« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
EDWARD REMOVED TO WINDSOR.
the 1st of October a proclamation appeared with the signature of Somerset, commanding all the king's subjects with all haste to repair to Hampton Court, “in most defensible array, with harness and weapons, to defend his most royal person, and his most entirely beloved uncle, the Lord Protector, against whom certain hath attempted a most dangerous conspiracy.” The king and Somerset were at Hampton Court; and with them were Cranmer and Paget; Petre and Smith, the two secretaries of state ; and Cecil, the private secretary of the Protector. Warwick and his associates obtained possession of the Tower of London, removed the lieutenant, and placed one of their own friends in his place. The Journal of Edward relates the counter-movement on the part of the Protector : “ The next morning, being the 6th of October and Saturday, he commanded the armour to be brought down out of the armoury of Hampton Court, about five hundred harnesses, to arm both his and my men; with all the gates of the house to be rampier'd-people to be raised.” From Hampton Court on that day the Protector wrote to lord Russell, the privy seal, who had the command of the army in the west of England, and required him to hasten with his power" to the defence of the king's majesty." The answer must have been a death-blow to Somerset's reliance upon any effectual support in the hour of his necessity. Lord Russell and sir William Herbert replied, in a joint letter, in which they say that, “having this day received advertisement from the lords, whereby it is given us to understand that no hurt nor displeasure is meant towards the king's majesty, and that it doth plainly appear unto us that they are his highness's most true and loving subjects, meaning no otherwise than as to their duties of allegiance may appertain ; so, as in conclusion, it doth also appear to us, that this great extremity proceedeth only upon private causes between your grace and them.” They therefore declare that they have levied a power to ensure the safety of the king, and the preservation of the State, “which, whilst this contention endureth, by factions between your grace and them, may be in much peril and danger.” There is one sentence in this letter which shows the extreme imprudence of Somerset, in appealing from the hostility of the nobility to the support of the people: “Your grace's proclamation and billets sent abroad for the raising of the commons we mislike very much. The wicked and evil disposed persons shall stir, as well as the faithful subjects.” Warwick and his confederates had endeavoured to obtain the countenance of an organised body, the aldermen and common-council of London; and had demanded from them the aid of two thousand men. Somerset had sought to move in his favour the scattered population, --slow to move except under bold leaders, and difficult to control when set in motion. A copy of one of the billets sent abroad has been preserved : * “Good peopleIn the name of God and king Edward, let us rise with all our power to defend him and the Lord Protector against certain lords and gentlemen, and chief masters, which would depose the Lord Protector, and so endanger the king's royal person ; because we, the poor commons, being injured by the extortion of gentlemen, had our pardon this year by the mercy of the king and the goodness of the Lord Protector; for whom let us fight, for he loveth all just and true gentlemen wbich do no extortion, and also the poor com
* No. 12, vol. ix. in State Paper Office.
RUSSELL TAKES PART AGAINST SOMERSET.
monalty of England. God save the king and my Lord Protector, and all true lords and gentlemen, and us the poor commonalty.” There was another handbill, dropped in the streets of London, inscribed on the back, "Read it, and give it forth.” Thus was it sought to move the public opinion, in days when it was of small avail; and could produce little but riot and disorder, if stirred into action. But even these rude attempts to create a public voice were not without their effect. In a letter to the lords of the Council at London, dated the 9th of October, Russell and Herbert say, that in their journey towards London, “the countries were everywhere in a roar that no man wist what to do."
On the night of the 6th of October Edward was moved to Windsor Castle: “ That night," he says in his Journal," with all the people, at nine or ten o'clock of the night, I went to Windsor; and there was watch and ward kept every night." The proclamation of Somerset, that all loving subjects should repair to the king in most defensible array, had been neutralised by the decision of Russell and Herbert—no doubt a previous arrangement-to take part with the enemies of the Protector. In their letter of the 9th from Andover, they say, “God was the guide of our journey ; for if we had not been here at this time, there had been raised five or six thousand men at the least, to have gone to Windsor; besides the uncertain rage that the commons might have taken upon this occasion. But, as God would, the gentlemen of these parts, hearing of our being here, have stayed upon our setting forwards, and divers of them have sent to us for our opinions, wherewith we have satisfied them.” Somerset, the day after he removed the king to Windsor, wrote a letter of conciliation to the lords at London, in which he said, “ye shall find us agreeable to any reasonable conditions that you will require; for we do esteem the king, and the wealth and tranquillity of this realm, more than all other worldly things, yea, than our own life.”
On that day, the 7th, these lords addressed a letter to those few of the council who were at Windsor, in which they say, “if the said duke will, as becometh a good subject, absent himself from his majesty, be contented to be ordered according to justice and reason, and disperse that force which is levied by him, we will gladly commune with you. .. Otherwise, if we shall see that you mind more the maintainance of that one man's ill-doings than the execution of his majesty's laws and common order, we must make other account of you than we trust we shall have cause.” The threat worked its intended effect. The king, writing no doubt under direction, on the 8th, pleads for his uncle in these words : “We pray you, good cousins and counsellors, to consider, as in times past you have every of you in his degree served us honestly at sundry times, so hath our said uncle, as you all know; and by God's grace may, by your good advices, serve us full well hereafter. Each man hath his faults; he his, and you yours; and if we shall hereafter as rigorously weigh yours as we hear that you intend with cruelty to purge his, which of you shall all be able to stand before us?” If these were Somerset's words, he must have known that they would be wasted upon Rich, the crafty chancellor; upon Southampton, expelled by himself from that office; upon Warwick, his deadly rival. They had with them St. John, Northampton, Arundel, Shrewsbury-powerful nobles, some of whom hated Somerset as much for his support of the innovations in religion, as for
his hasty temper; but most especially for his popularity. Cranmer, Paget, and Smith were still around the falling man. They made one more effort to break his fall. They wrote, that he was indifferent about his office, provided the king and the realm were well served; but that as he was called to the place, by their advice, and the consent of the nobles of the realm, it was not reasonable that he should be thrust out in violent sort. They add, “ Marry, to put himself simply into your hands, having heard as he and we have, without knowing upon what conditions, is not reasonable. Life is sweet, my lords, and they say you seek his blood and his death.” The one friend who ren ained to him, “ faithful found among the faithless,"—Sir Thomas Smith,exhorted them to moderation : “I trust no man seeketh his blood, who hath, as ye know, rather been too easy than cruel to others.” He bas a touching allusion to the death of Somerset's brother, as if he would infer that the Protector had not to bear the odium of that state-necessity-by praying to them “that this realın be not made in one year a double tragedy.” All these appeals were in vain. The power was in the hands of those who could command a military force far outnumbering those who wore “the armour brought down out of the armoury at Hampton Court." They wrote two secret letters. One to the young king was calculated to flatter him into the belief that the exercise of his authority would restore the realm to perfect quiet, by the removal of Somerset from his protectorship and governorship: “These titles and special trust were committed to him during your majesty's pleasure; and upon condition that he should do all things by advice of your council.” The other letter to Cranmer, Paget, and Smith, was intended to terrify them into obedience to a secret message which was sent to them by sir Philip Hoby, who had recommended himself to the lords in London by playing false. Sir Philip Hoby was also the bearer of a public message to Somerset and the council at Windsor, that the lords meant no ill to the duke, either to his person or his goods. Sir Thomas Smith, who is the authority for this, says that,“ upon this, all the aforenamed there present wept for joy, and thanked God, and prayed for the lords. Mr. Comptroller (sir William Paget] fell down on his knees, and clasped the duke about the knees, and weeping, said, 'Oh, my lord, ye see now what my lords be." * Upon this, Somerset consented that his guards should be removed, and his servants dismissed. The next day he was arrested, with the one honest friend of the council, sir Thomas Smith, and his secretary Cecil. It is one of the painful passages of Cranmer's life that his name is signed, with that of Paget, to the exulting communication to the lords that their victim is secured ;-"and, for because his chamber was hard adjoining to the king's bed-chamber, he is removed to the tower which is called the lieutenant's, which is the high tower next adjoining to the gate of the middle ward--a very high tower: and a strong and good watch shall be had about the same.”
“ On Monday, the 13th of October, the duke was brought to London as if he had been a captive, carried in triumph.” Thus Hayward writes. In the “ Chronicle of the Grey Friars ” there is a bitter record of the fall of this champion of the Reformation : “Item, the 14th day at after-noon was
* Harleian MS. quoted in Tytler, vol. i. p. 239.
SOMERSET CONVEYED TO THE TOWER.
brought the traitor from Windsor, with a great company of lords and gentlemen, and many horses, with their men with weapons: and came in at St. Giles' in the field, at his desire ; for because he would not come by the place that he had begun; and pulled down divers churches and the cloister in Paul's, to build it withal.” * “ The place that he had begun ” was
In the proclamation issued by the council against the Protector, it was alleged,“ that he was
ambitious, and sought his own glory, On
as appeared by his building of most sumptuous and costly buildings." + The accusers of Somerset had themselves desecrated too many churches and cloisters, to object to the fallen man that he had committed the spoliation in which every courtier had been
engaged from the first hour of the sup(22 pression of the abbeys. But in the
eyes of the people, especially of those who clung to the ancient faith, his destruction of the charnel-house of St. Paul's--although it was an abomination in the heart of a populous city
- would be held as sacrilege ; and the removal of the great cloister, covered with pictures of the Dance of Death,” would excite the indignation of many who had gazed upon “the loatbly figures of our dead bony bodies," as More describes them, there painted in the time of Henry VI.; and had read “the metres or poesy of the Dance,” by John Lydgate. But with us of the present day, who lament over what we regard as a wanton destruction of a curious work of art, it must not be forgotten that these pictures were opposed not only to the puritanic feelings of the Reformers, but, like many other matters belonging to the ancient Church, were not consistent with a strict morality. The verses of Lydgate were founded upon
what Warton calls “a sort of spiritual masquerade, anciently celebrated in churches ;" and some of the figures, as handed down in exquisite wood-cuts, ill accorded with serious ideas, and
Somerset House. (From the original collection of drawings, by John Thorpe, in the Library of Sir John Soane's Museum.)
Publication of the Camden Society, p. 65.
+ Holinshed, p. 1058.
HIS HUMILIATION AND RELEASE.
occasionally overleaped the bounds of decency. * Nevertheless the statesmen of the Reformation too often outraged the better feelings of our nature in their zeal against what they called superstition; and Somerset, armed with his brief authority, did not play more fantastic tricks than any other great man would bave played in the same office. Putting aside these tokens of an irreverent rapacity, there is little to be found in the Articles exhibited against him which calls for the indignation of after times. The law-officers would complain that he had interfered with their delays of justice; the members of the council that he had insisted too strongly on his own opinions; the nobles and gentry that he had said that the avarice of gentle
" men gave occasion for the people to rise, and that it was better for them to die than to perish for want.” † But in these Articles there is nothing objected to Somerset that could be construed into treason ; ånd scarcely anything that could be proved as an abuse of the authority with which, wrongly or rightly, he had been invested. In those days the sovereign was his own minister; and Somerset stood in the place of the sovereign. In the very heat and turmoil of the movement against him, the Protector sends out an order to the governor of Calais to dispatch gunners to Boulogne, which was threatened by the French. The order is, indeed, countersigned by Cranmer, and three other counsellors that were with him at Hampton Court on the 4th of October ; but we cannot doubt that the Protector acted upon his own responsibility in this matter, as he must have done in every case of emergency. On the 13th of October, the letters patent to Somerset, for the governorship of the king's person and the protectorship, were revoked. His almost regal authority was at an end. There can be no doubt that if the shadow of a charge of treason could have been preferred against him, Somerset's head would then have been forfeited. He remained a prisoner in the Tower till the 6th of February, 1550 ; when he was released upon payment of a fine of ten thousand pounds; having signed articles of submission, humiliating in the extreme. Life was sweet to the degraded man. Cecil, Smith, and others of his friends, were also released. On the 4th of November the parliament assembled.
Such outrages as had occurred in the summer were to be restrained in future by the terrors of the law; and a statute, fearful enough in its enactments, was rapidly passed. All persons assembling to the number of twelve, having an intention to offer violence to members of the privy council, or to alter the laws for religion or any other statutes, who did not disperse upon proclamation, were to be held guilty of high treason. If twelve persons should assemble for attempts to break down the fences of any inclosure; or unlawfully to have common way in any inclosed ground or park ; or to destroy deer; or to pull down houses ; or to abate rents,—such attempts were declared to be felony, without benefit of clergy. Forty persons assembling for such acts were held to be traitors. Any persons under the number of twelve, so assembling, were liable to fine and imprisonment. Copyholders refusing to assist in dispersing such assemblies were to forfeit a life interest in their copyholds ; and farmers were to forfeit their farms to the landlords. A proclamation
* Douce, “Illustrations of Shakspeare,” vol i. p. 131. + See the Articles in Burnet. No. 46 of Records.'
#3 & 4 Ed. VI. c. 5.