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The work of Doctor Nares has filled us with astonishment similar to that which Captain Lemuel Gulliver felt, when first he landed in Brobdignag, and saw corn as high as the oaks in the New Forest, thimbles as large as buckets, and wrens of the bulk of turkeys. The whole book, and every component part of it, is on a gigantic scale. The title is as long as an ordinary preface. The prefatory matter would furnish out an ordinary book ; and the book contains as much reading as an ordinary library. We cannot sum up the merits of the stupendous mass of paper which lies before us, better than by saying, that it consists of about two thousand closely primed pages, that it occupies fifteen hundred inches cubic measure, and that it weighs sixty pounds avoirdupois. Such a book might, before the deluge, have been considered as light reading by Hilpa and Shallum. But unhappily the life of man is now threescore years and ten; and we cannot but think it somewhat unfair in Doctor Nares to demand from us so large a portion of so short an existence.
Compared with the labourof reading through these volumes, all other labour—the labour of thieves on the tread-mill, of children in factories, of negroes in sugar plantations—is an agreeable recreation. There was, it is said, a criminal in Italy, who was suffered to make his choice Letween Guicciardini and the galleys. He chose the history. But the war of Pisa was too much for him. He changed his mind, and went to the oar. Guicciardini, though certainly not the mostamus'ingof writers, is an Herodotus, or a Froissarl, when compared with Doctor Nares. It is not merely in bulk, but in specific gravity also, that these memoirs- exceed all other human compositions. On every subject which the professor discusses, he produces three times as many pages as another man; and one of his pages is as tedious as another man's three. His book is swelled to its vast dimensions by endless repetitions, by episodes which have nothing to do with the main action, by quotations from books which are in every circulating tibrary, and by reflections which, when- they happen to be just, are, so obvious that they must necessarily occur to the mind of every reader. He employs more words in expounding and defending a truism, than any other writer would employ in supporting a pa
• MerBfim of the Life ond Administration of the Ripht R~v»*rable h'miiim t'teil L*<rd Buryblty. secretary of State i» the Reirm nf h'ina h.ih, n-tt tl,r, >ixth, and Lord li .' . Trcasur r of Kfjft-tnd in the Rrtpn of QuC'ti FJiltite'h. Cjotaioivg tto rfutoriciil fiew «./ the Turn* in vhich he herd, and -f the many ettitnrnt and illiistriou* I'crgi.ve c '. trhfim he van eonnee'ed ,' teith extracts from his Private and Official Correspondence and other rapers. note fret pahtUhetlfrom the Original*, By the Reverend Edward Nares. I>.1> , Refill* Prnfesanr nf Modern History in the lir.lveralir of Oxford. 3 vol*. 4to. London. 1628,' 1B33.
radox. Of the rules of historical perspective he has not the faintest notion. There is neither foreground nor background in his delineation. The wars of Charles the Fifth in Germany are detailed at almost as much length as in Rubenson's Life of that prince. The troubles of Scotland are related as fully as in M'Crie's Life of John Knox. It would he most unjust to deny that Doctor Nares is a man of great industry and research; but he is so unerly incompetent to arrange the materials which he has collected, that he might as well have left them in their original repositories.
Neither the facts which Doctor Nares has discovered, nor the arguments which he urges, will, we apprehend, materially alter the opinion generally entertained by judicious readers of history concerning his hero. Lo.rd Burghley can hardly be called a great man. He was not one of those whose genius and energy change the fate of empires. He was by nature and habit one of those who follow, not one of those who lead. Nothing that is recorded, either of his words or of his actions, indicates intellectual or moral elevation. But his talents, though not brilliant, were of an eminently useful kind; and his principles,though not inflexible, were not more relaxed than those of his associates and competitors. He had a cool temper, a sound judgment, great powers of application, and a constant eye to the main chance. In his youth he was, it seems, fond of practical jokes. Yet even out of these he contrived to extract some pecuniary profit. When he was studying the law at Gray's Inn, he lost all his furniture and books to his companion at the gaming-table. He accordingly bored a hole in the wall which separated his chambers from those of his associate, and at midnight bellowed through his passage threats of damnation and calls to repentance in the ears of the vict.irious gambler, wlio lay sweating with fear all night, and refunded his winnings on his knees next day. "Many other the like merry jests," says his old biographer, " 1 have heard him tell, too long to be here noted." To the last, Burghley was somewhat jocose; and some of his sportive sayings have been recorded bj Bacon. They show much more shrewdness than generosity; and are, indeed, neatly expressed reasons for exacting money rigorously, and for keeping it carefully. It must, however, be acknowledged, that he was rigorous and careful for the public advantage, as well as fur his own. To extol his moral character, as Doctor Nares has extolled it, would be absurd. It would be equally absurd to represent him aj a corrupt, rapacious, and bad-hearted man. He paid.great attention to the interest of the Mate, and great attention also to the interest of his own family. He never desened his friends til! it was very inconvenient to stand by them: was an excellent Protestant when it was not very advantageous to be a Papist; recommended a tolerant policy to his mistress as strongly as he could recommend it without hazarding her favour; never put to the rack any person from whom it did not seem probable that very useful information might be derived; and was so moderate in his desires, thai he left only inrce hundred distinct landed estates, though he misrht, as his honest servant assures us, have left much more, "if he would have taken money out of the exchequer for his own use, as many treasurers have done."
Burghley, like the old Marquess of Winclievter, who preceded him in the custody of the White Stall-, was of the willow, and not of the oak. He first rose into notice by defending the supremacy of Henry the Eighth. He was subsequently favoured and promoted by the Duke of Somerset. He not only contrived to escape unhurt when his patron fell, but became an important member of the administration of Northumberland. Doctor Nares assures us over and over again, that there could have been nothing base in Cecil's conduct on this occasion; for, says he. Cecil continued to stand well With Cranmer. This, we confess; hardly satisfies us. Vvp are much of the mind of FalstafTs tailor. We must have better assurance for Sir John than Bardolph's. Wc like not the security.
Through the whole course of that miserable intrigue which was carried on round the dying bed of Edward the Sixth, Cecil so demeaned himself as to avoid, first, the displeasure of Northumberland, and afterwards the displeasure of Mary. He was prudently unwilling to put his hand to the instrument which changed the course of the succession. But the furious Dudley was master of the palace. Cecil, therefore, according to his own account, excused himself from signing as a party, but consented & sign as a witness. It is not easy to describe his dexlero.is conduct at this most perplexing crisis, in language more appropriate than that which is employed by old Fuller: "His hand wrote it as secretary of state," says that quaint writer; "but his heart consented not thereto. Yea, he openly opposed it; though at last yielding to the greatness of.Northumberland, in an age when it was present drowning not to swim with the stream. But as the philosopher tells us. that, though the planets be whirled about daily from east to west, by tne motion c-f *h- primnm mol/iU, yet have they also a contrary proper motion of tneir own from west to east, which they slowly, though surely, move at their leisure; so Cecil had secret counterendeavours against the strain of the court herein, and privately advanced his rightful intentions against the foresaid duke's ambition."
This was undoubtedly the most perilous conjuncture of Cecil's life. Wherever there was a safe course, he was safe. But here every course was full of danger. His situation rendered it impossible for him to be neuIral. If he acted *.n either side, if he refused to act at all, lie ran a fearful risk. He saw *ll the difficulties of his position. He sent his oney and plate out of Loudon, made over his
estates to his son, and carried arms about his person. His best arms, however, were his sa« gacity and his self-command. The plot in which he had been an unwilling accomplice, ended, as it was natural that so odious and absurd a plot should end, in the ruin of its contrivers. In the mean time, Cecil quietly extricated himself, and, having been successively patronised by Henry, Somerset, and Northumberland, continued to flourish under the protection of Mary.
He had no aspirations after the crown of martyrdom. He confessed himself, therefore, with great decorum, heard mass in Wimbledon church at Easter, and, for the better ordering of his spiritual concerns, took a priest into his house. Doctor Nares, whose simplicity passes that of any casuist with whom we are acquainted, vindicates his hero by assuring us, that this was not superstition, but pure unmixed hypocrisy. "That he did in some manner conform, we shall not be able, in the face of existing documents, to deny; while we feel in our own minds abundantly satisfied, that, during this very trying reign, he never abandoned the prospect of another revolution in favour of Protestantism." In another place, the doctor tells us, that Cecil went to mass " with no idolatrous intention." Nobody, we believe, ever accused him of idolatrous intentions. The very ground of the charge against him is, that he had no idolatrous intentions. Nobody would have blamed him if he had really gone to Wimbbdon church, with the feelings of a good Catholic, to worship the host. Doctor Nares speaks in several places, with just severity, of the sophistry of the Jesuits, and with just admiration of the incomparable letters of Pascal. It is somewhat strange, therefore, that he should adopt, to the full extent, the Jesuitical doctrine of the direction of intentions.
We do not blame Cecil for not choosing to be burned. The deep stain upon his memory is, that, for differences of opi/iion for which he would risk nothing himself, he, in the day of his power, took away without scruple the lives of others. One of the excuses suggested in these Memoirs for his conforming, during the reign of Mary, to the Church of Rome, is, that he may have been of the same mind with those German Protestants who were called Adiaphorists, and who consider""* the popish rites as matters indifferent. Melancthon was °neof tnese moderate persons,and "appears," says Doctor Nares, "to have gone greater lengths than any imputed to Lord Burghley." We should have thought this not only an excuse, but a complete vindication, if Burghley had been an Adiaphorist for the benefit of others, as well as for his own. If the popish rites were matters of so little moment, that a good Protestant might lawfully practise them for his safety, how could it be just or humane that a Papist should be hanged, drawn, and quartered, for practising them from a sense of duty. Unhappily, these non-essenlials soon became matters of life and death. Just at the very time at which Burghley attained the highest point of power and favour, an act of Parliament was passed, by which the penalties of high treason were denounced against persons who should Ho in sincerity what he had done ■from cowardice.
Early in the reign of Mary, Cecil was employed in a mission scarcely consistent with the character of a zealous Protestant. He was sent to escort the Papal legate. Cardinal Pole, from Brussels to London. That great hody of moderate persons, who cared more for the quiet of the realm than for the controverted points which were in issue between the churches, seem to have placed their chief hope in the wisdom and humanity of the gentle cardinal. Cecil, it is clear, cultivated the friendship of Pole with great assiduity, and received great advantage from his protection.
But the best protection of Cecil, during the gloomy and disastrous reign of Mary, was that which he derived from his own prudence and from his own temper;—a prudence which could never be lulled into carelessness, a temper which could never be irritated intp rashness. The Papists could find no occasion against him. Yet he did not lose the esteem even of those sterner Protestants who had preferred exile to recantation. He attached himself to the persecuted heiress of the throne, and entitled himself to her gratitude and confidence. Yet he continued to receive marks of favour from the queen. In the House of Commons, he put himself at the head of the party opposed to the court Yet so guarded was his language, that even, when some of those who acted with him were imprisoned by the Privy Council, he escaped with impunity.
At length Mary died. Elizabeth succeeded, and Cecil rose at once to greatness. He was *worn in privy counsellor and secretary of «tate to the new sovereign before he left her prison of Hatfield; and he continued to serve her for forty years, without intermission, in the highest employments. His abilities were precisely those which keep men lonz in power. He belonged to the class of the Walpoles, the Pelhams, and the Liverpools; not to that of the St. Johns, the Carlerets, the Chathanis.and the Cannings. If he had been a man of original genius, and of a commanding mind, it would have been scarcely possible for him to keep his power, or even his head. There was not room in one government for an Elizabeth and a Richelieu. What the haughty daughter of Henry needed, was a moderate, cautious, flexible minister, skilled in the details of business, competent to advise, but not aspiring to command. And such a minister she found in Burghley. No arts could shake the confidence which she reposed in her old and trusty servant. The courtly graces of Leicester, the brilliant talents and accomplishments of Essex, touched the fancy, perhaps the heart, of •lie woman; but no rival could deprive the Treasurer of the place which he possessed in he favour of the queen. She sometimes chid hirn sharply; but he was the man whom she delighted to honour. For Burghley, she forgot her usual parsimony both of wealth and of dignities. For Burghley, she relaxed that severe etiquette to which she was unreasonably attached. Every other person to whom she addressed her speech, or on whom the glance "(JMgT eagle eye fell, instantly sank on his
knee. For Burghley alone, a chair was set in j her presence; and there the old minister, by birlh only a plain Lincolnshire esquire, tuok his ease, while the haughty heirs of the Fitz| alans and the De Veres humbled themselves to the dust around him. At length, having survived all his early coadjutors and rivals, he died full of years and honours. His royal mistress visited him on his death-bed, and cheered him with assurances of her affection and esteem; and his power passed, with little diminution, to a son who inherited his abilities, and whose mind had been formed by his counsels.
The life of Burghley was commensuratewith one of the most important periods in the history of the world. It exactly measures the time during which the house of Austria held unrivalled superiority, and aspired to universal dominion. In the year in which Burghley was born, Charles the Fifth obtained the imperial crown. In the year in which Burghley died, the vast designs which had for nearly a century kept Europe in constant agitation, were buried in the same grave with the proud and sullen Philip.
The life of Burghley was commensurate also with the period during which a great moral revolution was effected; a revolution, the consequences of which were felt, not only in the cabinets of princes, but at half the firesides in Christendom. He was born when the great religious schism was just commencing. He lived to see the schism complete, to see a line of demarcation, which, since his death, has been very little altered, strongly drawn between Protestant and Catholic Europe.
The only event of modern times which can be properly compared with the Reformation, is the French Revolution; or, to speak more accurately, that great revolution of political feeling which took place in almost every pan of the civilized world during the eighteenth century, and which obtained in France its most terrible and signal triumph. Each of these memorable events may be described as a rising up of human reason against a caste. The one was a struggle of the laity against the clergy for intellectual liberty; the other was a struggle of the people against the privileged orders for political liberty. -In both cases, the spirit of innovation was at first encouraged Ly the class to which it was likely to be most prejudicial. It was under the patronage of Frederick, of Catharine, of Joseph, and of the French nobles, that the philosophy which afterwards threatened all the thrones and aristocracies of Europe with destruction, first became formidable. The ardour with which men betook themselves to liberal studies at the close of the fifteenth and the beginning o<" the sixteenth century, was zealously encouraged by the heads of that very church; to which liberal studies were destined to be fatal. In both cases when the explosion came, it came with a violence which appalled and disgusted many of those who had previously been distinguished by the freedom of their opinions. The violence of the democratic parly in France made Iiurki a tory, and Alfieri a courtier; the violence of the chiefs of the German schism ninde
Rm a defender of abuses, and turned the author of Utopia into a persecutor. In both cases, the convulsion which had overthrown deeplyseated errors, shook all the principles on which society rests to their very foundations. The minds of men were unsettled. It seemed for a time thai all order and morality were about to perish with the prejudices with which they had been Ions and intimately associated. Frightful cruelties were commilted. Immense masses of property were confiscated. Every part of Europe swarmed with exiles. In moody and turbulent spirits, zeal soured into malignity,or foamed into madness. From the political agination of the eighteenth century sprang the Jacobins. From the religious agitation of the sixteenth cMury sprang the Anabaptists. The partisans o> iwbespierre robbed and murdered in the name of fraternity and equality. The followers of Cnipperdoling robbed and murdered in the name of Christian liberty. The feeling*of patriotism was, in many parts of Europe, almost wholly extinguished. All the old maxims of foreign policy were changed. Physical boundaries were superseded by moral boundaries. Nations made war on each other with new arms; with arms which no fortifications, however strong by nature or by an, could resist; with arms before which rivers parted like the Jordan, and ramparts fell down like the walls of Jericho. Those arms were opinions, reasons, prejudices. The great masters of fleets and armies were often reduced to confess, like Milton's warlike angel, how hard they found it
Enrope was divided, as Greece had been divided during the period concerning which Thucydides wrote. The conflict was not, as it is in ordinary times, between state and stale, but between two omnipresent factions, each of which was in some places dominant, and in other places oppressed, but which, openly or covertly, carried on their strife in the bosom of every society. No man asked whether another belonged to the same country with himself, but whether he belonged to the same sect- Party spirit seemed to justify and consecrate acts which, in any other times, would have been considered as the foulest of treasons. The French emigrant saw nothing disgraceful in bringing Austrian and Prussian hussars to Paris. The Irish or Italian democrat saw no impropriety in serving the French Directory against his own native government. 80, in the sixteenth century, the fury of theological factions often suspended- all national animosities and jealousies. The Spaniards were invited into France by the League; the English were invited into France by the Huguenots.
We by no means intend to underrate or to palliate the crimes and excesses which, during I the last generation, were produced by the spirit I of democracy. But when we find that men' zealous for the Protestant religion, constantly | represent the French Revolution as radically' and essentially evil on account of those crimes' and fxcesses. we cannot but remember, that the •!«!■« ^ranre of our ancestors from the house
of their spiritual bondage was effected "by plagues and by signs, by wonders and hy war." We cannot but remember, that, as in the rase of the French Revolution, so also in the case of the Reformation, those who rose up against tyranny were themselves deeply tainted with the vices which tyranny engenders. We cannot but remember, that libe's scarcely less scandalous than those of Herbert, mummeries scarcely less absurd than those of Clootz, and crimes scarcely less atrocious than those of Marat, disgrace the early history of Protestantism. The Reformation is an event long past. The volcano has spent its rage. The wide waste produced by its outbreak is forgotten. The landmarks which were swept away have been rep.aced. The ruined edifices have been repaired. The lava has covered with a rich incrustation the fields which it once devastated; and after having turned a garden into a desert, has again turned the desert into a still more beautiful and fruitful garden. The second great eruption is not yet over. The marks of its ravages are still all around ns. The ashes are still hot beneath our feet. In some directions, the deluge of fire still continues to spread. Yet experience surely entitles us to believe that this explosion, like that which preceded it, will fertilize the soil which it has devastated. Already, in those parts which have suffered most severely, rich cultivation and secure dwellings have begun to appear amidst the waste. The more we read of the history of past ages, the more we observe the signs of these times, the more do we feel our hearts filled and swelled up with a good hope for the future destinies of the human race.
The history of the Reformation in England is full of strange problems. The most prominent and extraordinary phenomenon which it presents to us, is the gigantic strength of the government contrasted with the feebleness of the religious parties. During the twelve or thirteen years which followed the death of Henry the Eighth, the religion of the state was thrice changed. Protestantism was established by Edward; the Catholic Church was restored by Mary; Protestantism was again established by Elizabeth. The faith of the nation seemed to depend on the personal inclinations of the sovereign. Nor was this all. An established church was then, as a matter of course, a persecuting church. Edward persecuted Catholics. Mary persecuted Protestants. Elizabeth persecuted Catholics again. The father of those three sovereigns had enjoyed the pleasure of persecuting both sects at once: and had sent to death, on the same hurdle, the heretic whe denied the real presence, and the traitor who denied the royal supremacy. There was nothing in England like that fierce and bloody opposition, which, in France, each of the religious factions in its turn offered to the government. We had neither a Coligni nor a Mayenne; neither a Moncontour nor an Ivry. No English city braved sword and famine for the reformed doctrines with the spirit of P.ochelle; nor for the Catholic doctrines with the spirit of Paris. Neither sect in England formed a league. Neither sect extorted a recantalio from the sovereign. Neither sect could ob'a—
from an aJverse sovereign even a toleration. The English Protestants, alter several years of domination, sank down with scarcely a struggle under the tyranny of Mary. The Catholics, alter having regained and abused their old ascendency, submitted patiently to the severe rule of Elizabeth. Neither Protestants nor Catholics engaged in any great and well-orgamzed scheme of resistance. A few wild and tumultuous risings, suppressed as soon as they appeared, a few dark conspiracies, in which only a small number of desperate men engaged—such were the utmost efforts made by these two parties to assert the most sacred of human rights, attacked by the most odious tyranny.
The explanation of these circumstances which has generally been given, is very simple, but by no means satisfactory. The power of the crown, it is said, was then at its height, and was, in fact, despotic. This solution, we own. seems to us to be no solution at all.
It has long been the fashion, a fashion introduced by Mr. Hume, to describe the Euglish monarchy in the sixteenth century as an absolute monarchy. And such undoubtedly it appears 10 a superficial observer. Elizabeth, it is true, often spoke to her Parliaments in language as haughty and imperious as that which the Great Turk would use to his divan. She punished with great severity members of the House of Commons, who, in her opinion, earned the freedom of debate too far. She assumed the power of legislating by means of proclamation. She imprisoned her subjects without bringing them to a legal trial. Torture was often employed, in defiance of the laws of England, for the purpose of extorting confessions from those who were shut up in her dungeons. The authority of the Star-Chamber and the Ecclesiastical Commission was at its highest point. Severe restraints were imposed on political and religious discussion.. The number of presses was at one time limited. No man could print without a license; and every work had to undergo the scrutiny of the primate or the Bishop of London. Persons whose writings were displeasing to the court were cruelly mutilated 'ike Stubbs, or put to death,like Penry. Non- formily was severely punished. The queen prescribed the exact rule of religious faith and discipline; and whoever departed from that rale, either to the right or to the left, was in danger of severe penalties.
Such was this government Yet we know that it was loved by the great body of those who lived under it. We know that, during the fierce contests of the sixteenth century, both the hostile parties spoke of the time of Elizabeth as of a golden age. The great queen has n»w been lying two hundred and thirty years in Henry the Seventh's chapel. Yet her memory is still dear to the hearts of a free people.
The truth seems to be, that the government of the Tudors was, with a few occasional deviations, a popular government under the forms ofde*pi>tism. At first sight, it mayseem that the prerogatives of Elizabeth were not less ample than those of Louis the Fourteenth, that her Par
liaments were as obsequious as his Parliaments, that her warrant had as much anihoriiy as his klire-ile-fiic;iel. The extravagance Willi which her courtiers eulogized her personal and mental charms, went beyond the adulation of Boileau and Moliere. Louis would have blushed to receive from those who composed the gorgeous circles of Marli and Versailles, the outward marks of servitude which the haughty Britoness exacted of all who approached her. But the power of Louis rested on the support of his army. The power of Elizabeth rested soleiy on the support of her people. Those who. say that her power was absolute do not sumciently consider in what her power consisted. Her power cunsisted in the willing obedience of her subjects, in their attachment to her person and to her office, in their respect for the old line from which she sprang, in their sense of the general security which they enjoyed under her government. These were the means, and the only means, which she had at her command for carrying her decrees into execution, for resisting foreign enemies, and for crushing domestic treason. There was not a ward in the city, there was not a hundred in any shire in England, which could net have overpowered the handful of armed men who composed her household. If a hostile sovereign threatened invasion, if an ambitious noble raised the standard of revolt, she could have recourse only to the trainbands of htr capital, and the array of her counties, to tha citizens and yeomen of England, commanded by the merchants and esquires of England.
Thus, when intelligence arrived of the va>t preparations which Philip was making <br the subjugation of the realm, the first pei„on to whom the government thought of applying for assistance was the Lord Mayor of London. They sent to ask him what force the city would engage to furnish for the defence of the kingdom against the Spaniards. The mayor and common council, in return, desired to know what force the queen's highness desired them to furnish. The answer" was—fifteen ships and five thousand men. The Londoners deliberated on the matter, and two days aftef "humbly entreated the council, in sign of their perfect love and loyalty to prince and country, to accept ten thousand men,'and thirty ships amply furnished."
People who could give such signs as these of their loyalty were by no means to bemisgo. vented with impunity. The English in the sixteenth century were, beyond all doubt, a free people. They had not. indeed, the outward show of freedom; but they had the reality. They had not a good constitution, bunhey had that without which the best constitution is as useless as the king's proclamation against vice and immorality, that which, without any con. stitution, keeps rulers in awe—force, and the spirit to use it. Parliaments, it is true, were rarely held; and were not very respectfully treated. The Great Charter was often violated. But the people had a security against gross and systematic misgovernment, far slronsnir than all the parchment that was ever marked with the sign manual, and than all the wa« that was ever pressed bv the great sen\^~'