Burleigh turned an anxious eye as the heir of his talents and influence. Now where his pains fruitlessly bestowed : || Robert displayed abilities

thy of his father; and after rising, during his lifetime, to considerable trusts and employments in the state, succeeded him, under James I., as prime minister, under the title of earl of Salisbury. The care with which Burleigh watched over the interests of this son appears from a series of prudential advices arranged in ten divisions, which he drew up for his use. I

For the improvement of his children, as well as for his own domestic happiness, Burleigh was chiefly indebted to his wife, the daughter of Sir Anthony Cook, a lady highly distinguished for her mental accomplishments. The plan of semale education, which the example of Sir Thomas More had rendered popular, continued to be pursued among the superior classes of the community. The learned languages, which, in the earlier part of Elizabeth's reign, still contained every thing elegant in literature, formed an indispensable branch of a fashionable education; and many young ladies of rank could not only translate the authors of Greece and Rome, but even compose in Greek and Latin with considerable elegance.

* Life of William Lord Burghley, p. 56.
† lbid. p. 68.
$ Ibid. 30.
$ Sb d. p. 60, 61.
|| Bacon's Works, vol. i.

| This tract has been transmitted to posterity; and as it affords so many characteristic traits of its author, it is inserted, for the information and entertainment of the reader, in the Appendix.

Sir Anthony Cook, a man eminent for his literary acquirements, and on that account appointed tutor to Edward VI., bestowed the most careful education on his five daughters; and all of them rewarded his exertions, by becoming not only proficients in literature, but distinguished for their excellent demeanour as mothers of families. · Lady Burleigh was adorned with every quality which could excite love and esteem; and many instances are recorded of her piety and beneficence. She had accompanied her husband through all the vicissitudes of his fortunes; and an affectionate union of forty-three years rendered the loss of her the severest calamity of his life. The despondency caused to him by this irreparable calamity produced a desire to renounce public business, so irksome in that state of his feelings, and to devote the remainder of his life to retirement and meditation. But Elizabeth was too sensible of the vast importance of his counsels. She peremptorily rejected the resignation which he tendered, yet softened her refusal with those arts which she knew so well to employ.

But though Burleigh continued to apply himself with undiminished vigour to public business, his happiness had sustained a loss which nothing could repair. In his wife he had been deprived of a companion whose society long habit had rendered essential to his enjoyment; while the increasing severity of the gout, with other infirmities of age, aggravated the distress of his mind by the pains of his body. By no trait had he hitherto been more remarkable than by the unruffled calmness of his temper. The serenity of his countenance seemed to indicate a tranquillity so confirmed as to be incapable of interruption ; and an eye-witness informs us that, for thirty years together, he was seldom seen moved with joy in prosperity, or with sorrow in adversity. * But in the latter years of his life this consummate self-command began to forsake him. Business became more irksome as strength decreased, and the success with which his antagonists thwarted his pacific counsels gave him infinite pain, as they seemed likely to undo all the national advantages which it had been the labour of his life to procure. His teinper now became so unfortunately altered, that he, who had been so eminent for coolness, sometimes gave way to passion, in opposition to every dictate of discretion. In a conversation with M. Fouquerolles, an envoy from Henry IV., something which occurred so transported him with passion, that he broke out into the most vehement invectives against that monarch. His intercourse with his servants, which had been uniformly placid and cheerful, was now frequently interrupted by sudden bursts of peevishness: buton such occasions, he immediate

1

p.

p.

376.

* Life of William Lord Burghley, p. 43 | Birch's Memoirs, vol. i. p. 165. | Ibid. vol. ii. p. 328.

ly recollected himself; appeared sensible of the injustice of injuring those who could not retaliate; and endeavoured, by assuming a peculiar complacency in his words and looks, or by studiously devising some acts of kindness, to make reparation for the pain which he had unadvisedly caus

the hopes and inflamed the passions of his contemporaries; the merits of Burleigh have been more justly estimated ; and posterity seems to concur in recognising him as the wisest minister of England.

ed.*

APPENDIX.

causes.

sorrow.

Various indications of declining health now began to assail the aged statesman. Still he con. tinued assiduous at his post, and laboured to The Earl of Sussex to Sir William Cecil.* rescue his countrymen from those delusive hopes of military glory and plunder, in pursuit of which

“Good Mr. Secretary, they threatened to exhaust all their solid resources. “Upon your request and promise, made in your The last public measure which he accomplished letter of the 16th, I will write to you what by any was the conclusion of an advantageous treaty with means I conceive in this great matter; although Holland ; and he closed his long and useful la- the greatness of the cause, in respect of the perbours in the council with an earnest but ineffectual son whose it is, the inconsistency and subtleness effort to persuade them to negotiate with Spain. of the people with whom we deal, and the little He died on the 4th of August, 1598, in the seven- account made always of my simple judgment, give ty-eighth year of his age, having held the station me good occasion of silence. And, therefore, (unof prime minister of England for the long period less it be to the queen's majesty, from whom I of forty years, and assisted in the conduct of pub- would not wish any thought of my heart to be lic affairs for upwards of half a century. His hidden,) I look for a performance of your promise. death-bed was surrounded by friends whom he “ The matter must at length take end, either esteemed, by children for whose future welfare he by finding the Scottish queen guilty of the crimes had provided, by servants devoted to him from that are objected against her, or by some manner of a long interchange of good offices; and he ex- composition with a show of saving her honour. pired with the utmost şerenity and composure. The first, I think,will hardly be attempted, for two The death of Burleigh was a cause of general

The one, for that if her adverse party Elizabeth deeply lamented the loss of a accuse her of the murder, by producing of her minister in whose exertions she had found security letters, she will deny them, and accuse the most and success uring her whole reign : and the of them of manifest consent to the murder, hardclouds which overhung the close of her career must ly to be denied ; so as, upon the trial on both sides, often have renewed her regret for the want of her her proofs will judicially fall best out, it is thought. wise and faithful counsellor. A minister who op- The other, for that their young king is of tender poses the multitude in the pursuit of an object on

and state of body; and if God which their heated imaginations have fixed, is should call him, and their queen were judicially sure, at the moment, to be exposed to reproach. defaced and dishonoured, and her son, in respect Such was the situation of Burleigh at the period of of her wickedness, admitted to the crown, Hahis death. In the face of popular clamour, he milton upon his death should succeed; which, as continued to deprecate a war which was no longer | Murray's faction utterly detest, so, after her public necessary for the public safety, and which wasted defamation, they dare not, to avoid Hamilton, rethe wealth of the nation to gratify the pride or ceive her again, for fear of revenge. And thereavarice of individuals. The earl of Essex, who fore, to avoid these great perils, they surely intend, still stood at the head of his antagonists, was the so far as I can by any means discover, to labour a idol of the people ; and they fondly contrasted the composition, wherein Lyddington was a dealer high spirit, the love of glory, the courageous sen- here, hath, by means, dealt with the Scottish timents of this young nobleman with what they queen, and will also, I think, deal there. And to termed the cold, cautious, illiberal policy of the that end I believe you will shortly hear of Melvil aged Burleigh. Yet his death caused more re- there, who, I think, is the instrument between gret than satisfaction, even among the unthinking Murray, Lyddington, and their queen, to work multitude. They felt themselves deprived of a this composition ; whereunto I think surely both guardian, under whose vigilant protection they had parties do incline, although diversely affected for long reposed and prospered ; and there remain

private respects. ed no statesman of equal experience to guide their “The earl of Murray and his faction work that affairs, at a time when the decay of Elizabeth, and their queen would now willingly surrender to her a disputed succession, threatened the nation with

son, after the example of Navarre; and procure many calamities. The lapse of time has long the confirming of the regency in Murray; and since removed those circumstances which elevated

* This letter was written a few months after Ma

ry's confinement in England; and the writer was, at * Life of William Lord Burghley, p. 49.

the time, employed as one of the commissioners at † Ibid. p. 63.

York, to investigate the charges against her.

and weak years,

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »