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articles presented to them, or of being committed to the flames. All the established forms of law were now abandoned, and the prosecution of heretics intrusted by the crown to a set of commissioners, whose unlimited powers to try and condemn any one on whom their suspicions might happen to alight, took away the protection of innocence, and rendered the subjects the sport of caprice or malignity.

A general horror and indignation were the natural consequences of these cruelties; and in the new parliament, which was summoned to meet in 1555, the court was made to feel the preponderancy of the protestant interest, and the futility of its sanguinary proceedings. Notwithstanding the manifest danger of opposition, several measures proposed by government were vehemently resisted by the commons, and some wholly rejected. They were with difficulty prevailed on to pass an act enabling the queen to restore to the church merely those tenths, first-fruits, and impropriations, which remained in the hands of the crown; and could be induced to grant a portion only of the supplies demanded, though by no means exorbitant. They threw out two bills relative to religion;-one for incapacitating such as were remiss in the prosecution of heretics from being justices of the peace, and another for confiscating the estates of those who had quitted the kingdom on the score of religion.*

While Cecil, by the reserve and moderation of his conduct, escaped the suspicion of the court, he was privately turning his views towards those changes in the government, which he foresaw would soon take place. It was every day more apparent that the princess Elizabeth would ascend the throne, and that her elevation would not be long deferred. No prospect now remained that Mary would leave offspring behind her, and the distempers of her mind and body seemed rapidly to subdue her constitution. While a dropsy, which she had at first mistaken for pregnancy, and aggravated by improper treatment, daily impaired her strength, the bad success of all her schemes for the restoration of popery, the general hatred excited by her cruelties, the loss of Calais, which was attributed to her negligence, the cold return which Philip made to her ardent attachment, and the resolution which he had formed of settling in Spain, and abandoning her for ever, all preyed on her mind, and hastened her decay. Yet though, in this state of things, Cecil had every inducement to cultivate the favour of Elizabeth, it was only by incurring the most imminent danger, that, surrounded as she was by the spies of Mary, any communication could be held with her. By uniting, however, dexterity and circumspection with a cool intrepidity, he found means to open and maintain a private correspondence; and often conveyed to her such intelligence as enabled her to avoid the snares of her suspicious and vindictive sister.

In this opposition to the measures of the court, Cecil, who had been chosen, without solicitation, one of the members for Lincolnshire, bore a distinguished part; and the rejection of the bill for confiscating the estates of the exiles is, in parti-joyed, cular, attributed to the force of his eloquence. This manly conduct exposed him to considerable danger, and he was once called before the privy council; but while the others involved in the same accusation with him were sent to the Tower, he succeeded in obtaining a hearing before he should be committed, and made such a satisfactory defence as procured his immediate acquittal. The discretion of his conduct had, indeed, softened the rancour of his religious opponents, and procured him many friends among the catholics, though convinced of his decided attachment to the protestant cause. The light in which his opposition in this parliament appeared to himself, we learn from the diary which he has left behind him :-" On the 21st of October," says he, "the parliament met at Westminster, and I discharged my duty, as a member, with some danger; for although I had been elected against my inclination, yet I uttered my sentiments freely. I incurred much displeasure by this conduct; but it was better to obey God than men." Having, in the next parliament, been again chosen to represent the county of Lincoln, he maintained the cause of the persecuted protestants with the same discreet but undeviating resolution.

*Burnet, vol. ii. p. 322.

Life of William Lord Burghley, p. 13.

The interval of leisure, which he at present enhe seems to have diligently spent in digesting plans for that order of things which he anticipated in the new reign; and so well had he matured his ideas, that he was enabled to present Elizabeth, on the very day of her accession, with a memorial, pointing out those affairs which required instant despatch. Mindful of the favours which she had received in her adversity, and gratified to find a counsellor already prepared to give activity to her government, Elizabeth hastened to reward and secure his services. He was the first person sworn of her privy council, and was at the same time created secretary of state.*

From this time forward, Cecil may be considered as the first minister of Elizabeth, and the principal adviser of her measures. As he knew that on her life depended both his prospects and his safety, since Mary queen of Scots, the next heir, was a catholic, entirely directed by her bigoted relatives of the house of Guise, his attachment was sincere, and his exertions zealous. Elizabeth, possessed of penetration to perceive, and judgment to appreciate, his talents, rested with peculiar confidence on his fidelity and tried abilities. Her passions, her prejudices, her caprice, made her frequently act in opposition to his sentiments, but none of her ministers or favourites was so generally consulted; and his cool, deliberate, weighty reasonings,

* Life of William Lord Burghley, p. 13.

often obtained, from her better judgment, concessions to which her inclinations were extremely averse. As it would be tedious to follow the labours of Cecil in an administration of forty years, we must now relinquish the narrative form, and attempt an outline of his policy, under a few general heads, taking as our text the grand questions which engaged the solicitude of the queen and her minister in that age of dissension and danger. This will lead us to examine his policy in regard to religion; his civil policy or administration of home affairs; his foreign policy, - towards the Low Countries, Spain, France, Scotland, and Mary queen of Scots.

The measures relative to religion were those which most incessantly harassed him during his administration, and which required the greatest caution and management, because his sentiments corresponded ill with the inclinations of his sovereign. At the commencement of the reign of Edward VI., the more gross absurdities of the Romish Church, which his father had forcibly retained, were abolished; and a more rational worship, both in substance and form, established by law. Yet although many further changes were made in the course of this reign, by archbishop Cranmer and the other heads of the church, the reformation was still considered incomplete. King Edward, in his diary, laments that he was prevented, by the opposition of the prejudiced, from restoring the primitive discipline according to his heart's desire; and in the preface to one of the service-books, published by authority, the framers observed, "that they had gone as far as they could in reforming the church, considering the times they lived in, and hoped that they who came after them would, as they might, do more.' The lamented death of Edward put a period, for the time, to the hopes of further improvement. Mary was no sooner seated on the throne, than she restored the faith and forms of the catholic church, acknowledged the supremacy of the pope, reconciled her dominions to the see of Rome, and began, by the most cruel exertions of her authority, to replunge the people into that superstition and ignorance from which they had just emerged. It was to the accession of Elizabeth, who was known to be attached to the reformed religion, that the protestants now looked forward as the period of their deliverance and triumph; and Cecil, aware that no object could be more important than to quiet the minds of men in this concern, had urged it upon that princess as the first of her cares.


But the views of the queen and her minister, with regard to the extent of the projected reformation, were far from coinciding. Cecil had learnt, from recent events both in his own and in foreign countries, how many dangers and convulsions might be avoided in religious changes, if govern

Neal's Hist. of the Puritans, vol. i. p. 73. edit.


ment wisely took the lead. He had also observed the channel towards which the current of public opinion was strongly directed. The great majority of the nation had seconded Edward and his council in their successive measures in favour of the reformed worship, and looked forward to further changes, when the successor of that prince unfortunately attempted to tear up his work from the foundation. But the extravagant cruelties of Mary, although they intimidated many into an apparent submission, aggravated the general detestation of the popish religion. The people, exasperated to behold their countrymen groaning under the torture, or expiring in the flames, now looked with horror, not only on the tenets, but on the rites, the ceremonics, the appendages, of a sanguinary church. Many Englishmen who had sought refuge in exile, having observed the tranquil and flourishing condition of states which had entirely renounced both the tenets and rites of the Romish church, hastened, on the accession of Elizabeth, to apprise their countrymen of those happy effects, and incite them to similar changes. To this state of public sentiment Cecil might be desirous to accommodate the ecclesiastical establishment of England. The favourite, and confidential adviser of Edward, he seems to have deeply imbibed the reforming spirit of that reign; and we find him acting as one of the commissioners who prepared a purer code of canon laws, which the death of the young monarch prevented from receiving the royal sanction.

But for a thorough reformation the mind of Elizabeth was by no means prepared. The superstitious tenets which her father thought proper to retain had partly insinuated themselves into her belief; while her imagination had become still more impressed with the mysterious ceremonies and splendid array of the catholic worship. She was therefore inclined to draw from the more advanced measures of her brother's reign, and would have been content with a very few changes in doctrine and form. Yet Cecil had very powerful arguments to induce her concurrence with his plans. He could represent that the voice of the nation was loudly in favour of the reformation: that the ill success of her sister, and the odium which she had incurred, proved the danger of attempting to maintain the worship of Rome: that the protestants, both at home and abroad, looked up to her as their only hope, and would prove the firmest supporters of her government: that the catholics, on the other hand, acknowledged Mary queen of Scots as the legitimate heiress of the throne, and were ready to make the most dangerous attempts in support of her title: that the more completely the minds of her subjects became alienated from the doctrines and rites of the Roman church, the more decidedly they would be united against the claims of her rival: and that it was impossible to be reconciled to Rome without giving up that supremacy in religious matters which her

father had accounted among his proudest titles.*

By such considerations Cecil obtained the consent of Elizabeth to the restoration of the protestant worship; but the plan which he first laid before the privy council, and afterwards before parliament, for the new establishment, did not, in its provisions, go beyond that which had been adopted at the commencement of Edward VI.'s reign.* Yet even to the moderate retrenchments thus made in the catholic worship, the queen was with difficulty reconciled; and she went so far as to declare that she would not have passed the act for these changes, had it not contained one saving clause which entitled her "to ordain and publish such further ceremonies and rules as may be for the advancement of God's glory, and edifying his church, and the reverence of Christ's holy mysteries and sacraments."†

But although Cecil exerted himself strenuously to procure reformation in the church, his cool and temperate mind was little moved by religious animosities, and was willing to tolerate the catholics, provided they engaged in no dangerous attempts against the state. The maxims on which Elizabeth and her ministers professed to found their conduct in matters of religion were, first, "that consciences are not to be forced, but to be won and reduced by the force of truth, by the aid of time, and the use of all good means of instruction and persuasion ;" and, secondly, "that causes of conscience, when they exceed their bounds, and

When we look into the arguments which Camden and Burnet have, on this occasion, put into the mouth of Cecil, we shall perceive that these historians have framed his discourse rather from his known principles and the circumstances of the times, than from any real documents. Yet it must be acknowledged, that the discourses which they attribute to him possess a verisimilitude that does not pass the licence usually permitted to historians, But Mr. Hume, although he expressly refers to these writers as his authorities, not only new-models and varies their account, but even makes Cecil speak like a fellow sceptic of the eighteenth century. According to him, the minister assures his sovereign that she may safely venture on any reformation she chooses, for "the nation had of late been so much accustomed to these revolutions, that men had lost all idea of truth and falsehood on such subjects." This representation, of which no trace is to be found in Camden or Burnet, is the more objectionable, that it is inconsistent, not only with verisimilitude, but with fact. That Cecil, so distinguished as a zealous protestant, should have spoken thus lightly of religious tenets, is as incredible as that Elizabeth, who, on several occasions, was ready to sacrifice her interests to her bigotry, should listen to such a discourse and still more absurd is it to suppose that a minister so sagacious, and a princess so penetrating, should have so egregiously mistaken the state of men's minds, as to believe them wholly indifferent to those very changes to which so many had signalized their attachment at the stake, and all the bishops affirmed their aversion by a resignation of their benefices. The ferment of religious opinions was, perhaps, never greater than at that very period.

Bacon's Works, vol. iv. p. 374. edit. 1740. ↑ Neal's Hist. of the Puritans, vol. 1. p. 130.


prove to be matter of faction, lose their nature; and that sovereign princes ought distinctly to punish the practice or contempt, though coloured with the pretences of conscience and religion."* The first of these maxims corresponded entirely with the moderation of Cecil; and the second, although very capable of interpretations, according to the mildness or violence of the expounders, was, in his hands, a sufficiently safe principle, While the catholics, enraged at the sagacity with which he detected, and the vigour with which he counteracted, all their enterprises, charged him loudly with cruelty towards them, they still were unable to produce any instance in which his severity exceeded what the immediate security of government appeared to demand.†

The queen still gave strong indications of an attachment to the forms of the old religion, Although prevailed on to command the more obnoxious monuments of idolatry to be removed from the churches; yet the service in her own chapel was still attended with such ceremonies and splendour, that foreigners could distinguish it from the Roman only by its being performed in English. Here the choristers appeared in their surplices, and the priests in their copes: the altar, in the midst of which stood a massy crucifix of silver, was furnished with rich plate, and two gilt candlesticks with lighted candles: the service on solemn festivals was sung not only with the sound of organs, but of cornets, sackbuts, and other musical instruments: and, that nothing might be wanting to its ancient solemnity, the ceremonies osberved by the knights of the garter in their adoration towards the altar, which had been abolished by king Edward, and revived by queen Mary, were now retained. As Elizabeth advanced in years, these propensities seem gradually to have increased; for, though she was obliged to guard against the catholics as her inveterate enemies, though she had been excommunicated by the pope, and lived in perpetual danger from the plots, insurrections, and invasions of his partisans, yet Cecil found considerable difficulty in

* Bacon's Works, vol. iv, p. 360. Also Knollys's Letter to Cretoy, in Burnet's History of the Reformation.

† Bacon, vol. iv. page 361, 362. In a letter, in which he replies to some applications to mitigate his rigours against the papists, Burleigh affirms that these rigours were exaggerated; that they amounted only to very gentle penalties, and were employed solely against the known and active enemies of government. "In very truth," says he, "whereof I know not to the contrary, there is no catholic persecuted to the danger of life here, but such as profess themselves, by obedience to the pope, to be no subjects to the queen. And although their outward pretence be, to be sent from the seminaries to convert people to their religion, yet, without reconciling of them from their obedience to the queen, they never give them absolution. Such in our realm as refuse to come to our churches, and yet do not discover their obebience to the queen, be taxed with fines, according to the law, without danger of their lives."-Birch's Memoirs, vol. i. p. 94. Neal, vol. i. p. 144.

dissuading her from bringing the state of the church nearer the old religion. It was only by a firm and spirited interposition that he could prevent her from absolutely prohibiting the marriage of the clergy; and she is said to have often repented that she had gone so far in her concessions. When the dean of St. Paul's, in a sermon preached before her, had spoken with some disapprobation of the sign of the cross, she called aloud to him from her closet, to desist from that ungodly digression, and return to his text. On another occasion, when one of her chaplains had preached a sermon in defence of the real presence, which he would scarcely have ventured to do had not her sentiments been well understood, she openly gave him thanks for his pains and piety. The protestants, strongly united as they were to her by every tie of interest, could not, without some murmurs and indignation, observe her predilection for the rites of their opponents.

But while Cecil found Elizabeth ready to show the catholics every indulgence which the public safety could admit, all his influence and entreaties were insufficient to procure a similar lenity for another class of her subjects. A considerable portion of the people eagerly desired a more thorough reformation than had been accomplished under king Edward; and the protestants soon became divided into those who conformed and those who would not conform to the institutions of Elizabeth. Yet, since the nonconformists, or puritans (for so they were now called from affecting a superior purity in worship and morals), differed from the adherents of the church in no point of faith, but merely in certain external forms, a few concessions on either side might have prevented the disunion. But this was not the age of mutual forbearance, and the party of the established church were ill prepared for limitations to the interference of government. They did not see that, while it was the duty of government to provide a competent number of well qualified religious teachers, and to draw up regulations for their direction in respect both to the substance and the mode of their instructions, it was equally its duty to go no further, and to beware of turning their proposed benefits into oppression, by forcing obnoxious opinions and forms on the public. Elizabeth, holding very different sentiments from these, not only prescribed peculiar forms for the religious worship of her people, but was determined that they should use no other. To these the puritans objected, because they had been previously employed in the popish worship as mystical symbols, and were associated in the minds of the people with the grossest superstition. No worldly consideration would induce them to assume what they accounted appendages of idolatry; while the queen, on her part, prepared to employ all her authority in support of the prescribed forms.

*Neal, vol. i. p. 158.

Warner's Ecclesiast. Hist. vol. ii. p. 427.

Finding that her council, the ablest and wisest council that England ever saw, were decidedly averse to measures which threatened to involve the nation in dangerous dissensions, she resolved to effect her purpose by means of some of the bishops, particularly archbishop Parker, who readily and zealously entered into her views.* The severities to which these men now proceeded were only surpassed by the frivolity of their ostensible cause. A fervent attachment to the use of surplices, corner-caps, tippets, the cross in baptism, and the ring in marriage, were, in their eyes, the distinguishing characteristics of a Christian; and any dislike to these forms was accounted a sufficient crime to subject the most learned and pious clergyman to imprisonment and exile; or, as a mitigated punishment, to be turned out of his living, and consigned with his family to indigence. The most pernicious effects necessarily flowed from these severities: while the church was weakened by the loss of many able divines, and degraded by the introduction of men who could barely read the prayer-book and write their own names, the people began every where to collect around their expelled teachers, and to form conventicles apart from the establishment. Yet these mischievous consequences only set the queen and her bishops on framing new statutes to reach the refractory; and at length even the laity were brought within their grasp, by an act which provided that non-attendance at public worship in the parish churches should be punished with imprisonment, banishment, and, if the exile returned, with death. An arbitrary commission was appointed with full powers to bring all religious offenders to punishment; and as any resistance to the injunctions of the queen, as supreme head of the church, was at length construed into sedition and treason, many subjects of unquestioned loyalty were imprisoned, banished, and brought to ruin.

Nothing could exceed the imperious demeanour which some of the prelates, confident of royal support, now assumed. Archbishop Parker having, from a wish to display his authority, commanded one of his suffragans to suppress certain meetings which the clergy of the same neighbourhood were accustomed to hold for their mutual improvement, the privy council, who looked on these exercises as extremely beneficial, since they greatly contributed to diffuse knowledge at a period when the clergy in general were ill instructed, countermanded this injunction of the primate, and ordered that these meetings should receive every encouragement. The prelate, however, having represented to the queen the danger to which her supremacy would be exposed, if he, her vicegerent, should thus be counteracted, readily procured her direct interference in support of his authority; and the council had the mortification to find the exercises, as they were called, suppressed not only in one *Neal, vol. i. 192.

diocese, but throughout the kingdom.* At one time, we find the whole council soliciting the baughty primate in vain, in behalf of clergymen distinguished for learning and piety, whom he had, on some frivolous pretext, expelled from their benefices; at another, we find them, with as little effect, threatening him with the penalties of the law, which he had greatly exceeded in his severities. At last, archbishop Parker rendered himself so obnoxious, that the queen found it prudent to allay the popular clamour by stopping short his career; but this produced very little alteration in the mind of Elizabeth; for when his successor, the moderate Grindal, refused to enforce some of her injunctions, she did not hesitate, by an extraordinary exertion of her supremacy, to suspend him from his functions, and meditated even to deprive him altogether. Whitgift, the succeeding primate, taught by this example, proceeded to severities which Parker would not have ventured to exercise, nor the queen, in the earlier part of her reign, have countenanced.

The efforts of Cecil, in an individual capacity, were equally unavailing in these days of intolerance. At first, his high office and known influence with the queen overawed the more violent prelates, and he was enabled to deliver several persons from their resentment. But when it became known that the prejudices of her majesty were too powerful to be counteracted by the united voice of her council, his remonstrances, his threats, his entreaties, in favour of the oppressed nonconformists, were treated with equal neglect. The university of Cambridge, of which he was chancellor, had, much to their honour, made a bold and manly stand in support of freedom of opinion, and he had succeeded in maintaining their privileges against the attempts of several of the bishops §; but when that learned body ventured to declare openly against corner-caps and surplices, the indignation of these prelates and the queen became so implacable, that he was obliged to abandon them to the rigorous injunctions of their adversaries.|| Even after he had attained the highest office in the state, his solicitations in behalf of persecuted individuals, in whom he was interested, were without effect; and his own domestic chaplain, supported by the benchers of the Temple, whose lecturer he also was, could not escape the rigour of the government party.**

Cecil, as well as the other ministers, were sometimes put on the ungrateful task of acting as the organs of the queen's mandates against the nonconformists. Perhaps it might have been more

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manly to have refused this submission, and have renounced his office rather than his independence; but he knew, that, out of office, he could yield no protection whatever to the cause which he favoured; it was his policy to temporise rather than violently resist; and to procure, by temperate and persevering remonstrances, such partial changes in the measures which he disapproved, as would not have been granted to an avowed and resolute opposition. Yet, at times, the impolitic severities of the prelates induced him to assume a tone of censure and authority, in which he never indulged unless his indignation was greatly roused. Archbishop Whitgift having drawn up a long list of captious articles, which the clergy were either to answer to his satisfaction, or to be suspended, and having proceeded, by means of it, to harass those who were obnoxious to him, Cecil attempted to stop his proceedings by the following let

ter :

"It may please your grace,

"I am sorry to trouble you so oft as I do, but I am more troubled myself, not only with many private petitions of sundry ministers, recommended for persons of credit, and peaceable in their ministry, who are greatly troubled by your grace and your colleagues in commission; but I am also daily charged by counsellors and public persons, with neglect of my duty, in not staying your grace's vehement proceedings against ministers, whereby papists are greatly encouraged, and the queen's safety endangered. I have read over your twentyfour articles, found in a Roman style, of great length and curiosity, to examine all manner of ministers in this time, without distinction of persons, to be executed ex officio mero. And I find them so curiously penned, so full of branches and circumstances, that I think the inquisition of Spain used not so many questions to comprehend and to trap their priests. I know you canonists can defend these with all their particles; but surely, under correction, this judicial and canonical sifting poor ministers is not to edify or reform. And, in charity, I think they ought not to answer all these nice points, except they were notorious papists or heretics. I write with the testimony of a good conscience. I desire the peace and unity of the church. I favour no sensual and wilful recusant; but I conclude, according to my simple judgment, this kind of proceeding is too much savouring of the Romish inquisition, and is a decree rather to seek for offenders than to reform any. It is not charitable to send poor ministers to your common register, to answer upon so many articles at one instant, without a copy of the articles or their answers. I pray your grace bear with this one (perchance) fault, that I have willed the ministers not to answer these articles except their consciences may suffer them.”

To this spirited letter the archbishop returned an elaborate reply, in which he defended his proceedings; and Cecil perceiving that it was in vain

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