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The following anecdote of this valiant gentleman gives a good idea of the cogent arguments with which we have always maintained our right to the dominion of the seas.
“ To bring these ambassadors over, were appointed Sir Robert Mansel, being admiral of the narrow seas, and Sir Jerome Turner, his vice admiral; the first commanded to attend at Graveling, for the Spanish ambassador, the latter at Calais, for the French; but, the French coming first, and hearing the vice-admiral was to attend him, the admiral the other, in a scorn put himself in a passage-boat of Calais, and came forth with flag at top. Instantly, Sir Jerome Turner sent to know of the admiral, what he should do? Sir Robert Mansel sent him word to shoot and sink him, if he would not take in the flag. This as it made the flag be pulled in, so caused a great complaint, and it was believed, it would have undone Sir Robert Mansel, the French faction pressing it so home; but he maintained the act, and was the better beloved of his master ever after, to his dying day." p. 25.
We must give a companion to the foregoing anecdote, and then we have done.
“ The other ambassador sent to the Arch-Duke, was the old Earl of Hertford, who was conveyed over by one of the King's ships, by Sir William Monson, in whose passage a Dutch man-of-war, coming by that ship, would not vail, as the manner was, acknowledging by that our sovereignty over the sea. Sir William Monson gave him a shot to instruct him in his manners; but, instead of learning, he taught him, by returning another, he acknowledged no such sovereignty. This was the very first indignity offered to the royal ships of England, which since have been most frequent. Sir William Monson desired my Lord of Hertford to go into the hold, and he would instruct him by stripes, that refused to be taught by fair means ; but the Earl charged him, on his allegiance, first to land him, on whom he was appointed to attend. So, to his great regret, he was forced to endure that indignity for which I have often heard him wish he had been hanged, rath than live that unfortunate commander of a King's ship, to be chronicled for the first that ever endured that affront, although it was not in his power to have helped it; yet, by his favour, it appeared but a copy of his countenance, for it had been but hazarding hanging, to have disobeyed my Lord's commandment; and it had been infinite odds he had not been hanged, having to friend him the house of Suffolk; nor would he have been so sensible of it, had he not been of the Spanish faction and that a Dutch ship.” p. 48.
In points of historical authority, Sir Anthony Weldon is certainly not a writer who can be always relied upon; and yet, there seems no reason to believe him guilty of wilfully falsifying or misrepresenting facts. The error is almost inseparable, from the nature of the work, which is rather a collection of reports and rumours than an accurate chronicle of events. His opinions are by no means free from partiality, and we clearly recognize in his pages, many of the prevailing prejudices of the day. The style of the work is harsh and negligent, and indeed almost illiterate; but this may, perhaps, in some degree be accounted for, when we consider that it was never prepared by the author for the press. Notwithstanding these defects, The Court and Character of King James will always be highly valued by the historian, as containing the evidence of an eyewitness to many of the scenes which he describes, and the opinion of a contemporary writer on the most important historical events of his day.
ART. IV.- The History of the Troubles and Tryal of the Most
Reverend Father in God, and Blessed Martyr, William Laud, Lord Archbishop of Canterbury. Wrote by Himself, during his Imprisonment in the Tower. To which is prefired, The Diary of his own Life, faithfully and entirely published from the original copy. London, 1695.
The auto-biography of Archbishop Laud is calculated, we think, to account satisfactorily both for the affectionate reverence entertained for his character by all who knew him thoroughly, and for the rancour with which his memory has been persecuted by those who have judged him solely upon the evidence of his political conduct. It has seldom happened, that a really good man has been so reasonably hated; seldom that the high virtues of piety, integrity, and patriotism, have been so completely and ruinously perverted. Like his royal master, Laud was the possessor of qualities which, under the guidance of a sounder discretion, might have commanded the gratitude of his own age, and the respect of posterity; but which can now only serve to blend with compassion the censures so deservedly called forth by the whole tenor of his disastrous administration.
The work before us developes very clearly those infirmities of temper and judgement, from which flowed all his misfortunes. We can here trace the workings of that pride, which, in the council-chamber, was ever impatient of advice; of that rashness, which could never brook even necessary delay; of that obstinacy, which scorned to retract a step manifestly wrong; and of that mingled bigotry and superstition, which
exposed all his ecclesiastical measures to alternate hatred and contempt. Let us add, that here too may be seen full evidence of all those “private virtues” which have been so eloquently illustrated by the pen of Clarendon: and that no one, in our opinion, can close this volume without a full conviction that Laud was a just, a sincere, a really benevolent man.
The first question suggested by the title of this work isWhat is the evidence of its genuineness ? and that question admits, we think, of a very satisfactory answer.
From an illwritten and rambling preface by the editor, it appears, that the history of the work is shortly this : During Laud's imprisonment in the Tower, his papers were taken from him by an order of the House of Commons, the execution of which was intrusted to his inveterate enemy, Prynne ; “who thereupon (says the editor) took from the archbishop twenty-one bundles of papers, which he had prepared for his defence; his Diary, his Book of Private Devotions, the Scotch Service-book, and directions accompanying it, &c. And although he then faithfully promised restitution of them within three or four days, yet never restored any more than three bundles; employed such against the archbishop at his trial, as might seem prejudicial to his cause; suppressed those which might be advantageous to him; published many, embezzelled some, and kept the rest to the day of his death." After Prynne's decease, Archbishop Sheldon procured an order from the court for seizing those of his papers which had been taken from Laud; among
them was found this Diary, in Laud's own hand. By Sheldon, the papers were transferred to Archbishop Sancroft; and were finally, under Sancroft's revision, published by Mr. Wharton, the editor. That the work is genuine admits, therefore, of no doubt.
Before, however, we can place confidence in the authenticity of this volume, another question presents itself: Does the work appear to have been intended by Laud for publication ? for if it does, of course the statements it contains must be taken with considerable distrust. But to us it seems quite clear, that the Diary, at least, was never composed for any eye but his own; and our reasons for thinking so are these : First, it was Laud's custom, from childhood, to preserve a brief record of the principal transactions of his life; so that the Diary must have had its origin long before the writer could have conceived the design of giving it to the world. Secondly, the work itself is replete with incidents, which could by no possibility be interesting to any one but the individual to whom they had occurred. It is, moreover, the archbishop's common practice to write only the initials of those names which he introduces ; a practice which surely testifies, on the part of the author, a cautious apprehension, that his work might, rather than an intention that it should, obtain publicity. Let our readers judge whether the following passages, which are taken nearly at random, could have been intended for the world:
“ July 17. Sunday. I went again to Windsor. I stood by the king at dinner time: some matters of philosophy were the subject of discourse. I dined: afterwards I eat in the house of the Bishop of Gloucester. Baron Vaughan was there present with his eldest son. The next day one of the bishop's servants, who had waited at table, was seized with the plague. God be merciful to me and the rest. That night I returned, being become lame on the sudden, through I know not what humour falling down upon my left leg, or (as R. An. thought) by the biting of bugs. I grew. well within two days.
August 25. Friday. - Two robin red-breasts flew together through the door into my study, as if one pursued the other. That sudden motion almost startled me. I was then preparing a sermon on Ephes. 4. 30. and studying.
“ September 27. Saturday.--I fell sick, and came sick from Hampton Court.—Tuesday, Septemb. ult. I was sore plucked with this sickness.
“ October 20. Monday.—I was forced to put on a truss for a rupture. I know not how occasioned, unless it were with swinging of a book for my exercise in private.”
Or can any one believe, that the following memoranda were intended to enlighten posterity?
“ Hope was given to me of A. H. Jan. 1, &c. I first began to hope it.
My great unfortunateness with S. S. June 13.
“ March 26. Sunday.-D. B. sent me to the king. There I gave to the king an account of those two businesses, which, &c. His majesty thanked me.”
We think, therefore, that we hardly assume too much in taking for granted both the authenticity and genuineness of this Diary. With respect to the History of his Tryal and Troubles, Laud's intentions as to its publication after his death appear somewhat more dubious. In one passage, indeed, he uses these words: “How things in particular succeeded there (i. e. at the great council of lords and prelates, held at York A.D. 1640,) I know not; nor belongs it much to the scope of this short history, intended only for myself.”—p. 84. But we admit, that there is not that same degree of unexceptionable internal evidence to his intention in that respect, which we perceive in the Diary.
The great and primary cause of Laud's inadequacy to the duties of prime minister (for such he certainly was in point of influence) seems to have been his very narrow and unstatesman-like education. We, of course, do not mean that his education was not sufficiently liberal, in the ordinary sense of the word ; a statesman more learned and less wise has perhaps never existed. Nature appears to have destined him for the head of a college ; but by some unlucky bias, he deviated into politics, and became a minister of state. From that moment, his life seems to have been one of uneasiness to himself, and of calamity to his country. Had he been content to sway his petty sceptre at Oxford, to prescribe university canons and regulate university manners, he might have been known to posterity as the best President that ever ruled St. John's; his life might have passed in works of humble but unquestionable utility, and have terminated in peace. But, in evil hour, Laud attracted the notice of James I., and the affectionate patronage with which he appears to have been honoured by that monarch, induced him to link his fortunes to those of a falling crown. Fresh from college, with all his academical prejudices in full vigour, with much knowledge of books and no experience of mankind, he became a confidential adviser at court. During the early part of his political life, he seems to have been content to forward the silly and violent schemes of Buckingham, the reigning favourite, without venturing, in any instance, to oppose them. Indeed, he appears to have looked upon Buckingham as bis patron, and probably would have deemed himself ungrateful had he opposed any plan which it might have pleased the favourite to construct. And, in truth, we have never read of any man in whom “ the sin of political gratitude” was more flagrantly exemplified than in Laud: from James he received favours, from Buckingham, and from Charles; and therefore, we conscientiously believe, he found himself unable to perceive a defect in any of their measures. His vanity was flattered by his speedy rise at court, by the deference shown to his piety and learning, and, above all, by the confidential intimacy in which he lived with two successive kings. In short, Laud was a man completely deceived himself, without the smallest wish to deceive others; vain, though meaning to be humble; ignorant, though profoundly learned" by much the wisest fool” that ever aspired to the name of statesman.
Historians appear to have agreed in ascribing to the high prerogative notions of Charles I., and to his extraordinary obstinacy, a large share of the calamities which signalized his reign. And it was certainly most unfortunate, both for the country and for Charles himself, that his confidence was ever given to Laud; a man, if possible, more wedded to the principles of despotism, than even the monarch whom he served, and whose obstinacy, by encouraging and countenancing that