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Court of King's Bench, by which it was ultimately decided, "That Cardinal Wolsey was out of the king's protection, his lands, goods, and chattels forfeited, and that his person might be seized." On the same day it was intimated to him that the king meant to take up his residence at York-place, and that he might retire to Esher, a seat belonging to the bishopric of Winchester. That the very name of the Cardinal of York might, as far as possible, be obliterated, Hall informs us, that "the name of the place was changed; it was called the King's Manor of Westminster, and no longer York-place." Is not the hand of Mademoiselle Anne visible here too?
These combined mortifications plunged the poor cardinal into despair. He knew the stern temper of his prosecutor, and all that he had to dread from the ill-omened"night-bird"-to use his own expression, that possessed the royal ear. He resigned the seals to the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk, and transferred by deed his whole personal estate, which was valued at 500,000 crowns, to the king. Every resource of malice had been exhausted to add to his mortification. The news of his disgrace had been officiously circulated through the metropolis, so that on entering his barge he was surprised to behold the Thames covered with boats, and lined with spectators. Both the courtiers and the citizens had crowded together to behold his arrest and commitment to the Tower: but he disappointed their curiosity and their hopes, and landed at Putney, on ascending the hill near which place occurred the scene we have before had occasion to describe. (See above, p. 62.)
Among the lessons taught by history to the pride of our nature, there are few more humbling than that of the latter days of Wolsey. Though it carries us somewhat from the course of our narrative, the reader who has gazed at this extraordinary man in the zenith of his greatness, will be anxious to know how he comported himself in his state of destitution-for, to the shame of his persecutors be it spoken, to such a
state was he reduced. Hear what he says in a letter to Bishop Gardiner.
My house is in decay, and with everything mete for household unprovided and unfurnished, I have not apparel for my house, nor money to bring me thither [to York] nor to live with till the propitious time of the year shall come round to remove thither. These things considered, Mr. Secretary, must needs make me in agony and heaviness; mine age therewith and sickness considered. Alas! Mr. Secretary, you, with other my lords, showed me that I should be otherwise furnished and seen unto. And if ye would please to show this to the king, it is not to be doubted but his highness would have consideration and compassion, augmenting my living, and appointing such things as should be convenient for my furniture; which to do, shall be to the king's high honour, merit, and discharge of conscience; and to you great praise for the bringing of the same to pass, for your old bringer-up and loving friend. This kindness from the king's highness shall prolong my life some little while, though it shall not be long. Remember, good Mr. Secretary, my poor degree, and what service I have done and how, now approaching to death, I have to begin the world again. I beseech you, therefore, moved with pity and compassion, succour me in this my calamity, and to your power, which I know is great, relieve me; and I, with all mine, shall not only ascribe this my relief to you, but also pray God for the increase of your honour. And as my power shall increase, so I shall not fail to requite your kindness.* Written hastily at Esher, with the rude and shaking hand of your daily bedesman and assured friend."
In a letter to Cromwell, of nearly the same date, he says: "If his majesty, considering the little time that I have to live here in this world, by reason of
*In this little trait we see the ruling passion of the ex-minister strong to the last. In his veriest destitution, the courtier breaks forth as active as ever.
such heaviness as I have conceived in my heart, with the meanness and decay of the old house, would that I may have some convenient pension, such as the king's highness of his noble charity shall think mete. God is my judge, that I have no desire for the mire of this world, for, at this hour, I set no more by the riches and promotions of this world, than by the dust under my feet; but only for the declaration of the king's honour and high charity, and to have wherewith to do good deeds, and to help my poor servants and kinsfolk. At the reverence, therefore, of God, my own good Mr. Secretary, and my refuge, now set to your hand that I may come to a laudable end and repose, seeing that I may be furnished after such a sort and manner that I may end my short time and life to the honour of Christ's church, and of the prince. Written at Esher, with the trembling hand and heavy heart of your assured lover and bedesman."
The Bishop of Bayonne, in a letter to the French minister in Paris, thus describes his visit to the fallen cardinal. “I have been to visit Wolsey in his distress, and have witnessed the most striking change of fortune. He detailed to me his hard fortune in the worst rhetoric that was ever heard. Both his tongue and his heart failed him. He recommended himself to the pity of the king and Madame (Francis I. and his mother,) with a world of sighs and tears: but, after all, there was nothing he said near so moving as his look and appearance. His face is dwindled to one half of its natural size. In truth his misery is such, that his enemies, Englishmen as they are, cannot help pitying him. They seem determined to carry things to extremities. As for his legation, the seals, his authority, &c. he thinks no more of them. He is willing to give up every thing, even the very shirt from his back, and to end his days in a hermitage, would but the king desist from his displeasure." He says in another place, "I see no hope for the cardinal; the Duke of Norfolk
is chief of the council, and in his absence Suffolk, and above all, Mademoiselle Anne rules the cabinet."*
"Greatness," said Sir Thomas Overbury, half a century later, "comes not down by the same way it went up the distance between the highest and the lowest fortune being often so very small a thing!"
"The sudden and violent fall of a man from the pinnacle of greatness to an unexpected grave, is one of those tragic scenes in human affairs, which has a power over the heart, even when unaided by esteem; and often reflects back on his life an unmerited interest, which, though inspired by the downfal, is in some degree transferred to the fallen individual."Sir J. Mackintosh.
To appoint a successor to Wolsey in the Chancery, was an object of great importance; and, after some deliberation, this important and responsible office was conferred upon Sir Thomas More. The Duke of Norfolk became president of the cabinet, and the Duke of Suffolk, earl marshal; Sir William Fitzwilliam received the appointments that More had held, and Dr. Stephen Gardiner was made secretary to the king. Anne Boleyn's father, soon after created Earl of Wiltshire, retained his former place.
"It may justly excite surprise," observes Dr. Lingard, "that More should accept this dangerous office. With a delicate conscience, and a strong sense of duty, he was not a fit associate for less timorous colleagues: the difficulties, which in the course of two years compelled him to retire from court, must, even now, have stared him in the face: and it was still in his power to avoid, but uncertain if he could weather the storm." Had the following
* Cresacre speaks out in the honest simplicity of his day. "To what a strange pass was Henry brought by doating on Anne Boleyn! and yet, God knows, she had no qualities whereof he should so doat upon her, as evidently appeared when, for foul matters, he after a short time cut off her head, and proclaimed himself in open parliament to be a cuckold. This he never had been, if he had kept himself to his first virtuous queen, Catharine:" and he feelingly adds, "we see and feel these miseries as yet."
passage from a letter of More to Dr. Wilson been present to the historian's mind at the time he wrote the above, we think he would have somewhat qualified the passage. More says, that on entering upon office, no other commandment had I ever of his grace in good faith, saving that this knot his highness added thereto, that I should therein look first unto God, and after God unto him; which word was also the first lesson that his grace gave me what time I first came into his noble service, and neither a more indifferent commandment, nor a more gracious lesson could ever king, in my mind, give his counsellor, or any his other servant." Rastell has the following reflection on this subject: "When we consider that Wolsey never truly loved him, nor that the king could conceive any great hope that he would be corrupted to speak against what was good and just, it was strange to see More thus advanced. It was, doubtless, the providence of God that so appointed it, that so great a light should not be concealed under a bushel, but shine to all within the house."
The particulars of his instalment are not unworthy of being specified, as a proof of the reverence for his endowments and excellences professed by the king, and entertained by the public, to whose judgment the ministers of Henry seemed virtually to appeal, with an assurance that the king's appointment would be ratified by the general voice.* "He was led be
*It is rare to detect an inaccuracy in Lingard; Hume and others have led him into the following: "There were few instances in which the seals had been entrusted to any but dignified churchmen, none in which they had been given to a simple knight. On this account, he was accompanied to the Star-chamber by a crowd of bishops and noblemen, and the Duke of Norfolk conducting him to his seat, pronouncing an eulogium on his talents and virtues," &c.
The following instances where simple knights have been honoured with the chancellorship are upon record :
In 16th of Edward 3d, A.D. 1342, Sir Robert Bourchier, knight, was made chancellor. In 1372, the same monarch raised Sir Robert de Thorp, knight, to the same office. In 1379, Richard II. made Sir Richard de la Scrope chancellor. In 1383, Sir Michael de la Pole had the great seal delivered to him by the same monarch. In 1410, in the reign of Henry IV., Sir Thomas Beaufort, knight, was made lord chancellor.