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ever, she forbore either to listen to his enemies, who were numerous, or to disgrace him; and in the second year of her reign she sent him to Brussels, with Lord Paget, to bring over Cardinal Pole.
During the remainder of this reign, Cecil continued in a private station, only attending his duty in parliament as knight of the shire for the county of Lincoln; where, though he frequently opposed the measures of government (particularly, a bill brought in for confiscating the estates of those, who had fled on account of religion) he was held in such respect by the Queen's ministers, especially by Pole, that he was never molested either for his religious or his political sentiments. When Elizabeth succeeded to the throne, for his tried service to her Majesty he was made Secretary of State and a Privy Councillor ; and was the first sworn of her council at Hatfield, where she resided upon her coming to the crown.
In her first parliament considerable difficulties arising about reforming the national religion, for the better satisfaction of the members a conference on Sir William's suggestion was held at Westminster, by the old and new Bishops and other learned men, upon some questions drawn up principally by himself touching the exercise of the new faith. This produced the form of worship, which has ever since been established in the English church.
His next care was, to remedy the abuses in the currency of the realm. For this purpose he called in all the base money, and ordering a new coinage, placed the gold and silver specie upon an improved footing. With respect to foreign affairs, it was his great object to guard against the machinations of the Catholic powers; and the protection of the Reformed
religion in Scotland he justly thought of the highest consequence to this end. He was one of the Commissioners, who effected the Convention of Leith and the Treaty of Edinburgh, so advantageous to the English interests. As a reward for this service, in 1560, upon the death of Sir Thomas Parry, he was made Master of the Wards; and the same year was sent with Dr. Wotton to Scotland, to negociate with the Bishop of Valence and the Count de Randan a peace between England, Scotland, and France. This commission they executed successfully, but the French court subsequently refused to ratify it.
Cecil's influence, now, increased daily at the council-board; and assured of the support of Elizabeth, who beside her high opinion of his political abilities, was under considerable obligations to him for having given her intelligence of the motions of her enemies during the preceding reign, he even ventured to oppose himself to the Earl of Leicester, His cautious system indeed of avoiding open hostilities, and carrying on secret negociations and party intrigues in the neighbouring countries, was upon the whole the most correspondent to the inclinations of his royal mistress; and though Leicester and her other favourites occasionally led her to the adoption of more spirited measures, and thus gained temporary triumphs over Cecil, his influence was upon the whole the most powerful during his entire ministry. His antagonists, however, at first prevailed; and these being in league with the Popish zealots, some of whom Elizabeth had allowed to retain their seats in the council, Cecil was accused of haying written or patronised a book, found upon his table, containing scandalous reflexions on the whole body of the nobi
lity and upon the failure of this and some other dark intrigues, his adversaries basely plotted against his life, often hiring assassins to take him off.* To their inveterate malice, indeed, he would probably have fallen a victim, if he had not been firmly supported by Russel Earl of Bedford, and Sir Nicholas Bacon.t
* From these he narrowly escaped, at one time by going down the back-stairs, when a ruffian was actually waiting for him at the foot of the great stairs of the palace; and at another, by a want of resolution in the assassin, who being alone with him in his chamber, and grasping a poignard in his hand, was still unable to perpetrate the meditated murther.
Sir Nicholas Bacon, born in 1510, first distinguished himself in the reign of Henry VIII. by presenting to that prince the plan of a seminary for the education of youth of family, in order to qualify them for the public service; the outlines of which were, that after studying in a college the elements of natural and political law and the institution of government, those who should have distinguished themselves by superior talents and address should be sent abroad under our embassadors, while others might be retained at home to write the history of our foreign negociations and of domestic national events. Mr. Bacon's highest promotion in the law (for which he had been educated) in the reign of Henry VIII., was the post of Attorney to the Court of Wards, which he held likewise under Edward VI. In the reign of Mary, to avoid the troubles of the times, he resided abroad, and had the honour to correspond privately with the Princess Elizabeth, who upon her accession nominated him one of the eight Protestant Privy Councillors, supplementary to the Old Council, whom for political reasons she did not choose immediately to remove. To this honour she added that of knighthood; and soon afterward Heath, Archbishop of York and Chancellor of England, having refused to comply with her Majesty's orders respecting the reformation of religion, the seals were given to Sir Nicholas Bacon, with thẻ title of Lord Keeper.
As he came into office upon the Protestant interest, so he firmly supported all those, who were embarked in the same cause.
The Queen, likewise, began to be jealous of Leicester's towering ambition; and conscious perhaps of her unjustifiable partiality, prudently advanced Cecil in honours and confidence, as a check at once upon her own passions and upon those of her favourite. With this view, she conferred upon him the dignity of a peer, by the title of Baron Burghley; upon which his enemies began to contend, who should bé first reconciled to him. He farther, also, recommended himself to her Majesty, by his assiduity in watching all the measures of the Queen of Scotland, whose friends were for the most part the secret enemies of Elizabeth.
This abandoned princess, from the time that she
With this view he favoured the succession of the house of Suffolk, in opposition to the claim of Mary Queen of Scots; and as this succession, in the event of Elizabeth's death without issue, was the principal object of the secret cabals at court, he of course rendered himself extremely obnoxious to the Earl of Leicester. But, regardless of menaces or intrigues, he boldly adhered to his friends; and he and Sir William Cecil may be truly said to have been, reciprocally, the deliverers of each other. Bacon performed the first good office to Cecil, as above stated; and when the Queen, under Leicester's influence, had ordered Bacon to confine himself solely to the business of his tribunal, Cecil intercepted the farther progress of her Majesty's displeasure, and restored him to her favour.
Sir Nicholas continued for upward of twenty years to enjoy his office with an unsullied character, and the highest reputation. He had much indeed of the penetration, judgement, eloquence, and professional knowledge of his son, the celebrated Lord Bacon; and, if he fell short of him (as who has not done?) in literary accomplishments, surpassed him in qualities of a far higher consideration, prudence and integrity. About the expiration of that period, he was suddenly taken off by a violent cold, to the great grief of the Queen and the whole nation, in 1579.
was detained prisoner in England, thought every measure warrantable which had a tendency to restore her to her paternal throne, to gratify her personal resentment against her unkind cousin, or to promote the re-establishment of the Romish religion in both kingdoms. Accordingly, conspiracy after conspiracy was set on foot by her friends and agents; and, at length, the design of marrying the Duke of Norfolk completed her ruin.
This nobleman was the eldest son of Henry Earl of Surrey.* Queen Mary had restored him in blood, and, on the death of his grandfather, he succeeded to the title of Duke of Norfolk. When Elizabeth ascended the throne, she made him a Knight of the Garter, and bestowed upon him many other marks of her royal favour: but his ambitious project of succeeding to the English crown being avowed by Leicester, he was taken into custody, and from that moment regarded with a jealous eye. Upon his going over to Cecil's party however, and promising to renounce all intercourse with the Queen of Scots, he was released.
But no tie of honour, or of gratitude, could keep him within the bounds of his duty. He renewed his correspondence with Mary, entered into a contract of marriage with her, transmitted money to her friends in Scotland to support her cause, and took such unguarded measures for her release, that Burghley's spies quickly procured sufficient grounds to accuse him of high treason. Upon this, he was a second
Of whom some account will be found in the Life of his father, Thomas Duke of Norfolk.