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ments' reflection upon the temper of his impetuous master, made him hasten to atone for the indiscretion into which he had suffered himself to be betrayed. He at once became a convert to a measure which he could not avert, and laboured by redoubled activity and zeal, to atone for the crime of having dared to dispute the pleasure of his sovereign.
Knowing that More had given much of his attention to theological studies, it is natural to conjecture that the king would be anxious for his opinion on his "secret matter,' as it was termed. The first revealings of this affair made to Sir Thomas are found in one of his letters to Cromwell. We will quote a part:
Upon a time, at my coming from beyond sea [from the embassy to the Netherlands], I repaired, as my duty was, to the king's grace, who was at that time at Hampton Court. While walking in the gallery with me, his highness suddenly brake with me on his great matter; and showed me, that it was now perceived, that his marriage was not only against the positive laws of the church and the written law of God, but also so far against the law of nature, that it could in no wise by the church be dispensable.* Now so it was, that before my going over the sea, I had heard certain things moved against the bull of the dispensation, concerning the words in the Levitical law to prove the prohibition to be de jure divino. But yet, I thought at that time, that the greater hope of the matter stood in certain faults which were found in the bull, whereby the bull could not by law be sufficient. And such comfort was there in that point (as far as I perceived,) for a good season, that the counsel on the other side were fain to bring forth a brief, by which they pretended those defaults to be supplied. The truth of which brief
Cresacre tells us that a Dr. Stokely "found out this quirk," which proved a profitable one to him, as Henry afterwards gave him the bishopric of London.
was by the king's counsel suspected, and much diligence was afterwards used for the trial of that point. Wherein what was finally found, either I never knew, or else I remember not.
"I rehearse you this, to the intent you should know, that the first time I ever heard that point moved, was, as I began to tell you, when the king's grace laid the Bible open before me, and read the words which moved his highness and divers other erudite persons so to think; and he asked me farther, what I myself thought thereon. At which time, not presuming to think that his highness would take that point as proved to my poor mind, in so great a matter, I nevertheless showed, as my duty was at his command, what I thought upon the words which I then read. Whereupon his highness accepting benignly my sudden unadvised answer, commanded me to commune further with Bishop Fox, now his grace's almoner, and to read with him a book which then was in making on that matter.
"After which book read, and my poor opinion declared unto his highness thereon, like a prudent prince he assembled a good number of very well learned men at Hampton Court. I heard that they agreed upon a certain form in which the book should be made, which was afterwards read at York-place, in my lord Cardinal's chamber, in presence of diverse bishops, and many learned men."
Towards the close of this year died Sir Richard Wingfield, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, an important appointment under the crown; and the king, without any solicitation, bestowed the vacant office upon Sir Thomas.
1527. In the summer of this year, Wolsey proceeded on his magnificent embassy to France, in which More and other officers of state were joined with him. The ostensible purpose of this mission was to conclude a treaty for the deliverance of Pope Clement VII. from captivity, and his restoration to
the possessions of the church; but the secret object was to pave the way for the divorce. More, fortunately for him, was not made the depositary of this
Both Wolsey in his letters to the king, and his faithful secretary Cavendish, have left us journals of this mission. We shall select from them such items as will interest the reader, both as presenting pictures of the manners of the age, and as enabling him to trace the progress of that question which involves so uch of moment-the divorce.
June 18. In the instructions given by the king to Wolsey relative to the mission, not a hint is dropped respecting the secret object of the journey. But we learn from a letter of Wolsey in reply to a message from the king, that something has transpired relative to the "secret matter," and that Henry suspects Wolsey of disaffection, or, at all events, of indiscretion in regard to this delicate affair. It is to be regretted that the letter is in a mutilated state; we will quote a part. "The message sent unto me this morning (July 1st) hath not a little troubled my mind, considering that your Highness should think or conjecture upon such message as I sent unto your Highness by Master Sampson, that I should either doubt, or should abate in my zeal for your secret matter. For I take God to record, that there is nothing earthly that I covet so much, as the advancing thereof; not doubting, for any thing that I have heard in regard that this overture hath come to the queen's knowledge... than I have done before; and when he showed me that the queen was very stiff and obstinate; and that she desired counsel as well of your subjects as of strangers, I said this device could
* Ενεστι γαρ πως τουτο τῇ τυραννιδι
'Tis a foul canker inbred in the heart
Of tyrants, to mistrust the friends who serve them,
never come of her, but of some that were learned; and these were the worst points that could be imagined, for the impeaching [hindering] of the matter: for... that she could resort to the counsel of strangers, or ... she intended to make counsel of all the world, France except, as a party against it; wherefore, I think it convenient, till it were known what should succeed of the pope, and to what point the French king might be brought, your Grace should handle her both gently and doucely. At the reverence of God, sire, and most humbly prostrate at your feet, I beseech your Grace, whatsoever report shall be made unto the same, to conceive no opinion of me, but that in this matter, and in all other things that honour and surety, may touch your I shall be as constant as any living creature; not letting [relinquishing] for any danger, obloquy, displeasure, or persecution; yea, if all fail and swerve, your Highness shall find me fast and constant, according to my most bounden duty; praying our Lord to preserve your most noble and royal estate, giving unto the same the accomplishment of your desires, to the attaining whereof I shall strike with your Highness usque ad mortem. At my palace beside Westminster, the first day of July, by your most humble chaplain.
"T. CARlis EBOR."
July 3d. Cavendish thus describes the first movements of the journey. "Then marched my lord cardinal forward out of his house at Westminster, passing through all London, over London Bridge, having before him of gentlemen a great number, three in a rank, in black velvet livery coats, and the most part of them with great chains of gold about their necks. And all his yeomen, with noblemen's and gentlemen's servants followed him, in French tawny livery coats; having embroidered upon the backs and breasts of the said coats these letters, T. and
C., under the cardinal's hat. His sumpter-mules, which were twenty in number and more, with the carts and other carriages of his train, were passed on before, conducted and guarded with a great number of bows and spears. He rode like a cardinal, very sumptuously, on a mule trapped with crimson velvet upon velvet, and his stirrups of copper and gilt; and his spare mule following him with like apparel, and before him he had his two great crosses of silver, two great pillars of silver, the great seal of England, his cardinal's hat, and a gentleman that carried his vallaunce (otherwise called a cloak bag), which was made altogether of fine scarlet cloth of gold, very richly, having therein a cloak of fine scarlet. Thus passed he through London, and all the way on his journey, having his harbingers passing before, to provide lodging for his train."
The cavalcade halted the first night at Sir John Wiltshire's, two miles beyond Dartford. Wolsey states in his letter to the king, written from that place, that "he had met there my Lord of Canterbury (Warham); with whom after communication had of your secret matter, and such other things as have been hitherto done therein, I showed him how the knowledge thereof is come to the queen's grace, and how displeasantly she taketh it, and what your highness had done for the staying and pacification of her; declaring unto her, that your grace had hitherto nothing intended nor done, but only for the searching and trying out of the truth, proceeding upon occasion given by the French party, and doubts moved therein by the Bishop of Tarbes. Which fashion liked my
It was the usage of the age for the dignitaries of the church to ride on mules, it being esteemed unbecoming to ride on horseback, when their Lord and Master rode on the foal of an ass. Old Beraldus (De Superbia) thus quaintly expresses himself on this subject," Christus nunquam equitavit, tantum semel asinavit; atque adeo neque mulavit, neque palafedavit, neque dromedariavit."
† Gabriel de Grammont, Bishop of Tarbes, was one of those who came on an embassy from France, in the spring of 1527. The much agitated question is here settled as to the quarter in which the king's doubts originated.