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were more ardently employed in conspiring the death of each other. In this manner, therefore, he was suffered to struggle, without any of his domestics having the courage to warn him of his approaching end, as more than once, during this reign, persons had been put to death for foretelling the death of the king. At last, sir Anthony Denny had the courage to disclose to him this dreadful secret; and, contrary to his usual custom, he received the tidings with an expression of resignation. His anguish and remorse were at this time greater than can be expressed: he desired that Cranmer might be sent for; but, before that prelate could arrive, he was speechless. Cranmer desiring him to give some sign of his dying in the faith of Christ, he squeezed his hand, and immediately expired, after a reign of thirty-seven years and nine months, Jan. 28. in the fifty-sixth year of his age. Some kings 1547. have been tyrants from contradiction and revolt, some from being misled by favourites, and some from a spirit of party: but Henry was cruel from a depraved disposition alone; cruel in government, cruel in religion, and cruel in his family. Our divines have taken some pains to vindicate the character of this brutal prince, as if his conduct and our Reformation had any connection with each other. There is nothing so absurd as to defend the one by the other; the most noble designs are brought about by the most vicious instruments; for we see even that cruelty and injustice were thought necessary to be employed in our holy redemption. With regard to foreign states, Henry made some expeditions into France, which were attended with vast expense to the nation, and brought it no kind of advantage. However, he all along maintained an intercourse of friendship with Francis, which appeared disinterested and sincere. Against the Scots he was rather
more successful; his generals having worsted their incursive armies on several occasions. But that which gave England the greatest ascendency over that nation, was the spirit of concord which soon after seemed to prevail between the two kingdoms; and that seemed to pave the way for their being in time united under the same sovereign. There were ten parliaments summoned in this reign, and twenty-three sessions held; but the whole time in which these parliaments sat, during this long reign, did not exceed three years and a half. The foreign commerce of England, during this age, was mostly confined to the Netherlands. The merchants of the Low-Countries bought the English commodities, and distributed them into the other parts of Europe. These commodities, however, were generally little more than the natural productions of the country, without any manufactures; for it must be observed at this time, that foreign artificers much surpassed the English in dexterity, industry, and frugality; and it is said that at one time not less than fifteen thousand artisans, of the Flemish nation alone, were settled in London.
HENRY the Eighth was succeeded on the throne by his only son, Edward the Sixth, then in the tenth year of his age. The late king in his will, which he expected would be absolutely obeyed, fixed the majority of the prince at the completion of the eighteenth year; and, in the mean time, appointed sixteen executors of his will, to whom, during the minority, he intrusted the government of the king and kingdom. But the vanity of his aims was soon discovered ; for the first act of the executors was to choose the earl of Hertford, who was afterwards made duke of Somerset, as protector of the realm; and in him was lodged all the regal power, together with a privilege of naming whom he would for his privy-council. This was a favourable season for those of the reformed religion; and the eyes of the late king were no sooner closed than all of that persuasion congratulated themselves on the event. They no longer suppressed their sentiments, but maintained their doctrines openly, in preaching and teaching, even while the laws against them continued in full force. The protector had long been regarded as the secret partisan of the reformers; and, being now freed from restraint, he scrupled not to express his intention of correcting all the abuses of the ancient religion, and of adopting still more the doctrines propagated by Luther. His power was not a little strengthened by his military success. He wished to compel the Scots to give their young queen (the unfortunate Mary) in marriage to Edward; and, attacking a part of their army, he slew about eight hundred men. The popularity which he gained upon this occasion seconded his views in the propagation of the new doctrines. But the character of Somerset did not stand in need of the mean supports of popularity acquired in this manner, as he was naturally humble, civil, affable, and courteous, to the meanest suitor, while his actions were in general directed by motives of piety and honour. The protector, in his schemes for advancing the Reformation, had always recourse to the counsels of Cranmer, who, being a man of moderation and prudence, was averse to violent changes, and determined to bring over the people by insensible innovations to his own peculiar system. The person who opposed with the greatest authority any farther advances towards reformation, was Gardiner, bishop of Winchester, who, though he had not obtained a place at the councilboard, yet, from his age, experience, and capacity, was regarded by most men with some degree of veneration. Upon a general visitation of the church, which had been commanded by the primate and protector, Gardiner defended the use of images, which the protestants now openly attacked; he even wrote an apology for holy'water: but he particularly alleged, that it was unlawful to make any change in religion during the king's minority. This opposition of Gardiner drew on him the indignation of the council; and he was sent to the Fleet prison, where he was treated with harshness and severity. These internal regulations were in some measure retarded by the war with Scotland, which still continued to rage with some violence. But a defeat which that nation suffered at Musselburgh, in which above ten thousand perished in the field of battle, induced them to sue for peace, in order to gain time; and the protector returned to settle the business of the Reformation, which was as yet only begun. Though he acquired great popularity by this expedition, he did not fail to attract the envy of several noblemen, by procuring a patent from the young king, his nephew, to sit in parliament on the right hand of the throne, and to enjoy the same honours and privileges which had usually been granted to the uncles of kings in England. However, he still drove on his favourite schemes of reformation, and gave more consistency to the tenets of the church. The cup was restored to the laity in the sacrament of the Lord's supper; private masses were abolished; the king was empowered to create bishops by letters-patent; vagabonds were adjudged to be slaves for two years, and to be marked with a red-hot iron; an act commonly supposed to be leveled against the strolling priests and friars. It was enacted also, that all who denied the king's supremacy, or asserted that of the pope, should, for the first offence, forfeit their goods and chattels, and suffer imprisonment during pleasure; that, for the second offence, they should incur the pain of premunire; and, for the third, be attainted of treason. Orders were issued by the council, that candles should no longer be carried about on Candlemas-day, ashes on Ash-Wednesday, or palms on Palm-Sunday. These were ancient superstitious practices, which led to immoralities that it was thought proper to restrain. An order also was issued for the removal of all images from the churches; an innovation which was much desired by the reformers, and which alone, with regard to the populace, amounted almost to a change of the established religion. The people had for some time been extremely distracted by the opposite opinions of their preachers; and as they were totally incapable of judging of the arguments advanced on either side, and naturally regarded every thing they heard at church as of the greatest authority, much confusion and fluctuation resulted from this uncertainty. The council first endeavoured to remove the inconvenience by laying some restraints upon preaching: but finding this expedient fail, they imposed a total silence upon preachers; which, however, was removed by degrees, in proportion as the Reformation gained ground among the people.