and Wolsey long thought it convenient to keep , shortly passed over here, because it was one of up friendly appearances. To trace the date of those signal acts of his life which must bear on it More's reluctant journeys in the course of the un- the stamp of his character. Sir John More, his interesting attempts of politicians on both sides to father, in spite of very advanced age, was named gain or dupe each other, would be vain, without at the beginning of this parliament one of “the some outline of the negotiations in which he was triers of petitions from Gascogny,” an office of employed, and repulsive to most readers if the en- which the duties had become nominal, but which quiry promised a better chance of a successful re

still retained its ancient dignity. Sir Thomas sult. Wolsey appears to have occasionally ap- More was chosen by the house of commons to be pointed commissioners to conduct his own affairs their speaker. He excused himself, as usual, on as well as those of his master at Calais, where the ground of alleged disability. His excuse was they received instructions from London with the justly pronounced to be inadmissible. The jourgreatest rapidity, and whence it was easy to ma- nals of parliament are lost, or at least have not been nage negotiations, and to shift them speedily, with printed. The rolls of parliament exhibit only a Brussels and Paris; with the additional advantage, short account of what occurred, which is necessathat it might be somewhat easier to conceal from rily an unsatisfactory substitute for the deficient one of those jealous courts the secret dealings of journals. But as the matter personally concerns that of England with the other, than if the des. sir Thomas More, and as the account of it given patches had been sent directly from London to the by his son-in-law, then an inmate in his house, place of their destination. Of this commission agrees with the abridgment of the rolls, as far as More was once at least an unwilling member. the latter goes, it has been thought proper in this Erasmus, in a letter to Peter Giles on the 15th of place to insert the very words of Roper's narrative. November, 1518, says, “More is still at Calais, of it may be reasonably conjectured that the speeches which he is heartily tired. He lives with great of More were copied from his manuscript by his expense, and is engaged in business most odious pious son-in-law.* _"Sith I perceive, most reto him. Such are the rewards reserved by kings doubted sovereign, that it standeth not with your for their favourites."* Two years after, More pleasure to reform this election, and cause it to be writes more bitterly to Erasmus, of his own resi. changed, but have, by the mouth of the most dence and occupations. “I approve your determi. reverend father in God the legate, your highness's nation never to be involved in the busy trifling of chancellor, thereunto given your most royal assent, princes; from which, as you love me, you must and have of your benignity determined far above wish that I were extricated. You cannot imagine that I may bear for this office to repute me meet, how painfully I feel myself plunged in them, for rather than that you shall seem to impute unto nothing can be more odious to me than this lega- your commons that they had unmeetly chosen, I tion. I am here banished to a petty sea-port, of am ready obediently to conform myself to the acwhich the air and the earth are equally disagree-complishment of your highness's pleasure and able to me. Abhorrent as I am by nature from commandment. In most humble wise I beseech strife, even when it is profitable as at home, you your majesty that I may make to you two lowly may judge how wearisome it is here where it is petitions ; the one privately concerning myself, the attended by loss.”f On More's journey in sum- other the whole assembly of your commons' house. mer 1519, he had harboured hopes of being con. For myself, most gracious sovereign, that if it niesoled by seeing Erasmus at Calais, for all the tire- hap me in any thing hereafter, that is, on the besome pageantry, selfish scuffles, and paltry frauds, half of your commons in your high presence to be which he was to witness at the congress of kingst, declared, to mistake my message, and in lack of where More could find little to abate those splo- good utterance by my mishearsal to prevent or netic views of courts, which his disappointed bo- impair their prudent instructions, that it may then nevolence breathed in Ulopia. In 1521, Wolsey like your most noble majesty to give me leave to twice visited Calais during the residence of More, repair again unto the commons' house, and to who appears to have then had a weight in council, confer with them and take their advice what things and a place in the royal favour, second only to I shall on their behalf utter and speak before your those of the cardinal.

royal grace. In 1523, a parliament was held in the middle “ Mine other humble request, most excellent of April at Westminster, in which More took a prince, is this : forasmuch as there be of your compart honourable to his memory, which has been mons here by your high commandment assembled already mentioned as one of the remaining frag- * This conjecture is almost raised above that name ments of his eloquence, but which cannot be so

by what precedes. “Sir Thomas More made an

oration, not now extant, to the king's highness, for * Erasm. Opp. iii. 357.

his discharge from the speakership, whereunto when | Erasm. Opp. iii. 589.

the king would not consent, the speaker spoke to his Opp. iii. 450. Morus Erasmo, e Cantuarià, 11 grace in form following.”—It cannot be doubted, withJun. 1519. From the dates of the following letters out injustice to the honest and amiable biographer, of Erasmus, it appears that the hopes of More were that he would have his readers to understand that the disappointed.

original of the speechos, which actually follow, were 14 Hen. VIII.

extant in his hands.


for your parliament, a great number which are which we all, your majesty's humble loving subafter the accustomed manner appointed in the jects, according to the most bounden duty of our commons' house to heal and advise of the common natural allegiance, most highly desire and pray affairs among themselves apart; and albeit, most

for." dear liege Lord, that according to your most pru- This speech, the substance of which is in the dent advice, by your honourable writs every where rolls denominated the protest, is conformable to declared, there hath been as due diligence used in former usage, and the model of speeches made sending up to your highness's court of parliament since that time in the like circumstances. What the most discreet persons out of every quarter that follows is more singular, and not easily reconciled men could esteem meet thereunto. Whereby it with the intimate connection then subsisting beis not to be doubted but that there is a very sub- tween the speaker and the government, especially stantial assembly of right wise, meet, and politique with the cardinal :persons; yet, most victorious prince, sith among “At this parliament cardinal Wolsey found 80 many wise men, neither is every man wise himself much aggrieved with the burgesses therealike, nor among so many alike well witted, every of; for that nothing was so soon done or spoken man well spoken; and it often happeth that as therein, but that it was immediately blown abroad much folly is uttered with painted polished speech, in every alehouse. It fortuned at that parliament 80 many boisterous and rude in language give a very great subsidy to be demanded, which the right substantial counsel: and sith also in matters cardinal, fearing would not pass the commons' of great importance, the mind is often so occupied house, determined, for the furtherance thereof, to in the matter, that a man rather studieth what to be there present himself. Before where coming, say than how; by reason whereof the wisest man after long debating there, whether it was better and best spoken in a whole country fortuneth, but with a few of his lords, as the most opinion of when his mind is fervent in the matter, somewhat the house was, or with his whole train royally to to speak in such wise as he would afterwards wish receive him; “Masters,' quoth Sir Thomas More, to have been uttered otherwise, and yet no worse ' forasmuch as my lord cardinal lately, ye wot will had when he spake it than he had when he well, laid to our charge the lightness of our tongues would so gladly change it. Therefore, most gra- for things uttered out of this house, it shall not in cious sovereign, considering that in your high my mind be amiss to receive him with all his court of parliament is nothing treated but matter pomp, with his maces, his pillars, his poll-axes, his of weight and importance concerning your realm, hat, and great seal too; to the intent, that if he find and your own royal estate, it could not fail to put the like fault with us hereafter, we may be the to silence from the giving of their advice and coun- bolder from ourselves to lay the blame on those sel many of your discreet commons, to the great whom his grace bringeth here with himn.' Wherehindrance of your common affairs, unless every unto the house wholly agreeing, he was received one of your commons were utterly discharged from accordingly. Where after he had by a solemn all doubt and fear how any thing that it should oration, by many reasons, proved how necessary happen them to speak, should happen of your high- it was the demand then moved to be granted, and ness to be taken. And in this point, though your farther showed that less would not serve to mainwell-known and proved benignity putteth every tain the prince's purpose ; he seeing the company man in good hope ; yet such is the weight of the sitting still silent, and thereunto nothing answermatter, such is the reverend dread that the timo- ing, and, contrary to his expectation, showing in rous hearts of your natural subjects conceive to themselves towards his request no towardness of wards your highness, our most redoubted king and inclination, said to them, “Masters, you have

many undoubted sovereign, that they cannot in this point wise and learned men amongst you, and sith I am find themselves satisfied, except your gracious from the king's own person sent hither unto you, to bounty therein declared put away the scruple of the preservation of yourselves and of all the realm, I their timorous minds, and put them out of doubt.. think it meet you give me some reasonable answer.' It may therefore like your most abundant grace to Whereat every man holding his peace, then began give to all your commons here assembled your to speak to one master Marney, afterwards lord most gracious licence and pardon freely, without Marney; 'How say you,'quoth he, master Mardoubt of your dreadful displeasure, every man to ney ?' who making him no answer neither, he sedischarge his conscience, and boldly in every thing verally asked the same question of divers others, incident among us to declare his advice; and accounted the wisest of the company; to wbom, whatsoever happeneth any man to say, that it may when none of them all would give so much as one like your noble majesty, of your inestimable good- word, being agreed before, as the custom was, to ness, to take all in good part, interpreting every give answer by their speaker; "Masters,' quoth man's words, how uncunningly soever they may the cardinal, “unless it be the manner of your be couched, to proceed yet of good zeal towards house, as of likelihood it is, by the mouth of your the profit of your realm, and honour of your royal speaker, whom you have chosen for trusty and person ; and the prosperous estate and preserva- wise (as indeed he is), in such cases to utter tion whereof, most excellent sovereign, is the thing your minds, here is, without doubt, a marvellously


obstinate silence:' and thereupon he required come, indeed, the established mode of commencanswer of Mr. Speaker; who first reverently, on ing an address to a superior, in which the old his knees, excusing the silence of the house, usage was, “It may like,” or “It may please abashed at the presence of so noble a personage, your Majesty,” where modern language absoable to amaze the wisest and best learned in a lutely requires us to say, “May it please,” by a realm, and then, by many probable arguments, slight inversion of the words retained, but with proving that for them to make answer was neither the exclusion of the word “like” in that combinaexpedient nor agreeable with the ancient liberty of tion. “Let” is used for “hinder,” as is still the the house ; in conclusion for himself, showed, that case in some public forms, and in the excellent though they had all with their voices trusted him, version of the Scriptures. “Well witted” is a yet except every one of them could put into his own happy phrase lost to the language except on famihead their several wits, he alone in so weighty a liar occasions with a smile, or by a master in the matter was unmeet to make his grace answer. art of combining words. Perhaps“ enable me," Whereupon the cardinal, displeased with sir Tho- for "give me by your countenance the ability which mas More, that had not in this parliament in all I have not,” is the only phrase which savours of things satisfied his desire, suddenly arose and de- awkwardness or of harsh effect in the excellent parted."*

speaker. The whole passage is a remarkable exThis passage deserves attention as a specimen ample of the almost imperceptible differences which of the mild independence and quiet steadiness of mark various stages in the progress of a language. More's character, and also as a proof how he per- In several of the above instances we see a sort of ceived the strength which the commons had gain- contest for admission into the language between ed by the power of the purse, which was daily and

two phrases extremely similar, and yet a victory silently growing, and which could be disturbed which excluded one of them as rigidly as if the only by such an unseasonable show of an imma- distinction had been very wide. Every case where ture authority as might too soon have roused the

subsequent usage has altered or rejected words or crown to resistance. It is one among many in- phrases must be regarded as a sort of national verstances of the progress of the influence of parlia- dict, which is necessarily followed by their disments in the midst of their apparently indiscrimi- franchisement. They have no longer any claim on nate submission, and it affords a pregnant proof that the English language, other than that which may be we must not estimate the spirit of our forefathers

possessed by all alien suppliants for naturalization. by the bumility of their demeanour.

Such examples should warn á writer, desirous to The reader will observe how nearly the example be lastingly read, of the danger which attends new of More was followed by a succeeding speaker, words, or very new acceptations of those which comparatively of no distinction, but in circum

are established, or even of attempts to revive those stances far more memorable, in the answer of which are altogether superannuated. They show Lenthall to Charles I., when that unfortunate in the clearest light that the learned and the vulprince came to the house of commons to arrest gar parts of language, being those which are most five leading members of that assembly, who had liable to change, are unfit materials for a durable incurred his displeasure.

style, and they teach us to look to those words There is another point from which these early which form the far larger portion of ancient as reports of parliamentary speeches may be viewed, well as of modern language, that “well of English and from which it is curious to consider them, undefiled,” which has been happily resorted to They belong to that critical moment in the history from More to Cowper, as being proved by the of our language when it was forming a prose unimpeachable evidence of that long usage to fit style, a written diction adapted to grave and im- the rest of our speech more perfectly, and to flow portant occasions. In the passage just quoted, more easily, clearly, and sweetly, in our composithere are about twenty words and phrases (some tion. of them, it is true, used more than once) which Erasmus tells us that Wolsey rather feared than would not now be employed. Some of them are liked More. When the short session of parliashades, such as “lowly,” where we say “humble ;" ment was closed, Wolsey, in his gallery of Whitecompany,"

,” for “ a house of parliament ;" "sim- hall, said to More, "I wish to God you had been pleness,” for “ simplicity,” with a deeper tinge of at Rome, Mr. More, when I made you speaker." folly than the single word now ever has ;"right,” “ Your grace not offended, so would I too, my then used as a general sign of the superlative, lord,” replied sir Thomas; "for then should I have where we say “very,” or “most ;” “reverend,” seen the place I long have desired to visit.” * for “reverent,” or “ reverential.” “If it mishap More turned the conversation by saying that he me,” if it should so happen, "to mishap in me,” “ it liked this gallery better than the cardinal's at often happeth,” are instances of the employment Hampton Court. But the cardinal secretly broodof the verb “hap” for happen, or of a conjugation ed over his revenge, which he tried to gratify by of the former, which has fallen into irrecoverable banishing More, under the name of an embassadisuse. A phrase was then so frequent as to be* Roper, p. 13-21.

* Roper, p. 20.

dor to Spain. He tried to effect his purpose by reign lord :"' * as if the rank or authority of the magnifying the learning and wisdom of More, his parties had any concern with the duty of honestly peculiar fitness for a conciliatory adjustinent of giving counsel where it is given at all. The overthe difficult matters which were at issue between bearing deportment of Wolsey probably overawed the king and his kinsman the emperor. The both these good prelates. Wolsey understood them king suggested this proposal to More, who, con- in the inanner most suitable to his purpose ; and, sidering the unsuitableness of the Spanish climate confident that he should by some means finally to his constitution, and perhaps suspecting Wol- gain them, he probably coloured very highly their sey of sinister purposes, earnestly besought Henry language in his communication to Henry, whom not to send his faithful servant to his grave.

The he had just before displeased by unexpected scruking, who also suspected Wolsey of being actuat- ples. But as there are no traces known to us of an ed by jealousy, answered, “It is not our mean- active part taken by More in this negociation, it is ing, Mr. More, to do you any hurt; but to do you proper to return to what concerned him more neargood we should be glad. We shall therefore em- ly. It was generally believed that More and ploy you otherwise."* Sir Thomas More could Fisher had corrected the manuscript of Henry's boast that he had never asked the king the value answer to Luther. It is certain that the propenof a penny for himself. On the 25th of December, sity of the king to theological discussions con1525, the king appointed him chancellor of the stituted one of the links of his intimacy with duchy of Lancaster, as successor of sir Anthony More. Wingfield; an office of dignity and profit, which As More's writings against the Lutherans were More continued to hold for nearly three years. of great note in his own time, as they were pro

In the summer of 1527, Wolsey went on his bably those of his works on which he exerted the magnificent embassy to France, in which More most acuteness, and employed most knowledge, it and other officers of state were joined with him. would be wrong to omit all mention of them in an On this occasion the main, though secret object of estimate of his mind, or as proofs of his disposiHenry was to pave the way for a divorce from tion. They contain manr anecdotes which throw queen Catharine, with a view to a marriage considerable light on our ecclesiastical history with Anne Boleyn, a young beauty who had been during the first prosecution of protestants, or, as bred at the French court, where her father, sir they were then called, Lutherans, under the old Thomas Boleyn, created earl of Wiltshire, had statutes against Lollards, in the period which exbeen repeatedly ambassador.

tended from 1520 to 1532; and they do not secm On their journey to the coast, Wolsey sounded to have been enough examined with that view by archbishop Wareham and bishop Fisher on the the historians of the church. important secret with which he was intrusted. But our concern with thern is now only as they Wareham, an estimable and amiable prelate, ap- affect More. Legal responsibility, in a well-conpears to have intimated that his opinion was fa- stituted commonwealth, reaches to all the avowed vourable to Henry's pursuit of a divorce. I Fisher, advisers of the government, and to all those whose bishop of Rochester, an aged and upright man, concurrence is necessary to the validity of its compromised Wolsey that he should do or say no- mands. But moral responsibility is usually or thing in the matter, nor in any way counsel the

chiefly confined to the actual authors of a measure. queen, except what stood with Henry's pleasure ; To them general opinion allots commendation or for,"

," said he, “though she be queen of this blame. It is true, that when a government has realm, yet he acknowledgeth you to be his sove- attained a state of more than usual regularity, the

feelings of mankind become so well adapted to it, * More, p. 53. with a small variation.

that men are held to be even morally responsible Such is the information which I have receivod

for sanctioning, by a base continuance in office, from the records in the Tower. The accurate writer

the bad policy which may be known not to origiof the article on More, in the Biographia Britannica, nate with themselves. These refinements were, is perplexed by finding sır Thomas Moro, chancellor however, unknown in the reign of Henry VIII. of the duchy, as one of the negotiators of a treaty, in August, 1526, which seems to the writer in the Bio

The administration was carried on under the pergraphia to bring down the death of Wingfield to

sonal direction of the monarch, wbo generally ad. near that time; he being on all sides acknowledged mitted one confidential servant only into his most to bo More's immediate predecessor. But there is no

secret counsels; and all the other ministers, whatdifficulty, unless we needlessly assume that the negotiation with which Wingfield was concerned related

ever their rank might be, commonly confined their to the same treaty which More concluded. On the attention to the business of their own office, or to contrary, the first appears to have been a treaty with the execution of special commands intrusted to Spain; the last a treaty with France.

them. This system was probably carried to its I State Papers, Hen. VIII. vol. i. p. 196.5th July, 1527. Wolsey's words are,"Ho expressly affirm

utmost height under so self-willed a prince as od, that however displeasantly the queen took this Henry, and by so domineering a minister as Wolmatter, yet the truth and judgment of the law must Bey. Although there can be no doubt that More, take place. I have instructed him how he shall order himself if the queen shall demand his counsel, which be promises me to follow.”

* State Papors, H. VIII. vol. i. p. 168.

as a privy-counsellor, attended and co-operated at evidently to Utopia,) “cannot almost now speak the examination of the unfortunate Lutherans, his of such ihings insomuch as in play, but that such conduct in that respect was regarded by his con- evil hearers were a great deal the worse.”—“I temporaries as little more than the enforcement of would not now translate the Moria of Erasmus, orders which he could not lawfully decline to obey. even some works that I myself have written ere The opinion that those who disapprove are bound this, into English, albeit there be none harm thereto resign, is of very modern origin, and still not in.” It is evident that the two philosophers, who universal, especially if fidelity to a party be not call- found all their fair visions dispelled by noise and ed in to its aid. In the time of Henry, a minister violence, deeply felt the injustice of citing against was not thought even entitled to resign. The them, as a proof of inconsistency, that they defact of his attendance, indeed, appears in his con- parted from the pleasantries, the gay dreams, at troversial writings, especially by his answer to most the fond speculations, of their early days, Tyndal, printed in 1532, by John Rastall, the se when they saw these harmless visions turned into cond printer of note in England, who married Eli- weapons of destruction in the blood-stained hands zabeth, the sister of sir Thomas. It is not equita- of the boors of Saxony, and of the ferocious fanable to treat him as effectively and morally, as well tics of Munster. The virtuous love of peace might as legally, answerable for measures of state, till be more prevalent in More; the Epicurean desire the removal of Wolsey, and the delivery of the of personal ease predominated more in Erasmus, great seal into his own hands. The injustice of But both were, doubtless from commendable or considering these transactions in any other light excusable causes, incensed against those odious appears from the circumstance, that though he disciples, who now, " with no friendly voice," was joined with Wolsey in the splendid embassy invoked their authority against themselves. to France in 1527, there is no reason to suppose If, however, we examine the question on the that More was intrusted with the secret and main grounds of positive testimony, it is impossible to purpose of the embassy,--that of facilitating a di- appeal to a witness of more weight than Erasmus. vorce and a second marriage. His responsibility, “ It is,” said he, “ a sufficient proof of his cle. in its most important and only practical part, must mency, that while he was chancellor no man was be contracted to the short time which extends from put to death for these pestilent dogmas, while so the 25th of October, 1529, when he was appoint- many have suffered capital punishment for them ed chancellor, to the 16th of May, 1532, when he in France, in Germany, and in the Netherlands." * was removed from his office, not much more than The only charges against him on this subject, two years and a half.* Even within these narrow which are adverted to by himself, relate to minor limits, it must be remembered, that he found the severities ; but as these may be marks of more system of persecution established, and its machi- cruelty than the infliction of death, let us listen on nery in a state of activity. The prelates, like this subject to the words of the merciful and righ. most other prelates in Europe, did their part in teous man. t convicting the protestants of Lollardy in the spi. “ Divers of them have said that of such as were ritual courts, who were the competent judges of in my house when I was chancellor, I used to exthat offence. Our means of determining what amine them with torments, causing them to be executions for Lollardy (if any) took place bound to a tree in my garden, and there piteously when More bad a decisive ascendant in the roy- beaten. Except their sure keeping, I never did al councils, are very imperfect. If it were certain else cause any such thing to be done unto any of that he was the adviser of such executions, it the heretics in all my life, except only twain: one would only follow that he executed one part of the was a child and a servant of mine in mine own criminal law, without approving it, as succeeding house, whom his father, ere he came to me, had judges have certainly done in cases of fraud and nursed up in such matters, and set him to attend theft, where they no more approved the punish- upon George Jay. This Jay did teach the child ment of death than the author of Utopia might his ungracious heresy against the blessed sacra. have done in its application to heresy. If the ment of the altar ; which heresy this child in my progress of civilisation be not checked, we seem house began to teach another child. And upon not far from the period when such capital punish- that point I caused a servant of mine to strip him - ments will appear as little consistent with huma- like a child before mine household, for amendnity; and indeed with justice, as the burningof here

ment of himself and ensample of others.”_" Antice now appears to us. More himself deprecates other was one who, after he had fallen into these an appeal to his writings and those of his friend frantic heresies, soon fell into plain open frensy : Erasmus, innocently intended by them, but abus- albeit that he had been in bedlam, and afterwards ed by incendiaries, to inflame the fury of the igo | by beating and correction gathered his rememnorant multitude. “Men,” says he (alluding

* Erasm. Fabio Episc. Vienn. (Vienne in Daumote Information from Records in the Tower.

phine), Opp. iii. 1811. More's Answer to Tyndal, part i. p. 128. Print- † More's Apology, c. 36. English Works, pp. ed by John Rastall, 1532.

900, 901. edition 1557.

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