For MAY, 1-792.

ART. I. Illuftrations of British Hiftory, Biography, and Manners, in the Reigns of Henry VIII. Edward VI. Mary, Elizabeth, and James I. Exhibited in a Series of Original Papers, felected . from the Manufcripts of the noble Families of Howard, Talbot, and Cecil, containing, among a Variety of interefting Pieces, a great Part of the Correfpondence of Elizabeth, and her Minifters, with George, the fixth Earl of Shrewsbury, during the fifteen Years in which Mary Queen of Scots remained in his Cuftody: with numerous Notes and Obfervations. By Edmund Lodge, Efq. Pursuivant of Arms, and F. S. A. Ornamented with Portraits, &c. In Three Volumes 4to. 31. 38. Boards. Nicol. 1791.

[ocr errors]

IT is is a reasonable and juft expectation, (how far it is answered in fact we will not at prefent inquire,) that collections of authentic, original, ancient papers, will be productive of great advantages to fucceeding generations. The editor, whose work is now before us, expreffes himself in the introduction with fo much energy on the fubject, that we fhall infert the few following lines:

They prefent to us a series of facts, too numerous, and too minute, to be inferted in the history of a country: yet on thefe com. munications the hiftorian muft in a great measure depend, as the fureft guides to truth, the only fafeguards against partiality, and the lights which will direct him to the first principles of his literary duty. Minute hiftorical facts are, to history, as the nerves and finews, the veins and arteries, are to an animated body: they may not, feparately, exhibit much of ufe, elegance, or juft proportion, but taken collectively, they furnish ftrength, fpirit, and existence itself: an hiftorian who hath neglected to study them knows but the worst part of his profeffion, and, like a furgeon who is ignorant of anatomy, finks into a mere manual operator. Unfortunately, however, the modern author of a general history ufually contents himself with compiling from the moft reputable of his predeceffors. He fees only the more bold and prominent features of the picture VOL. VIII.


he is about to copy, or to caricature, and heightens or depreffes them as his fancy, or rather a fort of party fpirit, leads him. He feems to think the fcale of his canvas too extenfive for the admiffion of delicate lights and fhades; but as he cannot do without light and fhade, he introduces them blended in large and diftorted maffes, and facrifices the truth of his fubject to the fplendor of compofition.'

Allowing the pertinence and propriety of these observations, it is yet to be regretted, that the service hereby rendered, whatever is the cause, appears often to be but of a partial kind; and the reader is fometimes involved, perhaps more than before, in perplexity and uncertainty.-Befide the benefit relative to history, Mr.Lodge takes notice of others which may be fuppofed to accrue from these gleanings of antiquity; fuch as,-anecdotes or characters of eminent perfons ;-the disclosure of the minute springs of political plans;-communication of obsolete customs; and a variety of circumstances of smaller importance, on which the apt phrafe, nuge antiqua, reflects no difcredit; which generally impart fome degree of useful knowlege, and, at the worst, afford an innocent and an elegant amufement.'-It appears to us, that the first two articles here enumerated, and particularly the fecond, however defirable in any other refpect, are immediately requifite for the hiftorian. The editor proceeds to speak of his own collection in unaffuming and modeft terms, which recommend it the more effectually to regard:

Our attention, (he obferves,) hath of late been fo frequently attracted in vain by pretences of new lights, and extraordinary dif coveries, as to render all promifes of that kind fufpicious as to the peculiar contents, therefore, of the following pages, their own merits must plead for them; they are before the public, and will meet with the reception which they deserve.-They will derive no additional credit from the editor's boafting, and can fuffer no injury from his filence.'

We proceed, therefore, with him, to take notice of the fources whence the papers have been obtained.-The manufcripts diftinguifhed by the title, "Talbot Papers," were extracted from fifteen volumes preferved in the library of the College of Arms, to which they were given, with many others of fingular curiofity, by Henry, the fixth duke of Norfolk, of the Howards; they contain upward of fix thousand original letters, to or from the fourth, fifth, fixth, and feventh Earls of Shrewsbury. The next are denominated "Howard Papers," because they have been buried, for above a century, in the multiplicity of MSS. belonging to the Norfolk family: they appear to be a fecond divifion of the former collection, confifting of five hundred letters, many of which relate to the fecret hiftory of Q. Mary's imprisonment.-The " Cecil Papers,"


[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

another fource from which these volumes are derived, came about forty years ago into the poffeffion of the editor's father. They comprize nearly one thousand original manuscripts, evidently detached from the treasure of ftate relics at Hatfield. Indeed, it is faid, there can be little doubt of their having been haftily fnatched from their proper repofitory by an illicit hand. Impreffed with this opinion, we are informed that the editor lately prefented them to the Marquis of Salisbury, and they are now in his Lordship's poffeffion.-To thefe united funds, we owe the selection which is here offered to the public.

These ancient materials are arranged, as nearly as their dates could be afcertained, in precife chronological order, and divided into four fections, according to the fucceffion of the monarchs to whofe reigns they refpectively belong. They are literally tranfcribed, even to the retention of their abbreviations; not, (fays this writer,) with that whimfical tafte which fuffers infcriptions to remain illegible, rather than remove the ruft which obfcures them; but for the fake of certain valuable intelligence with regard to our language which may be fairly expected from the varied orthography of an whole century.'An explanatory table is given, for the affiftance of those who may find any difficulties on this account. Notes also are added throughout, to iiluftrate particular paffages, and to afford other information and affiftance to the reader. To prevent an unreasonable increase of the marginal obfervations, Mr. Lodge concludes his introduction with fome additions to the many particulars of the houfe of Talbot, which are to be found in this work. His fhort narrative commences with George, the fourth Earl of Shrewsbury, whofe correfpondence opens the prefent collection.-This nobleman is memorable in the Englifh hiftory for his appearance in the field at the age of feventy years, and by a timely, but dangerous fervice, having the chief fhare in quelling Afke's rebellion, in the year 1536. On this preffing occafion, at a great distance from the court, and furrounded, as is here faid, by a barbarous people, who grew every hour more difaffected, (and reafon fufficient there was for difaffection to fuch a government as that of Henry VIII.) he ventured on the bold measure of raifing troops by his own personal authority, and had nearly fubdued the infurgents in Yorkshire, before the arrival of his pardon, which, from a prince of Henry's character, he was by no means fure of obtaining. This event in our history, no doubt, most of our readers recollect: we have now particularly noticed it, as it affords an opportunity of introducing a letter written to the Earl, on this occafion, by Lord Cromwell:

B z

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]


(No. 16. v. 1. p. 53.)

"My finguler good Lord,


"After my moit hertye recommendacyons, this fhall be to advyfe the fame of the recept of yo honourable l'res; the fight whereof, wt the demonstracyon of yo' nobyll courage & trewthe, hath fo co'ffortyd me, that whylys I lyve, &, yf I myght, after my death, I wool & woolde, honor you & yo' posteryte, as the man & most worthy Erl that ever fervyd a Prynce, & fuch a chefftayn as ys worthye eternall glory. My Lorde, I affure you I wrytt thys wt my veray hart ; & I pray God to gyve me fume occafyon to doo yow plefore whyll ye lyve, & to yor pofteryte, yf I outlyve yow. I woold ye knew as well as I how the Kyng's Highness reputyth your moft acceptable and loyel svyce, which ye fhall right well playve by the tenor of his gracyous lures to yow dyrectyd at thys tyme. My Lord, all fuch habylyments & muynyfitions for the warrys which ye wrote for, wt money plentye, ys alredye uppon the wey towardes yow, and fhall, God willing, be wt yow fhortlye. And thus of Lorde fend yor Lordshypp as long lyf, and aswell to fare, as I woold wyfh, and then ye fhould be in good helth, and but xxxte yeres of age. Wryttyn at Wyndfor, the ixth deye of Octobre, Anno H. VIII. XXVIII. wt the haftye and layferlefs hand of hym that ys your's in hert, THOM'S CRUMWELL.

[ocr errors]

To my veray good Lord my Lord of Shrewif bury, Lord Stewarde of the King's Houfhold."

Francis, the fifth Earl of Shrewsbury, was almoft entirely confined to a military life, of which we have fome detail in the letters during the reigns of Hen. VIII. Edw. VI. Mary, and the early years of Q. Elizabeth, who admitted him to her privy council, although he continued a Papift. However mistaken his principles were in this refpect, yet fince he regarded them as truth, it is to his honour that he fteadfaftly adhered to them:

Of the whole body of temporal peers, (it is here observed,) who had fo lately and unanimoufly fubfcribed to Mary's recognition of the papal authority, only this nobleman, and one more, (Viscount Montague,) could now be found to oppofe the revocation of that conceffion.'-This Earl, having buried two wives, made an overture of marriage to the Lady Pope, widow of the famous founder of Trinity college, Oxford. Some original letters, which paffed between thefe experienced wooers on that occafion, are extant in the unpublished Talbot MSS.: but the etiquette of courtship in thofe days required more time than could be fpared by two lovers, whofe united years made up fomewhat more than a century; and the good old Earl was arrested by death, when perhaps he had not made half his advance.'


George, the fucceeding Earl, is a prominent figure in the English hiftory. He was High Steward at the arraignment of the Duke of Norfolk; and, which was more diftinguifhing, the Queen of Scots was committed to his cuftody in the year 1569, a charge which he retained for a number of years. This great affair is the topic of many or moft of the letters in the fecond volume.-Mr. Lodge defcribes in ftrong terms, and with no little severity, the unpleasant, or rather the miferable. Situation of this nobleman.

In perpetual danger,. from the fufpicions of one princess and the hatred of another; devoted to a fervice which it is to be hoped his heart did not approve, vexed by the jealoufy and rapacity of an unreasonable wife, and by the exceffes and quarrels of his fons, from whom he was obliged to withdraw that authoritative attention, the whole of which was required by his charge; we shall view this nobleman, through the long space of fifteen years, relinquishing that fplendor of public fituation, and those blandishments of domeftic life, which his exalted rank and vast wealth might have commanded, to become an inftrument to the worst of tyrants, for the execution of the worst of tyrannies. Be it remembered, however, in apology for him, that he lived in a time when obedience to the will of the monarch was confidered as the crown of public virtue, when man, always the creature of prejudice, instead of disturbing the repofe of fociety with his theory of natural liberty, erred with equal abfurdity, but lefs danger, in the practice of unconditional fubmiffion.'

The laft fentence of the above paragraph is well expreffed; it is pointed, and furely it is, at leaft, objectionable.-What can be more dangerous, or indeed deftructive, to the fafety, comfort, improvement, and virtue, of mankind, than unconditional fubmiffion? In fuch a ftate, they are no longer reafonable creatures!-Or can it poffibly be wrong, by wife and gentle measures, to guard them against oppreffion, or excite them to be watchful over their liberties, that they may render their lives as eafy and comfortable as they can? Virtuous governors will certainly be defirous of contributing to fuch a purpose: they will regard it as the only real purpofe for which they are admitted to any degree of fuperiority.

We cannot refrain from inferting the account here given of Elizabeth, fecond wife of this Earl of Shrewsbury:

• Unfated with the wealth and the careffes of three hufbands, she finished her conquefts by marrying the Earl of Shrewsbury, the richest and most powerful peer of his time. "Him the brought (fays a right reverend author, who thought it became him to speak kindly of her because he had preached her great grandfon's funeral fermon) to terms of the greatest honour and advantage to herself and her children; for he not only yielded to a confiderable join

• Daughter of John Hardwick, of Hardwick, Derbyshire. B 3


[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »