Cecil, William

, lord Burleigh, an illustrious statesman of the sixteenth century, descended from the ancient and honourable family of Sitsilt, or Cecil, of Alterennes, in Herefordshire, was the son of Richard Cecil*, master of the robes to Henry VIII. by Jane, daughter and heiress of William Hickington, of Bourne, co. Lincoln, esq. He was born in the house of his grandfather, David Cecil, at


This Richard, by the interest of his father, David Cecil, or Cyssel, of Stamford, in Lincolnshire, esq. was preferred in the eighth year of Henry VIII. to be one of the pages of the crown. In 1520 he waited on the king at that famous interview with the king of France, between Calais and Guiennes; and in 1530, being groom of the robes to that king, obtained a grant of the office of constable of Warwick-castle, then in the crown. In 3335, being one of the grooms of the wardrobe, he had a grant of the office f bayliff of the king’s water called Wittlcsey-mere, and the custody of the swans, and of those waters called Great Crick and Merys, in the counties of Cambridge, Lincoln, Huntingdon, and Northampton, for the term of thirty years, after the expiration of the term granted to David Cyssell his father. In 1539 he was sheriff of Rutlandshire. In 1540, being written Richard Cecyll of Hurley, in the county of Northampton, esq, he had a grant to him, his heirs, and ass-igns for ever, of the site of St. Michael’s priory near Stamford, and the church, and 299 acres of arable land, lying in the parish of St. Martin’s, in Stamford, in the county of Northampton. In 1542, being then yeomaa of the wardrobe, he was made yeoman of the king’s manors of Nassington, Yarwel, and Upton, in the county of Northampton, for life. In 1544 he purchased the manor of Esyngdon, in the county of Rutland, then also in the crown, as a parcel of the earl of Warwick’s lands, and the following year he surrendered his custody of Warwickcastle. He remained yeoman of the robes to king Edward VI. to tke last day of his life, which was the nineteenth of May, 1552; and dying at court, his body was interred in the parish church of St. Margaret’s Westminster. In the month of April, 1553, a commission was issued to sir Richard Cotton, sir Ralph Sadler, and sir Walter Mildmay, knights, together with Edmund Pidgeon, clerk of the wardrobes, any three or two of them, to take an account of Jane Cecil, auJ. sir William Cecil, knt. administrators of the testament of Richard Cecil, for certain robes, apparel, and jewels of the king, in the custody of the said Richard. His widow, who survived him thirty-five years, was a very grave, religious, and virtuous lady, delighting much in works of piety and charity, as well in her life-time as at her decease, March 10, 1587, aged eightyseven. The lord-treasurer Burl^fc caused to be erected at the upper end of the north chancel in St. Martin’s church at Stamford, a noble monument to the memory of his parents; and by it is his own.

| Bourne, in Lincolnshire, Sept. 13, 1520, and was first educated at the grammar-school at Grantham, whence he afterwards removed to Stamford. On May 27, 1535, he entered of St. John’s-college, Cambridge, and was no less distinguished by the regularity of his life, than by an uncommonly diligent application to his studies. Finding several persons of eminent talents at that time students there, this inspired him with such a thirst for learning, that he made an agreement with the bell-ringer to call him up at four o’clock every morning, and this sedentary life brought on a humour in his legs, which, although removed with some difficulty, his physicians considered as one of the principal causes of that inveterate gout with which he was tormented in the latter part of his life. Dr. Nicholas Medcalfe, who was at this time master of the college, was his principal patron, and frequently gave him money to encourage him; but the strong passion he had to excel his contemporaries, and to distinguish himself early in the university, was the chief spur to his endeavours. At sixteen he read a sophistry lecture, and at nineteen a Greek lecture, not for any pay or salary, but as a gentleman for his pleasure, and this at a time when there were but few who were masters of Greek, either in that college or in the university. But though he applied himself with so much assiduity to Greek literature, he laid up at the same time a considerable stock of general knowledge, having then no particular predilection to any single branch of science.

About 1541, his father placed him in Gray’s-inn, with a view to the profession of the law, where he pursued the same indefatigable application, until by an accidental display of his knowledge, he became known at court. One O’Neil, an Irish chief, brought to court two of his chaplains, who falling in with Mr. Cecil, engaged in a dispute with him on the power of the Roman pontiff, in which he had so much the superiority, that the matter was mentioned to Henry VIII. who expressed a desire to see him, admired his abilities, and gave him the reversion of the place of custos brevium.

Such early encouragement diverted Mr. Cecil from the profession of the law, and his marriage with the sister of the celebrated sir John Cheke, who introduced him to the earl of Hertford, afterwards duke of Somerset, probably directed his views to politics. In the beginning of the | reign of Edward VI. he came into possession of his office of custos brevium, worth 240l. a year, and having married, as his second wife, Mildred, daughter of sir Anthony Cook, his interest at court became more considerable. In 1547, his patron the protector duke of Somerset, bestowed on him the place of master of requests, and took him with him in his expedition into Scotland, in September of that year, where he was present at the battle of Musselburgh, and very narrowly escaped a cannon-shot. On his return to court, Edward VI. advanced him to the high post of secretary of slate, which he enjoyed twice in that reign, first in 1548, and then, after an interval, in 1551, but historians are not agreed in these dates, although what we have given appear to be pretty near the truth. When the party was formed against the protector, Mr. Cecil shared in his fall, which followed soon afterwards, and was sent to prison in November 1549, where he remained three months.

On his being liberated, he was again introduced to court, where his acknowledged abilities regained him his office, under the duke of Northumberland, the enemy and accomplisher of the ruin of his old patron the duke of Somerset. This re-appointment took place, as we have noticed, in September 1551, and in October following he was knighted, and sworn of the privy-council. He has been much blamed for this transfer of his services, as a sacrifice of his gratitude to his interest; and many excuses, palliations, and even justifications, have been urged for him. The best seems to be that his pretensions to the promotion were founded, not on his servility and dependence on one or the other of these great men, but on his superior fitness for the office. It is universally allowed that he possessed great abilities, and his credit now increased with the young king, for whom he is said to have written many of those papers, &c. which are generally attributed to Edward. The princess Mary affected on one occasion to discover this, for when a letter from his majesty was presented to her on her obstinate adherence to the popish religion, she cried, “Ah! Mr. Cecil’s pen took great pains here.

Sir William Cecil acted \yith such caution and prudence in the various intrigues for the crown on the death of king Edward, that on queen Mary’s accession, although known to be a zealous protestaut, he remained unmolested in | person, property, or reputation. Rapin has given a very unfair colouring to sir William’s conduct at this critical period. After stating that he waited upon the queen, was graciously received, and might have kept his employment, if he would have complied so far as to have declared himself of her majesty’s religion, he closes with the following remark: “He was nevertheless exposed to no persecution on account of his religion, whether his artful behaviour gave no advantages against him, or his particular merit procured him a distinction above all other protestants.” As to the artfulness of his behaviour, it will best appear from the answer he gave to those honourable persons, who by command of the queen communed with him on this subject, to whom he declared, “That he thought himself bound to serve God first, and next the queen; but if her service should put him out of God’s service, he hoped her majesty would give him leave to chuse an everlasting, rather than a momentary service; and as for the queen, she had been his so gracious lady, that he would ever serve and pray for her in his heart, and with his body and goods be as ready to serve in her defence as any of her loyal subjects, so she would please to grant him leave to use his conscience to himself, and serve her at large as a private man, which he chose rather than to be her greatest counsellor,” The queen took him at his word, and this was all the art that sir William used to procure liberty of conscience for himself; unless we should call it art, that he behaved himself with much prudence and circumspection afterwards. Nor is it true, as insinuated by Rapin, that he was the only protestant unmolested in this reign. Among others, the names of sir Thomas Smith, and the celebrated Roger Ascham, may be quoted; but as Mary’s bigotry increased with her years, it may be doubtful whether those would have been long spared. Almost the last act of her life was an attempt to kindle the flames of persecution in Ireland.

During the reign of Mary, sir William Cecil represented the county of Lincoln; and was active in the mollifying of a bill for confiscating the estates of those who had fled the kingdom for their religion, and while thus employed, he carried on a private correspondence with the princess Elizabeth, the presumptive heir to the crown. In these transactions he seems to have abated somewhat of that caution imputed to him by historians, and certainly | encountered some danger; but his character, bold, spirited, and open, seems to have afforded him protection, while he refers his courage to a higher source. In his diary, he says, “I spoke my mind freely, whereby I incurred some displeasure. But better it is to obey God than man.

All this was very gratefully acknowledged by Elizabeth, on her accession to the throne, Norember 16, 1558. The first service that he rendered her was on that day, when he presented her with a paper, consisting of twelve particulars, which were necessary for her to dispatch immediately. At the time of her sister’s decease, queen Elizabeth was at her manor of Hatfield, whither most of the leading men repaired to her; and on the 20th of the same month, her council was formed, when sir William Cecil was first sworn privy-counsellor and secretary of state; and as he entered thus early into his sovereign’s favour, so he continued in it as long as he lived; which if in one sense it does honour to the abilities and services of Cecil, it was in another no less glorious to the queen his mistress, who, in this respect, did not act from any spirit of partiality or of prepossession, but with that wisdom and prudence which directed her judgment in all things. She saw plainly that sir William Cecil’s interests were interwoven with her own, and that he was fittest to be her counsellor whose private safety must depend upon the success of the counsel he gave; and though there were other persons, who were sometimes as great or greater favourites than Cecil, yet he was the only minister whom, she always consulted, and whose advice she very rarely rejected. The first thing he advised was to call a parliament, for the settlement of religion; and caused a plan of deformation to be drawn with equal circumspection and moderation; for, though no man was a more sincere protestant, yet he had no vindictive prejudices against papists, nor did he on the other hand lay any greater weight upon indifferent things, than he judged absolutely necessary for preserving decency and order. It was his opinion that without an established church, the state could not at that time subsist; and whoever considers the share he had in establishing it, and has a just veneration for that wise and excellent establishment, cannot but allow that the most grateful reverence is due to his memory.

The remainder of his administration would in fact be a history of that memorable reign, and in such a sketch as | the present, we can advert only to the leading events. He had not been long seated in his high office, before foreign affairs required his care. France, Spain, and Scotland, all demanded the full force of his wisdom and skill. Spain was a secret enemy; France was a declared one, and had Scotland much in her power. By the minister’s advice, therefore, the interest of the reformed religion in Scotland was taken under Elizabeth’s protection. This produced the convention of Leith; and Cecil, as a remuneration for his services in this affair, obtained the place of master of the wards, Jan. 10, 1561, an office which he did not take as a sinecure, but of which he discharged the load of business with patience and diligence to the satisfaction of all. In his management of the house of commons, sir William exhibited equal caution, address, and capacity. The question of the future succession to the crown was often brought forward, sometimes from real and wellfounded anxiety; sometimes from officiousness; and often from factious motives. On this subject both the sovereign and the minister preserved an unbroken reserve, from which neither irritation nor calumny could induce him to depart. Perhaps this reserve, on his part, arose from his deference to the queen, but it seems more likely that his advice influenced her behaviour on this critical point. There were no less than three claimants publicly mentioned, viz. the queen of Scots, the family of Hastings, and the family of Suffolk; and the partizans of each of these were equally vehement and loud, as appears by “Leicester’s Commonwealth,” Doleman’s “Treatise of the Succession,” and other pieces on the same subject. The queen observed a kind of neutrality, but still in such a manner as sufficiently intimated she favoured the first title, or rather looked upon it as the best, notwithstanding the jealousies she had of her presumptive successor. This appeared by her confining John Hales, who wrote a book in defence of the Suffolk line, and by imprisoning one Thornton, upon the complaint of the queen of Scots, for writing against her title. The secretary kept himself clear of all this, and never gave the least intimation of his own sentiments, farther than that he wished the question of the succession might rest during the queen’s life, or till she, thought proper to determine it in a legal way.

Sir William early penetrated into the hostile feelings of II. of Spain; but he advised his mistress to keep ou | her guard against that monarch; and yet not to break with him. With France he proposed ether measures; the protestants had there created very powerful internal dissentions, and England, he thought, might avail herself of that hostility with effect, while it opened a probability of success, and afforded an opportunity for our troops to gain experience, and our navy strength. His rival, Leicester, in vain misrepresented and censured the advice now given, for the purpose of destroying the queen’s confidence in him; and a plot laid by that subtle favourite for overthrowing him utterly failed, through her majesty’s penetration and spirit. The affair is thus related:

Some Spanish ships, having great treasure on board, put into the English ports to secure it from the French, and afterwards landed it, the queen’s officers assisting, and the Spanish ambassador solemnly affirming it was his master’s money, and that he was sending it into the Netherlands for the pay of his army. The secretary, in the mean time, received advice that this was not true, and that it was the money of some Genoese bankers, who were in the greatest terror lest the duke of Alva should convert the same to his master’s use, in order to carry on some great design, which the court of Spain kept as an impenetrable secret. Cecil therefore advised the queen to take the money herself, and give the Genoese security for it, by which she would greatly advantage her own affairs, distress the Spaniards, relieve the Netherlands, and wrong nobody. The queen took his advice, and when upon this the duke of Alva seized the effects of the English in the Netherlands, she made reprisals, and out of them immediately indemnified her own merchants. The Spanish ambassador at London behaved with great violence upon this occasion, giving secretary Cecil ill language at the council-table, and libelling the queen, by appealing to the people against their sovereign’s administration. This produced a great deal of disturbance, and Leicester and his party took care to have it published every where, that Cecil was the sole author of this counsel. While things were in this ferment, Leicester held a private consultation with the lords he had drawn to his interest, wherein he proposed that they should take this occasion of removing a man whom they unanimously bated. Some of the lords inquiring how this could be 4one? sir Nicholas Throgmorton answered, “Let him be charged with some matter or other in council when the | queen is not present, commit him to the Tower thereupon, and when he is once in prison we shall find things enow against him.” It so happened, that about this time a flagrant libel being published against the nobility, lord Leicester caused Cecil to be charged before the council, either with being the author of it, or it’s patron; of which he offered no other proof than that it had been seen on Cecil’s table. This the secretary readily confessed, but insisted that he looked upon it in the same light they did, as a most scandalous invective; in support of which he produced his own copy with notes on the margin, affirming that he had caused a strict inquiry to be made after the author and publisher of the work. All this, however, would have been but of little use to him, if the queen had not had private notice of their design. While therefore the secretary was defending himself, she suddenly and unexpectedly entered the council-room, and having in few words expressed her dislike of such cabals, preserved her minister, and shewed even Leicester himself that he could not be overthrown. The affair of the duke of Norfolk’s ruin followed, not long after he had been embarked in the faction against Cecil; and therefore we find this minister sometimes charged, though very unjustly, with being the author of his misfortunes, a calumny from which he vindicated himself with candour, clearness, and vivacity, as equally abhorring the thoughts of revenge, and hazarding the public safety to facilitate his private advantage. Cecil, indeed, had no greater share in the duke’s misfortune, than was necessarily imposed upon him by his office of secretary, and which consequently it was not in his power to avoid; to which we may add, that the duke himself was in some measure accessary thereto, by acting under the delusive influence of his capital enemy as well as Cecil’s. The duke’s infatuated conduct, after having once received a pardon, rendered his practices too dangerous to be again forgiven. It cannot be doubted that this great nobleman was the tool of the views of the catholic party: and there is reason to believe that the previous design of ruining Cecil was to get rid of him before this plan was ripe, from a just fear of his penetration, and his power to defeat it. Cecil’s fidelity was followed by much, public and some severe private revenge. His sonin-law, lord Oxford, put his threat into execution of | ruining his daughter, by forsaking her bed, and wasting the fortune of her posterity, if the duke’s life was not spared.

The queen was so sensible of the great importance of Cecil’s service on this occasion, that, however sparing of her honours, she raised him to the peerage by the title of Baron of Burleigh in February 1571, when he had not much to support his rank, for in a confidential letter written about this time, he calls himself “the poorest lord in England.” The queen’s favour did not in other respects add to his comfort, nor protect him from new attempts to destroy him. A conspiracy of the private kind was now formed against his life: and the two assassins, Barney and Matter, charged it, at their execution, on the Spanish ambassador, for which and other offences the ambassador was ordered to quit the kingdom. As a consolation, however, for these dangers, he was honoured with the order of the garter in June 1572; and in September following, on the death of the marquis of Winchester, was appointed lord high treasurer.

The weight of business that now lay upon him, and the variety of his duties, was such as it seems almost incredible that one man could discharge; yet he went through them all with the utmost strictness and punctuality. All his power, talents, industry, and fortitude, could not however at all times place him above anxiety and disgust at the intrigues, troubles, and dangers that surrounded him. He had even thoughts of a resignation, which the queen would not hear of. The popish and Spanish factions were his incessant enemies; and the favourite Leicester never slackened in his arts to lower and counteract him. His vigour however was not lessened; and the next great affair in which he was engaged required it all. The trial of the queen of Scots approached; and the lord treasurer is charged with having been a strong promoter of this measure. Of an affair which has engaged the pens and passions of so many able historians, it would be impossible in this place to discuss the merits. We shall only add in the words of an able authority, whom we have in various instances followed, that the measure was a tremendously strong one but there might be a state- necessity for it. Burleigh was not a man of blood Mary’s intrigues were incessant and her constant intercourse and machinations with a truly dangerous, powerful, and unappeasable faction, notorious. | In March 1587, the lord treasurer lost his mother at a great age, with which he was much affected; and on April 4, 1589, he lost his beloved wife, daughter of sir Anthony Cook, whose death he mourned with the deepest regret*. He had but lately been delivered from the fatigue of drawing up schemes for the defence of the country against the threatened Spanish armada. Not long afterwards he again requested to resign, but the queen still refused to spare his services, and the remaining part of his life was spent in the unabated discharge of his high office. In 1592 he managed the concerns of a supply, which he furthered in the upper house by a speech of great knowledge and talent. In short, even at this late period of his age, almost all the important affairs of state were under his guidance, and ecclesiastical affairs, in particular, required much of his moderating wisdom. Besides the catholic party, he had to contend with some of the ablest of the puritans, who maintained a hostility of a different kind with the established church. Matters of finance, and the affairs of the admiralty, were all continually referred to him; and he let nothing pass him without due consideration. The maxim which aided him through these complicated concerns was this, that “the shortest way to do many things was only to do one thing at once.

The last memorable act of his life was the attempt to bring about a peace with Spain, in which he was vehemently opposed by Essex, then in the fire of youth, which might animate him to daring deeds to gratify his own ambition. The young soldier was warm in the debate, which induced the venerable minister to pull out a prayer-book, and point to the words " Men of blood shall not live out

* This lady was wonderfully learn- be bought in the name of the dean of ed, especially in the Greek tongue, as Westminster, and by him assigned to appears from the testimony of the the college. She likewise gave the lord Burleigh himself, and of several Haberdashers’ company in London, a other great men, and of which she left sum to enable them to lend to six poor clear evidence, in a letter penned by men twenty pounds a-piece every tw her in thai language to the university years and a charity of the like kind of Cambridge, upon her sending thi- of twenty marks, to six poor people ther a Hebrew Bible, by way of pre- at Waltham and Cheshunt in Hertfordsent to the library. She had read most shire. Four times every year she reof the Greek fathers with great dili- lieved all the poor prisoners in Longence and criticalaccuracy, and was den, and many other acts of benevoone of the greatest patronesses of her lence she did, with as great secrecy as time, maintaining for many years two generosity so that she seems to have scholars at St. John’s college in Cam- well deserved all the praises that have bridge and before her death rendered ben by different writers bestowed this perpetual, by procuring lands to upon her memory. | half their days." At length worn out with age, and more than forty years’ uninterrupted and unexampled labours in the state, on the 4th of August, 1598, about four in the morning, in the presence of twenty children, friends and servants, he yielded up the ghost with wonderful serenity, being upwards of seventy-seven years old.

With regard to his person, though he was not remarkably tall, nor eminently handsome, yet his person was always agreeable, and became more and more so, as he grew in years, age becoming him better than youth. The hair of his head and beard grew perfectly white, and he preserved almost to his dying day a fine and florid complexion. His temper contributed much towards making him generally beloved, for he was always serene and cheerful; so perfect a master of his looks and words, that what passed in his mind was never discoverable from either; patient in hearing, ready in answering, yet without any quickness, and in a style suited to the understanding of him to whom he spoke. Idleness was his aversion; and though from twenty-five years of age, at which he was sworn a privy counsellor, being then the youngest, as at his death the oldest in Europe, he laboured under a great weignt of public business; yet when he had any vacant moments he spent them not in trifles, or in pursuit of sensual pleasures, but in reading, meditating, or writing. He had a perfect knowledge, not only of foreign countries, but of foreign courts; knew the genius of every prince in Europe, his counsellors and favourites. At home he kept exact lists of all the great officers, and particularly of the sages in the law. He was acquainted with the course of every court of judicature in England, knew its rise, jurisdiction, and proper sphere of action; within which he took care that it should act with vigour, and was no less careful that it should not exceed its bounds. He wrote not only elegant Latin in prose, but also very good verses in that, and in the English language. He understood Greek as well as most men in that age; and was so learned in divinity, that divines of all persuasions were desirous of submitting to his judgment.*


He was very much pressed by some divines of his time, who waited on him in a body, to make some alterations in the Liturgy. He desired them to go into the next room by and bring him in their unanimous opinion upon some of the disputed points. They returned, bowever, to him very soon, without bing able to agree. “Why, gentlemen,” said he, " how can you expect that I shall alter any point in dispute, when


you, who must be more competent, from your situation, to judge than I can possibly be, cannot agree among yourselves in what manner you would have me alter it?“Dr. Wall, in his translation of Cicero’s Epistles, says, that this great statesman made them ”his glasse, his rule, his and his pocket-book."

His peculiar diversions were | the study of the state of England, and the pedigrees of its nobility and gentry: of these last he drew whole books with his own hand, so that he was better versed in descents and families, than most of the heralds; and would often surprize persons of distinction at his table, by appearing better acquainted with their manors, parks, woods, &c. than tfcey were themselves. To this continual application, and to his genius, naturally comprehensive, was owing that fund of knowledge, which made him never at a loss in any company, or upon any subject. It was also owing to this that he spoke with such wonderful weight on all public occasions, generally at the end of the debate, but without repetition of what was said before, stating the matter clearly, shewing the convenience sought, the inconveniences feared; the means of attaining the former, and the methods by which the latter might be avoided, with a succinctness and accuracy which, perhaps, hardly ever fell to any other man’s share. But what was stiH more surprising, was the great facility with which he did this; for he required no preparation, no time for his most laboured speeches, nor ever turned a book for his most learned writings, but thought, and spoke, digested, and dictated, without any hesitation, with the greatest perspicuity of sentiment, and the utmost fulness of diction.

With regard to his domestic habits, he had during queen Elizabeth’s reign, four places of residence; his lodgings at court, his house in the Strand, his family seat at Burleigh, and his own favourite seat at Theobalds. At his house in London he had fourscore persons in family, exclusively of those who attended him at court. His expences there, as we have it from a person who lived many years in his family, were thirty pounds a week in his absence, and between forty and fifty when present. At Theobalds he had thirty persons in family; and besides a constant allowance in charity, he directed ten pounds a week to be laid out in keeping the poor at work in his gardens, &c. The expences of his stables were a thousand marks a year: so that as he had a great income, and left a good estate to his children, he was not afraid of keeping | up also a style suited to his offices. He also kept a standing table for gentlemen, and two other tables for persons of meaner condition, which were always served alike, whether he were in town or out of town. About his person he had people of great distinction, and had twenty gentlemen retainers, who had each a thousand pounds a year; and as many among his ordinary servants, who were worth from lOOOl. to 3, 5, 10, and 20,000. Twelve times he entertained the queen at his house for several weeks together, at the expence of 2 or 3000l. each time. Three fine houses he built, one in London, another at Burleigh, and the third at Theobalds: all of which were less remarkable for their largeness and magnificence, than for their neatness and excellent contrivance. Yet with all this mighty expence, it was the opinion of competent judges, that an avaricious man would have made more of his offices in seven years, than he did in forty. At his death he left about 4000l. a year inland, ll,000l. in money, and in valuable effects about 14,000l.

He was considered as the best parent of his time, for he had all his children, and their descendants, constantly at his table; and in their conversation lay the greatest pleasure of his life, especially while his mother lived, who was able to see the fifth descent from herself, there being no degree of relation, or consanguinity, which at festival times were not to be found at lord Burleigh’s table. It was there that, laying aside all thoughts of business, he was so affable, easy, and merry, that he seemed never to have thought of any, and yet this was the only part of his life which was entirely free therefrom; and his frankness and familiarity brought so many persons of high rank to his house, as did him great credit and service. In respect to his friends, he was always easy, cheerful, and kind; and whatever their condition was, he talked to them, as if they had been his equals in every respect; yet it is said, that he was held a better enemy than friend; and that this was so well known, that some opposed him from a view of interest. It is certain, that those who were most intimate with him, had no sort of influence over him, and did not care to ask him for any thing; because he did not readily grant, and was little pleased with such sort of suits. One reason of this was, that most of those whom he preferred became his enemies, because he would not gratify them in farther pretensions. His secrets he trusted with none, | indulged a general conversation, and would not suffer affairs of state to be canvassed in mixed company, or when friends were met to divert themselves. With respect to his enemies, he never said any thing harsh of them, farthered on every occasion their reasonable requests, and was so far from seeking, that he neglected all opportunities of revenge; always professing, that he never went to bed out of charity with any man; and frequently saying, that patience, and a calm bearing of aspersions and injuries, had wrought him more good than his own abilities. He was far, however, from being an ungrateful man, for without intreaty he would serve his friends as far as it was just; and for his servants, and those about him, he was very careful of their welfare, mostly at his own expence. He never raised his own rents, or displaced his tenants; and as the rent was when he bought land, so it stood; insomuch, that some enjoyed, for twenty pounds a year, during his whole life, what might have been let for two hundred: yet in his public character he was very severe; and as he never meddled with the queen’s treasure himself, so he would see that it was not embezzled by others; for it was his saying, that whoever cheated the crown oppressed the people. In the midst of all his grandeur he was ever easy of access, free from pride, and alike complaisant to all degrees of people: for as he was grave in council, exact in courts of justice, familiar towards his friends, outwardly and inwardly fond of his children, so when he went into the country he would converse with all his servants as kindly as if he had been their equal; talk to country people in their own style and manner, and would even condescend to sooth little children in their sports and plays so gentle was his temper, and so abundant his good-nature. At Theobalds he had fine gardens, which cost him a great deal of money, and which were laid out according to his own directions. He had a little mule, upon which he rode up and down the walks; sometimes he would look on those who were shooting with arrows, or playing with bowls; but as for himself, he never took any diversion, taking that word in its usual sense. He had two or three friends, who were constantly at his table, because he liked their company; but in all his life he never had one favourite, or suffered any body to get an ascendant over him. His equipage, his great house-keeping, his numerous dependents, were the effects of his sense, and not at all of his | passions, for he delighted little iri any of them; and whenever he had any time to spare, he fled, as his expression was, to Theobalds, and buried himself in privacy.

The queen’s regard to lord Burleigh, though sincere and permanent, was occasionally intermixed with no small degree of petulance and ill humour. He was severely reproached by her in 1594, on account of the state of affairs in Ireland; and, on another occasion, when he persisted, against her will, in a design of quitting the court for a few days, for the purpose of taking physic, she called him “a froward old fool.” He fell also under her majesty’s displeasure because he disagreed with her in opinion concerning an affair which related to the earl of Essex. Having supported the earl’s claim, in opposition to the queen, her indignation was so much excited against the treasurer, that she treated him as a miscreant and a coward. Lord Burleigh being in the latter part of his life much subject to the gout, sir John Harrington observes, in a letter to his lordship, that he did not invite the stay of such a guest by rich wines, or strong spices. It is probable that the frequent return of this disorder, in conjunction with the weight of business, and the general infirmities of age, contributed to the peevishness into which he was sometimes betrayed. In a conversation which he had with Mons. de Fouquerolles, an agent from Henry the Fourth, king of France, he lost himself so much, as to yeflect in the grossest terms upon that monarch. This was, indeed, an astonishing act of imprudence, in a man of his years and experience; and affords a striking instance of the errors and inadvertencies to which the wisest and best persons are liable. When the lord treasurer died, queen Elizabeth was so much affected with the event, that she took it very grievously, shed tears, and separated herself, for a time, from all company.

Besides these lesser failings of this great man, he has been accused of illiberality to the poet Spenser, which perhaps may be attributed to his dislike of Leicester, under whose patronage Spenser had come forward, but perhaps more to his want of relish for poetry. On the other hand, our historians are generally agreed in their praises of his high character. Smollett only has endeavoured to lessen it, but as this is coupled with a disregard for historical truth, the attempt is entitled to little regard, and the advocates for Mary queen of Scots cannot be supposed to | forgive the share he had in her fate. Lord Orford has given lord Burleigh a place among his “Royal and Noble Authors,” but at the same time justly observes, that he is one of those great names, better known in the annals of his country than in those of the republic of letters. Besides lord Burleigh’s answer to a Latin libel published abroad, which he entitled “Slanders and Lies,” and “A Meditation of the State of England, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth,” lord Orford mentions “La Complainte de PAme pecheresse,” in French verse, extant in the king’s library; “Car mina duo Latina in Obitum Margaretae Nevillee, Reginoe Catherine a Cubiculis;” “Carmen Latinum in Memoriain Tho. Challoneri Equitis aurati, prsefixum ejusdem Libro de restaurata Republica;” “A Preface to Queen Catherine Parr’s Lamentation of a Sinner.” When sir William Cecil accompanied the duke of Somerset on his expedition to Scotland, he furnished materials for an account of that war, which was published by William Patten, under the title of “Diarium Expeditions Scoticae,London, 1541, 12mo. This is supposed to be the reason why lord Burleigh is reckoned by Holinshed among the English historians. “The first paper or memorial of sir William Cecil \ anno primo Eliz.” This, which is only a paper of memorandums, is printed in Somers’s tracts, from a manuscript in the Cotton library. “A Speech in Parliament, 1592.” This was first published by Strype in his Annals, and has since been inserted in the Parliamentary History. “Lord Burleigh’s Precepts, or directions for the well-ordering and carriage of a man’s life,1637. “A Meditation on the Death of his Lady.” Mr. Ballard, in his Memoirs of British Ladies, has printed this Meditation from an original formerly in the possession of James West, esq. but now in the British Museum. Lord Burleigh was supposed to be the author of a thin pamphlet, in defence of the punishments inflicted on the Roman catholics in the reign of queen Elizabeth: it is called “The Execution of Justice in England, for maintenance of public and Christian peace, against certain stirrers of sedition, and adherents to the traitors and enemies of the realm, without any persecution of them for questions of religion, as it is falsely reported, &c.London, 1583, second edition. Other political pieces were ascribed to him, and even the celebrated libel, entitled “Leicester’s Commonwealth,” It was asserted, that the hints, at least, were furnished by him for that | composition. But no proof has been given of this assertion, and it was not founded on any degree of probability. His lordship drew up also a number of pedigrees, some of which are preserved in the archbishop of Canterbury’s library at Lambeth. These contain the genealogies of the kings of England, from William the Conqueror to Edward the Fourth; of queen Anne Boleyn; and of several princely houses in Germany.

Out of the large multitude of lord Burleigh’s letters, which are extant in various places, many have found their way to the press. Thirty-three are printed in Peck’s Desiderata Curiosa, and three in Howard’s Collections. Many more may be met with in Dr. Forbes’s, Haynes’s, and Murdin’s State Papers. The two last publications are specifically taken from the original letters, and other authentic memorials left by lord Burleigh, and now remaining at Hatfield -house, in the library of the earl of Salisbury. Haynes’s collection, which was published in 1740, extends from 1542 to 1570. Murdin’s, which appeared in 1759, reaches from 1571 to 1596. Both these publications throw great light on the period to which they relate, and have been of eminent service to our recent historians. The whole course of the proceedings, relative to Mary queen of Scots, is particularly displayed in these collections; on which account much use has lately been made of them by Dr. Gilbert Stuart. In the original papers of Mr. Anthony Bacon, are several letters of lord Burleigh, from which various extracts have been given by Dr. Birch, in his “Memoirs of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth.” There is also in the Nugsc Antiques, a letter of advice, written by his lordship in 1578, to Mr. Harrington (afterwards sir John Harrington), then a student at the university of Cambridge. In the earl of Hardwicke’s miscellaneous State Papers, besides a number of letters addressed to Cecil, there are seven of his own writing, relative to important public concerns. One of them shews in a striking view, the friendly behaviour of lord Burleigh to the earl of Leicester, when that nobleman laboured under the queen’s displeasure, and reflects great honour on the old treasurer’s memory. It is strange, says the earl of Hardwicke, that Camden passes it over in silence: but, indeed, adds his lordship, that historian’s omissions are very unpardonable, considering the lights he had. As to lord Burleigh’s unpublished papers, they are still exceedingly numerous, and are extant in the | British Museum, in the libraries of the earls of Salisbury and Hardwicke, and in other places.

His lordship was buried at Stamford, where an elegant monument is erected to his memory. By his first wife he had his son and heir Thomas earl of Exeter, and by his second a numerous issue, who all died before him except the subject of the following article, to whom he addressed those valuable “precepts” so often reprinted. Few men knew better than lord Burleigh how to advise the young. Peacham, in his “Gentleman,” informs us that when any one came to the lords of the council for a licence to travel, he would first examine him of England, and if he found him ignorant, he would bid him stay at home, and know his own country first. 1


Biog. Brit.—Sir E. Brydges’s edition of Collins.—Park’s edition of Royal and Noble Authors.—Strype’s Annals, Memorials, and Lives, passim, &e.— Lodge’s Illustrations, vol. II.—Peck’s Desiderata, &c.