Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 2, 1515-1518. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1864.
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Wolsey made Cardinal.
Wolsey was raised to the cardinalate, on the 10th September 1515, by the name of St. Cecilia trans Tiberim. The choice of the title was a matter of some difficulty. The bishop of Worcester wrote (fn. 1) to say that he could think of no other appellation than St. Cecilia, "which was lucky, as many popes had proceeded from it." Wolsey always signed himself T. Carlis Ebor., was generally so addressed; and in England not one man in ten thousand was aware of the existence of any other title. The first mention we have of his intended dignity occurs in a letter of Polydore Vergil, from Rome, 21 May, 1514, (fn. 2) some months before the murder of Cardinal Bainbridge. Polydore had broken the subject to Hadrian, then on good terms with Wolsey, desiring him to use his interest with the Pope in obtaining the cardinalate for Wolsey. Four months after, Henry himself wrote to the Pope, urging the same request in behalf of his great minister, "whose merits were such that the king esteemed him above his dearest friends, and could do nothing of the least importance without him." (fn. 3) In his reply to this letter, dated from Rome, 24th September 1514, (fn. 4) the Pope tells the king that the promotion demanded by his majesty for Wolsey was surrounded with difficulties; it was greatly desired as the highest dignity in the church: and he attempted to avoid compliance by a sort of general promise that he would accede to the king's wishes at a suitable opportunity. From this period these negotiations at Rome seem to have dropped from the hands of Vergil and Hadrian, and been transferred to Worcester's. Then followed the death of Bainbridge and the negotiations for the marriage of Mary with Lewis XII. Worcester was implicated in that murder, and both out of rivalry to Hadrian, whom he hated, and to secure the favor of Wolsey and the king, in his distress he urged Wolsey's promotion with all the assiduity and skill of which he was master. As Lewis professed great friendship, in consequence of the part taken by Wolsey in the French match, it was expected that he would have employed his influence with Leo in the same direction. So, probably, Hadrian and Vergil, who were imperialists, intrigued against it. But Leo was in no hurry to comply; precipitancy was not one of his failings. Dilatory and irresolute—fearful of giving offence, yet too cowardly to refuse outright—he offered a compromise. (fn. 5) He would not create Wolsey a cardinal, but would give him a bull for his promotion on condition he should not publicly display the insignia. Wolsey wrote to Worcester that the king was as much interested as he was in this promotion, and this appears to have been true: "If by your politic handling the Pope can be induced shortly to make me a Cardinal, ye shall singularly content and please the king; for I cannot express how desirous the king is to have me advanced to the said honor, to the intent that not only men might perceive how much the Pope favoreth the king and such as he entirely loveth, but also that thereby I shall be the more able to do his Grace service." (fn. 6) Leo prevaricated:—he had "a particular regard for Wolsey," but could not break his oath:—delay was necessary; his promotion could not take place at present without causing the greatest scandal; (fn. 7) he was very sorry, but Francis I. and Maximilian had insisted on the creation of their own Cardinals first, and the Pope could not venture to offend them. Wolsey was indifferent to the promotion, so far as he was personally concerned—at least so he ordered Worcester to tell the Pope;—but "his sense of duty," and desire to see the king "a fast friend to his Holiness," compelled him to urge it. The king had always been a firm ally of the Pope, and his wishes ought not to be lightly rejected. (fn. 8) The next letter conveyed a much more significant hint, and was calculated to throw the Pope into an agony. Francis was on his road to Milan. The eldest son of the Church intended to lay himself with his battalions of veterans at the feet of his Holy Father. To decline the visit was impossible; to prevent it, not feasible. "The king's grace marvelleth," writes Wolsey to the bishop of Worcester, (fn. 9) "that the Pope delayeth so long the sending of the red hat to me, seeing how tenderly, instantly, and often his grace hath written "to his Holiness for the same." The king, he adds, calls daily for it; and though he will not distrust the Pope's promise, the sooner it is fulfilled the better will he be pleased. Then comes the significant hint:—if the king forsake the Pope, "he will be in greater danger on this day two years than ever was Pope Julius."
This letter had the desired effect: Leo consented, at the instigation of Worcester, to create Wolsey "Cardinal sole." (fn. 10) At the same time the king consented to enter the league secretly formed by the Pope, ostensibly for defence of the Church, really for resisting the encroachments of France, on " condition of the red hat being sent at once;"—Wolsey adds, "no man helping thereto," which I see no reason to disbelieve. He expressed a wish that the legatine authority should be combined with the cardinalate, as most agreeable to the king; but if the Pope proved refractory Worcester was to content himself with obtaining a faculty for the Cardinal to visit the exempt monasteries. That request was not destined to be gratified at present. On 7th September, (fn. 11) Worcester wrote to him from Rome to say that the Pope was highly delighted with his letters from England, and was now so bent on his promotion that he would insist upon it in spite of all the Cardinals, and complete it within eight days. The election took place on the 10th. (fn. 12)
It was not in any man's nature to be insensible on such an occasion; certainly not in Wolsey's. He loved the dignity of the cardinalate, partly no doubt for its authority, probably as much for its splendor. Since the days of Archbishop Morton no Cardinal had been seen in England, for Bainbridge lived abroad; and Wolsey was resolved to invest his new dignity with all that splendor and magnificence which no man understood better or appreciated more highly than he. Even in that age of gorgeous ceremonial, before puritan sentimentalism had insisted on the righteousness of lawn-sleeves;—when the sense aches with interminable recitals of cloth of gold, silks, and tapestries,—even then, amidst jewelled mitres and copes, a Cardinal in his scarlet robes formed a conspicuous object. Not that Wolsey was the slave of a vulgar vanity. Magnificent in all his notions and all his doings,—in plate, dress, tapestry, pictures, buildings, the furniture of a chapel or of a palace, the setting of a ring or the arrangements for a congress,—there was the same regal taste at work,—the same powerful grasp of little things and great. A soul as capacious as the sea, and minute as the sands upon its shores when minuteness was required, he could do nothing meanly. (fn. 13) The last great builder this nation ever had, the few remains which have survived him show the vastness of his mind and the universality of his genius. He could build a kitchen, or plan a college, or raise a tower, as no man since then has been able to build them. It was the same in music. There were no quire boys could sing like his. "My Lord," writes Pace, "if it were not for the personal love that the king's Highness doth bear unto your Grace, surely he would have out of your chapel not children only but also men. For his Grace hath plainly shown unto Cornish (the king's choir-master) that your Grace's chapel is better than his; for if a new song should be brought unto both to be sung ex improviso, then the said song should be better and more surely handled by your chapel than by his Grace's." (fn. 14) If Quentin Matsys had a picture on the easel Wolsey was ready to purchase it. (fn. 15) If there was a curious clock it was secured for him. (fn. 16) Various notices occur in this volume of his love of tapestry. "One has to traverse eight rooms," says Giustinian, "before you reach his audience chamber; and they are all hung with tapestry, which is changed once a week." As Cardinal, all his gentlemen appeared in livery of crimson velvet with gold chains, his meaner officers in coats of scarlet bordered with black velvet, a hand broad. "His own dress was fine scarlet or crimson satin, taffety or damask, and over all a tippet of fine sable," says Cavendish. (fn. 17) Some curious indications have been preserved of his punctiliousness in these matters. He writes to Worcester: Considering that the Parliament beginneth in crastino Animarum, (fn. 18) (November 3), it shall be necessary that I have the habit and hat of a Cardinal; and whereas there be none here that can make the said habit, [please] send to me two or three hoods of such pattern and color as Cardinals be wont to wear there (at Rome), and also one paper of caps larger and shallower than those were which your Lordship lately sent to me; with two great pieces of silk used by Cardinals there for making the kirtles and other like garments."
But if Wolsey was delighted with his new dignity, the king was scarcely less pleased. He wrote to the Pope to say—and the letter is still preserved in the Vatican (fn. 19) —"that nothing in all his life had given him greater pleasure than the papal brief announcing Wolsey's election to the College of Cardinals; he regarded the distinction, thus bestowed on a subject for whom he entertained the strongest affection, as a favor bestowed upon himself, so great were Wolsey's gifts and so eminent his services." In fact, though this has often been overlooked or denied, no doubt can exist that the king was at the time fully as much interested in Wolsey's advancement as was Wolsey himself.
Great preparations were now made for his installation. On the 7th October, the Bishop of Worcester's secretary was despatched to England (fn. 20) with the hat and a ring of more than usual value from the Pope, and plenary indulgence for all those who should take part in the ceremony. (fn. 21) He arrived at Calais on 7th November. (fn. 22) On the 15th he entered London; at Blackheath he was met by the Earl of Essex and the bishop of Lincoln, and at the city gates by the mayor aldermen, and the different crafts with their banners lining the streets. At Westminster abbey the hat was received by the abbot and eight others, and so carried in state to the high altar. (fn. 23) On Sunday the Cardinal proceeded from his house at Westminster to the abbey, where mass was sung by Warham, archbishop of Canterbury, assisted by Fox, Ruthal, and other bishops. The sermon was preached by the celebrated Dr. Colet, dean of St. Paul's. During benedictions and prayers the Cardinal lay grovelling at the foot of the high altar; then the archbishop placed the hat upon his head, and the service ended with Te Deum. The new-made Cardinal was conducted, on his return, to the western doors of the cathedral by the dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk, thence to his place at Charing Cross, followed by the great nobility, bannerets, knights, and gentlemen, the archbishop and bishops bringing up the rear. The whole was concluded with a magnificent banquet, graced by the king, queen Katharine, and queen Mary, all the nobility and clergy, the Barons of the Exchequer, the judges and serjeants-at-law.
Magnificence a virtue, as well as almsgiving.
Esteemed so in those days.
To Polydore Vergil, then languishing in the Tower, the salvos of artillery, the pealing of bells, the acclamations and roar of the populace, thronging to the splendid pageant, must have been far from agreeable sounds. This Le. mi., whom everybody hated, and whose downfall he predicted was at hand, had not fallen; was not likely to fall, at present. Modern philosophy despises lord mayors' coaches and cardinals' hats; but the philosophy of that age was different. Men delighted in such shows, without stopping to reason about them. Now and then some puritan would start up and inveigh against the immorality of poleaxes and the profaneness of scarlet cloth, as the livery "of the whore of Babylon." "How think ye?" said Wolsey to one of this sect; "were it better for me, being in the honor and dignity that I am, to coin my pillars and poleaxes, and give the money to five or six beggars? Do you not reckon the commonwealth better than five or six beggars?" "To this I did an swer," says Dr. Barnes, who tells the story himself, "that I reckoned it more to the honor of God and to the salvation of his soul, and also to the comfort of his poor brethren, that they were coined and given in alms; and as for the commonwealth, it did not hang on them, for, as his Grace knew, the commonwealth was afore his Grace, and must be when his Grace is gone; and the pillars and poleaxes came with him, and should also go away with him." And if giving alms to beggars were the final end of man's creation, Dr. Barnes said well. (fn. 24) But reasoning such as this had not yet grown popular; beggars, like housebreakers, were not objects of much sympathy: contrariwise, the former were whipped, and the others hanged—often unmercifully, always unsentimentally. The intense conservative and aristocratical principle pervading all classes in England in those days, and strictly insisting on the due subordination of ranks, would have repudiated with scorn and contempt the equalizing appeal to their common humanity from the unfortunate and the vagabond, and probably have condemned the appellant to the stocks. The day had not yet come, though it was fast approaching, when the fervid eloquence of puritanism was to proclaim the communistic doctrines of Christianity, and represent all men as equal in that wisdom, which alone was to be deemed wisdom,—reading and expounding the Scripture. The old sacramental mysteries of the earlier ages, not to be profaned by vulgar eyes, were destined to pass away. Impenetrable barriers which had hitherto served the ecclesiastic from the layman, the knight and nobleman from the burgess, were doomed to fall, and the time was not far distant when a beggar in grace (fn. 25) should take the wall of a gentleman without it, and every unwashed artificer prove a match for the bench of bishops. But that time had not yet come; was not to come so long as Wolsey lived. Now and then the rising spirit of equality wept with Hall over the wrongs done to crimson jackets and fine shirts—but no more. "As soon as Wolsey was Chancellor, he directed commissions into all shires for to put the Statute of Apparel and the Statute of Laborers (fn. 26) in execution. And he himself one day called a gentleman named Simon Fitz-Richard, and took from him an old jacket of crimson velvet and divers brooches, which extreme doing caused him greatly to be hated; and by his example many cruel officers for malice evil entreated divers of the king's subjects, inasmuch that one Shynnynge, mayor of Rochester, set a young man on the pillory for wearing of a riven shirt." (fn. 27)
Crusade against the Turks.
Its grand anticipations.
I have stated that Wolsey was anxious to obtain the legatine authority, (fn. 28) and requested Worcester to urge his suit. But the Pope demurred. He had given enough; he had no inclination to bestow more. As archbishop of York, Wolsey was but legatus natus, an empty title; as legate de latere, he would be enabled to take ecclesiastical precedence, and use the insignia of his ecclesiastical authority in both provinces. But what the Pope would not grant spontaneously was wrested from him by the force of circumstances. He had long been anxious to set on foot an expedition against the Turks;—as early as the summer of 1515 he had used all his influence with Wolsey and Warham to levy a 10th or at least a 20th from the clergy of England for that purpose. The case was apparently urgent. The Turks had possessed themselves of Syria and Egypt; they were daily threatening Rhodes, and the Knights of the island had called home all members of their order, and were making great exertions to prepare for the impending struggle. (fn. 29) Turkish corsairs swarmed in the Mediterranean, and swept the coast from Terracina to Pisa. (fn. 30) On one occasion they plundered the church of Loretto; on another they sailed up the Tiber, and nearly made a prisoner of the Pope whilst he was hunting at Pali. (fn. 31) Hungary was on the verge of dissolution, whilst its nobles, with suicidal folly, quarrelled and fought among themselves. On the death of Ladislaus VI. the confusion increased. Without immediate aid, (fn. 32) as the bishop of Vesprim wrote to the Pope,1 the kingdom must fall into the hands of the Turks. The young king of Hungary, only twelve years of age, was utterly incompetent to cope with the dangers of his position. (fn. 33) But Christendom had so often been alarmed with the cry of "The Turk is coming," that when the Turk came at last no one believed it. So the English clergy turned a deaf ear to the voice of the Papal charmers, and refused a disme and even half a disme. (fn. 34) They declared they would not open a window to so perilous an example as the Pope required, lest when they wished to shut it they should not be able. Already they had paid six tenths to defend the patrimony of St. Peter, and no real danger was to be apprehended. Leo was bitterly disappointed; not without reason. He had reckoned on Wolsey's gratitude and influence in carrying this measure as a reward for the cardinalate. Wolsey had readily promised his aid; (fn. 35) but Warham, less courtly, had candidly told the Pope from the first that he could hold out no hopes of any such grant from Convocation. (fn. 36) So long as the thoughts of princes were entirely engrossed with a European war, it was useless to urge upon them the obligations of unity and the duty of repelling the common enemy; and to that indifference England mainly contributed. At the meeting of Francis and the Pope at Bologna in December 1515, (fn. 37) the former had consented to lay aside all other considerations and devote himself to the cause. The Pope thanked him, with tears in his eyes, as he told Henry, as he begged the king to forget his animosity and listen to the prayers of those who were daily in danger from the Turk. (fn. 38) But Henry did not believe his Holiness. He thought it was only a delusion intended to throw him off his guard. So the expedition made no real progress, (fn. 39) though it flecks every page of this volume, and Europe was scandalized accordingly. (fn. 40) When hostilities between the great European powers had been extinguished by the treaty of Noyon in the spring of 1517, the Pope thought the opportunity so long desired had arrived. After a solemn mass, the crusade was determined on in the Council of the Lateran on the 16th of March, and the bull drawn up. (fn. 41) Various plans were in agitation. It was resolved that an army should be raised, in the first instance, of 60,000 men, to be paid by a tenth levied upon all the estates of Christendom. (fn. 42) Every 50th person was to turn soldier, and the other 49 were to contribute to his support and wages; all spiritual persons to pay a tenth, all seculars a twentieth. The army thus raised was to be placed under one captain-general, to be assisted by a Papal legate, and if any one refused their summons to join he should be accounted as a rebel and punished accordingly. The care of the North-east was delegated to France, of the North-west to England, of the South-west to the Pope. To keep the Turk employed it was proposed that the Sophi of Persia should be encouraged to make war upon him, and be persuaded, if possible, to embrace the Christian faith. To counter-balance any aid that might be sent to the Infidels from Egypt or elsewhere, communications were to be opened, by means of Christian subjects dwelling in the East, with Prester John of the Indies, the king of Nubia and Ethiopia, and the king of the Georgians. So whilst the Soldan was thus employed on the side of Arabia and Ethiopia, it was hoped that Syria and Palestine might fall into the hands of the Christians; and they could easily hold the latter by building fortresses at Joppa, Petra, Dan, and Beersheba on the south, and placing a garrison in Mount Sion. In the summer of 1518 an army was to be sent into Africa to encourage the Kings of Tremesin, Fez, and Morocco, and the Arabs in the Libyan mountains, who had not yet submitted to the Turk. The powers of Hungary and Poland joined with the Scythians and Tartars, were appointed to occupy the northern settlements. Next year the campaign was to be followed up in Africa. Maximilian and the king of Portugal were to throw themselves on Cairo and Alexandria, to be joined by the kings of England and Denmark and the Great Master of Prussia, whilst the king of France marched through Dalmatia and Croatia, and seized upon Bosnia; then turning their armies south-east they might take possession of Philippopoli and Adrianople, and garrisoning them with Tartar troops, who could easily support themselves by plundering the neighbourhood, direct their attention to Chalcedon and Negropont or some equally advantageous seaport.
When Africa had thus been emancipated, the Emperor and the king of Portugal were to cross the year after into Greece, take Constantinople, invade Asia Minor, give half Natolia to the Sophi, and retain the rest of Asia and Africa, especially Palestine and Jerusalem, exclusively for the Christians. After these successes it might be feasible to carry Christianity into Persia and Africa:—as for the Turks, they were to disappear altogether. All these wondrous results might be obtained in two or three years, at the cost of 12,000,000 of ducats. A paltry sum for a universal millennium!
Legates sent to the different courts of Europe.
To give practical efficiency to this grand vision it was needful that Leo should send Legates to all the leading sovereigns of Christendom. Cardinal St. Giles (Ægidius of Viterbo) was despatched to Spain, Cardinal Flisco to Germany, Bibiena (S. Maria in Porticu) to France, and Campeggio was destined for England. In France the Legate was received in a great hall erected for the purpose. (fn. 43) Francis enlarged upon his ardent desire to join in this holy expedition. As eldest son of the Church he offered to serve in person, and put himself and his kingdom entirely at the disposal of the Pope. But all were not equally enthusiastic; there wanted not some who still regarded the crusade as an attempt to raise money;—as a ridiculous chimera. (fn. 44) Erasmus in his scoffing humor writes to More, and turns into jest the grave devices employed to give an air of solemnity to the design, in which no one, he asserts, had any real faith. "The Pope has put out a prohibition that wives, in the absence of their husbands at the war, shall not indulge themselves; they are to abstain from fine dresses and silks, from gold and jewels; use no paint, drink no wine, and fast every other day." "But as for your wife," he continues in his bantering style, "she is so serious and devout, she will find no difficulty in complying with the Pope's injunctions." When the king heard of it, and Maximilian's offer to act as generalissimo, "his Grace did right well laugh," says Pace in a letter to Wolsey, (fn. 45) "at the device of the Emperor enempst the expedition to be made the first year against the Turk, by him, with other men's money, considering that this should be only an expedition of money." When Pace showed his Majesty the letters in which Campeggio's mission was mentioned, the king at once remarked that "it was not the rule of this realm to admit Legates de latere." But he did not insist on the prohibition; for a fortnight after Wolsey wrote to the bishop of Worcester (fn. 46) that he regretted much to hear of the increasing power of the Turk, which could not be repressed except by a union of Christian princes. He had informed the king of the Pope's intention to send a Legate into England; but by the municipal law of England, which the king was strictly bound to observe, no foreign Cardinal could be admitted to exercise legatine authority within this realm. The king, however, would waive that objection, provided that all those faculties which were usually conceded to legates de jure be suspended, and Wolsey joined in equal authority with Campeggio. The Pope had no alternative except to comply, and the commission was sent to Wolsey as desired. (fn. 47) But this was not the end of the humiliation to which the Pope and his Legate were to be subjected. Cardinal Hadrian, the patron of Polydore Vergil, had signalized himself by his opposition to Wolsey on all occasions. He was now in disgrace:—had fled to Venice; was moving heaven and earth to be pardoned and restored. Maximilian and the Venetians had incurred Wolsey's displeasure for interposing in his favor. The Pope vacillated, was inclined to relent, and delayed passing sentence of deprivation. Wolsey urged, and even threatened; and Leo replied with a variety of excuses. On Hadrian's disgrace, the bishopric of Bath and Wells had been conferred upon Wolsey; (fn. 48) but the Pope, by declining to degrade Hadrian, might keep the right of that see an open question, and involve its new possessor in endless litigation and expense.
Campeggio at Calais.
Campeggio reached Calais in June, in the full bloom of his legatine authority, intending at once to cross to England. If he thought to snuff out the pretensions of his English associate, who had never been at Rome, knew nothing of legates or legatine usages—had not a hat or a cope fit for a procession,—that was no more than any native Italian would have felt towards a tramontane ecclesiastic, whatever his dignity or pretensions. On reaching Calais he found a letter waiting for him from England, stating that the king was greatly displeased with the backwardness of the Pope in depriving Cardinal Hadrian, and the Legate must remain at Calais until the king had perfect satisfaction on that head. (fn. 49) In vain Campeggio protested that he had written three times to the Pope on the subject, and felt no doubt of his compliance. May passed, June passed, and it was not until the 22nd of July that his quarantine was withdrawn, and he was permitted to land on English shores. Now, however pleasant Calais might be for a summer holiday in the warm months of May, June, and July, and however courtly the attentions of its deputy, Sir Richard Wingfield, it is hard to conceive any delay more galling or annoying to the dignity of a papal Legate like Campeggio, than this cooling his heels, like an ordinary layman, for many weeks in a rude garrison town;—with the mortifying consciousness, besides, that his detention depended entirely on the will of the man whom he had purposed to eclipse. Hall tells a story, greedily repeated by Foxe, that the night before Campeggio entered London, Wolsey, to give greater effect to the solemnity, sent him twelve mules with empty coffers trapped with scarlet; and thus the cavalcade, with eight others belonging to the Legate, passed through the streets as if they had carried so much treasure. In cheapside one of the mules turned restive, and upset the chests, out of which tumbled old hose, broken shoes, bread, meat, and eggs, with "much vile baggage;" at which the boys exclaimed, "See, see my lord Legate's treasure!" The story is more malicious than probable. There might be much vile baggage and broken shoes, however; for the freshness and splendor of the Legate's preparations would be tarnished and injured by his long detention. Accustomed to be received with profuse gratitude and unbounded liberality by the sovereigns to whom they were sent, these dignitaries were not prepared for any heavy outlay from their own purses. The delay and consequent expense proved a serious annoyance.
Lands at Deal. His progress to London.
News, however, came at last of Hadrian's deprivation, and a knight of the Garter was sent to bring over the Legate. (fn. 50) On the 23rd of July he landed at Deal, and was met by the bishop of Chichester, the lords Abergavenny, Cobham, and others, and conveyed by them to Sandwich. Next day he reached Canterbury; here he was received by the clergy and corporation of the town, and conducted to the cathedral gates, where the archbishop, the bishop of Rochester, the abbots of St. Augustine and Faversham, the priors of Christchurch and St. Gregory's, attended his coming in full pontificals. After prayers and benediction he was led to the shrine of St. Thomas; was censed and sprinkled with holy water; then conducted to his lodgings in St. Augustine's abbey. Here he stayed the Sunday. On Monday he set out for Sittingbourne in a great storm of thunder and lightning, attended by a cavalcade of 500 horse. There he dined, and supped and slept at Bexley. On Tuesday he was entertained at a magnificent dinner at Rochester; thence to Otford, attended all the way by the archbishop, with a thousand horsemen, in armour and gold chains. On Thursday, at Lewisham; and after dinner, about one o'clock, he arrived at Blackheath. At this place a more splendid company awaited him, consisting of the duke of Norfolk, the bishops of Durham and Ely, the earl of Surrey, the lords Darcy and Abergavenny. In a meadow "two miles from London," a tent of cloth of gold had been erected for his reception. The procession was now arranged. The nobility rode in advance; then came the Legate in full pontificals, with his cross, his pillars, and poleaxes; next his servants in red livery; after them the archbishop's (Wolsey's?) in one livery, with red hats, except the chaplains, to the number of 200 horse. As it neared the city gates the whole procession extended upwards of two miles. From St. George's Church to London Bridge the way was lined on both sides by friars, monks, and clergy singing hymns, dressed in their habits, with copes of cloth of gold, gold and silver crosses and banners; and as the Legate passed along they threw up clouds of incense in the air, and sprinkled him with holy water. At the foot of the bridge he was received by two bishops, who presented him with the relics of the saints to kiss, whilst salvos of artillery from the Tower and the river forts rent the air, (fn. 51) and hundreds of bells pealed from every abbey, priory, and parish church, to the deeper bass of old St. Paul's. In "Gracious Street" the London city companies joined the procession; at Cheapside he was welcomed by the mayor and aldermen; and here the celebrated Sir Thomas More delivered a Latin oration. At St. Paul's the bishops of Lincoln and London, with the whole cathedral clergy, received him, and led him after another oration to the high altar. This done, the Legate mounted his mule, and was conveyed to his lodgings in Bath Place.
The reception was magnificent beyond description; there had been nothing like it seen in England, at least within the memory of living man. It had been prepared and arranged, and the whole expense of it was defrayed, by Wolsey. (fn. 52) But there was one face wanting to complete the magnificence of the ceremony: that was his own. Archbishops and dukes and all the great nobility were there; but Wolsey and the king were absent. Sebastian said they were afraid of the sweating sickness. (fn. 53)
Campeggio's audience took place five days after at Greenwich, on Tuesday the 3rd August. (fn. 54) The king entered, attended by the lords spiritual and temporal, and advanced to the middle of the hall. The Legates "saluted him with great marks of respect." (fn. 55) The king returned their salutations by taking off his bonnet, and then proceeded towards the upper end of the hall, with Wolsey as the chief Legate on his right, and Campeggio on the left; their pillars, crosses, and hats borne before them. The earl of Surrey carried the sword, walking between the Legates. On the right of the throne stood the two primates and the bishops; on the left, the dukes and lords. Fronting the throne, and a little to the right, were placed two chairs covered with cloth of gold; in the larger chair sate Wolsey, and a little behind him Campeggio. (fn. 56) Then Wolsey rising, cap in hand, delivered a Latin oration, the king standing whilst it was delivered. "To this his Majesty replied, also in Latin, most elegantly and with all gravity." This done, they seated themselves, and the Legate's brother commenced his oration, dilating on the objects of this solemn mission,—the desire of the Pope for peace and unity in Christendom,—the importance of a crusade against its common enemy the Turk. He was answered by Dr. Taylor on the king's behalf, stating that his Majesty needed not to be reminded of his duty as a Christian. Then the king and the Legates retired to a private chamber. Campeggio's importance expired with this delivery of his mission. He was invited to the usual court entertainments, was present at the solemnity of Mary's espousals with the Dauphin; but, says Sebastian, "little respect was shown to the see Apostolic." (fn. 57) A remark which requires no comment.
So the wheel had revolved once more, and all things had apparently returned to the point from which they had started. England and France were again intimately allied, and the alliance cemented by marriage: Charles and Maximilian remained subordinate in the great European confe- deracy, as they had been four years before. As then, so now, Wolsey stood master of the game, but with far higher advantages. Then he was only archbishop of York, now he was Legate, Cardinal, and lord Chancellor;—then he was only rising into favor with his sovereign, now that favor was confirmed;—his supremacy was contested then by others not less powerful than himself; now, even his enemies admitted his superiority; and if they did not crouch to it, dared not contest it. Then his influence was little felt or acknowledged beyond his own country; now kings and Emperors sought his favor. It rested with him to determine whether Europe should have peace or war; whether a crusade should be or should not be; who should dictate to the titular Pope, whether a Frenchman, a German or a Fleming; and who should overshadow the papal tiara. And all this he had accomplished without moving from his chair, without a blow, with a peace expenditure, and a rigid economy. There had never been such a minister in England. Francis and Charles were now straining every nerve for the Imperial crown:—bribes, favors, alliances, were showered by both; the most unblushing venality found as unblushing and prodigal a purchaser. The holy Roman Empire, like a rare bauble—and no better than a bauble—was set up to the highest bidder. It remained with Wolsey to decide to which of the two parties it should be knocked down.
Books of the period. New Testament of Erasmus.
Far as these remarks have already extended, they would yet be incomplete without some notice of the two important works which made their appearance during the period embraced in this volume: I refer to the Greek Testament of Erasmus, and the Utopia of Sir Thomas More. Though printed at Basle, the Greek Testament of Erasmus was strictly the work of his residence in England. In the collation and examination of MSS. required for the task, he had the assistance of Englishmen; Englishmen supplied the funds, and English friends and patrons lent him that support and encouragement without which it is very doubtful whether Erasmus would have ever completed the work. He was not always liberal in acknowledging his obligations; yet in his New Testament, hidden away in a page where no one would have expected to find it, he bursts into a sudden fit of enthusiasm and celebrates the praises of Warham in language such as none but Erasmus could command. (fn. 58) After descanting upon the archbishop's modesty, labors, genius, administration of justice (for he was still Chancellor), his patronage of letters and learned men, Erasmus thus pursues the subject:
"Had it been my good fortune to have fallen in with such a Mæcenas in my earlier years, I might, perhaps, have done something for literature. Now, born as I was in an unhappy age, when barbarism reigned supreme, especially among my own people, by whom the least inclination for literature was then looked upon as little better than a crime, what could I do with my small modicum of talent? Death carried off Henry de Berghes, bishop of Cambray, my first patron; my second, William lord Mountjoy, an English peer, was separated from me by his employments at court and the tumults of war. By his means it was my good fortune, then advanced in life and close upon my fortieth year, to be introduced to archbishop Warham. Encouraged and cheered by his bounty, I revived; I gained new youth and strength in the cause of literature. What nature and my country denied me, his bounty supplied."
These expressions of gratitude were no more than the archbishop deserved; in addition to an annual pension he sent various sums of money to Erasmus, generally through More. Nor were Warham and Mountjoy his only friends. Tunstal and Lupset assisted him in his collations; Fisher, Fox, More, Colet, Urswick and Ammonius made him continual presents, and pushed his interests at court. Wolsey, apparently indifferent to literary praise, offered him only a prebend at Tournay—δωρον αδωρον as Erasmus calls it, who could never be persuaded to speak well of Wolsey afterwards. (fn. 59) When the New Testament appeared, it was applauded by those whom we have been told to regard as the most superstitious and benighted upholders of the old religion. "Lately in a large concourse of people," writes More, (fn. 60) "the bishop of Winchester (Fox) affirmed that your version of the New Testament was worth more to him than ten commentaries." The bishops were loud in its praises, (fn. 61) Warham in particular. Fisher had always been one of its earliest promoters. Tunstal, as I have remarked already, had assisted with his scholarship and his bounty.
What it proposed.
The experiment was a bold one—the boldest that had been conceived in this century or for many centuries before it. We are accustomed to the freest expression of opinion in Biblical criticism, and any attempt to supersede our English version, to treat its inaccuracies with scorn, to represent it as far below the science and scholarship of the age, or as a barbarous, unlettered production, made from inaccurate MSS., and imperfectly executed by men who did not understand the language of the original, would excite little apprehension or alarm. To explain the text of Scripture exclusively by the rules of human wisdom, guided by the same principles as are freely applied to classical authors,—to discriminate the spurious from the genuine, and decide that this was canonical, and that was not—might, perhaps, be regarded as audacious. Yet all this, and not less than this, did Erasmus propose to himself in his edition and translation of the New Testament. He meant to subvert the authority of the Vulgate, and to show that much of the popular theology of the day, its errors and misconceptions, were founded entirely on a misapprehension of the original meaning, and inextricably entangled with the old Latin version. It was his avowed object to bring up the translation of the sacred books, and all criticism connected with them, to the level of that scholarship in his days which had been successfully applied to the illustration of ancient authors; to set aside all rules of interpretation resting merely on faith and authority, and replace them by the philological and historical. And it was precisely for this reason that Luther disliked the work. (fn. 62) In this respect the New Testament of Erasmus must be regarded as the foundation of that new school of teaching on which Anglican theology professes exclusively to rest; as such it is not only the type of its class, but the most direct enunciation of that Protestant principle which, from that time until this, has found its expression in various forms: "The Bible alone is the religion of Protestants." Whatever can be read therein or proved thereby is binding upon all men; what cannot, is not to be required of any man as an article of his faith, either by societies or individuals. Who sees not that the authority of the Church was displaced, and the sufficiency of all men individually to read' and interpret for themselves was thus asserted by the New Testament of Erasmus?
The work found readers where readers were least to be expected; not merely in universities and among bishops, but with friars and monks and other religious orders. It was talked over in the common rooms of Oxford and Cambridge; criticised in the refectory of the friars, or the nuns' parlors; preached at from the pulpit and the lecture room; the topic of conversation at court; declaimed against before lord-mayors and corporations. Violet and scarlet hoods fluttered with emotion at its daring innovations; black woollen gowns and white enlarged, in corners, to anxious, upturned faces, on the new version which had re-written the Epistles of St. Paul, and put unauthorized phrases into the Magnificat and the Pater noster. I have already stated that the age was not that sink of corruption which modern historians delight to paint it. And the universal interest taken in this work of Erasmus shows equally that the age was not so illiterate as it is often assumed to be. Popular stories of the Bible being unknown, of the total indifference of the friars to learning, rest like most popular stories on vulgar credulity. Here is a passage from More's Utopia, written in 1516, which conveys a very different impression:—
"Men's tastes differ much; some are so morose, so sour in disposition, and their judgments so perverse, that people of cheerful and lively temper, who indulge their humors, seem much more happy than those who torment themselves by writing books, and attempting to please or profit the ungrateful and fastidious. Many know nothing of learning and others despise it. To the lover of barbarisms all is rough and distasteful that is not barbarous. The sciolist despises as common place whatever abounds not in antiquated expressions. Some love antiquity only; the greater part, novelty. This man is of "so vinegar an aspect" that he can allow no jokes; another so dull he cannot endure wit. This man's face is so flat he is as much afraid of a nose as the devil of holy water. Some again are so changeable, that their thoughts alter as rapidly as their postures. These sit in taverns, and take upon them to criticise works of genius over their cups. They cannot endure the least ridicule, and condemn in authoritative tones, ad libitum, with no less advantage than a bald man plucks his neighbour's hair; for they are so smooth and shorn—these good fellows—they present not a single hair for others to lay hold on. Some are so unthankful that even when they are well pleased with a book they love not the author the more, and are like those rude guests, who, after they have been well entertained, go away with a belly-full, without so much as thanking their host."
And this brings me, in conclusion, to some remarks on the Utopia itself. A modern French author, with that sprightliness and lively declamation for which he is justly remarkable, characterizes the Utopia of Sir Thomas More as "an insipid romance, in which the author has taken great pains to discover truths already realized by the mystic communists of the middle ages in a more original manner. The design of the work is common-place, its matter ordinary; it has little imagination, and less sense of reality." (fn. 63) There is not the least reason for supposing that More was ever acquainted with the communistic doctrines of the middle ages, or ever wished to establish them. For common tables and community of goods in the institutions of Utopia, More was indebted to Plato and the laws of Lycurgus; for More was much more familiar with the classical than the middle ages;—and these were introduced for a different purpose than that which M. Michelet surmises. We readily concede that there is not to be found in the Utopia the wonderful invention, the inexhaustible wit, the profound learning, the broad farce, the abundant physical coarseness, the sarcasm and unextinguishable laughter, the tenderest and profoundest sentiments masquerading in grotesque and ludicrous shapes, the healthy vigorous humanity, overflowing at one time with clear and beautiful truths, and then anon stranded in pools of mud and filth, that are to be found in Rabelais. But the objects of the two men were as different as their natures. The wit and humor of More is that of the thoughtful observant Englishman, not breaking out into peals of laughter, but so quiet, sedate, and serious as to demand on the part of the reader something of the same habit of quiet thought and observation, to be fully perceived and enjoyed. More hovers so perpetually on the confines of jest and earnest, passes so naturally from one to the other, that the reader is in constant suspense whether his jest be serious or his seriousness a jest. The book is wonderfully English-like; wonderfully like that balancing habit of mind which trembles on the verge of right and wrong, sometimes struggling on in happier times to clearer vision, sometimes, like More, shutting its eyes and relapsing into older impressions unable to endure suspense any longer.
How regarded in the writer's age.
In More's own day the Utopia was regarded as a mirror of the political and social evils of the times. (fn. 64) "A burgomaster at Antwerp," writes Erasmus, "is so pleased with it, he knows it all by heart." Its popularity is attested by numerous editions (fn. 65) and translations. The scene of it is laid in the then scarce-known regions of the West, where Christianity had not yet penetrated. It describes the social and political perfection to which the people of Utopia had arrived by the mere efforts of natural goodness, as compared with the corrupt institutions and manners of Christendom. The Utopians are not entirely free from usages which seem incompatible with a model republic, and this is part of the author's design. They attempt to prevent war by assassination, and bribe the subjects of their enemy to commit treason. But he must be dull indeed, who does not perceive that Utopia, when following out these principles, is removed but a few miles from the English Channel, and that a practice which seems the more odious in these upright and wise Utopians was tenfold more unjustifiable in those who, professing the doctrines of Christ, never scrupled to employ the same means against their own enemies. Were the intrigues of Henry VIII. and his minister Dacre against Scotland more moral than these? Were not their attempts to sow treason and disaffection among the Scotch lords an exact exemplification of this Utopian policy? Letter after letter in this volume betrays a similar design for decoying or cutting off The White Rose, De la Pole, (fn. 66) thus illustrating More's words to the letter: "By this means it has often fallen out that many of them, even the prince himself, has been betrayed by those, in whom they trusted most; for the rewards the Utopians offer are so immeasurably great that there is no sort of crime to which men cannot be drawn by them."
But Utopia is nowhere, and was never intended to be, set up as a model to be literally followed. Could More seriously advocate a community of goods, even if as a sound lawyer he could expect to see the Utopian prohibition verified, that the nations of Europe should have fewer laws and no lawyers? (fn. 67) Could he gravely recommend a purely elective monarchy, even if, with his religious views, he might have justified the marriage of priests, to which he has never given any sanction in his writings? But though The Utopia was not to be literally followed,—was no more than an abstraction at which no one would have laughed more heartily than More himself, if interpreted too strictly, —Utopia might serve to show to a corrupt Christendom what good could be effected by the natural instincts of men when following the dictates of natural prudence and justice. If kings could never be elective in Europe, Utopia might show the advantage to a nation where kings were responsible to some other will than their own. If property could never be common, Utopia might teach men how great was the benefit to society when the state regarded itself as created for the well-being of all, and not of a class or a favored few. Literally property could never be common, except in Utopia; but it might be so in effect in Christian communities when capital and property were more widely diffused, —when the enormous disproportion, between the poor and the rich, the noble and the serf, was modified by social improvements,—when laws were simplified, and the statute book disencumbered of obsolete and unintelligible acts, too often put in force to catch the unwary, and made an instrument of oppression by the crown lawyers.
Not a reaction in favor of natural religion.
It might, perhaps, be thought that More attributed too much to nature,—that in the misery and confusion of his times—in the dead-lock of all social, political, and religious reforms—in his dissatisfaction at Christianity, as exhibited in the lives of his contemporaries, he gladly turned away to an ideal as little like the reality as possible, and pleased himself, as some did at the French Revolution, with a pure social abstraction removed from all those debasing influences under which men groaned. We might be tempted to think for a moment that he wavered in his allegiance to Christianity, and that the beautiful visions of Platonic republics and ancient patriots, fostered by his classical studies, had for a time over-mastered his imagination, as was the case with many others. Christianity, in his days at least, could present no such heroical virtue, no such grace or beauty, as Paganism had done, and was then doing, with an intensity of attraction to the newly-awakened longings of men, of which we can form no conception. Were monks and friars comparable to the ancient philosopher and his supper of herbs? Were Christian kings of the 16th century, imperious, headstrong, passionate, and arbitrary, immersed in the games of war and ambition, absorbed by the tournament, or the chase, impatient of contradiction, deaf to good advice—comparable to the Catos, the Reguli, the Spartan or Sabine rulers of the old republics? Had not the advancement of the faith been made a pretext for spoliation and aggrandizement? Had not its teachers taken part rather with the oppressors than the oppressed? Were not half the wars of Christendom traceable to this one cause?—ignoble wars that only fostered the evils under which society labored, strengthening the oppressor and trampling on the weak? Had More's faith staggered at the trial, it could have occasioned little surprise; but apparently it did not. For Christianity is introduced among the Utopians; it is readily received by them from its secret sympathy with their own opinions and institutions in its purer form.
A sketch of its main contents.
But a very brief sketch of the Utopian political and social regulations will point out more clearly the prevalent evils of More's days. I wish I might ask my reader to carry in his memory the leading topics of this preface;—the endless wars, the faithless leagues, the military expenditure, the money and time wasted upon instruments and means of offence to the neglect of all social improvements—unsettled habits—trains of idle serving-men reenacting in the streets the interminable brawls of the Montagues and Capulets—broken and disabled soldiers turning to theft and filling Alsatia for lack of employment—labor disarranged—husbandry broken up—villages and hamlets depopulated to feed sheep—agricultural laborers turned adrift, but forbidden to stray, and driven home from tithing to tithing by the lash, to starve—no poor-houses, no hospitals, though the sweating sickness raged through the land, but the poor left to perish as paupers by the side of the ditches, filling the air with fever and pestilence—houses never swept or ventilated—choked with rotten thatch above and unchanged rushes within—streets reeking with offal and filthy puddles—no adequate supply of water for cleanliness or health—penal laws stringently enforced, more stringently as the evils grew greater—crime and its punishment struggling for the upper hand—justice proud of its executions, and wondering that theft multiplied faster than the gibbet. Then again, and unquestionably the greatest blot upon the reign of Henry VIII.—was the sudden revival of obsolete statutes; as in the punishment of the London apprentices and the prœmunire in 1530. More's language (fn. 68) looks prophetical, as if he pierced into futurity, and saw beneath the popular and fascinating exterior of Henry VIII. the monarch who should one day use the law, not for the protection, but the oppression of his subjects. "One set of ministers," says the supposed traveller in Utopia, "will bring forward some old musty laws that have been antiquated by a long disuse, and which, as they have been forgotten by all the king's subjects, so they have also been broken by them; and will urge that the levying of the penalties of these laws, as it will bring in a vast treasure, so also fails not of a very good pretence, since it would look like the executing of the law and the doing of justice." (fn. 69) "Another proposes that the judges should be made sure of, that in all causes affecting the king they may always give sentence in his favor, and be sent for to the palace and invited to discuss the matter before the king, that there may be no cause of his, however obviously unjust, in which some among them, either through love of contradiction, or pride of singularity, or desire to win favor, will not find out some pretence or another for giving sentence in the king's behalf. ... And there never will be wanting some pretext for declaring in the king's favor;—as, that equity is on his side, or the strict letter of the law, or some forced interpretation of it; or if none of these, that the royal prerogative ought with conscientious judges to "outweigh all other considerations. And these notions are fostered by the maxims, that the king can do no wrong, however much he may wish to do it;—that not only the property, but the persons of his subjects, are his;—that a man has a right to no more than the king's goodness think fit not to take from him."
A faithful mirror of the social and political evils of the times.
Extravagant as such doctrines may appear to us in these days, they represent the feelings of the people, and the position of the sovereign in the days of the Tudors. Absolute in theory, clergy, judges, people strove to render the prerogative more absolute, both in theory and practice. So long as Wolsey lived the Church formed some barrier; afterwards, as it stood for a time without any such control, before the House of Commons or public opinion had yet risen to take the place of the Church, government was absolutely identified with the will of the sovereign; his word was law for the consciences as well as the conduct of his subjects. And the remembrance of the civil commotions of the 15th century, springing solely from a disputed succession—the rooted conviction that society must relapse once more into confusion under a similar evil—that it was disintegrated—that all social order was bound up in the king, as its only certain and immoveable centre—nurtured in the minds of Englishmen the extravagant doctrines thus denounced by More. Any wrong, any injustice, any royal violation of the law, however flagrant, was a more tolerable evil than disobedience, or opposition to the will of the prince, however just or sacred the cause. For that, in the temper of the times, people had no sympathy; the will of the prince, however expressed, as Romanist or Protestant, in passing the Six Articles or beheading More, in divorcing Queen Katharine or marrying Anna Boleyn, was to be respected. Innocence itself was to plead "guilty," and suffer as guilt, if the king required it. How far Cromwell took advantage of this feeling it is not my present purpose to inquire.
Society in Utopia.
Such evils as these could have no place among the Utopians. Their monarchy was elective, their government strictly representative:—"The prince is for life, but he is removeable on suspicion of a design to enslave his people." Strange doctrine this in the reign of Henry VIII.! Due provision was made for the health, education, employment, recreation of the people—subjects quite below the consideration of monarchs and ministers in Christian Europe. Every street was twenty feet broad; (fn. 70) every house was built of stone, with its garden behind it for health and recreation; a striking contrast to the mean hovels, mud walls, thatched roofs, straggling with overhanging gables, and shutting out both air and light in the metropolis of England. Labor alternated from town to country and from country to town; learning followed work, and work learning. Public lectures were given every morning before daybreak; after supper diversion; summer in their gardens, winter in their public halls, with music and discourse. No games except chess were allowed, or an allegorical tournament between vices and virtues. All, whatever their condition, male or female, noble or ignoble, were set to learn some trade. Six hours for labor, the others for rest; but that rest must be reasonably employed in reading, exercise, or gardening. Labor common, and property common; common halls in every district, "where they all meet and eat;" hospitals without the walls, "so large that they may pass for little towns; by this means, if they had ever such a number of sick, they could lodge them conveniently, and at sufficient distances to prevent contagion." No slaughter-houses permitted within the walls, no offal, no pestilential manufactures. In the country these restrictions were relaxed.
Fathers and grandfathers, sons and daughters-in-law, made one family, and lived under the same roof, like More's own family at Chelsea. In this respect no philosopher ever exemplified his own precepts more perfectly than More. And if we may accept the repeated and uniform assurances of his contemporaries—if the respect and affection of all his household, which accompanied him even to the scaffold, be any test—his own practice must have been the noblest proof of the sound wisdom of his theory. Englishmen and strangers admitted to his acquaintance testify to the peace, purity, love, courtesy, and refinement that reigned supreme in his family;—far more Utopian, when compared with what is known of the private lives of his contemporaries, than any household in Utopia itself.
Classes: laborers and gentlemen.
No wonder then that cheerfulness, regard to the welfare and happiness of others, gentleness and good nature, formed a very prominent part in the philosophy of the Utopians,—and these not merely as private but public virtues;—that on the same principle gambling, hunting, and field sports were disallowed, as pleasures purchased by the pain of inferior animals, and degenerating into brutality by frequent indulgence. (fn. 71) Closely connected with these feelings was the attention paid by the Utopians to the condition of the laboring classes, and their regulations to prevent the workman, skilled or unskilled, from being ground down to that hopeless wretchedness, which at last burst out into open rebellion here and on the continent.
"What justice is this," says Raphael, the imaginary traveller, "that a nobleman, a goldsmith, or a banker, or any other man that does nothing at all, should live in great luxury and splendor, and a carter, a smith, or a ploughman that works harder than the beasts themselves, and is employed in labors of such a nature that no commonwealth could exist for a year without them, should be able to earn so poor a livelihood, and lead so miserable a life, that the condition of the beasts is much better than his? For as the beasts do not work so constantly, feed almost as well and more pleasantly, have no anxiety for the future, these men, on the contrary, are crushed by a barren and profitless employment, and tormented with apprehensions of want in their old age. What they obtain by their daily labor serves only for their daily maintenance;—is consumed as fast as it comes in;—and no surplus is left them to lay up for old age. Is not that government unjust that takes no care of the meaner sort, and when they can no longer serve it, and are oppressed with age, sickness, and want, all the labors and good they have done are forgotten, and their only reward is to die in great misery? Add to this, all the richer sort are often endeavouring to bring the hire of laborers lower, not only by fraudulent practices, but by the laws which they procure to be made to that effect for regulating labor." (fn. 72)
Foreign policy. Treaties.
Nor is More less severe against the foreign policy of the governments of Europe; their utter carelessness in breaking treaties however solemnly ratified; their employment of mercenaries; the absence of all controlling power on the part of the popes, who rather imitated than denounced the pernicious practices of the secular rulers. "The Utopians," he says, "make no leagues as other nations do. What is the use of leagues? say they; do you think that a man will care for words whom natural affection fails to reconcile to his fellow man?" Then adds More with grave irony: "In Europe, and especially the parts about us where Christianity is received, the majesty of treaties is everywhere regarded as holy and inviolable, partly from the justice and goodness of kings, partly from the fear and reverence they feel for the sovereign Pontiffs; for as the latter never take engagements upon them which they do not religiously observe, so they enjoin upon all princes to abide by their promises at all hazards, and if they equivocate, subject them to ecclesiastical censures! For they justly consider it a most indecent thing, for them who claim the title of the faithful to show no faith in their treaties." Again, in illustration of this topic, More observes: if in their wars against their enemies other means fail, they sow the seeds of dissension among them, and set up the king's brother or some nobleman to aspire to the crown;" a remark which finds ample confirmation in these pages.—"Or," he continues, if domestic factions languish, they stir up against them the neighbouring nations; and rummaging out some old claims which are never wanting to princes, supply them abundantly with money for the war, but not with their own troops." Then follows a passage aimed so directly against the policy of England that I wonder More had the courage to insert it, only that as France pursued the same methods, unreflecting readers might not at once perceive how the arrow glanced from one nation to the other:—
"They hire soldiers from all places, but chiefly from the Zapoletæ (the Swiss); a hardy race, patient of heat, cold and labor; strangers to all delights, indifferent to agriculture, careless of their houses and their clothes, studious of nothing but their cattle. They live by hunting and plunder; born only for war, which they watch all opportunities of engaging in, they embrace it eagerly when offered, and are ready to serve any prince that will hire them, in great numbers. They know none of the arts of life, except how to take it away. They serve their employers actively and faithfully; but will bind themselves to no certain terms, and only agree on condition that next day they shall go over to the enemy if he promises larger pay, and veer back again the day after at a higher bidding. As war rarely arises in which a great part of them is not enlisted on both sides, it often happens that kinsmen and most intimate friends, hired from the same cantons, find themselves opposed, engage and kill one another, regardless of these ties, for no other consideration than that they have been hired to do so for a miserable pay, by princes of opposite interests; and they are so nice in demanding it that they will change sides for the advance of a halfpenny. And yet their wages are of no use to them, for they spend them immediately in low dissipation. They serve the Utopians against all the world, for they are the best paymasters. And as the Utopians look out for good men for their own use at home, they employ the greatest scoundrels abroad; and they think they do a great service to mankind by thus ridding the world of the entire scum of such a foul and nefarious population."
But it is time for me to bring these remarks to a close. If any one wishes to see the real condition of Europe at this period—the arbitrary rule of its monarchs, bent on their own aggrandizement, and careless of the improvement of their people—the disputes among their councillors, agreed in one point only, to flatter and mislead their sovereigns—the wide separation between the luxury of the rich and the hopeless misery of the poor—the prevalence of crime—the severe execution of justice, earnest for punishment, but regardless of prevention—the frequency of capital punishment—the depopulation of villages—the engrossing by a few hands of corn and wool—the scarcity of meat—the numbers of idle gentlemen without employment—of idle serving-men and retainers turned adrift on a life of vagabondism:—in short, whoever wishes to see society full of the elements of confusion, requiring only a small spark to fan them into a flame—may read with advantage the Utopia of Sir Thomas More.
This summary of events has extended further than I anticipated; partly from a wish that my readers might fully understand what they had to expect from the contents of this volume; partly because, from the indifference of modern historians to these materials, it might have been naturally supposed that they were either scanty or unimportant. What use has been made of them by writers of history the reader may determine for himself by a cursory glance down the margins of the pages. Perhaps out of the thousands here noticed a dozen or a score were known to Lord Herbert; about the same number to Strype and Burnet. Pinkerton had examined carefully the Scottish documents for his history which he found in the British Museum; Mr. Tytler followed Pinkerton. Modern English historians, generally satisfied to tread the old beaten paths with Foxe, Strype, and Burnet, have left these materials unexplored or picked out from them a few salient scraps, unconcerned to discover the great lessons they contain. And yet it might have been supposed, that if any period in the world's history required or would have repaid illustration, it was that period beyond all others when Francis I. ascended the throne; when Christendom under three young sovereigns was passing through its darkest hour of peril, from the mediæval to the modern ages; when kings, never so popular or so powerful, and never so closely identified with their people, were to leave the impressions of their conduct, for good and evil, on the nations committed to their charge, in characters not to be effaced for centuries.
I have, in conclusion, to acknowledge my numerous obligations to Mr. Gairdner of the Record Office. I cannot express my sense of his services more highly than I have already done in my previous volume; in the preparation of this they have not been less in number or importance. My thanks are also due to Mr. C. T. Martin, lately attached to this branch of the service.