1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Clarendon, Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of
CLARENDON, EDWARD HYDE, 1st Earl of (1609–1674), English historian and statesman, son of Henry Hyde of Dinton, Wiltshire, a member of a family for some time established at Norbury, Cheshire, was born on the 18th of February 1609. He entered Magdalen Hall, Oxford, in 1622 (having been refused a demyship at Magdalen College), and graduated B.A. in 1626. Intended originally for holy orders, the death of two elder brothers made him his father’s heir, and in 1625 he entered the Middle Temple. At the university his abilities were more conspicuous than his industry, and at the bar his time was devoted more to general reading and to the society of eminent scholars and writers than to the study of law treatises. This wandering from the beaten track, however, was not without its advantages. In later years Clarendon declared “next the immediate blessing and providence of God Almighty” that he “owed all the little he knew and the little good that was in him to the friendships and conversation . . . of the most excellent men in their several kinds that lived in that age.” These included Ben Jonson, Selden, Waller, Hales, and especially Lord Falkland; and from their influence and the wide reading in which he indulged, he doubtless drew the solid learning and literary talent which afterwards distinguished him.
In 1629 he married his first wife, Anne, daughter of Sir George Ayliffe, who died six months afterwards; and secondly, in 1634, Frances, daughter of Sir Thomas Aylesbury, Master of Requests. In 1633 he was called to the bar, and obtained quickly a good position and practice. His marriages had gained for him influential friends, and in December 1634 he was made keeper of the writs and rolls of the common pleas; while his able conduct of the petition of the London merchants against Portland earned Laud’s approval. He was returned to the Short Parliament in 1640 as member for Wootton Bassett. Respect and veneration for the law and constitution of England were already fundamental principles with Hyde, and the flagrant violations and perversions of the law which characterized the twelve preceding years of absolute rule drove him into the ranks of the popular party. He served on numerous and important committees, and his parliamentary action was directed chiefly towards the support and restoration of the law. He assailed the jurisdiction of the earl marshal’s court, and in the Long Parliament, in which he sat for Saltash, renewed his attacks and practically effected its suppression. In 1641 he served on the committees for inquiring into the status of the councils of Wales and of the North, distinguished himself by a speech against the latter, and took an important part in the proceedings against the judges. He supported Stafford’s impeachment, and did not vote against the attainder, subsequently making an unsuccessful attempt through Essex to avert the capital penalty. Hyde’s allegiance, however, to the church of England was as staunch as his support of the law, and was soon to separate him from the popular faction. In February 1641 he opposed the reception of the London petition against episcopacy, and in May the project for unity of religion with the Scots, and the bill for the exclusion of the clergy from secular office. He showed special energy in his opposition to the Root and Branch Bill, and, though made chairman of the committee on the bill on the 11th of July in order to silence his opposition, he caused by his successful obstruction the failure of the measure. In consequence he was summoned to the king’s presence, and encouraged in his attitude, and at the beginning of the second session was regarded as one of the king’s ablest supporters in the Commons. He considered the claims put forward at this time by parliament as a violation and not as a guarantee of the law and constitution. He opposed the demand by the parliament to choose the king’s ministers, and also the Grand Remonstrance, to which he wrote a reply published by the king.
He now definitely though not openly joined the royal cause, and refused office in January 1642 with Colepeper and Falkland in order to serve the king’s interests more effectually. Charles undertook to do nothing in the Commons without their advice. Nevertheless a few days afterwards, without their knowledge and by the advice of Lord Digby, he attempted the arrest of the five members, a resort to force which reduced Hyde to despair, and which indeed seemed to show that things had gone too far for an appeal to the law. He persevered, nevertheless, in his legal policy, to which Charles after the failure of his project again returned, joined the king openly in June, and continued to compose the king’s answers and declarations in which he appealed to the “known Laws of the land” against the arbitrary and illegal acts of a seditious majority in the parliament, his advice to the king being “to shelter himself wholly under the law,. . . presuming that the king and the law together would have been strong enough for any encounter.” Hyde’s appeal had great influence, and gained for the king’s cause half the nation. It by no means, however, met with universal support among the royalists, Hobbes jeering at Hyde’s love for “mixed monarchy,” and the courtiers expressing their disapproval of the “spirit of accommodation” which “wounded the regality.” It was destined to failure owing principally to the invincible distrust of Charles created in the parliament leaders, and to the fact that Charles was simultaneously carrying on another and an inconsistent policy, listening to very different advisers, such as the queen and Digby, and resolving on measures (such as the attempt on Hull) without Hyde’s knowledge or approval.
War, accordingly, in spite of his efforts, broke out. He was expelled the House of Commons on the 11th of August 1642, and was one of those excepted later from pardon. He showed great activity in collecting loans, was present at Edgehill, though not as a combatant, and followed the king to Oxford, residing at All Souls College from October 1642 till March 1645. On the 22nd of February he was made a privy councillor and knighted, and on the 3rd of March appointed chancellor of the exchequer. He was an influential member of the “Junto” which met every week to discuss business before it was laid before the council. His aim was to gain over some of the leading Parliamentarians by personal influence and personal considerations, and at the Uxbridge negotiations in January 1645, where he acted as principal manager on the king’s side, while remaining firm on the great political questions such as the church and the militia, he tried to win individuals by promises of places and honours. He promoted the assembly of the Oxford parliament in December 1643 as a counterpoise to the influence and status of the Long Parliament. Hyde’s policy and measures, however, all failed. They had been weakly and irregularly supported by the king, and were fiercely opposed by the military party, who were jealous of the civil influence, and were urging Charles to trust to force and arms alone and eschew all compromise and concessions. Charles fell now under the influence of persons devoid of all legal and constitutional scruples, sending to Glamorgan in Ireland “those strange powers and instructions inexcusable to justice, piety and prudence.”
Hyde’s influence was much diminished, and on the 4th of March 1645 he left the king for Bristol as one of the guardians of the prince of Wales and governors of the west. Here the disputes between the council and the army paralysed the proceedings, and lost, according to Hyde, the finest opportunity since the outbreak of the war of raising a strong force and gaining substantial victories in that part of the country. After Hopton’s defeat on the 16th of February 1646, at Torrington, Hyde accompanied the prince, on the 4th of March, to Scilly, and on the 17th of April, for greater security, to Jersey. He strongly disapproved of the prince’s removal to France by the queen’s order and of the schemes of assistance from abroad, refused to accompany him, and signed a bond to prevent the sale of Jersey to the French supported by Jermyn. He opposed the projected sacrifice of the church to the Scots and the grant by the king of any but personal or temporary concessions, declaring that peace was only possible “upon the old foundations of government in church and state.” He was especially averse to Charles’s tampering with the Irish Romanists. “Oh, Mr Secretary,” he wrote to Nicholas, “those stratagems have given me more sad hours than all the misfortunes in war which have befallen the king and look like the effects of God’s anger towards us.” He refused to compound for his own estate. While in Jersey he resided first at St Helier and afterwards at Elizabeth Castle with Sir George Carteret. He composed the first portion of his History and kept in touch with events by means of an enormous correspondence. In 1648 he published A Full answer to an infamous and traiterous Pamphlet. . ., a reply to the resolution of the parliament to present no more addresses to the king and a vindication of Charles.
On the outbreak of the second Civil War Hyde left Jersey (26th of June 1648) to join the queen and prince at Paris. He landed at Dieppe, sailed from that port to Dunkirk, and thence followed the prince to the Thames, where Charles had met the fleet, but was captured and robbed by a privateer, and only joined the prince in September after the latter’s return to the Hague. He strongly disapproved of the king’s concessions at Newport. When the army broke off the treaty and brought Charles to trial he endeavoured to save his life, and after the execution drew up a letter to the several European sovereigns invoking their assistance to avenge it. Hyde strongly opposed Charles II.’s ignominious surrender to the Covenanters, the alliance with the Scots, and the Scottish expedition, desiring to accomplish whatever was possible there through Montrose and the royalists, and inclined rather to an attempt in Ireland. His advice was not followed, and he gladly accepted a mission with Cottington to Spain to obtain money from the Roman Catholic powers, and to arrange an alliance between Owen O’Neill and Ormonde for the recovery of Ireland, arriving at Madrid on the 26th of November 1649. The defeat, however, of Charles at Dunbar, and the confirmation of Cromwell’s ascendancy, influenced the Spanish government against them, and they were ordered to leave in December 1650. Hyde arrived at Antwerp in January 1651, and in December rejoined Charles at Paris after the latter’s escape from Worcester. He now became one of his chief advisers, accompanying him in his change of residence to Cologne in October 1654 and to Bruges in 1658, and was appointed lord chancellor on the 13th of January 1658. His influence was henceforth maintained in spite of the intrigues of both Romanists and Presbyterians, as well as the violent and openly displayed hostility of the queen, and was employed unremittingly in the endeavour to keep Charles faithful to the church and constitution, and in the prevention of unwise concessions and promises which might estrange the general body of the royalists. His advice to Charles was to wait upon the turn of events, “that all his activity was to consist in carefully avoiding to do anything that might do him hurt and to expect some blessed conjuncture.” In 1656, during the war between England and Spain, Charles received offers of help from the latter power provided he could gain a port in England, but Hyde discouraged small isolated attempts. He expected much from Cromwell’s death. The same year he made an alliance with the Levellers, and was informed of their plots to assassinate the protector, without apparently expressing any disapproval. He was well supplied with information from England, and guided the action of the royalists with great ability and wisdom during the interval between Cromwell’s death and the Restoration, urged patience, and advocated the obstruction of a settlement between the factions contending for power and the fomentation of their jealousies, rather than premature risings.
The Restoration was a complete triumph for Hyde’s policy. He lays no stress on his own great part in it, but it was owing to him that the Restoration was a national one, by the consent and invitation of parliament representing the whole people and not through the medium of one powerful faction enforcing its will upon a minority, and that it was not only a restoration of Charles but a restoration of the monarchy. By Hyde’s advice concessions to the inconvenient demands of special factions had been avoided by referring the decision to a “free parliament,” and the declaration of Breda reserved for parliament the settlement of the questions of amnesty, religious toleration and the proprietorship of forfeited lands.
Hyde entered London with the king, all attempts at effecting his fall having failed, and immediately obtained the chief place in the government, retaining the chancellorship of the exchequer till the 13th of May 1661, when he surrendered it to Lord Ashley. He took his seat as speaker of the House of Lords and in the court of chancery on the 1st of June 1660. On the 3rd of November 1660 he was made Baron Hyde of Hindon, and on the 20th of April 1661 Viscount Cornbury and earl of Clarendon, receiving a grant from the king of £20,000 and at different times of various small estates and Irish rents. The marriage of his daughter Anne to James, duke of York, celebrated in secret in September 1660, at first alarmed Clarendon on account of the public hostility he expected thereby to incur, but finding his fears unconfirmed he acquiesced in its public recognition in December, and thus became related in a special manner to the royal family and the grandfather of two English sovereigns.
Clarendon’s position was one of great difficulties, but at the same time of splendid opportunities. In particular a rare occasion now offered itself of settling the religious question on a broad principle of comprehension or toleration; for the monarchy had been restored not by the supporters of the church alone but largely by the influence and aid of the nonconformists and also of the Roman Catholics, who were all united at that happy moment by a common loyalty to the throne. Clarendon appears to have approved of comprehension but not of toleration. He had already in April 1660 sent to discuss terms with the leading Presbyterians in England, and after the Restoration offered bishoprics to several, including Richard Baxter. He drew up the royal declaration of October, promising limited episcopacy and a revised prayer-book and ritual, which was subsequently thrown out by parliament, and he appears to have anticipated some kind of settlement from the Savoy Conference which sat in April 1661. The failure of the latter proved perhaps that the differences were too great for compromise, and widened the breach. The parliament immediately proceeded to pass the series of narrow and tyrannical measures against the dissenters known as the Clarendon Code. The Corporations Act, obliging members of corporations to denounce the Covenant and take the sacrament according to the Anglican usage, became law on the 20th of December 1661, the Act of Uniformity enforcing the use of the prayer-book on ministers, as well as a declaration that it was unlawful to bear arms against the sovereign, on the 19th of May 1662, and these were followed by the Conventicle Act in 1664 suppressing conventicles and by the Five-Mile Act in 1665 forbidding ministers who had refused subscription to the Act of Uniformity to teach or reside within 5 m. of a borough. Clarendon appears to have reluctantly acquiesced in these civil measures rather than to have originated them, and to have endeavoured to mitigate their injustice and severity. He supported the continuance of the tenure by presbyterian ministers of livings not held by Anglicans and an amendment in the Lords allowing a pension to those deprived, earning the gratitude of Baxter and the nonconformists. On the 17th of March 1662 he introduced into parliament a declaration enabling the king to dispense with the Act of Uniformity in the case of ministers of merit. But once committed to the narrow policy of intolerance, Clarendon was inevitably involved in all its consequences. His characteristic respect for the law and constitution rendered him hostile to the general policy of indulgence, which, though the favourite project of the king, he strongly opposed in the Lords, and in the end caused its withdrawal. He declared that he could have wished the law otherwise, “but when it was passed, he thought it absolutely necessary to see obedience paid to it without any connivance.” Charles was greatly angered. It was believed in May 1663 that the intrigues of Bennet and Buckingham, who seized the opportunity of ingratiating themselves with the king by zealously supporting the indulgence, had secured Clarendon’s dismissal, and in July Bristol ventured to accuse him of high treason in the parliament; but the attack, which did not receive the king’s support, failed entirely and only ended in the banishment from court of its promoter. Clarendon’s opposition to the court policy in this way acquired a personal character, and he was compelled to identify himself more completely with the intolerant measures of the House of Commons. Though not the originator of the Conventicle Act or of the Five-Mile Act, he has recorded his approval, and he ended by taking alarm at plots and rumours and by regarding the great party of nonconformists, through whose co-operation the monarchy had been restored, as a danger to the state whose “faction was their religion.”
Meanwhile Clarendon’s influence and direction had been predominant in nearly all departments of state. He supported the exception of the actual regicides from the Indemnity, but only ten out of the twenty-six condemned were executed, and Clarendon, with the king’s support, prevented the passing of a bill in 1661 for the execution of thirteen more. He upheld the Act of Indemnity against all the attempts of the royalists to upset it. The conflicting claims to estates were left to be decided by the law. The confiscations of the usurping government accordingly were cancelled, while the properly executed transactions between individuals were necessarily upheld. There can be little doubt that the principle followed was the only safe one in the prevailing confusion. Great injustice was indeed suffered by individuals, but the proper remedy of such injustice was the benevolence of the king, which there is too much reason to believe proved inadequate and partial. The settlement of the church lands which was directed by Clarendon presented equal difficulties and involved equal hardships. In settling Scotland Clarendon’s aim was to make that kingdom dependent upon England and to uphold the Cromwellian union. He proposed to establish a council at Whitehall to govern Scottish affairs, and showed great zeal in endeavouring to restore episcopacy through the medium of Archbishop Sharp. His influence, however, ended with the ascendancy of Lauderdale in 1663. He was, to some extent at least, responsible for the settlement in Ireland, but, while anxious for an establishment upon a solid Protestant basis, urged “temper and moderation and justice” in securing it. He supported Ormonde’s wise and enlightened Irish administration, and in particular opposed persistently the prohibition of the import of Irish cattle into England, incurring thereby great unpopularity. He showed great activity in the advancement of the colonies, to whom he allowed full freedom of religion. He was a member of the council for foreign plantations, and one of the eight lords proprietors of Carolina in 1663; and in 1664 sent a commission to settle disputes in New England. In the department of foreign affairs he had less influence. His policy was limited to the maintenance of peace “necessary for the reducing [the king’s] own dominions into that temper of subjection and obedience as they ought to be in.” In 1664 he demanded, on behalf of Charles, French support, and a loan of £50,000 against disturbance at home, and thus initiated that ignominious system of pensions and dependence upon France which proved so injurious to English interests later. But he was the promoter neither of the sale of Dunkirk on the 27th of October 1662, the author of which seems to have been the earl of Sandwich, nor of the Dutch War. He attached considerable value to the possession of the former, but when its sale was decided he conducted the negotiations and effected the bargain. He had zealously laboured for peace with Holland, and had concluded a treaty for the settlement of disputes on the 4th of September 1662. Commercial and naval jealousies, however, soon involved the two states in hostilities. Cape Corso and other Dutch possessions on the coast of Africa, and New Amsterdam in America, were seized by squadrons from the royal navy in 1664, and hostilities were declared on the 22nd of February 1665. Clarendon now gave his support to the war, asserted the extreme claims of the English crown over the British seas, and contemplated fresh cessions from the Dutch and an alliance with Sweden and Spain. According to his own account he initiated the policy of the Triple Alliance, but it seems clear that his inclination towards France continued in spite of the intervention of the latter state in favour of Holland; and he took part in the negotiations for ending the war by an undertaking with Louis XIV. implying a neutrality, while the latter seized Flanders. The crisis in this feeble foreign policy and in the general official mismanagement was reached in June 1667, when the Dutch burnt several ships at Chatham and when “the roar of foreign guns were heard for the first and last time by the citizens of London.”
The whole responsibility for the national calamity and disgrace, and for the ignominious peace which followed it, was unjustly thrown on the shoulders of Clarendon, though it must be admitted that the disjointed state of the administration and want of control over foreign policy were largely the causes of the disaster, and for these Clarendon’s influence and obstruction of official reforms were to some extent answerable. According to Sir William Coventry, whose opinion has weight and who acknowledges the chancellor’s fidelity to the king, while Clarendon “was so great at the council board and in the administration of matters, there was no room for anybody to propose any remedy to what was remiss . . . he managing all things with that greatness which will now be removed.” He disapproved of the system of boards and committees instituted during the Commonwealth, as giving too much power to the parliament, and regarded the administration by the great officers of state, to the exclusion of pure men of business, as the only method compatible with the dignity and security of the monarchy. The lowering of the prestige of the privy council, and its subordination first to the parliament and afterwards to the military faction, he considered as one of the chief causes of the fall of Charles I. He aroused a strong feeling of hostility in the Commons by his opposition to the appropriation of supplies in 1665, and to the audit of the war accounts in 1666, as “an introduction to a commonwealth” and as “a new encroachment,” and by his high tone of prerogative and authority, while by his advice to Charles to prorogue parliament he incurred their resentment and gave colour to the accusation that he had advised the king to govern without parliaments. He was unpopular among all classes, among the royalists on account of the Act of Indemnity, among the Presbyterians because of the Act of Uniformity. It was said that he had invented the maxim “that the king should buy and reward his enemies and do little for his friends, because they are his already.” Every kind of maladministration was currently ascribed to him, of designs to govern by a standing army, and of corruption. He was credited with having married Charles purposely to a barren queen in order to raise his own grandchildren to the throne, with having sold Dunkirk to France, and his magnificent house in St James’s was nicknamed “Dunkirk House,” while on the day of the Dutch attack on Chatham the mob set up a gibbet at his gate and broke his windows. He had always been exceedingly unpopular at court, and kept severely aloof from the revels and licence which reigned there. Evelyn names “the buffoons and the misses to whom he was an eyesore.” He was intensely disliked by the royal mistresses, whose favour he did not condescend to seek, and whose presence and influence were often the subject of his reproaches. A party of younger men of the king’s own age, more congenial to his temperament, and eager to drive the old chancellor from power and to succeed him in office, had for some time been endeavouring to undermine his influence by ridicule and intrigue. Surrounded by such general and violent animosity, Clarendon’s only hope could be in the support of the king. But the chancellor had early and accurately gauged the nature and extent of the king’s attachment to him, which proceeded neither from affection nor gratitude but “from his aversion to be troubled with the intricacies of his affairs,” and in 1661 he had resisted the importunities of Ormonde to resign the great seal for the lord treasurership with the rank of “first minister,” “a title newly translated out of French into English,” on account of the obloquy this position would incur and the further dependence which it entailed upon the inconstant king. Charles, long weary of the old chancellor’s rebukes, was especially incensed at this time owing to his failure in securing Frances Stuart (la Belle Stuart) for his seraglio, a disappointment which he attributed to Clarendon, and was now alarmed by the hostility which his administration had excited. He did not scruple to sacrifice at once the old adherent of his house and fortunes. “The truth is,” he wrote Ormonde, “his behaviour and humour was grown so insupportable to myself and all the world else that I could no longer endure it, and it was impossible for me to live with it and do these things with the Parliament that must be done, or the government will be lost.” By the direction of Charles, James advised Clarendon to resign before the meeting of parliament, but in an interview with the king on the 26th of August Clarendon refused to deliver up the seal unless dismissed, and urged him not to take a step ruinous to the interests both of the chancellor himself and of the crown. He could not believe his dismissal was really intended, but on the 30th of August he was deprived of the great seal, for which the king received the thanks of the parliament on the 16th of October. On the 12th of November his impeachment, consisting of various charges of arbitrary government, corruption and maladministration, was brought up to the Lords, but the latter refused to order his committal, on the ground that the Commons had only accused him of treason in general without specifying any particular charge. Clarendon wrote humbly to the king asking for pardon, and that the prosecution might be prevented, but Charles had openly taken part against him, and, though desiring his escape, would not order or assist his departure for fear of the Commons. Through the bishop of Hereford, however, on the 29th of November he pressed Clarendon to fly, promising that he should not during his absence suffer in his honour or fortune. Clarendon embarked the same night for Calais, where he arrived on the 2nd of December. The Lords immediately passed an act for his banishment and ordered the petition forwarded by him to parliament to be burnt.
The rest of Clarendon’s life was passed in exile. He left Calais for Rouen on the 25th of December, returning on the 21st of January 1668, visiting the baths of Bourbon in April, thence to Avignon in June, residing from July 1668 till June 1671 at Montpellier, whence he proceeded to Moulins and to Rouen again in May 1674. His sudden banishment entailed great personal hardships. His health at the time of his flight was much impaired, and on arriving at Calais he fell dangerously ill; and Louis XIV., anxious at this time to gain popularity in England, sent him peremptory and repeated orders to quit France. He suffered severely from gout, and during the greater part of his exile could not walk without the aid of two men. At Evreux, on the 23rd of April 1668, he was the victim of a murderous assault by English sailors, who attributed to him the non-payment of their wages, and who were on the point of despatching him when he was rescued by the guard. For some time he was not allowed to see any of his children; even correspondence with him was rendered treasonable by the Act of Banishment; and it was not apparently till 1671, 1673 and 1674 that he received visits from his sons, the younger, Lawrence Hyde, being present with him at his death.
Clarendon bore his troubles with great dignity and fortitude. He found consolation in religious duties, and devoted a portion of every day to the composition of his Contemplations on the Psalms, and of his moral essays. Removed effectually from the public scene, and from all share in present politics, he turned his attention once more to the past and finished his History and his Autobiography. Soon after reaching Calais he had written, on the 17th of December 1667, to the university of Oxford, desiring as his last request that the university should believe in his innocence and remember him, though there could be no further mention of him in their public devotions, in their private prayers. In 1668 he wrote to the duke and duchess of York to remonstrate on the report that they had turned Roman Catholic, to the former urging “You cannot be without zeal for the Church to which your blessed father made himself a sacrifice,” adding that such a change would bring a great storm against the Romanists. He entertained to the last hopes of obtaining leave to return to England. He asked for permission in June 1671 and in August 1674. In the dedication of his Brief View of Mr Hobbes’s Book Leviathan he repeats “the hope which sustains my weak, decayed spirits that your Majesty will at some time call to your remembrance my long and incorrupted fidelity to your person and your service”; but his petitions were not even answered or noticed. He died at Rouen on the 9th of December 1674. He was buried in Westminster Abbey at the foot of the steps at the entrance to Henry VII.’s chapel. He left two sons, Henry, 2nd earl of Clarendon, and Lawrence, earl of Rochester, his daughter Anne, duchess of York, and a third son, Edward, having predeceased him. His male descendants became extinct on the death of the 4th earl of Clarendon and 2nd earl of Rochester in 1753, the title of Clarendon being revived in 1776 in the person of Thomas Villiers, who had married the granddaughter and heir of the last earl.
As a statesman Clarendon had obvious limitations and failings. He brought to the consideration of political questions an essentially legal but also a narrow mind, conceiving the law, “that great and admirable mystery,” and the constitution as fixed, unchangeable and sufficient for all time, in contrast to Pym, who regarded them as living organisms capable of continual development and evolution; and he was incapable of comprehending and governing the new conditions and forces created by the civil wars. His character, however, and therefore to some extent his career, bear the indelible marks of greatness. He left the popular cause at the moment of its triumph and showed in so doing a strict consistency. In a court degraded by licence and self-indulgence, he maintained his self-respect and personal dignity regardless of consequences, and in an age of almost universal corruption and self-seeking he preserved a noble integrity and patriotism. At the Restoration he showed great moderation in accepting rewards. He refused a grant of 10,000 acres in the Fens from the king on the ground that it would create an evil precedent, and amused Charles and James by his indignation at the offer of a present of £10,000 from the French minister Fouquet, the only present he accepted from Louis XIV. being a set of books printed at the Louvre. His income, however, as lord chancellor was very large, and Clarendon maintained considerable state, considering it due to the dignity of the monarchy that the high officers should carry the external marks of greatness. The house built by him in St James’s was one of the most magnificent ever seen in England, and was filled with a collection of portraits, chiefly those of contemporary statesmen and men of letters. It cost Clarendon £50,000, involved him deeply in debt and was considered one of the chief causes of the “gust of envy” that caused his fall. He is described as “a fair, ruddy, fat, middle-statured, handsome man,” and his appearance was stately and dignified. He expected deference from his inferiors, and one of the chief charges which he brought against the party of the young politicians was the want of respect with which they treated himself and the lord treasurer. His industry and devotion to public business, of which proofs still remain in the enormous mass of his state papers and correspondence, were exemplary, and were rendered all the more conspicuous by the negligence, inferiority in business, and frivolity of his successors. As lord chancellor Clarendon made no great impression in the court of chancery. His early legal training had long been interrupted, and his political preoccupations probably rendered necessary the delegation of many of his judicial duties to others. According to Speaker Onslow his decrees were always made with the aid of two judges. Burnet praises him, however, as “a very good chancellor, only a little too rough but very impartial in the administration of justice,” and Pepys, who saw him presiding in his court, perceived him to be “a most able and ready man.” According to Evelyn, “though no considerable lawyer” he was “one who kept up the fame and substance of things in the nation with . . . solemnity.” He made good appointments to the bench and issued some important orders for the reform of abuses in his court. As chancellor of Oxford University, to which office he was elected on the 27th of October 1660, Clarendon promoted the restoration of order and various educational reforms. In 1753 his manuscripts were left to the university by his great-grandson Lord Cornbury, and in 1868 the money gained by publication was spent in erecting the Clarendon Laboratory, the profits of the History having provided in 1713 a building for the university press adjoining the Sheldonian theatre, known since the removal of the press to its present quarters as the Clarendon Building.
Clarendon had risen to high office largely through his literary and oratorical gifts. His eloquence was greatly admired by Evelyn and Pepys, though Burnet criticises it as too copious. He was a great lover of books and collected a large library, was well read in the Roman and in the contemporary histories both foreign and English, and could appreciate Carew, Ben Jonson and Cowley. As a writer and historian Clarendon occupies a high place in English literature. His great work, the History of the Rebellion, is composed in the grand style. A characteristic feature is the wonderful series of well-known portraits, drawn with great skill and liveliness and especially praised by Evelyn and by Macaulay. The long digressions, the lengthy sentences, and the numerous parentheses do not accord with modern taste and usage, but it may be observed that these often follow more closely the natural involutions of the thought, and express the argument more clearly, than the short disconnected sentences, now generally employed, while in rhythm and dignity Clarendon’s style is immeasurably superior. The composition, however, of the work as a whole is totally wanting in proportion, and the book is overloaded with state papers, misplaced and tedious in the narrative. In considering the accuracy of the history it is important to remember the dates and circumstances of the composition of its various portions. The published History is mainly a compilation of two separate original manuscripts, the first being the history proper, written between 1646 and 1648, with the advantage of a fresh memory and the help of various documents and authorities, and ending in March 1644, and the second being the Life, extending from 1609 to 1660, but composed long afterwards in exile and without the aid of papers between 1668 and 1670. The value of any statement, therefore, in the published History depends chiefly on whether it is taken from the History proper or the Life. In 1671 these two manuscripts were united by Clarendon with certain alterations and modifications making Books i.-vii. of the published History, while Books viii.-xv. were written subsequently, and, being composed for the most part without materials, are generally inaccurate, with the notable exception of Book ix., made up from two narratives written at Jersey in 1646, and containing very little from the Life. Sincerity and honest conviction are present on every page, and the inaccuracies are due not to wilful misrepresentation, but to failure of memory and to the disadvantages under which the author laboured in exile. But they lessen considerably the value of his work, and detract from his reputation as chronicler of contemporary events, for which he was specially fitted by his practical experience in public business, a qualification declared by himself to be the “genius, spirit and soul of an historian.” In general, Clarendon, like many of his contemporaries, failed signally to comprehend the real issues and principles at stake in the great struggle, laying far too much stress on personalities and never understanding the real aims and motives of the Presbyterian party. The work was first published in 1702–1704 from a copy of a transcript made by Clarendon’s secretary, with a few unimportant alterations, and was the object of a violent attack by John Oldmixon for supposed changes and omissions in Clarendon and Whitelocke compared (1727) and again in a preface to his History of England (1730), repelled and refuted by John Burton in the Genuineness of Lord Clarendon’s History Vindicated (1744). The history was first published from the original in 1826; the best edition being that of 1888 edited by W. D. Macray and issued by the Clarendon Press. The Lord Clarendon’s History . . . Compleated, a supplement containing portraits and illustrative papers, was published in 1717, and An Appendix to the History, containing a life, speeches and various pieces, in 1724. The Sutherland Clarendon in the Bodleian library at Oxford contains several thousand portraits and illustrations of the History. The Life of Edward, earl of Clarendon . . . [and the] Continuation of the History . . ., the first consisting of that portion of the Life not included in the History, and the second of the account of Clarendon’s administration and exile in France, begun in 1672, was published in 1759, the History of the Reign of King Charles II. from the Restoration . . ., published about 1755, being a surreptitious edition of this work, of which the latest and best edition is that of the Clarendon Press of 1857.
Clarendon was also the author of The Difference and Disparity between the Estate and Condition of George, duke of Buckingham and Robert, earl of Essex, a youthful production vindicating Buckingham, printed in Reliquiae Wottonianae (1672), i. 184; Animadversions on a Book entitled Fanaticism (1673); A Brief View . . . of the dangerous . . . errors in . . . Mr Hobbes’s book entitled “Leviathan” (1676); The History of the Rebellion and Civil War in Ireland (1719); A Collection of Several Pieces of Edward, earl of Clarendon, containing reprints of speeches from the journals of the House of Lords and of the History of the Rebellion in Ireland (1727); A Collection of Several Tracts containing his Vindication in answer to his impeachment, Reflections upon several Christian Duties, Two Dialogues on Education and on the want of Respect due to age, and Contemplations on the Psalms (1727); Religion and Policy (1811); Essays moral and entertaining on the various faculties and passions of the human mind (1815, and in British Prose Writers, 1819, vol. i.); Speeches in Rushworth’s Collections (1692), pt. iii. vol. i. 230, 333; Declarations and Manifestos (Clarendon being the author of nearly all on the king’s side between March 1642 and March 1645, the first being the answer to the Grand Remonstrance in January 1642, but not of the answer to the XIX. Propositions or the apology for the King’s attack upon Brentford) in the published History, Rushworth’s Collections, E. Husband’s Collections of Ordinances and Declarations (1646), Old Parliamentary History (1751–1762), Somers Tracts, State Tracts, Harleian Miscellany, Thomasson Tracts (Brit. Mus.), E. 157 (14); and a large number of anonymous pamphlets aimed against the parliament, including Transcendent and Multiplied Rebellion and Treason (1645), A Letter from a True and Lawful Member of Parliament . . . to one of the Lords of his Highness’s Council (1656), and Two Speeches made in the House of Peers on Monday 19th Dec.  . . . (Somers Tracts, Scott, vi. 576); Second Thoughts (n.d., in favour of a limited toleration) is ascribed to him in the Catalogue in the British Museum; A Letter . . . to one of the Chief Ministers of the Nonconforming Party . . . (Saumur, 7th May 1674) has been attributed to him on insufficient evidence.
Clarendon’s correspondence, amounting to over 100 volumes, is in the Bodleian library at Oxford, and other letters are to be found in Additional MSS. in the British Museum. Selections have been published under the title of State Papers Collected by Edward, earl of Clarendon (Clarendon State Papers) between 1767 and 1786, and the collection has been calendared up to 1657 in 1869, 1872, 1876. Other letters of Clarendon are to be found in Lister’s Life of Clarendon, iii.; Nicholas Papers (Camden Soc., 1886); Diary of J. Evelyn, appendix; Sir R. Fanshaw’s Original Letters (1724); Warburton’s Life of Prince Rupert (1849): Barwick’s Life of Barwick (1724); Hist. MSS. Comm. 10th Rep. pt. vi. pp. 193-216, and in the Harleian Miscellany.
Bibliography.—Clarendon’s autobiographical works and Letters enumerated above, and the MS. Collection in the Bodleian library. The Lives of Clarendon by T. H. Lister (1838), and by C. H. Firth in the Dict. of Nat. Biography (with authorities there collected), completely supersede all earlier accounts including that in Lives of All the Lord Chancellors (1708), in Macdiarmid’s Lives of British Statesmen (1807), and in the different Lives by Wood in Athenae Oxonienses (Bliss), iii. 1018; while those in J. H. Browne’s Lives of the Prime Ministers of England (1858), in Lodge’s Portraits, in Lord Campbell’s Lives of the Chancellors, iii. 110 (1845), and in Foss’s Judges, supply no further information. In Historical Inquiries respecting the Character of Edward Hyde, earl of Clarendon, various charges against Clarendon were collected by G. A. Ellis (1827) and answered by Lister, vol. ii. 529, and by Lady Th. Lewis in Lives of the Contemporaries of Lord Clarendon (1852), i. preface pt. i. For criticisms of the History see Gardiner’s Civil Wars (1893), iii. 121; Ranke’s Hist. of England, vi. 3-29; Die Politik Karls des Ersten . . . und Lord Clarendon’s Darstellung, by A. Buff (1868); article in the Dict. of Nat. Biog. by C. H. Firth, and especially a series of admirable articles by the same author in the Eng. Hist. Review (1904). For description of the MS., Macray’s edition of the History (1888), Lady Th. Lewis’s Lives from the Clarendon Gallery, i. introd. pt. ii.; for list of earlier editions, Ath. Oxon. (Bliss) iii. 1017. Lord Lansdowne defends Sir R. Granville against Clarendon’s strictures in the Vindication (Genuine Works of G. Granville, Lord Lansdowne, i. 503 ), and Lord Ashburnham defends John Ashburnham in A Narrative by John Ashburnham (1830). See also Notes at Meetings of the Privy Council between Charles II. and the Earl of Clarendon (Roxburghe Club. 1896); General Orders of the High Court of Chancery, by J. Beames (1815), 147-221; S. R. Gardiner’s Hist. of England, of the Civil War and of the Commonwealth; Lord Clarendon, by A. Chassant (account of the assault at Evreux) (1891); Annals of the Bodleian Library, by W. D. Macray (1868); Masson’s Life of Milton; Life of Sir G. Savile, by H. C. Foxcroft (1898); Cal. of St. Pap. Dom., esp. 1667–1668, 58, 354, 370; Hist. MSS. Comm. Series, MSS. of J. M. Heathcote and Various Collections, vol. ii.; Add. MSS. in the British Museum; Notes and Queries, 6 ser. v. 283, 9 ser. xi. 182, 1 ser. ix. 7; Pepys’s Diary; J. Evelyn’s Diary and Correspondence; Gen. Catalogue in British Museum; Edward Hyde, earl of Clarendon (1909), a lecture delivered at Oxford during the Clarendon centenary by C. H. Firth. (P. C. Y.)
- Life, i. 25.
- Clarendon St. Pap. ii. 337.
- Hist. of the Rebellion, iii. 164, the account being substantially accepted by Gardiner, in spite of inaccuracies in details (Hist. ix. 341, note).
- Hist. of the Rebellion, xiii. 140.
- Clarendon State Papers, iii. 316, 325, 341, 343.
- Hist. MSS. Comm.: MSS. of F. W. Leyborne-Popham, 227.
- Anne Hyde (1637–1671), eldest daughter of the chancellor, was the mother by James of Queen Mary and Queen Anne, besides six other children, including four sons who all died in infancy. She became a Roman Catholic in 1670 shortly before her death, and was buried in the vault of Mary, queen of Scots, in Henry VII.’s chapel in Westminster Abbey.
- See Hist. MSS. Comm.: Various Collections, ii. 118, and MSS. of Duke of Somerset, 94.
- Continuation, 339.
- Ib. 511, 776.
- Lister’s Life of Clarendon, ii. 295; Hist. MSS. Comm.: Various Collections, ii. 379.
- Continuation, 1170.
- Hist. MSS. Comm.: MSS. of F. W. Leyborne-Popham, 250.
- Continuation, 1066.
- Macaulay’s Hist. of England, i. 193.
- Pepys’s Diary, Sept. 2, 1667.
- Hist. MSS. Comm., 7th Rep. 162.
- Diary, iii. 95, 96.
- Lives from the Clarendon Gallery, by Lady Th. Lewis, i. 39; Burnet’s Hist. of his own Times, i. 209.
- Continuation, 88.
- Lister’s Life of Clarendon, ii. 416.
- Continuation, 1137.
- Clarendon St. Pap. iii. Suppl. xxxvii.
- Evelyn witnessed its demolition in 1683—Diary, May 19th, Sept. 18th; Lives from the Clarendon Gallery, by Lady Th. Lewis, i. 40.
- Diary, July 14th, 1664.
- Lister, ii. 528.