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posing doctrines; and it was not till an ocean of blood and ink had been spilt that the Zuinglian version became a part of the English liturgy.
Though the reformation was now consummated, its great fosterer's labours were not at an end. The statute imposing celibacy on the clergy was yet unrepealed: his wife and children were still exiles. The marriage of ecclesiastics was highly unpalatable to parliament and the nation; so much so, indeed, that had not Cranmer's private feelings been deeply involved in the issue, it is very doubtful whether the liberty of entering into a state of wedlock would be even now enjoyed by the priesthood. It certainly would not have been granted in the reign of Elizabeth, or in that of her successor; and would not have been thought of in the cabinet of Mary.
In the preamble to the first bill which, at the instigation of the archbishop, was brought into parliament to repeal so much of the law of the Six Articles as prohibited the marriage of the clergy, the intended indulgence was spoken of as an“ignominious and tolerated evil ;" and perpetual continence was recommended, as becoming the spiritual character of a ministry which could not be too much relieved from worldly embarrassments in the perfomance of its duties. Cranmer, however, persevered; and, after much opposition, a subsequent bill received the sanction of the legislature, and liberty to marry became the right of protestant churchmen,
It would have been well for Cranmer's reputation had he confined himself exclusively to the duties of his prelacy, and had not lent the weight of his name, as patriarch of the church of England, to the designs of factious ambition. the good men of those days," says a late writer* on them, were strange beings.” Where blood and life are or may be involved in the result, the canon law prohibits clergymen from having any share in the transaction; nevertheless, such was the archbishop's unfortunate facility of compliance with the requests of another,-the brother of the criminal,--that he signed the warrant for the admiral Seymour's execution, and influenced Latimer to justify the deed in a sermon before the boy monarch. Seymour no doubt merited his fate; but the minister of a religion of peace and mercy should not have been, in any way, his executioner.
A measure still more questionable, of which Cranmer was the chief agent, was the harsh treatment of those prelates who adhered to the ancient forms of worship. The reader need hardly be reminded of the imprisonment and deprivations of Bonner, then bishop of London, and Gardiner, bishop of Winchester. The unnecessary (to use the mildest phrase) oppression of those vindictive men only created justifying precedents for retali
ating in kind when circumstances afterwards possessed them with the power. Without intimidating them, it generated the will and the motive to persecute in return, and taught the benevolent the melancholy truth, that the difference between the prelates of the old and the new church was less one of intolerance of spirit, than of verbal faith and outward worship.
But these were but slight blemishes compared with the flagitious persecutions for heresy which stain the reputation of Cranmer. It might have been fairly expected from men who had taken the lead in asserting the liberty of thinking with an unfettered conscience on religion, and who had boldly opposed the right of private judgment to the authority of ages, that they at least would respect that right, and that liberty, when exercised by others. Above all men, a repugnance to the shedding of blood for points of faith should have been manifested by Cranmer; for he had seen the innocent led to the scaffold, and had in the former reign assisted in consigning to the flames the fearless asserter of doctrines which he now himself heartily espoused. But this, as we have before observed, was an age of religious bigotry, and even the benevolent Cranmer partook of its persecuting spirit. In the third year of Edward's reign, in 1549, a commission was appointed of which the archbishop was head, to "search after all anabaptists, heretics, and condemners of the Common Prayer," and to hand them over to the secular power in the event of their failing previously to reclaim them. Many abjured their errors rather than become martyrs, and carried faggots to St. Paul's cross in the usual manner of penitent heretics. “But,” says Burnet (Hist. Reformation, vol. ii. p. 146.), “ there was another of these extreme obstinates, Joan Bocher, commonly called Joan of Kent. She denied that Christ was truly incarnate of the Virgin, whose flesh being sinful, he could take none of it; but the Word, by the consent of the inward man in the Virgin, took flesh of her: these were her words. They took much pains about her, and had many conferences with her; but she was so extravagantly conceited in her own notions, that she rejected all they said with scorn. Whereupon she was adjudged an obstinate heretic, and so left to the secular power. This sentence being returned to the council, the good king was moved to sign a warrant for burning her, but could not be prevailed on to do it; he thought it a piece of cruelty, too like that which they had condemned in papists, to burn any for their consciences. And, in a long discourse he had with sir J. Chick, he seemed much confirmed in that opinion. Cranmer was therefore employed to persuade him to sign the warrant.” (What an office for an aged prelate to a child!) “He argued from the law of Moses, by which blasphemers were to be stoned: he told the king he made a great difference between errors in other points of divinity and those which were directed against
“ But even
* Turner's Modern History of England, a valuablo depository of eurious facts and reasonings.
the apostles' creed ; that these were impieties against God, which a prince, as being God's deputy, ought to punish, as the king's deputies were obliged to punish offences against the king's person. These reasons did rather silence than satisfy the young king, who still thought it a hard thing (as in truth it was) to proceed so severely in such cases; so he set his hand to the warrant with tears in his eyes, saying to Cranmer, that if he did wrong, since it was in submission to his authority, he should answer for it to God.” This declaration of the young monarch so alarmed the archbishop that he had the woman brought to his house, “ to see if he and Ridley could persuade her;" but she only replied with jeers and taunts at their inconsistencies. “It is a goodly matter," said she to Cranmer, as he was on the point of passing sentence on her, “ to consider your ignorance. It was not long ago you burned Anne Arken for a piece of bread, and yet came yourself soon after to believe and profess the same doctrine for which you burned her; and now, forsooth, you will needs burn me for a piece of flesh, and in the end you will come to believe this also, when you have read the Scriptures and understand them.” This almost irresistible appeal only irritated the prelate: he delivered sentence against her as an obstinate heretic, and she was burned soon after. A few days later Von Parris, a Dutchman, was also consigned to the flames for Arianism.
Such was the conduct, so monstrously inconsistent, of the great patriarchs of the reformation. Blinded by religious zeal, and the intolerant spirit of the age, they could not see that they were furnishing the adherents to the ancient faith with a rich armoury of weapons of persecution. It did not strike them, that if Joan Bocher and Von Parris were guilty in freely exercising their private judgment in interpreting the Scriptures, all their ecclesiastical innovations, and the reformation itself, must à fortiori, be denounced as the most audacious and deliberate criminality. But, it cannot be too often repeated, these were times of unparalleled changes, great excitement, and intolerance. A mighty concussion had shaken society to its foundation, and the moral and intellectual man had not yet reasserted himself in his native equanimity and clearsightedness. Men should, we again remind the reader, be judged by the standard of their own age alone; as there is no man but in a great degree takes his colouring of conduct from the habits of his contemporaries and immediate predecessors. We are the creatures of circumstance and imitation; and imitation, says Bacon, is a globe of precepts. The progress of truth and improvement is imperceptible in short periods : so that the habits of thought and action, the religious belief, the political predilections and aversions, and opinions of men and books of the passing events, differ but a shade here and there from those of the past generations; and that again runs, like the colours of the rainbow,
insensibly into the preceding. No one link of the chain of being, therefore, stands out prominently in advance of its neighbouring one in either moral or intellectual improvement; and though individuals may, in the closet, promulgate doctrines that far outstrip the general intelligence, they must wait till that intelligence has grown up to them before these doctrines become principles of action. In the mean while, their conduct in life assimilates itself to that of their fellow men, however theoretically inconsistent with their private speculations
A great moral lesson should be the inference from these remarks-charity towards the holder of opinions different from our own, and a hesitation to condemn too harshly the actions and usages of other times and circumstances. We teach our children to loathe the very name of “ bloody queen Mary;" but we forget, at the same time, to inform them, that that princess possessed virtues which, in circumstances more favourable to their growth than those by which she was surrounded from her cradle, would have made her a theme for our warmest eulogies. We teach them to justly reprobate the name of Bonner, without informing them, that if that dark-minded prelate had lived in our days, his zeal would be confined to an intolerant speech from the bench of bishops, or a declamatory pamphlet, or angry charge against his religious opponents; and that it is not improbable, that, if some of the ecclesiastical dignitaries of our own times had been his contemporaries, their conduct would not have been less intolerant. We have all read with indignation of the burning of Servetus : we have all seen the ashes of the poet Byron refused a resting place in Westminster Abbey. No doubt the honour of religion was the sole source of the latter ungracious act; but did Calvin only indulge a passion for torturing a fellow-creature ? Change the time, the place, the circumstances, and would-or rather say, couldthe stern reformer of Geneva in the nineteenth century evince his disapprobation of heterodoxy more pointedly? In a word, then, let us judge charitably of our persecuting fathers; and while reprobating and avoiding their faults, let us bless Providence that we have been permitted to live in a country and an age of civil and religious liberty.
The court of the well-taught clever boy who now held the sceptre had been for some time a scene of contentions between the Dudley and Seymour factions. Cranmer was an adherent to the interest of the protector ; for to him was he indebted for the aid of the government in erecting the new system of public worship. There was a something, moreover, of congeniality of disposition in the two men that tinged their official intercourse with the warmth of private friendship. Both wero well-intentioned and kind-hearted : Somerset, not less than the archbishop, wanted that firmness and decision of character so necessary in times of danger and trouble to men in high station. It was, therefore, with regret that Cranmer saw his patron
led to the scaffold, and his rival, Northumberland, in possession of the young monarch's confidence. “ On the 22d of January, 1552," writes Edward in his journal, “the duke of Somerset had his head cut off upon Tower Hill, between eight and nine in the morning.” This duke of Somerset, whose execution is thus so coldly and briefly noticed, the reader is aware, was the youthful journalist's favourite uncle.
Edward had inherited a delicate constitution from his mother, and with it that precociousness of talent sometimes considered as indicative of a short career. His illness was now advancing rapidly to its fatal termination. On the 17th of June, 1553, Montague, chief justice of the Common Pleas, with two of the puisne judges, and the attorney and solicitor general, received a summons to attend the council at the palace of Greenwich. On their arrival the dying monarch informed them, that his anxiety for the welfare of his subjects had induced him to change the order of succession laid down by his royal father ; that he had seriously weighed the danger the kingdom might be exposod to if his sister Mary, with her popish predilections, should succeed to the throne, and the danger that might follow to the laws and religion of the country if either of the princesses married a stranger to both. The law officers were then ordered to draw up a legal instrument, declaring his cousin, the lady Jane Dudley, daughter of Grey, duke of Suffolk, and-wife of a son of Northumberland, the prime originator of the whole proceeding, heir to the crown. After many delays and expostulations on the part of the chief justice and his colleagues, and reprimands and threats from the king and Northumberland, the instrument establishing a new order of succession was legally executed. On the 21st of June it was signed by the chancellor, the archbishop, judges, and the leading nobility. Cranmer at first refused the sanction of his name to the deed, and argued zealously against it at the council and in private. “I never liked it,” he says, in his letter to queen Mary, “ nor any thing grieved me so much as your grace's brother did and if by any means it had been to have hindered the making of that will, I should have done it.” He yielded ultimately to Edward's personal en. treaties. “So at length I was required by the king's majesty himself to set my hand to his will, saying, that he trusted that I alone would not be more repugnant to his will than the rest of the council were ; which words surely grieved my heart very sore, and so I granted him to subscribe his will, and to follow the same.” On the 6th of July the youthful monarch expired.
The nine-days' reign of the young, beautifiil, and all-accomplished pupil of Roger Ascham, lady Jane Dudley, followed, with its fatal consequences to its innocent victim and guilty author. For the designing and unprincipled Northumberland there can be no pity; he justly died the death of a traitor ; but who that reads the artless narra
tive of the poppet-queen, but must lament that shie should have been the ill-fated tool of her father-irrlaw's ambition. Cranmer adhered faithfully to her interests to the last hour, though, as we have seen, he had embraced them with reluctance.
From Mary the archbishop could hope but for little mercy: all that was dark and resentful in her story was associated with his name. It was he that annulled her mother's marriage, and had declared herself illegitimate; he was the subverter of her religion, and the head of the new system of worship that had been raised in its stead ; and he had joined in a conspiracy to snatch the crown from her brow, and was one of the last to abandon the fortunes of her competitor: a deep sense of private wrong, therefore, united with religious zual in visiting his offences with the heaviest punishe ment. But the blow did not fall all at once: it was deemed prudent to wait till the new queen had become firmly seated on her throne.
King Edward was buried on the 8th of August, on which occasion Cranmer officiated according to the protestant ritual. He was next day ordered to confine himself to the archiepiscopal palace of Lambeth, and to furnish the council with an inventory of his moveable possessions. He was joined in his retirement by Peter Martyr, who had fled from Oxford, where the reformed doctrines had not even yet taken root, and who confirmed the fears of the archbishop, that their joint labours in establishing a scriptural system of worship would be unproductive during the reign of the present mo narch. Cranmer conducted himself with great humility; so much so, indeed, as to induce his enemies to give out "that he was ready to submit himself in all things” to the will of the council. To add to his anxiety, it was communicated to him that mass had been performed in Canterbury cathedral with his alleged consent and permission. The honest zeal of Peter Martyr felt indig. nant at the imputation, and, by his advice, Cranmer gave it a public denial. The declaration which he drew up on this occasion does honour, by its boldness, to his courage and sincerity. It sta. ted, “ that as the devil had at all times set on his instruments by lies to defame the servants of God, so he was now more than ordinarily busy. For whereas king Henry had begun the correcting the abuses of the mass, which his son had brought to a further perfection; and so the Lord's Supper was restored to its first institution, and was celebrated according to the pattern of the primitive church: now the devil, intending to bring the mass again into its room, as being his own inven. tion, had stirred up some to give out that it had been set up in Canterbury by his, the said Cranmer's, order; and it was said, that he had under, taken to sing mass to the queen's majesty, both at king Edward's funeral at St. Paul's and other places; and though, for these twenty years, he had despised all such errors and false reports of him as were spread abroad, yet he now thought it not
fit to lie under such misrepresentations; therefore not by argument; and that they appealed to the he protests to all the world that the mass was not judgment of the Almighty from the decision of the set up at Canterbury by bis, the said Cranmer's, moderator. The council hearkened not to their order, but that a fawning hypocritical monk had prayer, and left them to their fate. Two days done it without his knowledge; and for what he after the decision against them they were brought was said to have undertaken to the queen, her before the commissioners, and asked whether they majesty knew well how false that was, offering, if would subscribe to the ancient worship. They he might obtain her leave for it, to maintain that unanimously refused, and were condemned as obevery thing in the communion service that was set stinate heretics. The usual formalities of the paout by their most innocent and good king Edward pal code in heretical prosecutions were gone was according to Christ's institution, and the prac- through. Cranmer was cited as an archbishop to tice of the apostles and the ancient church for ma- appear before the pope within the canonical period ny ages, to which the mass was contrary, being eighty days) laid down on such occasions, and full of errors and abuses; and although Peter at the expiration of the eighty days was delivered Martyr was by some called an ignorant man, he over to the secular power. He was accused of with him, or other four or five such as he could blasphemy and heresy for his writings against the choose, would be ready to defend, not only their Roman worship, of perjury for violating his oath Book of Common Prayer and the other rites of of canonical obedience, and of incontinency for their service, but the whole doctrines and order of having married after his vow of celibacy; and religion set forth by the late king as more pure was declared to be contumacious for not having and more agreeable to the word of God than any (and he was a prisoner all the time) appeared sort of religion that had been in England for a at Rome, according to the letter of the citation. thousand years before it, provided that things He was now in hourly expectation of his fate-the should be judged by the Scriptures, and that the rather as Gardiner and Bonner, whom he had reasonings on both sides should be faithfully writ- treated with great harshness in the late reign, ten down."*
were the queen's most influential counsellors. On the 8th, Cranmer was summoned to an- From them he could expect no favour: the imswer for it before the council. On the 13th, “af- placable hatred of polemical antagonists being, in ter a long and serious debate,” he was committed both, inflamed by the recollection of personal opto the Tower, for matters of treason against the pression. Had the archbishop been at this time queen, and for dispersing of seditious bills. He
led to the scaffold,--such was the resigned firmwas attainted in the ensuing parliament of trea- ness of his mind,-his name would have probaBon, and the fruits of his archbishoprick seques- bly been spared the stain of his subsequent retered. The charge of treason was, however, for- cantations. given or abandoned, it being determined that he Hitherto Cranmer had displayed unremittent should be proceeded against for heresy alone. courage in his sufferings, and was prepared to prove
The rebellion of Wyat produced the usual his sincerity by his death. But with delay and effect of unsuccessful insurrection; it strength- suspense came vague hopes, and a damping of ened the power of the crown, and removed the zeal and courage. From the window of his obstacle of public inertia to its favourite mea- cell, he had seen his friends and fellow.labourers in sures. With its suppression began those burnings the vineyard, Ridley and Latimer, led to execution. and persecutions which have entailed upon this The excruciating torments which they were reign the lasting odium of posterity. It was now made to endure shook his resolution. Hopes were resolved to proceed to extremities with Cranmer held out to him that his life might be spared if he and the other leaders of the reformation. From relented from his obstinacy; he wavered, and exthe Tower, where they had been confined for the
pressed a wish to have a conference with the legate. last seven months, the archbishop, Latimer, and This fit of irresolution, however, soon passed over; Ridley were conducted to Oxford, there to hold a and having expressed his regret for his weakness, public disputation with the catholic theologians on he wrote a long letter to the queen in defence of the great points of difference between the two
the protestant doctrines. But Gardiner was well churches. The catholic was then the religion of
acquainted with that want of firmness which was the sovereign : of course the moderator in the
the blemish of the archbishop's character, and disputation decided in favour of the divines of the
knew that, having once hesitated, it was highly state worship; Cranmer and his associates were
probable he would hesitate again. Cranmer was declared to be vanquished and contumacious, and
accordingly told to prepare himself for his speedy the hall resounded with the cries of " Vincit veri
execution. The intelligence had its intended tas.” It was in vain that they declared to the
effect; his spirit was broken by confinement, his council that they had been silenced by noiset, and
in all my life. For albeit there was one appoynted to * Burnet.-This bold declaration was publicly read dispute agaynste me, yet evrey man spak hys mynde, in Cheapside and elsewhere on the 5th of September. and broughĩ forth what hym liked, without order; and
Cranmer, in his letter to the council, says," I ne- such hast was made that no answere coulde be sufferver knewe nor hearde of a more confusied disputacyon ed to be given."
courage gave way, and death by burning presented itself to his imagination with all its features of horror. Six instruments of recantation still bear witness to his “ human infirmity.” Thus
_6 The base drachm Doth all the noble substance often dout
To his own scandal." and thus the one defect of Cranmer's mind led to acts which his frequent heroism scarcely atoned for. He now feigned himself a reconvert to the Catholic doctrines, and for six weeks openly condemned the “ errors of Luther and Zuinglius, acknowledged the pope's supremacy, the seven sacraments, the corporal presence in the eucharist, purgatory, prayer for departed souls, the invocation of saints, to which was added his being sorry for his former errors; and concluded, exhorting all that had been deceived by his example or doctrines to return to the unity of the church, and protesting that he had signed his recantation willingly, only for the discharge of his conscience."*
Fortunately for the reputation of Cranmer, these humiliating recantations were not rewarded by a pardon. To Ridley and Latimer life had been offered on their renouncing their “heresies ;" but it was decided in the council that no recantation should save the archbishop. His political offences, it was said, might be overlooked; but his offences against religion required that he should suffer for the sake of example. A writ for his execution was accordingly despatched to Oxford, and a day fixed. But Cranmer with his firmness lost his dignity of mind. With the hope of still averting his fate, he signed another document, in which he declared he was not actuated by fear or favour, and that his former recantation was made unsolicitedly, for the ease of his own conscience and the instruction of others. A letter to cardinal Pole,-he knew he need not address Gardiner-accompanied this document, in which he begged that prelate's influence to obtain him a few days' respite, in order that he might give the world a still more convincing proof of his repentance. The respite was granted ; and Cranmer, in a sixth confession, declared that he had been a greater persecutor of the church than Paul, and that he wished, like that apostle, to make amends. He could not rebuild what he had destroyed; but as the penitent thief on the cross by the testimony of his lips obtained mercy, so he trusted that he by the offering of his lips should move the clemency of the Almighty. He was an offender beyond the pale of temporal or eternal mercy; he had blasphemed the sacrament, and had deprived men of the benefit of the eucharist. To conclude, he entreated for forgiveness from the pope and the king and queen, and pity from all Christians.
Fortunately, we repeat, for Cranmer's fame, his
* Burnet, ii. 2. The reader will see six recantations, quoted at length, in Todd's life of Cranmer, just published.
offence against the honour of Mary's birth had made her inexorably resolved on his execution. Had he been then pardoned, and permitted to eke out his existence in obscurity, his name would now be a by-word synonymous with all that is loathsome in hypocrisy, cowardice, and apostacy. He would have been so degraded in his own eyes, that he could never have ventured again to present himself to that church of which he was the founder, but from which the fear of death had made him apostatise. Again, we repeat, his re putation is indebted to the profound hatred of the queen, who, unmoved by his cries for mercy, his expressions of deep remorse, desired the law to take its course.
The 21st of March was the day fixed for his execution. To the last moment, Cranmer clung to the hope of mercy; and was astounded when a Spanish friar announced to him, on the fatal niorning, that his hours were numbered, and that he should prepare himself for his last earthly trial. The friar then handed to him a paper, to be read at the stake as a dying testimony of his repentance. It was a summary of his recantations. Cranmer signed and having transcribed it, kept a copy for his
When the friar had departed he altered his copy, and made it equivalent to a disavowal of all his former abjurations and denials. At the usual hour the procession set forward : it halted at the church of St. Mary, where the last sermon was preached by a Dr. Cole. The archbishop stood on a platform opposite to the pulpit, according to an eye-witness (quoted by Strype,) "the very image of sorrow.” Remorse for his recent unworthy conduct had taken entire possession of his soul. His face was bathed in tears, and expressed “great inward confusion ;" and his eyes were sometimes lifted up to heaven, now fixed downward on earth, “as one ashamed of himself.” The sermon having been conclud. ed, the preacher called on Cranmer to declare his faith. The archbishop then took out his paper : all were prepared for a repetition of his recantations, the rather as the merits of his conversion had been dwelt upon by Dr. Cole in his sermon. He was heard with profound attention, till he “spake to that which, he said, troubled his conscience more than any thing he had ever done in his whole life ; which was the subscribing a paper contrary to the truth, and against his conscience, out of fear of death and love of life ; and when he came to the fire, he was resolved that that hand that had signed it should burn first.” He then repeated, that his former opinions on the papal usurpation, and on the eucharist, were those he died in. “Upon this there was a wonderful confusion in the assembly.” Lord Williams called to him to remember himself, and play the Christian. “I do,” replied Cranmer, with tears : "it is now too late to dissemble ; I must now speak the truth. I have been hitherto a hater of falsehood and a lover of simplicity, and never before