This celebrated statesman, who flourished in the reigns of Charles I. and II., took a prominent part in the eventful times in which he lived. He was not of noble birth, but the descendant of a family called Hyde, which resided from a remote period at Norbury, in Cheshire. He was originally intended for the church, but eventually became a lawyer, applying himself to the study of his profession with a diligence far surpassing that of the associates with whom he lived. In 1635, he attracted the notice of Archbishop Laud, which may be regarded as the most fortunate circumstance of his life, as it led to his introduction to Charles I. In consequence of the ability displayed by him in the responsible duties he was called to perform, that Monarch offered him the office of Solicitor-General. But this Hyde declined, preferring, as he said, to serve the King in an unofficial capacity. After the battle of Naseby, Hyde was appointed one of the council formed to attend, watch over, and direct the Prince of Wales. After hopelessly witnessing for many months a course of disastrous and ill-conducted warfare in the West, the council fled with the Prince, first to the Scilly Islands, near Cornwall, and thence to Jersey. From this place, against the wishes of Hyde, the Prince, in 1640, repaired to his mother, Henrietta, at Paris, leaving Hyde at Jersey, where he remained for two years, engaged in the composition of his celebrated “History of the Rebellion.” In May, 1648, Hyde was summoned to attend the Prince at the Hague; and here they received the news of the death of Charles I., which is said to have greatly appalled them. After faithfully following the new King in all his vicissitudes of fortune, suffering at times extreme poverty, he attained at the Restoration the period of his greatest power. In 1660, his daughter Anne was secretly married to the Duke of York; but when, after a year, it was openly acknowledged, the new Lord Chancellor received the news with violent demonstrations of indignation and grief. Hyde, in fact, never showed any avidity for emoluments or distinction; but when this marriage was declared, it became desirable that some mark of the King’s favour should be shown, and he was created Earl of Clarendon. He subsequently, from political broils, was compelled to exile himself from the Court, and took up his residence at Montpellier, where, resuming his literary labours, he completed his celebrated History, and the memoir of his life. After fruitlessly petitioning King Charles II. for permission to end his days in England, the illustrious exile died at Rouen, in 1674, in the sixty-fifth year of his age.
[Illustration: STATUE OF LORD CLARENDON.]
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[Illustration: Letter I.]