Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

the other, I would be sore afraid to lean to mine own mind only against so many. But on the other side, if it so be that in some things for which I refuse the oath, I have, as I think I have, upon my part as great a council and a greater too, I am not then bounden to change my conscience, and conform it to the council of one realm, against the general council of Christendom. Upon this master Secretary, as he that tenderly favoureth me, said and swore a great oath, that he had rather that his own only son (which is of truth a goodly young gentleman, and shall I trust come to much worship) had lost his head, than that I should thus have refused the oath. For surely the king's highness would now conceive a great suspicion against me, and think that the matter of the nun of Canterbury was all contrived by my drift. To which I said, that the contrary was true and well known. And whatsoever should mish me, it lay not in my power to help it without the peril of my soul. Then did my lord chancellor repeat before me my refusal unto master secretary, as one that was going unto the king's grace. And in the rehearsing, his lordship repeated again that I denied not but was content to swear unto the succession. Whereunto I said, that as for that point I would be content, so that I might see my oath in that point so framed, in such a manner as might stand with my conscience. Then said my lord : Marry! master secretary, mark that too; that he will not swear that neither, but under some cer. tain manner.' • Verily, no, my lord,' quoth I, but that I will see it made in such wise first, as I shall myself see, that I shall neither be forsworn, nor swear against my conscience. Surely as to swear to the succession I see no peril. But I thought and think it reason that to mine own oath I look well myself, and be of counsel also in the fashion, and never intended to swear for a piece, and set my hand to the whole oath. . Howbeit, so help me God, as touching the whole path, I never withdrew any man from

it, nor ever advised any to refuse it, nor ever put nor will put any scruple in any man's head, but leave every one to his own conscience. And methinketh, in good faith, that so were it good reason that every man should leave me to mine."

During the time that Sir Thomas remained in the custody of the abbot of Westminster, the king consulted with his council as to the best measures to be taken with him. It is to the credit of Cranmer, that at this critical moment, he interposed in behalf of Sir Thomas and Bishop Fisher. He wrote the following letter to Crumwell, which as being an unequivocal testimony of the estimation in which More and his opinions were held, demands a place here.

Archbishop Cranmer to Secretary Crumwell. Right worshipful Mr. Crumwell :-After most hearty commendations, &c., I doubt not but that you do right well remember, that my lord of Rochester and Mr. More were content to be sworn to the act of the king's succession, but not to the preamble of the

What was the cause of their refusal thereof I am uncertain, and they would by no means express the same. Nevertheless, it must needs be, either the diminution of the authority of the bishop of Rome, or else the reprobation of the king's first pretended matrimony.

But if they do absolutely persist in their opinions of the preamble, yet me seemeth it should not be refused, if they will be sworn to the very act of succession; so that they will be sworn to maintain the same against all powers and potentates. For hereby shall be a great occasion to satisfy the Princess Dowager, and the lady Mary, who do think that they should damn their souls if they should abandon and relinquish their estates. And not only it should stop the mouths of them, but also of the emperor and other their friends, if they give as much credence to my lord of Rochester and Mr. More speaking or doing

same,

against them, as they hitherto have done, and thought that others should have done, when they spake and did with them. And peradventure, it would be a good quietation to many others within this realm, if such men should say, that the succession comprised within the said act, is good according to God's laws. For then I think there is not one within this realm who could ever reclaim against it.

And whereas diverse persons, either of a wilfulness will not, or of an indurate and invertable conscience cannot, alter from their opinions of the king's first pretended marriage (wherein they have once said their minds, and for ever have a persuasion in their head, that, if they should now vary therefrom, their fame and estimation were distained for ever), or else of the authority of the bishop of Rome : yet, if all the realm, with one accord, would apprehend the said succession, in my judgment it is a thing to be embraced. Which thing, although I trust surely in God that it shall be brought to pass, yet hereunto might not a little avail the consent and oaths of these two persons, the Bishop of Rochester and Mr. More, with their adherents, or rather confederates. And if the King's pleasure so were, their said oaths might be suppressed, but [except] when and where His Highness might take some commo. dity by the publishing of the same. Thus our Lord have you ever in his conservation. From my manor at Croydon, the 17th day of April. Your own assured ever

THOMAS CANTUAR.

But this judicious advice was not followed. There was an influence behind the throne, more powerful than the throne itself, and it prevailed against feel. ing and justice. Let us hear Roper upon this point. A disposition was at first shown to discharge Sir Thomas, upon his taking an oath, in which the matter of the Supremacy was not to appear; and it

would have been done, had not Anne Boleyn, and her party, by their importunate clamours so sorely exasperated the King against him, that, contrary to his former resolution, he caused the said oath of Supremacy to be administered to him. When the authorities came to tender it, he excused himself in a discreet and respectful manner; but the command was imperative. On his ultimate refusal, orders arrived for his committal to the Tower, to which be was accordingly conveyed on Friday the 17th of April, in the custody of Sir Richard Southwell."

They entered a boat, and proceeded down the river to the place of destination. On their way, Sir Richard, pointing to the gold chain which More had about his neck, took the liberty of dropping a hint as to the precaution of his sending it home to his wife, or to one of his daughters. Nay, Sir," said More, with his accustomed vivacity, “that I will never do. As I am a knight, I would not have it said that when my enemies took me in the field, they did not fare the better for their prize.” On their landing, they found the Lieutenant was ready at the Tower gate to receive them; and on reaching the lodge, the porter, according to the unfeeling usage of the time, demanded his perquisite of office, which consisted of the prisoner's upper garment. good Master Porter,” said Sir Thomas," here it is," taking off his cap, and observing; " Here is my up; permost piece of dress, and sorry I am it is no better.' Cerberus, however, was not to be soothed by a sop like this; “ Sir,” quoth be, “I must have your gown”—and his gown he had.

“Marry; tend him. The man's name was John a Wood, who could neither read nor write. Care was, however, taken to swear him, that if he should see or hear any thing spoken or written against the King, the council, or the state of the realm, he should immediately reveal it to the Lieutenant. When More was shown by that officer to his apartment, and treated with all the delicacy his situation would allow, he turned to him, and with all that elasticity of mind which nothing could destroy, observed : “ Ġood Master Lieutenant, methinks I shall have no reason to mislike my fare; but whenever I do, don't spare me, I beg of you, but thrust me at once out of your doors.”

He was allowed to have one of his servants to at

* Sir Richard Southwell was the father of Robert Southwell, the Jesuit, who was a martyr to his faith under Elizabeth (1595); and whose admirable productions, both in prose and verse, have been the delight of men of taste, of every creed. A future number of The CATHOLIC FAMILY LIBRARY will make our readers acquainted with his Life and Writings, and with the memorable epoch in which he flourished

« ElőzőTovább »