Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. II. Sixteenth Century to the Restoration
Character of Himself
By Edward Hyde, Lord Clarendon (16091674)
From the Life
MR. HYDE was, in his nature and disposition, different from both the other; which never begot the least disagreement between the Lord Falkland and him. He was of a very cheerful and open nature, without any dissimulation; and delivered his opinion of things or persons, where it was convenient, without reserve or disguise; and was at least tenacious enough of his opinion, and never departed from it out of compliance with any man. He had a very particular devotion and passion for the person of the king; and did believe him the most, and the best Christian in the world. He had a most zealous esteem and reverence for the constitution of the government; and believed it so equally poised, that if the least branch of the prerogative was torn off, or parted with, the subject suffered by it, and that his right was impaired; and he was as much troubled when the crown exceeded its just limits, and thought its prerogative hurt by it; and therefore not only never consented to any diminution of the kings authority, but always wished that the king would not consent to it, with what importunity or impetuosity soever it was desired and pressed.
He had taken more pains than such men use to do, in the examination of religion; having always conversed with those of different opinions with all freedom and affection, and had very much kindness and esteem for many, who were in no degree of his own judgment; and upon all this, he did really believe the church of England the most exactly formed and framed for the encouragement and advancement of learning and piety, and for the preservation of peace, of any church in the world: that the taking away any of its revenue, and applying it to secular uses, was robbery, and notorious sacrilege; and that the diminishing the lustre it had, and had always had in the government, by removing the bishops out of the house of peers, was a violation of justice; the removing a landmark, and the shaking the very foundation of government; and therefore he always opposed, upon the impulsion of conscience, all mutations in the church; and did always believe, let the season or the circumstance be what it would, that any compliance was pernicious; and that a peremptory and obstinate refusal, that might put men in despair of what they laboured for, and take away all hope of obtaining what they desired, would reconcile more persons to the government than the gratifying them in part; which only whetted their appetite to desire more, and their confidence in demanding it.
Though he was of a complexion and humour very far from despair, yet he did believe the king would be oppressed by that party which then governed, and that they who followed and served him would be destroyed; so that it was not ambition of power, or wealth, that engaged him to embark in so very hazardous an employment, but abstractly the consideration of his duty; and he often used to apply those words of Cicero to himself, Mea ætas incidit in id bellum, cujus altera pars sceleris nimium habuit, altera felicitatis parum.1 It is very probable, that if his access at that time had been as frequent to the king as Sir John Colepeppers was, or the Lord Falklands might have been, some things might have been left undone the doing whereof brought much prejudice to the king; for all his principles were much more agreeable to his majestys own judgment, than those of either of the other; and what he said was of equal authority with him; and when any advice was given by either of the other, the king usually asked, whether Ned Hyde were of that opinion; and they always very ingenuously confessed, that he was not: but his having no relation of service, and so no pretence to be seen often at court, and the great jealousy that was entertained towards him, made it necessary to him to repair only in the dark to the king upon emergent occasions, and leave the rest to be imparted by the other two; and the differences in their natures and opinions never produced any disunion between them in those councils which concerned the conduct of the kings service; but they proceeded with great unanimity, and very manifestly much advanced the kings business from the very low state it was in when they were first trusted; the other two having always much deference to the Lord Falkland, who allayed their passions; to which they were both enough inclined.