Page:The house of Cecil.djvu/43

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.


to be at Court, and on that day the " devise " of the Crown was signed by all the members of the Privy Council, with the exception of Sir John Hales. In this matter again Cecil took the safe course. That he protested against the whole proceeding is certain. His servant Roger Alford states that from the first moment it was in contemplation he expressed his aversion to it and declared that " whatever became of it he would never partake of that devise." He must have realised that such a document, extorted from a minor on his deathbed, could not override the will of Henry VIII., which had received parlia- mentary sanction ; and he no doubt foresaw that Northumberland's ambition would overreach itself and involve him and his abettors in ruin.

Nevertheless the violence of Northumberland and the command of the King impelled him to affix his signature, though he afterwards protested that he signed merely as a witness a plea that avails him nothing in view of the fact that he also signed the promise by which the Council bound themselves " by our oaths and honour to observe, fully perform and keep all and every article " of the devise.

At any rate, he was so much alive to his danger that he went about armed, concealed his valuables, and made such a disposition of his property as to secure it to his son in the event of his being imprisoned or forced to leave the kingdom. After the accession of Mary, he drew up a paper, in which he exculpates himself by an account of his

�� �