« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
commissioners to collect the fines accruing from penal laws and manorial forfeits; improved the customs from 6,000l. to 35,000l. pér ann.; and finally, surrendered up his patent of Master of the Court of Wards to the King. After Salisbury's death, however, his prodigality to his Scottish courtiers, and with it the clamors of his English subjects, increased; and his second parliament deeming the exhausted state of the finances a national grievance, refused to grant him any farther supplies, unless he would promise to apply them exclusively to the public service.*
A frugal administration of the finances was not the only service rendered to his country by the Earl of Salisbury, while he was at the head of the treasury. He patronised every ingenious invention, and every useful discovery, for the benefit of trade and navigation: encouraged the fishing on our coasts by natives, strictly forbidding all foreigners to interfere; and extended his attention to Ireland, which derived signal advantages from his political and commercial regulations. ↑
At length, his incessant application to the various duties of his high station gradually brought on a decline, which reduced him to a very weak condition: he was next attacked by a tertian ague, a disorder which seems to have been extremely fatal in England at the beginning of the seventeenth century, In the spring of the year 1612, his physicians pronounced, that he had a complication of disorders, of which the most dangerous were the dropsy and the
* Upon this, they were dissolved in 1614.
† Of these one was, the offer of rewards for the tilling of uncultivated lands.
scurvy.' For these they advised the Bath waters. Before he set out for that city, the King paid him several visits, and expressed his sense of his great merit, as well as his personal affection for him, by many tokens of royal favour. He even parted from him in tears, and protested to the lords in waiting, that he should lose in him the wisest counsellor and the best servant in Christendom.' At this time, James had no hopes of his recovery, and therefore he ordered that no man should disturb him, by speaking to him upon public business:' but on hearing that he was much better, in testimony of the satisfaction he received from this intelligence, he sent Lord Hay express to Bath to deliver to him a token of remembrance, as well as an assurance of the continuance of his royal favour.*
* The present was a fair diamond set, or rather hung square, in a gold ring without a foil; and it was accompanied by a declaration, That the favour and affection the king bore him was, and should be ever, as the form and matter of that ring, endless, pure, and most perfect.' The writers of this minister's Life have been very careful to preserve this anecdote; but they have not explained the true motive of sending the present, independent of the King's personal regard. The foible of the Earl of Salisbury, it must be recollected, was his love of power, which he carried to such excess, that "he could not bear a rival near the throne." In this disposition, though he was a ready discerner, and in general a great rewarder, of merit in others, it was only when it did not stand in competition with his own. His ungenerous conduct to Sir Walter Ralegh sprung from jealousy; and even in his last illness, anxious to retain his office as long as life remained, he was continually despatching expresses to court to give the king hopes of his recovery, and to escape the mortification of being superseded before his decease. To make him easy upon this head, James sent one of the Lords of the Bed-Chamber to him with the above present and message.
But these accounts were wholly unfounded: Bath had done him no service, and therefore he was advised to return to London. He was so exhausted, however, that he could proceed no farther than Marlborough, where he died at the house of his friend Mr. Daniel, May 24, 1612. His body being embalmed was brought to Hatfield + in Hertfordshire, where it was interred with the magnificence, which in those days was considered as essential to the obsequies of rank and station; and a superb monument was erected, some time afterward, to his memory in Hatfield church.
In industry and capacity, says Granger, he was scarely inferior to his father; but he was more artful, more insinuating, and far more insincere. King James used to call him his little beagle,' alluding to the many discoveries made by his extraordinary sagacity.
Censured as he has been by the unsupported invectives of Weldon and Wilson, the scandalous chroniclers of that age, he must be pronounced both a man of quicker parts, and a writer and speaker of greater spirit, than Lord Burghley. His character of artifice and dissimulation may, perhaps, have originated in the address, with which he penetrated the secrets of foreign powers, and evaded occasionally their inconvenient scrutiny; and the correspondence,
*He encountered death with the most philosophical tranquillity. "Ease and pleasure," said he, "quake to hear of death; but my life, full of cares and miseries, desireth to be
† A royal manor, which the King had given him in exchange. for Theobalds. He built the magnificent house at this place, where most of his furniture is still preserved.
which he carried on with the Scottish King prior to Elizabeth's death, he justified by it's effect upon her tranquillity. "What (said he) could more quiet the expectation of a successor, so many ways incited to jealousy, than when he saw her ministry, that were so inward with her, wholly bent to accommodate the present actions of state for his future safety, when God should see his time?" He was properly,' says Dr. Birch (in his Historical View of the Negotiations, &c.') a sole minister, though not under the denomination of a favourite, his master having a much greater awe of than love for him; and he drew all business both foreign and domestic into his own hands, and suffered no ministers to be employed abroad but who were his dependents, and with whom he kept a most constant and exact correspondence. But the men, whom he preferred to such employments, justified his choice, and did credit to the use he made of his power.' In short, he was as good a minister, as his prince would suffer him to be, and as was consistent with his own security in a factious and corrupt court; and he was even negligent of his personal safety, whenever the interest of the public was at stake. His post of Lord Treasurer, at a time when the exchequer was exhausted by the King's boundless profusion, was at tended with infinite trouble to him, in concerting schemes for raising the supplies; and the manner in which he was obliged to raise them, with the great fortune which he accumulated to himself, exposed him to much detraction and popular clamor which followed him to his grave: though experience showed, that the nation sustained an important loss by his death, as he was the only minister of state of real
abilities during the whole course of that reign. He has been thought too severe and vindictive in the treatment of his rivals and enemies: but the part, which he acted toward the Earl of Essex, seems entirely the result of his duty to his mistress and the nation. It must, however, be confessed, that his behaviour toward the great and unfortunate Sir Walter Ralegh is an imputation upon him, which still remains to be cleared up.'*
He wrote some notes upon Dr. Dee's' Discourse on the Reformation of the Calendar.'
He married Elizabeth, the sister of the unhappy Brooke Lord Cobham, by whom he had a daughter Frances (married to Henry Clifford, Earl of Cumberland) and an only son William, second Earl of Salisbury. His descendent James, the seventh Earl, was created Marquis of Salisbury, in 1789.
* A more elaborate apology for this statesman was addressed, soon after his decease, to King James by Sir Walter Cope. See Gutch's Collectanea Curiosa, Vol. I., from which, as well as from the account of his death in Peck's Desiderata, the ambitious may derive a salutary lesson. From his Secret Correspondence' with James (published by Lord Hailes in 1766) it should be added, the noble editor infers, that he was no less solicitous to maintain his own power, than to settle the succession to Elizabeth.' He left behind him, also, various speeches and memorials highly illustrative of his conduct and character.