Page images
PDF
EPUB

a

Duke of Northumberland. When poor Jane, like a devoted victim, was carried in state procession, on Monday the 10th of July, it was intended that Law and Government, the Lord Mayor and Aldermen, the Nobility and Clergy, should all appear to be in her favour ; but though the concourse was great, it was merely to see the pageant; there was only faint praise from the people, and but few acclamations ; nor had the feeling of the better orders been at all consulted. At that moment, indeed, Mary, little else than a lonely fugitive, and fled to Framlingham Castle, might seem unlikely ever to be Queen of England ; but a few days only passed away, when the enchantment of those who had sought to disinherit her was dissolved. In one week Henry's eldest daughter found herself supported by forty thousand men, foot and horse, at their own expense, without costing her a crown piece! The enthusiasm was excessive, and characteristic ; so that when Mary was proclaimed at Paul's Cross, the very next week, or Wednesday the 19th, it was amidst acclamations from the multitude, which drowned the voice of the heralds ! If Cranmer, therefore, and Ridley too, as well as some others, would sit in council with such men, and would “ go in with dissemblers,” they must now abide the consequences ; but the manner in which the event was hailed, forcibly points us to the people at large, or the state of the nation as such.

We have witnessed it is true, a very remarkable progress in the diffusion of Divine Truth ; but we have also seen that this was effected, not by the encouragement or sanction of Parliament, nor, of course, with the consent of the nation as such in any form ;--no: the cause itself, though in the kingdom, was not of the kingdom ; since no rulers in Europe had discovered greater hostility to Divine Revelation. The present convulsion, therefore, though only the commencement of a storm, served at once to clear the moral atmosphere, and forcibly distinguish between the passions of men, and the cause of God. It enables us, even now, to see, with far greater precision, the actual state of things.

As there had been a separate undertaking, which we have descried all along, so it now appeared, as the consequence, that there had existed a separate people, not to be identified or mingled up with any intrigue of the times. So far as the human mind was concerned, the changes which had ensued, from the first step taken by Henry VIII, until now, were not national changes. The nation, as such, though so long and singularly visited by Divine Truth, cared not for it; and still clinging to its old ceremonies and habits, leaped at the prospect of

falling back into its long repose under the shade of Rome. As a warning to the age, therefore, and especially to posterity, to distinguish things that differ, some fearful lesson of instruction was demanded, and this must no longer be withheld.

Meanwhile, what the Almighty had so mercifully done for England was analogous to that which, to use the words of Scripture itself, was done by Him, “at the first,” when He did “ visit the nations, to take out of them, a people for his name.” Such a people, however despised and trampled on, we have beheld in England, in the days of John Fryth, and before then. Some of the best among them we have seen by the light of those fires, which the enemy had kindled; and they had been increasing in numbers all along. Under Henry VIII, the war had commenced against the Sacred Volume itself, without even knowing the translator; and it went on against all who imported, received, or retained it. Under the reign of his son, it had been plentifully printed, purchased, and read ; and it will now become a decided proof of progress, however heart-rending in detail, that the persecution about to commence was to be against all who had believed its contents, and held its sacred truths to be more precious than life itself. This, however, in the end, will materially further the cause of Divine Truth, not retard it.

SECTION II. REIGN OF QUEEN MARY.

A REIGN, DISCOVERING THE ACTUAL STATE OF THE NATION, AS SUCH; BUT

ONE, HOWEVER PAINFUL IN ITS DETAILS, WHICH SO FAR FROM RETARDING THE PROGRESS OF DIVINE TRUTII, ONLY DEEPENED TIIE IMPRESSION OF ITS VALUE ; AND AS IT BECAME TIIE OCCASION, SO IT AFFORDED TILE OPPORTUNITY FOR TIIE SACRED SCRIPTURES BEING GIVEN AFRESH TO ENGLAND, MORE CAREFULLY REVISED—THE EXILES FROM THE KINGDOM PROVING, ONCE MORE, ITS GREATEST BENEFACTORS.

pon the 6th of July 1553, at the age of thirty-six, Mary, the eldest daughter of Henry VIII., succeeded to the

throne, and reigned as Sovereign alone for one year. Afterwards, allied by marriage to Philip of Spain, the Queen died in less than four years and four months, on the 17th of November 1558. This reign throughout, has been all along, and generally regarded as a portion of English history distinguished by little else than the shedding of blood. Few, however, have sufficiently observed, that this blood-shedding for opinions held, did not commence till February 1555, or more than a year and a half after Mary held the sceptre. And if this fact has been but slightly regarded, fewer still have ever noticed its bearing on the Sacred Volume, and those who prized it.

That Volume, printed for a period of fully ten years on the Continent, had been very strangely introduced into England; or in a manner which must ever distinguish it, historically, among all other European versions. Yet now, as if to fix the eye upon it still more intensely, it was about to be carried abroad, or back to that same Continent from whence it first came, and by all such as valued the boon, above their necessary food. Yes, now, when the first edition of the New Testament was already twenty-seven years old, and the first Bible printed on English ground had left the press fourteen years ago, as many copies as could be, must be carefully concealed at home, and even built up, as they actually were, and the rest must be carried abroad ! For

years

that were past, the people had read those Oracles of God on English ground, which had been prepared for them on the Continent: they must now, scattered all over that Continent itself, read the volumes which had been printed in the metropolis of their native island ! Formerly, they perused at home, what came from abroad; they must now read beyond seas, what had been prepared for them at home. No doubt, also, copies which had been printed on the Continent, were then carried back to it. Still, however, time must be afforded for escape. The wind of persecution being restrained, that it should not blow on the land for fully a year and a half, those who valued the truth of God, carrying with them the Sacred Volume, as their highest treasure, soon departed by hundreds, as best they could. The clouds were gathering over England, a time of trouble and rebuke to a nation, which, as such, had too long “ despised the Word of the Lord,” was at hand ; yet could those who fled, have seen only a few years before them, they might have sung in concert over the result, as they were sailing to the different seaports to which they fled for

[ocr errors]

shelter. But the preface or introduction to this fiery trial first demands notice.

a

The Privy Council of Edward had concluded his reign, as they began it, by a course of dissimulation. But they were not now to succeed as they had done before. They had placed double guards to maintain greater secrecy, and then tried to conceal the King's death for two days. But, what was much worse, they had sent a false letter to Mary, the beir, at least by her father's will, which they formerly professed to follow, saying that “ her brother was very ill, and earnestly desired the comfort of her presence.” This foolish expedient to inveigle the Princess, and get her in their power, only served as a sure token to confirm her suspicion of a plot. Under the impression of fair dealing, she had at first actually set out from Hunsden in Hertfordshire ; but by the time she was only eight miles on her way, or seventeen from London, she was met at Hoddesdon by her goldsmith, sent direct from town. He informed her distinctly of the hour of her brother's death. Somewhat suspicious of the quarter from whence the information came, the Princess ruminated for a little while ; but the snare was broken, and, with constitutional firmness of mind, she immediately bent her way

towards Sawston, near Cambridge.? Early next morning, and seated behind the servant of the proprietor, Sir John Huddleston, Mary had left; but they were not out of sight of Sawstonhall, before it was in flames.2 Passing through Bury St. Edmonds, she got to Kenninghall, which had been assigned to her as a residence.3 From thence, next day, or the 9th, she addressed the Lords of Council, claiming the Crown. Very foolishly for themselves, and as full of infatuation as ever, they replied on the evening of the same day. Although Mary was now to ascend the throne, in terms of a will, parts of which they could read aloud, as law, when these answered their own ambitious views ; they now, in no measured terms, addressed their correspondent, as an illegitimate daughter, by the everlasting laws of God; though Lady Jane Grey was certainly not even proclaimed till next day. To this reply were affixed the names of twenty-three members of Council, at the head of which stood Cranmer's, for to all these proceedings he had been a party. If they thus yet dreamt of intimidating the future Queen, never had men so reckoned without their host. Destitute of money, without an army, or even ad

i It is worthy of special notice, that Mary was indebted for timely warning, not to any gentleman of the old learning, but to one professedly of the neu, Sir Nicholas Throckmorton ; and it was this that made her hesitate for a moment. Sir N. was not only a friend to legitimacy, but an enemy to Northumberland and all his ambitious projects.

2 The house was rebuilt for Sir John, at least the Queen, says Puller, “ bestowed the bigger part of Cambridge Castle upon him, with the stones whereof he built his fair house in this county." This ancient family is represented at present by Richard Huddleston, Esq., High Sheriff in 1834 of the counties of Cambridge and Huntingdon.

3 The seat of the Duke of Norfolk, still in prison, but restored to him soon after this.

a

visers, on the morning of the 11th, Mary, on horseback, with her female attendants, set off for Framlingham Castle, twenty miles farther distant from London, to be still nearer the coast, in case of

any disaster;

but the moment she entered it, she appears to have acted at least, as if the undisputed Sovereign of England. A courage and self-possession were displayed, on which the deluded Counsellors had never calculated. They proclaimed Lady Jane to be Queen, in London, on the 10th ; it was but the second day after, when Mary ordered her own proclamation on the 12th at Norwich ; and remaining where she was, immediately formed a Council out of the gentlemen who had already resorted to her presence. Finding herself before the end of July surrounded by an army, which had cost her nothing, so eager were the people to support her claims, she moved forward from the old Castle on the 31st, towards London. Her progress was but one continued triumph, for she had been proclaimed even in London, so early as the 19th. Her grand opponent, Northumberland, had joined the people in doing the same thing at Cambridge ; and he, as well as the Lady Jane, with her husband, were now in the Tower. On her way, Queen Mary had been met at Ipswich by Cecil, the future Lord Burleigh, whose character has recently suffered so much, as a time-server. As one of the Counsellors whose names were affixed to the preceding letter, he was the first to approach. He secured his own personal safety, and afterwards bowed to the magic of “ the old learning,” but could never obtain office under the present Queen. On the 3d of August Mary entered her capital, and going direct to the Tower, at once a palace and a prison, she immediately released the Duke of Norfolk, Gardiner, and Tunstal, or three men with whom the reader has been long familiar. Gardiner was sworn into the Privy Council the second day after, and the Queen remained in the Tower till after her brother's funeral.

The lingering decline of Edward's health, who had never fully re covered the effect of small-pox and measles in the spring of 1552, had certainly given timely warning of the approaching tempest ; but those strange proceedings of his Council, so far as they were known, were directly calculated to beguile certain parties into false repose. Even Cranmer seems to have pleasingly deceived himself. For surely he could never have issued those “ Articles” of his for signature, by an official mandate, only a few days before Edward expired, except he had imagined that there was nothing but plain sailing before him ; and that the present Queen would never ascend the throne. At all events, few persons seem to have yet left the kingdom ; for the friends of Divine

4 Of all the Counsellors who had so replied to the Queen, only two suffered ; Northumber land himself, and Sir John Gates. Cranmer, though arraigned, was pardoned, but retained in prison. Some time elapsed before the execution of Lady Jane and Lord Dudley, the victims af this ambitious Council.

« PreviousContinue »