« AnteriorContinuar »
He was immediately compared to Jonah's gourd, and described as "a mere vegetable of the Court, that sprung at night and sunk again at noon."*
He had, however, a most splendid funeral, and now that he was gone, the Queen, to divert her grief, did all that lay in her power to honour his memory. On the 16th of December, his remains were interred in St. Paul's Cathedral, more than 300 Lords of the Council, nobles and knights, attending by her order, and her band of gentlemen pensioners, which he had commanded, guarding the procession. A sumptuous monument was raised to him, which perished in the fire of London.
Looking only to the frivolous accomplishments to which chiefly he owed his elevation, we must not forget the merits which really belonged to him. Although he possessed a very slender portion of book-learning, he had a very ready wit, and was well versed in the study of mankind. "He was a person," says Nairn ton, "that besides the graces of his person and dancing, had also the adjecti- ments of a strong and subtle capacity, — one that could soon learn the discipline and garb both of the times and the Court."
He is said to have shown great industry when he was made Lord Chancellor, and to have made himself tolerably well acquainted with the practice of the Court of Chancery; but with a mind wholly unimbued with legal principles, his knowledge of it must have been superficial. He issued several new orders to improve it, which were much applauded. With respect to these he could only have had the merit, so useful to Chancellors, of availing himself of the experience and talents of others. Again, it is said that none of his decrees were reversed; but if Div Swale and he had erred ever so much, there were hardly any means of correcting them; for there was no appeal to the House of Lords in Equity suits till the reign of Charless IX, and there was no chance of bringing, with any effect, before the Council the decree of a Chancellor still in power. To give the public a notion that he had attended to the study of the law, he composed a "Treatise concerning Acts of Parliament, and the Exposition thereof;" but it was a very poor production.
When presiding in the Court of Chancery, he disarmed his censurers by courtesy and good-humour, and he occasionally ventured on a joke. At one time, when there was a case before him respecting the boundaries of an estate, a plan being produced, the counsel on one part said, "We lie on this side, my Lord;" and
with the dignity of history, and although showing his usual tenderness for the reputation of Elizabeth, confirms the general account we have of the death of Hat ton. Speaking of the severe proclamation against Catholics which it was supposed that the Chancellor condemned, he says, " Verum obierat Hattonus pridie quam hoc edictum publicatum ex diabete et animi mcerore, quod Kegina ingentem penunitim ex decimis et primitiis quibus pr&'fuit, collet-tarn paulo acerbius exagerat quam pro ea qua apud ipsam floruit gratia condonandam sperarat. Nee liominem verba defectum relevare poterat quam vis inviseret et consolatione dimulceret. t Naunton.
the counsel on the other part said, "And we lie on this side, my Lord;" whereupon the Lord Chancellor Hatton stood up and said, "If you lie on both sides, whom will you have me to believe ?"*
Although none of his decisions in Chancery have come down to us, we have a full account of a trial before him in the Star Chamber for a libel,—when he presided with great gravity,—and with many apologies for the leniency of the sentence, he fined the defendant 2000/., and directed the Judges to testify this punishment on their circuits, to the end the whole realm might have knowledge of it, and the people no longer be seduced with these lewd libellers.t
His most elaborate effort while he held the Great Seal was his address "on the elevation of Mr. Clerke to the dignity of a Serjeant." After some preliminary observations on the gratitude due to her Majesty for such a distinction, he thus continued :—" No man can live without lawe. Therefore I do exhort you that you have good care of your dutie in the calling, and that you be a father to the poore. That you be carefull to relieve all men afflicted. You ought to be an arm to helpe them, a hand to succoure them. Use uprightness and followe truthe. Be free from cawtell. Mix with the exercise of the lawe no manner of decepte. Let these thinges be farre from yourharte. Be of an undoubted resolution. Be of good courage, and feare not to be carried away withe the authoritie, power or threateninges of anye other. Mayntayne your clientes cause in all right. Be not put to sylence. As it is alleged out of the booke of Wisdome, 'Noli queer ere fieri Judex, niforte extimeseas faciem potentis, et ponas scandalam in agilitate tua.'X Know no man's face. Go on withe fortitude. Do it in uprightness 'Hedde cuique quod simm. Be not parciall to yourself. Abuse not the highest guift of God which no doubt is great in in equity. Theis thinges be the actions of nobilitie. He that doth theis thinges dewiie deserves high honour, and is worthy in the world to rule. Let truthe be famyllier with you. Regard neither friende nor enemye. Proceede in the good worke layed upon you. And the laste point that I am to saye to you—Use diligence and carefnines. And althoughe I have not been acquainted withe the course of the lawe, albeit, in my youthe I spent some time in the studye thereof, yet I find by daily experience that diligence bringes to pas greate thinges in the course and proceedinge of the lawe, and, contrarilie, negligence overthrowes many good cawses. Let not the dignitie of the lawe be geven to men un- meete. And I do exhorte you all that are heare present not to call men to the barre or the benche that are so unmeete. I finde
* Recorded by Lord Bacon in his apophthegms, or Jest Book.
t Regina v. Knightley, i St. Tr. 1270.
$ Ecclesias. cup. 7. v. 6. This is the Vulgate still always quoted. In the margin u iEquitute," is proposed for Agiiiiate. In the ISeptuagiat the word ia evOvjijil.
that there are now more at the barre in one house than there was in all the Innes of Courte when I was a younge man." He concludes by an exhortation to avoid Chancery and to settle disputes in the Courts of Law. "We sit heare to helpe the rigor and extrernttief oT the lawe. The holy conscience of^tbi^Qneene. for matters of equitie in some sorte is by her Majesties goodness committed to mee, when summumjus doth minister summam injuriam. But the lawe is the inheritance of all men. And I praye God blesse you and send you as much worshipp as ever had anie in your cawlinge."*
The only very serious suspicion ever thrown upon Hatton's conduct arose out of his connection with the death of r I*q*i Henry Percey, Earl of Northumberland. After this » J)' 10b0,J nobleman had been long confined in the Tower, without being brought to trial, the Lieutenant received an order to remove the Earl's keeper, and to substitute for him a servant of Sir Christopher Hatton. The same night the prisoner was found dead in his bed, having been shot through the heart with three slugs. A verdict of felo de se being returned by the coroner's jury, the subject was taken up in the Star Chamber, and there Sir Christopher and other members of the Court delivered harangues to prove the deceased had been guilty of treason, and that to escape a public trial and conviction, with the forfeiture of his houses and estate, he had put an end to his existence.! Sinister inferences were drawn by the multitude from the change of his keeper, the difficulty of conveying fire-arms to a prisoner in the Tower, and the eagerness of the government to have him found guilty of suicide; but there is no ground for imputing complicity in the crime to one to whose disposition and habits it must have been so repugnant.
Even while holding the Great Seal his high delight continued to be in dancing, and, as often as he had an opportunity, he abandoned himself to this amusement. Attending the marriage of his nephew and heir with a Judge's daughter, he was decked, according to the custom of the age, in his official robes; and it is recorded, that when the music struck up, he doffed them, threw them down on the floor, and saying, "Lie there, Mr. Chancellor!" danced the measures at the nuptial festivity. J
He affected to be a protector of learned men, and Spenser presented to him a copy of his immortal poem, "The Faery Queen," accompanied by the following sonnet:—
To the R. E^ Sir C. Hatton, Lord High Chancellor of England.
Those prudent heads, that with their counsels wise,
Whilom the pillars of th' earth did sustain;
And in the neck of all the world to reign.
* Reg. Lib. B. 1586. f. 661.
t See Stowe's Annals, p. 706. Camden, B. iv. 50. Somers' Tracts, i. 223.
% Captain Alllen's Lett, in Birch, vol. i. p. 56. VOL. II. 14
With the sweet lady-mttses for to play.
So Maro oft did Caesar's cares allay.
The burden of this kingdom mightily;
The rugged brow of careful policy j
Which, for their title's sakei, may find more grace.
Thus was he celebrated by Ockland in his character of Queen Elizabeth's ministers:—
Much erudition and great acquirements were now found to her r, 1588 1 long t0 the scaPe-grace student of the Temple,— L 'J and the university of Oxford elected for their Chan
cellor him to whom they would not grant a degree.
He was celebrated, or rather censured, in the intolerant age in which he lived, for trying to screen from persecution both Baptists and Puritans 4
The nature of his intimacy with Elizabeth, it is to be hoped, was not such as to deprive her of the right to the title that she so often boasted of in public, and much allowance ought to be made for the manners of the age, but notwithstanding the warmth of language, and the freedoms between the sexes then supposed to be consistent with innocence, it certainly caused much scandal in their own time.
Lord Chancellor Hatton was never married, which, if we may trust the representation upon this subject in Mary's celebrated letter respecting the private life of Elizabeth, arose from the jealousy of his royal mistress, who even broke off a match between him and a daughter of the Earl of Shrewsbury, afterwards married to the Earl of Lennox.#
* "The Faery Queen," representing Queen Elizabeth.
t u Qui in religionis causa non urendam non secandum censuit."—Camden.
t The most striking proof of the prevalent suspicion is to be found in this letter of Mary to Elizabeth, relating the stories circulated by the Countess of Shrewsbury,—which a regard to historical truth requires me to insert,—cautioning my female readers against perusing it, though written by a Queen to a Queen, After some prefatory remarks, she says, "J'apelle mon Dieu a tesmoing que la Comptesse dd Bchreusbury roadit de vous ee qui suit au plus pres de ces termes. Premierement, qu'un, auquel elle disoit que vous aviez faict promesse de manage devant une Dame cle vostre chambre, avoit couscbe in infinies foys auvesque Vous avec toute la licence et privaulte qui se peut user entre mari et famme; Mays qu'indubitableraent Vous nesliez pas comme les aultres fammes, etpour ce respect cestoit folJie a touz ceulx qui affectoient vostre Mariage avec Monsieur le Due d'Anjou, d'aultant qu'il ne ce pourroit accomplir; et que Vous ne vouldriez jamays perdu la' liberte de Vous fayre fayre l'amour et auvoir vostre plesir tousjours auveques nouveaulx amoureulx, regretant ce, disoit elle, que vous ne vous contentiez de Maister llaton, ei un aultre de ce Royaulme 5 mays que pour l'honneur du pays il luy fas
Notwithstanding these tender sentiments, Elizabeth did not distinguish him from her other courtiers, by abstaining from the public manifestation of her resentment when he offended her; for as she gave a box on the ear to the Earl Marshal, and spat at Sir Matthew Arundel, on one occasion she collared Hatton before the whole Court* By this missive, he tried to appease her :—" If the woundes of the thought wear not most dangerous of all wthout speedy dressing, I shold not now troble yor Maty wth'the lynes of my co'playnt; and if whatsoever came from you wear not either very gracious or greevous to me, what you sayd wold not synke so deepely in my bosome. My profession hath been, is, and ever shalbe, to your Maty all duty wthin order, all reverent love wthout mesure, and all trothe wthout blame; insomuch as when I shall not be fownde soche as to yor Highnes Cœsar sought to have hys wife to himselfe, not o îely wthout synne, but also not to be suspected, I wish my spright devyded from my body as his spouse was from his bedde; and therefore, upon yesternight's wordes, I am driven to say to yor Maty, either to satisfye wronge conceyts or to answer false reports, that if the speech you used of yor Turke did ever passe my pen or lippes to any creature owt of yor Highnes' hearing, but to my L. of Burghley, wth whom I have talked bothe of the man and the matter, I desyre no less condemnation then as a traytor, and no more pardon then hys ponyshment; and, further, if ever I either spake or sent to the embassad. of France,
luyde diverses privaultes deshonnestes; maysaussi luy revelliez les segretz du Royaulme, traiiisant vos propres Counseillcrs awesques luy: Que Vous vous estiez des portée de lamesme dissolution avec !e Duc son Maystre, qui vous avoiteste trouver une nuit à la porte de vostre chambre, ou vous laviez rancontre auvec vostreseulle chemise et manteau de nuit, et que per après vous laviez laisse entrer, et qu'il demeura avveqnes Vous près de troys heures. Quant au diet Baton, que vous le couriez a force, faysant si publiquement paraître Vamour- que la partiez, qui luy mesmes estoit contreint de s'en retirer, et que Vous donnastes an soufflet a Kiligreu pour ne vous avoir ramené le diet Eaton, que vous avviezenvoiay rappel/er par luy, s'etant desparti en chollere d'auveques vous pour quelques injures que luy auviez dittes pour certiens boutons dor quHl au voit sur son habit. Qu'elle auvait travaille de fayre espouser au dit Baton la feu Comtesse de Lenox sa JîUe, mays que de creinte de Vous, il ne vsoit entendre] que mesme le Comte d'Oxfort nosoit ce rappointer auveques sa famme de peur de perdre la faveur qu'il esperoit recepvoir par vous fayre l'amour: Que vous estiez prodigue envers toutes telles gens et ceulx qui ce mesloient de telles mesnees, comme a un de Vostre Chambre Gorge, auquel Vous avviez donne troys centz ponds de nunc pour vous avoir apporte les nouvelles du retour de Baton: Qu'a toutz aultres Vous estiez fort ingrate chische, et qu'il ni avoit que troys ou quatre en vostre Royauioie agui Vous ayes jamays iaict bien: Me conseillant, en riant extresmement, mettre mon filz sur les rancs pour vous fayre Painours, comme chose qui servirait grandement et metroit Monsieur ie Due hors de quartier." She then gives various other disgusting particulars respecting Elizabeth's person, and her habits, which as they do not affect my hero, I am glad that I am at liberty to pass over This letter, written by Mary very iudiscreetly a short time before her trial, must have cut off from her all chance of mercy. Bee it at full length as copied from Lord Salisbury's Papers.—1 St. Tr. 1202. * Nug#3 Ant. 167. 176.