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in their juilgment upon him? The first of cal life of the Catholic church had steeped itself. these questions is difficult to answer; the sec- The causes of the Reformation, which give it ond is, we believe, answered easily, in the in fact its terrible vantage ground, he reau too peculiar character of the thirty years which clearly in the idleness, the sensuality, the succeeded bis fall, and in the course of which worse than profligacy, by which the monastic his reputation settled into its present form.-orders in England haid disgraced themselves The administration of Wolsey immediately so fatally; and his whole heart was bent to preceded the convulsions of the Reformation; wash them clean, it cleansing were possible; and as no one knew better than he the nature if it were impossible, to sweep them utterly of what was impending, or the causes which away. Safe from visitation, except from ecwere hurrying it forward, he pursued a policy clesiastics who were glad to purchase indemwith respect to it which offended equally each nity for their own loose doings, by winking at of the rival factions. This policy, from causes those of others; in many cases sate from any over which he had no control, failed, and visitation at all, unless from the Pope, which came to nothing; the Reformation was left to was equivalent to none, the monks hand made be carried through by a violent collision; and good use of their opportunities, and were livthe Protestant and Catholic fanatics, between ing in a condition which there is no occasion whom, for a time, the energy of the country for us to describe. became divided, united to revenge themselves This worse than Augean stable, Wolsey set on the memory of the common enemy of both. himself to purify. He wrote to the Popes, one
His creed was not like that of Sir Thomas after another, concealing nothing. Among More-an actively interested, theoretic ap- the articles of impeachment, we find him acprehension of the Catholic mysteries; it was cused of having disgraced the English Church rather the quiet assent of a sober English by the complaints which he liad entered mind, to that interpretation of the relation be- against it. He had not feared to dwell upon tween God and man, which the general under- its very darkest crime, veiling it under the standing of mankind had for centuries agreed significant expression of the animus improto receive; and knowing well at what a cost bus ;” and it was for this that he obtained this interpretation had been arrived at, he re- from the Court of Rome bis absolute authorigarded the disturbers of it in the light in ty as Legate, which, superseding every other which, whether right or wrong, such men are power, placed the monasteries throughout always regardled by persons of strong practi-England' in the joint hands of the king and cal intelligence, aš wanton and mischievous hinselt. How far he would have carried out innovators. The progress of Lutheranisın in the work of reformation, we cannot now tell Germany connected itself justly in his mind ble suppressed many of the smaller houses; with the civil wars in Europe, the insurrec- and he was proposing to suppress many more tion of the peasants, and the alarıning advan- at the time of his fall
. From him Cromwell ces of Solyman; and developing, as it threat- learned the possibility of what he so grindly ened to do, into theoretic doctrines of anarchy, afterwards executed ; and he is known at political as well as spiritual, his plain duty, as least to have expressed a desire to see the an English statesman intrusted with the care entire system of inonastic establishinenis abolof the Commonwealth, appeared to be to ex- ished utterly, and their revenues confiscated tinguish, by all means and at all hazards, that for the founding of hospitals, and schouis, and fire, wherever he found it burning. Thus his colleges, from end to end of Englanl. name figures largely in the martyrology, as a We are tempted, both as a prooi' of the persecutor of the Protestants; yet it would nature and extent of this intended reformahave been well for them if they had never tion, and as an evidence of the light in which fallen into hands more disposed to deal with Wolsey, three years only before bis death, was them hardly. His object was to suppress here- regarded by one of the greatest and best men by as folly, not to punish it as a crime; and then living, to insert a letter whih was writin the lists of those poor men who, in the later ten to him on the subject by Fox (not the years of Henry's reign, fulfilled their course Martyrologist, nor any relation to bun, but) at the stake or on the scaffold, we find many Bishop of Winchester, and Henry tlu Sevnames of persons who haul previously been enth's old minister, to whom the intátuation of brought before Wolsey, and by him had been general hostility has represented Wossey as persuaded into quietness and dismissed. He having behaved with ingratitude and insocontrived, however, and naturally enough, to lence. The original is in Latin, and vill be earn their hatred; they remembered only found in Strype, “ Memor. Eccles.," vol. i. Apwhat he had done against them, not what he pendix, No. 10. had saved them from.
On the other hand, if he saw in Protestant- Great is the comfort and marvellons the plea. ism a danger of anarchy, he saw a still great- sure, most excellent father, which I have received er danger in the infamy in which the practi- from your late letters to me, understanding as I
do from them, that your lordship proposes to king and the nobility. Most of all wit it be institute a reform of the whole body of the pleasing, will it be the best of all sacrifices which clergy ; that you have gone so far as even to fix we can offer, to the Most High God; and gladly a day, and that at no distant date, at which it will I expend upon it what remains to me of life, shall be commenced. Such a day, indeed, I have as I will more largely declare in your lordship's desired to see more than Simcon desired to see presence on the day which your letter names, if the expected Messiah ; and since your letter it be granted to me to see it alive, and in health. came to me, I have pictured to myself a reformation of the entire hierarchy, more ample and These were the terms in which the grandest more searching than, I will not say, I could have old man in England could write to Wolsey, expected, for, in this age of mankind, I could not whom he had known and watched from childeren have hoped to witness it undertaken, all but hood, at the time when the faults which we completely executed. I know what is to be done. In my own dio- were at the fulness of their growth; and surely
most attribute to him (if they existed at all); cese I have myself attempted what your lordship they may well make us pause and hesitate For these three years past, it has been the one what to think. That day which, like Simeon, business which has occupied all my thoughts, the aged bishop longed for, less happy than and all my labors, and I have discovered what Simeon, he never saw. The opportunity was antecedenily to experience I could not have lost - perhaps it never existed; and the task believed-that almost everything belonging to lay beyond the strength of Wolsey. Foxe live the original institution of the clergy, and espeed but two years longer to mourn over his discially of the monastic orders, has become either appointment, and in his fear of what was hany, so depraved by licentiousness, or so affected from ing over England, he is said to save passed age or from the degeneracy of the times, that, them in almost unbroken prayer. worn out as I am with years, I had lost hope, however anxious I might be, of ever seeing, even tal difficulty of the divorce had not crossed his
But if Wolsey had not fallen, if the one fa. within my own jurisdiction, anything like a real improvement.
path and overthrown him, and if he had reNow, however, from these welcome words of tained the favor of Henry, it really seems as if your lordship, not only do I hope to see it, but I he might have steered England over the breakhave a most sure expectation that I shall see it, ers in his own way and done what he intendand that shortly, not limited to a single diocese, ed. He, if any man, could have done it, with but universal, public, and complete. For I have his undaunted courage, his vast prudence, his experienced again and again, in many instances, enormous practical ability; and a very large that whatever your lordship undertakes, is car. English party, even the king himself, wouid ried out prudently, constantly, and firmly, to its have been ready to make many sacrifices short perfect issue, without difficulty and without delay;
so incomparable an ability there is in you in of what seemed essential to the interest of the all matters divine and human, and so great favor kingdom, to escape a separation from Rome. and authority have you with our gracions sove- And then who can say what would have folreign and our most holy lord the pope. You have lowed ? Protestantism, as a doctrine, would executed whatever you have hitherto attempted have been extinguished in England. Tne in such a manner as to gain for yourself the weight of the country would have been thrown, highest credit, and the applause of the whole at the impending council
, on the Conservative world; so it has been with the conduct of your side, and would have ensured its triumph; legacy'; so it has been with the treaty of peace while, instead of a Council of Trent, which been brought about at last by your single enden enacted into laws the worst extravagances of vor. And by this your determination to take Catholicism, we should have had à council upon yourself the reform and settlement of the inolerately and judiciously reformning, to which ecclesiastic orders, you will obtain solid and im the Lutherans would have been forced to submortal glory before God and all posterity; a mit; and the course of all European history glory as far exceeding that of all others who would have been different. So in this world within our memory have been legates a latere the greatest things are linked together with pontificis, as peace exceeds war, or as the clergy the smallest ; and the destinies of mankind, are more venerable than the people.
perhaps for all time, may have hung on the That your grace will succeed, I cannot resolution of one stout hearted Spanish wodoubt, seeing that our most Christian king, by man, who refused, though a Pope and half whose advice, and under whose auspices, you, as the world implored her, to surrender her rights I suppose, are undertaking this work, will lend you his authority and power; and, unless I am as the wife of an English king. mistaken, the prelates, especially the bishops,
As it was, the Conservative party in Engwill not be backward to co-operate with you. land declined into insignificance, the most For myself, at least, I can promise; and I think capable members of it attaching themselves to that this reform of the clergy and the religious one or other of the extremes; and, as we saw bodies, will appease, at last, the long growing dis- before how Wolsey had earned the hatred of content of the people. will restore themselves to the Protestants, so the Papal party never forcredit, and will recover for them the favor of the
gave him for those imputations so doubly fatal as urged against them by the leader of their ful statesman was not a virtue which would own order. They attributed the actual sup- recommend itself to an age which was agitated pression of the monasteries, and the fatal by the collision of two parties equally unskill with which it was conducted by Crom- reasoning; like only recognizes like, and for well, to Wolsey's designs, and to lessons learnt the years which intervened between the first in Wolsey's closet; and they surrendered mention of the divorce of Catherine and the his name with spiteful pleasure, to the vin- secure establishment of Elizabeth on the dictiveness of their adversaries.
throne, the mind of England was underyoTo the latter, as the greatest of all those ing oscillations, in which, though both sides prelate-statesmen, who so long had “held displayed abundant chivalry, enthusiasm, selfpower in England, he became the type of the devotion, and other heroical virtues, the quiet haughty, arrogant, over-bearing Churchman, words of reason had little chance of being in whom ” to use the words of Foxe the heard. In this period, the historical character Martyrologist about him, “ was to be seen and of Wolsey shaped itself into the form in which noted the express image of the proud, vain- it has ever since remained, and there is little glorious Church of Rome;" whose splendor chance that it will now be altered. Ilimself furnished ready matter for declamatory ora- we will hope that our opinions do not much tions, and could be held up in broad and ap- affect, and if we have constructed ont of our posite contrast with the fishermen of the Lake imaginations a figure which serves to impress of Galilee. It is easy to see how all this was on schoolboys an elementary lesson of caused ; among ordinary human beings it could morality, he may spare his name to•clothe not have been otherwise; and thoughtful per- an innocent and useful phantom. sons will not allow more weight than is due to Of what he really was we have indirectly the declamation, any more than they will seen something ; to describe him truly would judge hardly the poor preachers who indulg- be to write some twenty years of European ed in it. The Smithfield bonfires were indit- history, which wear the impress of his mind. ferent teachers of charity, and the victims and We English, however, need not look so far to their judges, who to us are alike objects of find traits which ought to commend his memco:npassion rather than of anger, could hardly ory to us--in these democratic days, least of be expected to extend it to one another. all-when the people, and the people's inter
At all events, the Protestants cursed Wol-est, appear to be so much cared for. The sey as the largest specimen of their worst ene- administration of Wolsey was a prosperous my, and the Catholics made him over to time for the people, who at that time felt no them with all readiness as an expiatory vic- alarm about * over-legislation ;"—a fair day's tim. Some middle party, it might have been wages for a fair day's work was the law of the expected, would have been found of wiser land; wages and prices were alike fixed by
judgment; and such undoubtedly there was Act of Parliament, and the lowest sum paid in his own time, although even among his con-weekly to the unskilled laborer would buy temporaries, also, he had made many enemies. more beet and bread and beer than twenty The noble lords found difficulty in reconciling shillings of our money. And Stowe, in a themselves to seeing a butcher's son towering happy moment, has left us another significant above their heads; and Wolsey, as far as we testimony to him. We turn our eyes in a very know, did very little towards making it easy wrong direction if, to ascertain the merits of a for them. A man who went through so much chief minister of a great country; we look to work as he did, had no leisure for delicate his personal intercourse with the courtiers persuasiveness, and he was naturally violent with whom he came in contact, to the number and irritable. Clear-sighted in discussion, and of his retinue, or the furniture of his palace. swift in execution, he had little patience with This is but to trifle with history; and his high-born imbecility; and as he was not afraid character is written, not in these, but in the to speak blunt truths in blunt language to justice or the injustice of his rule. kings and emperors, he is likely enough not to have been over courteous in his language at “ He punished perjury with infimy,” says the council table.
Stowe, “ so that in his time it was less used than And yet even among the Privy Council, of long time before. He punished, also, lords, where he was generally detested, there was a knights, and men of all degrees for riors, for small minority who thought nobly of him, and bearing out of wrongs, or for maintenance pracspoke nobly ; and their judgment, which was
tised in the counties, whereby the poor lived no doubt the true and just one, would, in or
quietly, and no man durst use boistering for fear dinary times, have made its way in the after- of imprisonment. It was a strange matter to see generation. The offensive manner would seat of judgment to pronounce the law. being
a man not trained up in the laws, to sit in the have been forgotten ; the substantial thing aided, at the first, by such as, according to would have received its due tribute of ad- ancient custom, did sit as associates with bim; miration. But the prudent vigor of a power-'but he would not stick to determine sundry causes,
neither rightly decided nor judged according to servants. Incapable members of noble familaw (the law, we suppose, being a little tellious in lies were hanging upon the court as the idle arriving at its right decision, and peremptory appendages of it ; " and the Cardinal made judgment if a little arbitrary being on the whole ordinances concerning it, which be at this were clear cases [in law), he would sometimes day called the Statutes of Eltham, the which, prohibit the same to pass, call them into judg. able. "-Hall, 707.
some said, were more profitable than honorment, frame an order in controversies, and pun. ish such as came with untrue surmises, as also the judges themselves which had received such sur
“It was considered," he goes on," that the mises, and not well considered of the controver-great numbers of the yeomen of the guard was sies of the parties. Also, he ordained by the very chargeable, and that there were many offiking's commission divers under courts, to hear cers far stricken in age, which had servants at the complaints by bill of poor men, that they the court. And so the king was served with might the sooner come by justice; so that wise their servants, and not with his own servants, men have reported never to have seen this realm which was thought not convenient; whereupon in berter obedience and quiet than it was in the the officers' servants were put out of the court time of his authority and rule ; nor justice better and old officers dismissed (with pensions), and administered with indifferency.”
put out of wages.
" Alas! what sorrow, what lamentation was Sensible persons who will really weigh this made when all these persons should depart the passage (and it would be easy, if we had time, court ! Some said the poor servants were unto illustrate it in ample detail from the stat- done, and must steal. Some said that they were
found of the reversion of the officers' services, utes passed under his administration), will see cause to reconsider their judgment, if they
so that for them was nothing more set out have allowed it to flow with the common find them; others said that now they would poll
upon the dressers, and it was great charity to stream ; for larger praise could not be given and pill in their counties, and oppress the poor to any governor of any nation. What is it people. Thus every man had his saying." but an acknowledgment that the work which he was set to do, in all its essential features, Very dishonorable, doubtless, all this, in he did most excellently; and by the side of the opinion of persons to whom right and this, all outward faults, all insolence of man- wrong are alike consecrated by antiquity, ner, and, if it must be so, even vulgarities, and buses overgrown till they are no longer sink into insignificance. If the same intellect tolerable are the expanded virtues of the which he expended upon the welfare of the good old times. England of his own age had been laid out in It may be that Wolsey was unwisely splenproducing anything which would have visibly did in his outward habits. It may be that, endured to posterity; if it had gone into books having been born in a poor man's family, which we could ourselves read, or into pic- he valued the magnificences and pomps of tures which we could see, or into any other of life more highly than they are valued by the secondary materials upon which the mind those to whom such things are familiar from of a great man is able to impress itself, our their cradles. If it were so, the crime is a judgments would not stray so wildly; and the venial one. But to us his chief fault appears visible greatness of the work produced would rather to have been too great a recklessness have taught us long ago to forget the petty of the opinion of others: he did not care blemishes on the surface of the workman's to avoid the odium which so much display character. But so it is with human things. would inevitably entail upon him; an odium The greatest men of all, those men whose which he ought to have foreseen, and taken energies are spent, not in constructing immor- measures to escape. And yet bis splendor tal mausoleums for their own glory, but in was but one more exhibition of the same guiding and governing nations wisely and nature in him, which was every way greato righteously, sink their real being in the life of Prodigally gifted with the most varied powmankind; the shell and the surface only re-ers, with exquisite tastes of all kinds, taste main to us, and we deal with them as we see. for music, taste for painting, taste for archi
Whatever Wolsey tried, as Foxe says, he tecture, taste for everything which was beaudid most admirably, whether it was the dis- tiful or magnificent, the vast rewards which tributing justice among the people, or the were heaped upon him from every court in reining the ambition of the princes of Europe, Europe-rewards not for underhand service, or the ordering the economy of a court. but for honest work honestly done—enabled Even Ilall, in spite of himself, has left a bim to gratity such tastes in the most gortribute to his conduct; which, nothwithstand- geous manner; and he did gratify them, and ing the injustice of the language in which that is all. If he had been born a nobleit is conveyed, is still transparently favor- man, it would have been called honorable able. The Civil Service then, as now, it and glorious. In the son of the poor man, appears, was encumbered with unprofitable' who had conquered his position, not by divine
right of primogeniture, but by his own genius, idle thunders which had become but a vain and the grace of God, it was vulgarity and sound—this was no position for which the first paltry ostentation.
minister of the strongest power in Europe But inasmuch as any attempt at an active would gladly have exchanged his place, or picture of what Wolsey was, is beyond our which he would very readily have accepted, if scope, and for the present we desire only to it had been offered him. Of course he would re-open the question whether he has, or has have accepted it, because he at one time cannot, been fairly dealt with ; this purpose will vassed for it; but he canvassed for it without best be answered by narrowing our compass his own goodwill, and at the entreaty, and at and confining ourselves to an examination of last at the command, of Henry. those special actions which have been made These are not assertions which do not admit matter of heaviest complaint against him. And of being proved. The first occasion on which of these, perhaps, three will be as many as we he was named in the conclave was on the vashall be able to deal with—his aspirations after cancy caused by the death of Leo the Tenth the papacy, his conduct about Queen Cather-in 1522, the vacancy ultimately filled by ine's divorce, and the supposed) abject nature Adrian the Sixth. That he was proposed at of his behavior in his disgrace.
this time without his own knowledge and by a The first and the last are represented as the spontaneous act of soine of the Italian cardinals, counterparts of each other; the same essential is evident from the history of the election, vulgarity of mind displaying itself alternately which is related in the simplest manner in a in the arrogancy of an enormous self-con-, letter to Wolsey himself from the English fidence, and in a prostrate imbecility when ambassador, where the general attitude of the flung back upon its own
The different parties, the causes which led to the second is what tells most heavily against him in proposal of Wolsey, and the probable feelings the opinion of serious persons, and on so great with which he himself would be likely to rea matter we shall of course be able to touch gard the chances of his own election, are debut slightly; We shall be able to see, however, tailed with all the openness of confidential the principles on which he acted; and if our correspondence. Obviously, it was a thing view of his history be a correct one, they will which, in the opinion of the ambassador, he be found remarkably characteristic of him. had never thought of, and which it was not
First, then, for the matter of the popedom likely that he would desire. Others, not him--the standard topic of declaration against self, desired it for him, for no other reason him among the early Protestant writers; and than because he was the fittest person ; and there is a curious paralogism in their invectives his election was not carried, on grounds in which is not unamusing. On the one hanıl, the highest degree honorable to him. The the anti-Christian character of the Roman letter is printed by Ellis, 3d Series, vol. i., bishop is reflected upon the aspirant to the p. 307-8. The writer is Dr. Clerke, aftersee. To be anti-Christ was bad, but to have wards Bishop of Worcester. He begins with desired to become anti-Christ was infinitely the common story of the factions in the monstrous. On the other hand, the outward conclave; and he tells them with a naivete position of the popedom, the spiritual sove- which, considering the occasion of them, thereignty of Europe, with an independent prin- oretically ought to be startling. That is to cipality attached to it, placed its possessor on say, in the election of the supreme head of a level with crowned heads; and for the butch- Christ's Church, the degree of religious feeler's cur to aspire to such a dignity was an ing announted to nothing, and Dr. Clerke enorinous audacity: Sweeping our minds sees not the least occasion to be surprised clear of this and similar folly, and looking at at it. He tells us of the Imperial faction, the thing really as it was, it is hard to say why, the French faction, the Medici faction ; how if Wolsey felt any ambition to become pope, it they divided this way and divided that way, was an 'ambition which he was not at perfect neither of them being strong enough to carry liberty to entertain. Being already a miember their own man, and combining, therefore, of the College of Cardinals, from ainong whom in alternate pairs to defeat the third of the popes were chosen, why, if he so wished, any honest faction, either actually existing might he not innorently desire a position or even as a thing to be desired, we hear which he was so admirably qualified to occupy ? nothing. The fact happens to be, however, that he desired nothing of the kind ; the pontifical throne
“ In these distractions,” he continues, "your not at that tiine being in such a condition that grace as indifferent and very meet for the room the seat upon it was in any way a thing to be had in every scrutiny certain voices; that is to coveted; the name of a power and not the
say, in the first, nine; in the second twelve; in thing, an authority without a sword, a spiritual the third, nineteen; and if by the varying of any empire in full mutiny, and the rulers ofit left of the said cardinals, three or four had made any with no weapon to enforce order, except the access to the said nineteen, the residue were de