Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon
English politician and historian (1609–1674)
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- He had a head to contrive, a tongue to persuade, and a hand to execute any mischief.
- On John Hampden, History of the Rebellion. Vol. iii, Book vii. Section 84. Compare: "In every deed of mischief he had a heart to resolve, a head to contrive, and a hand to execute", Edward Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, chap. xlviii.; "Heart to conceive the understanding to direct, or the hand to execute", Junius, letter xxxvii. Feb. 14, 1770.
Quotes about Clarendon edit
- [H]e spake well, his style had no flaw in it, but had a just mixture of wit and sense, only he spoke too copiously; he had a great pleasantness in his spirit, which carried him sometimes too far into raillery, in which he sometimes shewed more wit than discretion.
- Gilbert Burnet, 'The earl of Clarendon's character' (1683; revised 1705), quoted in H. C. Foxcroft (ed.), A Supplement to Burnet's History of My Own Time; Derived from His Original Memoirs, His Autobiography, His Letters to Admiral Herbert, and His Private Meditations, All Hitherto Unpublished (1902), p. 53
- [H]e was a man that knew England well, and was lawyer good enough to be an able chancellor, and was certainly a very incorrupt man.
- Gilbert Burnet, 'The earl of Clarendon's character' (1683; revised 1705), quoted in H. C. Foxcroft (ed.), A Supplement to Burnet's History of My Own Time; Derived from His Original Memoirs, His Autobiography, His Letters to Admiral Herbert, and His Private Meditations, All Hitherto Unpublished (1902), p. 54
- He was apt to talk very imperiously and unmercifully, so that his manner of dealing with people was as provoking as the hard things themselves were; but upon the whole matter he was a true Englishman and a sincere protestant, and what has passed at court since his disgrace has sufficiently vindicated him from all ill designs. In one thing it appeared that he had changed his mind much; he penned the declaration at Breda, in which the king promised indulgence and ease to tender consciences, and pursuant to that he penned a long declaration concerning ecclesiastical affairs after the king was restored, which was drawn up with that prudence and temper, that by all appearance, if the king had stuck to it, both church and state had been very quickly happy; but it was observed that immediately after the duke's marriage broke out Clarendon changed his measures, and set on his own creatures to arraign that declaration in the house of commons, of which this account was given me: the bishops had stuck to him in the matter of that marriage, by letting the king know, that it could not be broken neither by the laws of God nor man, that he thereupon delivered himself up to their counsels in the affairs of the church and so did whatever they had mind to do.
- Gilbert Burnet, 'The earl of Clarendon's character' (1683; revised 1705), quoted in H. C. Foxcroft (ed.), A Supplement to Burnet's History of My Own Time; Derived from His Original Memoirs, His Autobiography, His Letters to Admiral Herbert, and His Private Meditations, All Hitherto Unpublished (1902), p. 56
- The truth is, his behaviour and humour was growne so insupportable to my self, and to all the world else, that I could not longer endure it, and it was impossible for me to live with it and do those things with the Parliament that must be done, or the Government will be lost.
- It is true he was of a jolly temper, after the old English fashion; but France had now the ascendant, and we were become quite another nation.
- John Evelyn, diary entry (18 September 1683), quoted in Diary and Correspondence of John Evelyn, F.R.S. Vol. II (1854), p. 185
- King and minister held fundamentally different views as to religious policy. Charles II desired to make toleration for Catholics and Nonconformists an integral part of the restoration settlement, partly because it seemed essential to the peace of the nation, and partly because he was a Catholic at heart. In the Church as in the State, Clarendon's one aim was to re-establish the state of things which existed before the war began. The Church was to be restored unconditionally as well as the monarchy. This policy the minister successfully carried out. In a few months, almost before the King realised what was happening, the bishops were in possession of their old power, and the Catholics and Nonconformists were under their feet again... In political as in religious matters Clarendon was more conservative than his master, and this conservatism had been increased by the fourteen years he had passed out of England... He never realised the new conditions the Rebellion had created, or the new forces which had grown up during the Interregnum. And, above all, he failed to appreciate the change which had taken place in the position of the House of Commons.
- Charles Firth, 'Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon, As Statesman, Historian, and Chancellor of the University', lecture delivered at Oxford (18 February 1909), Essays: Historical & Literary (1938; 1968), pp. 112-113
- His soul could never enter into the secrets of enthusiasts, or, indeed, into any region beyond the range of the Thirty-nine Articles. Just as he fails to understand the nature of the Puritans so he fails to understand Puritanism in general, and his History of the Rebellion has the fundamental defect, that it is a history of a religious revolution in which the religious element is omitted.
- Charles Firth, 'Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon, As Statesman, Historian, and Chancellor of the University', lecture delivered at Oxford (18 February 1909), Essays: Historical & Literary (1938; 1968), p. 119
- If we turn to historians of the more ordinary type, the most notable name is that of Clarendon. His work suggests a comparison with Thucydides, in that he was himself a prominent actor in the events that he describes; and there are, especially in his character-sketches, passages that will bear comparison with the great Athenian master. As with Thucydides, too, banishment from his native country gave him an opportunity for calm and detached contemplation of the events through which he had lived. But there the comparison ends. The inner spirit of the two men is entirely different. Neither his double exile nor advancing years brought philosophic calm or intellectual fairness to Clarendon. He writes now as a partisan of the monarchy, now of the Church, now of his own administration, and the later books are mainly autobiographical. But none the less Clarendon's work is epoch-making in the development of English historical writing. Here the nation's story is told by a man of practical knowledge, in language well suited to the subject, and in a tone of honest conviction. For a century and a half it fixed the ideas of Englishmen with regard to the prominent actors in the great Puritan revolution. Its prestige was destroyed, as by a sledge-hammer, by the publication of Carlyle's Cromwell; but the book remains one of the foremost of English historical classics.
- Arthur James Grant, English Historians (1906), pp. xix-xx
- I cannot think that the temperate and constitutional language of the royal declarations and answers to the house of commons in 1642, known to have proceeded from the pen of Hyde, and as superior to those on the opposite side in argument as they are in eloquence, was intended for the willing slaves of tyranny.
- Henry Hallam, The Constitutional History of England, from the Accession of Henry VII. to the Death of George II. Vol. II (1855), p. 147
- Clarendon was a great historian. His profound social insight, tempered by acute penetration in analysing individual character; his lack of illusions, his scepticism, tempered by recognition of the fact of human progress even if he disliked the means which brought it about: all this fitted him to understand the conflicts of his age better than any contemporary, and most later, historians. But above all it is his style that we remember: that style which again reflects the idealised feudal society of his youth. It lacks the conversational urgency and directness, the utilitarian values, of the Parliamentarian pamphlets (especially the Levellers' and Diggers') whose forthright appeal to the man in the street prepared for the prose of Bunyan and Defoe. Clarendon's prose is thoroughly conservative – stately, leisured, opulent, hospitable, with a tang of allusive humour possible because the only readers he envisages are cultured gentlemen certain of their superiority to the common herd. Like the man himself, Clarendon's style is the old world, the world of Sir Thomas Browne and Hooker, looking back to the Middle Ages: the future, in prose as in politics, lay with the ex-Parliamentarian civil servants Samuel Pepys and Andrew Marvell, and with the ex-Cromwellian soldier John Bunyan.
- Christopher Hill, 'Lord Clarendon and the Puritan Revolution', Puritanism and Revolution: Studies in Interpretation of the English Revolution of the 17th Century (1958; 1968), p. 211
- I first read Clarendon at home in an old Boehm edition and then found the majestic folio edition in the public library. Through the long summer of 1927 I read it day after day. It was like wandering in a cathedral – majesty everywhere, not only in the prose but in the thought, in the almost superhuman capacity for empathy and distance which are perhaps Clarendon's greatest qualities both as man and writer.
- J. H. Plumb, 'Historic rectitude', The Times (29 December 1983), p. 9
- Clarendon displayed a political strength and rectitude rare if not unique amongst British statesmen, and by so doing made the Restoration possible... In exile he wrote the History wherein is displayed the true greatness of Clarendon: his astonishing capacity to take an even and magnanimous view of the men of his age – Cromwell as well as Charles I; his deep and equally remarkable sense of the tides and turns of political feeling not only in Parliament but in the nation at large. Few men have possessed larger or better judgments when confronted with critical political issues. Few, if any, can doubt that Clarendon is one of Britain's greatest men.
- J. H. Plumb, 'Historic rectitude', The Times (29 December 1983), p. 9
- I am mad in love with my Lord Chancellor, for he do comprehend and speak out well, and with the greatest easiness and authority that ever I saw man in my life. I did never observe how much easier a man do speak, when he knows all the company to be below him, than in him; for, though he spoke, indeed, excellent well, yet his manner and freedom of doing it, as if he played with it, and was informing only all the rest of the company, was mighty pretty.
- Samuel Pepys, diary entry (13 October 1666), quoted in Diary and Correspondence of Samuel Pepys, F.R.S.: Secretary to the Admiralty in the Reigns of Charles II and James II. Vol. II (1854), p. 471
- In the same month of May , Rochester issued from the Oxford University Press the first folio volume of his father Clarendon's History of the Rebellion, doing thereby a greater service to High Tory principles than any he was ever likely to do by direct intervention in politics. That epic record of great events, written by one of the chief actors, in the grave and stately speech of an elder world, has a perennial value for all Englishmen, not to be touched by the changing tides of time and faction. But when it first appeared in the early months of the reign of the Tory Queen, it was bound to have a political effect, stimulating the cult of King Charles and Martyr, stirring up anger against the Dissenters as the heirs of the Puritan fanatics, and against the Whigs as the heirs of the Roundhead rebels.
- G. M. Trevelyan, England Under Queen Anne: Blenheim (1930), pp. 204-205