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Art. I. Illustrations of Britis Hiftory, Biography, and Manners,
in the Reigns of Henry VIII. Edward VI. Mary, Elizabeth, and James I. Exhibited in a series of Original Papers, selected from the Manuscripts of the noble Families of Howard, Talbot, and Cecil, containing, among a Variety of interesting Pieces, a great Part of the Correspondence of Elizabeth, and her MiniAters, with George, the fixth Earl of Shrewsbury, during the fif, teen Years in which Mary Queen of Scots remained in his Cur. tody: with numerous Notes and Observations. By Edmund Lodge, Esq. Pursuivant of Arms, and F. S. A. Ornamented
with Portraits, &c. In Three Volumes 4to. 31. 39. Boards. · Nicol. 1791. It is a reasonable and juft expe&ation, (how far it is answer
ed in fact we will not at present inquire,) that collections of authentic, original, ancient papers, will be productive of great advantages to succeeding generations. The editor, whose work is now before us, expresses himself in the introduction with so much energy on the subject, that we shall insert the few fol. lowing lines :
• They present to us a series of facts, too numerous, and too mipute, to be inserted in the hitory of a country: yet on these com. munications the historian must in a great measure depend, as the furest guides to truth, the only safeguards against partiality, and the lights which will direct him to the first principles of his literary duty.' Minute historical facts are, to history, as the nerves and finews, the veins and arteries, are to an animated body: they may 1.0t, separately, exhibit much of use, elegance, or juft proportion, but caken collectively, they furnish trength, spirit, and existence iself: ap historian who hath negiected to study them knows but the worst part of his profession, and, like a surgeon who is ignorant of anatomy, fięks into a mere manual operator. Unfortunately, however, the modern author of a general history usually contents himself with compiling from the most reputable of his predecessors.. He fees only the more bold and prominent features of the picture ,
he is about to copy, or to caricature, and heightens or depresses them as his fancy, or rather a sort of party spirit, leads him. He seems to think the scale of his canvas too extensive for the admission of delicate lights and Mades; but as he cannot do without light and fhade, he introduces them blended in large and distorted masses, and facrifices the truth of his subject to che splendor of compo. fition.'
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 byt of a partial kind; and the reader is sometimes involved, perhaps more than before, in perplexity and uncertainty.---Beside the benefit relative to history, Mr.Lodge takes notice of others which may be supposed to accrue from these gleanings of antiquity; such as,--anecdotes or characters of eminent persons ;-the disclosure of the minute springs of political plans ;-communication of obsolete cukoms; and a variety of circumstances of smaller importance, on which the apt phrase, nugæ antiqua, reflects no discredit; which generally impart some degree of useful knowlege, and, at the worst, afford an innocent and an elegant amusement.' It appears to us, that the first two articles here enumerated, and particuJarly the second, however desirable in any other respect, are immediately requisite for the historian. The editor proceeds to speak of his own collection in unassuming and modest terms, which recommend it the more effe&tually to regard :
. Our attention, (he observes,) bath of late been fo frequently attracted in vain by pretences of new lights, and extraordinary dil. coveries, as to render all promises of that kind suspicious : 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 boasting, and can fuffer no injury from his filence,
We proceed, therefore, with him, to take notice of the sources whence the papers have been obtained.The manuscripts diftinguished by the title, “ Talbot Papers," were extracted from fifteen volumes preserved in the library of the College of Arms, to which they were given, with many others of singular curiosity, 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 seventh 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 second division of the former collection, confifting of five hundred letters, many of which relate to the secret history of Q. Mary's imprisonment. The “ Cecil Papers,"
another source from which these volumes are derived, came about forty years ago into the poffefion of the editor's father, They comprize nearly one thousand original manuscripts, evia dently detached from the treasure of state relics at Hatfield, Indeed, it is said, there can be little doubt of their having been hastily snatched from their proper repository by an illicit hand. Impreffed with this opinion, we are informed that the editor lately presented them to the Marquis of Salisbury, and they are now in his Lordship's possession.-To these 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 ascertained, in precise chronological order, and divided into four sections, according to the succeslion of the monarchs to whose reigns they respectively belong. They are literally transcribed, even to the retention of their abbrevia tions; 'not, (says this writer,) with that whimsical taste which suffers inscriptions to remain illegible, rather than remove the rust which obscures them; but for the sake 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 assistance of those who may find
any difficulties on this account. Notes also are added throughout, to illustrate particular passages, and to afford other information and assistance to the reader. To prevent an unreasonable increase of the marginal observations, Mr. Lodge concludes his introduction with some additions to the many particulars of the house of Talbot, which are to be found in this work. His short narrative commences with George, the fourth Earl of Shrewsbury, whose correspondence opens the present collection.-This nobleman is memorable in the Englith history for his appearance in the field at the age of seventy years, and by a timely, but dangerous service, having the chief share in quelling Aske's rebellion, in the year 1536. On this pressing 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 reason fufficient there was. for disaffe&tion to such a government as that of Henry VIII.) he ventured on the bold measure of raising troops by his own personal authority, and had nearly subdued the insurgents in Yorkshire, before the arrival of his pardon, which, from a prince of Henry's character, he was by no means sure of obtaining. This event in our history, no doubt, most of out readers recollect : we have now particularly noticed it, as it affords an opportunity of introducing a letter written to the Earl, on this occasion, by Lord Cromwell :
(No. 16. v. 1. p. 53.) “My finguler good Lord,
1536. “ After my moit hertye recommendacyons, this shall be to advyse the same of the recept of yoʻ honourable l'res; the fight whereof, we the demonttracyon of yo nobyll courage & trewthe, hath so co'ffortyd me, that whylys I lyve, &, yf I myght, after my death, I wool & woolde, honor you & yc posteryte, as the man & moft worthy Erll that ever servyd a Prynce, & such a chefftayn as ys worthye eternall glory. My Lorde, I assure you I wryti thys we my veray hart ; & I pray God to gyve me sume occasyon to doo yow plesure whyll ye lyve, & to yor pofleryte, yf I outlyve yow. I would ye knew as well as I how the Kyng's Highness reputyth your most acceptable and loyel szyce, which ye shall right well playve by the tenor, of his gracyous līres to yow dyrectyd at thys tyme. My Lord, all such habylyments & muynyfitions for the warrys which ye wrote for, we money plentye, ys alredye uppon the wey towardes yow, and Mall, God willing, be ue yow shortlye. And thus of Lorde fend yoLordshypp as long lyf, and aswell to fare, as I woold wysh, and then ye should be in good helth, and but xxxte yeres of age. Wryttyn at Wyndsor, the ixth deye of Octobre, Anno H. VIII. XXVIII°, ni the haftye and layserless hand of hym that ys your's in hert,
THOM'S CRUMWELL. TO
my veray good Lord my Lord of Shrewilbury, Lord Stewarde of the King's Houfhold.”
Francis, the fifth Earl of Shrewsbury, was almost entirely confined to a military life, of which we have some 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 respect, yet since he regarded them as truth, it is to his honour that he steadfastly adhered to them : • Of the whole body of temporal peers, (it is here observed,) who had so lately and unanimously subscribed to Mary's recognition of the papal authority, only this nobleman, and one more, (Viscount Montague,) could now be found to oppose the revocation of that concession.'- This Earl, having buried iwo wives, made an overture of marriage to the Lady Pope, widow of the famous founder of Trinity college, Oxford. Some original letters, which passed between these experienced wooers on that occasion, are extant in the unpublished 'Talbot MSS.: but the etiquette of courtship in those days required more time than could be spared by two lovers, whose united years made up somewhat more than a century; and the good old Earl was arrested by death, when perhaps he had not made half his advance.'
George, George, the succeeding Earl, is a prominent figure in the English history. He was High Steward at the arraignment of the Duke of Norfolk; and, which was more distinguishing, the Queen of Scots was committed to his custody in the year 1569, a charge which he retained for a number of years. This great affair is the topic of inany or most of the letters in the second volume. -Mr. Lodge describes in strong terms, and with no little severity, the unpleasant, or rather the miserable fituation of this nobleman.
• In perpetual danger, from the fufpicions of one princess and the hatred of another; devoted to a service which it is to be hoped his heart did not approve, vexed by the jealousy and rapacity of an unreasonable wife, and by the excesses and quarrels of his sons, from whom he was obliged to withdraw that authoritative atten. tion, the whole of which was required by his charge ; we shall view this nobleman, through the long space of fifteen years, relinquishing that splendor of public fituation, and those blandishments of domestic life, which his exalted rank and vast wealch might have commanded, to become an instrument 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 10 the will of the monarch was considered as the crown of public virtue, - when man, always the creature of prejudice, instead of disturbing the repose of society wi.h his theory of natural liberty, erred with equal absurdity, but less danger, in the practice of uncondicional submillion.'
The last sentence of the above paragraph is well expressed ; it is pointed, and surely it is, at least, objectionable.- What can be more dangerous, or indeed destructive, to the safety, comfort, improvement, and virtue, of mankind, than uncon. ditional submillion? In such a state, they are no longer reasonable creatures ! -Or can it poslibly be wrong, by wise and gentle measures, to guard them against oppression, or excite them to be watchful over their liberties, that they may render their lives as easy and comfortable as they can? Virtuous governors will certainly be desirous of contributing to such a purpose: they will regard it as the only real purpose for which they are admitted to any degree of superiority.
We cannot refrain from inserting the account here given of Elizabeth *, second wife of this Earl of Shrewsbury :
• Unrated with the wealth and the caresses of three husbands, she finished her conquests by marrying the Earl of Shrewsborv, che richest and most powerful peer of his time. “ Him The brought (says a right reverend author, who thought it became him to speak kindly of her because he had preached her great grandson's funeral sermon) to terms of the greatest honour and advantage to herself and her children; for he not only yielded to a considerable join. * Daughter of John Hardwick, of Hardwick, Derbyshire.