« ElőzőTovább »
had long aspired, and which would have placed him on a level with the potentates of the earth. But this very year witnessed his disappointment; on the 19th of November, 1524, his rival, Julio de Medici, was elected to the Popedom, by the unanimous voices of the conclave, under the title of Clement the Seventh. Desirous to secure the faith and affection of the English king, he early despatched an ambassador to London, who was the bearer of a magnificent present, which the chroniclers vie with one another in describing. It was a consecrated rose, sent as a token to the king, and delivered to him after a solemn mass sung by the cardinal, on the festival of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin. It is described as a tree of fair gold, wrought with branches, leaves, and flowers, in imitation of roses. It grew in a pot of gold, having gold dust instead of earth, and was supported on an antique tripod of classic workmanship. The top rose was encircled by a sparkling sapphire loop, and the tree itself was about half a yard in height, and a foot in breadth. Fond as Henry was of magnificence, he was greatly flattered by this present-a feeling which was increased by the pope's sending him a confirmation of his title of Defender of the Faith. To Wolsey was sent a valuable ring, which the pontiff took from his own hand, regretting that he could not himself have the satisfaction of placing it on the finger of his eminence.
When we consider these demonstrations of extreme cordiality and affection, and also take into account the jealousy with which the cardinal and his royal master regarded the progress of Luther's opinions, which about this time had begun to infect the universities, and make an impression upon the people, nothing could appear more improbable, as far as human calculation is concerned, than that sudden and extraordinary revolution, which was so soon to change the destinies of England.
MISSION ΤΟ FRANCE-MORE
AS A CONTROVERSIALIST-THE SWEATING SICK-
Origin and progress of the Divorce-More appointed Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster-Wolsey's mission to France, the secret object of which is the promotion of the divorce-More accompanies Wolsey in his journey - Description of the cavalcade and the cardinal's magnificence-His interview with Archbishop Warham and Bishop Fisher-His reception at Canterbury-His instructions to his attendants on reaching Calais-His reception at Amiens by Francis the First-More and the rest of the suite introduced to the royal party-More returns with Wolsey to LondonDevotes himself to controversy-His motives for so doing-Refutation of Tindall-Anecdotes-England visited by the Sweating Sickness-Its salutary effect upon the mind of the king-Anne Boleyn is sent from the court-The cardinal makes his will-Henry follows his example-The sickness attacks the family of More-His daughter Margaret in danger, and restored by the prayers of her father-The sickness ceases-Anne recalled to court-More proceeds on an embassy to the Netherlands-Anecdote-Family disaster on More's return-His letter to his wife on the occasion.
As More's future history is closely connected with that disgraceful page in the English annals, the divorce of Henry the Eighth, it will, in passing, be necessary to glance at its progress. With the full and masterly exposure of this revolting affair in the pages of Dr. Lingard, the reader is no doubt familiar; it is a subject on which he has displayed
even more than his ordinary keenness of research. We shall content ourselves with a simple reference to documents, and particularly to the new and interesting materials afforded by the publication of the "State Papers."
Henry's licentious passions," we quote Sir J. Mackintosh," by a singular operation, recalled his mind to his theological studies, and especially to the question relating to the papal power of dispensing with the Levitical law, which must have been the subject of conversation at the time of his unusual, if not unprecedented, espousal of his brother's widow. Scruples, at which he had once cursorily glanced as themes of discussion, now borrowed life and warmth from his passions. In the course of examining the question, his assent was likely at last to be allured into the service of desire. The question was, in itself, easily disputable: it was one on which honest and skilful men differed; and it presented, to say the least, ample scope for self-delusion. His nature was more depraved than lawless (if that word may be so used); and it is possible that his passion might have yielded to other obstacles, if he had not at length persuaded himself, that, by means of a divorce, his gratification might he reconciled with the letter of the law. His conduct has the marks of that union of confidence and formality often observed in men, whose immorality receives treacherous aid from a mistaken conscience."
Henry was aware that some objections had been formerly raised to his marriage with Catharine: but the question had been set at rest by the unanimous decision of his council; and nearly twenty years had elapsed without a suspicion of the lawfulness of their union. But, all of a sudden, the king was induced to re-consider this subject; a scruple of conscience came over the royal mind; it was frightful to think that he might be living in a state of incest
with the relict of his brother.* Tremblingly alive to these delicate apprehensions, he opened his heart to Wolsey and others, from whom he was sure of receiving sound and wholesome advice. But does not the most unsuspicious of readers feel inclined to wonder at this sudden change in the royal mind? and to think it no sin to question the entire purity of Henry's motives? The following facts may furnish him with some solution to the king's misgivings of conscience.
In the service of the queen, and acting in capacity of one of her maids of honour, was a young lady of good family, remarkable for her accomplishments, and for the beauty of her person. Anne Boleyn had resided for several years in France, and had contracted many of the fashionable graces, not to say coquettish airs, of the French capital. These allurements were destined to prove fatal to Henry's honour as a husband and to his faith as a Catholic.t The precise date of his adulterous attachment to Anne Boleyn is not well ascertained; but the fol lowing items will serve as tolerably correct data.
In 1525, when she filled the situation of one of the maids of honour to Queen Catharine, Percy, son to the Earl of Northumberland, made her an offer of marriage, and was received as a suitor. Wolsey was ordered to separate the lovers; and Northumberland, having severely chided the presumption of his son, compelled him to marry Mary, a daughter of the Earl of Shrewsbury. This was probably the first hint that Anne received of the impression she had made on the king's heart: a valuable present of
O my Wolsey,
Would it not grieve a husband's heart to leave
So virtuous a spouse? But, conscience, conscience !-
It seems the marriage with his brother's wife
jewels revealed to her more fully the influence of her charms, to which she might also attribute the elevation of her father to the rank of Viscount Rochford. There also passed an active correspondence between the virtuous damsel and her married lover, and the admirers of such reading have lately been entertained by their publication.+
Wolsey's ruling passion was state-intrigue, and his eye was immediately turned to the political consequences that would follow a divorce. Catharine once out of the way, he might bring about an alliance between Henry and the daughter of the French king, and this would favour the great object of his ambition, the elevation to the papal throne. Imagine, therefore, his vexation and disappointment, when the astounding fact came to his knowledge of Henry's passion for Anne. He saw at a glance the power which the Boleyns and their connection would acquire by the elevation of their young and beautiful relative. He threw himself on his knees before the king, and earnestly entreated him to desist from a purpose so unworthy of his birth. But a few mo
In Nicholas's "Privy Purse Expenses of Henry VIII." are found the following curious entries of presents from the monarch to his mistress.
1528. Purple velvet, and stuff for the use of Anne Boleyn. December of the same year, 1807. in money-no trifle at that period. 1529. In April, her servant receives a recompense for finding a hare; and, in May, the tailor and skinner are paid for her dresses. Another entry mentions bows and arrows purchased for her. In November, twenty yards of crimson satin are sent her; in December eight guineas for badger-skins, or furs; on the 21st of the same month, twenty shillings in silver: the following day, fine linen for her person, accompanied by five pounds. On the 23d, five pounds more; on the 30th one hundred pounds as a new year's gift, &c.
+ It is a curious fact, that the autographs of these letters found their way to Rome, where they are still preserved among the MSS. of the Vatican. They were transcribed a few years since, and published in a number of the "Pamphleteer." A learned historian, the professed admirer and apologist of Henry VIII., has commented on these letters with a gravity, that singularly contrasts with the revolting character of the subject. His devotion to the royal writer blinds him altogether to those indelicacies in these letters which have shocked the sensibilities of Dr. Lingard and others.-See Sharon TURNER's Hist. of Henry VIII.