Calendar of State Papers Foreign, Edward VI 1547-1553. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1861.
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The present volume contains an abstract of the official correspondence transmitted from abroad, for the information of the English Government, during the reign of Edward the Sixth. The earliest of the documents here analysed is written two days after the death of Henry the Eighth, and the latest in the series must have reached London while it was yet undecided whether the Lady Jane or the Princess Mary should be the future Queen of England.
In one important respect this volume differs from the previous "Calendars of State Papers published by the authority of Her Majesty's Treasury, under the direction of the Master of the Rolls." They illustrate the internal history of one nation, whereas the following pages treat almost exclusively of our relations with continental powers.
It must be at once admitted that the chief interest of the reign of Edward the Sixth is domestic, not foreign. The ministers who presided over public affairs at that time were too busily occupied at home to find either time or inclination for engaging in the politics of their neighbours. When these were discussed at the Council-board they were appreciated chiefly in as far as they influenced home plans and interests. The energies of the Government were directed towards objects exclusively national, and the information forwarded from abroad was interpreted accordingly. It was different from what it had been. There was an end to our intercourse with France, for Francis the First speedily followed to the grave (fn. 1) his "very dear and well-beloved good brother, cousin and gossip, perpetual ally and perfect friend, the late King of England recently deceased." (fn. 2) There was no longer the dread of a coalition between France and Spain; for the emperor Charles the Fifth, despite his enormous possessions, had enough to do to hold his own in Germany. The rupture with Rome was now complete. Interest flagged in all these quarters. England, carrying out the idea suggested to her by her geographical position, isolates herself from foreign wars and foreign coalitions, and devotes herself, without let or hindrance, to establish herself upon a basis of her own choosing.
We should form, however, a very imperfect and therefore a very erroneous conception of our history during the reign of Edward the Sixth, did we suppose that because the policy of the Government was domestic, the governing body was indifferent to what was passing abroad. We must have the knowledge of a fact before we can decide that the fact is unimportant. The ruling body in England did not advisedly and deliberately cast aside foreign politics; this was brought about gradually, and was the result of accidental circumstances rather than the logical development of a preconceived theory. But be that as it may, thus much is certain, that throughout the whole of this reign there is no lack of foreign correspondence; correspondence, too, of the most precious quality. It embodies information which bears the evidence of having been obtained at much cost and sifted with much jealousy, which was moulded into its present form with much skill, and transmitted homewards with much secrecy. The accredited ambassador and the unaccredited spy plied his task with unabated address, according to his several opportunity. The result of all this lavish outlay and keen observation lies before us in the following pages. We are admitted, for the first time since these despatches were written, into the secret history of nearly every court of Europe. We are told of events as they occurred from day to day by men who either were witnesses of what they report, or obtained it from trustworthy sources. And marvellously full of interest is the picture which is here presented to our view. It may perhaps assist the reader to grasp the subject somewhat more easily if he has before him a sketch of the position of the chief Continental States, and of the attitude which they assumed towards England.
It is no part of my province to speak of the reign of Henry the Eighth, neither is a history of that of his immediate successor required. I undertake no more than to trace the bearing of one distinct class of documents, out of very many, upon the fortunes of our nation. And, in considering these documents from this point of view, it will be found that the interest which the collection possesses groups itself more especially round two figures, which stand prominently forward, Henry the Second, King of France, and Charles the Fifth, Emperor of Germany. Upon both the one and the other England looked with suspicion not unmingled with fear. She was aware that neither of these individuals loved, and that each might injure her. Each had his own special ground of dissatisfaction. With Henry there was the old quarrel of nationalities; France against England. With Charles there was the new quarrel of creeds; Catholicity against Protestantism. Was it possible for England to stand against this hostility? Should she fight, or temporize, or yield? Should she return to Rome, or make common cause with the Protestants of Germany against Rome? These are questions which the nation must now solve, and for the solution of which Europe waited in anxious expectation. And the value of the following series of letters lies in this, that they enable us to give a consistent and precise answer to these questions.
The death of Henry the Eighth left England at peace with France. The treaty of Campes (fn. 3) was still in force, and Francis had no wish that it should be interrupted. (fn. 4) The accession of Henry the Second materially changed the aspect of affairs. The new ministry by which he surrounded himself, (fn. 5) to the exclusion of the tried friends whose guidance his dying father had urged him to follow, entertained a lively feeling of hostility towards England. The King's opinions were no secret. (fn. 6) He knew that he could calculate upon the national support if he provoked a war, and the possession of Boulogne by the English afforded an excellent pretext. Preparations for its recovery were now commenced upon a large scale, (fn. 7) and the English were soon made aware that it must be kept, if at all, by a vigorous struggle. For this they were not prepared, as Boulogne was scarcely tenable. It was feebly garrisoned, deficient in military stores, and its fortifications had fallen into decay. (fn. 8) The Governor importuned the Council in London for men, munitions, and money, but none were sent. Henry the Eighth had left behind him a crippled revenue, despite the enormous sums which he had derived at the dissolution of the religious houses. Somerset's expedition into Scotland had absorbed all the ready money upon which he could lay his hands; but if he could not fight he might negociate. In the summer of 1549 Paget was sent into the Low Countries in the hope that the Emperor might be induced to take Boulogne under his protection. (fn. 9) The negociation, however, was a signal failure. It was with difficulty that Paget obtained an interview. (fn. 10) Charles heard all but said little; he was courteous but cautious, and Paget returned homewards without having accomplished his mission. (fn. 11)
France, meanwhile, pushed on her preparations with energy, and gave proof that she was in earnest. The recovery of Boulogne united the discordant elements of the Court; Guises, Bourbons, Montmorencies, all harmonized in furthering this design. The forts of Newhaven and Blackness were captured without much resistance, (fn. 12) and it was understood that the town would ere long be invested by the King in person. An appeal for assistance,—for troops and money,—was made to the Emperor and the Marquis of Brandenburg; (fn. 13) it was piteous but ineffectual. War was declared with France, (fn. 14) but it was little more than an empty form, for at this very juncture England was convulsed by the distractions incident upon the overthrow of the Protector Somerset. The new Minister of England, the Earl of Warwick, wanted money, and he entered into a treaty with the French for the sale of Boulogne.
The interest of the French correspondence now takes a different direction, but of this perhaps we have no reason to complain. It becomes less political, less purely diplomatic, but not less valuable. The English Ambassador, from whose letters we derive the greater part of our intelligence, was Sir John Masone. He accompanied the Court in its wanderings from place to place,—for Henry the Second led a most erratic life,—and as the Council at Westminster must know all that was passing, Sir John was constrained to fill his letters with lighter matter than was either his wont or his will. He submitted to the exigencies of his position, and does not think it beneath his notice to enlarge upon the familiar topic of the weather. (fn. 15) He has time to chronicle the doings and sayings of the courtiers, court scandal, and pageantry. He gives us a sketch of the domestic life of Henry; and the picture, though necessarily incomplete, has its interest. Let us examine its details a little more closely.
The Ambassador finds himself obliged to report in many of his letters that the King is at the hunting, (fn. 16) and that he has been so much engaged in visiting, hunting, and amusements," that it is difficult to obtain access to him for the transaction of business. (fn. 17) "This Court is all set upon pastimes," remarks Sir John despondingly; adding that he sees no prospect of its improvement, since, "between Candlemas and Shrovetide, shall the marriages go forward with much triumph." (fn. 18) Shortly afterwards he gives an account how they went forward: of the tiltings, the processions, and the masks, to which he had been invited, and of the grand banquet made by the Cardinal of Lorraine. He admits,—and he had been familiar with the splendour of the Courts of Henry the Eighth and Francis the First,—that he "never saw a more goodly or a richer sight. A man would have thought that all the jewels in Christendom had been assembled together, so gorgeously were the dames beset with great numbers of them, both their heads and bodies. (fn. 19)
Of two of these "dames" we are naturally curious to learn some particulars,—the King's wife and his mistress. Of the former, Catherine de Medicis, little is said; and the indifference with which she is treated by the Ambassador shows how little she was regarded by her husband. She is scarcely ever mentioned, except when she is about to add to the Royal family. (fn. 20) Much more conspicuous is the figure of Diana of Poitiers, the King's mistress, who, although she has lived fifty years in the world, still retains her influence over the Monarch of thirty. "The Duchess of Valentinois," for that now was her title, "ruleth the roast," observes Sir John Masone, rather bitterly, (fn. 21) for he knew that her influence was hostile to England, and that it was all-powerful with Henry, who spent much of his time in her company. (fn. 22) "The King leaves to-morrow for a house of the Duchess of Valentinois, and will be absent about twelve days," is the report of July. (fn. 23) In September "the King intends to remain some days at Anet," (fn. 24) that "wonderful fair and sumptuous house belonging to Madame Valentinois," which had been built for her by Philibert Delorme. Here Masone had an interview with Henry in March 1553. After his audience with the King "Madame Valentinois commanded that collation (as they term it), should be prepared for me in a gallery, and that afterwards I should see all the commodities of the house, which were so sumptuous and princelike as ever I saw." (fn. 25)
These pleasure excursions of Henry threw the administration of public affairs into the hands of others. The chief of these self-appointed ministers was the Constable Montmorenci, whose influence, judging from the present correspondence, was greater than is generally supposed. It was necessary to refer to him for the transaction of business of every kind. (fn. 26) The precise meaning of certain of his expressions formed the subject of anxious correspondence between the English Council and their representative at Blois. (fn. 27) He professed a friendly spirit towards England, (fn. 28) in which, however, he was opposed by the Guises, the growing influence of whose faction did not fail to attract the notice of Masone. The Scottish Queen," he writes, "desireth as much our subversion, if it lay in her power, as she desireth the preservation of herself. Mons. de Guise and M. d'Aumale, and the Cardinal of Lorraine, partly at her egging, and partly upon an ambitious desire to make their house great, be no hindrance to her malicious designs." (fn. 29) In the same letter he remarks, "The credit of the house of Guise in this Court passeth all others; for, albeit the Constable hath the outward administration of all things, being for that service such a man as hard it were to find the like, yet have they as much credit as he, with whom he is constrained to sail, and many times to take that course that he liketh never a bit."
Towards the end of the French correspondence the Ambassadors, Masone and Chaloner, are constrained to enlarge upon the inconvenience to which they were subjected by the irregularity with which they received payment of their salaries. At best their allowance was inadequate to meet the ordinary expenses of their position, and it was falling further and further into arrear. France, as they discovered to their cost, was an expensive country to live in, (fn. 30) and the erratic life of the King, who flitted from castle to castle, from palace to palace, entertaining and being entertained at each, and lavishing his money wherever he went; all this increased their outlay. Charges were accumulated and prices rose wherever the Court established itself. (fn. 31) France was prosperous and wealthy, while England, exhausted and poverty-stricken, was fast sinking in public estimation. Henry's courtiers had many unpleasant stories about "the buying and selling of offices in England, the decaying of grammar schools and the universities, with many other enormities, which they shew one another, printed in English books, and set forth by English preachers." (fn. 32) Masone was at first urgent and facetious, then he became urgent and impatient, at last he grew urgent and querulous, but each change of expression, each turn of mind, was disregarded at home. His allowance was five marks; his daily expenses were double that sum; he must borrow, and that at the rate of forty per cent. besides interest, in consequence of the depreciation of the currency. (fn. 33) (fn. 34) He had an attack of the gout; he was confined to his bed; his body drooped, so that he feared he would never see the end of the winter, a great part of which he fears will be spent in journeying. He would gladly die, if it might be, among Christian men. (fn. 35) As the season advanced matters grew worse. Christmas was expensive, New Year's tide extravagant. Between these two festivals he writes in these terms to the English Council:—that he has exhausted his credit in England, sold all his own plate, and shall shortly be driven for very extremity to do the like with the King's. (fn. 36) The Council replies that orders have been issued for the payment of his "diets;" (fn. 37) but these orders were also disregarded. "The Treasurer maketh none other answer, but that he hath no money. I would to God I could be excused with the like answer to my steward here!" (fn. 38)
From France we naturally pass to Scotland. For centuries the interests of the two countries were closely identified, (fn. 39) and the bond of union was hostility towards England. If the English crossed the channel and invaded France the Scotch crossed the Tweed and invaded England. Things were tending to some such issue when our correspondence opens, for Henry the Eighth bequeathed a Scot tish war to his successor on the Throne. The Protector, Somerset, acting upon the policy of the late King, endeavoured to bring about the union of the two realms by the marriage of the young Queen Mary Stuart with King Edward, (fn. 40) and he addressed a letter to the Scottish nobility, in which he endeavoured, by mingled threats and promises, to induce them to carry out this favourite project. The scheme was most unpopular in Scotland, and it was opposed on a double ground. The Catholic party, headed by the Queen Dowager Mary of Guise, opposed it upon religious grounds, and the national party resented it as subversive of their independence as a distinct kingdom.
The result is well-known; it was the sanguinary conflict of Pinkie, fought upon Saturday, 10th September 1547. The defeat which the Scottish arms there sustained only widened the breach with England, and at the same time strengthened the traditionary alliance with France. The young Scottish Queen was no longer safe in her own realm, and she was removed into France. There was a growing attachment between the two realms; it must be watched, and, if possible, checked; at least the English Ambassador resident at the French Court must report all that he sees and hears upon a subject so important to the interests of his own country.
One thing he soon discovered; the Scottish spirit was not broken by defeat. "In one point,"—says Masone, writing of those Scotsmen whom he had met at the French Court at Blois,—"in one point they all agree, that the English by their will, shall not have one foot more of ground in Scotland than they had before the war, unless they have the whole." (fn. 41) The Council at Greenwich was of the same way of thinking; they had defeated their neighbours in the North, but they had not subdued them; "however anxious they were to be upon friendly terms with the Scots, the latter will always provoke a breach of the peace." (fn. 42) There was an unsuspected vitality about this petty northern kingdom, which surprised and irritated Ambassadors as well as Generals. The Scottish navy was powerful enough and enterprising enough to interfere with the commerce of England. The Mary Willoughby and other Scottish ships of war lie at Newhaven, and issue at every tide for the interrupting and spoiling of the English merchants who traffic that way, being supplied with all munitions of men, victuals, and ordnance when they need them. Another Scottish vessel called the Great Spaniard lies at Dieppe, pursuing the same course, and is aided by France." (fn. 43) A large Scottish ship, "with much ammunition, and eighty men and a lord," had arrived at Lubeck upon the same mission. Dr. Wotton had ascertained from a spy that they had on board a newly invented preparation, a sort of Greek fire, intended for destroying the English ships, and he thereupon recommends very special caution. (fn. 44) Both France and Denmark aided Scotland in this annoying warfare. The latter dispatched thirty ships, well supplied with men and victual, there, "being entertained by the French King, with hope that his brother shall marry the Scottish Queen, though the said King intendeth nothing less indeed." So far from this design having originated in France it had, at one time, been entertained by Henry the Eighth, who saw in it not only the means of thwarting the designs of Francis the First, but also of forming a Protestant alliance in the North of Europe. (fn. 45) It was from France, however, that the danger was chiefly apprehended. Thirty great ships armed, and twenty galleys at the least, were about to be dispatched at one time, (fn. 46) and troops, horse and foot, had been seen on their road to the coast to embark for Scotland. (fn. 47) Intelligence yet more alarming was forwarded from Strasburg, where it was current that the French King was pressing for the conveyance of 10,000 soldiers into the same country. (fn. 48) A portion of the army had arrived at their destination, others were speedily to follow, and the plan of the ensuing campaign was already decided. (fn. 49) England was constrained to avert the impending danger by negociating, and the peace which was now concluded with France suspended further warfare.
Mary of Guise took advantage of this cessation of hostilities to proceed into France, where her presence excited the apprehension of the English Ambassador. The object of her mission was unmistakable; it was to foment discord between France and England. Her misfortunes invested her with much personal interest, and the growing influence of her family, all hostile to England, augmented the danger. (fn. 50) Preparations were made, early in July 1550, for her arrival. (fn. 51) Having obtained a safe conduct from the English Government (fn. 52) she embarked, and was expected to land at Dieppe. The christening of the child, to which the French Queen had lately given birth, was delayed until her arrival, as the King was anxious that she should stand as godmother. M. de Guise, with the flower of the nobility, went to Dieppe to meet her. She entered Rouen, on 25th September, with a large retinue of Scottish gentlemen, and was received with much honour, the King himself joining in the demonstration. (fn. 53) Taking advantage of her position in the Court, in which "she bore the whole swing," she kept up the ill-feeling of France towards England. "The Scottish Queen," writes Masone, "desireth as much our subversion, if it lay in her power, as she desireth the preservation of herself, whose service in Scotland is so highly taken here as she is in this Court made a goddess. Mons. de Guise and M. d'Aumale, and the Cardinal of Lorraine, partly at her egging, and partly upon an ambitious desire to make their house great, be no hindrance of her malicious desire." (fn. 54) The King consulted with her upon State affairs, and would give no "resolute answer" to the proposals of the English Ambassador until he had ascertained her opinion. (fn. 55) The same amusing correspondent presently assures us that "the Dowager of Scotland maketh all this Court weary of her, from the high to the low, such an importunate beggar is she for herself and her chosen friends. The King would fain be rid of her, and she, as she pretendeth, would fain be gone." "He was assured by the Receiver-General of Brittany (who wished that Scotland were in a fish pool) that since the beginning 1,900,000 francs had been sent thither out of his own receipt and of the receipt of Guienne, and how much else had passed he knew not." (fn. 56) She lingered in France until the end of October 1551, upon the 22d of which she landed at Portsmouth, having been escorted thither by ten French ships of war. We have, in one of these letters, a detailed account of her landing in England, her progress from house to house in her road to London, her reception at Hampton Court, her voyage down the Thames, and her dinner with his Majesty. She departed northward on November 6, the King having previously written to the sheriffs of the various counties through which she would pass that due honours be paid to her; and two gentlemen were appointed to attend her throughout her whole journey, to see things conveniently and agreeably served." (fn. 57)
During the residence in France an incident occurred which brings before us another Queen of Scotland, the beautiful and unfortunate Mary. In April 1551 a conspiracy to poison her had been detected, the culprit being an archer of the guard, who escaped into Ireland. The Queen Dowager fell suddenly sick upon the opening of those news to her. The design was supposed to have been devised by some of the discontented Scots, (fn. 58) but it is difficult to conceive what the object was, except to pave the way for the union of the two realms in the person of the youthful Edward. The whole affair is mysterious. "The Scot that should have poisoned the young Scottish Queen arrived here yesterday," writes Masone from Angers, but we do not learn that he was punished, or indeed that any investigation into the truth of the charge took place.
At the period to which these letters refer little interest was felt respecting Ireland. It was regarded as a foreign country, its inhabitants held as scarce better than savages; it took no part in the politics of the nation, its existence was tolerated only as a necessary and unavoidable evil. Masone had a short remedy for the annoyance which Ireland caused his master Somerset, and he probably expressed the sentiment of his countrymen when he exclaimed, "These Irish wild beasts should be hunted down." (fn. 59) It was his belief that the French King had serious thoughts of invading that kingdom and making it his own. (fn. 60) Masone became nervous and irritable: he complains that he has Ireland "every day in his dish;" he has heard that the noblemen there, with the majority of the people, are ready to give themselves to a new master; an emissary has told his friends that he doubteth not to see the French King shortly to bear the crown of Ireland," and that he hopes to bring jolly news" when he returns at the end of Lent. (fn. 61) Here the intelligence fails us, and we have to seek elsewhere for its continuation.
One great Continental power has hitherto been unnoticed, the greatest in territorial extent, and yet weak because of that very extent of territory,—I mean the vast dominions in Germany, Spain, and Flanders, represented by the Emperor Charles the Fifth. The present correspondence exhibits the declension of his power; it is breaking down from a want of cohesion; it is a conglomeration of various people who have no bond of union, political or national, civil or religious. They are brought together by an accident, they cannot coalesce, the principle of repulsion is at work, not that of attraction. It is difficult to trace Charles through the tortuous policy by which he hoped to find the solution of the difficulties which surrounded him; doubtless he had some theory by which he expected to extricate himself, but it does not come out clearly in the letters which are here opened to our inspection. He appears to have acted rather according to the pressure of circumstances than with refer ence to a preconceived system; this much at least is certain, he baffled the expectations of those persons who watched him most narrowly. The news of the day is chronicled as it occurred; interviews, treaties, battles, conferences, are all recorded, but they do not help us to understand the Emperor, the bearing of the whole upon the general period is to be understood only by retrospect.
Thus, then, are placed upon the stage the chief actors in the drama which is about to be represented. Each has his rôle, and each proceeds to play his part according to his several ability. My duty ends when I have introduced them to the spectator; he must judge of them singly and collectively from his own point of view. To anticipate his judgment, to decide for him beforehand where he shall praise and where he shall blame, would be simply impertinent. Having, to the best of my ability, given him, the means of forming his own opinion, I leave him. But before doing so, a few miscellaneous remarks upon some subjects not devoid of general interest, which admit of illustration from the following pages may not be deemed out of place.
Literary history may glean some information from this correspondence. A curious letter from Carne to the Lord Protector, contains the opinion formed by the writer upon the scholarship of "the most learned and most honest men in the Low countries," (fn. 62) with a view doubtless to their establishment at the seats of learning in England. Sir John Borthwick forwards a copy of Saxo Grammaticus, "who, considering his time, precels all his contemporaneans and conteraneans in the Latin tongue," and he begs that the volume may be presented to his Majesty. (fn. 63) We have some literary gossip about Ascham, (fn. 64) Paulus Vergerius, and Bucer. (fn. 65) The history of the "Interim," its authorship, publication, reception, and success, is here brought out with considerable detail. (fn. 66) "Wavering Doctor Smyth," formerly regius professor of divinity at Oxford, who has printed at Paris, "a slanderous book against the Archbishop of Canterbury," sues for permission to return to England, (fn. 67) but his delinquencies are notorious, and cannot be overlooked. Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, is also introduced; he is deprived of his bishopric, "and in his disobedience and obstinate refusing of the King's Majesty's mercy and favour, showed not only a wilful pride, but also a cankered heart of an evil subject." (fn. 68) "He railed upon his judges," say the Council, "sought to defame the whole estate of the realm, and on the whole showed himself a subject utterly given to disquiet." (fn. 69) Here, however, no one is so prominent as Cecil, who, amid his multifarious duties, found time to interest himself in the collection of a library. Copies of Euclid, Machiavelli, of the New Testament in Greek, (fn. 70) and l'Horloge de Princes, with several others mentioned in these letters, were collected at Paris for transmission to him at London; but Sir William Pickering was so disgusted with the binding of the two volumes first mentioned, that he burnt them both. (fn. 71) He employs another correspondent at Bruges, to procure for him certain "figures," which cannot be obtained there, but which may probably be found at Antwerp. (fn. 72) Cecil's well known love for genealogical researches, here exhibits itself. (fn. 73) We now find the young King of England recognized as the patron of literature; books are dedicated to him, and their authors forward presentation copies. (fn. 74)
We have already seen that Masone, while Ambassador in France, complained bitterly at being compelled to borrow money from the agents, and that he paid for it a rate of interest so excessive, that we might imagine his case to be exceptional. It was not so, however, as we gather from the experience of others, who were reduced, by the nonpayment of their salaries, to adopt the same ruinous expedients. Carne, writing from Bruges, then a great commercial city, assures the English Government, that he had to pay 100 marks for 100l. sterling; "the exchange is so ill." (fn. 75) An agent, resident at Antwerp, makes a merit of procuring 100,000l. at 14 per cent. interest, remarking that the Emperor himself pays, even to his own subjects, as much as 15, 16, and often 18 per cent. (fn. 76) The Council at London endeavoured to borrow money at 12 per cent., (fn. 77) but after considerable negociation they failed, 13 per cent. being considered the minimum rate. (fn. 78) The credit of England was upon the wane; doubts were expressed as to the ultimate repayment of the sums so advanced; (fn. 79) and ere long Sir Thomas Chamberlain writes from Brussels, "here is no money to be gotten, and that that is, only at 25 per cent. (fn. 80) The pressure upon the borrower was equally heavy in France; Masone, if he borrows, must do so at 40 per cent., beside interest, in consequence of the depreciation of the currency. (fn. 81) Nor was the sum so borrowed always paid in cash, the truck system prevailed even thus early; (fn. 82) while, on the other hand, we find the Protector Somerset anxious to discharge a debt, by sending out of England large quantities of lead and bell-metal. (fn. 83) This high rate of exchange and accommodation arose from various causes, one of which was the great danger in transmitting cash, and bills were not then generally introduced. The sea was swept by privateers, who were little better than pirates, (fn. 84) and who plundered without scruple, and without discrimination of friend or foe, every vessel which came in their way; and land carriage was equally perilous, and therefore most expensive. (fn. 85)
In a collection like the present, purely diplomatic in its object, it is scarcely to be expected that we should be made acquainted with any matters which partake of a domestic character. Yet here and there such illustrations occur, and the manners, customs, dresses, and amusements of our ancestors, as they are incidentally noticed by these grave correspondents, are not without their interest. I am prevented, however, from entering upon this subject, by the consciousness that my introduction is exceeding its due bounds, and I must satisfy myself with this general statement.
Before concluding this division of my subject I would direct attention to two valuable series of letters, one of which illustrates the mining operations of the period, (fn. 86) and the other its agriculture. (fn. 87)
Here, then, I bring to a close my remarks upon the correspondence which is contained in the present volume, so far as it illustrates the period of history which falls within the short reign of Edward the Sixth. I would caution the reader, however, against supposing that I have been able, in these introductory observations, to place before him a full abstract of the information to be gathered from the work itself. I have done nothing more than indicate its general bearing, the course in which it runs, and the direction at which it seems to point. I may be permitted to remark that though the character of the volume may be described as diplomatic and historical, yet its interest is not limited to these terms. It takes in a wider prospect; for there are few subjects of general importance for the illustration of which some information may not be gleaned from the documents now for the first time submitted, in a connected form, to the inspection of the inquirer.
It has been my wish to follow, as far as possible, the excellent example of M. Gachard. I have employed the very words and style of the writers so far as these, without losing their force, or jarring too much on our modern modes, can be adopted; and where the narrative, or certain peculiar expressions, might be impaired by condensation, I have quoted such paragraphs at length, with the mere correction of the orthography. "It is with antiquaries," says Peck, (fn. 88) "almost a piece of religion, to keep up to the very letter and spelling of the copy they write after, no matter however odd it is;" but, while striving to preserve the characteristics of the originals, I have had in view the public, and not dillettanti.
In such instances, where the correspondent, writing by ear, has obscured the precise word, I have inserted within brackets the proper spelling; e.g. "Mireposey" [Mirepoix],—"Edym" [Hesdin],—"Hellisame" [Hildersheim], —"Shantony" [Chantonnay].
I have taken care to preserve the name and occupation of the humblest individual mentioned; for these, apparently worthless, may not be unserviceable to the genealogist. The days and hours of their starting and arrival, as well as the route taken by the "posts," or couriers, are duly recorded; and the rapidity of communication so indicated will, in some instances, appear surprising when the accidents and arrangements of travelling three centuries ago are compared with those of the present day. The prices of commodities, value of money, atmospheric changes, &c., are equally retained: no grain in the sands of time is unworthy of note.
In like manner, the private letters from the Ambassador, or agent, to "his assured friend Mr. Secretary," will, it is presumed, be not the less attractive, as exhibiting the personal disposition and mental idiosyncracy of the writer. Therein may be perceived the brisk temper of Pickering, the dry humour of Masone, and the querulous quaintness of Morysine; while of others the pliant politics will appear in the immediately succeeding reigns, of which similar Calendars are in progress. Such letters, biographically viewed, have their own value, and diversify the constant iteration of battles, subsidies, espionage, doubts, rumours, and fears.
The abstracts of such letters, as I am aware, have been already printed fully in works generally accessible, are intentionally brief, and reference is made to the volume where they may be seen. In two instances, by reason of their interest, I have noticed, in their proper order, letters apparently now no longer in the State Paper Office, but which were to be found there in the time of Lord Hardwicke, who selected them for publication as illustrative of the reign of Edward the Sixth. These, from Morysine and Ascham, occur at page 222.
The letter from De Selve, which forms an addendum at page 290, instead of being inserted in its due place, was found, at the very time when the proof of the sheet was delivered to me, while assorting those relating to the reign of Queen Mary, now on the eve of being sent to press, among which it had been assigned to the year 1556.
The valuable series of papers respecting Calais and
Boulogne, abstracts of which are given in the Appendix,
was not placed in my hands until the greater portion of this
volume had been completed at press.
W. B. Turnbull.
3, Stone Buildings,
30 November 1860.