Page images

Henry, in which his patron urges him to undertake what he himself admits to be a want in the English language, a style of historical narrative which shall more nearly approach the classical models, and shall be more worthy of the part which England played in history. With this end in view Hayward has drawn abundantly upon the Latin historians—upon Livy, to a large extent, but still more markedly upon Tacitus. Nothing could illustrate Hayward's position better than the discussion between Queen Elizabeth and Bacon, of which Bacon himself has left the record. Elizabeth complained to Bacon of Hayward's unlucky first attempt, and asked if Bacon “could not find places that might be drawn within the case of treason. “For treason surely,” answered Bacon, “I find none, but for felony very many." “ And when Her Majesty asked me hastily, "Wherein ?' I told her the author had committed very apparent theft ; for he had taken most of the sentences of Cornelius Tacitus and translated them into English, and put them into his text. And another time when the Queen would not be persuaded that it was his writing whose name was to it, but that it had some more mischievous author, and said, with great indignation, that she would have him racked to produce his author, I replied, 'Nay, Madam, he is a doctor; never rack his person, but rack his style, and let him have pen, ink, and paper, and help of books, and be enjoined to continue the story where it breaketh off, and I will undertake by collating the style to judge whether he were the author or no. Hayward's style could indeed be “racked” without any undue cruelty. There is very little art in his imitation of his models, and he has scarcely mastered the manner so far as to give much attention either to the selection or critical examination of the matter. But it is something that he pursued, according to his lights, a distinct literary style in history, and thereby produced a noticeable effect on his successors. He is frequently dramatic in the better sense, and not only in the worse sense condemned by Wood. His diction is formal, and though sometimes forcible, often involved and confused. One of the most artificial features in his writing is the frequent introduction of imaginary speeches on the classical model : and the historical value of such speeches may well be tried by the following fantastic passage, which Hayward puts into the mouth of Edward VI. as expressing the boy's regret for his part in the death of his uncle, the Protector Somerset. “And where then,” said he, “was the good nature of a nephew? Where was the clemency of a prince? Ah, how

[ocr errors]

unfortunate I have been to those of my blood! My mother I slew at my very birth, and since have made away two of her brothers, and haply to make a way for the purposes of others against myself. Was it ever known before that a king's uncle, a lord protector, one whose fortunes had much advanced the honour of the realm, did lose his head for a felony, a felony neither clear in law, and in fact weakly proved! Alas, how falsely I have been abused! How weakly carried ! How little was I master over my own judgment, that both his death and the envy thereof must be charged upon me!”

The history was certainly not very critical that could tolerate rhodomontade such as this; and such “dramatic” qualities as it has are drawn from the very worst stage models of Hayward's own days. But it would be unjust to measure his style by such an example. It was an honest though mistaken result of his study of his models : and that study led to much that was good, along with a considerable mixture of what was absurd.




On the other side King Edward added to his glory, courtesy, and
liberality, showing himself most gracious in countenance to all,
and giving rewards suitable to every man's performance or place.
The lord protector he rewarded with lands of the yearly value of
£500; and certain it is that these first fortunes raised unto him a
great respect both in other countries and among his own people,
and the rather because he was discerned to be much searching
both into the counsels and after the events of all his affairs, and
likewise into the condition and state both of his own strength and
of the countries near unto him.

But these prosperous proceedings were not only hindered, in
their fairest course, but altogether stayed, and in some measure
turned back, by reason of the unadvised forwardness of divers
chief counsellors, in making both sudden and unseasonable
alterations in matters of state, whose greedy desires of having
their wills in all they liked bred both trouble to the realm and to
themselves danger. For great and sudden changes are never
without danger, unless the prince be both well settled in govern-
ment and able to bear out his actions by power ; but while King
Edward was both unripe in years and new in government, to
attempt a change both sudden and great could not but be accom-
panied with many mischiefs. The great matters wherein
alteration wrought were especially two, religion, and

Now for that religion is of so high and noble a nature, of so absolute necessity in a commonwealth, that it is esteemed the foundation of laws, and the common band of human society, no sudden alteration can almost be made therein, but many will be induced thereby to attempt some alteration in rule, whence (saith Dio) conspiracies and seditions are often occasioned.

For religion being seated in the high throne of conscience, is a most powerful ruler of the soul, and far preferred before estimation of


[ocr errors][merged small]

life, or any other worldly respect; for this advanceth man to the highest happiness, it leadeth him to his last end; all other things are but instruments, this is the hand; all other things are but accessories, this is the principal. And therefore as all men are naturally moved by religion, so when they are violently thrust forward by those who (as Livy speaketh) make it their purpose to possess souls by superstition, then do they break all bands of reason and of rule, no persuasion of the one, no command of the other can then restrain them. Multitudo ubi religione capta est, melius vatibus quam ducibus suis paret (Curt. lib. iv.)

I will not deny but that some change in religion is often expedient and sometimes necessary; because, more in that than in any other thing, it is hard to contain men from running into one of these extremes, either of vain superstition, or of careless contempt. But this must be done with a soft and tender hand, and as Cicero speaketh, Ut quam minimo sonitu orbis in republica convertatur. Some respect should also have been given to those green times, to the monstrous multitude muffled with two great plagues and corruptions of judgment, custom, and ignorance, whereto may be added grief at their own wants and envy at the prosperity of others, especially for that many bold spirits were busied, not only to incense, but to lead them into much variety of mischief. And if it be said that King Henry the Eighth had quietly passed the like change before ; I answer, the example was not then to be followed, the kings were not equal either in spirit or in power.

Even as it is in the fable, that albeit an eagle did bear away a lamb in her talons with full fight, yet a raven endeavouring to do the like was held entangled and fettered in the fleece.

Touching enclosures, I am not ignorant what a profitable purchase is made thereby, not only to particular persons, but generally to the whole commonwealth, in case it be without depopulation, because a company of lands enclosed are thereby improved in worth two or three parts at the least; hereby two great commodities ensue, riches and multitude of people, because the more riches are raised out of lands, the more people are thereby maintained. This doth plainly appear by two shires, almost equal, both in greatness and in goodness of soil : Northampton much champaign and Somerset altogether enclosed. For if estimation be made by musters, and by subsidies, tenths, and

fifteenths, enclosure hath made the one county more than double to exceed the other, both in people and in wealth.

Notwithstanding the Lord Protector gaping after the fruitless breath of the multitude, and more desirous to please the most than the best, caused a proclamation to be set forth against enclosures, commanding that they who had enclosed any lands accustomed to lie open should, upon a certain pain, before a day assigned lay them open again. This proclamation, whilst few were forward to obey, gave occasion to the mutinous multitude, instable in judgment, and tempestuous when they are stirred, all carried with a headlong rashness, and one following another, as wiser than himself, immoderately both in desire and hope to be easily drawn by others who had deeper reaches than themselves, to matters which at the first they had the least intended.

(From History of Edward VI.)



Whilst these two brothers held in amity, they were like two arms, the one defending the other, and both of them the king. But many things did move together to dissolve their love, and bring them to ruin : first, their contrary disposition, the one being tractable and mild, the other stiff, and impatient of a superior, whereby they lived but in cunning concord, as brothers glued together, but not united in grain : then much secret envy was born against them, for that their new lustre did dim the light of men honoured with ancient nobility. Lastly, they were openly minded, as hasty and soon moved, so uncircumspect and easy to be blinded. By these the knot, not only of love but of nature, between them was dissolved ; so much the more pity, for that the first cause proceeded from the pride, the haughty hate, the unquiet vanity, of a mannish, or rather of a devilish woman.

For the Lord Sudley had taken to wife Katharine Parr, QueenDowager, last wife to King Henry the Eighth : a woman beautified with many excellent virtues, especially with humility, the beauty of all other virtues. The Duke had taken to wife Anne Stanhope, a woman for many imperfections intolerable, but for pride monstrous : she was exceeding both subtle and violent in

[ocr errors][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »