Imágenes de páginas

ordinary contingencies which must and will, /early stages as an ordinary political difficulty, from time to time, arise in human things; and and before it had connected itself with those the question for us only is, whether the con- other momentous matters with which it beditions of the times which we are describing came afterwards involved. In its political aswere, or were not, such as called for the ex- pect it was regarded by Wolsey; and the ercise of that power, or justified Wolsey in necessity of the divorce was perceived by him advising Henry to seek for it? It is not with such intense clearness, that nothing whether a kingdom's welfare is, under any which man could do was left undone by him circumstances, à reason for a dissolution of a to accomplish it. Not only he saw that it was marriage; that is conceded in the existence essential to the prospects of England, but he of the power to dissolve: it is only whether saw also that the English nation themselves the welfare of England, in the year 1527, re- knew it to be essential, and that so determinquired the dissolution of the marriage of ed were they to protect themselves from a Henry VIII., and Catherine of Arragon ?- fresh war of succession, cost what it might, And as soon as this is fairly considered among they would carry it through. This is what he us, it will be answered again, as Hall tells us insists upon the Pope. This is the one string it was answered at the time: All the men will on which he harps, without change of note, in answer one way and all the women the other. the vast mass which remains to us of his No doubt it is a very sad and a very tragic correspondence with the ambassador at Rome. thing, that a noble and innocent lady should Laying out the condition of the kingdom with thus be sacrificed on the alter of a nation's utmost perspicacity, the divorce, he says, prosperity—unhappily a liability to such mis- ought to be granted, and must be granted; if fortunes is the price which kings and queens it be not granted freely, the nation will take have paid, and must ever pay, for their great it, and worse will follow. And Clement knew place, while they remain more than shadows. as well as he,. that he did not exaggerate the In the balance of the Fates, power and re- danger, for the English Parliament finding sponsibility weigh even one against the other; him backward, had sent him suo mero motu, a and a debt is scored against them for all message from themselves to sharpen his resowhich they receive, which may never be re- lution, more than confirming Wolsey. “Causa quired of them, but if it be required the Fates Regiæ Majestatis (so it ran) nostra cujusque are cruel creditors.

propria est a capite in membra derivata. DoWhen the interests of a nation lie on one lor ad omnes atque injuria ex æquo pertinet;” side, and the interests of a single person on and if his holiness will not give his consent, the other, it is not hard to say on which side“ nostri 'nobis curam esse relictam ut aliunde the sacrifice will fall; where it ought to fall nobis remedia conquiramus."* Nor was the may remain a question ; but there is no ques- Pope himself at all slow to acknowledge the tion where it will. The case of Queen Cath-justice of so evident a cause. He too, in his erine was rendered peculiarly painful by her own way, is not the least tragical figure in this foreign birth. From an English woman, the most tragic story; his poor infallibility called country, would have had a right to demand a on suddenly to exert itself on a matter where cheerful acquiescence in what the country re- divine guidance was specially clamored for, quired of her. But such disinterested pat- the English ambassador at one

ear with riotism could not be expected from a stranger, Henry's imperious “ You shall;" and Charles's who had entered it in a private relation, and German army at the other with an equally who depended in a distinct and peculiar man- significant “ You shall not;"—in his own ner on the good faith, the honor, and affection breast no voice but the whispering of fear and of the prince whom she had married. Con- imbecility, and no refuge anywhere except in siderations of this kind, however, are matter his own most human wit, which, to do him of feeling, and of feeling only: they will justice, never failed him. “ True,” he said deepen, as they ought to deepen, our sympá- once to Gardiner, who was vulgarly taunting thy with the undeserved sufferings of an un- him with his infallibility," there is a saying in fortunate princess; but they cannot affect the the canon law that God has placed all knowlcourse of action which the necessities of the edge in the writing-desk the Pope's breast State prescribe. A lady accepts in marriage (in scrinio Papæ pectoris), but I am afraid he whatever is contingent upon her new position, forgot to let him have the key.” It was a whether for happiness or sorrow; and we are dumb oracle : not to ask ourselves what degree of compassion we ought to feel for Queen Catherine,

muto Parnassus hiatu for we cannot feel too much ; but what was

Conticuit pressitque Deum. ' the right course for a minister of State to pursue when called upon to advise his sovereign ? Ljournals. It was mentioned in the Succession De

* This curious fact will be found in D'Ewe's We are speaking of the question in its more late under Elizabeth.

From such a pope little was to be looked for. The feelings with which Wolsey regarded In a weak moment, however, he granted a the failure of all his hopes, it is not difficult to commission to try the cause in England ; he conjecture. Before the legate's court was signed a formal note allowing the justice of the opened, the course which the proceedings were king's cause, promising at the same time not to to follow had already been determined beadmit an appeal to himself from the jurisdic-tween the Pope, the Emperor, and the Queen; tion of the legate ; and at Wolsey's earnest and among the inevitable consequences which demand, some slight successes of the French he foresaw, his own ruin we can well believe army at Naples being brought to bear upon was that which caused him least anxiety. If hiin at the sanıc moment, he even granted an he bad cared only for his individual interests, absolute decree in Henry’s favor, though it was it was easy for bim to secure them : he had drawn up in a private manner, and a promise only to do what was done by the vast majority was given that it should never be produced of the English bishops, abbots, and clergy except in the event of bis recalling the com- to go along with the English party and he mission. In the choice of the legate, too, who would have endeared himself to Henry forever. was to be joined with Wolsey, there seemed to But he found himself with a divided allegiance, be a desire, at least outwardly, to gratify Hen- owing obedience to two authorities, both of ry: for Cardinal Campeggio was intimately whom it was no longer possible for him to connected with the English party in the con- obey; and he did not hesitate to make his clave, and Henry himself was entirely pleased choice, though involving, as he well knew, his with the selection of him. At the time of Cam- certain destruction. He had advised the dipeggio's arrival, indeed, Clement must have vorce : he had labored for it, with all his hoped that some arrangement was possible strength, so long as there was a chance that it without coming to extremities with either Hen- could be obtained without separation from ry or with Charles: for the instructions to the Rome. When the pope had made his final delegate were, to dissuade Henry from persisting, cision, ruinous as he knew that decision was to but in the Pope's name to entreat Catherine to himself, ruinous as he believed it to be to the consent to be separated from him, and to re-earthly interests of the Church, he submitted tire into a nunnery. And well would it have to his spiritual superior, and obeyed a combeen for Catherine, well would it have been mand which he knew to be madness, sooner for the Pope, for Europe, for Charles the than violate his duty. We have looked to find Fifth, perhaps for England, if she had con- any other account of his conduct, and we have sented. Parliament would have declared her looked in vain — one fact we have found, indaughter legitimate ; and she herself might deed, and a most curious one, which has never have passed what remained to her of lite in we believe been noticed hitherto, throwing recomparative happiness, carrying with her into markable light upon his character. The agi. retirement the aclmiration and the gratitude of tation of these two trying years had harassed the Catholic world. Yet we can neither be him beyond his strength, and his mind must surprised at her refusal, nor can we blame her have lost something of its natural power. He for it. She was a right noble woman; but her was old, nearly approaching sixty. "llis life had nobleness was of the Spanish not the Eng. been enormously laborious ; he was infirm in lish kind. Proud, imperious, and inflexible, body, and falling already under the influence by no act of her own would she stoop to ac-f of the disease of which he soon after died. It knowledge that any shadow lay either on her is easy to understand, therefore, that he may good name or on her child's, though England, have been less equal to the erisis than he Europe, and the world was wrecked for it. would have been twenty years before ; and Narrow she was: without broad or genial more susceptible of influences which in better sympathies, without heroism in its highest times would have touched him little. There sense ; but from the thing which she believed are many traditions of Wolsey's superstition, to be right, threats could not terrify her, per- Cavendish mentions various instances of it in suasions bend, or promises cajole' her. She the last year of his life ; and it is even said resisted ; the Emperor (it was, perhaps, the that he possessed a crystal. In this business only fatal blunder of his life) supported and encouraged her; and what followed we all to be read in full, the two writers being not Henry know.*

and Queen Catherine, but Henry and Anne Bo

leyn. Whatever is to be said about the hand* Sir H. Ellis (Letters, 1st Series, vol. i. p. 274) writing, it is impossible to doubt that Burnet gives has printed a letter which he considers to be a joint the name of the second writer correctly, and Sir composition of Henry and Queen Catherine, ad- H. Ellis is mistaken. Queen Catherine would not dressed to Wolsey. The signature is mutilated by have written for “news of the legate, which she fire; Henry's name can be read, the writer of the hopes shall be very good," neither would she have other portion of the letter identified by the hand addressed Wolsey * in the most humblest wyse that writing. He does not seem to bo aware, however, her heart can think." She was not the person to that the same letter was found and pripted by Bur-feel humble towards Wolsey, or to pretend to bo net; and that in Burnet's time tho siguature was so when she was not.


of the divorce, it is beyond doubt that he sides hands were raised to strike the falling faallowed himself to be worked upon by the cele-vorite. Whatever his faults had been, there brated Nun of Kent. Her story may or may was not one of them but it found him out: not be familiar to our readers ; it is long, and every slighting word, every neglect of courtesy, in this place we can do no more than allude to every fancied act of injury, came back liko it. She was a wonan subject to fits, in which poisoned arrows to overwhelin him. The eccleshe displayed those peculiar powers, whatever siastics had their shame to revenge; the lawthey are, with which we are now familiar in yers, their practice ruined by an arbitrary mesmeric patients. There was sufficient real- equity; the nobles, the insolence of the upstart ity in these powers to deceive the woman her- who had dared to overbear them with his self: unadulterated imposition is never an ade-genius. The soldiers, with the Duke of Sufquate account of such cases; and as animal- folk at their head, had not forgiven the minismagnetism and the olyle Ruid were as yet un- ter who had prevented them froin taking Puris; discovered forces, half-a-dozen profligate monks (Letter of the Bishop of Bayonne, printed in were able to persuade her that she possessed Singer's ed. of Cavendish, p. 482 ;) and Ame supernatural gifts. Under their tuition, she Boleyn who had fawned upon hiin as long as gave herself out as a prophetess ; and for ten she hoped that he would assist her to the high years she professed to have visions from heaven, place for which she was longing, now histed and to communicate the judgments of the him as bitterly for her disappointment. The Higher Powers on weighty matters of State. night-crow, as Wolsey called her, was for ever Once launched upon such a course, self-decep- croaking in the king's ear against him ; distion soon ceased to be possible; and she be- trusting Henry's feelings, she even made bin came entangled, as a matter of course, in con- promise that he would never see Wolsey more. scious and palpable falsehoods ; so much so, The noble lords spoke openly, at their dinnerthat when she was detected and condemned to tables, of the good times ihat now were coming. be executed, the poor thing believed herself La fantaisie de ces seigneurs," writes the never to have been more than a deceiver; and French ambassador, “ est que luy mort ou ruthe last falsehood which she told, was probably iné, ils defferent incontinent icy l'estat ile an exaggerated confession of her own guilt. l'Eglise, et prendront tous leurs biens - qu'il

In the days of her fame, however, while the seroit ja besoing (sic) que je misse en chiffre, divorce was still pending, she declared that she car ils le crient en plaine table.” had received the clearest revelations in con- On the seventeenth of October, 1529, Woldemnation of it ; and among other great per- sey presided in the Court of Chancery for the sons whose opinions upon it she influenced, it last time - on the eighteenth he received a is without surprise, but with no little compas- message from the king that he was to deliver sion, that we find Wolsey. She was intro- up the seals. His palace at Westminster was duced to him by Archbisbop Warham, whose laid under sequestration ; and he was comletter to the Cardinal upon the subject has manded to retire to an unfurnished house been printed by Sir H. Ellis ; and in another which belonged to him at Esher, and there record of the proceedings connected with her, wait the decision of the council upon his fate. we find this singular entry :

His crime was yet to be astertained; but in

the general torrent of indignation, no " Likewise the late Cardinal of England, and cared to remember so trifling a difficulty. On the late Archbishop of Canterbury, as well mind receiving the king's messaye, he desired the ed to further and set at an end the marriage various officers of his household, in order to which the king's grace now enjoyeth according prevent pillage, , to take an inventory of his to their spiritual duty, were perverted by the false property, which he at once despatched to the revelations of the said nun."

court; and then with his train he entered his

barge, to go up the river to Putney, where It had come to that; and the keen and sa- horses waited for him. gacious Wolsey, the shrewdest and the cleverest statesman in Europe, had become the dupe " At the taking of his barge,” says Cavendish, of the dupe of a nest of charlatans. What re- "there was no less than a thousand boats full of mains of the story of the divorce, as far at least men and women of the city of London watfeting as it concerns us here, is soon told: Catherine up and down in Thames expecting my lord's appealed from the legate's court to the Pope ; departare, supposing that he should have gone the appeal was admitted against the solemn directly from thence to the Tower, whereat ihey promise which had been given, and Campeg

rejoiced ; and I dare be bold to say the most gio left England, with a declaration that he part never received damage at his hands” would damn his soul for no potentate in Eu- he continues. "Is it not a wonder to consider

“Oh wavering and new.fangled multitude!" rope," and leaving Wolsey to face as he best the inconstant mutability of this uncertain world! might the anger of the king. And now the The common people always desiring alterations long-gathering storm burst at last; and on all'and novelties of things for the strangeness of the


case ; which often turneth them to small profit was forfeited also, since at once he had been and commodity. For if the sequel of this matter cast aside in abrupt and careless laste; not be well considered and digested, ye shall under- even dismissed with courtesy, but flung away stand that they had small cause to triumph at as a worn-out tool which was no longer needhis fall. What hath succeeded all wise men doth ed. If he was a man of even ordinary feeling know, and the common sort of them hath felt. Therefore, to grudge or wonder at it surely were

and ordinary honesty, bis distress under such but folly; to study a redress, I see not how it circumstances would not have been confined can be holpen, for the inclination and natural to the loss of his power and his rank: the disposition of Englishmen is and hath always manner of his fall would probably have been been to desire alteration of officers."

more painful than even the matter of it; and

he must have felt himself cruelly wronged. It How perennial is the English character ! besides this, he had really loved the king's

On Wolsey's arrival at Putney, he mounted person with an honest and loyal affection, the his mule, and followed by his train on horse- blow in coming from him must have been inback, he set out for Esher; and at this mo- finitely more hard to bear than if dealt by ment the scene took place which has furnished any other hand. Treatment more deeply matter for such volubility of eloquence upon wounding to a true-hearted man it is impossithe meanness of his spirit, his cowardice, ble to conceive. And in Wolsey's position prostration, etc. He had scarcely started there was everything to aggravate, nothing to when a messenger was seen approaching; and soften, the pain which he could not choose on inquiring who it was, he was told Sir Hen- but feel. He had no friends wealth he ry Norris was coming from the king. had, and dependants, but no family which

would gather about him; no wife or children And bye-and-bye he came to my lord, and to teach him what power there is in love in saluted him, and said that the king's majesty the hour of calamity; no more desolate old had him commended to his grace, and willed him man was ever driven out to face the pelting of in any wise to be of good cheer, for he was as the storms of fortune, and there is every proof much in his highness's favor as ever he was. and that his spirit was crushed and broken by it. so shall be. And in token thereof he delivered him a ring of gold with a rich stone, which ring

It is no excess of charity to suppose that he knew very well, for it was always the privy feelings of this kind may have affected him as token between the king and him, whensoever the much as, perhaps more than, a decline of outking would have any special matter despatched ward splendor; and if we suppose him feeling at his hands.

also what we know that he did feel, that the

storm which had broken over himself was but Sir H. Norris then more fully delivered his the first dropping of a tempest that would message, respecting his encouragements

, de- destroy all what he considered most precious claring that the king's unkindness was appar- and most holy, we shall have no difficulty in ent only, and that which had been done, was understanding how such a message as that done "out of no displeasure,” but only “ to which was brought to him by Sir II. Norris, satisfy the minds of some which he knew to be may have touched him to the bottom of his no friends to the Cardinal.” The baseness of heart. If as a worn-out servant of the State Wolsey's spirit is supposed to have been he was hurt by his country's ingratitude, it shown in the manner in which he received was something to learn that by the chief of the this message. He is represented as absorbed State he was still remembered with honor; if in misery at the thought of his disgrace: to the king's personal unkindness had wounded have been sunk in the dust by the loss of court him, he was told that he was mistaken in the favor, and elated to madness by this gleam of hand which had dealt the hardest blow. And hope that it might be regained. Before relat- who can tell what other hopes he may not ing his behavior, it is as well to consider wheth- have entertained ? He may have thought that er this be an altogether satisfactory account of at the last hour, Henry's purpose was relentwhat was probably passing in his mind. For ing? Who can tell ? Day after day in the twenty years he had been the king's most week preceding, he had been closeted with faithful servant; not only had he been chief him; and no one knows what passed between minister of State, but he had lived on terms of them. Only incidentally we learn that Wolthe most confidential and affectionate intimacy sey had been at his feet for hours intreating with Henry himself, he was sincerely and him; and in those secrets lies the clue to what warmly attached to him; and all this was now was passing in Wolsey's breast. We can but come suddenly to an end. In a conflict of guess what it was; but we may as well guess duties he had found himself forced to act in a generously as meanly; while we do for certain manner by which he had inevitably forfeited know that Henry had at least felt as warm an his position; and whether any kindly feeling affection for his Chancellor as was ever felt by remained in Henry's mind towards him was man for man; and that this affection was still uncertain. This, it must have seemed, loyally returned; a fact which alone, if allowed its ordinary weight, will convert the supposed would not; “ And my lord was fain to send baseness of the fallen favorite into a simple six of his tall yeomen to conduct and convey and beautiful expression of national emotion, the fool to the court, for the poor fool took on caused by a sudden revulsion from wounded and fired so in such a rage when he saw that feeling. 'On receiving Norris's message- he must needs depart from my lord.”

The king's intentions, however, were probAlighting off his mule,” an eye-witness tells ably less favorable toward Wolsey than the 28, “ all alone, as though he had been the young; latter hoped ; or in his uncertainty whether est person among us, he incontinent kneeled he was acting rightly or wrongly, they may down in the dirt upon both his knees, holding up have fluctuated between anger and regard. his hands for joy. Master Norris perceiving him If the latter was of a lively kind, some unusual so quickly from his mule upon the ground, mused and was astonished, and therewith he alighted difficulty must have obliged him to be cautious also, and kneeled by him, embracing him in his in the display of it: since the situation in arms, and asked him how he did, calling upon which the old man was left for several weeks him to credit his message. Then talking with was such as to reflect the highest discredit on Master Norris upon his knees in the mire, he those who were responsible for it. The house would have pulled off his undercap of velvet; to which he was ordered to confine himself but he could not undo the knot under his chin. was without furniture, bedding, plate, or linen. Wherefore, with violence he rent the laces and No preparation had been made for his receppulled it from his head, and arose and would tion : it was damp and unwholesome, and a have mounted his mule; but he could not mount wet and stormy winter was setting in. That again with such agility as he alighted before, when his footmen had as much ado to set him in under these circumstances, the many gentlehis saddle as they could have.”

men who formed his train should have insisted

on remaining to share his discomfort speaks Other persons may think of this as they more eloquently than words for the nature of please. We live in a free country, where we the relation which subsisted between them and have all a right to our opinion ; and for our their master. They contributed money among own selves, we consider it (unless it was act- themselves for his support, for none was aling) as one of the most touchingly beautiful lowed him; and bought or borrowed some scenes in English history. And if it was act- kind of furniture to make the place endurable. ing, the counterfeit would at least have been as Indeed, the affectionate devotion which all transparent to Wolsey's own attendants, to these persons showed towards him at this trymen who lived in habitual intercourse with ing time, called out the involuntary admirabim, as it can be to us, who only gather what tion of all parties; and six weeks after, the he was out of the accounts of writers who Duke of Norfolk was sent down to Esher, to were least his friends; yet Cavendish, at least, declare to them, in the king's name, the high who tells the story, felt nothing but uncontrol-credit which they had earned for themselves. led emotion. A little incident followed, also, The Privy Council

, meanwhile, and the of no slight significance, which historians have House of Lords, were on their side busy either never mentioned, or have related only carning for themselves discredit, in drawing as if there were nothing in it worth observing up the articels* of his impeachment; and the Attached to the courts and the households of perusal of these articles is the surest proof the great nobles of the time there were, as we that the prosecution was a result of personal all know, certain mysterious appendages called rancor, and that no real crime could be laid Fools; the nature of them is not very clear; to his charge. There are forty-four in all, but if we may trust Shakspeare, their hearts and at first reading them, one is tempted to were always in the right place; the fool never suppose that one is reading some absurd and loved when he ought to despise, or despised preposterous parody, instead of the deliberate when he ought to love; and there was a and serious composition of English statesmen. strange mixture of wit and simplicity in them The persons responsible for their appearance which never failed, as the saying is, “to fit the might be determined with an approach to cercap upon the right head,” or distinguish the tainty; but there is no occasion to fling a knave from the true man. One of these was shadow over the names of men who were in Wolsey's train, a fool, as it would seem, of otherwise honorable and high-minded, and no common merit, said to be “worth, for a whose better nature was under a temporary nobleman's pleasure, a thousand pounds;"eclipse. The single offence against the law and Wolsey, desiring to send some token to with which Wolsey is charged is his acHenry in answer for the ring, told Norris to ceptance of the office of legate contrary to take him. And we suppose that if kneeling the Statute of Provisors; but for this, as the in the mud had been that contemptible piece Council well knew, he had the king's permisof business which Burnet tells us that it was, the fool would have been glad to go, that he

* They are printed by Lord Herbert and by Mr. might witness no more such antics; yet hel Gault.

« AnteriorContinuar »