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he used to allot a month to a certain department of learning; at the end of which, he would take up other subjects in rotation, till he came round to his former courses.
This method he more especially observed in his theological studies; and he found his account in it. He was also an exact philosopher, was well as an able divine, and admirably versed in every branch of literature.
He was less distinguished, however, even for his erudition, than for his extraordinary dexterity and skill in business. When he was not more than five and twenty, he was occasionally admitted to speak upon some college-concerns before Archbishop Bancroft, who was exceedingly interested by his engaging wit and agreeable manners. At another time, he was deputed by the Master and Fellows of his College, as their court-agent, to petition James I. for a mortmain in augmentation of their maintenance : upon which occasion he not only succeeded in his suit, but was particularly noticed by his Majesty; as he told him long afterward, when he became his principal officer. In his twenty-seventh year, entered into orders; and accepted a small living, which lay beyond Bury St. Edmund's, upon the confines of Norfolk. In 1611, he was instituted to the rectory of Grafton-Regis in Northamptonshire, on the King's presentation, and the same year was recommended to the Chancellor Egerton for his chaplain; but he obtained his Lordship's leave to continue one year longer at Cambridge, in order to serve the office of Proctor of the University.* In
* He gave a magnificent and well-conducted entertainment to the Chancellor and the Spanish Embassador during his proctorship: upon which, Egerton told him, that he was fit to serve
1612, he was presented to the rectory of GraftonUnderwood in Northamptonshire by the Earl of Worcester, and the same year he took his degree of B. D. In 1613, he was made Precentor of Lincoln ; Rector of Waldegrave in Northamptonshire, in 1614; and within the three years immediately following, was successively collated to a prebend and residentiaryship in the church of Lincoln, and to prebends in those of Peterborough, Hereford, and St. David's.
In 1617, the Chancellor upon the day of his death called Mr. Williams to him, and told him, if he wanted money, he would leave him such a legacy in his will as should enable him to begin the world like a gentleman.' “ Sir," he replied, “ I kiss your hands : you have filled my cup full; I am far from want, unless it be of your Lordship’s directions how to live in the world, if I survive you." “ Well,” said the Chancellor, “ I know you are an expert workman. Take these tools to work with; they are the best I have :” upon which, he delivered to him certain books and papers.*
When Sir Francis Bacon succeeded to the Seals, he proposed to continue Mr. Williams in his chaplaincy; but he declined the offer. · At the same time, he was appointed King's Chaplain, and had orders to attend his Majesty in his northern progress : but the Bishop of Winchester obtained leave for him to stay and
a King;' and, to evince his sincerity in the compliment, took an early opportunity of making him known to one.
* These notes, Bishop Hacket informs us, he himself saw; and adds, that they were collections for the well-ordering of the High Court of Parliament, and the Court of Chancery, the Star-Chamber, and the Council-Board.'
take his doctor's degree,* for the sake of entertaining to Marco Antonio de Dominis Archbishop of Spalato, who had recently arrived in England, and designed to visit Cambridge at the ensuing Commencement. In 1619, he was collated to the deanery of Salisbury; and, the year following, removed to that of Westminster. This preferment he obtained through the interest of the Marquis of Buckingham, whom for some time he neglected to court, as we learn from Hacket, for two reasons; first, because he mightily suspected the continuance of the Marquis in favour at court; and secondly, because he saw that his Lordship was very apt suddenly to look cloudy upon his creatures, as if he had raised them up on purpose to cast them down.'
Once however, while he was in attendance upon the King, during the Marquis' absence, his Majesty abruptly asked him, When he was with Buckingham?' “ Sir," said the Doctor, “I have had no business to resort to his Lordship.' “ But,” replied the King, “ wheresoever he is, you must go to him about my business.” This he regarded as a hint to frequent the Marquis; to whom he was, subsequently, serviceable in promoting his marriage with the wealthy daughter of the Earl of Rutland. +
The Chancellor (Bacon) being removed from his office in May 1621, Dr. Williams was appointed
* The questions, which he maintained for his degree were, Supremus Magistratus non est excommunicabilis, and Subductio Calicis est mutilatio Sacramenti et Sacerdotii.
+ He reclaimed her Ladyship from the errors of the Church of Rome; in order to which, he drew up the Elements of the True Religion' for her use, and printed twenty copies of it under the signature of An Old Prebendary of Westminster.'
Keeper of the Great Seal the tenth of July following; and, in the course of the same month, was made Bishop of Lincoln, with the deanery of Westminster and the rectory of Waldegrave in commendam. Upon delivering the Seal, his Majesty was overheard to say, “ Now, by my soul, I am pained at the heart where to bestow this; for, as to my lawyers, I think they be all knaves.” Several persons had been thought of for this high office, particularly Sir James Leigh, Sir Henry Hobart, and the Earl of Arundel : but the person most likely to obtain it, was Sir Lionel Cranfield, Master of the Court of Wards. The King however, before he disposed of it, set Buckingham to ascertain it's just emoluments, and whether it had any claim to certain perquisites which some were solicitous to lop off. Cranfield, in his impatience to succeed, entreated the Marquis to be quick, and to advise concerning the matter with the Dean of Westminster; “ a sound and ready man,” he added, “ who was not wont to clap the shackles of delay upon a business.” Accordingly Williams, being requested to deliver in writing his sentiments upon the subject, speedily returned an account of the legal revenue of the office, with some annexed remarks. This paper was carried by Buckingham to the King, who having read it, said,
66 You name divers to me to be my Chancellor. Queen Elizabeth, after the death of Sir Christopher Hatton, was inclined in her own judgement, that the good man Archbishop Whitgift should take the place; who modestly refused it because of his great age, and the whole multitude of ecclesiastical affairs lying upon his shoulders. Yet Whitgift knew not the half that this man doth, in reference to this office.” The
“ Be you
Marquis, surprised at his Majesty's observation, replied; “ Sir, I am a suitor for none, but for him that is so capable in your great judgement.” satisfied then,” said the King, “ I think I shall seek no farther :” upon which, Buckingham immediately despatched a messenger to the Dean, acquainting him, “ that the King had a preferment in the deck for him.” Thus unexpectedly was he raised to this important appointment.
It's duties he discharged, by the assistance of able lawyers, which he judiciously procured, with extraordinary diligence and ability. When he first entered upon it, he had such a load of business, that he was forced to attend by candle-light in the Court of Chancery two hours before day, and to remain there till between eight and nine; after which, he repaired to the House of Peers, where he sat as Speaker till twelve or one.
Then, snatching a short repast, he returned to hear other causes in court, frequently till eight or nine at night. After this, when he came home, he perused what papers his secretaries brought to him; and immediately proceeded to prepare himself for the business of the following morning in the House of Lords. By such indefatigable industry, we are told, during his first year of office he determined more causes, than had been despatched in the seven preceding years.
In the Star-Chamber he behaved with greater lenity and moderation, than had been usual among the judges of that court. He excused himself from inflicting severe corporal punishments upon offenders, by saying, that · Councils had forbidden the Bishops from judicially meddling with blood :' and in fiscal fines his hand was so light, that the Lord Treasurer