Page:The house of Cecil.djvu/187

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THE FIRST EARL OF SALISBURY 159

humours/ wayward, uncertain, impatient, fantastic, capricious ; acting by fits and starts, upon impulses and prejudices ; but ever with a dash and brilliancy that were nearly allied to genius. Sir Robert Cecil was his very contrary in all these respects. Brought up at the feet of his pre-eminent father, he acquired, perhaps inherited, the highest official qualities ; a calm, quiet, patient thoughtfulness, the power of mastering and applying details however intricate ; diligence that was never weary, patience that could not be exhausted, temper that was seldom ruffled, and a habit of comparing and sifting and weighing and balancing, which generally led him to right conclusions. Essex was generous in the highest degree, a patron of literature, and of all noble and gentle arts, and ever ready to take the lead in kind and liberal deeds ; he was at the same time impetuous, fiery, vehement, a man of action ; courageous, daring, and more than anything delighted with military command, and with the eclat and brilliancy of a soldier's life. Cecil was a man of thought and law and peace, neither a soldier himself nor looking upon war in any shape save as a necessity to be deplored. Consciousness of his own physical defects kept the one man comparatively humble : consciousness of his own power of dazzling and attracting people, and of attaching them to himself, puffed up the other, and led him into continual extravagances."

Essex was the leader of all the young spirits who longed for adventure and for active measures against Spain, while the policy of the Cecils was, above all things, to avoid war. Thus Essex found his rash schemes constantly opposed and balked, and in his turn he neglected no opportunity of thwarting his adversaries. On the death of Wal- singham, in 1590, in order to prevent Cecil from

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