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Roper, it shall not be so. Whom,” concludes
a chancellor must be required, he made suit to Roper, “in sixteen years and more, being in his “his singular dear friend,” the duke of Norfolk, to house, conversant with him, I never could perceive procure his discharge from this office. The duke, him as much as once in a fume."
often solicited by More, then obtained, by imporDoubtless he was somewhat disquieted by the tunate suit, a clear discharge for the chancellor. reflection, that some of those who now appealed When he repaired to the king, to resign the great to the freedom of his youthful philosophy against seal into his majesty's hands, Henry received him himself would speedily begin to abuse such doc- with thanks and praise for his worthy service, and trines by turning them against the peace which he assured him, that in any suit that should either loved, -that some of the spoilers of Rome might concern his honour or appertain unto his profit, the exhibit the like scenes of rapine and blood in the king would show himself a good and gracious city which was his birth-place and his dwelling- master to his faithful servant. The king directed place. Yet, even then, the placid mien, which had Norfolk, when he installed his successor, to destood the test of every petty annoyance for sixteen clare publicly, that his majesty had with pain years, was unruffled by alarms for the impending yielded to the prayers of sir Thomas More, by the fate of his country and of his religion.
removal of such a magistrate.* Henry used every means of procuring an opinion At the time of his resignation he asserted, and favourable to his wishes from his chancellor, who circumstances, without reference to his character, excused himself as unmeet for such matters, hav- demonstrate the truth of his assertion, that his ing never professed the study of divinity. But the whole income, independent of grants from the king“ sorely” pressed him *, and never ceased crown, did not amount to more than 501. yearly. urging him until he had promised to give his This was not more than an eighth part of his consent, at least, to examine the question, con- gains at the bar and his judicial salary from the city junctly with his friend Tunstall and other learned of London taken together,
,--so great was the prodivines. After the examination, More, with his portion in which his fortune had declined during wonted ingenuity and gentleness, conveyed the eighteen years of employment in offices of such result to his master. “To be plain with your trust, advantage, and honour.t In this situation grace, neither your bishops, wise and virtuous
the clergy voted, as a testimonial of their gratithough they be, nor myself, nor any other of your tude to him, the sum of 50001. pounds, which was council, by reason of your manifold benefits be
a hundred times the amount of his income ; and, stowed on us, are meet counsellors for your grace according to the rate of interest at that time, would herein. If you mind to understand the truth, have yielded him 500l. a year, being ten times the consult St. Jerome, St. Augustin, and other holy yearly sum which he could then call his own. But doctors of the Greek and Latin churches, who will good and honourable as he knew their messengers not be inclined to deceive you by respect of their to be, of whom Tunstall was one, he declared that own worldly commodity, or by fear of your princc- he would rather cast his money into the sea than ly displeasure.” † Though the king did not like take it : not speaking from a boastful pride, most what “was disagreeable to his desires, yet the foreign from his nature, but shrinking with a sort language of More was so wisely tempered, that of instinctive delicacy from the touch of money, for the present he took it in good part, and often- even before he considered how much the accept times had conferences with the chancellor there
ance of the gift might impair his usefulness. on.” The native meekness of More was probably His resources were of a nobler nature. The more effectual than all the arts by which cour- simplicity of his tastes and the moderation of his tiers ingratiate themselves, or insinuate unpalata- | indulgences rendered retrenchment a task so easy ble counsel.
to himself, as to be scarcely perceptible in his per· Shortly after, the king again moved him to sonal habits. His fool or jester, then a necessary weigh and consider the great matter. The chan- part of a great man's establishment, he gave to the cellor fell down on his knees, and reminding Hen- lord mayor for the time being. His first care was ry of his own words on delivering the great seal, to provide for his attendants, by placing his gentle
,_"First look upon God, and after men and yeomen with peers and prelates, and his God upon me,” added, that nothing had ever so eight watermen in the service of his successor sir pained him as that he was not able to serve his T. Audley, to whom he gave his great barge, one grace in that matter, without a breach of that ori
of the most indispensable appendages of his office ginal injunction which he had received on the ac- in an age when carriages were unknown. His ceptance of his office. The king said he was con- sorrows were for separation from those whom tent to accept his service otherwise, and would he loved. He called together his children and continue his favour ; never with that matter mo- grandchildren, who had hitherto lived in peace lesting his conscience afterwards. But when the and love under his patriarchal roof, and, lamenting progress towards the marriage was so far advanced that he saw how soon the active co-operation of
* « Honorifice jussit rex de me testatum reddere quod ægre ad preces meas me demiserit."-Mori
Ep. ad Erasm. * Roper, p. 32. | Id. 48.
† Apology, c. x. English Works, p. 867.
that he could not as he was wont, and as he glad- these matters within a while be not confirmed with ly would, bear out the whole charges of them all oaths!” He accordingly answered his friends himself, continue living together as they were the bishops well:-“ Take heed, my lords : by wont, he prayed them to give him their counsel on procuring your lordships to be present at the corothis trying occasion. When he saw them silent, nation, they will next ask you to preach for the and unwilling to risk an opinion, he gave them his, setting forth thereof; and finally to write books to seasoned with his natural gaiety, and containing all the world in defence thereof." some strokes illustrative of the state of society at This warning letter was not likely to be ac that time.—“I have been brought up,” quoth he, ceptable to Henry. An oppor sented it"at Oxford, at an inn of Chancery, at Lincoln's self for trying another, in which it is very probaInn, and also in the king's court, from the lowest ble that he, in the first instance, limited his plan degree to the highest, and yet I have at present to menace, which he thought would be sufficient left me little above 1001. a year” (including the to subdue the obstinacy of More, whom a man of king's grants); “ so that now if we like to live to- violent nature might believe to be fearful, because gether we must be content to be contributaries he was peaceful. Elizabeth Barton, called the together ; but we must not fall to the lowest fare holy maid of Kent, who had been, for a considerafirst :-we will begin with Lincoln's Inn diet, ble number of years, afflicted by convulsive mala. where many right worshipful and of good years dies, felt her morbid susceptibility so excited by do live full well; which, if we find not ourselves the Henry's profane defiance of the catholic church, first
year able to maintain, then will we the next and his cruel desertion of Catharine, his faithful year go one step to New Inn fare: if that year ex- wife, that her pious and humane feelings led her ceed our ability, we will the next year descend to to represent, and probably to believe herself to be Oxford fare, where many grave, learned, and an- visited by a divine revelation of those punishments cient fathers are continually conversant. If our
which the king was about to draw down on himability stretch not to maintain either, then may we self and on the kingdom. In the universal opiyet with bags and wallets go a begging together,
nion of the sixteenth century, such interpositions and hoping for charity at every man's door, to sing were considered as still occurring. The neighSalve regina; and so still keep company and be
bours and visiters of the unfortunate young womerry together."*
man believed her ravings to be prophecies, and On the Sunday following his resignation, he the contortions of her body to be those of a frame stood at the door of his wife's pew in the church, heaving and struggling under the awful agitations where one of his dismissed gentlemen had beeri
of divine inspiratio and confirmed that convicused to stand, and making a low obeisance to tion of a mission from God, for which she was Alice as she entered, said to her with perfect gra- predisposed by her own pious benevolence, comvity,—“Madam, my lord is gone." He who for bined with the general error of the age. Both seventeen years had not raised his voice in displea- Fisher and More appear not to have altogether sure, would not be expected to sacrifice the grati- disbelieved her pretensions. More expressly defication of his innocent merriment to the heaviest clared, that he durst not and would not be bold in blows of fortune. Nor did he at fit times fail to judging her miracles.* In the beginning of her prepare his beloved children for those more cruel prophecies, he had been commanded by the king strokes which he began to foresee. Discoursing
to enquire into her case ; and he made a report to with them, he enlarged on the happiness of suf- Henry, who agreed with More in considering the fering, for the love of God, the loss of goods, of whole of her miraculous pretensions as frivolous, liberty, of lands, of life. He would further say and deserving no farther regard. But in 1532, unto them, that if he might perceive his wife and several monks † so magnified her performances to children would encourage him to die in a good him that he was prevailed on to see her; but recause, it should so comfort him, that for very joy fused to hear her speak about the king, saying to it would make him run merrily to death.
her, in general terms, that he had no desire to pry It must be owned that Henry felt the weight of
into the concerns of others. Pursuant, as it is this great man's opinion, and tried every possible said, to a sentence by or in the Star Chamber, she means to obtain at least the appearance of his
stood in the pillory at Paul's Cross, acknowledgspontaneous approbation. After the marriage ing herself to be guilty of the imposture of claimwith
queen Anne, the king commanded Tunstall ing inspiration, and saying that she was tempted and other prelates to desire his attendance at the to this fraud by the instigation of the devil. Concoronation at Westminster. They wrote a letter
sidering the circumstances of the case, and the to persuade him to comply, and accompanied it
character of the parties, it is far more probable that with the needful present of 201, to buy a court
the ministers should have obtained a false confesdress. Such overtures he had foreseen ; for he sion from her hopes of saving her life, than that a said some time before to Roper, when he first heard simple woman should have contrived and carried of that marriage, “God grant, son Roper, that
* More's letter to Cromwell, probably written in
the end of 1532. *Roper, pp. 51, 52.
† Of whom some were afterwards executed.
on, for many years, a system of complicated and elaborate imposture. It would not be inconsistent with this acquittal, to allow that, in the course of her self-delusion, she should have been induced, by some ecclesiastics of the tottering church, to take an active part in these pious frauds, which there is too much reason to believe that persons of unfeigned religion have been often so far misguided by enthusiastic zeal, as to prepetrate or to patronise.
But whatever were the motives or the extent of the holy maid's confession, it availed her nothing; for in the session of parliament which met in January, 1534, she and her ecclesiastical prompters were attainted of high treason, and adjudged to suffer death as traitors : Fisher bishop of Rochester, with others, were all attainted of misprision or concealment of treason, for which they were ad. judged to forfeiture and imprisonment during the king's pleasure.* The holy maid, with her spiritual guides, suffered death at Tyburn on the 21st of April; she confirming her former confession, but laying her crime to the charge of her companions, if we may implicitly believe historians of the victorious party.t
Fisher and his supposed accomplices in misprision remained in prison according to their attainder. Of More the statute makes no mention ; but it contains a provision, which, when it is combined with other circumstances to be presently related, appear to have been added to the bill for the purpose of providing for his safety. By this provision, the king's majesty, at the humble suit of his well beloved wife queen Anne, pardons all persons not expressly by name attainted by the statute, for all misprision and concealments relating to the false and feigncd miracles and prophecies of Elizabeth Barton, on or before the 20th day of October, 1533. Now we are told by Roperț, “ that sir Thomas Mre's name was originally inserted in the bill,” the king supposing that this bill would to sir Thomas More be so troublous and terrible, that it would force him to relent and condescend to his request; wherein his grace was much deceived. Sir Thomas was personally to be received in his own defence to make answer. But the king, not liking that, sent the archbishop of Canterbury, the chancellor, the duke of Norfolk, and Cromwell, to attempt the conversion of More. Audley reminded More of the king's special favour and many benefits. More admitted them; but modestly added, that his highness had most graciously declared that on this matter More should be molested no more. When in the end they saw that no persuasion could move him, they then that the king's highness had given them in commandment, if they could by no gentleness win him, in the king's name with ingratitude to charge him,
that never was servant to his master so villanous*, nor subject to his prince so traitorous as he.” They even reproached him for having either written in the name of his master, or betrayed his sovereign into writing, the book against Luther, which had so deeply pledged Henry to the support of the papal pretensions. To these upbraidings he calmly answered, “ The terrors are arguments for children, and not for me. As to the fact, the king knoweth, that after the book was finished by his highness's appointment,or the consent of the maker, I was only a sorter out and placer of the principal matters therein contained.” He added, that he warned the king of the prudence of“ touching the pope's authority more slenderly, and that he had reminded Henry of the statutes of premunire,” whereby “a good part of the pope's pastoral care was pared away;" to which the impetuous monarch answered, “We are so much bounden unto the see of Rome, that we cannot do too much honour unto it." On More's return to Chelsea from his interview with these lords, Roper said to him—“I hope all is well, since you are so merry ?"_“It is so, indeed,” said More, “I thank God.”—“Are you, then, out of the parliament bill ?” said Roper.—“By my truth, In ever remembered it; but,” said More, “I will tell thee why I was so merry; because I had given the devil a foul fall, and that with those lords I had gone so far, as without great shame I never go back again.” A frank avowal of the power of temptation, and a simple joy at having at the hazard of life escaped from the farther seductions of the court, bestowing a greatness on these few and familiar words which scarcely belongs to any other of the sayings of man.
Henry, incensed at the failure of wheedling and threatening messages, broke out into violent declarations of his resolution to include More in the attainder, and said that he should be personally present to ensure the passing of the bill. Lord Audley and his colleagues on their knees besought their master to forbear, lest by an overthrow in his own presence, he might be contemned by his own subjects, and dishonoured throughout Christendom for ever; adding, that they doubted not that they should find a more meet occasion " to serve his turn;" for that in this case of the run he was so clearly innocent, that men deem him far worthier of praise than of reproof. Henry was compelled to yield.f Such was the power of the de
* Like a slave or a villain. The word in the mouth of these gentlemen appears to have been in a state of transition, about the middle point between the origi. nal sense of " like a slave," and its modern acceptation of mean or malignant offenders. What proof is not supplied by this single fact in the history of the language of the masters, of their conviction, that the slavery maintained by them doomed the slaves to depravity.
† The house of lords addressed the king, praying him to declare whether it would be agreeable to his pleasure that sir T. More and others should not be heard in their own defence before the lords in the
* 25 H. 8. c. 12. Stat. of the Realm, iii. p. 446.
Such as Hall and Holinshed. | P. 62.
fenceless virtue over the slender remains of inde- but pulled the wicket afer him, and shut them all pendence among slavish peers, and over the lin- from him, and with Roper and four servants took gering remnants of common humanity which boat towards Lambeth. He sat for a while; but might still be mingled with a cooler policy in the at last, his mind being lightened and relieved by bosoms of subservient politicians. One of the those high principles to which with him every low worst of that race, Thomas Cromwell, on meeting consideration yielded, whispered—“Son Roper ! Roper in the parliament house next day after the I thank our Lord, the field is won.”—“As I conking assented to the prayer of his ministers, told jectured,” says Roper, “it was for that his love to him to tell More that he was put out of the bill. God conquered his carnal affections." An acRoper sent a messenger to Margaret Roper, who count of his conduct during the examination at hastened to her beloved father with the tidings. Lambeth was sent by him to his darling child, More answered her, with his usual gaiety and Margaret Roper.* After having read the statute fondness, “ In faith, Megg, what is put off is not and the form of the oath, he declared his readiness given up."* Soon after, the duke of Norfolk said
to swear that he would maintain and defend the to him, —"By the mass ! master More, it is peril
order of succession to the crown as established by ous striving with princes ; the anger of a prince parliament. He disclaimed all censure of those brings death.”—“Is that all, my lord ? then the
who had imposed, or on those who had taken, the difference between you and me is but this--that I oath, but declared it to be impossible that he should shall die to-day, and you to-morrow.” No life in
swear to the whole contents of it, without oflending Plutarch is more full of happy sayings and striking against his own conscience; adding, that if they retorts than that of More. But the terseness and
doubted whether his refusal proceeded from pure liveliness of his are justly overlooked in the con
scruple of conscience or from his own phantasies, templation of that union of perfect simplicity with
he was willing to satisfy their doubts by oath. The moral grandeur, which, perhaps, no other human
commissioners urgerl that he was the first who rebeing has so uniformly reached.
fused it: they showed him the subscriptions of all By a tyrannical edict, miscalled a law, in the
the lords and commons who had sworn; they same session of 1533-4, it was made high treason, held out the king's sure displeasure at the single after the 1st of May, 1534, by writing, print, deed, recusant. When he was called on a second time, or act, to do or to procure, or cause to be done or
they charged him with obstinacy for not mentionprocured, any thing to the prejudice, slander, dis
ing any special part of the oath which wounded turbance, or derogation of the king's lawful matri
his conscience. mony with queen Anne. If the same offences
He answered, that if he were to open his reawere committed by words, they were only mispri- sons for refusal farther, he should exasperate the sion. The same act enjoined all persons to take
king still more. He offered, however, to assign an oath to maintain the whole contents of the
his reasons if the lords would procure his highstatute, and an obstinate refusal to make such
ness's gracious assurance that the avowal of the oath was subjected to the penalties of misprision.
grounds of his defence should not be considered as This statute prescribed no form for the oath. On
offensive to the king, nor prove dangerous to himthe 30th of March,t however, which was the day self. The commissioners answered that such assuof closing the session, the chancellor Audley, when
rances would be no defence against a legal charge. the commons were at the bar, but when they could neither deliberate nor assent, read the
He offered, however, to trust himself to the king's
honour. Cranmer took some advantage of More's king's letters patent, containing the form of
candour, urging that, as he had disclaimed all an oath, and appointing the archbishop of Can
blame of those who had sworn, it was evident that terbury, the chancellor, the dukes of Norfolk
he thought it only doubtful whether the oath was and Suffolk, to be commissioners for administer
unlawful; and desired him to consider whether ing it.
the obligation to obey the king was not absolutely Sir T. More was summoned to appcar before
certain. He was struck with the subtilty of this these commissioners at Lambeth, on Monday the
reasoning, which took him by surprise, but not con13th of April, 1534. “On other occasions he
vinced of its solidity. Notwithstanding his surevermore used, at his departure from his wife and
prise, he seems to have almost touched the true children, whom he tenderly loved, to have them
answer, that as the oath contained a profession of brought to his boat, and there to kiss them, and
opinion, such, for example, as the lawfulness of the bid them all farewell. At that time he would suf
king's marriage, on which men might differ, it fer none of them to follow him forth of the gate,
might be declined by some and taken by others
with equal honesty. Cromwell, whom More believroyal senate called the Stere Chamber." Nothing more appears on the journals relating to this matter.
ed to favour him, loudly swore that he would rather Lords' Journ. 6th March, 1533. The journals prove
see his only son had lost his head than that More the narrative of Roper, from which the text is com- had thus refused the oath. Cromwell bore the anposed, to be as accurate as it is beautiful.
swer to the king, and chancellor Audley distinctly * He spoke to her in his conversational Latin,Quod differtur non aufertur." f Lords' Journ. p. 82.
* English Works, 1428_1430.
enjoined him to state very clearly More's willing- the company of his wife and children.” He bore ness to swear to the succession. “Surely,” said with kindness in its most unpleasing form, and More, “as to swearing to the succession, I see no answered her cheerfully after his manner, which peril.” Cromwell was not a good man, but the was to blend religious feelings with quaintness gentle virtue of More subdued even the bad. He and liveliness. “Is not this house as nigh heaven never more returned to his house, being committed as mine own?” She answered him in a homely to the custody of the abbot of Westminster, exclamation of contempt *, of which the origin or in which he continued four days; and at the end meaning cannot now be ascertained, “ Tilly valle, of that time he was conveyed to the Tower * on tilly valle.” † He treated her harsh language as Friday the 17th of April, 1534.
a wholesome exercise for his patience, and replied Before the end of the session, 1534, two sta- with equal mildness, though with more gravity, tutes † were passed to attaint More and Fisher of “Why should I joy in my gay house, when if I misprision of treason, specifying the punishment to should rise from the grave in seven years, I should be imprisonment of body and loss of goods. By not fail to find some one there who would bid me to that which relates to More, the king's grants of go out of doors, for it was none of mine ?” It was land to him in 1523 and 1525 are resumed; it is not thus that his Margaret Roper conversed or alleged that he refused the oath since the 1st of
corresponded with him during his confinement. May of 1534, with an intent to sow sedition ; and
A short note written to her a little while after his he is reproached for having demeaned himself in commitment, with a coal (his only pen and ink) other respects ungratefully and unkindly to the begins, “Mine own good daughter,” and is closed king, his benefactor.
in the following fond and pious words :-“Written In the session which began on the 3d of No- with a coal, by your tender loving father, who in vember, 1534 1, an act was passed which ratifies
his poor prayers forgetteth none of you, nor your and professes to recite the form of oath promulgat- babes, nor your good husbands, nor your father's ed on the day of the prorogation; and enacts that shrewd wife neither.” Shortly after, mistaking the oath above recited shall be reputed to be the the sense of a letter from her, which he thought very oath intended by the former act of succes- advised him to compliance, he wrote a letter to sions, though there were, in fact, some substantial her which rebukes her supposed purpose with the and important interpolations in the latter act; such utmost vehemence of affection, and the deepest as the words “most dear and entirely beloved, law. regard to her judgment. “I hear many terrible ful wife, rueen Anne, which tended to render that things towards me ; but they all never touched form still less acceptable than before, to the scru- me, never so near, nor were they so grievous unpulous consciences of More and Fisher.
to me as to see you, my well beloved child, in That this statement of the legislative measures such a piteous and vehement manner, labour to which affected them is necessary to a consideration persuade me to a thing whereof I have of pure of the legality of More's trial, which must be necessity, for respect unto myne own soul, so owned to be a part of its justice, will appear in its often given you so precise an answer before. The proper place. In the mean time, the few pre- matters that move my conscience I have sundry paratory incidents which occurred during thirteen times shown you, that I will disclose them to no months' imprisonment, must be briefly related. one. Margaret's reply was worthy of herself. His wife Alice, though an excellent housewife, She acquiesces in his “ faithful and delectable yet in her visits to the Tower handled his misfor- letter, the faithful messenger of his virtuous mind," tunes and his scruples too roughly. “Like an and almost rejoices in his victory over all earthignorant, and somewhat worldly, woman, she born cares.
She concludes thus :-" Your own bluntly said to him, “How can a man taken for most loving obedient daughter and bedeswoman ş, wise, like you, play the fool in this close filthy Margaret Roper, who desireth above all worldly prison, when you might be abroad at your liberty, things to be in John Wood's stede to do you some if you would but do as the bishops have done ?'” service.” This John Wood was the servant perShe enlarged on his fair house at Chelsea, “ his mitted to attend sir Thomas More in the Tower. library, gallery, garden, and orchard, together with After another interval, however, pity prevailed so
far as to obtain the king's licence for Margaret * Roper tells us that the king, who had intended to Roper to resort to him in the Tower. It would be desist from his importunities, was exasperated by blamable to seek for bad motives in the case of so queen Anne's clamour to tender the oath at Lambeth. But he detested that unhappy lady, whose marriage
merciful an alleviation of punishment. was the occasion of More's ruin; and though Roper
On her first visit, after gratefully performing was an unimpeachable witness relating to sir Tho- their accustomed devotions, his first care was to mas's conversation, he is of less weight as to what
passed in the interior of the palace. The ministers might
soothe ber afflicted heart by the assurance that he have told such a story to excuse themselves to Roper. Anne could have had no opportunity of contradiction. * Roper, 78. † 26 H. VIII. c. 22, 23.
† Nares's Glossary, London, 1822. * Id. c. 2.
English Works, 1430. $25 H. VIII. c. 22. $9. Compare 1 Lords' Journ. Id.° 1431. Bedesman-one who prays for anon 82,