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Towards his children he was full of paternal affection, careful of their education, aspiring to their high advancement, regular to see that they should not want of any due honour and respect; but not greatly willing to cast any popular lustre upon them.
To his counsel he did refer much, and sat ost in person ; knowing it to be the way to assist his power and inform his judgment; in which respect also he was fairly patient of liberty both of advice and of vote, till himself were declared.
He kept a strait hand on his nobility, and chose rather to advance clergymen and lawyers, which were more obsequious to him, but had less interest in the people; which made for his absoluteness, but not for his safety. Insomuch as I am persuaded it was one of the causes of his troublesome reign. For that his nobles, though they were loyal and obedient, yet did not co-operate with him, but let every man go his own way. He was not afraid of an able man as Lewis the Eleventh was. But contrariwise he was served by the ablest men that then were to be found ; without which his affairs could not have prospered as they did. Bedford, Oxford, Surrey, Dawbeny, Brooke, Poynings. For other affairs, Morton, Foxe, Bray, the Prior of Lanthony, Warham, Urswick, Hussey, Frowick, and others. Neither did he care how cunning they were that he did employ: for he thought himself to have the master-reach. And as he chose well, so he held them
For it is a strange thing, that though he were a dark prince, and infinitely suspicious, and his times full of secret conspiracies and troubles ; yet in twenty-four years reign he never put down or discomposed counsellor or near servant, save only Stanley the Lord Chamberlain. As for the disposition of his subjects in general towards him, it stood thus with him : that of the three affections which naturally tie the hearts of the subjects to their sovereign,-love, fear and reverence,-he had the last in height; the second in good measure; and so little of the first, as he was beholding to the other two.
He was a prince, sad, serious, and full of thoughts and secret observations; and full of notes and memorials of his own hand, especially touching persons ; as whom to employ, whom to reward, whom to inquire of, whom to beware of, what were the dependencies, what were the factions, and the like ; keeping (as it were) a journal of his thoughts. There is to this day a merry tale : that his monkey (set on as it was thought by one of his chamber) tore his principal note-book all to pieces, when by chance it lay forth ;
whereat the court, which liked not those pensive accounts was almost tickled with sport.
(From the History of Henry VII.)
THE DUTIES OF JUDGES OF ASSIZE
THE SPEECH WHICH WAS USED BY THE LORD KEEPER OF THE
GREAT SEAL IN THE STAR CHAMBER, BEFORE THE SUMMER
The King by his perfect declaration published in this place concerning judges and justices, hath made the speech of his Chancellor, accustomed before the Circuits, rather of ceremony than of use. For, as in his book to his son he hath set forth a true character and platform of a king, so in this his speech he hath done the like of a judge and justice ; which showeth that as his majesty is excellently able to govern in chief, so he is likewise well seen and skilful in the inferior offices and stages of justice and government; which is a thing very rare in kings.
Yet nevertheless somewhat must be said, to fulfil an old observance; but yet upon the king's grounds, and very briefly : for as Solomon saith in another case, In these things who is he that can come after the king ?
First, you that are the Judges of Circuits are as it were the planets of the kingdom (I do you no dishonour in giving you that name), and no doubt you have a great stroke in the frame of this government, as the other have in the great frame of the world. Do therefore as they do ; move always and be carried with the motion of your first mover, which is your sovereign. A popular judge is a deformed thing ; and plaudites are fitter for players than for magistrates. Do good to the people, love them and give them justice. But let it be, as the Psalm saith, nihil inde expectantes; looking for nothing, neither praise nor profit.
Yet my meaning is not, when I wish you to take heed of popularity, that you should be imperious and strange to the gentlemen of the country. You are above them in power, but your rank is not much unequal; and learn this, that power is ever of greatest strength when it is civilly carried.
Secondly, You must remember, that besides your ordinary administration of justice, you do carry the two glasses or mirrors of the state ; for it is your duty in these your visitations to repre
sent to the people the graces and care of the king ; and again, upon your return, to present to the king the distastes and griefs of the people.
Mark what the king says in his book : Procure reverence to the king and the law; inform my people truly of me (which we know is hard to do according to the excellency of his merit, but yet endeavour it), how zealous I am for religion; how I desire law may be maintained and flourish; that every court should have his jurisdiction; that every subject should submit himself to the law. And of this you have had of late no small occasion of notice and remembrance, by the great and strait charge that the king hath given me, as keeper of his seal, for the governing of the Chancery without tumour or excess.
Again, e re nata, you at this present ought to make the people know and consider the king's blessed care and providence in governing this realm in his absence ; so that sitting at the helm of another kingdom, not without great affairs and business, yet he governs all things here by his letters and directions, as punctually and perfectly as if he were present.
I assure you, my Lords of the Council and I do much admire the extension and latitude of his care in all things.
In the High Commission he did conceive a sinew of government was a little shrunk; he recommended the care of it.
He hath called for the accounts of the last circuit from the judges to be transmitted unto him in Scotland.
Touching the infestation of pirates, he hath been careful, and is, and hath put things in way.
All things that concern the reformation or the plantation of Ireland, he hath given in them punctual and resolute directions. All this in absence.
I give but a few instances of a public nature; the secrets of counsel I may not enter into ; though his dispatches into France, Spain, and the Low Countries, now in his absence, are also notorious as to the outward sending. So that I must conclude that his majesty wants but more kingdoms, for I see he could suffice to all.
As for the other glass I told you of, of representing to the king the griefs of his people, without doubt it is properly your part; for the king ought to be informed of anything amiss in the state of his countries from the observations and relations of the judges (that indeed know the pulse of the country) rather than
from discourse. But for this glass (thanks be to God), I do hear from you all that there never was greater peace, obedience, and contentment in the country ; though the best governments be always like the fairest crystals, wherein every little icicle or grain is seen, which in a fouler stone is never perceived.
Now to some particulars, and not many. Of all other things I must begin as the king begins; that is, with the cause of religion ; and especially the hollow church-papist. St. Augustin hath a good comparison of such men, affirming that they are like the roots of nettles, which themselves sting not, but yet they bear all the stinging leaves. Let me know of such roots, and I will root them out of the country.
Next, for the matter of religion. In the principal place, I recommend both to you and to the justices the countenancing of godly and zealous preachers. I mean, not sectaries or novellists, but those which are sound and conform ; but yet pious and reverend. For there will be a perpetual defection, except you keep men in by preaching, as well as law doth by punishing ; and commonly spiritual diseases are not cured but by spiritual remedies.
Next, let me commend unto you the repressing (as much as may be) of faction in the countries, of which ensue infinite inconveniences, and perturbations of all good order, and crossing of all good service in court or country, or wheresoever. Cicero, when he was consul, had devised a fine remedy (a mild one, but an effectual and apt one), for he saith, Eos qui otium perturbant, reddam otiosos. Those that trouble others' quiet, I will give them quiet : they shall have nothing to do, nor no authority shall be put into their hands. If I may know from you of any who are in the country that are heads or hands of faction, or men of turbulent spirits, I shall give them Cicero's reward, as much as in
To conclude, study the king's book, and study yourselves how you profit by it, and all shall be well. And you the Justices of Peace in particular, let me say this to you. Never King of this realm did so much honour as the king hath done you in his speech, by being your immediate director and by sorting you and your service with the service of ambassadors, and of his nearest attendants. Nay more, it seems his majesty is willing to do the state of Justice of Peace honour actively also; by bringing in, with time, the like form of commission into the government of
Scotland, as that glorious king, Edward the third, did plant this commission here in this kingdom. And therefore you are not fit to be copies, except you be fair written, without blots or blurs, or anything unworthy your authority. And so I will trouble you no longer for this time.
THE POISONING OF SIR THOMAS OVERBURY
FIRST, therefore, for the simple narrative of the fact. Sir Thomas Overbury for a time was known to have had great interest and great friendship with my Lord of Somerset, both in his meaner fortunes and after ; insomuch as he was a kind of oracle of direction unto him ; and if you will believe his own vaunts (being of an insolent Thrasonical disposition), he took upon him, that the fortune, reputation, and understanding of this gentleman (who is well known to have had a better teacher) proceeded from his company and counsel.
And this friendship rested not only in conversation and business of court, but likewise in communication of secrets of estate. For my Lord of Somerset, at that time exercising (by his majesty's special favour and trust) the office of the Secretary provisionally, did not forbear to acquaint Overbury with the king's packets of dispatches from all parts, Spain, France, the Low Countries, etc. And this not by glimpses, or now and then rounding in the ear for a favour, but in a settled manner; packets were sent, sometimes opened by my lord, sometimes unbroken unto Overbury, who perused them, copied, registered them, made tables of them as he thought good; so that I will undertake the time was when Overbury knew more of the secrets of state than the Council-table did. Nay, they were grown to such an inwardness, as they made a play of all the world besides themselves ; so as they had ciphers and jargons for the king, the Queen, and all the great men ; things seldom used, but either by princes and their ambassadors and ministers, or by such as work and practice against, or at least upon princes.
But understand me (my lord) I shall not charge you this day with any disloyalty ; only I lay this for a foundation, that there was a great communication of secrets between you and Overbury, and that it had relation to matters of estate, and the greatest causes of this kingdom.