Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

was

overmuch heaviness, do accept all adversities, not evil, and to give you at the end the promise of his
less thanking him than when all things succeed gospel. From Lambeth, the 3d day of May.”
after your grace's will and pleasure, nor less pro- (Cranmer had written, but not despatched this
curing his glory and honour; then, I suppose your letter, when he was summoned to a conference by
grace did never thing more acceptable unto him the lord chancellor and other peers, who stated to
since your first governance of this your realm. him the facts which, they said, could be proved
And, moreover, your grace shall give unto him against the queen. He therefore, in a postscript,
occasion to multiply and increase his graces and added as follows] :-
benefits unto your highness, as he did unto his “ After I had written this letter unto your grace,
most faithful servant Job; unto whom, after his my lord chancellor, &c., sent for me to come unto
great calamities and heaviness, for his obedient the star-chamber; and there declared unto me such
heart, and willing acceptation of God's scourge things as your grace's pleasure was they should
and rod, addidit ei Dominus cuncta duplicia. make me privy unto. For the which I am most

“And if it be true that is openly reported of the bounden unto your grace. And what communiqueen’s grace, if men had a right estimation of cation we had therein, I doubt not but they will things, they should not esteem any part of your make the true report thereof to your grace. I am grace's honour to be touched thereby, but her ho- exceedingly sorry that such faults can be proved nour only to be clearly disparaged. And I am in

by the queen as I heard of their relation. But I such a perplexity, that my mind is clean amazed : am, and ever shall be, your faithful subject. for I never had better opinion in woman than I had

" Your grace's in her; which maketh me to think that she should

“Humble subject and chaplain, not be culpable. And again, I think your highness

“ THOMAS CANTUARIENSIS." would not have gone so far, except she had surely The writer of this letter, it is plain, only awaits been culpable. Now I think that your grace best the king's commands as to the side on which he knoweth, that, next unto your grace, I was most should array himself ; though it is equally evident bound unto her of all creatures living. Wherefore, that his inclination went to assert the innocence I most humbly beseech your grace, to suffer me in of her to whom, next to his sovereign, he “ that, which both God's law, nature, and also her most bound of all creatures living.” He had prokindness bindeth me unto; that is, that I may, nounced the divorce between Henry and Cathawith your grace's favour, wish and pray for her, rine, and thereby was a great instrument in de that she may declare herself inculpable and inno- stroying the papal supremacy in England. He cent. And if she be found capable, considering had confirmed, by his archiepiscopal authority, the your grace's goodness towards her, and from what marriage of Anne; and by so doing, he was percondition your grace of your only mere goodness suaded, favoured the spread of the gospel truth took her, and set the crown upon her head, I re- and pure religion. He was now commanded to do pute him not your grace's faithful servant and sub- clare that that marriage 'was, and always had been, ject, nor true unto the realm, that would not desire null and void ;' and that, as a necessary conse. the offence without mercy to be punished, to the quence, his god-child, the princess Elizabeth, should example of all other. And as I loved her not a be nolonger reputed legitimate. He dared not hesilittle, for the love which I judged her to bear to- tate. After one of those solemn mockeries of the wards God and his gospel; so, if she be proved forms of justice, designated trials, which abound culpable, there is not one that loveth God and his in this monstrous reign, Cranmer, “having God gospel that ever will favour her, but must hate her alone before his eyes,” dissolved the marriage of above all other; and the more they favour the gos- Henry and Anne Boleyn. A similar, but fortupel, the more they will hate her: for there never nately less bloody, farce was performed a very

few was creature in our time that so much slandered years after, when the king wished to get rid of the gospel. And God hath sent her this punish- Anne of Cleves. In obedience to the faintly exment, for that she feignedly hath professed this pressed wishes of her disgusted husband, the gospel in her mouth, and not in heart and deed. archbishop and chancellor, at the head of a depuAnd though she have offended so, that she hath tation, humbly solicited their gracious master's deserved never to be reconciled unto your grace's permission to submit to his consideration a subfavour, yet Almighty God hath manifestly declar- ject of great delicacy and importance. Henry, ed his goodness towards your grace, and never having, he said, “no other object in view than the offended you. But your grace, I am sure, acknow- glory of God, the welfare of the realm, and the ledgeth that you have offended him. Wherefore triumph of truth,” consented, on the condition that I trust that your grace will bear no less entire fa- they would not propose any thing to him unreavour unto the truth of the gospel than you did be- sonable and unjust. The subject was then caufore: forasmuch as your grace's favour to the tiously broached, as arising solely from their own gospel was not led by affection unto her, but by conscientious scruples ; and, in perfect keeping zeal unto the truth. And thus I beseech Almighty with the farcical hypocrisy of the whole proceedGod, whose gospel hath ordained your grace to be ing, the marriage was declared null and void, bedefended of, ever to preserve your grace from all cause “the king had been deceived by the exag.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]

gerated accounts of Anne's beauty, and had not language, could thus “snouch the stiff mumpsigiven his inward assent to the contract." And yet mus of the one (the Romanists), or the busy rumpthis man was popular with the mass of his sub- simus of the other (the reformers),” at pleasure. jects, and is not without his eulogists even in the And it did please him betimes; though, owing, we present day!

have no doubt, to the moderate councils of CranBut it was not alone in the matter of wife-mur- mer, not to such an extent as might be expected der, or other civil exercises of the royal preroga- from his despotie and sanguinary temper. Two tive, that, during this reign, the will or caprice of days after the execution of Cromwell

, who first the monarch was the sole law and measure. His suggested to his master the policy of renouncing

Sic volo, sic jubeo ;-stet pro ratione voluntas," the papal supremacy, and who was but the too extended even to the consciences of his subjects. faithful minister of his will, three catholics, coupled By an arrogant exertion of power, not to be paral. with three protestants, were dragged on the same leled in the annals of oriental despotism, Henry hurdle from the Tower to Smithfield, and there made bis own theological tenets - such as they

executed; the former being hanged and quartered were then, or hereafter might be”—the exclusive as traitors, for denying the king's ecclesiastical test and standard of religious orthodoxy. From pre-eminence; the latter being consumed by fire, his dictum there was no appeal nor subterfuge: as heretics, for questioning the royal doctrine of to question his infallibility was a crime beyond the the eucharist. pale of mercy; to dissent from his doctrines was But of all the persecutions for heresy of this to incur the extremity of punishment in this world, reign, none excited greater interest than that of and, according to his infallible canonists, an eter- Lambert, a schoolmaster in priest's orders, for nity of torment hereafter. And his was not the heresy,—that is, for denying the catholic doctrine age of martyrs. He had two favourite principles, of the real presence. Lambert had been imprisonor dogmata of belief, which he maintained with ed for the same offence by Cranmer's predecessor all the unrelenting intolerance of a theologian o. in the see of Canterbury, but had escaped punishthe sixteenth century, and with all the jealousy of ment by that prelate's timely death. Nothing ina tyrant in every age; and, we should add, with timidated, he persisted, after his release, in the all the despotic inconsistency of his character:- open avowal of his opinions, till having heard a these were, his ecclesiastical supremacy, and the sermon on the subject from Dr. Taylor, afterwards catholic doctrine of the “real presence,” as ex- bishop of London, he presented that dignitary with plained by himself in his controversy with Luther. an elaborately written protest, under eight heads By the former he attached to his person the great or reasons, against the Romanist doctrine of promoters of the “new learning,” of which Cran- transubstantiation. Taylor handed the paper to mer and Latimer were the heads; by the latter he Dr. Barnes, who maintained the Lutheran conconciliated the adherents of the ancient worship, substantiation theory of the eucharist; but as this of which Gardiner, bishop of Winchester, one of differed again from the Wycliffism of Lambert, the craftiest and ablest men of his time, was the the latter was cited by Barnes to answer for his acknowledged chief. The court and nation were heresy before the archbishop. Cranmer, on the pretty equally divided between these two great an- accused being brought before him, endeavoured to tagonist parties; not that their wayward and im- reason or to intimidate him into a recantation ; perious master allowed any open manifestation of but Lambert, instead of yielding, appealed from their differences, which might imply a freedom of the metropolitan to the king, as head of the church. opinion, and thence an undue infringement on the Henry eagerly embraced so favourable an opporroyal authority. He himself vibrated between tunity for displaying his theological learning, and them; and by alternately exciting their hopes and for asserting his ecclesiastical supremacy. A day fears, insured to himself the most servile submis- was publicly fixed for the unusual contest; and at sion of both ; for, as we before observed, this was the appointed hour, the king appeared on his not an age of martyrs or high-minded patriots. throne, with all his judges, ministers, bishops, and

'The services, however, and the moderation and officers of state, to enter the lists with the schoolamiable temper of Cranmer obtained for him the master. The proceedings are told with dramatic largest share of the king's friendship; unhappily effect by Mr. Hume. For five hours the unfortufor himself, as it compelled him to be a chief in- nate Lambert had to contend with the harangues strument in the persecutions of that reign. These of Henry, Cranmer, Gardiner, and five other leadpersecutions were conducted with a stern, and, if ers of both the old and the new learning. At the we might say of so serious a subject, with a ludi. end of this time he was asked by the exulting crous impartiality. To assert the papal suprema- monarch whether he was “ satisfied ? Wilt thou cy was treason; to deny the papal doctrine of the live or die ?" The exhausted and intimidated culeucharist was heresy: the one was punished by prit had no reply, but that he threw himself on the hanging; the other with the faggot. Thus papists royal mercy. - Thou must die then!-thou must and protestants were equally obnoxious to the law, die! for I will not be the patron of herctics,” was should their zeal lead them to an open assertion of the humane answer. Lambert met his fate with all their respective tenets. Henry, to use his own firmness; and not the least remarkable circum

a

stance of his story is, that Taylor, Barnes, and even at present is not so constantly borne in mind Cranmer, the chief instruments in bringing him to as the interests of humanity would dictate. Misthe stake, were all three burned a few years after- taking the expression of belief for the act itself, wards for the very same doctrine, for which they the members of each sect or party endeavoured to were, moreover, then strongly, and perhaps not force the reception of what their own sincerity, by unjustly, suspected of having a predilection. a very natural illusion, convinced them nothing

In fairness to the men of this age of persecu- but malignant obstinacy could prevent from being tion, it should be borne in mind that intolerance at once eagerly adopted ; and thus intolerance was then, and for more than a century after, the was masked, even to its zealots, under the title of common law of Christendom. Toleration was a checking and punishing wilful error, and of adterm scarcely heard of in theory, and wholly un- vancing the cause of truth. Before, therefore, we known in practice. The magistrate of the six- condemn the actors in those dramas of persecuteenth century doubted as little the justice of con- tion which stain the sixteenth and seventeenth signing a heretic to the flames, as the magistrate centuries, let us consider whether there may not of our own more enlightened times of sentencing possibly be some of our own laws and asages of the impugner of established opinions to gaol or so intolerant and sanguinary a character as to retransportation, or the utterer of a forged note to quire hereafter the lenient interpretation of a more the gallows. The pretext—the prevention of crime enlightened and thence more humane posterity. by terror of its consequences, and the preser- While we reprobate the barbarous and unchrisvation of the integrity of the body corporate, by tian practices of our fathers, it might be as well (to use the favourite metaphor of the times) “the for us to examine whether there is any leaven of amputation of the diseased member

was the

them still lurking among ourselves. Let us, in a same in both cases, excepting indeed that the zeal word, take care, while we are indignantly pointing of the former was incited by an additional motive out the beams which blinded the vision of those derived from his religion. The conduct of men is who have preceded us in the career of human mainly determined by the circumstances in which improvement, that some motes of prejudice and they are placed; among which circumstances, the uncharitableness may not obstruct our own.

Tho opinion of contemporaries is, perhaps, the most fires of Smithfield are certainly extinguished for influential. Public opinion was not outraged by ever; but is the spirit of intolerance that kindled the dreadful punishments inflicted on those from them altogether allayed ? whom the odious charge of heresy repelled the The abolition of the papal supremacy necessacurrent of public sympathy. Uniformity of theo- rily placed the tenure of the hierarchy on a new logical doctrines was a phrase then synonymous footing. As yet no prelate had been consecrated with the very existence of religion itself; and those without the pope's bull, which bound him to redoctrines and that uniformity it was considered to cognise the see of Rome as the canonical head of be the solemn duty of the government to maintain the church. But this recognition had been lately with unrelenting vigilance. Where any relaxa. declared treason; and there was no precedent for tion of this stern discipline occurred, it was owing to the dependency of the ecclesiastical jurisdiction temperament and animal feeling, rather than to a on the will of the civil magistrate. Henry was judicious estimate of the value of religious liberty. much puzzled as to the course he should follow in At all times and in every class of society are to this entirely new order of things. The arbitraribe found individuals so constitutionally humane, ness of his temper led him to push his newlyso nervously apprehensive of pain in themselves, assumed prerogative to its utmost limits ; but in so tremblingly sympathetic with the appearance doing so he would be acting in the very teeth of of suffering in others, that not even religious fana- those principles which he had vehemently mainticism can make them unrelentingly cruel. When- tained in his controversy with Luther. From this ever power is vested in the hands of such persons, embarrassment he was relieved by the address a negative toleration, that is, a diminution of, or and boldness of his vicar-general Cromwell, and by a refraining from, persecution will prevail; for the the pliant example of Cranmer. The body of the actions of individuals, it will be almost invariably clergy maintained that the church had inherited found, receive their tone and colouring much more from her divine founder a power underived from, from the general temper or feelings of the heart, and uncontrollable by, the civil authority, to preach than from the decisions of the understanding. and adniinister the sacraments, and enforce her Philip Melancthon was a man of this class, and own discipline by her own weapons and influence. Reginald Pole and Tonstal, and so probably were Cranmer, on the other hand, contended, somewhat sir Thomas More and Cranmer: not so Luther, strangely, when we recollect that he was then Calvin, Knox, and the other leading reformers on Archbishop of Canterbury, that the king alone, the one hand, nor the Gardiners or Bonners on having the need of spiritual as well as civil officers, the other. One fact should be received in pallia- had the right to appoint them. In the time of the tion of all: the great truth, so pregnant with charity apostles, he added, the people appointed, “betowards our fellow-men, that belief is independent cause they had no Christian king;" but occasion. on the will, was not in those times dreamt of, and ally accepted such as might be recommended by

:

:

the apostles “of their own voluntary will, and not for any superiority that the apostles had over them :" in the appointment of bishops and priests, as in that of civil officers, some ceremonies are to be used, “not of necessity, but for good order and seemly fashion :" nevertheless, "he who is appointed bishop or priest needeth no consecration by the scripture, for the election or appointment thereto is sufficient.” - “ This,” he says, with his usual caution, “is mine opinion and sentence at this present; which, nevertheless, I do not temerariously define, but refer the judgment thereof to your majesty.”

But Cromwell, in whom as vicar-general the king's ecclesiastical jurisdiction was vested, was not content with the silent or rather implied submission of the clergy which the archbishop's inftuence had induced. At the suggestion of two of his creatures, he adopted an expedient, by which the obedience of the church dignitaries would be pushed to the quick. In the plenitude of his authority, as the king's ecclesiastical minister, he suspended the power of all the prelates and ordinaries in the realm, on the ground of a general visitation about to be made by the “supreme head of the church.” Those bishops and priests who had claimed an authority by divine right would thus be compelled to produce their proofs; or, if they did not resign their offices, to acknowledge the crown to be the sole origin of spiritual jurisdiction, by petitioning it for the restoration of their usual authority. As might be expected from his Erastian tenets, Cranmer led the way, and submitted with becoming humility. This example was followed by the clergy, to whom he had addressed, as metropolitan, a circular letter on the subject; and, after a month's suspension, each bishop received a separate commission from the king “ to do whatever belonged to the office of bishop” during the royal pleasure. The reason assigned for granting the indulgence added to its degradation. It was stated in the commission restoring the episcopal power, not that the government of bishops was necessary for the church, but that the king's vicar-general, on account of the multiplicity of business with which he was loaded, could not properly attend to every thing in person (in sua persona expediendum non sufficiel*), and therefore should be provided with as

* The commission may be seen in Burnet's records to the first volume of his History of the Reformation, under the title, “Licentia Regia concessa Domino episcopo ad exercendam jurisdictionem episcopalem." The passage referred to in the text runs thus : “Quia tamen ipse Thomas Cromwell nostris et hujus regni Angliæ tot et tam arduis negotiis adeo præpeditus existit, quod ad omnem jurisdictionem nobis, uti Supreme Capite hujusmodi competentem, ubique ; locorum infra' hoc regnum nostrum præfatum, in his quae moram commode non patiuntur, aut sine nostrorum subditorum injuria differri non possunt, in sua persona expediendum, non sufficiet. Nos tuis in hac parte supplicationibus humilibus inclinati, et nostrorum subditorum commodis consulere cupientes, Tibi vice nostras,” &c.

sistance, to guard against the inconveniences of delay and interruption.”

But Cranmer well knew that the mere assuming of the ecclesiastical supremacy by the crown would little advantage the cause of pure religion so long as those strong holds of the Romish superstition, the monasteries and priories, continued in existence. He accordingly with zeal seconded the counsels of Cromwell for their suppression. The proposal was greedily snatched at by Henry, to whom it opened the prospect of inexhaustible wealth, as well as an ample field for the exercise of power. His courtiers, ministers, and the lords of his council eagerly joined in the chase ; for the spoils of the clergy promised a rich harvest to their rapacity, having been held out as the probable reward of their zeal by the artful policy of the vicar-general. Spoliation and plunder thus became the order of the day : the monasteries were suppressed ; their corruptions and crimes exposed to public odium : and their funds and lands applied to transforming the hungry minions that spanieled a tyrant's heels into the founders of still flourishing, wealthy, and noble families. But such an application, though in the end, perhaps, one of the most prudent that could have been adopted, was very different from that contemplated by Cranmer. That prelate saw with pain and dismay Henry contenting himself with the slaughter of the carcass, which he left as booty, to his followers to fatten upon. He knew that those spoliators were perfectly indifferent to every thing but their own aggrandisement; and that for them the principles of the reformation would have no charms, unless their profession were accompanied by an increase of wealth and worldly distinction. Never yet did the world witness a crew more despicably rapacious than the courtiers of Henry VIII. It was, therefore, with deep regret that Cranmer beheld the alienation of the church property in a manner so different from that which he had recommended, and which Henry had promised to act upon. He proposed that on the new endowments a certain number of cathedrals should be erected, and that in every cathedral there should be provision made for readers of divinity, Greek, and Hebrew ; and for “a great number of students to be both exercised in the daily worship of God, and trained up in study and devotion, whom the bishop might transplant out of this nursery into all parts of his diocess.” We cannot but lament with the archbishop, that his excellent design had been abandoned for such an unworthy use as gorging the reptiles of a palace ; though we are well aware of the benefits which have emerged from a beginning of so little promise.

The measure to the effecting of which the influence of the archbishop was next directed was one of still greater importance to our religion. 'To the

The bishop erroneously insinuates that Bonner only received this humiliatingly couched liconce : it was the general form.

[ocr errors]

immortal honour of Cranmer be it stated that he was thrown, by a spirit of revenge, among the was the first to place the Bible in the hands of the leaders of the new

learning. During his official laity of England; an act which will atone for a career, Cranmer's councils were, by his support, thousand instances of his pusillanimity, and which made paramount in the cabinet, and the religious will ever recommend his name to our gratitude. tenets of the court approximated more and more Henry had promised on the suppression of Tyndal's to those of the Lutheran reformers. But after this version of the Old and New Testament in 1530, fall, as the archbishop had foreseen, the opinions that he would provide a new translation by the of Henry, acted upon by Gardiner and the other "joint labour of great, learned, and catholic per- Romanist ministers, retrograded to the doctrines sons." Cranmer, during his residence in Germany, of the treatise by which he had won the title of had witnessed the extraordinary success which “ Defender of the Faith.” It was, therefore, with the reformers derived from the diffusion of the dismay that Cranmer heard of his friend's arrest sacred volume, and had resolved upon its intro- and impeachment; for he had a true presentiment duction into his native country. Scarcely was he of its consequences to religion, which augmented installed, therefore, in the see of Canterbury in the anguish of personal sorrow. He wrote to the 1533, than he reminded the king of his promise ; king on the subject, and dwelt much on the fallen and by his repeated importunity in person, and by minister's zeal and diligence in his service, “and inducing the convocation to petition and Cromwell in discovering all plots as soon as they were made: to support the prayer, he at length obtained the that he had always loved the king above all things, royal injunction to have the Bible (Mathew's and served him with great fidelity and success : edition) placed in all parish churches, with the that he thought no king of England ever had such liberty to every man to read it at pleasure,“ pro- a servant: upon that account he had loved him, as vided he did not disturb the preacher in his sermon, one that loved the king above all others. But,” he nor the officiating clergyman during service.” In adds, with his usual timidity and caution, “if he two years after (in 1539) the indulgence was ex- was a traitor, he was glad it was discovered. But tended from the church to private houses under he prayed God earnestly to send the king such a some restrictions : care being at the same time counsellor in his stead, who could and would serve taken, with the characteristic jealousy of the him as he had done."* Knowing the danger as Tudors, to inform the people that the liberty which well as inutility of attempting to arrest the hand they enjoyed was not a right to which they possess- of Henry once raised in vengeance, he prudently ed any claim, but a favour granted

" of the royal

avoided all allusion to the particular charge on liberality and goodness."

which Cromwell had been arrested, and confined Thus was the way cleared for the reformation himself to a recapitulation of his former services, in England. By abolishing the papal supremacy Having thus indulged his better feelings, he went and making the crown the source of all ecclesias- along with the stream, and voted for the second tical authority, the clergy were stripped of the and the third reading of the bill of attainder withpower of resisting the further innovations of the

out trial, of which atrocious instrument of despotism sovereign, and made wholly dependent on his by a kind of retributive justice, Cromwell was the will. By the suppression of the monasteries they first victim, as he had been the first inventor. were, moreover, deprived of the means of appeal

. Though there was much base ingratitude and ing to the prejudices of the people, unless in the

cruelty on the part of his master in the fate of dangerous character of rebels. By distributing the

Cromwell, it was with justice but little lamented church possessions among his courtiers and gentry, by the nation at large ; for even his ignominious Henry bound them to the new order of things by

death could not allay the recollection that he had the ties of property, hope, fear, and gratitude ; been at all times the artful counsellor and willing and by disseminating the Bible among the middle instrument of that master's tyranny against others.

The king was on one of his progresses, accomgospel truth, by enabling them, of themselves, to

panied by his young queen, Catherine Howard, distinguish between it and papal error. The favour when one Lascelles waited on Cranmer, and acof the working classes and lower orders was not quainted him with facts, on the authority of his yet directly appealed to.

sister, a servant in the Norfolk family, which taintWhile these important proceedings were in pro-ed the honour of the royal bed. The information gress, two events occurred productive of much could only excite regret and terror. It is painful uneasiness to Cranmer,--the fall and execution of to a humane mind to be the instrument of anCromwell, on a charge of treason, and the behead

other's disgrace or misery ; and yet the archbishing of Queen Catherine Howard for incontinency. With the vicar-general Cranmer had been in habits

* “ This letter," says Burnet, "shows both the

firmness of Cranmer's friendship, and that he had a of the closest confidence and friendship, and had,

great soul, not turned by the change of men's fortunes os we have seen, used his influence in aid of the to like or dislike them as they stood or declined from protestant doctrines. Cromwell was not at heart their greatness.”—The letter, the reader will probably

think, far less shows Cranmer's firmness or greatness a friend of the reformation ; but, being hated and

of soul than the bishop's remarks evince the wish to despised by the adherents to the old worship, he invest him with them.

classes, he prepared them for the reception of in

« VorigeDoorgaan »