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who are either to crown them with unfading Honours, or bra’nd them with indelible Ignominy.
It is presum'd that most of these Reflections are relative to such Writings as give us an Account of the Lives of particular great Men, who have been remarkable for the high Stations they have fill’d, and the great Scenes of publick, extraordinary Affairs, in which they have been engaged And therefore we shall make this Application, That when Persons, who preside in any
Nation at the Head of publick Business, read the Transactions of those who have moved before them in the like Sphere, they must make a proportionably stronger Impression on their minds, as they have a more immediate Relation to their Conducts. The Character of a bad Minister, stigmatiz'd in History for giving such Counsels, and pursuing such Measures, as were most injurious to the publick Good, must have a Tendency in it to deter all that are in the fame high Trusts, from a shameful Mif
application of their Talents, and a vile Perversion and Abuse of their Power : Because the same corrupt Principles and Practices must consequently in time render the Lives of such Men equally detestable and reproachful. As, on the contrary, the Life of a good Minister, who was ever heartily zealous in seeking the Welfare of his Country, and ever as active in promoting it, and who had attain'd a Portion of Glory adequate to the Merits of his Services, will help to infuse into the Hearts of others such an Emulation to follow his great Example, as may make their Characters hereafter meet with the same Esteem, and shine with the same Luftre.
The Time Cardinal Wolfey lived in was very remarkable for many great and extraordinary Events ; so that, to form a true Judgment of the deep Schemes and extensive Views of fo penetrating a Genius, especially when he arrived to be Prime Minister, we are not only to consider his Conduct, with regard to Affairs at Horne, - but also to the Situation of Things Abroad, which a
Minister certainly should be well acquainted with, and have a strict Eye to; because the Welfare of one Nation can never be rightly establish'd independent of the Felicity of others,
But, to return to our present Undertaking, no Care has been wanting to collect from antient Records, Manufcripts, and Historians, the Materials to compose a full History of this high Prelate and most illustrious Minister, and of the Times in which he lived.
It is probable fome may object, that the Insertion of that antient and curious History of the Cardinal, wrote by Mr. Cavendish, will make many Parts of this History of him a needless Repetition : To which we Answer, that his is inserted by itself, by way of Notes, and not intermixed with this in the Body of the Text: So that, by giving Mr.Cavendifh's Hiftory intire, the Reader may see, in the Course of this Work, the new Discoveries that have been made since his Time, both in respect to the Cardinal's Publick and Private Capacity. a 2
Nor did we think it necessary to confine ourselves so entirely to the History of the Life and Times of the Cardinal, as not to introduce, here and there, a fort Account of the Lives of several eminent Men, his Cotemporaries; these we conceived, as they were no unnatural, would consequently be no unpleasing Digressions; but rather prove so many Reliefs to the Attention of the Reader, which tires when it is constantly pursuing the same Tract; but, by making now and then an Excursion, is refreshed and entertain’d with some new, unexpected Prospect ; and therefore returns with so much the more Pleasure to the Path, from which it had been diverted.
Tho' the general Affairs of Europe are interspersed with those of England, Scotland and Ireland; yet, as we have kept ftri&tly to Order of Time, and placed the Date of the Year in the Margin, the Reader will not be at a loss for the particular Period treated of.
If it should be asked, why we write the History of the Life and Times of this
memorable Statesman, after the former had been penn'd by so learned a Man, and polite a Writer, as Dr. Fiddes ? we answer, first, because the Doctor himself seemed to hint, that the History of the Affairs of Europe ought to accompany that of the Life of the Cardinal; which Defect we have here attempted to supply: And next, That we have met with several Pieces relating to Him, which the Doctor, we presume, had never seen ; and with many Authentic Circumstances, that are of Moment, and have a Tendency to rescue his, and other Characters from those unfair Misrepresentations, under which they have long laboured, through the Negligence of some Writers, or the Partiality of others, who have given too much into the common Tract of Prejudices; without a just Regard to real liftorical Truth. Whether, on the other hand, we have been as partial in favouring, às they have been severe in censuring ; or, whether we have kept clear of all unreasonable, and unjust Prejudices and Prepossessions, must be left to the Judg