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199 It stands among pleasant meadows near the banks of the river, and was built by Robert, Earl of Leicester, in the reign of Henry the First. Many great men presided over it; and here that haughty statesman and proud ecclesiastic, Cardinal Wolsey, ended his days under the displeasure of his mcnarch, Henry the Eighth. In his last agony he regretted that he had not served God with the fidelity he had used towards his royal master! Our inimitable Shakespear has drawn the fall of Wolsey with exquisite beauty:
O Cromwell! Cromwell!
The history of this man is of too singular a nature not to demand some attention. CARDINAL Wolsey was born at Ipswich, 1471. Common tradition says he was the son of a butcher, though our best historians simply assure us that he was descended of poor but honest parents. His first preferment was to the Rectory of Lymington, where his conduct was so bad, that, it is said, Sir Amias Paulet, a Justice of the Peace, set him in the stocks for being drunk, and raising a disturbance at a fair in the neighbourhood! But the knight had reason to repent of the measure; for Wolsey, being made Chancellor, repaid him by five or six years' imprisonment. By the use of flattering arts this ecclesiastic passed through a variety of preferments. In March, 1514, he was made Bishop
CARDINAL WOLSEY. of Lincoln.- November following, Archbishop of York.—September, 1515, Cardinal of St. Cicely, by the interest of the King of England. The King likewise bestowed upon him the rich Abbey of St. Alban's, and the Bishopric of Durham, and afterwards that of Winchester ; and with these he held in farm the Bishoprics of Bath, Worcester, and Hereford, enjoyed by foreign incumbents. From all these preferments, together with presents and pensions from foreign princes, his annual income exceeded the revenues of the crown! In this capacity also he kept 800 servants, among whom were nine or ten lords, fifteen knights, and forty esquires ! Wolsey aspired to the Popedom, but without success. About this time, however, such is the uncertainty of all human greatness, he lost all favour at Court. In this reverse of fortune he was obliged to retire to his Archbishopric at York, where, having remained for a time, he was arrested on the charge of High Treason. On the third day after his having left York, in his progress towards London, he reached Leicester Abbey. Here the Abbot and the whole convent came out to meet him with reverence, but the Cardinal only said, “ Father Abbot, I am come to lay my bones among you !" His words were verified; for, expiring four days after, November 29, 1530, he was buried in one of the abbey chapels. He lay some time, however, in an oaken coffin, with his face uncovered, for public inspection. As to his person, Wolsey was tall and comely, graceful in his air and manners, but having a defect in one of his
High Tra time, he
er his ne
201 eyes, he, with a view to hide the blemish, was always painted in profile. In prosperity Wolsey was proud, arrogant, and haughty; in adversity, mean, abject, and cowardly. His vices were of that cast which disgrace the character of a prelate. At the same time his virtues were of the public kind, for he promoted and encouraged literature. He patronized the polite and useful arts, and, in general, was a friend to the poor. Indeed he was a great but not a good man. In his political character he displayed abilities, and it is acknowledged that England was rendered formidable to all the powers of Europe during his administration.*
The Ruins of this ABBEY, in the vicinity of Leicester, have a fine appearance at a distance, and are in themselves impressive. They proclaim its former magnificence; they remind us of the pomp and grandeur of its possessors, now gone down to the dust; they shew us the decay to which sublunary objects are destined, in spite of every effort to rescue them from the all-devouring gulf of oblivion :
'Tis now the raven’s bleak abode,
And level lays the lofty brow, * See the British Plutarch, in six volumes, 8vo. enlarged and re-edited by the Rev. Francis Wrangham-it is a treasure of Biography.
Such, my young friend, is my sketch of Leicester, which I trust you will peruse, as well as the former part of the letter, with that candour to which the director of your youthful studies is entitled.
I am, dear Sir,
* More respecting Wolsey will be found in my excursion to Windsor article HAMPTON COURT.
WOUNT SORREL ; QUORN; LOUGHBOROUGH; NOTTINGHAM; EX
CURSION INTO DERBYSHIRE ; ALFRETON; STORY OF A ROMAN LADY; MATLOCK DALE; COTTON MILL; SIR RICHARD ARK WRIGHT; MATLOCK ; ITS SPRINGS ; ITS ROMANTIC SITUATION; CUMBERLAND CAVERN; CHATSWORTH HOUSE; ITS GARDENS AND WATER-WORKS; BAK EWELL; AADDON HALL; KING OF THE PEAK; VERNON FAMILY.
MY DEAR YOUNG FRIEND, FROM the town of Leicester I passed on to Loughborough, through Mount Sorrel and Quorn, two places which recommend themselves by their situation. Mount Sorrel is a small town, standing at the foot of a hill, and Quorn is a populous village, with some agreeable spots in its vicinity. Two gentlemen, who live in the village, accompanied me to the top of a neighbouring eminence, whence we enjoyed a prospect of the adjacent country.
Loughborough is situated on the banks of the river Soar, over which it has a stone bridge. It stands on the borders of Charwood Forest, being surrounded by, meadows and well cultivated fields. In the time of the Saxons it was a royal town, and its church is a Gothic structure of antiquity.
On the road to Nottingham I passed through a village, in which. I spied a school, with this motto over the door :
“ Disce, vel Discede!'”