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gard him much more as a minister of state than as a dispenser of justice.*
A few days after his appointment, the first parliament of the new reign was to assemble; and to gratify the vanity of his patron, he put the Great Seal, to [Nov. 4, 1547.] a patent directing, in the King's name, that the Protector should be placed in the House of Lords on a stool, on the right hand of the throne, under the cloth of state, non obstante the statute 31 H. 8., by which all Peers were to have place and precedence according to their rank in the peerage."
When the first day of the session arrived, the infant King being placed on the throne, and the Protector on his stool, the Commons were summoned to the bar; but, unfortunately, we are disappointed in our wish to know the rest of this interesting ceremony, for the Parliament Roll abruptly terminates with these words, "The Lord Rich, being Lord Chancellor, began his oration to the effect as follows-." We may conjecture that, after some compliments to the humane temper and mild rule of the late Sovereign, and the hopeful virtues of his living image, warm congratulations were offered upon the abilities and worth of the Lord Protector, by whose stool the throne was now propped, and to whom the exercise of the royal prerogatives had been deputed till his Majesty should be of maturer years.
In justice to the Lord Protector and the Lord Chancellor it should be mentioned, that they began with repealing some of the most fantastical and tyrannical of Henry's statutes respecting treasont, and modifying an act whereby any King of England coming to the throne during his minority might, on reaching the age of twenty-four, vacate ab initio all statutes assented to in his name. It was provided, that henceforth there should only be a power to repeal such statutes, leaving untouched all that had been done under them.
But the grand object was to further the Reformation. Lord Rich, since the grant to him of Lighes and the other dissolved abbeys, had become a sincere reformer, and was anxious that the breach with Rome might be widened as much as possible, so that
* Some of his decrees of an arbitrary character, are to be found in the Registrar's Book; e. g. "Cope v. Watts :-It is ordered by the Lord Chancellor that the plaintiff shall upon his knees ask forgiveness of the defendant, at Daventry, openly, upon such market day as the Lord Chancellor by his letters to some justice of the peace thereabouts to be directed shall appoint. Then follows a direction for payment of 101. by the plaintiff to the defendant by instalments of five marks. Reg. Lib. A., 3 & 4 Ed. VI., f. 44.
† The bill for this purpose being considered of great importance, it was referred to a joint Committee of both Houses. They were appointed to meet at two o'clock after dinner, in order to treat and commune on the purport of the said bill.”—1 Parl. Hist. 384. The hour of dinner, which had been eleven in the good old times, was now twelve, and sometimes as late as one. It was not then foreseen that a time would come when the two Houses meeting for public business at five, and half-past seven being the hour of dinner, at seven the one House would break up, and the other would be deserted.
there might be no danger of his share of the plunder of the church being wrested from him by a counter revolution in religion. He therefore zealously supported the measures which were brought forward under the auspices of Cranmer for introducing the Lutheran system with modifications into England. Successively he laid on the table bills for establishing the King's power to appoint Bishops; for dissolving chantries; for repealing the bloody act of the Six Articles; for allowing priests to marry, still with a recital that "it were more commendable for them to live chaste and without marriage, whereby they might better attend to the ministry of the Gospel, and be less distracted with secular cares;" and a bill for uniformity of service and administration of the sacraments, whereby the mass book was purified of its errors, and the beautiful Liturgy of the Church of England was established nearly such as it has subsisted down to our own days.
The Lord Chancellor had, ere long, to determine with which of the two brothers he would side, the Duke of Somerset or Lord Seymour of Sudeley; for a mortal rivalry had sprung up between them. That quarrel was begun by their wives. Lord Seymour having married the Queen Dowager so soon after the King's death, that had she immediately proved pregnant it was said, a doubt would have arisen to which husband the child belonged,— the Lady Protectress professed to be much shocked at this indecorum, but was, in reality, deeply mortified that the wife of a younger brother should take the pas of her, and raised the question whether, by a disparaging alliance, the reginal precedence was not lost?
This controversy was terminated by the death of the Queen Dowager in childbed. But Lord Seymour himself was ambitious and presumptuous, and dissatisfied with the power he enjoyed as Lord High Admiral,-being now a widower, he aspired to marry the Lady Elizabeth, who was certainly attached to him, and whose reputation had been a little scathed by the familiarity to which she had admitted him.* He likewise insisted that Somerset could not, according to constitutional principles, be Pro[A. D. 1549.] tector of the realm and guardian of the royal per
* From the indignant denial by Elizabeth of the reports then circulated, they are believed to be untrue; but certainly the courtship was not conducted with much delicacy. Her governess being examined upon the subject, stated that the moment he was up he would hasten to Elizabeth's chamber "in his nightgown and barelegged if she were still in bed "he wold put open the curteyns, and make as though he wold come at hir;" "and she wold go farther in the bed so that he cold not come at hir." If she were up, he "wold ax how she did, and strike hir upon the back or the buttocks famyliarly." Parry the cofferer also says, "she told me that the Admirale loved her but too well;" at one time as he came into her room while she was beginning to make her toilette, she was obliged to run behind the curtains, "her maidens being there;" that "the Quene was jelowse on hir and him, and that suspecting the often accesse of the Admirale to her, she came sodenly upon them wher they were all alone, he having her in his armes."-See 7 Ling. 34 n. The Council deemed it prudent to dismiss her governess.
son; and during Somerset's absence in the Scottish war, he prevailed upon the young King to write a letter to the two Houses, intimating his wish to be put under the care of his younger uncle. But the protector arriving from the North, and expressing a determination to crush his rival, notwithstanding the ties of blood,Lord Rich at once agreed to concur in the necessary measures for that purpose.
On the 19th of January, 1549, the Admiral was committed to the Tower of London by order of the Council, and, according to the usage of the times, the Chancellor and other Councillors went there to interrogate him upon the charges brought against him. He repelled them with disdain, and required that he should be confronted with his accusers, or, at least, have a copy of their depositions; but he was told that the demand was unprecedented, unreasonable, and inadmissible. Under the direction of the Lord Chancellor, articles were regularly drawn up against the Admiral for treason,-chiefly on the ground that, with the aid of one Sharington, the Master of the Mint at Bristol, who was to coin false money for him, he had laid a plan for an insurrection to carry off the King and to change the present form of government. He, denying the fact, insisted that the charge did not amount to treason; for the Protector's power being usurped, contrary to the will of the late King founded on an act of parliament, resistance to it was lawful.
A bill of attainder against Seymour was, however, laid on the table by the Lord Chancellor. To take from himself the responsibility and odium of the proceeding, he then summoned the Judges and King's Council*, and a question was put to them, "whether the charges, or any of them, amounted to treason?" The expected answer was given, "that some of them amounted to treason," and the bill proceeded.
The principal evidence consisted of Sharington's conviction, on his own confession; and several Peers, rising in their places,—to please the Protector, who was present in the House,-repeated evidence which they had before given before the Council, to show the Admiral's dangerous designs. The bill passed the Lords without a division or dissenting voice, but met with a very unexpected opposition in the Commons. There the first principles of natural justice were beginning to be a little attended to, and several members, to the horror of the old courtiers, contended that it was unfair to legislate by bill of attainder without evidence, and to condemn a man to death who had not been heard in his defence. The Peers, hearing of this factious opposition, twice sent a message to the Commons, "that the Lords who were personally acquainted with the traitorous designs of the Admiral would, if required, repeat their statement to the nether House." There were a few ultra-radical members still not satisfied. Thereupon
* Viz. the Kings Serjeants, and the Attorney and Solicitor General.
another power in the state, to resist which no one was yet so hardy as to venture, was called into action, and the Protector sent a message to the Commons, in the King's name, declaring it to be the opinion of his Majesty that it was unnecessary to hear the Admiral at the bar of the House, and repeating the offer of the evidence which had been considered so satisfactory by the Lords. On receipt of this message there was a cry of "Divide! divide!" and a division immediately taking place, the bill was passed by a majority of near 400. There were only nine or ten mem
bers who had the courage to vote against it.*
Three days after the bill had received the royal assent, the Lord Chancellor, at the Protector's request, called a Coun[MARCH 17.] cil to deliberate about carrying it into effect. The Protector withdrew, "out of natural pity," during the deliberation, 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 faer 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.
The Chancellor was grievously disappointed in expecting quiet times from the bloody termination to the struggle for 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 much 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 again thrown into the perplexity of making his election be[OCT. 1549.] tween rival factions. As we have before related†,
*2 & 3 Ed. 6. c. 18. Burnet, vol. ii. p. 99. 1 Parl. Hist. 587. 1 'St Tr. 479. † Ante, Vol. I. Chap. XXXV.
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.
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 fellow-citizens, ever distinguished in the cause of loyalty and freedom, to rally round the enlightened, experience 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 year. This speech was received with the most rapturous applause, and cries of "Down with the Protector!-Long 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 [OCT. 1549.] this movement reached Windsor, 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 ascendancy, not only would he have striven for a