239. THE END AND DEATH OF KING EDWARD THE SIXTH.
Thus, having discoursed things done and past under the reign of King Edward, such as seemed not unfruitful to be known, we will now draw to the end and death of this blessed king, our young Josias; who, about a year and a half after the death of the duke of Somerset his uncle, A.D. 1553, entering into the seventeenth year of his age, and the seventh year of his reign, in the month of July was taken from us, for our sins no doubt; whom if it had so pleased the good will of the Lord to have spared with longer life, not unlike it was, by all conjectures probably to be esteemed by those his toward and blessed beginnings, but proceeding so as he began, he would have reformed such a commonwealth here in the realm of England, as by good cause that might have been said of him, which was said in the old time of the noble Emperor Augustus, in reforming and advancing the empire of Rome: "Which empire he received (as he said) of brick, but he left it of fine marble." But the condition of this realm. and the customable behaviour of English people, (whose property is commonly to abuse the light of the gospel when it is offered,) deserved no such benefit of so blessed a reformation, but rather a contrary plague of deformation, such as happened after his reign, as you shall hear, the Lord granting, in the next queen's days that followed.
Thus then this godly and virtuous imp, in the time and month above mentioned, was cut from us, whose worthy life and virtues have been partly before declared. Nevertheless, to have some monument of him remaining, to testify of the good nature and gentle disposition of that prince, we will add here, for a remembrance, this little epistle of his own handwriting to the archbishop of Canterbury, his godfather, as followeth:
An epistle of young Prince Edward to the archbishop of Canterbury, his godfather.
"Impertio te plurima salute, colendissime præsul, et charissime susceptor. Quia abes longe a me, vellem libenter audire te esse incolumem. Precor autem ut vivas diu, et promoveas verbum Dei. Vale.
Antilæ, 18. Junii. Tuus in Christo filius,
Another epistle of the young Prince Edward to the archbishop, his godfather.
"Etsi puer sum, colendissime susceptor, non tamen immemor sum vel officii erga te mei, vel humanitatis tuæ quam indies mihi exhibere studes. Non exciderunt mihi humanissimæ tuæ literæ pridie divi Petri ad me datæ. Quibus antehac respondere nolui, non quod illas neglexerim, aut non meminerim, sed ut illarum diuturna meditatione fruerer, fidelique memoria reponerem, atque demum bene ruminatis pro mea virili responderem. Proinde affectum erga me tuum vere paternum, quem in illis expressisti, amplector et veneror, optoque ut multos vivas annos, tuoque pio ac salubri consilio pergas esse mihi venerandus pater. Nam pietatem ante omnia mihi amplectendam et exosculandam esse duco, quoniam divas Paulus dicit, pietas ad omnia utilis est. Optime valeat tua paternitas in plurimos annos.
Hartefordiæ, 13. Januarii. Tui studiosissimus,
The answer of the archbishop to Prince Edward's epistle.
"Non magis poterat ipsa me servare salus (fili in Christo charissime) quam salus tua. Mea vita non dicenda est vita absque tua et salute et valetudine. Quapropter cum te incolumem ac salvum intelligo, vitam etiam mihi integram esse et incolumem sentio. Neque certe absentia mea tam est injucunda tibi quam sunt literæ tuæ perjucundæ mihi. Quæ arguunt tibi juxta adesse et ingenium dignum tanto principe et præceptorem dignum tanto ingenio. Ex quibus tuis literis te sic literas video colere, ut interim doctrinæ clestis tua nequaquam minima sit cura; quaæ cuicunque sit curæ, non potest ilium quævis cura frangere. Perge igitur qua via incepisti, princeps iliustrissime, et Spartam quam nactus es hanc orna, ut quam ego per literas video in te virtutis lucem, eadem olim illuminet universam tuam Angliam. Non scribam prolixius, tum quidem ut me intelligas brevitate non nihil affici, tum etiam quad credam te ætate quidem adhuc parvulum parvo gaudere, et similem simili; turn etiam præterea ne impolita mea oratio in causa sit, quo generosa ilia tua indoles barbari vitium contrahat."
The report of the prince's schoolmaster, in commendation of his towardness, to the archbishop.
"Right honourable and my singular good Lord, after my most hearty commendations: the opportunity of this messenger forceth me to write at this time, having little matter but only to signify unto your Grace, that my Lord's Grace your godson is merry and in health, and of such towardness in learning, godliness, gentleness, and all honest qualities, that both you and I, and all this realm, ought to think him, and take him, for a singular gift sent of God, an imp worthy of such a father; for whom we are bound without ceasing to render to God most hearty thanks, with most humble request of his long and prosperous continuance. He hath learned almost four books of Cato to construe, to parse, and to say without book. And of his own courage now, in the latter book, he will needs have at one time fourteen verses, which he conneth pleasantly and perfectly, besides things of the Bible, Satellitium Vivis, Æsop's Fables, and Latin-making, whereof he hath sent your Grace a little taste. -- Dominus Jesus te diutissime servet."hus much hitherto having declared, touching the worthy virtues and singular towardness of this godly imp, King Edward the Sixth, although I have not, neither can, insert all things due to his commendation, but am enforced to let pass many memorable matters, well worthy to be prosecuted, if they might have come to our hands: yet this one brief note I thought not to overslip, (something to recreate the weary reader in such a doleful story,) being notified to me by one Master Edward Underhil, who, waiting the same time with the rest of his fellow pensioners and men at arms, as Sir Henry Gates, Master Robert Hall, Master Henry Harston, and Master Stafforton, heard these words between the king and his council.
The relation and testimony of which person and persons above-named come to this effect: That King Edward the Sixth, the fourth year of his reign, being then but thirteen years old and upward, at Greenwich, upon St. George's day, when he was come from the sermon into the presence-chamber, there being his uncle the duke of Somerset, the duke of Northumberland, with other lords and knights of that order called the Order of the Garter, he said to them, "My Lords, I pray you, what saint is St. George, that we here so honour him?" At which question the other lords being all astonied, the lord treasurer that then was, perceiving this, gave answer, and said, "If it please your Majesty, I did never read in any history of St. George, but only in Legenda Aurea, where it is thus set down: That St. George out with his sword, and ran the dragon through with his spear." The king, when he could not a great while speak for laughing, at length said, "I pray you, my Lord, and what did he with his sword the while?" "That I cannot tell your Majesty," said he. And so an end of that question of good St. George. Now to return again from whence we have digressed, which is to signify some part of the order and manner of his godly departing. As the time approached when it pleased Almighty God to call this young king from us, which was the sixth day of July, the year above-said, about three hours before his death, this godly child, his eyes being closed, speaking to himself, and thinking none to have heard him, made this prayer which followeth:
The prayer of King Edward before his death.
"Lord God, deliver me out of this miserable and wretched life, and take me among thy chosen: howbeit not my will, but thy will be done. Lord, I commit my spirit to thee. O Lord! thou knowest how happy it were for me to be with thee: yet, for thy chosen's sake, send me life and health, that I may truly serve thee. O my Lord God, bless thy people, and save thine inheritance! O Lord God, save thy chosen people of England! O my Lord God, defend this realm from papistry, and maintain thy true religion; that I and my people may praise thy holy name, for thy Son Jesus Christ's sake!"
Then turned he his face, and seeing who was by him, said unto them, "Are ye so nigh? I thought ye had been further off." Then Dr. Owen said, "We heard you speak to yourself, but what you said we know not." He then (after his fashion smilingly) said, "I was praying to God." The last words of his pangs were these, "I am faint; Lord have mercy upon me, and take my spirit." And thus he yielded up the ghost, leaving a woeful kingdom behind unto his sister. Albeit he, in his will, had excluded his sister Mary from the succession of the crown, because of her corrupt religion; yet the plague which God had destined unto this sinful realm could not so he avoided, but that she, being the elder daughter to King Henry, succeeded in possession of the crown: of whose dreadful and bloody regiment it remaineth now, consequently, to discourse.
This briefly may suffice to understand, that for all the writing, sending, and practising with the Lady Mary, by the king and his council, and also by Bishop Ridley, yet would she not be reclaimed from her own singular opinion, fixed upon custom, to give any indifferent hearing to the word and voice of verity. The which set will of the said Lady Mary, both this young king, and also his father, King Henry before him, right well perceiving and considering, they were both much displeased against her: insomuch that not only her brother did utterly sequester her in his will, but also her own father, considering her inclination, conceived such heart against her, that for a great space he did seclude her from the title of princess; yea, and seemed so eagerly incensed against her, that he was fully purposed to proceed further with her, (as it is reported,) had not the intercession of Thomas Cranmer, the archbishop, reconciled the king again to favour and pardon his own daughter. For the better understanding whereof, by these her own letters copied out of her own handwriting, which I have to show, something may be perceived, and more, peradventure, may be guessed. The words out of her own handwriting be these. And first her letter to King Henry her father here followeth:
A letter of the Lady Mary to King Henry her father.
"In my most humble wise I beseech your Grace of your daily blessing. Pleaseth it the same to be advertised, that this morning my Lord my chamberlain came and showed me, that he had received a letter from Sir W. Paulet, comptroller of your house; the effect whereof was, that I should with all diligence remove unto the castle of Hertford. Whereupon I desired him to see the same letter, which he showed me: wherein was written, that the Lady Mary, the king's daughter, should remove to the place before-said, leaving out in the same the name of princess. Which when I heard, I could not a little marvel, trusting verily that your Grace was not privy to the same letter as concerning the leaving out of the name of princess; forasmuch as I doubt not in your goodness, but your Grace doth take me for your lawful daughter, born in true matrimony. Wherefore, if I should agree to the contrary, I should in my conscience run in the displeasure of God, which I hope assuredly your Grace would not that I so should. And in all other things your Grace shall have me always as humble and obedient a daughter and handmaid as ever was child to the father, which my duty bindeth me to; as knoweth our Lord, who have your Grace in his most holy tuition, with much honour, and long life to his pleasure.
"Written at your manor of Beaulieu, the second day of October,
By your humble daughter,
Protestation of the Lady Mary to certain lords sent by the king her father, with certain requests unto her.
"My Lords, as touching my removing to Hatfield, I will obey his Grace, as my duty is, or to any other place his Grace will appoint me. But I protest before you and all others that be here present, that my conscience will in no wise suffer me to take any other than myself for the king's lawful daughter, born in true matrimony, or princess; and that I will never willingly and wittingly say or do, whereby any person might take occasion to think that I agree to the contrary. Not of any ambition or proud mind, as God is my judge; but that, if I should say or do otherwise, I should, in my conscience, slander the deed of our mother holy church, and the pope, who is the judge in this matter, and none other; and also dishonour the king my father, the queen my mother, and falsely confess myself a bastard; which God defend that I should do, seeing the pope hath not so declared it by his sentence definitive; for to his judgment I submit me."
As you have heard some part already of the stout courage of the Lady Mary toward her father, and also by her letters no less was declared toward King Edward her brother and others of his council, as well may appear by the letters above specified between the king her brother and his council: so now let us infer somewhat, likewise, of the stout talk and demeanour of the said Lady Mary toward Doctor Ridley, bishop of London, who, gently coming to herof mere good will, had this communication with her, and she with him, as here followeth:
About the eighth of September, 1552, Dr. Ridley, then bishop of London, lying at his house at Hadham in Hertfordshire, went to visit the Lady Mary, then lying at Hunsdon, two miles off; and was gently entertained of Sir Thomas Wharton, and other her officers, till it was almost eleven of the clock; about which time the said Lady Mary came forth into her chamber of presence, and then the said bishop there saluted her Grace, and said, that he was come to do this duty to her Grace. Then she thanked him for his pains, and, for a quarter of an hour, talked with him very pleasantly; and said, that she knew him in the court when he was chaplain to her father, and could well remember a sermon that he made before King Henry her father, at the marriage of my Lady Clinton that now is, to Sir Anthony Brown, &c.: and so dismissed him to dine with her officers.
After dinner was done, the bishop being called for by the said Lady Mary, resorted again to her Grace, between whom this communication was. First the bishop beginneth in manner as followeth:
Bishop.--"Madam, I came not only to do my duty, to see your Grace, but also to offer myself to preach before you on Sunday next, if it will please you to hear me."
At this her countenance changed, and, after silence for a space, she answered thus:
Mary.--"My Lord, as for this last matter I pray you make the answer to it yourself."
Bishop.--"Madam, considering mine office and calling, I am bound in duty to make to your Grace this offer, to preach before you."
Mary.--"Well, I pray you make the answer (as I have said) to this matter yourself; for you know the answer well enough. But if there be no remedy but I must make you answer, this shall be your answer: the door of the parish church adjoining shall be open for you if you come, and ye may preach if you list; but neither I, nor any of mine, shall hear you."
Bishop.--"Madam, I trust yon will not refuse God's word."
Mary.--"I cannot tell what ye call God's word: that is not God's word now, that was God's word in my father's days."
Bishop.--"God's word is all one in all times; but hath been better understood and practised in some ages than in others."
Mary.--"You durst not, for your ears, have avouched that for God's word in my father's days, that now you do. And as for your new books, I thank God I never read any of them: I never did nor ever will do."
And after many bitter words against the form of religion then established, and against the government of the realm and the laws made in the young years of her brother (which, she said, she was not bound to obey till her brother came to perfect age, and then, she affirmed, she would obey them,) she asked the bishop whether he were one of the council. He answered. "No." "You might well enough," said she, "as the council goeth now-a-days."
And so she concluded with these words: "My Lord, for your gentleness to come and see me, I thank you: but for your offering to preach before me, I thank you never a whit."
Then the said bishop was brought by Sir Thomas Wharton to the place where they dined, and was desired to drink. And after he had drunk, he paused awhile, looking very sadly; and suddenly brake out into these words: "Surely I have done amiss." "Why so?" quoth Sir Thomas Wharton. "For I have drunk," said he, "in that place where God's word offered hath been refused: whereas, if I had remembered my duty, I ought to have departed immediately, and to have shaken off the dust of my shoes for a testimony against this house." These words were by the said bishop spoken with such a vehemency, that some of the hearers afterwards confessed their hair to stand upright on their heads. This done, the said bishop departed, and so returned to his house.
And thus, making an end of this ninth book, touching the story and reign of King Edward, and having also somewhat said before of the nature and disposition of the Lady Mary, whereby the way may be prepared the better to the troubles of the next book following; we intend, the grace of God assisting us therein, now further to proceed in describing the acts and proceedings of the said Lady Mary, coming now to be queen, and advanced, next after this godly King Edward, to the crown of this realm of England.