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XXXVIIL

His execu

Three days after the bill had received the royal assent the CHAP. Lord Chancellor, at the Protector's request, called a Council to deliberate about carrying it into effect. The Protector March 17. withdrew, "out of natural pity," during the deliberation, 1549. well knowing it would be resolved that his brother should die on the Wednesday following. He actually signed the warrant for the execution on that day. The second signature was that of Archbishop Cranmer, to whom it probably cost a pang to be concerned in such an affair of blood. The third was that of Lord Chancellor Rich, who rejoiced in the belief that his official life was now likely to be smooth and secure. The Admiral's offence certainly did not amount to more than an attempt to deprive Somerset of usurped authority, and his death added to the list of English legislative murders. There was retribution with respect to some of the most culpable agents in it. Somerset, before long, found verified the prophecy uttered at the time, that "the fall of one brother would prove the overthrow of the other." Cranmer himself perished miserably by an unjust sentence; and perhaps Rich suffered more than either of them, when, from the fear of similar violence, he resigned all his employments, and gave himself up to solitary reflection on the crimes he had committed. Seymour's execution was not looked upon with great horror at the time when it took place; and Bishop Latimer immediately preached a sermon before the King, in which he highly applauded it.

Protector.

The Chancellor was grievously disappointed in expecting Misconquiet times, from the bloody termination to the struggle for duct of the power which we have described. The Protector became more vain, presumptuous, and overbearing, and to the members of the Council, who, under the late King's will, ought to have been his equals, he behaved as a haughty master to his slaves. He had likewise brought great odium upon himself by the sacrilege and rapine through which he had obtained the site and the materials for his great palace, Somerset House; and general discontents had caused insurrections in various parts of England.

In a few months after Seymour's death, Lord Rich was Oct. 1549.

XXXVIII.

ities of Lord Chancellor

Rich.

CHAP. again thrown into the perplexity of making his election between rival factions. As we have before related*, the discontented members of the Council, headed by Ex-chancellor Wriothesley and Dudley Earl of Warwick, taking advantage of Somerset's unpopularity and weakness, had established a rival government at Ely House, in Holborn. Rich was at this time with the Protector at Hampton Court, and accompanied him to Windsor when the young Edward was removed thither, in the hope that "the King's name might be a tower of strength; "- but when he saw that Somerset was deserted by all parties in the country, and that his power was rapidly crumbling to pieces, he joined the malcontent Councillors, carrying the Great Seal along with him, and took an active part in supporting their cause.

His conduct on the fall of Somerset.

Being born and bred in London, being free of one of the companies, being related to some of the principal merchants, and the livery and apprentices being proud of his elevation, the Lord Chancellor, in spite of his bad private character, had great influence in the City, which then constituted the metropolis, and took the lead in every political convulsion. Having summoned the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and principal members of the Common Council to Ely House, he made them a long and powerful speech, showing how Somerset had usurped the Protectorship contrary to the will of the late King-how he had abused the power which he had unlawfully acquired - how he had mismanaged our foreign affairs, by allowing the infant Queen of Scots to be married into the royal family of France-how at home he had oppressed both the nobility and the people—and how, the only chance of rescuing the King from the captivity in which he was then held, and of saving the state, was for the Chancellor's fellowcitizens, ever distinguished in the cause of loyalty and freedom, to rally round the enlightened, experienced, and independent Councillors there assembled ;-in whom, by the law and constitution, was vested the right of governing the country in the King's name, till his Majesty had completed his 18th

Ante, Vol. I. p. 649.

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XXXVIII.

This speech was received with the most rapturous CHAP. applause, and cries of "Down with the Protector! live the King!-Long live the Council!-Long live the Lord Chancellor!"

A proclamation was immediately framed, which Rich was the first to sign, and which was the same day posted all over the city, calling upon all the true subjects of the King to arm in his defence, to obey the orders of his faithful Councillors, assembled at Ely House, and to take measures to prevent the Crown from being taken from his head by a usurper. When news of this movement reached Windsor, Oct. 1549. Somerset saw that his cause was desperate; he surrendered

at discretion, and in a few days he was a prisoner in the Tower.

This is the only occasion where Rich played more than a secondary part; and presently he was acting under the directions of the Earl of Warwick, with whom he had no difficulty in siding against Ex-chancellor Wriothesley; for if this stern Roman Catholic had gained the ascendency, not only would he have striven for a reconciliation with Rome, but he would himself have resumed the custody of the Great Seal. He therefore heartily concurred with Warwick in Takes part those proceedings after the fall of Somerset which were with Warmeant to mortify Wriothesley, and which soon deeply wounded his spirit, and brought him to his grave.

Rich speedily gained a complete insight into the character of Warwick, and felt himself very uncomfortable and insecure under his new master;-perceiving that, with an open and captivating manner, he was dark, designing, immoderately ambitious, and wholly unscrupulous and remorseless. He could not tell how soon his own turn might come to be transferred to the Tower; and he knew well that, notwithstanding all his services in the late crisis, if it should at any time suit the convenience of the new ruler to have a vacancy in the office of Chancellor, there would be no hesitation in creating it by cutting off the head of the Chancellor.

In the mean time, he felt that his only chance of safety was passive obedience,-while he secretly hoped that there

wick.

XXXVIII.

CHAP. would be another revolution in the political wheel, and that Warwick might be precipitated from his present height of Proceed- power. He accordingly took an active part in those proceedings against ings against Somerset, which terminated in his being dis

Somerset.

Lord

burns Ana

Arians.

missed from the Protectorship. He presided at the examinations of his former patron before the Council,—drew up the articles against him,-obtained his confession,-and brought in the bill of pains and penalties, by which he was deprived of all his offices, and sentenced to forfeit land to the value of 2000l. a year.

We cannot but admire, though puzzled to explain, the mildness of this proceeding. According to all precedent, Somerset ought now to have been attainted of high treason, and could not hope to leave his cell in the Tower till he was led out to execution. Let us charitably suppose that Rich, finding he could do so without endangering himself, put in a good word for the life of the man who had made him Lord Chancellor, urging upon Warwick that Somerset, if pardoned, would thenceforth be powerless, and that the present head of the state might add to his own influence, both with the young King and with the nation, by an act of clemency rather than of vengeance. When Somerset was afterwards pardoned, and restored to the Privy Council, Rich must, from selfish motives at any rate, have been pleased with the prospect of some check hereafter arising to the unbounded sway which Warwick seemed otherwise destined permanently to enjoy.

While fresh political feuds were engendered, the ChanChancellor cellor was for some time engaged in enforcing the new baptists and regulations respecting religious belief and religious worship. The Council, under his presidency, took cognizance as well of those who departed too far from the ancient standard of orthodoxy, as of those who adhered to it too rigidly; and a few Anabaptists and Arians were burnt, to show that the Reformers had a just abhorrence of heresy. But the chief difficulty was to deal with the numerous class of Roman Catholics, who had the Lady Mary, the heiress presumptive to the throne, at their head. A positive order was issued

that the mass should not be celebrated; and Dr. Mulet, her head chaplain, was committed to close custody in the Tower because, under her sanction, he disobeyed this order. Mary demanded the enlargement of her chaplain; the Chancellor wrote to her in the name of the Council, requiring her to obey the law. As she still remained intractable, the Chancellor, by order of the Council, paid her a visit at Copped Hall, in Essex, where she then resided, and delivered into her hand a letter from the King, peremptorily requiring her "to take a more earnest regard to the reformation of her family.' She received the King's letter on her knees as Rich delivered it-explaining, that the respect was paid to the writer, and not to its contents.

Rich declared the determination of the cabinet, that "she should no more use the private mass, nor do any other divine service than the law prescribed." She told him, "she would obey the King in any thing that her conscience permitted, and would gladly suffer death to do him good, but preferred to lay her head on a block rather than use any service different from that established at her father's death." She added, "I am sickly: I would not willingly die, but will do the best I can to preserve my life; but if I shall chance to die, you of the Council will be the cause of my death."

She then took her ring from her finger, and, on her knees, gave it to the Chancellor to present to the King as a token of her regard and duty. As the Chancellor was waiting in the court yard to depart, she accosted him from the window in a style not quite so dignified, but which rather gives us a favourable opinion of her frankness and good humour. "Send me back my comptroller," said she, "whom you have taken from me because he obeyed my commands; for since his depart

See the letter at full length, 1 St. Tr. 549., with the King's instructions to the Lord Chancellor and those who were to accompany him on this occasion. They were "to persuade her Grace that this proceeding cometh only of the conscience the King hath to avoid the offence of God, and of necessary counsel and wisdom to see his laws in so weighty causes executed." But they were "in the King's Majesty's name most strictly to forbid the chaplains either to say or use any mass or kind of service other than by the law is authorised." "Item, if ye shall find either any of the priests or any other person disobedient to this order, ye shall commit them forthwith to prison as ye shall think convenient." Surely it is rather unreasonable to expect that Mary should afterwards herself act on the principles of toleration.

CHAP.

XXXVIII.

His visit to

the Princess Mary.

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