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of Christ daily more and more assuage,) is, that I perceive my good son your husband, and you my good daughter, and my good wife, and mine other good children and innocent friends, in great displeasure and danger of great harm thereby. The let [hindrance] whereof while it lieth not in my hand, I can no further but commit all to God. Nam in many Dei, (saith the Scripture) cor regis est, et sicut divisiones aquarum, quocunque voluerit impellit illud.For the heart of the king is in the hand of God, and like the waves of the sea, he impels it wherever he will. Whose high goodness I humbly beseech to incline the noble heart of the king's highness to the tender favour of you all, and to favour me no better than God and myself know that my faithful heart towards him and my daily prayer for him do deserve. For surely if his highness might inwardly see my true mind such as God knoweth it is, it would (I trust) somewhat assuage his high displeasure. Which while I can in this world never in such wise show, but that his grace may be persuaded to believe the contrary of me, I can no further go, but put all in the hands of Him, for fear of whose displeasure, for the safeguard of my soul, stirred by mine own conscience, (without insectation or reproach laying to any other man's,) I suffer and endure this trouble. Out of which I beseech him to bring me, when his will shall be, into his endless bliss of heaven, and in the mean while, give me grace, and you both, in all our agonies and troubles, devoutly to resort prostrate unto the remembrance of that bitter agony, which our Saviour suffered before his passion at the Mount. And if we diligently so do, I verily trust we shall find therein great comfort and consolation. And thus, my dear daughter, the blessed spirit of Christ, by his tender mercy govern and guide you all, to his pleasure and your wealth and comfort both of body and soul. Your tender loving Father,
THOMAS MORE, KNIGHT.
It was towards the close of May, when Margaret obtained the accomplishment of her earnest desire, for which she had so boldly and so successfully struggled. No sooner was the door opened to her father's apartment, than in an instant she was in his arms, and clung round his neck in a long and silent embrace. More then fell on his knees, and his daughter following his example, joined him in those acts of devotion, with which he sanctified all his actions; and which, in the present instance, served to restore that calm of mind which the sudden entrance of her he loved first and best had for a moment disturbed. Then rising, and once again embracing his daughter, he looked fondly upon her, and said in his usual cheerful tone: "Well, I verily believe, Meg, that they who have put me here, ween they have done me a high displeasure. But I assure thee, on my faith, mine own good daughter, if it had not been for my wife, and ye who be my children, I should not have failed long ere this to have been enclosed in as straight a room, and straighter too. But, since I am come hither without my own desert, I trust that God of his goodness will discharge me of my care, and with his gracious help supply my lack among ye. I find no cause, I thank God, Meg, to reckon myself in worse case here than at home; for methinks God maketh me a wanton, and setteth me on his lap and dandleth me."
When Margaret prepared to leave the prison, he placed in her hand the following note to his family, which she secreted in her bosom :
TO MY LOVING FRIENDS:-Forasmuch as being in prison, I cannot tell what need I may have, or of what necessity I may hap to stand in, I heartily beseech you all, that if my well-beloved daughter, Margaret
Deep joys and griefs to the same issue come:
Roper, who alone of all my friends hath, by the king's gracious favour, license to resort to me, should anything desire of any of you, of such things as I may hap to need, that it may like you less to regard and tender it, than if I moved it unto you, and required it of you, personally present myself. And I beseech all to for me, and I shall pray you pray you. Your faithful lover and poor beadsman, THOMAS MORE, KNIGHT, Prisoner.
Margaret must have looked upon this little document as an additional proof of the depth of her father's regard and confidence.
Some short time after Margaret's visit to her father, his wife and the rest of his family obtained permission to see him. Alice, as we have already had occasion to remark, was an excellent housewife, but she was a stranger to that dignity, not to say delicacy of character, which we are taught to look for in the wife of such a man. To use Cresacre's language: "at her first entrance to his chamber, like a plain good woman, and somewhat worldly too, she thus bluntly saluted him; Why, Mr. More, I marvel much that you, who have hitherto been taken for a wise man, will now so play the fool, as to lie here in this close filthy prison, and be content to be shut up with mice and rats (and here she turned up her nose), when you might be abroad at your liberty, with the favour and good-will both of the king and the council, if you would but do as all the bishops and best learned men of his realm have done." She then
enlarged upon his "right fair house at Chelsea, his library, books, gallery, garden, and orchard, and the being merry in company with me your good wife, your children, and household; and raising her voice at the conclusion, she thus added: Yea, in God's name, I muse what you mean by still fondly tarrying here!' More bore it all in his usual kindly and playful way, contriving always to blend religious feelings
with his quaintness and humour. Why, good Alice,' said he, with that winning smile of his which nothing could repress, tell me one thing'-' And pray what is that? said she. Is not this house as near Heaven as mine own?' She answered him in her customary exclamation of contempt; 'Oh, tilly vally, tilly vally!' He treated her harsh language as a wholesome exercise for his patience, and replied with equal mildness, though with more gravity, How, say'st thou, Alice? Is it not so indeed?'' Bone Deus! man,' was Alice's hasty reply; 'will this gear [matter] be never given over ? Nay then, Alice," continued More, if it be so, I see no great cause why I should joy in my fair house, or in any thing belonging thereunto, when if I should have been buried in my grave but seven years, and rise and come hither again, I should not fail to find some therein that would bid me get out of doors and tell me plainly it were none of mine. What cause, then, have I to like such a house, as would so soon forget its master!' Alice was a testy soul, but she did not want feeling, and these allusions had the effect of subduing her spirit. More perceived the effect of his words, and patting her on the cheek-Now, good mistress Alice,' said he, do tell me how long you think one might live to enjoy this house of ours? -Perhaps some twenty years.'-' Well now, my good Alice, if you had said some thousand, nay some hundred years even, it had been somewhat; and yet he were a very bad calculator that would risk the losing of an eternity for some hundred or thousand years. But what, if we are not sure of enjoying our possessions a single day?' Thus it was that More's habitual good-humour never forsook him, and nothing, to use Cresacre's remark, "could be a surer proof that all was at ease from within.'"
He might have said but seven months," adds Cresacre in a pa renthesis.
And here, is would be unjust not to allege in excuse for Alice, that she was not without cause for being out of humour. Right fair as was her house at Chelsea," that evil genius the res angusta domiwant and her attendant ills, had taken up their abode within its once happy walls. This we gather from the following letter, which accident has preserved, and which tells the tale more effectually than whole pages could do.
Mistress Alice More to Secretary Crumwell.
To the Right Honourable, and her especial good master. Master Secretary-In my most humble wise I recommend me to your good mastership, acknowledging myself to be most deeply bounden to you, for your manifold goodness and loving favour, before this time, and now daily shown towards my poor husband and me. I pray Almighty God, to continue your goodness so still, for thereupon hangeth the greatest part of my poor husband's comfort and mine. The cause of my writing at this time, is to certify your especial good mastership of my great and extreme necessity; who, on and besides the charge of mine own house, do pay weekly fifteen shillings for the board-wages of my poor husband and his servant,* for the maintaining whereof, I have been compelled, of very necessity, to sell part of my own apparel, for lack of other substance to make money of. Where
fore my most humble petition and suit to your mastership, at this time, is to desire your advice and counsel, whether I may be so bold as to attend upon the king's most gracious highness. I trust there is no doubt in this case of any impediment; for the young man, being a ploughman, had been diseased with the ague for the space of three weeks before he departed. And besides this, it is now five weeks since it departed, and no other person diseased in the house
* A curious fact is here disclosed, that the state prisoners at the period in question were supported at the expense of their own families.