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MORE IN THE TOWER-PROJECT OF HIS DAUGHTER OF MRS. ALING
TON AND MARGARET-PRIVATE EXAMINATIONS OF MORE IN THE TOWER-HIS TRIAL-DEFENCE -REPLY TO RICH-HIS SENTENCE-INTERROGATORIES PUT TO HIM AFTER HIS TRIAL-HIS EXECUTION.
More in the Tower-His firmness and resignation-Margaret's singular project for obtaining admission to her father-More's letter to her on the subject-Their interview-More's wife and family obtain access to him-Alice's conversation-Letter of Mrs. Alington to Margaret -Her account of a visit from the new chancellor-Her exertions in behalf of More-Margaret to Mrs. Alington-Account of her visit to her father-Shows him Mrs. Alington's letter, and his comments thereon-Margaret acknowledges to her father her having taken the oath, and reasons with him on the subject-More's communication with Bishop Fisher, and Dr. Wilson-It reaches the ear of the council and excites their suspicions-More is deprived of his books, papers, and writing materials-Anecdote-He is compelled to write his communications, &c. with a coal-He is privately examined by the council-His account of the same in a letter to Margaret-Execution of Reynolds and his companions-More is brought to trial in the Court of King's Bench, Westminster-His appearance after his imprisonment-His answer to the long and complicated indict ment drawn out against him-Proves its insufficiency-Rich's treachery, and More's reproof-He is found guilty-His unreserved statement of his sentiments on the Supremacy-His sentence mitigated into decapitation-Anecdote-Affecting scene between Mar
garet and her father-Interrogatories administered to him after his trial-His firmness, piety, and resignation-His last letter to Margaret-He receives notice to prepare for death-His gaiety to the last-Execution-Burial-Character.
We are now touching on the period that is to terminate the career of the illustrious subject of our memoir. During the first month More's confinement in the Tower was rigorous; no member of his family, not even his beloved Margaret, being permitted to have access to him; "and yet,' says Cresacre, "not for one moment did his wonted cheerfulness forsake him, as we afterwards learned from his warder." But though denied the happiness of seeing her father, yet, with a feeling worthy of such a daughter, Margaret had written him the following letter, and contrived to have it conveyed to his solitary abode.
"Mine own good Father!-It is to me no little comfort, since I cannot talk with you by such means as I would, at the least way to delight myself in this bitter time of your absence, by such means as I may, by as often writing to you as shall be expedient, and by reading again and again your most fruitful and delectable letter, the faithful messenger of your very virtuous and ghostly mind, rid from all corrupt love of worldly things, and fast knit only in the love of God and desire of heaven, as becometh a very true worshipper and a faithful servant of God. He, I doubt not, good Father, holdeth his holy hand over you, and shall as he hath done, preserve you both body and soul, (ut sit mens sana in corpore sano); and namely, now when you have abjected all earthly consolations, and for his love resigned yourself will ingly, gladly, and fully to his holy protection. Father, what think you hath been our comfort since your de
* Animus æquus optimum est ærumnæ condimentum. Plautus. For equanimity's a seasoning
Can make the bitterest fortune palatable.
parting from us? Surely, the experience we have have had of your life past, and godly conversation, and wholesome counsel, and virtuous example, and a surety not only of the continuance of the same, but also a great increase, by the goodness of our Lord, to the great rest and gladness of your heart, devoid of all earthly dregs and garnished with the noble vesture of heavenly virtues, a pleasant palace for the Holy Spirit of God to rest in, who defend you (as I doubt not, good Father, but of his goodness he will) from all trouble of mind and of body; and give me, your most loving obedient daughter and handmaid, and all of us your children and friends, to follow that which we praise in you, and to our only comfort remember, and, coming together of you, that we may in conclusion meet with you, mine own dear Father, in the bliss of Heaven, to which our most merciful Lord hath brought us with his precious blood.
"Your own most loving obedient daughter and beadswoman Margaret Roper, who desireth above all worldly things to be in John a Wood's stead, to do you some service. But we live in hope that we shall shortly receive you again. I pray God heartily we may, if it be his holy will."
To this letter Margaret obtained no answer. Her father, anxious as he felt to acknowledge this testimony of love, was too closely watched to be able to reply. The pain of disappointment sharpened her invention, and ingenuity devised what ordinary calculation would have have failed to discover. In hours of severest trial, woman has often shown herself possessed of resources denied to him who claims to be her superior. Of this truth did Margaret, in the instance before us, exhibit a very striking example. The pious yearnings of a daughter's heart were to be satisfied, and love devised the means, daring, if not desperate, as they might appear to a less resolute spirit. Her father's whole soul was known to her, and of his inflexible principles respecting the
question of the Supremacy, she was fully aware; and yet it was on that very point that her device turned in order to gain access to the father she so fondly and so devotedly loved. But how was this difficult and hazardous project to be accomplished? and yet accomplished it was, and with more than a politician's address, for she outwitted the subtle Crumwell himself. Let Rastell tell the story. "After Sir Thomas had been in prison a month's space, or so, his daughter Margaret, anxiously desiring to see him, wittily invented this craft.-She wrote a letter, wherein she seemed to labour to persuade him to take the oath, and sent it to her father, nothing doubting that it would be intercepted and carried to Crumwell, and that it would be the means of gaining her access to her father and the sleight succeeded.
Cresacre's account of the matter is as follows: "Margaret Roper sent her father a letter wherein she seemed somewhat to labour to persuade him to take the oath (though she nothing so thought) to win thereby credence with master Thomas Crumwell, that she might the rather get liberty to have free resort to her father (which she only had) during the greater time of his imprisonment." This draws forth from Sir J.Mackintosh, the following reflection: "It would be blameable to seek for bad motives in the case of so merciful an alleviation of punishment, as the King's license for Margaret Roper to resort to her father in the Tower.”
While we admire the humanity that dictated this sentence, we are obliged to confess that the claims of truth are imperative, and must take the precedency of every other feeling, however amiable in itself. Truth, then, compels us to confess, that such" bad motives" did operate in the instance before us; and that, in order to gain his ends, Crumwell did not scruple to tamper with a daughter's tenderest feelings, in order to convert them into an undue influence over the mind of a parent,
and that this was made the price of her permission to visit her father.
More being, of course, unaware of his daughter's motive in writing him such a letter, returns her an answer full of rebuke, and yet breathing the most tender affection, and bespeaking the most delicate regard for her judgment.
More to his daughter Margaret.
Our Lord bless you!-If I had not been, my dearly beloved daughter, at a firm and fast point, I trust in God's great mercy, this good great while before, your lamentable letter had not a little abashed me, surely far above all other things, of which I hear diverse times not a few terrible towards me. But surely they all touched me never so near, nor were so grievous unto me, as to see you, my well beloved child, in such vehement piteous manner, labour to persuade unto me the thing wherein I have, of pure necessity for respect unto mine own soul, so often given you so precise answer before. Wherein as touching the points of your letter, I can make none answer. For I doubt not that you well remember that the matters which move my conscience, (without declaration whereof I can nothing touch the points,) I have sundry times shewed you that I will disclose them to no man. And therefore, daughter Margaret, I can in this thing no further, but like as you labour me again to follow your mind, to desire and pray you both again to leave off such labour, and with my former answers to hold yourself content.* A deadly grief unto me, and much more deadly than to hear of mine own death (for the fear thereof, I thank Our Lord, the fear of hell, the hope of heaven, and the passion
Rastell records this trait in his cousin Margaret's character, -"She could give the very best of counsel, and follow it tooa thing very rare in a woman!" Margaret had taken the oath with this condition annexed-in so far as it was agreeable with the law of God."