Billeder på siden

nearest the truth, that fetch not their reasons so far off; but rather impute it to nature, age, peace, and a mind fixed upon no other ambition or pursuit. Whereunto I should add, that having every day occasion to take notice of the necessities and shifts for money of other great princes abroad, it did the better, by comparison, set off to him the felicity of full coffers. As to his expending of treasure, he never spared charge which his affairs required: and in his buildings was magnificent, but his rewards were very limited: so that his liberality was rather upon his own state and memory, than upon the deserts of others.

He was of a high mind, and loved his own will, and his own way; as one that revered himself, and would reign indeed. Had he been a private man, he would have been termed proud. But in a wise prince, it was but keeping of distance, which indeed he did towards all; not admitting any near or full approach, either to his power, or to his secrets, for he was governed by none. His queen, notwithstanding she had presented him with divers children, and with a crown also, though he would not acknowledge it, could

let down his prerogative to his parliament. For mint, and wars, and martial discipline, things of absolute power, he would nevertheless bring to parliament. Justice was well administered in his time, save where the king was party: save also, that the council-table intermeddled too much with "meum" and "tuum." For it was a very court of justice during his time, especially in the beginning; but in that part both of justice and policy, which is the durable part, and cut, as it were, in brass or marble, which is the making of good laws, he did excel. And with his justice, he was also a merciful prince: as in whose time, there were but three of the nobility that suffered; the Earl of Warwick, the lord chamberlain, and the Lord Audley: though the first two were instead of numbers, in the dislike and obloquy of the people. But there were never so great rebellions, expiated with so little blood, drawn by the hand of justice, as the two rebellions of Blackheath and Exeter. As for the severity used upon those which were taken in Kent, it was but upon a scum of people. His pardons went ever both before and after his sword. But then he had withal a strange kind of interchang-do nothing with him. His mother he reverenced ing of large and unexpected pardons, with severe executions; which, his wisdom considered, could not be imputed to any inconstancy or inequality; but either to some reason which we do not now know, or to a principle he had set unto himself, that he would vary, and try both ways in turn. But the less blood he drew, the more he took of treasure. And, as some construed it, he was the more sparing in the one, that he might be the more pressing in the other; for both would have been intolerable. Of nature assuredly he coveted to accumulate treasure, and was a little poor in To his confederates abroad he was constant admiring riches. The people, into whom there is and just, but not open. But rather such was his infused, for the preservation of monarchies, a inquiry, and such his closeness, as they stood in natural desire to discharge their princes, though it the light towards him, and he stood in the dark be with the unjust charge of their counsellors and to them. Yet without strangeness, but with a ministers, did impute this unto Cardinal Morton semblance of mutual communication of affairs. and Sir Reginald Bray, who, as it after appeared, As for little envies, or emulations upon foreign as counsellors of ancient authority with him, did princes, which are frequent with many kings, he so second his humours, as nevertheless they did had never any: but went substantially to his own temper them. Whereas Empson and Dudley business. Certain it is, that though his reputathat followed, being persons that had no reputation was home, yet it was greater abroad. tion with him, otherwise than by the servile following of his bent, did not give way only, as the first did, but shape him way to those extremities, for which himself was touched with remorse at his death, and which his successor renounced, and sought to purge. This excess of his had at that time many glosses and interpretations. Some thought the continual rebellions wherewith he had been vexed, had made him grow to hate his people: some thought it was done to pull down their stomachs, and to keep them low: some, for that he would leave his son a golden fleece: some suspected he had some high design apon foreign parts: but those perhaps shall come

much, heard little. For any person agreeable to him for society, such as was Hastings to King Edward the Fourth, or Charles Brandon after to King Henry the Eighth, he had none: except we should account for such persons, Fox, and Bray, and Empson, because they were so much with him: but it was but as the instrument is much with the workman. He had nothing in him of vainglory, but yet kept state and majesty to the height; being sensible, that majesty maketh the people bow, but vainglory boweth to them.

For foreigners that could not see the passages of affairs, but made their judgments upon the issues of them, noted that he was ever in strife, and ever aloft. It grew also from the airs which the princes and states abroad received from their ambassadors and agents here; which were attending the court in great number: whom he did not only content with courtesy, reward, and privateness: but, upon such conferences as passed with them, put them in admiration, to find his universal insight into the affairs of the world: which though he did suck chiefly from themselves, yet that which he had gathered from them all, seemed admirable to every one. So that they

did write ever to their superiors in high terms, concerning his wisdom and art of rule; nay, when they were returned, they did commonly maintain intelligence with him. Such a dexterity he had to impropriate to himself all foreign instruments.

prospered as they did. For war, Bedford, Oxford, Surrey, D'Aubigny, Brooke, Poynings: for other affairs, Morton, Fox, 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 up well; 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 twentyfour 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 sovereigns, love, fear, and reverence; he had the last in height, the second in good measure,

He was careful and liberal to obtain good intelligence from all parts abroad: wherein he did not only use his interest in the liegers here, and his pensioner, which he had both in the court of Rome, and other the courts of Christendom; but the industry and vigilancy of his own ambassadors in foreign parts. For which purpose his instructions were ever extreme, curious, and articulate and in them more articles touching inquisition, than touching negotiation: requiring likewise from his ambassadors an answer, in particular distinct articles respectively to his questions. As for his secret spials, which he did employ | and so little of the first, as he was beholden to the both at home and abroad, by them to discover what practices and conspiracies were against him, surely his case required it: he had such moles perpetually working and casting, to undermine him. Neither can it be reprehended: for if spials be lawful against lawful enemies, much more against conspirators and traitors. But indeed to give them credence by oaths or curses, that cannot be well maintained: for those are too holy vestments for a disguise. Yet surely there was this further good in his employing of these flies and familiars; that as the use of them was cause that many conspiracies were revealed, so the fame and suspicion of them kept, no doubt, many conspiracies from being attempted.

Towards his queen he was nothing uxorious, nor scarce indulgent: but companionable and respective, and without jealousy. 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 will ing to cast any popular lustre upon them.

To his council he did refer much, and sat oft 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 cooperate 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 were to be found; without which his affairs could not have

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 is 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.

He was indeed full of apprehensions and suspicions; but as he did easily take them, so he did easily check them and master them; whereby they were not dangerous, but troubled himself more than others. It is true, his thoughts were so many, as they could not well always stand together; but that which did good one way, did hurt another. Neither did he at sometimes weigh them aright in their proportions. Certainly, that rumour which did hin so much mischief, that the Duke of York should be saved and alive, was, at the first, of his own nourishing; because he would have more reason not to reign in the right of his wife. He was affable, and both well and fair-spoken; and would use strange sweetness and blandishments of words, where he desired to effect or persuade any thing that he took to heart. He was rather studious than learned; reading most books that were of any worth, in the French tongue, yet he understood the Latin, as appeareth in that Cardinal Hadrian and others, who could very well have written French, did use to write to him in Latin.

For his pleasures, there is no news of them; and yet by his instructions to Marsin and Stile, touching the Queen of Naples, it seemeth he could interrogate well touching beauty. He did by

pleasures, as great princes do by banquets, come | who lived a little before, then the consort is more and look a little upon them, and turn away. For perfect. For that Lewis the Eleventh, Ferdinannever prince was more wholly given to his affairs, nor in them more of himself: insomuch as in triumphs of justs and tourneys, and balls, and masks, which they then called disguises, he was rather a princely and gentle spectator, than seemed much to be delighted.

No doubt, in him, as in all men, and most of all in kings, his fortune wrought upon his nature, and his nature upon his fortune. He attained to the crown, not only from a private fortune, which might endow him with moderation; but also from the fortune of an exiled man, which had quickened in him all seeds of observation and industry. And his times being rather prosperous than calm, had raised his confidence by success, but almost marred his nature by troubles. His wisdom, by often evading from perils, was turned rather into a dexterity to deliver himself from dangers, when they pressed him, than into a providence to prevent and remove them afar off. And even in nature, the sight of his mind was like some sights of eyes; rather strong at hand, than to carry afar off. For his wit increased upon the occasion: and so much the more, if the occasion were sharpened by danger. Again, whether it were the shortness of his foresight, or the strength of his will, or the dazzling of his suspicions, or what it was, certain it is, that the perpetual troubles of his fortunes, there being no more matter out of which they grew, could not have been without some great defects and main errors in his nature, customs, and proceedings, which he had enough to do to save and help with a thousand little industries and watches. But those do best appear in the story itself. Yet take him with all his defects, if a man should compare him with the kings his concurrents in France and Spain, he shall find him more politic than Lewis the Twelfth of France, and more entire and sincere than Ferdinando of Spain. But if you shall change Lewis the Twelfth for Lewis the Eleventh

[ocr errors]

do, and Henry, may be esteemed for the "tres magi" of kings of those ages. To conclude, if this king did no greater matters, it was long of himself: for what he minded he compassed.

He was a comely personage, a little above just stature, well and straight limbed, but slender. His countenance was reverend, and a little like a churchman: and as it was not strange or dark, so neither was it winning or pleasing, but as the face of one well disposed. But it was to the disadvantage of the painter, for it was best when he spake.

His worth may bear a tale or two, that may put upon him somewhat that may seem divine. When the Lady Margaret, his mother, had divers great suitors for marriage, she dreamed one night, that one in the likeness of a bishop in pontifical habit did tender her Edmund, Earl of Richmond, the king's father, for her husband, neither had she ever any child but the king, though she had three husbands. One day when King Henry the Sixth, whose innocency gave him holiness, was washing his hands at a great feast, and cast his eye upon King Henry, then a young youth, he said; "This is the lad that shall possess quietly that, that we now strive for." But that, that was truly divine in him, was that he had the fortune of a true Christian, as well as of a great king, in living exercised, and dying repentant: so as he had a happy warfare in both conflicts, both of sin and the cross.

He was born at Pembroke castle, and lieth buried at Westminster, in one of the stateliest and daintiest monuments of Europe, both for the chapel and for the sepulchre. So that he dwelleth more richly dead, in the monument of his tomb, than he did alive in Richmond, or any of his palaces. I could wish he did the like in this monument of his fame.




thing as any great and mighty subject, who might anywise eclipse or overshade the imperial power. And for the people and state in general, they were in such lowness of obedience, as subjects were like to yield, who had lived almost four-and-twenty years under so politic a king as his father; being also one who came partly by the sword; and had so high courage in all points of regality; and was ever victorious in rebellions and seditions of the people. The crown extreme

AFTER the decease of that wise and fortunate King, Henry the Seventh, who died in the height of his prosperity, there followed, as useth to do, when the sun setteth so exceeding clear, one of the fairest mornings of a kingdom that hath been known in this land or anywhere else. A young king, about eighteen years of age, for stature, strength, making, and beauty, one of the goodliest persons of his time. And though he were given to pleasure, yet he was likewise desirous of glory; so that there was a passage open in his mind, byly rich, and full of treasure, and the kingdom like glory, for virtue. Neither was he unadorned to be so in a short time. For there was no war, with learning, though therein he came short of his no dearth, no stop of trade, or commerce: it was brother Arthur. He had never any the least only the crown which had sucked too hard, and pique, difference, or jealousy with the king his now being full, and upon the head of a young father, which might give any occasion of altering king, was like to draw less. Lastly, he was incourt or council upon the change; but all things heritor of his father's reputation, which was great passed in a still. He was the first heir of the throughout the world. He had strait alliance white and red rose; so that there was no discon- with the two neighbour states, an ancient enemy tented party now left in the kingdom, but all men's in former times, and an ancient friend, Scotland hearts turned towards him: and not only their and Burgundy. He had peace and amity with hearts, but their eyes also; for he was the only France, under the assurance, not only of treaty son of the kingdom. He had no brother; which | and league, but of necessity and inability in the though it be a comfortable thing for kings to have, French to do him hurt, in respect that the French yet it draweth the subjects' eyes a little aside. king's designs where wholly bent upon Italy: so And yet being a married man in those young that it may be truly said, there had scarcely been years, it promised hope of speedy issue to succeed seen, or known, in many ages, such a rare conin the crown. Neither was there any queen-currence of signs and promises, of a happy and mother, who might share any way in the govern- flourishing reign to ensue, as were now met in this ment, or clash with his counsellors for authority, young king, called after his father's name, Henry while the king intended his pleasure. No such the Eighth.

VOL. I.-49

2 K





vidence of King Henry the Seventh was in all men's mouths; who being one of the deepest and most prudent princes of the world, upon the deliberation concerning the marriage of his eldest daughter into Scotland, had, by some speech uttered by him, showed himself sensible and almost prescient of this event.

By the decease of Elizabeth, Queen of England, | conjectures of wise men, so in this matter the prothe issues of King Henry the Eighth failed, being spent in one generation and three successions. For that king, though he were one of the goodliest persons of his time, yet he left only by his six wives three children; who reigning successively, and dying childless, made place to the line of Margaret, his eldest sister, married to James the Fourth, King of Scotland, descended of the same Margaret both by father and mother: so that by a rare event in the pedigrees of kings, it seemed as if the divine Providence, to extinguish and take away all envy and note of a stranger, had doubled upon his person, within the circle of one age, the royal blood of England by both parents. | This succession drew towards it the eyes of all men, being one of the most memorable accidents that had happened a long time in the Christian world. For the kingdom of France having been reunited in the age before in all the provinces thereof formerly dismembered: and the kingdom of Spain being, of more fresh memory, united and made entire, by the annexing of Portugal in the person of Philip the Second; there remained but this third and last union, for the counterpoising of the power of these three great monarchies; and the disposing of the affairs of Europe thereby to a more assured and universal peace and concord. And this event did hold men's observations and discourses the more, because the island of Great Britain, divided from the rest of the world, was never before united in itself under one king, notwithstanding also that the uniting of them had been in former times industriously attempted both by war and treaty. Therefore it seemed a manifest work of providence, and a case of reservation for these times; insomuch that the vulgar conceived that now there was an end given, and a consummation to superstitious prophecies, the belief of fools, but the talk sometimes of wise men, and to an ancient tacit expectation, which had by tra- | dition been infused and inveterated into men's minds. But as the best divinations and predictions are the politic and probable foresight and

Neither did there want a concurrence of divers rare external circumstances, besides the virtues and condition of the person, which gave great reputation to this succession. A king in the strength of his years, supported with great alliances abroad, established with royal issue at home, at peace with all the world, practised in the regiment of such a kingdom, as might rather enable a king by variety of accidents, than corrupt him with affluence or vainglory; and one that besides his universal capacity and judgment, was notably exercised and practised in matters of religion and the church: which in these times, by the confused use of both swords, are become so intermixed with considerations of estate, as most of the counsels of sovereign princes or republics depend upon them: but nothing did more fill foreign nations with admiration and expectation of his succession, than the wonderful, and, by them, unexpected consent of all estates and subjects of England, for the receiving of the king without the least scruple, pause, or question. For it had been generally dispersed by the fugitives beyond the seas, who, partly to apply themselves to the ambition of foreigners, and partly to give estimation and value to their own employments, used to represent the state of England in a false light, that after Queen Elizabeth's decease there must follow in England nothing but confusions, interreigns, and perturbations of estate, likely far to exceed the ancient calamities of the civil wars between the houses of Lancaster and York, by how much more the dissensions were like to be more mortal and bloody, when foreign competition should be added to domestical, and divisions for religion to matter of title to the crown.

« ForrigeFortsæt »