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THE ACCESSION OF
LIFE OF LORD CHANCELLOR GARDYNER, FROM
Ir must be admitted that the earliest measures of Mary's reign, prompted by Gardyner, were highly praiseworthy. The depreciated currency was restored; a new coinage came out of sovereigns and half-sovereigns, according to the [July 6, 1553.] old standard ; the subsidy extorted from the late parliament was remitted; and, to discountenance puritanical severity, the festivities which distinguished the Court in the time of Henry VIII. were restored. No complaint could as yet be made of undue severity in punishing the late movement in favour of Queen Jane; for though she and her youthful husband, and various others, were convicted of treason, Northumberland only and two of his associates were actually executed.
The privilege of crowning the Sovereigns of England, we have seen, belongs to the Archbishops of Canterbury; but Mary would have considered it an insult to her mother's memory, and little less than sacrilege, to have permitted Cranmer to perform this rite, and he was in no situation to assert the claim of his see, as he was at present liable to be prosecuted as a traitor for signing the settlement to disturb Mary's succession, and for having actually supported the title of Queen Jane. The honour of anointing the Queen and placing the crown upon her head was conferred on Lord Chancellor Gardyner, who had been restored to his see of Winchester.
To please the people, he took care that the ceremony should be performed with great magnificence, ancient precedent
[SEPT. 30.] being strictly adhered to in the religious part of it; and the banquet in Westminster Hall gave high satisfaction to all who partook of it, whether Romanists or Reformers. Gardyner deserved still more praise for publishing, the same evening, a general pardon under the Great Seal (with a few exceptions) to all concerned in treasonable or seditious practices since the Queen's accession.
Hopes were entertained that his elevation to power had mitigated the sternness of his character, and that moderate and humane counsels would continue to distinguish the new reign. These hopes, probably, would not have been disappointed, had not the Chancellor formed a strong opinion that it was essentially
ad sigillandum et excendum ut Magnum Sigillum ipsius Dne Regine quousque aliud Magnum Sigillum cum nome et titulo Regine insculptum fabricari et de novo fieri possit,” &c.--Rot. Cl. 1 Mar.
necessary for the safety of the state that the new doctrines should be utterly suppressed, and that church government should be restored to the same condition in which it was before the rupture with Rome. He was no enthusiast; he was not naturally cruel; he was not bigoted in his creed, having several times shown that he could make profession of doctrine bend to political expediency. But even in the reign of Henry VIII. he had come to the conclusion that the privilege of free inquiry in religion was incompatible with the peace of society, and that the only safe policy was to enforce the established standard of faith. His own sufferings during the reign of Edward VI. had, no doubt, strengthened these views, and he was now prepared resolutely to carry through the most rigorous measures, any temporary display of liberality being intended only to facilitate the attainment of his object. He resolved, at the same time, to proceed with caution, and to wait till he had brought about a reconciliation with Rome and the restitution of the Catholic religion by authority of parliament, before resorting to the axe and the stake as instruments of conversion.
Meanwhile he himself and the other Bishops deprived during the last reign being restored, the heretical Archbishop of York and the Bishops of London, Exeter, and Gloucester were sent to prison, whither Cranmer and Latimer soon followed them. It should be recorded, however, that when some zealous Catholics urged the imprisonment of the celebrated foreign reformer, Peter Martyr, Gardyner, to his honour, pleaded that he had come over by an invitation from a former government, and furnished him with supplies to return to his own country in safety.
Parliament meeting on the 5th of October, the Chancellor, after celebrating a solemn mass of the Holy Ghost according to the ancient ritual, delivered, in presence of the Queen and the two Houses, an eloquent oration, in which he celebrated the piety, clemency, and other virtues of the reigning Sovereign, and called upon the legislature to pass the laws which were required, after the late dissensions and disturbances, for the good of the Church and the safety of the realm.
The first act which he proposed was most laudable, as it swept away all the newly created treasons, although it was considered by some an insidious attempt to restore the authority of the Pope, He had little difficulty in changing the national religion as to doctrine and worship; but there was a great alarm at the thought of restoring Papal supremacy, as this might draw along with it a restoration of the church lands, with which the nobles and gentry had been enriched.
In the Lords, there was no show of opposition to any proposed measure; but, notwithstanding great pains taken by Gardyner to manage the elections, there were symptoms of discontent exhibited in the House of Commons, which rendered it prudent that several bills brought in should be postponed.
The most strenuous opponent of the Catholic counter-revolution was that same Sir James Hales, the Judge of the Common Pleas, who, at the close of the reign of Edward VI., had risked his life by refusing to join in the illegal scheme for setting Mary aside from the succession to the Crown.
In vacation time he resided in Kent, where he acted as a magis trate; and presiding as chairman at the Michaelmas Quarter Sessions, held for that county, he gave [a. D. 1553.] charge to the grand jury to inquire of all offences touching the Queen's supremacy and religious worship, against the statutes made in the time of Henry VIII. and Edward VI., which he told them remained in full force, and parliament alone could repeal. In consequence, an indictment being found for the unlawful celebration of mass, contrary to the form of the statute in such case made and provided, Hales tried, convicted, and sentenced the defendant as the law required.
On the first day of the following term, the Judges were to be sworn in before the Chancellor in Westminster Hall, under their appointment by the new Sovereign; and Hales having, with the rest, presented himself to his Lordship, the following dialogue took place between them, highly characteristic of the individuals and of the age. Lord Chancellor.
Lord Chancellor.-“ Master Hales, ye shall understand, that like as the Queen's Highness hath heretofore conceived good opinion of you, especially for that ye stood both faithfully and lawfully in her cause of just succession, refusing to set your hand to the book, among others that were against her Grace in that behalf; so now, through your own late deserts against certain her Highness's doings, ye stand not well in her Grace's favour, and, therefore, before ye take any oath, it shall be necessary for you to make your purgation." Hales J.-" I pray you, my Lord, what is the cause?” Lord Chancellor.- Information is given that ye have indicted certain priests in Kent for saying mass.” Hales J.-—" My Lord, it is not so; I indicted none : but, indeed, certain indictments of like matter were brought before me at the last sessions there holden, and I gave order there as the law required. So I have professed the law, against which, in cases of justice, I will never, God willing, proceed, nor in any wise dissemble, but with the same show forth my conscience; and if it were to do again, I would do no less than I did.” Lord Chancellor." Yea, Master Hales, your conscience is known well enough; I know you lack no conscience.” Hales J.-“ My Lord, you may do well to search your own conscience, for mine is better known to myself than to you; and to be plain, I did as well use justice in your said mass case by my conscience as by law, wherein I am fully bent to stand in trial to the utmost that can be objected. And if I have therein done any injury or wrong, let me be judged by the law; for I will seek no better defence, considering chiefly that it is my profession.” Lord Chancellor.-—-" Why, Master Hales, although you had the rigour of the law on your side, yet ye might have regard to the Queen's Highness's present doings in that case. And further, although ye seem to be more than precise in the law, yet I think ye would be very loth to yield to the extremity of such advantage as might be gathered against your proceedings in the law as ye have sometimes taken upon you in place of justice, and if it were well tried, I believe ye should not be well able to stand honestly thereto." Hales J.-"My Lord, I am not so perfect but I may err for lack of knowledge. But, both in conscience, and such knowledge of the law as God hath given me, I will do nothing but I will maintain and abide in it; and if my goods, and all that I have, be not able to counterpoise the case, my body shall be ready to serve the turn, for they be all at the Queen's Highness's pleasure.” Lord Chancellor.-- Ah, sir, ye be very quick and stout in your answers. But as it should seem that which you did was more of a will favouring the opinion of your religion against the service now used; than for any occasion or zeal of justice, seeing the Queen's Highness doth set it forth as yet, wishing all her faithful subjects to embrace it accordingly; and where you offer both body and goods in your trial, there is no such matter required at your hands, and yet ye shall not have your own will neither." Hales J.-"My Lord, I seek not wilful will, but to show myself, as I am bound, in love to God, and obedience to the Queen's Majesty, in whose cause willingly, for justice sake, all other respects set apart
, I did of late, as your Lordship knoweth, adventure as much as I had.
And as for my religion, I trust it be such as pleaseth God, wherein I am ready to adventure as well my life as my substance, if I be called thereunto And so in lack of mine own power and will, the Lord's will be fulfilled.” Lord Chancellor.“ Seeing you be at this point, Master Hales, I will presently make an end with you. The Queen's Highness shall be informed of your opinion and declaration. And as her Grace shall thereupon determine, ye shall have knowledge. Until such time, ye may depart as you came without your oath ; for as it appeareth, ye are scarce worthy the place appointed.” Hales J.-“I thank your Lordship; and as for my vocation being both a burden and a charge more than ever I desired to take upon me, whensoever it shall please the Queen's Highness to ease me thereof, I shall most humbly, with due contentation, obey the same.”*
In this witty rencontre it must be confessed that the Chancellor had the worst of it; but the poor Puisne ere long had reason to regret his triumph, for not only was he dismissed from his office of Judge, but in a few days after he was committed to the King's Bench prison, where he remained in close custody till Lent in the following year, when he was transferred to the Compter in Bread Street. He was then sent to the Fleet, where he was frightened to such a degree by stories which the keeper told him of the torments in preparation for those who denied the supremacy of the Pope, that he attempted to commit suicide by stabbing himself;
* Somer's Tracts, 2 Coll. vol. xcv.
1 St. Tr. 714.
and when he was at last discharged, his mind was so much weakened by the hard usage he had undergone, that he drowned himself in a river near his own house in Kent.*
Gardyner incurred greater odium by advising, as a discouragement to the reformers, the execution of the Lady Jane Grey, and her youthful husband, Lord Guilford Dudley, a cruelty not palliated by Wyat’s rebellion, with which they had no privity. He behaved generously, however, to the Princess Elizabeth, and procured her release from the Tower, perhaps because she had, about this time, been induced to conform to the Catholic worship. Protestant school-master of Jane Grey and of Elizabeth was likewise protected by the Popish Chancellor of Mary; and the grateful testimony of Ascham in memory of his protector, who in days of danger had guarded 'the Muses' Bower,' is recorded in a spirit which Milton would not have disdained.”†
Where religion was not concerned, Gardyner showed himself a wise and even patriotic statesman. When the important question of the Queen's marriage came to [A. D. 1554.] be discussed, he strongly recommended to her choice a handsome Englishman, Courtenay Earl of Devonshire, so that the liberties and independence of the nation might not be endangered by an alliance with a foreign prince. Mary was at first inclined to take his advice, till piqued by the preference which Courtenay showed to Elizabeth, and alarmed by his dissolute character, she formed a determination to marry her cousin, Philip of Spain, from which Gardyner in vain laboured to divert her. She declared that “she would prove a match for all the cunning of the Chancellor ;" and having sent for the imperial ambassador, kneeling at the altar, she, in his presence, pledged her faith to Philip, and vowed that while she lived she never would take any other man for her husband.
Gardyner contrived to get an address voted to her from the House of Commons, which, after earnestly pressing her to marry, expressed strong apprehension of a foreign alliance. When told
* The coroner's jury very unjustly brought in a verdict against him of felo de sewhich gave rise to the famous question whether, “if a man kills himself, the crime of suicide is to be considered as complete in his lifetime or not ?" He held an estate as joint tenant with his wife, which it was contended was forfeited to the Crown by his felony. The Counsel for Lady Hales argued ineffectually that a man cannot kill kimself in his lifetime. The legal reasoning in Judge Hale's case (which is reported in Plowden!) is copied almost word for word in the dialogue between the gravediggers in Hamlet upon the parallel case of Ophelia :
1st. Clo." Here lies the water; good : here stands the man; good : If the man go to this water and drown himself, it is, will he, nill he, he goes : mark you that. But if the water come to him and drown him, he drowns not himself. Argal, he that is not guilty of his own death, shortens not his own life.”
20 Clo. " But is this law ?"