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led to the scaffold, and his rival, Northumberland, in possession of the young monarch's confidence. “ On the 22d of January, 1552," writes Edward in his journal, “ the duke of Somerset had his head cut off upon Tower Hill, between eight and nine in the morning.” This duke of Somerset, whose execution is thus so coldly and briefly noticed, the reader is aware, was the youthful journalist's favourite uncle.
Edward had inherited a delicate constitution from his mother, and with it that precociousness of talent sometimes considered as indicative of a short career. His illness was now advancing rapidly to its fatal termination. On the 17th of June, 1553, Montague, chief justice of the Common Pleas, with two of the puisne judges, and the attorney and solicitor general, received a summons to attend the council at the palace of Greenwich. On their arrival the dying monarch informed them, that his anxiety for the welfare of his subjects had induced him to change the order of succession laid down by his royal father ; that he had seriously weighed the danger the kingdom might be exposod to if his sister Mary, with her popish predilections, should succeed to the throne, and the danger that might follow to the laws and religion of the country if either of the princesses married a stranger to both. The law officers were then ordered to draw up a legal instrument, declaring his cousin, the lady Jane Dudley, daughter of Grey, duke of Suffolk, and-wife of a son of Northumberland, the prime originator of the whole proceeding, heir to the crown. After many delays and expostulations on the part of the chief justice and his colleagues, and reprimands and threats from the king and Northumberland, the instrument establishing a new order of succession was legally executed. On the 21st of June it was signed by the chancellor, the archbishop, judges, and the leading nobility. Cranmer at first refused the sanction of his name to the deed, and argued zealously against it at the council and in private. “I never liked it,” he says, in his letter to queen Mary, “nor any thing grieved me so much as your grace's brother did; and if by any means it had been to have hindered the making of that will, I should have done it." He yielded ultimately to Edward's personal entreaties. “ So at length I was required by the king's majesty himself to set my hand to his will, saying, that he trusted that I alone would not be more repugnant to his will than the rest of the council were ; which words surely grieved my heart very sore, and so I granted him to subscribe his will, and to follow the same.” On the 6th of July the youthful monarch expired.
The nine-days' reign of the young, beautiful, and all-accomplished pupil of Roger Ascham, lady Jane Dudley, followed, with its fatal consequences to its innocent victim and guilty author. For the designing and unprincipled Northumberland there can be no pity; he justly died the death of a traitor ; but who that reads the artless narra
tive of the pappet-queen, but must lament that she should have been the ill-fated tool of her father-inlaw's ambition. Cranmer adhered faithfully to her interests to the last hour, though, as we have seen, he had embraced them with reluctance.
From Mary the archbishop could hope but for little mercy: all that was dark and resentful in her story was associated with his name. It was he that annulled her mother's marriage, and had declared herself illegitimate ; he was the subverter of her religion, and the head of the new system of worship that had been raised in its stead; and he had joined in a conspiracy to snatch the crown from her brow, and was one of the last to abandon the fortunes of her competitor: a deep sense of private wrong, therefore, united with religious zual in visiting his offences with the heaviest punishment. But the blow did not fall all at once: it was deemed prudent to wait till the new queen had become firmly seated on her throne.
King Edward was buried on the 8th of August, on which occasion Cranmer officiated according to the protestant ritual. He was next day ordered to confine himself to the archiepiscopal palace of Lambeth, and to furnish the council with an inventory of his moveable possessions. He was joined in his retirement by Peter Martyr, who had filed from Oxford, where the reformed doctrines had not even yet taken root, and who confirmed the fears of the archbishop, that their joint labours in establishing a scriptural system of worship would be unproductive during the reign of the present mo narch. Cranmer conducted himself with great humility; so much so, indeed, as to induce his enemies to give out "that he was ready to submit himself in all things” to the will of the council. To add to his anxiety, it was communicated to him that mass had been performed in Canterbury cathedral with his alleged consent and permission. The honest zeal of Peter Martyr felt indig. nant at the imputation, and, by his advice, Cranmer gave it a public denial. The declaration which he drew up on this occasion does honour, by its boldness, to his courage and sincerity. It stated, “ that as the devil had at all times set on his instruments by lies to defame the servants of God, so he was now more than ordinarily busy. For whereas king Henry had begun the correcting the abuses of the mass, which his son had brought to a further perfection; and so the Lord's Supper was restored to its first institution, and was celebrated according to the pattern of the primitive church: now the devil, intending to bring the mass again into its room, as being his own invention, had stirred up some to give out that it had been set up in Canterbury by his, the said Cran. mer's, order; and it was said, that he had undertaken to sing mass to the queen's majesty, both at king Edward's funeral at St. Paul's and other places; and though, for these twenty years, he had despised all such errors and false reports of him as were spread abroad, yet he now thought it not
fit to lie under such misrepresentations ; therefore not by argument; and that they appealed to the he protests to all the world that the mass was not judgment of the Almighty from the decision of the set up at Canterbury by his, the said Cranmer's, moderator. The council hearkened not to their order, but that a fawning hypocritical monk had prayer, and left them to their fate. Two days done it without his knowledge; and for what he after the decision against them they were brought was said to have undertaken to the queen, her before the commissioners, and asked whether they majesty knew well how false that was, offering, if would subscribe to the ancient worship. They he might obtain her leave for it, to maintain that unanimously refused, and were condemned as obevery thing in the communion service that was set stinate heretics. The usual formalities of the paout by their most innocent and good king Edward pal code in heretical prosecutions were gone was according to Christ's institution, and the prac- through. Cranmer was cited as an archbishop to tice of the apostles and the ancient church for ma- appear before the pope within the canonical period ny ages, to which the mass was contrary, being (eighty days) laid down on such occasions, and full of errors and abuses; and although Peter at the expiration of the eighty days was delivered Martyr was by some called an ignorant man, he over to the secular power. He was accused of with him, or other four or five such as he could blasphemy and heresy for his writings against the choose, would be ready to defend, not only their Roman worship, of perjury for violating his oath Book of Common Prayer and the other rites of of canonical obedience, and of incontinency for their service, but the whole doctrines and order of having married after his vow of celibacy; and religion set forth by the late king as more pure was declared to be contumacious for not having and more agreeable to the word of God than any (and he was a prisoner all the time) appeared sort of religion that had been in England for a at Rome, according to the letter of the citation. thousand years before it, provided that things He was now in hourly expectation of his fate-the should be judged by the Scriptures, and that the rather as Gardiner and Bonner, whom he had reasonings on both sides should be faithfully writ- treated with great harshness in the late reign, ten down."*
were the queen's most influential counsellors. On the 8th, Cranmer was summoned to an- From them he could expect no favour: the imswer for it before the council. On the 13th, “af- placable hatred of polemical antagonists being, in ter a long and serious debate,” he was committed both, inflamed by the recollection of personal opto the Tower, for matters of treason against the pression. Had the archbishop been at this time queen, and for dispersing of seditious bills. He
led to the scaffold,
-such was the resigned firmwas attainted in the ensuing parliament of trea- ness of his mind,-his name would have probaBon, and the fruits of his archbishoprick seques- bly been spared the stain of his subsequent retered. The charge of treason was, however, for- cantations. given or abandoned, it being determined that he Hitherto Cranmer had displayed unremittent should be proceeded against for heresy alone. courage in his sufferings, and was prepared to prove
The rebellion of Wyat produced the usual his sincerity by his death. But with delay and effect of unsuccessful insurrection; it strength
suspense came vague hopes, and a damping of ened the power of the crown, and removed the zeal and courage. From the window of his obstacle of public inertia to its favourite mea- cell, he had seen his friends and fellow-labourers in sures. With its suppression began those burnings the vineyard, Ridley and Latimer, led to execution. and persecutions which have entailed upon this The excruciating torments which they were reign the lasting odium of posterity. It was now made to endure shook his resolution. Hopes were resolved to proceed to extremities with Cranmer held out to him that his life might be spared if he and the other leaders of the reformation. From relented from his obstinacy; he wavered, and exthe Tower, where they had been confined for the pressed a wish to have a conference with the legate. last seven months, the archbishop, Latimer, and This fit of irresolution, however, soon passed over; Ridley were conducted to Oxford, there to hold a and having expressed his regret for his weakness, public disputation with the catholic theologians on he wrote a long letter to the queen in defence of the great points of difference between the two
the protestant doctrines. But Gardiner was well churches. The catholic was then the religion of acquainted with that want of firmness which was the sovereign : of course the moderator in the
the blemish of the archbishop's character, and disputation decided in favour of the divines of the
knew that, having once hesitated, it was highly state worship; Cranmer and his associates were
probable he would hesitate again. Cranmer was declared to be vanquished and contumacious, and
accordingły told to prepare himself for his speedy the hall resounded with the cries of “ Vincit veri
execution. The intelligence had its intended tas.” It was in vain that they declared to the
effect; his spirit was broken by confinement, his council that they had been silenced by noiset, and
in all my life. For albeit there was one appoynted to * Burnet.-This bold declaration was publicly read dispute agaynste me, yet evrey man spak hys mynde, in Cheapside and elsewhere on the 5th of September. and brought forth what hym liked, without order; and
Cranmer, in his letter to the council, says," I ne- such hast was made that no answere coulde be sufferver knewe nor hearde of a more confusied disputacyon ed to be given."
courage gave way, and death by burning presented itself to his imagination with all its features of horror. Six instruments of recantation still bear witness to his “ human infirmity.” Thus
_6 The base drachm Doth all the noble substance often dout
To his own scandal." and thus the one defect of Cranmer's mind led to acts which his frequent heroism scarcely atoned for. He now feigned himself a reconvert to the Catholic doctrines, and for six weeks openly condemned the “ errors of Luther and Zuinglius, acknowledged the pope's supremacy, the seven sacraments, the corporal presence in the eucharist, purgatory, prayer for departed souls, the invocation of saints, to which was added his being sorry for his former errors; and concluded, exhorting all that had been deceived by his example or doctrines to return to the unity of the church, and protesting that he had signed his recantation willingly, only for the discharge of his conscience."*
Fortunately for the reputation of Cranmer, these humiliating recantations were not rewarded by a pardon. To Ridley and Latimer life had been offered on their renouncing their “heresies ;" but it was decided in the council that no recantation should save the archbishop. His political offences, it was said, might be overlooked; but his offences against religion required that he should suffer for the sake of example. A writ for his execution was accordingly despatched to Oxford, and a day fixed. But Cranmer with his firmness lost his dignity of mind. With the hope of still averting his fate, he signed another document, in which he declared he was not actuated by fear or favour, and that his former recantation was made unsolicitedly, for the ease of his own conscience and the instruction of others. A letter to cardinal Pole,-he knew he need not address Gardiner-accompanied this document, in which he begged that prelate's influence to obtain him a few days' respite, in order that he might give the world a still more convincing proof of his repentance. The respite was granted ; and Cranmer, in a sixth confession, declared that he had been a greater persecutor of the church than Paul, and that he wished, like that apostle, to make amends. He could not rebuild what he had destroyed; but as the penitent thief on the cross by the testimony of his lips obtained mercy, so he trusted that he by the offering of his lips should move the clemency of the Almighty. He was an offender beyond the pale of temporal or eternal mercy; he had blasphemed the sacrament, and had deprived men of the benefit of the eucharist. To conclude, he entreated for forgiveness from the pope and the king and queen, and pity from all Christians.
Fortunately, we repeat, for Cranmer's fame, his
* Burnet, ii. 2. The reader will see six recantations, quoted at length, in Todd's life of Cranmer, just published.
offence against the honour of Mary's birth had made her inexorably resolved on his execution. Had he been then pardoned, and permitted to eke out his existence in obscurity, his name would now be a by-word synonymous with all that is loathsome in hypocrisy, cowardice, and apostacy. He would have been so degraded in his own eyes, that he could never have ventured again to present himself to that church of which he was the founder, but from which the fear of death had made him apostatise. Again, we repeat, his re putation is indebted to the profound hatred of the queen, who, unmoved by his cries for mercy, his expressions of deep remorse, desired the law to take its course.
The 21st of March was the day fixed for his execution. To the last moment, Cranmer clung to the hope of mercy; and was astounded when a Spanish friar announced to him, on the fatal niorning, that his hours were numbered, and that he should prepare himself for his last earthly trial. The friar then handed to him a paper, to be read at the stake as a dying testimony of his repentance. It was a summary of his recantations. Cranmer signed and having transcribed it, kept a copy for his
When the friar had departed he altered his copy, and made it equivalent to a disavowal of all his former abjurations and denials. At the usual hour the procession set forward : it halted at the church of St. Mary, where the last sermon was preached by a Dr. Cole. The archbishop stood on a platform opposite to the pulpit, according to an eye-witness (quoted by Strype,) "the very image of sorrow.” Remorse for his recent unworthy conduct had taken entire possession of his soul. His face was bathed in tears, and expressed “great inward confusion ;" and his eyes were sometimes lifted up to heaven, now fixed downward on earth, “as one ashamed of himself.” The sermon having been conclud. ed, the preacher called on Cranmer to declare his faith. The archbishop then took out his paper : all were prepared for a repetition of his recantations, the rather as the merits of his conversion had been dwelt upon by Dr. Cole in his sermon. He was heard with profound attention, till he “spake to that which, he said, troubled his conscience more than any thing he had ever done in his whole life ; which was the subscribing a paper contrary to the truth, and against his conscience, out of fear of death and love of life ; and when he came to the fire, he was resolved that that hand that had signed it should burn first.” He then repeated, that his former opinions on the papal usurpation, and on the eucharist, were those he died in. “Upon this there was a wonderful confusion in the assembly.” Lord Williams called to him to remember himself, and play the Christian. “I do,” replied Cranmer, with tears : "it is now too late to dissemble ; I must now speak the truth. I have been hitherto a hater of falsehood and a lover of simplicity, and never before
this time have I disembled.” He was immediately led to the stage which had been erected for his execution, opposite Baliol College, where he put off his clothes in haste, and standing in his shirt, and without shoes, was fastened with a chain to the stake. Some of the crowd urged him to declare in favour of his former recantations. He answered, showing his hand, “ This is the hand that wrote it, and therefore it shall suffer punishment.” Fire being applied to him, he stretched out his right hand into the flame, and held it there unmoved (except that once with it he wiped his face) till it was consumed, crying with a loud voice, “ This hand hath offended—this unworthy right hand.” At last, the fire getting up, he soon expired, never stirring or®crying out all the while, only keeping his eyes fixed on heaven, and repeating more than once, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit !" Cranmer thus perished, in the 67th year
of his age.
It is hardly necessary to offer additional remarks on the character of Cranmer, as, we persuade ourselves, its leading features have been sufficiently displayed to the reader in the course of our narrative. His contemporaries unite in attributing to him all the virtues that adorn a private station. He was humble and affectionately kind to the poor, ever attentive to their wants, ever happy in relieving them. To the rich and powerful he is also represented as uniformly courteous and respectful, equally remote from obsequiousness and, what has been considered as not unusual in men of his rank, episcopal arrogance. In the mildness and yielding gentleness of his temper, and in the “ vicious feeblenesses” to which the excess of those excellent qualities invariably leads, he very much resembled Philip Melancthon. Like that amiable man, too, he wanted the enthusiastic confidence in the goodness of his cause which spurns the aid of unworthy expedients, and fearlessly pursues its straightforward course in all times and seasons.
But here the resemblance ends.
Cranmer possessed neither the genius nor the learning of the German theologian ; and though naturally as candid and truth-loving, did not exhibit the same ingenuous buoyancy in troubled waters. The truth is, the very virtues of his character united with its defects in unfitting him for high stations in times like those which it was his fate to live in.
He was constitutionally wedded to peace and quietness ; and wanting, as we have seen, firmness and decision of purpose, and the higher and sterner elements of moral greatness, was too glad to embrace repose from toil and danger upon almost any terms. Hence we may conclude that, had his lot been confined to private life, his conduct would have been unexceptionably amiable, and himself universally respected ; and hence we may also affirm, that under no circumstances could he have been a great man.
As it is, we pity much more than we condemn him, and willingly shut our eyes on his defects and errors, when we recollect his cruel death, and his servi. ces in aid of the reformation. These it is that have snatched his name from oblivion, or from indifference, perhaps contempt, and that, in the teeth of mutually admitted facts, have kept alive a controversy on the real merits of his character. By our own zealots he is held up to our admiration, as the most glorious and faultless martyr of the Church of England ; by the Romanists, his name is branded with every epithet of meanness and inconsistency: as if, in this most absurd logomachy, the character of the reformation, or the gospel purity of the rival creeds, were to be determined, or for a moment affected, by the conduct of indivduals ; and as if it was not among the most wonderful of the dispensations of Providence, which “out of evil seeks to bring forth good,” that it has sometimes been pleased to employ the guiltiest instruments in effecting its highest and holiest purposes.
WILLIAM CECIL, LORD BURLEIGH.
WILLIAM Cecil*, descended from an ancient and respectable family, was born at Bourn in Lincolnshire, in the year 1520.f Both his father and grandfather held honourable appointments under Henry VIII. His father was master of the robes; an office, in that age, of considerable distinction. During his early education, his progress either exhibited nothing remarkable, or has been overlook
ed by his biographers, amidst the splendour of his succeeding transactions; for we are merely informed, that he received the first rudiments of learning at the grammar schools of Grantham and Stamford.* But at St. John's college, Cambridge, to which he was removed in the fifteenth year of his age, he gave strong indications of the qualities calculated to raise him to future eminence. He suffered no irregularity to interrupt his pursuits ; and seemed resolute to excel his fellow-students,
* Life of William Lord Burghley, by one of his domestics, edited by Collins in 1732, p. 6.
* This life is taken by permission from Macdiarmid's British Statesmen.
f Lord Burleigh's Diary, in the British Museum, Harleian MS No. 46.
by the certain means of incessant application. That he might daily devote several hours to study, without any hazard of interruption, he made an agreement with the bell-ringer to be called up every morning at four o'clock. The strength of his constitution, however, did not correspond with the ardour of his mind; for, in consequence of much sitting, without proper intervals of exercise, he contracted a painful humour in his legs; and though subsequently cured of this distemper, his physicians considered it as a principal cause of that inveterate gout which embittered the latter part of his life.*
His indefatigable industry soon led to a proficiency which drew on him the particular notice of his teachers. The master of the college encourag. ed his perseverance by occasional presentst, but his ambition seems to have required no such stimulant. He began, at sixteen, to put in practice the methods then usual of acquiring literary celebrity, by delivering a public lecture. His first topic was the logic of the schools ; but, three years afterwards, he ventured to comment on the Greek language, which had hitherto been cultivated with more eagerness than success. He was afterwards ambitious of excelling as a general scholar; and successively directed his industry to the various branches of literature then cultivated at the university. I
When he was supposed to have laid a sufficient fo'ındation of useful knowledge, he was removed from the university to Gray's Inn, where he applied himself to the study of the law, with the same method and industry as he had observed at Cambridge. He found leisure also for several collateral pursuits: the antiquities of the kingdom, and more especially the pedigrees and fortunes of the most distinguished families, occupied much of his attention ; and such was his progress in these pursuits, that no man of his time was accounted a more complete adept in heraldry.Ş This species of information, had he adhered to the destination for the bar, might have been of little utility; but, in his career of a statesman, it often proved of essential advantage. His practice was to record with his pen every thing worthy of notice which occurred to him either in reading or observation, arranging this information in the most methodical manner,—a singular example of diligence, which is authenticated to posterity by collections of his manuscripts, still preserved in many public and private libraries. While, from this practice, he derived, besides other advantages, an uncommon facility in committing his thoughts to writing, he neglected not to cultivate an accomplishment still more essential to his intended profession,-a ready and graceful enunciation. By frequenting various companies, and entering into free discussion, he
* Life of William Lord Burghley, p. 6. | Fuller's History of the University of Cambridge,
Life of William Lord Burghley, p: 7. & Bacon's Works, vol. iv. p. 358. edit. 1740.
learnt to express himself with ease and confidence; while the extent of his information, and the sound. ness of his judgment, prevented his fluency from degenerating into declamation.
These acquisitions, united to a singular industry, must have raised him, at an early period, to great eminence in his profession, had not an incident, which introduced him to the notice of Henry VIII., soon diverted his attention to a different career. Cecil, having accidentally met, in the presence chamber, with two Irish priests, who had come to court in the train of O'Neil, their chieftain, happened to enter into an argument with them on the pope's supremacy, of which they were zealous abettors; and, by his superior knowledge and fluency, so baffled his antagonists, that they began to vent their uneasy feelings in violent expressions. This contest was conducted in Latin ; and the particulars of it having been reported to Henry, the monarch, pleased with this indication of talents, and still more with the successful refuta. tion of the pope's supremacy, desired to see the young man ; and, in the course of a long conversation, conceived so favourable an opinion of his abilities, that he resolved to take him into his service, and directed his father (the master of the robes) to find out an office which might suit him. As no suitable situation happened to be vacant at the time, his father pitched on the reversion of the custos brevium in the Common Pleas, which was readily granted. *
From the time of this introduction at court, which happened within the first year of his attendance at Gray's Inn, and in the twenty-second year of his age, though Cecil still continued his application to the law, his mind appears to have been more intently fixed on political advancement. A very prudent and honourable alliance, which he this year contracted by marriage, proved an effectual channel to future preferment. Introduced by his father-in-law, sir John Cheke, a man of great respectability and influence, to the earl of Hertford, maternal uncle to the young prince Edward, and afterwards better known as duke of Somerset, he was enabled to cultivate a connection which, in a few years, elevated him to the highest offices.t
About the commencement of the reign of Ed ward VI. he succeeded to his office of custos brevium, which brought him a revenue of 2401. a year, equal to more than 10001. in the present age. While this accession to his fortune placed him in comparative affluence, and enabled him to prosecute his plans more at ease, a new family connection, which he formed about the same time, opened to him the fairest access to royal patronage. His first wife having died in the second year of their marriage, leaving him a son, he now married a daughter of sir Anthony Cook, the director of the
* Life of William Lord Burghley, p. 9. | Camden's Annal. Eliz, p. 774.