History of England (Froude)/Chapter 33
THE protests of Renard against the persecution received no attention.
The inquisition established by the legate was not to commence till Easter; but the prisons were already abundantly supplied with persons who had been arrested on various pretexts, and the material was ready in hand to occupy the interval. The four persons who had first suffered had been conspicuous among the leaders of the Reformation; but the bishops were for the most part prudent in their selection of victims, and chose them principally from among the poor and unfriended.
On the 9th of February, a weaver named Tomkins (the man who had held his hand in the candle), Pigot, a butcher, Knight, a barber, Hunter, an apprentice boy of 19, Lawrence, a priest, and Hawkes, a gentleman, were brought before Bonner in the Consistory at St Paul's, where they were charged with denying transubstantiation, and were condemned to die. The indignation which had been excited by the first executions caused a delay in carrying the sentence into effect; but as the menace of insurrection died away the wolves came back to their prey. March.On the 9th of March, two more were condemned also, Thomas Causton and Thomas Higbed, men of some small property in Essex. To disperse the effect, these eight were scattered about the diocese. Tomkins died at Smithfield on the 16th of March; Causton and Higbed, Pigot and Knight, in different parts of Essex; Hawkes suffered later; Lawrence was burnt at Colchester. The legs of the latter had been crushed by irons in one of Bonner's prisons; he was unable to stand, and was placed at the stake in a chair. 'At his burning, he sitting in the fire, the young children came about and cried, as well as young children could speak, Lord, strengthen thy servant, and keep thy promise—Lord, strengthen thy servant, and keep thy promise.'
Hunter's case deserves more particular mention. The London apprentices had been affected deeply by the Reforming preachers. It was to them that the servant of Anne Askew 'made her moan,' and gathered subscriptions for her mistress. William Hunter, who was one of them, had been ordered to attend mass by a priest when it was re-established; he had refused, and his master, fearing that he might be brought into trouble, had sent him home to his famity at Brentwood, in Essex. Another priest, going one day into Brentwood Church, found Hunter reading the Bible there.
Could he expound Scripture, that he read it thus to himself? the priest asked. He was reading for his comfort, Hunter replied; he did not take on himself to expound. The Bible taught him how to live, and how to distinguish between right and wrong.
It was never merry world, the priest said, since the Bible came forth in English. He saw what Hunter was—he was one of those who disliked the Queen's laws, and he and other heretics would broil for it before all was over.
The boy's friends thought it prudent that he should fly to some place where he was not known; but, as soon as he was gone, a Catholic magistrate in the neighbourhood required his father to produce him, on peril of being arrested in his place; and, after a struggle of affection, in which the father offered to shield his son at his own hazard, young Hunter returned and surrendered.
The magistrate sent him to the Bishop of London, who kept him in prison three quarters of a year. When the persecution commenced, he was called up for examination.
Bonner, though a bigot and a ruffian, had, at times, a coarse good-nature in him, and often, in moments of pity, thrust an easy recantation upon a hesitating prisoner. He tried with emphatic anxiety to save this young apprentice. 'If thou wilt recant,' he said to him, 'I will make thee a freeman in the city, and give thee forty pounds in money to set up thy occupation withal; or I will make thee steward of mine house, and set thee in office, for I like thee well.'
Hunter thanked him for his kindness; but it could not be, he said: he must stand to the truth: he could not lie, or pretend to believe what he did not believe. Bonner said, and probably with sincere conviction, that if he persisted he would be damned for ever. Hunter said, that God judged more righteously, and justified those whom man unjustly condemned.
He was therefore to die with the rest; and on Saturday, the 23rd of March, he was sent to suffer at his native village. Monday being the feast of the Annunciation, the execution was postponed till Tuesday. The intervening time he was allowed to spend with his friends 'in the parlour of the Swan Inn.' His father prayed that he might continue to the end in the way that he had begun. His mother said, she was happy to bear a child who could find in his heart to lose his life for Christ's sake. 'Mother,' he answered, 'for my little pain which I shall suffer, which is but a short braid, Christ hath promised me a crown of joy. May you not be glad of that, mother?'
Amidst such words the days passed. Tuesday morning the sheriff's son came and embraced him, 'bade him not be afraid,' and 'could speak no more for weeping.' When the sheriff came himself for him, he took his brother's arm and walked calmly to the place of execution, 'at the town's end, where the butts stood.'
His father was at the roadside as he passed. 'God be with thee, son William!' the old man said. 'God be with thee, good father,' the son answered, 'and be of good comfort!'
When he was come to the stake, he took one of the faggots, knelt upon it, and prayed for a few moments. The sheriff read the pardon with the conditions. 'I shall not recant,' he said, and walked to the post, to which he was chained.
'Pray for me, good people, while you see me alive,' he said to the crowd.
'Pray for thee!' said the magistrate who had committed him, 'I will no more pray for thee than I will pray for a dog.'
'Son of God,' Hunter exclaimed, 'shine on me!' The sun broke out from behind a cloud and blazed in glory on his face.
The faggots were set on fire.
'Look,' shrieked a priest, 'how thou burnest here, so shalt thou burn in hell!'
The martyr had a Prayer-book in his hands, which he cast through the flames to his brother.
'William,' said the brother, 'think on the holy passion of Christ, and be not afraid of death.'
'I am not afraid,' were his last words. 'Lord, Lord, Lord, receive my spirit!'
Ten days later another victim was sacrificed at Carmarthen, whose fate was peculiarly unprovoked and cruel.
Robert Ferrars, who twenty-seven years before carried a faggot with Anthony Dalaber in High-street at Oxford, had been appointed by Somerset Bishop of St David's. He was a man of large humanity, justice, and uprightness neither conspicuous as a theologian nor prominent as a preacher, but remarkable chiefly for good sense and a kindly imaginative tenderness. He had found his diocese infected with the general disorders of the times. The Chapter were indulging themselves to the utmost in questionable pleasures; the Church patronage was made the prey of a nest of Cathedral lawyers; and, in an evil hour for himself, the Bishop endeavoured to make crooked things straight.
After three years of struggle, his unruly canons were unable to endure him longer, and forwarded to the Duke of Northumberland an elaborate series of complaints against him. He was charged with neglecting his books and his preaching, and spending his time in surveying the lands of the See, and opening mines. He kept no manner of hospitality, it was said, but dined at the same table with his servants; and his talk was 'not of godliness,' 'but of worldly matters, as baking, brewing, enclosing, ploughing, mining, millstones, discharging of tenants, and such like.'
'To declare his folly in riding (these are the literal words of the accusation), he useth a bridle with white studs and snaffle, white Scottish stirrups, white spurs; a Scottish pad, with a little staff of three quarters [of a yard] long.
'He said he would go to Parliament on foot; and to his friends that dissuaded him, alleging that it was not meet for a man in his place, he answered, I care not for that; it is no sin.
'Having a son, he went before the midwife to the church, presenting the child to the priest; and giving the name Samuel with a solemn interpretation of the name, appointed two godfathers and two godmothers contrary to the ordinance, making his son a monster and himself a laughing-stock.
'He daily useth whistling of his child, and saith that he understood his whistle when he was but three years old; and being advertised of his friends that men laughed at his folly, he answered, They whistle their horses and dogs; they might also be contented that I whistle my child: and so whistleth him daily, friendly admonition neglected.
'In his visitation, among other his surveys, he surveyed Milford Haven, where he espied a seal-fish tumbling, and he crept down to the rocks by the water-side, and continued there whistling by the space of an hour, persuading the company that laughed fast at him, he made the fish to tarry there.
'Speaking of the scarcity of herrings, he laid the fault to the covetousness of fishers, who in time of plenty took so many that they destroyed the breeders.
'Speaking of the alteration of the coin, he wished that what metal soever it was made of, the penny should be in weight worth a penny of the same metal.'
Such were the charges against Ferrars, which, notwithstanding, were considered serious enough to require an answer; and the Bishop consented to reply.
He dined with his servants, he said, because the hall of the palace was in ruins, and for their comfort he allowed them to eat in his own room. For his hospitality, he appealed to his neighbours; and for his conversation, he said that he suited it to his hearers. He talked of religion to religious men; to men of the world he talked 'of honest worldly things with godly intent.' He saw no folly in having his horse decently appointed; and as to walking to Parliament, it was indifferent to him whether he walked or rode. God had given him a child, after lawful prayer, begotten in honest marriage, he had therefore named him Samuel, and presented him to the minister as a poor member of Christ's Church; it was done openly in the cathedral, without offending any one. The crime of whistling he admitted, 'thinking it better to bring up his son with loving entertainment,' to encourage him to receive afterwards more serious lessons. He had whistled to the seal; and 'such as meant folly might turn it to their purpose.' He had said that the destruction of the fry of fish prevented fish from multiplying, because he believed it to be true.
Answered or unanswered, it is scarcely credible that such accusations should have received attention; but the real offence lay behind, and is indicated in a vague statement that he had exposed himself to a premunire. The exquisite iniquity of the Northumberland administration could not endure a bishop who had opposed the corrupt administration of patronage; and the explanation being held as insufficient, Ferrars was summoned to London and thrown into prison, where Mary's accession found him.
Cut off in this way from the opportunities of escape which were so long open to others, the Bishop remained in confinement till the opening of the persecution. He was deposed from his See by Gardiner's first commission, as having been married; otherwise, however, Ferrars was unobnoxious politically and personally. Being in prison, he had been incapable of committing any fresh offence against the Queen, and might reasonably have been forgotten or passed over. But he had been a bishop, and he was ready caught to the hands of the authorities; and Mary had been compelled unwillingly to release a more conspicuous offender, Miles Coverdale, at the intercession of the King of Denmark. Ferrars was therefore brought before Gardiner on the 4th of February. On the I4th he was sent into V/ales to be tried by Morgan, his successor at St David's and Constantine, the notary of the diocese, who had been one of his accusers. By these judges, on the 11th of March, he was condemned and degraded; he appealed to the legate, but the legate never listened to the prayer of heretics; the legate's mission was to extirpate them. On Saturday the 30th of March, Ferrars was brought to the stake in the market-place in Carmarthen.
Rawlins White, an aged Cardiff fisherman, followed Ferrars. AprilIn the course of April, George Marsh, a curate, was burnt at Chester; and on the 20th of April, a man named William Flower, who had been once a monk of Ely, was burnt in Palace-yard, at Westminster. Flower had provoked his own fate. He appeared on Easter day in St Margaret's Church, while mass was being said; and instigated, as he persuaded himself, by the Holy Spirit, he flew upon the officiating priest, and stabbed him with a dagger in the hand; when to the horror of pious Catholics, the blood spurted into the chalice, and was mixed with the consecrated elements.
Sixteen persons had now been put to death, and there was again a pause for the sharp surgery to produce its effects.
While Mary was destroying the enemies of the Church, Julius the Third had died at the end of March, and Reginald Pole was again a candidate for the vacant Chair. The Courts of Paris and Brussels alike promised him their support, but alike gave their support to another. They flattered his virtues, but they permitted Marcellus Cervino, the Cardinal of St Cross, to be elected unanimously; and the English legate was told that he must be contented with the event which God had been pleased to send. An opportunity, however, seemed to offer itself to him of accomplishing a service to Europe.
For thirty-five years the two great Catholic powers had been wrestling with but brief interruption. The advantage to either had been as trifling as the causes of their quarrel were insignificant. Their revenues were anticipated, their credit was exhausted, yet year after year languid armies struggled into collision. Across the Alps in Italy, and along the frontiers of Burgundy and the Low Countries, towns and villages and homesteads were annually sacked, and peasants and their families destroyed—for what it were vain to ask, except it was for some poor shadow of imagined honour. Two mighty princes believed themselves justified in the sight of Heaven in squandering their subjects' treasure and their subjects' blood, because the pride of each forbade him to be the first in volunteering insignificant concessions. France had conquered Savoy and part of Piedmont, and had pushed forward its northern frontier to Marienbourg and Metz: the Emperor held Lombardy, Parma, and Naples, and Navarre was annexed to Spain. The quarrel might have easily been ended by mutual restitution; yet the Peace of Cambray, the Treaty of Nice, and the Peace of Crêpy, lasted only while the combatants were taking breath; and those who would attribute the extravagances of human folly to supernatural influence might imagine that the great discord between the orthodox powers had been permitted to give time for the Reformation to strike its roots into the soil of Europe But a war which could be carried on only by loans at sixteen per cent, was necessarily near its conclusion. The apparent recovery of England to the Church revived hopes which the Peace of Passau and the dissolution of the Council of Trent had almost extinguished; and, could a reconciliation be effected at last, and could Philip obtain the disposal of the military strength of England in the interests of the Papacy, it might not even yet be too late to lay the yoke of orthodoxy on the Germans, and, in a Catholic interpretation of the Parable of the Supper, 'compel them to come in.'
Mary, who had heard herself compared to the Virgin, and Pole, who imagined the Prince of Spain to be the counterpart of the Redeemer of mankind, indulged their fancy in large expectations. Philip was the Solomon who was to raise up the temple of the Lord, which the Emperor, who was a man of war, had not been allowed to build: and France, at the same time, was not unwilling to listen to proposals. The birth of Mary's child was expected in a few weeks, when England would, as a matter of course, become more decisively Imperialist: and Henry, whose invasion of the Netherlands had failed in the previous summer, was ready now to close the struggle while it could be ended on equal and honourable terms.
A conference was, therefore, agreed upon, in which England was to mediate. A village in the Calais Pale was selected as the place of assembly, and Pole, Gardiner, Paget, and Pembroke were chosen to arrange the terms of a general peace, with the Bishop of Arras, the Cardinal of Lorraine, and Montmorency. The time pitched upon was that at which, so near as the Queen could judge, she would herself bring into the world the off-spring which was to be the hope of England and mankind; and the great event should, if possible, precede the first meeting of the plenipotentiaries.
The Queen herself commenced her preparations with infinite earnestness, and, as a preliminary votive offering, she resolved to give back to the Church such of the abbey property as remained in the hands of the Crown. Her debts were now as high as ever. The Flanders correspondence was repeating the heavy story of loans and bills. Promises to pay were falling due, arid there were no resources to meet them, and the Israelite leeches were again fastened on the commonwealth. Nevertheless, the sacrifice should be made; the more difficult it was, the more favourably it would be received; and, on the 28th of March, she sent for the Lord Treasurer, and announced her intention. 'If he told her that her estate would not bear it, she must reply,' she said, 'that she valued the salvation of her soul beyond all earthly things.' As soon as Parliament could meet and give its sanction, she would restore the first-fruits also to the Holy See. She must work for God as God had worked for her.
About the 20th of April she withdrew to Hampton Court for entire quiet. The rockers and the nurses were in readiness, and a cradle stood open to receive the royal infant. Priests and bishops sang Litanies through the London streets; a procession of ecclesiastics in cloth of gold and tissue, marched round Hampton Court Palace, headed by Philip in person; Gardiner walked at his side, while Mary gazed from a window. Not only was the child assuredly coming, but its sex was decided on, and circulars were drawn and signed both by the King and Queen, with blanks only for the month and day, announcing to ministers of State, to ambassadors, and to foreign sovereigns, the birth of a prince.
On the 30th, the happy moment was supposed to have arrived; a message was sent off to London, announcing the commencement of the pains. The bells were set ringing in all the churches; Te Deum was sung in St Paul's; priests wrote sermons; bonfires were piled ready for lighting, and tables were laid out in the streets. The news crossed the Channel to Antwerp, and had grown in the transit. The great bell of the cathedral was rung for the actual birth. The vessels in the river fired salutes. 'The Regent sent the English mariners a hundred crowns to drink,' and, 'they made themselves in readiness to show some worthy triumph upon the waters.'
But the pains passed off without result; and whispers began to be heard that there was, perhaps, a mistake of a more considerable kind. Mary, however, had herself no sort of misgiving. She assured her attendants that all was well, and that she felt the motion of her child. The physicians professed to be satisfied, and the priests were kept at work at the Litanies. Up and down the streets they marched, through City and suburb, park and square; torches flared along Cheapside at midnight behind the Holy Sacrament, and five hundred poor men and women from the almshouses walked two and two, telling their beads in their withered fingers: then all the boys of all the schools were set in motion, and the ushers and the masters came after them.; clerks, canons, bishops, mayor, aldermen, officers of guilds. Such marching, such chanting, such praying was never seen or heard before or since in London streets. A profane person ran one day out of the crowd, and hung about a priest's neck, where the beads should be, a string of puddings; but they whipped him and prayed on. Surely, God would hear the cry of his people.
May.In the midst of the suspense the Papal chair fell vacant again. The Pontificate of Marcellus lasted three weeks, and Pole a third time offered himself to the suffrages of the cardinals. The Courts were profuse of compliments as before. Noailles presented him with a note from Montmorency, containing assurances of the infinite desire of the King of France for the success of so holy a person. Philip wrote to Rome in his behalf, and Mary condescended to ask for the support of the French cardinals. But the fair speeches, as before, were but trifling. The choice fell on Pole's personal enemy, Cardinal Caraffa, who was French alike in heart and brain.
The choice of a Pope, however, would signify little, if only the child could be born; but where was the child? The Queen put it off strangely. The Conference could be delayed no longer. It opened without the intended makeweight, and the Court of France was less inclined to make concessions for a peace. The delay began to tell on the Bourse at Antwerp. The Fuggers and the Schertzes drew their pursestrings, and made difficulties in lending more money to the Emperor. The Plenipotentiaries had to separate after a few meetings, having effected nothing, to the especial mortification of Philip and Mary, who looked to the pacification to enable them to cure England of its unruly humours. The Duke of Alva (so rumour insisted) was to bring across the Spanish troops which were in the Low Countries, take possession of London, and force the Parliament into submission. The English were to be punished, for the infinite insolences in which they had indulged towards Philip's retinue, by being compelled, whether they liked it or not, to bestow upon him the crown.
But the peace could not be, nor could the child be born; and the impression grew daily that the Queen had not been pregnant at all. Mary herself, who had been borne forward to this, the crisis of her fortunes, on a tide of success, now suddenly found her exulting hopes closing over. From confidence she fell into anxiety, from anxiety into fear, from fear into wildness and despondency. She vowed that with the restoration of the estates, she would rebuild the abbeys at her own cost. In vain. Her women now understood her condition; she was sick of a mortal disease; but they durst not tell her; and she whose career had been painted out to her by the legate, as especial and supernatural, looked only for supernatural causes of her present state. Throughout May she remained in her apartments waiting—waiting—in passionate restlessness. With stomach swollen, and features shrunk and haggard, she would sit upon the floor, with her knees drawn up to her face, in an agony of doubt; and in mockery of her wretchedness, letters were again strewed about the place by an invisible agency, telling her that she was loathed by her people. She imagined they would rise again in her defence. But if they rose again, it would be to drive her and her husband from the country.
After the mysterious quickening on the legate's salutation, she could not doubt that her hopes had been at one time well founded; but for some fault, some error in herself, God had delayed the fulfilment of his promise. And what could that crime be? The accursed thing was still in the realm. She had been raised up, like the judges in Israel, for the extermination of God's enemies; and she had smitten but a few here and there, when, like the evil spirits, their name was legion. She had before sent orders round among the magistrates, to have their eyes upon them. On the 24th of May, when her distraction was at its height, she wrote a circular to quicken the over-languid zeal of the bishops.
'Right Reverend Father in God,' it ran, 'We greet you well; and where of late we addressed our letters unto the justices of the peace, within every of the counties within this our realm, whereby, amongst other good instructions given therein for the good order of the country about, they are willed to have special regard to such disordered persons as, forgetting their duty to Almighty God and us, do lean to any erroneous and heretical opinions; whom, if they cannot, by good admonition and fair means, reform, they are willed to deliver unto the ordinary, to be by him charitably travelled withal, and removed, if it may be, from their naughty opinions; or else, if they continue obstinate, to be ordered according to the laws provided in that behalf: understanding now, to our no little marvel, that divers of the said misordered persons, being, by the justices of the peace, for their contempt and obstinacy, brought to the ordinary, to be used as is aforesaid, are either refused to be received at their hands, or, if they be received, are neither so travelled with as Christian charity requireth, nor yet proceeded withal according to the order of justice, but are suffered to continue in their errors, to the dishonour of Almighty God, and dangerous example of others; like as we find this matter very strange, so have we thought convenient both to signify this our knowledge, and therewithal also to admonish you to have in this behalf such regard henceforth unto the office of a good pastor and bishop, as where any such offenders shall be, by the said justices of the peace, brought unto you, ye do use your good wisdom and discretion in procuring to remove them from their errors if it may be, or else in proceeding against them, if they continue obstinate, according to the order of the laws, so as, through your good furtherance, both God's glory may be the better advanced, and the commonwealth more quietly governed.'
Under the fresh impulse of this letter, fifty persons were put to death at the stake in the three ensuing months,—in the diocese of London, under Bonner; in the diocese of Rochester, under Maurice Griffin; in the diocese of Canterbury, where Pole, the Archbishop designate, so soon as Cranmer should be despatched, governed through Harpsfeld, the Archdeacon, and Thornton, the suffragan Bishop of Dover. Of these sacrifices, which were distinguished all of them by a uniformity of quiet heroism in the sufferers, that of Cardmaker, prebendary of Wells, calls most for notice.
The people, whom the cruelty of the Catholic party was re- converting to the Reformation with a rapidity like that produced by the gift of tongues on the day of Pentecost, looked on the martyrs as soldiers are looked at who are called to accomplish, with the sacrifice of their lives, some great service for their country. Cardmaker, on his first examination, had turned his back and flinched. But the consciousness of shame, and the example of others, gave him back his courage; he was called up again under the Queen's mandate, condemned, and brought out on the 30th of May, to suffer at Smithfield, with an upholsterer named Warne. The sheriffs produced the pardons. Warne, without looking at them, undressed at once, and went to the stake; Cardmaker 'remained long talking;' 'the people in a marvellous dump of sadness, thinking he would recant.' He turned away at last, and knelt, and prayed; but he had still his clothes on; 'there was no semblance of burning;' and the crowd continued nervously agitated, till he rose and threw off his cloak. 'Then, seeing this, contrary to their fearful expectations, as men delivered out of great doubt, they cried out for joy, with so great a shout as hath not been lightly heard a greater, 'God be praised; the Lord strengthen thee, Cardmaker; the Lord Jesus receive thy spirit.'' Every martyr's trial was a battle; every constant death was a defeat of the common enemy; and the instinctive consciousness that truth was asserting itself in suffering, converted the natural emotion of horror into admiring pride.
Yet, for the great purpose of the Court, the burnt-offerings were ineffectual as the prayers of the priests. The Queen was allowed to persuade herself that she had mistaken her time by two months; and to this hope she clung herself, so long as the hope could last: but among all other persons concerned, scarcely one was any longer under a delusion; and the clear-eyed Renard lost no time in laying the position of affairs before his master.
The marriage of Elizabeth and Philibert had hung fire, from the invincible unwillingness on the part of Mary to pardon or in any way recognize her sister; and as long as there was a hope of a child, she had not perhaps been pressed about it: but it was now absolutely necessary to do something, and violent measures towards the Princess were more impossible than ever.
June.'The entire future,' wrote Renard to the Emperor, on the 27th of June, 'turns on the accouchement of the Queen; of which, however, there are no signs. If all goes well, the state of feeling in the country will improve. If she is in error, I foresee convulsions and disturbances such as no pen can describe. The succession to the crown is so unfortunately hampered, that it must fall to Elizabeth, and with Elizabeth there will be a religious revolution. The clergy will be put down, the Catholics persecuted, and there will be such revenge for the present proceedings as the world has never seen. I know not whether the King's person is safe; and the scandals and calumnies which the heretics are spreading about the Queen are beyond conception. Some say that she has never been enceinte; some repeat that there will be a supposititious child, and that there would have been less delay could a child have been found that would answer the purpose. The looks of men are grown strange and impenetrable; those in whose loyalty I had most dependence I have now most reason to doubt. Nothing is certain, and I am more bewildered than ever at the things which I see going on around me. There is neither government, nor justice, nor order; nothing but audacity and malice.'
The faint hopes which Renard expressed speedily vanished, and every one but the Queen herself not only knew that she had no child at present, but that she never could have a child—that her days were numbered, and that if the Spaniards intended to secure the throne they must obtain it by other means than the order of inheritance. Could the war be brought to an end, Mary might live long enough to give her husband an opportunity of attempting violence; but of peace there was no immediate prospect, and it remained for the present to make the most of Elizabeth. Setting her marriage aside, it was doubtful whether the people would permit her longer confinement after the Queen's disappointment; and, willingly or unwillingly, Mary must be forced to receive her at Court again.
The Princess was still at Woodstock, where she had remained for a year, under the harsh surveillance of Sir Henry Bedingfield. Lord William Howard's visit may have consoled her with the knowledge that she was not forgotten by the nobility; but her health had suffered from her long imprisonment, and the first symptom of an approaching change in her position was the appearance of the Queen's physician to take charge of her.
A last effort was made to betray her into an acknowledgment of guilt. 'A secret friend' entreated her to 'submit herself to the Queen's mercy.' Elizabeth saw the snare. She would not ask for mercy, she said, where she had committed no offence; if she was guilty, she desired justice, not mercy; and she knew well she would have found none, could evidence have been produced against her: but she thanked God she was in no danger of being proved guilty; she wished she was as safe from secret enemies.
But the plots for despatching her, if they had ever existed, were laid aside; she was informed that her presence was required at Hampton Court. July.The rumour of her intended release spread abroad, and sixty gentlemen, who had once belonged to her suite, met her on the way at Colebrook, in the hope that they might return to attendance upon her: but their coming was premature; she was still treated as a prisoner, and they were ordered off in the Queen's name.
On her arrival at Hampton Court, however, the Princess felt that she had recovered her freedom. She was received by Lord William Howard. The courtiers hurried to her with their congratulations, and Howard dared and provoked the resentment of the King and Queen by making them kneel and kiss her hand. Mary could not bring herself at first to endure an interview. The Bishop of Winchester came to her on the Queen's behalf, to repeat the advice which had been given to her at Woodstock, and to promise pardon if she would ask for it.
Elizabeth had been resolute when she was alone and friendless, she was not more yielding now. She repeated that she had committed no offence, and therefore required no forgiveness; she had rather lie in prison all her life, than confess when there was nothing to be confessed.
The answer was carried to Mary, and the day after the Bishop came again. 'The Queen marvelled,' he said, 'that she would so stoutly stand to her innocence;' if she called herself innocent, she implied that she had been 'unjustly imprisoned;' if she expected her liberty 'she must tell another tale.'
But the causes which had compelled the Court to send for her, forbade them equally to persist in an impotent persecution. They had desired only to tempt her into admissions which they could plead in justification for past or future severities. They had failed, and they gave way.
A week later, on an evening in the beginning of July, Lady Clarence, Mary's favourite attendant, brought a message, that the Queen was expecting her sister in her room. The Princess was led across the garden in the dusk, and introduced by a back staircase into the royal apartments. Almost two years had elapsed since the sisters had last met, when Mary hid the hatred which was in her heart behind a veil of kindness. There was no improvement of feeling, but the necessity of circumstances compelled the form of reconciliation.
Elizabeth dropped on her knees. 'God preserve your Majesty,' she said; 'you will find me as true a subject to your Majesty as any; whatever has been reported of me, you shall not find it otherwise.'
'You will not confess,' the Queen said; 'you stand to your truth: I pray God it may so fall out.'
'If it does not,' said Elizabeth, 'I desire neither favour nor pardon at your hands.'
'Well,' Mary bitterly answered, 'you persevere in your truth stiffly; belike you will not confess that you have been wrongly punished?'
'I must not say so, your Majesty,' Elizabeth replied.
'Belike you will to others?' said the Queen.
'No, please your Majesty,' answered the Princess. 'I have borne the burden, and I must bear it. I pray your Majesty to have a good opinion of me, and to think me your true subject, not only from the beginning but while life lasteth.'
The Queen did not answer, she muttered only in Spanish, 'Sabe Dios,' 'God knows,' and Elizabeth withdrew.
It was said that, during the interview, Philip was concealed behind a curtain, anxious for a sight of the captive damsel whose favour with the people was such a perplexity to him.
At this time Elizabeth was beautiful; her haughty features were softened by misfortune; and as it is certain that Philip, when he left England, gave special directions for her good treatment, so it is possible that he may have envied the fortune which he intended for the Prince of Savoy; and the scheme which he afterwards attempted to execute, of making her his own wife on the Queen's death, may have then suggested itself to him as a solution of the English difficulty. The magnificent girl, who was already the idol of the country, must have presented an emphatic contrast with the lean, childless, haggard, forlorn Mary; and he may easily have allowed his fancy to play with a pleasant temptation. If it was so, Philip was far too careless of the Queen's feelings to conceal his own. If it was not so, the Queen's haunting consciousness of her unattractiveness must have been aggravated by the disappointment of her hopes, and she may have tortured herself with jealousy and suspicion.
At all events, Mary could not overcome her aversion. Elizabeth was set at liberty, but she was not allowed to remain at the Court. She returned to Ashridge, to be pursued even there with petty annoyances. Her first step when she was again at home was to send for her friend Mrs Ashley; the Queen instantly committed Mrs Ashley to the Fleet, and sent three other officers of her sister's household to the Tower; while a number of gentlemen suspected of being her adherents, who had remained in London beyond their usual time of leaving for the country, were ordered imperiously to their estates.
But neither impatience nor violence could conceal the fatal change which had passed over Mary's prospects. Not till the end of July could she part finally from her hopes. Then, at last, the glittering dream was lost for the waking truth; then at once from the imagination of herself as the virgin bride who was to bear a child for the recovery of a lost world, she was precipitated into the poor certainty that she was a blighted and a dying woman. Sorrow was heaped on sorrow; Philip would stay with her no longer. His presence was required on the Continent, where his father was about to anticipate the death which he knew to be near; and, after forty years of battling with the stormy waters, to collect himself for the last great change in the calm of a monastery in Spain.
It was no new intention. For years the Emperor had been in the habit of snatching intervals of retreat; for years he had made up his mind to relinquish at some time the labours of life before relinquishing life itself. The vanities of sovereignty had never any particular charm for Charles V.; he was not a man who cared 'to monarchize and kill with looks,' or who could feel a pang at parting with the bauble of a crown; and when the wise world cried out in their surprise, and strained their fancies for the cause of conduct which seemed so strange to them, they forgot that princes who reign to labour, grow weary like the peasant of the burden of daily toil.
Many influences combined to induce Charles to delay no longer in putting his resolution in effect.
The Cortes were growing impatient at the prolonged absence both of himself and Philip, and the presence of the Emperor, although in retirement, would give pleasure to the Spanish people. His health was so shattered, that each winter had been long expected to be his last; and although he would not flinch from work as long as he was required at his post, there was nothing to detain Philip any more in England, unless, or until, the succession could be placed on another footing. To continue there the husband of a childless Queen, with authority limited to a form, and with no recognized interest beyond the term of his wife's life, was no becoming position for the heir of the throne of Spain, of Naples, the Indies, and the Low Countries.
August.Philip was therefore now going. He concealed his intention till it was betrayed by the departure of one Spanish nobleman after another. The Queen became nervous and agitated, and at last he was forced to avow part of the truth. He told her that his father wanted to see him, but that his absence would not be extended beyond a fortnight or three weeks; she should go with him to Dover, and, if she desired, she could wait there for his return. Her consent was obtained by the mild deceit, and it was considered afterwards that the journey to Dover might be too much for her, and the parting might take place at Greenwich.
On the 3rd of August, the King and Queen removed for a few days from Hampton Court to Oatlands; on the way Mary received consolation from a poor man who met her on crutches, and was cured of his lameness by looking on her.
On the 26th, the royal party came down the river in their barge, attended by the legate; they dined at Westminster on their way to Greenwich, and as rumour had said that Mary was dead, she was carried through the city in an open litter, with the King and the Cardinal at her side. To please Philip, or to please the people, Elizabeth was invited to the Court before the King's departure; but she was sent by water to prevent a demonstration, while the archers of the guard who attended on the Queen, were in corslet and morion.
On the 28th, Philip went. Parliament was to sit again in October. It would then be seen whether anything more could be done about the succession. On the consent or refusal of the legislature his future measures would depend. To the Queen he left particular instructions, which he afterwards repeated in writing, to show favour to Elizabeth; and doubting how far he could rely upon Mary, he gave a similar charge to such of his own suite as he left behind him. Could he obtain it, he would take the Princess's crown for himself; should he fail, he might marry her; or should this too be impossible, he would win her gratitude, and support her title against the dangerous competition of the Queen of Scots and Dauphiness of France.
September.On these terms the pair who had been brought together with so much difficulty separated after a little more than a year. The Cardinal composed a passionate prayer for the Queen's use during her husband's absence. It is to be hoped that she was spared the sight of a packet of letters soon after intercepted by the French, in which her "husband and her husband's countrymen expressed their opinions of the marriage and its consequences. The truth, however, became known in England, although in a form under which the Queen could turn from it as a calumny.
Before the meeting of Parliament, a letter was published, addressed to the Lords of the Council, by a certain John Bradford. The writer accounted for his knowledge of the secrets which he had to tell, by saying that he had lived in the household of one of the Spanish noblemen who were in attendance on Philip; that he had learnt the language unknown to his master, and had thus overheard unguarded conversations. He had read letters addressed to Philip, and letters written by him and by his confidential friends; and he was able to say, as a thing heard with his own ears, and seen with his own eyes, that the 'Spaniards minded nothing less than the subversion of the English commonwealth.' In fact, he repeated the rumours of the summer, only more circumstantially, and with fuller details. Under pretence of improving the fortifications, Philip intended to obtain command of the principal harbours and ports; he would lay cannon on the land side, and gradually bring in Spanish troops, the Queen playing into his hands; and as soon as peace could be made with France, he would have the command of the fleet and the sea, and could do what he pleased.
'I saw,' the writer continued, 'letters sent from the Emperor, wherein was contained these privities,—that the King should make his excuse to the Queen that he would go to see his father in Flanders, and that immediately he would return—seeing the good simple Queen is so jealous over my son. (I term it,' said Bradford, 'as the letter doth.) 'We,' said the Emperor, 'shall make her agree unto all our requests before his return, or else keep him exercised in our affairs till we may prevail with the council, who, doubtless, will be won with fair promises and great gifts, politicly placed in time.' In other letters I have read the cause disputed, that the Queen is bound by the laws of God to endue her husband in all her goods and possessions, so far as in her lieth; and they think she will do it indeed to the uttermost of her power. No man can think evil of the Queen, though she be somewhat moved when such things are beaten into her head with gentlemen; but whether the crown belongs to the Queen or the realm, the Spaniards know not, nor care not, though the Queen, to her damnation, disherit the right heir-apparent, or break her father's entail, made by the whole consent of the realm, which neither she nor the realm can justly alter.'
Struggle as the Queen might against such a representation of her husband's feelings towards her, it was true that he had left her with a promise to return; and the weeks went, and he did not come, and no longer spoke of coming. The abdication of the Emperor would keep him from her, at least, till the end of the winter. And news came soon which was harder still to Lear; news, that he, whom she had been taught to regard as made in the image of our Saviour, was unfaithful to his marriage vows. Bradford had spoken generally of the King's vulgar amours; other accounts convinced her too surely that he was consoling himself for his long purgatory in England, by miscellaneous licentiousness. Philip was gross alike in all his appetites; bacon fat was the favourite food with which he gorged himself to illness; his intrigues were on the same level of indelicacy, and his unhappy wife was forced to know that he preferred the society of abandoned women of the lowest class to hers.
October.The French ambassador describes her as distracted with wretchedness, speaking to no one except the legate. The legate was her only comfort; the legate and the thing which she called religion.
Deep in the hearts of both Queen and Cardinal lay the conviction that if she would please God, she must avoid the sin of Saul. Saul had spared the Amalekites, and God had turned his face from him. God had greater enemies in England than the Amalekites. Historians have affected to exonerate Pole from the crime of the Marian persecution; although, without the legate's sanction, not a bishop in England could have raised a finger, not a bishop's court could have been opened to try a single heretic. If not with Pole, with whom did the guilt rest? Gardiner was jointly responsible for the commencement, but after the first executions, Gardiner interfered no further; he died, and the bloody scenes continued. Philip's confessor protested; Philip himself left the country; Renard and Charles were never weary of advising moderation, except towards those who were politically dangerous. Bonner was an instrument whose zeal more than once required the goad; and Mary herself, when she came to the throne, was so little cruel, that she would have spared even Northumberland himself. When the persecution assumed its ferocious aspect, she was exclusively under the direction of the dreamer who believed that he was born for England's regeneration. All evidence concurs to show that, after Philip's departure, Cardinal Pole was the single adviser on whom Mary relied. Is it to be supposed that, in the horrible crusade which thenceforward was the business of her life, the Papal legate, the sovereign director of the ecclesiastical administration of the realm, was not consulted, or, if consulted, that he refused his sanction? But it is not a question of conjecture or probability. From the legate came the first edict for the episcopal inquisition; under the legate every bishop held his judicial commission; while, if Smithfield is excepted, the most frightful scenes in the entire frightful period were witnessed under the shadow of his own metropolitan cathedral. His apologists have thrown the blame on his archdeacon and his suffragan: the guilt is not with the instrument, but with the hand which holds it. An admiring biographer has asserted that the cruelties at Canterbury preceded the Cardinal's consecration as archbishop, and the biographer has been copied by Dr Lingard. The historian and his authority have exceeded the limits of permitted theological misrepresentation. The administration of the See belonged to Pole as much before his consecration as after it; but it will be seen that eighteen men and women perished at the stake in the town of Canterbury alone,—besides those who were put to death in other parts of the diocese—and five were starved to death in the gaol there after the legate's installation. He was not cruel; but he believed that, in the catalogue of human iniquities, there were none greater than the denial of the Roman Catholic Faith, or the rejection of the Roman Bishop's supremacy; and that he himself was chosen by Providence for the re-establishment of both. Mary was driven to madness by the disappointment of the grotesque imaginations with which he had inflated her; and where two such persons were invested by the circumstances of the time with irresponsible power, there is no occasion to look further for the explanation of the dreadful events of the three ensuing years.
The victims of the summer were chiefly undistinguished persons: Cardmaker and Bradford alone were in any way celebrated: and the greater prisoners, the three bishops at Oxford, the Court had paused upon—not from mercy—their deaths had been long determined on; but Philip, perhaps, was tender of his person; their execution might occasion disturbances; and he and his suite might be the first objects on which the popular indignation might expend itself. Philip, however, had placed the sea between himself and danger, and if this was the cause of the hesitation, the work could now go forward.
A commission was appointed by Pole in September, consisting of Brookes, Bishop of Gloucester; Holyman, Bishop of Bristol; and White, Bishop of Lincoln; to try Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer, for obstinate heresy. The first trial had been irregular; the country was then unreconciled. The sentence which had been passed therefore was treated as non-existent, and the tedious forms of the Papacy continued still to throw a shield round the Archbishop.
Sept. 7.On Saturday, the 7th September, the commissioners took their places under the altar of St Mary's Church, at Oxford. The Bishop of Gloucester sat as president, Doctors Story and Martin appeared as proctors for the Queen, and Cranmer was brought in under the custody of the city guard, in a black gown and leaning on a stick.
'Thomas, Archbishop of Canterbury,' cried an officer of the court, 'appear here, and make answer to that which shall be laid to thy charge; that is to say, for blasphemy, incontinency, and heresy; make answer to the Bishop of Gloucester, representing his Holiness the Pope.'
The Archbishop approached the bar, bent his head and uncovered to Story and Martin, who were present in behalf of the Crown, then drew himself up, put on his cap again, and stood fronting Brookes. 'My Lord,' he said, 'I mean no contempt to your person, which I could have honoured as well as any of the others; but I have sworn never to admit the authority of the Bishop of Rome in England, and I must keep my oath.'
The president remonstrated, but without effect, and then proceeded to address the Archbishop, who remained covered:
'My Lord, we are come hither at this present to you, not intruding ourselves by our own authority, but sent by commission, as you know, by the Pope's Holiness partly; partly from the King's and Queen's most excellent Majesties; not utterly to your discomfort, but rather to your comfort if you will yourself. For we are come not to judge you immediately, but to put you in remembrance of that which you have been partly judged of before, and shall be thoroughly judged of ere long.
'Neither our coming or commission is to dispute with, you, but to examine you in matters which you have already disputed in, taught, and written; and of your resolute answers in those points and others, to make relation to them that shall give sentence on you. If you, of your part, be moved to come to a uniformity, then shall not only we take joy of our examination, but also they that have sent us. Remember yourself then, unde excideris, from whence you have fallen. You have fallen from the unity of your mother, the Holy Catholic Church, and that by open schism. You have fallen from the true and received faith of the same Catholic Church, and that by open heresy. You have fallen from your fidelity and promise towards God, in breaking your orders and vow of chastity, and that by open apostasy. You have fallen from your fidelity and promise towards God's Vicar-general, the Pope, in breaking your oath made to his Holiness at your consecration, and that by open perjury. You have fallen from your fidelity and allegiance towards God's magistrate, your Prince and sovereign lady the Queen, and that by open treason, whereof you are already attainted and convicted. Remember, unde excideris, from whence you have fallen, and in what danger you have fallen.
'You were sometime, as I and other poor men, in mean estate. God hath called you from better to better, from higher to higher, and never gave you over till he made you, legatum natum, Metropolitan Archbishop, Primate of England. Who was more earnest then in defence of the real presence of Christ's body and blood in the sacrament of the altar than ye were? Then was your candle shining to be a light to all the world, set on high on a pinnacle. But after you began to fall from the unity of the Catholic Church by open schism, and would no longer acknowledge the supremacy of the Pope's Holiness by God's word and ordinance;—and that by occasion, that you, in whose hands then rested the sum of all, being Primate, as was aforesaid, would not, according to your high vocation, stoutly withstand the most ungodly and unlawful request of your prince touching his divorce, as that blessed martyr, St Thomas of Canterbury, sometime your predecessor, did withstand the unlawful requests of the prince of his time, but would still not only yield and bear with things not to be borne withal, but also set a-flame the fire already kindled—then your perfections diminished; then began you, for your own part, to fancy unlawful liberty. Then decayed your conscience of your former faith, your former promise, the vow of chastity and discipline after the order of priesthood; and when good conscience was once cast off, then followed after, as St Paul noteth, a shipwreck in the faith. Then fell you from the faith, and out of the Catholic Church, as out of a sure ship, into a sea of dangerous desperation; for out of the Church, to say with St Cyprian, there is no hope of salvation at all. To be brief; when you had forsaken God, his Spouse, his faith, and fidelity to them both, then God forsook you; and as the Apostle write th of the ingrate philosophers, delivered you up in reprobum sensum, and suffered you to fall from one inconvenience to another, as from perjury into schism, from schism into a kind of apostasy, from apostasy into heresy, from heresy into traitory, and so, in conclusion, from traitory into the highest displeasure and worthiest indignation of your most benign and gracious Queen.'
When the Bishop ceased, the Crown proctors rose, and demanded justice against the prisoner in the names of the King and Queen.
'My Lord,' Cranmer replied, 'I do not acknowledge this session of yours, nor yet yourself my mislawful judge; neither would I have appeared this day before you, but that I was brought hither; and therefore here I openly renounce you as my judge, protesting that my meaning is not to make any answer as in a lawful judgment, for then I would be silent; but only for that I am bound in conscience to answer every man of that hope which I have in Jesus Christ.'
He then knelt, and turning towards the west with his back to the court and the altar, he said the Lord's Prayer. After which, he rose, repeated the Creed, and said,
'This I do profess as touching my faith, and make my protestation, which I desire you to note; I will never consent that the Bishop of Rome shall have any jurisdiction in this realm.'
'Mark, Master Cranmer,' interrupted Martin, 'you refuse and deny him by whose laws you do remain in life, being otherwise attainted of high treason, and but a dead man by the laws of the realm.'
'I protest before God I was no traitor,' said the Archbishop. 'I will never consent to the Bishop of Rome, for then I should give myself to the devil. I have made an oath to the King, and I must obey the King by God's law. By the Scripture, the King is chief, and no foreign person in his own realm above him. The Pope is contrary to the Crown. I cannot obey both, for no man can serve two masters at once. You attribute the keys to the Pope and the sword to the King. I say the King hath both.'
Continuing the same argument, the Archbishop entered at length into the condition of the law and the history of the Statutes of Provisors and Premunire: he showed that the constitution of the country was emphatically independent, and he maintained that no English subject could swear obedience to a foreign power without being involved in perjury.
The objection was set aside, and the subject of oaths was an opportunity for a taunt, which the Queen's proctors did not overlook. Cranmer had unwillingly accepted the archbishopric when the Act of Appeals was pending, and when the future relations of England with the See of Rome, and the degree of authority which (if any) the Pope was to retain, were uncertain. In taking the usual oaths, therefore, by the advice of lawyers, he made an especial and avowed reservation of his duty to the Crown; and this so-called perjury Martin now flung in his teeth.
'It pleased the King's Highness,' Cranmer replied, 'many and sundry times to talk with me of the matter. I declared, that, if I accepted the office of archbishop, I must receive it at the Pope's hands, which I neither would nor could do, for his Highness was the only supreme governor of this Church in England. Perceiving that I could not be brought to acknowledge the authority of the Bishop of Rome, the King called Doctor Oliver, and other civil lawyers, and devised with them how he might bestow it on me, enforcing me nothing against my conscience, who informed him I might do it by way of protestation. I said, I did not acknowledge the Bishop of Rome's authority further than as it agreed with the word of God, and that it might be lawful for me at all times to speak against him; and my protestation did I cause to be enrolled, and there I think it remaineth.'
'Let your protestation, with the rest of your talk, give judgment against you,' answered Martin. 'Hinc prima mali labes: of that your execrable perjury, and the King's coloured and too shamefully suffered adultery, came heresy and all mischief into the realm.'
The special charges were then proceeded with.
In reply to a series of questions, the Archbishop said, that he had been twice married—once before, and once after he was in orders. In the time of Henry he had kept his wife secretly, 'affirming that it was better for him to have his own wife, than to do like other priests, having the wives of others;' and he was not ashamed of what he had done.
He admitted his writings upon the Eucharist; he avowed the authorship of the Catechism, of the Articles, and of a book against the Bishop of Winchester; and these books, and his conduct generally as Archbishop of Canterbury, he maintained and defended. His replies were entered by a notary, to be transmitted to the Pope, and for the present the business of the court with him was over.
'Who can stay him that willingly runneth into perdition?' said Brookes. 'Who can save that will be lost? God would have you to be saved, and you refuse it.'
The Archbishop was cited to appear at Rome within eighty days to answer to the charges which would there be laid against him; and in order that he might be able to obey the summons he was returned to his cell in Bocardo prison, and kept there in strict confinement.
Ridley and Latimer came next, and over them the Papal mantle flung no protection.
They had been prisoners now for more than two years. What Latimer's occupation had been for all that time, little remains to show, except three letters:—one, of but a few lines, was to a Mrs Wilkinson, thanking her for some act of kindness: another, was a general exhortation to 'all unfeigned lovers of God's truth,' to be constant in their faith: the third, and most noteworthy, was to some one who had an opportunity of escaping from arrest, and probable martyrdom, by a payment of money, and who doubted whether he might lawfully avail himself of the chance: there was no question of recantation; a corrupt official was ready to accept a bribe and ask no questions.
Latimer had not been one of those fanatics who thought it a merit to go in the way of danger and court persecution; but in this present case he shared the misgiving of his correspondent, and did 'highly allow his judgment in that he thought it not lawful to redeem himself from the crown, unless he would exchange glory for shame, and his inheritance for a mess of pottage.'
'We were created,' Latimer said, 'to set forth God's glory all the days of our life, which we, as unthankful sinners, have forgotten to do, as we ought, all our days hitherto; and now God, by affliction, doth offer us good occasion to perform one day of our life, our duty. If any man perceive his faith, not to abide the fire, let such an one with weeping buy his liberty until he hath obtained more strength, lest the gospel suffer by him some shameful recantation. Let the dead bury the dead. Do you embrace Christ's cross, and Christ shall embrace you. The peace of God be with you for ever.'
Ridley's pen had been more busy: he had written a lamentation over the state of England; he had written a farewell letter, taking leave of his friends, and taking leave of life, which, clouded as it was, his sunny nature made it hard to part from; he had written comfort to the afflicted for the gospel, and he had addressed a passionate appeal to the Temporal Lords to save England from the false shepherds who were wasting the flock of Christ. But both he and Latjmer had looked death steadily in the face for two years, expecting it every day or hour. It was now come.
On the 30th of September, the three Bishops took their seats in the Divinity school. Ridley was led in for trial, and the legate's commission was read, empowering them to try him for the opinions which he had expressed in the disputation at Oxford the year before, and 'elsewhere in the time of perdition.' They wore to degrade him from the priesthood if he persisted in his heresies, and deliver him over to the secular arm.
Sept. 30.On being first brought before the court, Ridley stood bareheaded. At the names of the Cardinal and the Pope, he put on his cap, like Cranmer, declining to acknowledge their authority. But his scruples were treated less respectfully than the Archbishop's. He was ordered to take it off, and when he refused, it was removed by a beadle.
He was then charged with having denied transubstantiation, and the propitiatory sacrifice of the mass, and was urged at length to recant. His opinions on the real presence were peculiar. Christ, he said, was not the sacrament, but was really and truly in the sacrament, as the Holy Ghost was with the water at baptism and yet was not the water. The subtlety of the position was perplexing, but the knot was cut by the crucial question, whether, after the consecration of the elements, the substance of bread and wine remained. He was allowed the night to consider his answer, but he left no doubt what that answer would be. The bishops told him that they were not come to condemn him, their province was to condemn no one, but only to cut off the heretic from the Church, for the temporal judge to deal with as he should think fit. The cowardly sophism had been heard too often. Ridley thanked the court 'for their gentleness,' 'being the same which Christ had of the high priest:' 'the high priest said it was not lawful for him to put any man to death, but committed Christ to Pilate; neither would suffer him to absolve Christ, though he sought all the means therefor that he might.'
Ridley withdrew, and Latimer was then introduced—eighty years old now—dressed in a threadbare gown of Bristol frieze, a handkerchief on his head with a night-cap over it, and over that again another cap, with two broad flaps buttoned under the chin. A leather belt was round his waist, to which a Testament was attached; his spectacles, without a case, hung from his neck. So stood the greatest man perhaps then living in the world, a prisoner on his trial, waiting to be condemned to death by men professing to be the ministers of God. As it was in the days of the prophets, so it was in the Son of man's days; as it was in the days of the Son of man, so was it in the Reformers' days; as it was in the days of the Reformers, so will it be to the end, so long and so far as a class of men are permitted to hold power, who call themselves the commissioned and authoritative teachers of truth. Latimer's trial was the counterpart of Ridley's: the charge was the same, and the result was the same, except that the stronger intellect vexed itself less with nice distinctions. Bread was bread, said Latimer, and wine was wine; there was a change in the sacrament, it was true, but the change was not in the nature, but the dignity. He too was reprieved for the day. October 1.The following morning the court sat in St Mary's Church, with the authorities of town and university, heads of houses, mayor, aldermen, and sheriff. The prisoners were brought to the bar. The same questions were asked, the same answers were returned, and sentence was pronounced upon them, as heretics obstinate and incurable.
Execution did not immediately follow. The convictions for which they were about to die had been adopted by both of them comparatively late in life. The legate would not relinquish the hope of bringing them back into the superstition in which they had been born, and had lived so long; and Soto, a Spanish friar, who was teaching divinity at Oxford in the place of Peter Martyr, was set to work on them.
But one of them would not see him, and on the other he could make no impression. Those whom God had cast away, thought Pole, were not to be saved by man; Oct. 16.and the 16th of October was fixed upon as the day on which they were to suffer. Ridley had been removed from Bocardo, and was under the custody of the mayor, a man named Irish, whose wife was a bigoted and fanatical Catholic. On the evening of the 15th there was a supper at the mayor's house, where some members of Ridley's family were permitted to be present. He talked cheerfully of his approaching 'marriage;' his brother-in-law promised to be in attendance, and, if possible, to bring with him his wife, Ridley's sister. Even the hard eyes of Mrs Irish were softened to tears, as she listened and thought of what was coming. The brother-in-law offered to sit up through the night, but Ridley said there was no occasion; he 'minded to go to bed, and sleep as quietly as ever he did in his life.' In the morning he wrote a letter to the Queen. As Bishop of London he had granted renewals of certain leases, on which he had received fines. Bonner had refused to recognize them, and he entreated the Queen, for Christ's sake, either that the leases should be allowed, or that some portion of his own confiscated property might be applied to the repayment of the tenants. The letter was long; by the time it was finished, the sheriff's officers were probably in readiness.
The place selected for the burning was outside the north wall of the town, a short stone's throw from the south corner of Balliol College, and about the same distance from Bocardo prison, from which Cranmer was intended to witness his friends' sufferings.
Lord Williams of Thame was on the spot by the Queen's order; and the city guard were under arms to prevent disturbance. Ridley appeared first, walking between the mayor and one of the aldermen. He was dressed in a furred black gown, 'such as he was wont to wear being bishop,' a furred velvet tippet about his neck, and a velvet cap. He had trimmed his beard, and had washed himself from head to foot; a man evidently nice in his appearance, a gentleman, and liking to be known as such. The way led under the windows of Bocardo, and he looked up; but Soto, the friar, was with the Archbishop, making use of the occasion, and Ridley did not see him. In turning round, however, he saw Latimer coming up behind him in the frieze coat, with the cap and handkerchief—the workday costume unaltered, except that under his cloak, and reaching to his feet, the old man wore a long new shroud.
'Oh! be ye there?' Ridley exclaimed.
'Yea,' Latimer answered. 'Have after as fast as I can follow.'
Ridley ran to him and embraced him. 'Be of good heart, brother,' he said. 'God will either assuage the flame, or else strengthen us to abide it.' They knelt and prayed together, and then exchanged a few words in a low voice, which were not overheard.
Lord Williams, the vice-chancellor, and the doctors were seated on a bench close to the stake. A sermon was preached, 'a scant one,' 'of scarce a quarter of an hour;' and then Ridley begged that for Christ's sake he might say a few words.
Lord Williams looked to the doctors, one of whom started from his seat, and laid his hand on Ridley's lips—
'Recant,' he said, 'and you may both speak and live.'
'So long as the breath is in my body,' Ridley answered, 'I will never deny my Lord Christ and his known truth. God's will be done in me. I commit our cause,' he said, in a loud voice, turning to the people, 'to Almighty God, who shall indifferently judge all.' The brief preparations were swiftly made. Ridley gave his gown and tippet to his brother-in-law, and distributed remembrances among those who were nearest to him. To Sir Henry Lee he gave a new groat, to others he gave handkerchiefs, nutmegs, slices of ginger, his watch, and miscellaneous trinkets; 'some plucked off the points of his hose;' 'happy,' it was said, 'was he that might get any rag of him.'
Latimer had nothing to give. He threw off his cloak, stood bolt upright in his shroud, and the friends took their places on either side of the stake.
'Heavenly Father,' Ridley said, 'I give unto thee most humble thanks, for that thou hast called me to be a professor of thee even unto death. Have mercy, Lord, on this realm of England, and deliver the same from all her enemies.'
A chain was passed round their bodies, and fastened with a staple.
A friend brought a bag of powder and hung it round Ridley's neck.
'I will take it to be sent of God,' Ridley said. 'Have you more for my brother?'
'Yea, sir,' the friend answered. 'Give it him betimes then,' Ridley replied, 'lest ye be too late.'
The fire was then brought. To the last moment, Ridley was distressed about the leases, and, bound as he was, he entreated Lord Williams to intercede with the Queen about them.
'I will remember your suit,' Lord Williams answered. The lighted torch was laid to the faggots. 'Be of good comfort, Master Ridley,' Latimer cried at the crackling of the flames; 'Play the man: we shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.'
'In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum,' cried Ridley. 'Domine, recipe spiritum meum.'
'O Father of Heaven,' said Latimer, on the other side, 'receive my soul.'
Latimer died first: as the flame blazed up about him, he bathed his hands in it, and stroked his face. The powder exploded, and he became instantly senseless.
His companion was less fortunate. The sticks had been piled too thickly over the gorse that was under them; the fire smouldered round his legs, and the sensation of suffering was unusually protracted. 'I cannot burn,' he called; 'Lord, have mercy on me; let the fire come to me; I cannot burn.' His brother-in-law, with awkward kindness, threw on more wood, which only kept down the flame. At last some one lifted the pile with 'a bill,' and let in the air; the red tongues of fire shot up fiercely, Ridley wrested himself into the middle of them, and the powder did its work.
The horrible sight worked upon the beholders as it has worked since, and will work for ever, while the English nation survives, being, notwithstanding,—as in justice to those who caused these accursed cruelties, must never be forgotten,—a legitimate fruit of the superstition, that, in the eyes of the Maker of the world, an error of belief is the greatest of crimes; that while for all other sins there is forgiveness, a mistake in the intellectual intricacies of speculative opinion will be punished not with the brief agony of a painful death, but with tortures to which there shall be no end.
But martyrdom was often but a relief from more barbarous atrocities. In the sad winter months which were approaching, the poor men and women, who, untried and uncondemned, were crowded into the bishops' prisons, experienced such miseries as the very dogs could scarcely suffer and survive. They were beaten, they were starved, they were flung into dark fetid dens, where rotting straw was their bed, their feet were fettered in the stocks, and their clothes were their only covering, while the wretches who died in their misery were flung out into the fields where none might bury them.
Lollard's Tower and Bonner's coal-house were the chief scenes of barbarity. Yet there were times when even Bonner loathed his work. He complained that he was troubled with matters that were none of his; the bishops in other parts of England thrust upon his hands offenders whom they dared not pardon and would not themselves put to death; and, being in London, he was himself under the eyes of the Court, and could not evade the work. Against Bonner, however, the world's voice rose the loudest. His brutality was notorious and unquestionable, and a published letter was addressed to him by a lady, in which he was called the 'common cut-throat and general slaughter-slave to all the bishops in England.' 'I am credibly informed,' said this person to him, 'that your Lordship doth believe, and hath in secret said, there is no hell. The very Papists themselves begin now to abhor your bloodthirstiness, and speak shame of your tyranny. Every child can call you by name, and say, 'Bloody Bonner is Bishop of London!' and every man hath it as perfect upon his fingers' ends as his Paternoster, how many you for your part have burned with fire and famished in prison this three-quarters of a year. Though your Lordship believe neither heaven nor hell, neither God nor devil, yet if your Lordship love your own honesty, you were best to surcease from this cruel burning and murdering. Say not but a woman gave you warning. As for the obtaining your Popish purpose in suppressing of the truth, I put you out of doubt, you shall not obtain it so long as you go this way to work as you do. You have lost the hearts of twenty thousand that were rank Papists within this twelve months.'
In the last words lay the heart of the whole matter. The martyrs alone broke the spell of orthodoxy, and made the establishment of the Reformation possible.
In the midst of such scenes the new Parliament was about to meet. Money was wanted for the Crown debts, and the Queen was infatuated enough still to meditate schemes for altering the succession, or, at least, for obtaining the consent of the legislature to Philip's coronation, that she might bribe him back to her side.
As the opening of the session approached, Elizabeth was sent again from the Court to be out of sight and out of reach of intrigue; and Mary had the mortification of knowing that her sister's passage through London was a triumphal procession. The public enthusiasm became so marked at last that the Princess was obliged to ride forward with a few servants, leaving the gentlemen who were her escort to keep back the people. Fresh alarms, too, had risen on the side of the Papacy. Cardinal Caraffa, Paul IV. as he was now named, on assuming the tiara, had put out a bull among his first acts, reasserting the decision of the canons on the sanctity of the estates of the Church, and threatening laymen who presumed to withhold such property from its lawful owners with anathemas. In a conversation with Lord Montague, the English ambassador at Rome, he had used language far from reassuring on the concessions of his predecessor; and some violentdemonstration would undoubtedly have been made in Parliament, had not Paul been persuaded to except England especially from the general edict.
Even then the irritation was not allayed, and a whole train of sorrows was in store for Mary from the violent character of Caraffa. Political Popes have always been a disturbing element in the European system. Paul IV., elected by French influence, showed his gratitude by plunging into the quarrel between France and the Empire. He imprisoned Imperialist cardinals in St Angelo; he persecuted the Colonnas on account of their Imperialist tendencies, levelled their fortresses, and seized their lands. The Cardinal of Lorraine hastened to Rome to conclude an alliance offensive and defensive on behalf of France; and the Queen, distracted between her religion and her duty as a wife, saw Philip on the point of being drawn into parricidal hostility with his and her spiritual father. Nay, she herself might be involved in the same calamity; for so bitter was the English humour that the Liberal party in the council were inclined to take part in the war, if they would have the Pope for an enemy; and Philip would be too happy in their support to look too curiously to the motives of it.
A calamity of a more real kind was also approaching Mary. She was on the point of losing the only able minister on whose attachment she could rely. Gardiner's career on earth was about to end.
On the 6th of October, Noailles described the Bishop of Winchester as sinking rapidly, and certain to die before Christmas, yet still eager and energetic, perfectly aware of his condition, yet determined to work till the last.
Noailles himself had two hours' conversation with him on business; when he took his leave, the chancellor conducted him through the crowded antechamber to the door, leaning heavily on his arm. 'The people thought he was dead,' he said, 'but there was some life in him yet.'
Notwithstanding his condition, he roused himself for the meeting of Parliament on the 21st; he even spoke at the opening, and he was in his place in the House of Lords on the second day of the session; but his remaining strength broke down immediately after, November.and he died at Whitehall Palace on the 13th of November. The Protestants, who believed that he was the author of the persecution, expected that it would cease with his end; they were deceived in their hopes, for their sufferings continued unabated. In their opinion of his conduct they were right, yet right but partially.
Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, was the pupil of Wolsey, and had inherited undiminished the pride of the ecclesiastical order. If he went with Henry in his separation from the Papacy, he intended that the English Church should retain, notwithstanding, unimpaired authority and undiminished privileges. The humiliations heaped upon the clergy by the King had not discouraged him, for the Catholic doctrine was maintained unshaken, and so long as the priesthood was regarded as a peculiar order, gifted with supernatural powers, so long as the sacraments were held essential conditions of salvation, and the priesthood alone could administer them, he could feel assured that, sooner or later, their temporal position would be restored to them.
Thus, while loyal to the royal supremacy, the Bishop of Winchester had hated heresy, and hated all who protected heresy with a deadly hatred. He passed the Six Articles Bill; he destroyed Cromwell; he laboured with all his might to destroy Cranmer; and, at length, when Henry was about to die, he lent himself, though too prudently to be detected, to the schemes of Surrey and the Catholics upon the regency. The failure of those schemes, and the five years of arbitrary imprisonment under Edward, had not softened feelings already more than violent. He returned to power exasperated by personal injury; and justified, as he might easily believe himself to be, in his opinion of the tendencies of heresy, by the scandals of the Protestant administration, he obtained, by unremitting assiduity, the reenactment of the persecuting laws, which he himself launched into operation with imperious cruelty.
Yet there was something in Gardiner's character which was not wholly execrable. For thirty years he worked unweariedly in the service of the public; his judgment as a member of council was generally excellent; and Somerset, had he listened to his remonstrances, might have saved both his life and credit. He was vindictive, ruthless, treacherous, but his courage was indomitable. He resisted Cromwell till it became a question which of the two should die, and the lot was as likely to have fallen to him as to his rival. He would have murdered Elizabeth with the forms of law or without, but Elizabeth was the hope of all that he most detested. He was no dreamer, no high-flown enthusiast, but he was a man of clear eye and hard heart, who had a purpose in his life which he pursued with unflagging energy. Living as he did in revolutionary times, his hand was never slow to strike when an enemy was in his power; yet in general when Gardiner struck, he stooped, like the eagle, at the nobler game, leaving the linen-drapers and apprentices to 'the mousing owls.' His demerits were vast; his merits were small, yet something.
'Well, well,' as some one said, winding up his epitaph, 'Mortuus est, et sepultus est, et descendit ad inferos; let us say no more about him.'
October.To return to the Parliament. On the 23rd of October a bull of Paul IV., confirming the dispensation of Julius, was read in the House of Commons. On the 29th the Crown debts were alleged as a reason for demanding a subsidy. The Queen had been prevented from indulging her desire for a standing army. The waste and peculation of the late reign had been put an end to; and the embarrassments of the treasury were not of her creation. Nevertheless the change in social habits, and the alteration in the value of money, had prevented the reduction of the expenditure from being carried to the extent which had been contemplated; the marriage had been in many ways costly, and large sums had been spent in restoring plundered Church plate. So great had been the difficulties of the treasury, that, although fresh loans had been contracted with the Jews, the wages of the household were again two years in arrear.
Parliament showed no disposition to be illiberal; they only desired to be satisfied that if they gave money it would be applied to the purpose for which it was demanded. The Subsidy Bill, when first introduced, was opposed in the House of Commons on the ground that the Queen would give the keys of the treasury to her husband; and after a debate, a minority of a hundred voted for refusing the grant. The general spirit of the Houses, however, was, on the whole, more generous. Two fifteenths were voted in addition to the subsidy, which the Queen, on her side, was able to decline with thanks. The money question was settled quietly, and the business of the session proceeded.
If her subjects were indifferent to their souls, Mary was anxious about her own. November.On the 11th of November, a bill was read a first time in the House of Lords, 'whereby the King's and Queen's Majesties surrendered, and gave into the hands of the Pope's Holiness, the first-fruits and tenths of all ecclesiastical benefices.' The reception of the measure can be traced in the changes of form which it experienced. The payment of annates to the See of Rome was a grievance, both among clergy and laity, of very ancient standing. The clergy, though willing to be relieved from paying first-fruits to the Crown, were not so loyal to the successors of St Peter as to desire to restore their contributions into the old channel; while the laity, who from immemorial time had objected on principle to the payment of tribute to a foreign sovereign, were now, through their possession of the abbey lands and the impropriation of benefices, immediately interested parties. On the 19th of November fifty members of the House of Commons waited, by desire, upon the Queen, to hear her own resolutions, and to listen to an admonition from the Cardinal. On the 20th a second bill was introduced, 'whereby the King's and Queen's Majesties surrendered and gave the first-fruits and tenths into the hands of the laity.' The Crown would not receive annates longer in any form; and as laymen liable to the payment of them could not conTen iently be required to pay tribute to Rome, it was left to their consciences to determine whether they would follow the Queen's example in a voluntary surrender.
Even then, however, the original bill could not pass so long as the Pope's name was in it, or so long as the Pope was interested in it. As it left the Lords, it was simply a surrender, on behalf of the Crown, of all claims whatever upon first-fruits of benefices, whether from clergy or laity. The tenths were to continue to be paid. Lay impropriators should pay them to the Crown. The clergy should pay them to the legate, by whom they were to be applied to the discharge of the monastic pensions, from which the Crown was to be relieved. The Crown at the same time set a precedent of sacrifice by placing in the legate's hands unreservedly every one of its own impropriations.
In this form the measure went down to the Commons, where it encountered fresh and violent opposition. To demand a subsidy in one week, and in the next to demand permission to sacrifice a sixth part of the ordinary revenue, was inconsistent and irrational. The laity had no ambition to take upon themselves the burdens of the clergy. On the 27th there was a long discussion; December.on the 3rd of December the bill was carried, but with an adverse minority of a hundred and twenty-six, against a majority of a hundred and ninety-three.
Language had been heard in both Houses, during the debates, of unusual violence. Bradford's letter on the succession was circulating freely among the members, and the Parliament from which the Queen anticipated so much for her husband's interests proved the most intractable with which she had had to deal. After the difficulty which she had experienced with the first-fruits, she durst not so much as introduce the question of the crown. She attempted a bill for the restoration of the forfeited lands of the Howards, but it was lost. The Duchess of Suffolk, with several other persons of rank, had lately joined the refugees on the Continent; she attempted to carry a measure for the confiscation of their property, and failed again. A sharp blow was dealt also at the recovered privileges of ecclesiastics. A man named Benet Smith, who had been implicated in a charge of murder, and was escaping under plea of clergy, was delivered by a special Act into the hands of justice. The leaven of the heretical spirit was still unsubdued. The Queen dissolved her fourth Parliament on the 9th of December; and several gentlemen who had spoken out with unpalatable freedom were seized and sent to the Tower. She was unwise, thought Noailles; such arbitrary acts were only making her day by day more detested, and, should opportunity offer, would bring her to utter destruction.
Unwise she was indeed, and most unhappy. When the poor results of the session became known to Philip, he sent orders that such of his Spanish suite as he had left behind him should no longer afflict themselves with remaining in a country which they abhorred; he summoned them all to come to him except Alphonso, his confessor. 'The Queen wept and remonstrated; more piteous lamentations were never heard from woman.' 'How,' exclaimed a brother of Noailles, 'is she repaid now for having quarrelled with her subjects, and set aside her father's will! The misery which she suffers in her husband's absence cannot so change her but that she will risk crown and life to establish him in the sovereignty, and thus recall him to her side. Nevertheless, she will fail, and he will not come. He is weary of having laboured so long in a soil so barren; while she who feels old age stealing so fast upon her, cannot endure to lose what she has bought so dearly.'
Nothing now was left for Mary but to make such use as she was able of the few years of life which were to remain to her. If Elizabeth, the hated Anne Boleyn's hated daughter, was to succeed her on the throne, and there was no remedy, it was for her to work so vigorously in the restoration of the Church that her labours could not afterwards be all undone. At her own expense she began to rebuild and refound the religious houses. The Grey Friars were replaced at Greenwich, the Carthusians at Sheene, the Brigittines at Sion. The house of the Knights of St John in London was restored; the Dean and Chapter of Westminster gave way to Abbot Feckenham and a college of monks. Yet these touching efforts might soften her sorrow but could not remove it. Philip was more anxious than ever about the marriage of Elizabeth; and as Mary could not overcome her unwillingness to sanction by act of her own Elizabeth's pretensions, Philip wrote her cruel letters, and set his confessor to lecture her upon her duties as a wife. These letters she chiefly spent her time in answering, shut up almost alone, trusting no one but Pole, and seeing no one but her women. If she was compelled to appear in public, she had lost her power of self-control; she would burst into fits of violent and uncontrollable passion; she believed every one about her to be a spy in the interest of the Lords. So disastrously miserable were all the consequences of her marriage, that it was said, the Pope, who had granted the dispensation for the contraction of it, had better grant another for its dissolution. Unfortunately there was one direction open in which her frenzy could have uncontrolled scope.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, after his trial and his citation to Rome, addressed to the Queen a singular letter: he did not ask for mercy, and evidently he did not expect mercy: he reasserted calmly the truth of the opinions for which he was to suffer; but he protested against the indignity done to the realm of England, and the degradation of the royal prerogative, 'when the King and Queen, as if they were subjects in their own realm, complained and required justice at a stranger's hand against their own subjects, being already condemned to death by their own laws.' 'Death,' he said, 'could not grieve him much more than to have his most dread and gracious sovereigns, to whom under God he owed all obedience, to be his accusers in judgment before a stranger and outward power.'
The appeal was intended perhaps to provoke the Queen to let him die with his friends, in whose example and companionship he felt his strength supported. But it could not be; he was the spectator of their fate, while his own was still held at a distance before him. He witnessed the agonies of Ridley; and the long imprisonment, the perpetual chafing of Soto the Spanish friar, and the dreary sense that he was alone, forsaken of man, and perhaps of God, began to wear into the firmness of a many-sided susceptible nature. Some vague indication that he might yield had been communicated to Pole by Soto before Christmas, and the struggle which had evidently commenced was permitted to protract itself. If the Archbishop of Canterbury, the father of the Reformed Church of England, could be brought to a recantation, that one victory might win back the hearts which the general constancy of the martyrs was drawing off in tens of thousands. Time, however, wore on, and the Archbishop showed no definite signs of giving way. On the 14th of December, a mock trial was instituted at Rome; the report of the examination at Oxford was produced, and counsel were heard on both sides, or so it was pretended. Paul IV. then pronounced the final sentence, that Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, having been accused by his sovereigns of divers crimes and misdemeanours, it had been proved against him that he had followed the teachings of John Wicliff and Martin Luther of accursed memory; that he had published books containing matters of heresy, and still obstinately persisted in those his erroneous opinions: he was therefore declared to be anathema, to be deprived of his office, and having been degraded, he was to be delivered over to the secular arm.
There was some delay in sending the judgment to England. 1556.
Feb. 14.It arrived at the beginning of February, and on the 14th, Thirlby and Bonner went down to finish the work at Oxford. The court sat this time in Christ Church Cathedral. Cranmer was brought to the bar, and the Papal sentence was read. The preamble declared that the cause had been heard with indifference, that the accused had been defended by an advocate, that witnesses had been examined for him, that he had been allowed every opportunity to answer for himself. 'Lord,' he exclaimed, 'what lies be these! that I, being in prison and never suffered to have counsel or advocate at home, should produce witness and appoint counsel at Rome; God must needs punish this shameless lying.'
Silence would perhaps have been more dignified; to speak at all was an indication of infirmity. As soon as the reading was finished, the Archbishop was formally arrayed in his robes, and when the decoration was completed, Bonner called out in exultation:
'This is the man that hath despised the Pope's Holiness, and now is to be judged by him; this is the man that hath pulled down so many churches, and now is come to be judged in a church; this is the man that hath contemned the blessed Sacrament of the altar, and now is come to be condemned before that blessed Sacrament hanging over the altar; this is the man that, like Lucifer, sat in the place of Christ upon an altar to judge others, and now is come before an altar to be judged himself.'
Thirlby checked the insolence of his companion. The degradation was about to commence, when the Archbishop drew from his sleeve an appeal 'to the next Free General Council that should be called.' It had been drawn after consultation with a lawyer, in the evident hope that it might save or prolong his life, and he attempted to present it to his judges. But he was catching at straws, as in his clearer judgment he would haVe known. Thirlby said sadly that the appeal could hot be received; his orders were absolute to proceed.
The robes were stripped off in the usual way. The thin hair was clipped. Bonner with his own hands scraped the finger points which had been touched with the oil of consecration; 'Now are you lord no longer,' he said, when the ceremony was finished. 'All this needed not,' Cranmer answered; 'I had myself done with this gear long ago.'
He was led off in a beadle's threadbare gown, and a tradesman's cap; and here for some important hours authentic account of him is lost. What he did, what he said, what Was done or what was said to him, is known only in its results, or in Protestant tradition. Tradition said that he was taken from the cathedral to the house of the Dean of Christ Church, where he was delicately entertained, and worked upon with smooth words, and promises of life. 'The noblemen,' he was told, 'bare him good-will; he was still strong, and might live many years, why should he cut them short?' The story may contain some elements of truth. But the same evening, certainly, he was again in his cell; and among the attempts to move him which can be authenticated, there was one of a far different kind; a letter addressed to him by Pole to bring him to a sense of his condition.
'Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ,' so the legate addressed a prisoner in the expectation of death, 'hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed; for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds. There are some who tell me that, in obedience to this command, I ought not to address you, or to have any dealings with you, save the dealings of a judge with a criminal. But Christ came not to judge only, but also to save; I call upon you, not to enter into your house, for so I should make myself a partaker with you; my desire is only to bring you back to the Church which you have deserted.
'You have corrupted Scripture, you have broken through the communion of saints, and now I tell you what you must do; I tell you, or rather not I, but Christ and the Church through me. Did I follow my own impulse, or did I speak in my own name, I should hold other language: to you I should not speak at all; I would address myself only to God; I would pray him to let fall the fire of Heaven to consume you, and to consume witl vou the house into which you have entered in abandoning the Church.
'You pretend that you have used no instruments but reason, to lead men after you; what instrument did the devil use to seduce our parents in Paradise? you have followed the serpent; with guile you destroyed your King, the realm, and the Church, and you have brought to perdition thousands of human souls.
'Compared with you, all others who have been concerned in these deeds of evil, are but objects of pity; many of them long resisted temptation, and yielded only to the seductions of your impious tongue; you made yourself a bishop,—for what purpose, but to mock both God and man? Your first act was but to juggle with your King, and you were no sooner Primate, than you plotted how you might break your oath to the Holy See; you took part in the counsels of the evil one, you made your home with the wicked, you sat in the seat of the scornful. You exhorted your King with your fine words, to put away his wife; you prated to him of his obligations to submit to the judgment of the Church; and what has followed that unrighteous sentence? You parted the King from the wife with whom he had lived for twenty years; you parted him from the Church, the common mother of the faithful; and thenceforth throughout the realm law has been trampled under foot, the people have been ground with tyranny, the churches pillaged, the nobility murdered one by the other.
'Therefore, I say, were I to make my own cries heard in heaven, I would pray God to demand at your hands the blood of his servants. Never had religion, never had the Church of Christ, a worse enemy than you have been; now therefore, when you are about to suffer the just reward of your deeds, think no more to excuse yourself; confess your sins, like the penitent thief upon the cross.
'Say not in your defence that you have done no violence, that you have been kind and gentle in your daily life. Thus I know men speak of you; but cheat not your conscience with so vain a plea. The devil, when called to answer for the souls that he has slain, may plead likewise that he did not desire their destruction; he thought only to make them happy, to give them pleasure, honour, riches—all things which their hearts desired. So did you with your King: you gave him the woman that he lusted after; you gave him the honour which was not his due, and the good things which were neither his nor yours; and, last and worst, you gave him poison, in covering his iniquities with a cloak of righteousness. Better, far better, you had offered him courtezans for companions; better you and he had been open thieves and robbers. Then he might have understood his crimes, and have repented of them; but you tempted him into the place where there is no repentance, no hope of salvation.
'Turn then yourself, and repent. See yourself as you are. Thus may you escape your prison. Thus may you flee out of the darkness wherein you have hid yourself. Thus may you come back to light and life, and earn for yourself God's forgiveness. I know not how to deal with you. Your examination at Oxford has but hardened you; yet the issue is with God. I at least can point out to you the way. If you, then, persist in your vain opinions, may God have mercy on you.'
The legate, in his office of guide, then travelled the full round of controversy, through Catholic tradition, through the doctrine of the Sacraments and of the real presence, where there is no need to follow him. At length he drew to his conclusion:
'You will plead Scripture to answer me. Are you so vain, then, are you so foolish, as to suppose that it has been left to you to find out the meaning of those Scriptures which have been in the hands of the Fathers of the Church for so many ages? Confess, confess that you have mocked God in denying that he is present on the altar; wash out your sins with tears; and in the abundance of your sorrow you may find pardon. May it be so. Even for the greatness of your crimes may it be so, that God may have the greater glory. You have not, like others, fallen through simplicity, or fallen through fear. You were corrupted, like the Jews, by earthly rewards and promises. For your own profit you denied the presence of your Lord, and you rebelled against his servant the Pope. May you see your crimes. May you feel the greatness of your need of inercy. Now, even now, by my mouth, Christ offers you that mercy; and with the passionate hope which I am bound to feel for your salvation, I wait your answer to your Master's call.'
The exact day on which this letter reached the Archbishop is uncertain, but it was very near the period of his sentence. He had dared death bravely while it was distant; but he was physically timid; the near approach of the agony which he had witnessed in others unnerved him; and in a moment of mental and moral prostration Cranmer may well have looked in the mirror which Pole held up to him, and asked himself whether, after all, the being there described was his true image—whether it was himself as others saw him. A faith which had existed for centuries, a faith in which generation after generation have lived happy and virtuous lives; a faith in which all good men are agreed, and only the bad dispute—such a faith carries an evidence and a weight with it beyond what can be looked for in a creed reasoned out by individuals—a creed which had the ban upon it of inherited execration; which had been held in abhorrence once by him who was now called upon to die for it. Only fools and fanatics believe that they cannot be mistaken. Sick misgivings may have taken hold upon him in moments of despondency, whether, after all, the millions who received the Roman supremacy might not be more right than the thousands who denied it; whether the argument on the real presence, which had satisfied him for fifty years, might not be better founded than his recent doubts. It is not possible for a man of gentle and modest nature to feel himself the object of intense detestation without uneasy pangs; and as such thoughts came and went, a window might seem to open, through which there was a return to life and freedom. His trial was not greater than hundreds of others had borne, and would bear with constancy; but the temperaments of men are unequally constituted, and a subtle intellect and a sensitive organization are not qualifications which make martyrdom easy.
Life, by the law of the Church, by justice, by precedent, was given to all who would accept it on terms of submission. That the Archbishop should be tempted to recant, with the resolution formed, notwithstanding, that he should still suffer, whether he yielded or whether he was obstinate, was a suspicion which his experience of the legate had not taught him to entertain.
So it was that Cranmer's spirit gave way, and he who had disdained to fly when flight was open to him, because he considered that, having done the most in establishing the Reformation, he was bound to face the responsibility of it, fell at last under the protraction of the trial.
The day of his degradation the Archbishop had eaten little. In the evening he returned to his cell in a state of exhaustion: the same night, or the next day, he sent in his first submission, which was forwarded on the instant to the Queen. It was no sooner gone than he recalled it, and then vacillating again, he drew a second, in slightly altered words, which he signed and did not recall. There had been a struggle in which the weaker nature had prevailed, and the orthodox leaders made haste to improve their triumph. The first step being over, confessions far more humiliating could now be extorted. Bonner came to his cell, and obtained from him a promise in writing, 'to submit to the King and Queen in all their laws and ordinances, as well touching the Pope's supremacy, as in all other things;' with an engagement further 'to move and stir all others to do the like,' and to live in quietness and obedience, without murmur or grudging; his book on the Sacrament he would submit to the next general council.
These three submissions must have followed one another rapidly. On the 16th of February, two days only after his trial, he made a fourth, and yielding the point which he had reserved, he declared that he believed all the articles of the Christian religion as the Catholic Church believed. But so far he had spoken generally, and the Court required particulars. In a fifth and longer submission, he was made to anathematize particularly the heresies of Luther and Zuinglius; to accept the Pope as the head of the Church, out of which was no salvation; to acknowledge the real presence in the Eucharist, the seven sacraments as received by the Roman Catholics, and purgatory. He professed his penitence for having once held or taught otherwise, and he implored the prayers of all faithful Christians, that those whom he had seduced might be brought back to the true fold.
The demands of the Church might have been satisfied by these last admissions; but Cranmer had not yet expiated his personal offences against the Queen and her mother, and he was to drain the cup of humiliation to the dregs.
A month was allowed to pass. He was left with the certainty of his shame, and the uncertainty whether, after all. it had not been encountered in vain. March 18.On the 18th of March, one more paper was submitted to his signature, in which he confessed to be all which Pole had described him. He called himself a blasphemer, and a persecutor; being unable to undo his evil work, he had no hope, he said, save in the example of the thief upon the cross, who when other means of reparation were taken from him, made amends to God with his lips. He was unworthy of mercy, and he deserved eternal vengeance. He had sinned against King Henry and his wife; he was the cause of the divorce, from which, as from a seed, had sprung up schism, heresy, and crime; he had opened a window to false doctrines of which he had been himself the most pernicious teacher; especially he reflected with anguish that he had denied the presence of his Maker in the consecrated elements. He had deceived the living and he had robbed the souls of the dead by stealing from them their masses. He prayed the Pope to pardon him; he prayed the King and Queen to pardon him; he prayed God Almighty to pardon him, as he had pardoned Mary Magdalen; or to look upon him as, from his own cross, He had looked upon the thief.
The most ingenious malice could invent no deeper degradation, and the Archbishop might now die. One favour was granted to him alone of all the sufferers for religion—that he might speak at his death; speak, and, like Northumberland, perish with a recantation on his lips.
The hatred against him was confined to the Court. Even among those who had the deepest distaste for his opinions, his character had won affection and respect; and when it was known that he was to be executed, there was a wide-spread and profound emotion. 'Although,' says a Catholic who witnessed his death, 'his former life and wretched end deserved a greater misery, if any greater might have chanced to him; yet, setting aside his offence to God and his country, beholding the man without his faults, I think there was none that pitied not his case and bewailed not his fortune, and feared not his own chance, to see so noble a prelate, so grave a councillor, of so long-continued honours, after so many dignities, in his old years to be deprived of his estate, adjudged to die, and in so painful a death to end his life.'
March 21.On Saturday, the 21st of March, Lord Williams was again ordered into Oxford to keep the peace, with Lord Chandos, Sir Thomas Brydges, and other gentlemen of the county. If they allowed themselves to countenance by their presence the scene which they were about to witness, it is to be remembered that but a few years since, these same gentlemen had seen Catholic priests swinging from the pinnacles of their churches. The memory of the evil days was still recent, and amidst the tumult of conflicting passions, no one could trust his neighbour, and organized resistance was impracticable.
The March morning broke wild and stormy. The sermon intended to be preached at the stake was adjourned, in consequence of the wet, to St Mary's, where a high stage was erected, on which Cranmer was to stand conspicuous. Peers, knights, doctors, students, priests, men-at-arms, and citizens, thronged the narrow aisles, and through the midst of them the Archbishop was led in by the mayor. As he mounted the platform many of the spectators were in tears. He knelt and prayed silently, and Cole, the Provost of Eton, then took his place in the pulpit.
Although, by a strained interpretation of the law, it could be pretended that the time of grace had expired with the trial; yet, to put a man to death at all after recantation was a proceeding so violent and unusual, that some excuse or some explanation was felt to be necessary.
Cole therefore first declared why it was expedient that the late Archbishop should suffer, notwithstanding his reconciliation. One reason was 'for that he had been a great causer of all the alterations in the realm of England; and when the matter of the divorce between King Henry VIII. and Queen Catherine was commenced in the Court of Rome, he, having nothing to do with it, sat upon it as a judge, which was the entry to all the inconvenients which followed.' Yet in that Mr Cole excused him—that he thought he did it, not 'out of malice, but by the persuasion and advice of certain learned men.'
Another occasion was, 'for that he had been the great setter- forth of all the heresy received into the Church in the latter times; had written in it, had disputed, had continued it even to the last hour; and it had never been seen in the time of schism that any man continuing so long had been pardoned, and that it was not to be remitted for example's sake.'
'And other causes,' Cole added, 'moved the Queen and council thereto, which, were not meet and convenient for every one to understand.'
The explanations being finished, the preacher exhorted his audience to take example from the spectacle before them, to fear God, and to learn that there was no power against the Lord. There, in their presence, stood a man, once 'of so high degree—sometime one of the chief prelates of the Church—an Archbishop, the chief of the council, the second person of the realm: of long time, it might be thought, in great assurance, a king on his side;' and now, 'notwithstanding all his authority and defence, debased from a high estate unto a low degree—of a councillor become a caitiff, and set in so wretched estate that the poorest wretch would not change conditions with him.'
Turning, in conclusion, to Cranmer himself, Cole then 'comforted and encouraged him to take his death well by many places in Scripture; bidding him nothing mistrust but that he should incontinently receive that the thief did, to whom Christ said, To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise. Out of Paul he armed him against the terrors of fire, by the words, The Lord is faithful, and will not suffer you to be tempted beyond that which you are able to bear; by the example of the three Children, to whom God made the flame seem like a pleasant joy; by the rejoicing of St Andrew on his cross; by the patience of St Lawrence on the fire.' He dwelt upon his conversion, which, he said, was the special work of God, because so many efforts had been made by men to work upon him, and had been made in vain. God, in his own time, had reclaimed him, and brought him home.
A dirge, the preacher said, should be sung for him in every church in Oxford; he charged all the priests to say each a mass for the repose of his soul; and finally, he desired the congregation present to kneel where they were, and pray for him.
The whole crowd fell on their knees, the Archbishop with them; and 'I think,' says the eye-witness, 'that there was never such a number so earnestly praying together; for they that hated him before, now loved him for his conversion, and hopes of continuance: they that loved him before could not suddenly hate him, having hope of his confession; so love and hope increased devotion on every side.'
'I shall not need,' says the same writer, 'to describe his behaviour for the time of sermon, his sorrowful countenance, his heavy cheer, his face bedewed with tears; sometimes lifting his eyes to heaven in hope, sometimes casting them down to the earth for shame—to be brief, an image of sorrow, the dolour of his heart bursting out of his eyes, retaining ever a quiet and grave behaviour, which increased the pity in men's hearts.'
His own turn to speak was now come. When the prayer was finished, the preacher said, 'Lest any man should doubt the sincerity of this man's repentance, you shall hear him speak before you. I pray you, Master Cranmer,' he added, turning to him, 'that you will now perform that you promised not long ago; that you would openly express the true and undoubted profession of your faith.'
'I will do it,' the Archbishop answered.
'Good Christian people,' he began, 'my dear, beloved brethren and sisters in Christ, I beseech you most heartily to pray for me to Almighty God, that he will forgive me all my sins and offences, which be many and without number, and great above measure; one thing grieveth my conscience more than all the rest, whereof, God willing, I shall speak more; but how many or how great soever they be, I beseech you to pray God of his mercy to pardon and forgive them all.'
Falling again on his knees:—
'Father of heaven,' he prayed, 'Son of God, Redeemer of the world, Holy Ghost, three Persons and one God, have mercy upon me, most wretched caitiff and miserable sinner. I have offended both heaven and earth more than my tongue can express; whither then may I go, or whither should I flee for succour? To heaven I am ashamed to lift up mine eyes, and in earth I find no succour nor refuge. What shall I do? Shall I despair? God forbid! Oh, good God, thou art merciful, and refusest none that come to thee for succour. To thee, therefore, do I come; to thee do I humble myself, saying, Lord, my sins be great, yet have mercy on me for thy great mercy. The mystery was not wrought that God became man, for few or little offences. Thou didst not give thy Son, O Father, for small sins only, but for all and the greatest in the world, so that the sinner return to thee with a penitent heart, as I do at this present. Wherefore have mercy upon me, O Lord, whose property is always to have mercy; although my sins be great, yet is thy mercy greater; wherefore have mercy upon me, O Lord, for thy great mercy. I crave nothing, O Lord, for mine own merits, but for thy Name's sake, and, therefore, O Father of heaven, hallowed be thy Name.'
Then rising, he went on with his address:—
'Every man desireth, good people, at the time of his death, to give some good exhortation that others may remember after his death, and be the better thereby; for one word spoken of a man at his last end will be more remembered than the sermons made of them that live and remain. So I beseech God grant me grace, that I may speak something at my departing whereby God may be glorified and you edified.
'But it is an heavy case to see that many folks be so doted upon the love of this false world, and be so careful for it, that of the love of God or the world to come, they seem to care very little or nothing; therefore this shall be my first exhortation—that you set not overmuch by this glozing world, but upon God and the world to come; and learn what this lesson meaneth which St John teacheth, that the love of the world is hatred against God.
'The second exhortation is, that next unto God, you obey your King and Queen willingly, without murmur or grudging, not for fear of them only, but much more for the fear of God, knowing that they be God's ministers, appointed of God to rule and govern you, and therefore whosoever resisteth them resisteth God's ordinance.
'The third exhortation is, that you live all together like brethren and sisters: but, alas! pity it is to see what contention and hatred one man hath against another, not taking each other for brethren and sisters, but rather as strangers and mortal enemies. But I pray you learn and bear well away the lesson, to do good to all men as much as in you lieth, and hurt no man no more than you would hurt your own natural brother or sister. For this you may be sure, that whosoever hateth his brother or sister, and goeth about maliciously to hinder or hurt him, surely, and without all doubt, God is not with that man, although he think himself never so much in God's favour.
'The fourth exhortation shall be to them that have great substance and riches of this world, that they may well consider and weigh these three sayings of the Scriptures. One is of our Saviour Christ himself, who saith that it is a hard thing for a rich man to come to heaven; a sore saying, and spoken of Him that knoweth the truth. The second is of St John, whose saying is this: He that hath the substance of this world, and seeth his brother in necessity, and shutteth up his compassion and mercy from him, how can he say he loveth God? The third is of St James, who speaketh to the covetous and rich men after this manner: Weep and howl for the misery which shall come upon you; your riches doth rot, your clothes be moth-eaten, your gold and silver is cankered and rusty, and the rust thereof shall bear witness against you, and consume you like fire; you gather and hoard up treasure of God's indignation against the last day. I tell them which be rich, ponder these sentences; for if ever they had occasion to show their charity, they have it now at this present; the poor people being so many, and victuals so dear; for although I have been long in prison, yet have I heard of the great penury of the poor.'
The people listened breathless, 'intending upon the conclusion.'
'And now,' he went on, 'forasmuch as I am come to the last end of my life, whereupon hangeth all my life past and all my life to come, either to live with my Saviour Christ in joy, or else to be ever in pain with wicked devils in hell; and I see before mine eyes presently either heaven'—and he pointed upwards with his hand—'or hell,' and he pointed downwards, 'ready to swallow me. I shall therefore declare unto you my very faith, without colour or dissimulation; for now it is no time to dissemble. I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth; in every article of the Catholic faith; every word and sentence taught by our Saviour Christ, his apostles, and prophets, in the Old and New Testament.
'And now I come to the great thing that troubleth my conscience more than any other thing that ever I said or did in my life, and that is the setting abroad of writings contrary to the truth, which here I now renounce and refuse, as things written with my hand contrary to the truth which I thought in my heart, and written for fear of death to save my life, if it might be; and that is, all such bills and papers as I have written and signed with my hand since my degradation, wherein I have written many things untrue; and forasmuch as my hand offended in writing contrary to my heart, my hand therefore shall first be punished; for if I may come to the fire, it shall be the first burnt. As for the Pope, I utterly refuse him, as Christ's enemy and Anti-Christ, with all his false doctrine; and as for the Sacrament, I believe as I have taught in my book against the Bishop of Winchester.'
So far the Archbishop was allowed to continue, before his astonished hearers could collect themselves. 'Play the Christian man,' Lord Williams at length was able to call; 'remember yourself; do not dissemble.' 'Alas! my Lord,' the Archbishop answered, 'I have been a man that all my life loved plainness, and never dissembled till now, which I am most sorry for.' He would have gone on; but cries now rose on all sides, 'Pull him down,' 'Stop his mouth,' 'Away with him,' and he was borne off by the throng out of the church. The stake was a quarter of a mile distant, at the spot already consecrated by the deaths of Ridley and Latimer. Priests and monks 'who did rue to see him go so wickedly to his death, ran after him, exhorting him, while time was, to remember himself.' But Cranmer, having flung down the burden of his shame, had recovered his strength, and such words had no longer power to trouble him. He approached the stake with 'a cheerful countenance,' undressed in haste, and stood upright in his shirt. Soto and another Spanish friar continued expostulating; but finding they could effect nothing, one said in Latin to the other, 'Let us go from him, for the devil is within him.' An Oxford theologian—his name was Ely—being more clamorous, drew from him only the answer that, as touching his recantation, 'he repented him right sore, because he knew that it was against the truth.'
'Make short, make short!' Lord Williams cried, hastily.
The Archbishop shook hands with his friends; Ely only drew back, calling, 'Recant, recant,' and bidding others not approach him.
'This was the hand that wrote it,' Cranmer said, extending his right arm; 'this was the hand that wrote it, therefore it shall suffer first punishment.' Before his body was touched, he held the offending member steadily in the name, 'and never stirred nor cried.' The wood was dry and mercifully laid; the fire was rapid at its work, and he was soon dead. 'His friends,' said a Catholic bystander, 'sorrowed for love, his enemies for pity, strangers for a common kind of humanity, whereby we are bound to one another.'
So perished Cranmer. He was brought out, with the eyes of his soul blinded, to make sport for his enemies, and in his death he brought upon them a wider destruction than he had effected by his teaching while alive. Pole was appointed the next day to the See of Canterbury; but in other respects the Court had overreached themselves by their cruelty. Had they been contented to accept the recantation, they would have left the Archbishop to die broken-hearted, pointed at by the finger of pitying scorn; and the Reformation would have been disgraced in its champion. They were tempted, by an evil spirit of revenge, into an act unsanctioned even by their own bloody laws; and they gave him an opportunity of redeeming his fame, and of writing his name in the roll of martyrs. The worth of a man must be measured by his life, not by his failure under a single and peculiar trial. The Apostle, though forewarned, denied his Master on the first alarm of danger; yet that Master, who knew his nature in its strength and its infirmity, chose him for the rock on which He would build His Church.
END OF VOL. V.
Richard Clay & Sons, Limited,
London & Bungay.
- Foxe, vol. vi.
- The story of Hunter was left in writing by his brother, and was printed by Foxe. I have already said that whenever Foxe prints documents instead of relating hearsays, I have found him uniformly trustworthy; so far, that is to say, as there are means of testing him.
- Wherefore it came to pass that Hannah bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the Lord, 1 Samuel i. 20.
- Foxe, vol. vii.
- Noailles to the King of France, April 5 and April 17. Montmorency to Noailles, April 21. Noailles to Montmorency, April 30: Ambassades, vol. iv.
- Letters to and from Sir Thomas Gresham: MS. Flanders, Mary, State Paper Office.
- Strype's Memorials.
- Machyn's Diary.
- These curious records of disappointed expectations remain in large numbers in the State Paper Office. The following is the letter addressed to Pole:—
Philip.—Mary the Queen.
Most Reverend Father in God, our right trusty and right entirely beloved cousin, We greet you well: And whereas it hath pleased Almighty God, of His infinite goodness, to add unto the great number of other His benefits bestowed upon us, the gladding of us with the happy deliverance of a prince, for the which we do most humbly thank Him; knowing your affections to be such towards us as whatsoever shall fortunately succeed unto us, the same cannot be but acceptable unto you also; We have thought good to communicate unto you these happy news of ours, to the intent you may rejoice with us; and praying for us, give God thanks for this his work accordingly. Given under our signet, at our house of Hampton Court, the — of —, the 1st and 2nd year of our and my Lord the King's reign.—MS. Mary, Domestic, vol. v. State Paper Office.
- Noailles to Montmorency, April 30: Ambassades, vol. iv.
- Sir Thomas Gresham to the Council: MS. Flanders, Mary, State Paper Office.
- Machyn's Diary.
- Noailles to Montmorency, May 15: Ambassades, vol. iv.
- Philip and Mary to Gardiner, Arundel, and Paget: Burnet's Collectanea.
- Noailles: Ambassades, vol. iv. p. 313.
- Et là où ladicte paix ou trefve adviendront ledict seigneur (l'Empereur) fera bientost après repasser en ce royaulme le duc d'Alva avecque la plus grande part de sesdictes forces pour y fabvoriser les affaires de ce roy.'—Noailles, vol. iv. p. 330.
- 'Il n'est rien que l'Empereur ne fasse pour venir à la paix, tant il désire avant de retourner en Espaigne de faire couronner son filz, roy de ce pays. Et pensera par même moyen se saisir des places fortes d'icelluy et chastier des Angloys d'infinies injures qu'ilz out faict recepvoir aux Espagnols, mettant grosses garnisons en ceste ville de Londres, et aultres lieux, à quoy ces roy et royne proposent … s'y faire obéir absolument aux parlemens, suyvant ce qu'ilz n'ont peu faire par cydevant.'—Ibid. p. 332, 333.
In these reports the truth was anticipated but not exceeded. It will be seen that such projects were really formed at a later period.
- 'Ladicte dame plusieurs fois de le jour demeure long-temps assise à terre, les genoulx aussy haultz que la teste.
'Se trouva hier fort malade et plus que de coustume, et pour la soulager, fust trouvé à mesme heure en sa court plusieurs lettres semées contre son honneur,' &c. Noailles, vol. iv. p. 342.
- 'The Queen said she could not be safely and happily delivered, nor could anything succeed prosperously with her, unless all the heretics in prison were burnt ad unum.'—Burnet
- Burnet's Collectanea. This letter is addressed to Bonner, and was taken from Bonner's Register; but, from the form, it was evidently a circular. The Bishop of London had not deserved to be singled out to be especially admonished for want of energy.
- Foxe, vol. vii.
- A letter of Mary's to Philip on the subject will be given in the following chapter, which reveals the disagreement which had arisen between them about this marriage.
- The impression was very generally spread. Noailles mentions it, writing on the 20th of June to the King of France; and Foxe mentions a mysterious attempt of Lord North to obtain a new-born child from its mother, as having happened within his own knowledge. The existence of the belief, however, proves nothing. At such a time it was inevitable, nor was there any good evidence to connect Lord North, supposing Foxe's story true, with the Court. The risk of discovery would have been great, the consequences terrible, and few people have been more incapable than Mary of knowingly doing a wrong thing.
- Renard to the Emperor, June 27: Granvelle Papers, vol. vi.
- Joanna of Castille, the Emperor's mad mother, dying soon after, masses were said for her with some solemnity at St Paul's. 'Aux obsèques que la royne commanda estre faictes à Londres, l'admiral d'Angleterre démontra ouvertement avoir quelque ressentment, de ce qu'il disoit le roy ne luy faisoit si bonne chiere et démonstration si favorable qu'il avoit accoustumé, disant qu'il sçavoit bien pourquoy s'estoit, inférant que ce fust pour ce qu'il avoit faict baiser les mains de Elizabetz aux gentilhommes qui l'avoient visitez.'
- Foxe; Holinshed.
- Le dict conseil voyant que plusieurs gentilhommes s'assembloient à Londres, et communicquoient par ensemble, qu'ils se tenoient à Londres, contre ce qu'est accoustumé en Angleterre, qu'est que ceulx qu'ilz eu moien ne demeurent 'a Londres en l'esté, ains au pays, pour la chaleur et maladies ordinaires qu'ilz y reignent, et que toutes les dicts gentilhommes sont hérétiques, ains esté pour le plus part rebelles, les autres parens et adhérens de Elizabetz, leur a faict faire commandement de se retirer chascun en sa maison et se séparer; qu'ilz ont prins mal et en ont fait grandes doleances, en prétendant qu'ilz estoient gens de bien, qu'ilz n'estoient traistres.—Renard to the Emperor: Granvelle Papers, vol. iv.
- Noailles, Vol. v. pp. 77–82.
- Machyn's Diary
- Noailles, vol. v. pp. 98, 99, 123.
- Elle a bonne part en la grace dudict Seigneur Roy, lequel par plusieurs lettres qu'il escript à la royne sa femme la luy recommende, comme aussy il a faict particulièrement et par soubz main aux principaux seigneurs Espaignolz qui sont demourez en ce lieu.—Ibid. p. 127.
- Domine Jesu Christe, qui es verus sponsus animæ meæ, verus Rex ac Dominus meus qui me ad Regni hujus gubernacula singulari tuâ providentiâ ac benignitate vocatam, cum antea essem derelicta et tanquam mulier ab adolescentiâ abjecta, cum virum in matrimonium et regni societatem expetere voluisti, qui plus cæteris imaginem tuam quam in sanctitate et justitiâ mundo ostendisti in suis meisque actionibus dirigendis exprimeret, et expetitum dedisti, cujus nunc discessum mœrens defleo—quæso per ilium pretiosissimum sanguinem quem pro me sponsâ tuâ proque illo et omnibus in arâ crucis effudisti, ut hunc meum dolorem ita lenias, ita purges, ita temperes, ut quoties ille sanctis suis consiliis mihi adest, quoties per litteras quæ ad salutem hujus populi tui pertinent commendat, toties ilium præsentem esse, teque unicum consolatorem in medio nostro adesse sentiam, utque in illo te semper amem atque glorificem. Obsecro, Domine, ut in nobis tua imago sic indies per tuam gratiam renovetur in conspectu populi tui, quem nobis gubernandum commisisti, ut cum is justitiæ tuæ severitatem, in iis quæ amiserat dum hi regnarent qui a rectâ fide declinantes sanctitatem et justitiam expulerunt, jam pridem senserit, quæ nunc per tuam misericordiam recuperaverit sub illorum Regno quos nunquam a rectâ fide declinare es passus, cum gratiarum actione lætus intelligat ut uno ore tam nos quam populus noster Deum patrem per te ejus unicum filium in unitate Spiritûs glorificemus, ad nostram ipsorum et piorum omnium salutem et consolationem. Amen.—Epist. Reg. Pol. vol. v.
- Il me fauldroit faire ung merveilleux discours pour vous rendre compte de tous les propoz qui font dans les dictes lettres. Je vous diray seulment ce qui plus tousche et regarde le lieu où vous estes. Et premièrement la royne a tant enchanté et ensorcelé ce beau jeune prince son mary que de luy avoir faict croyre ung an entier qu'elle estoit grosse pour le retenir près d'elle, dont il se trouve à présent si confus et fasché qu'il n'a plus délibéré de retourner habiter ceste terre, promettant à tous ses serviteurs que s'il peult estre une fois en Espaigne qu'il n'en sortira plus à si maulvaise occasion, &c. … —Le Protonotaire de Noailles à M. de Noailles: Ambassades, vol. v. p. 136.
- Not the martyr; he had been despatched by Bonner among the victims of the summer; but a person otherwise unknown.
- 'Ye will say, How could this fellow know their counsel?—I was chamberlain to one of the privy council, and with all diligence gave myself to write and read Spanish, which thing once obtained I kept secret from my master and my fellow-servants, because I might be trusted in my master's closet or study, where I might read such writing as I saw daily brought into the council chamber.'—John Bradford to the Lords of the Council: Strype's Memorials of the Reformation.
- Elizabeth, when she came to the throne, refused to admit that she was under any real obligation to Philip. She was entirely right in her refusal. The Spaniards had sworn, if possible, to make away 'with all those which by any means might lay claim to the crown.'
'I call God to record,' Bradford continues, 'I have heard it with mine ears, and seen the said persons with mine eyes, that have said, if ever the King obtain the crown, he would make the Lady Elizabeth safe from ever coming to the same, or any of our cursed nation. For they say, that if they can find the means to keep England in subjection, they would do more with the land than with all the rest of his kingdoms. I speak not of any fool's communication, but of the wisest, and that no mean persons. Yea, and they trust that there shall means be found before that time to despatch the Lady Elizabeth well enough by the help of assured traitors, as they have already in England plenty, and then they may the more easier destroy the others when she is rid out of the way.
'I speak not this, as some men would take it, to move dissension; for that were the best way for the Spaniards to come to their prey. Such a time they look for, and such a time they say some nobleman hath promised to provide for them.
'God is my witness that my heart will not suffer me for very shame to declare such vile reports as I have heard them speak against the Queen, and yet her Grace taketh them for her faithful friends. The Spaniards say, that if they obtain not the crown, they may curse the time that ever the King was married to a wife so unmeet for him by natural course of years; but and if that may be brought to pass that was meant in marriage-making, they shall keep old rich robes for high festival days.
'Alas, for pity! Ye be yet in such good estate that ye may, without loss of any man's life, keep the crown and realm quietly. If ye will hear a fool's counsel, keep still the crown to the right succession in your hands, and give it to no foreign princes. Peradventure her Grace thinketh the King will keep her the more company and love her the better, if she give him the crown. Ye will crown him to make him chaste contrary to his nature. They have a saying—'The baker's daughter is better in her gown than Queen Mary without the crown.' They say, 'Old wives must be cherished for their young fair gifts.' 'Old wives,' they say, 'for fair words will give all that they have.' But how be they used afterwards? Doth the Queen think the King will remain in England with giving him the realm? The council of Spain purposeth to establish other matters; to appoint in England a viceroy with a great army of Spanish soldiers, and let the Queen live at her beads like a good antient lady.'—John Bradford to the Earls of Arundel, Shrewsbury, Derby, and Pembroke: Strype's Memorials, vol. vi. p. 340, &c.
- Prayer written by Cardinal Pole for Queen Mary: supra.
- Noailles to the King of France, October 21: Ambassades, vol. v.
- Probably all malicious lies.—J. A. F.
- Noailles to Montmorency, December 5: Ibid.
- Foxe says the 12th; but this is wrong.—See Cranmer's letter to the Queen; Jenkins, vol. i. p. 369.
- Exhortation of the Bishop of Gloucester to Thomas Cranmer: Cotton MSS., Vespasian, A. 25. A copy, more rounded and finished, is given by Foxe, in his account of Cranmer's trial: but the latter has the appearance of having been touched up afterwards.
- The address concluded with a prolix exhortation to repentance, which I omit. It may be read in a form sufficiently accurate in Foxe.
- Although, the circumstances of the time called properly for an open declaration of this kind on the part of Cranmer, yet every one of his predecessors, from the time of Edward I., must have been inducted with a tacit understanding of the same kind. If a bishop had been prosecuted under the Statutes of Provisors, his oath to the Papacy would have been no more admitted as an excuse by the Plantagenet sovereigns, than the oath of a college Fellow to obey the statutes of the founder would have saved him from penalties under the House of Hanover had he said mass in his college chapel. Because Cranmer, foreseeing an immediate collision between two powers, which each asserted claims upon him, expressed in words a qualification which was implied in the nature of the case—it was, and is (I regret to be obliged to speak in the present tense), but a shallow sarcasm to taunt him with premeditated perjury.
- If the gift of a pot of cold water shall not be in oblivion with God, how can God forget your manifold and bountiful gifts, when He shall say unto you, 'I was in prison, and you visited me.' God grant us all to do and suffer while we be here as may be to His will and pleasure.—Latimer to Mrs Wilkinson, from Bocardo: Latimer's Remains, p. 444.
- Latimer's Remains, p. 429.
- A Rev. P. Soto accepi litteras Oxonio datas quibus me certiorem facit quid cum duobus illis hæreticis egerit qui jam erant damnati, quorum alter ne loqui quidem cum eo voluit: cum altero est locutus sed nihil profecit, ut facile intelligatur a nemine servari posse quos Deus projecerit. Itaque de illis supplicium est sumptum.—Pole to Philip: Epist. Reg. Pol. vol. v. p. 47.
- Foxe, vol. vii. p. 545. It is to the discredit of Mary that, she paid no attention to this appeal, and left Bonner's injustice to he repaired by the first Parliament of Elizabeth. Commons Journals, 1 Elizabeth.
- The execution, however, was doubtless appointed to take place on that spot, that Cranmer might see it. An old engraving in Foxe's Martyrs represents him as on the leads of the Tower while the burning was going forward, looking at it, and praying.
- Foxe, vols. vii. viii., passim, especially vol. vii. p. 605. Philpot's Petition, Ibid. p. 682; and an account of the Prisons at Canterbury, vol. viii. p. 255. At Canterbury, after Pole became archbishop, his archdeacon, Harpsfeld, had fifteen prisoners confined together, of whom five were starved to death; the other ten were burnt. But before they suffered, and while one of those who died of hunger still survived, they left on record the following account of their treatment, and threw it out of a window of the castle:—
'Be it known to all men that shall read, or hear read, these our letters, that we, the poor prisoners of the castle of Canterbury, for God's truth, are kept and lie in cold irons, and our keeper will not suffer any meat to be brought to us to comfort us. And if any man do bring in anything—as bread, butter, cheese, or any other food the said keeper will charge them that so bring us anything (except money or raiment), to carry it thence again; or else, if he do receive any food of any for us, he doth keep it for himself, and he and his servants do spend it; so that we have nothing thereof: and thus the keeper keepeth away our victuals from us; insomuch that there are four of us prisoners there for God's truth famished already, and thus it is his mind to famish us all. And we think he is appointed thereto by the bishops and priests, and also of the justices, so to famish us; and not only us of the said castle, but also all other prisoners in other prisons for the like cause to be also famished. Notwithstanding, we write not these our letters to that intent we might not afford to be famished for the Lord Jesus' sake, but for this cause and intent, that they having no law so to famish us in prison, should not do it privily, but that the murderers' hearts should be openly known to all the world, that all men may know of what church they are, and who is their father.'—Foxe, vol. viii. p. 255.
- See especially his conversation with Philpot: Foxe, vol. vii. p. 611.
- Godly Letter addressed to Bonner: Ibid., p. 712.
- Pour le faire plustost retonrner elle fera toutes choses incrédible en ce dict parlement en favour dudict Sieur … L'on diet que l'occasion pour laquelle le dict parlement a esté assemblé, ne tend à aultre fin que pour faire s'il est possible tomber le gouvernement absolu de ce royaulme entre les mains de ce roy.—Noailles to the King of France, October 21: Ambassades, vol. v.
- Ce soit ung argument plus grand que tout aultre pour faire entrer ceulx cy à la guerre ouverte; estant ceste nation comme ung chascung sçait fort ennemie de sadict Sainctité.—Noailles to Montmorency: Ambassades, vol. v. p. 188.
- Same to the same.—Ibid. p. 150.
- Special Grace appointed to have been said at York on the Accession of Elizabeth.—Tanner MSS., Bodleian Library.
- Commons Journals, 2nd and 3rd Philip and Mary
- Commons Journals, 2nd and 3rd Philip and Mary.—Noailles to the Constable, October 31.
- Commons Journ. Noailles says that the Queen demanded the fifteenths, and that the Commons refused to grant them. The account in the Journals is confirmed by a letter of Lord Talbot to the Earl of Shrewsbury.—Lodge's Illustrations, vol. i. p. 207.
- Mr Speaker declared the Queen's pleasure to be spoken yesterday, for to depart with the first-fruits and tenths; and my Lord Cardinal spake for the tithes and impropriations of benefices to be spiritual.—Commons Journals, November 20: 2nd and 3rd Philip and Mary.
- Lords Journals.
- 2nd and 3rd Philip and Mary, cap. iv.
- Commons Journals.
- Ibid. The temper of the opposition may be gathered from the language of a pamphlet which appeared on the accession of Elizabeth.
The writer describes the clergy as 'lads of circumspection, and verily filii hujus sæculi.' He complains of their avarice in inducing the Queen, 'at one chop, to give away fifty thousand pounds and better yearly from the inheritance of her crown unto them, and many a thousand after, unto those idle hypocrites besides.'
He then goes on:—
'And yet this great profusion of their prince did so smally serve their hungry guts, like starven tikes that were never content with more than enough; at all their collations, assemblies, and sermons, they never left yelling and yelping in pursuit of their prey, Restore! Restore! These devout deacons nothing how some for long service and travail abroad, while they sat at home—some for shedding his blood in defence of his prince's cause and country, while they with safety, all careless in their cabins, in luxe and lewdness, did sail in a sure port—some selling his antient patrimony for purchase of these lands, while they must have all by gift a God's name—they nothing regarding, I say, what injury to thousands, what undoing to most men, what danger of uproar and tumult throughout the whole realm, and what a weakening to the State, should thereby arise; with none of these matters were they moved a whit, but still held on their cry, Restore! Restore!
'And that ye may be sure they meant nothing more than how to have all, and that with all haste; after that their Pope, this seditious Paul IV., that now is, had sent hither his bulls and his thunderbolts for that cause, and other (and yet little restored, because the world, indeed, would not be so faced out of their livelihood) sundry of our prelates, like hardy champions, slacke not a whit themselves to thrust lords out of their lands, and picked quarrels to their lawful possessions. Well. Let nobility consider the case as they list; but, as some think, if the clergy come to be masters again, they will teach them a school point. Christ taught the young man that perfection was in vade, vende, et da, not in mane, acquire, accumula.'—Grace to be said at the Accession of Elizabeth: Tanner MSS., Bodleian Library.
- Michele, the Venetian ambassador, in his curious but most inaccurate account of England during this reign, states that the Queen had it in her power to cut off Elizabeth from the succession, but that she was prevented from doing it by Philip. Michele's information suffered from the policy of Venice. Venice held aloof from the complications of the rest of Europe, and her representatives were punished by exclusion from secrets of State. The letters of Noailles might be suspected, but the correspondence of Renard with Charles V. leaves no doubt whatever either as to the views of the Spaniards towards Elizabeth, of their designs on the crown, or of the causes by which they were baffled.
- Noailles to the King of France, December 16.
- The witty Katherine Brandon, widow of Henry VIII.'s Charles Brandon, married to Richard Bertie. She was a lady of advanced opinions, between whom and the Bishop of Winchester there were some passages-at-arms. She dressed a dog in a rochet on one occasion, and called it Bishop Gardiner.
Gardiner himself said that he was once at a party at the Duke of Suffolk's, and it was a question who should take the Duchess down to dinner. She wanted to go with her husband; but as that could not be, 'My lady,' said Gardiner, 'taking me by the hand, for that my lord would not take her himself, said that, forasmuch as she could not sit down with my lord whom she loved best, she had chosen me whom she loved worst.'—Holinshed.
- Et de mesme fust rejetté audict parlement à la grande confusion de ladicte dame ung aultre bill, par lequel elle vouloit confisquer les personnes et biens de ceulx qui sont transfuges de ce royaulme despuis son advènement à la couronne.—Noailles to the King of France, December 16: Ambassades, vol. v.
- 2nd and 3rd Philip and Mary, cap. 17.
- François de Noailles to Madame de Roye: Ambassades, vol. v
- Among the surviving memorials of Mary, none is more affecting than a rough copy of an answer to one of these epistles, which is preserved in the Cotton Library. It is painfully scrawled, and covered with erasures and corrections, in which may be traced the dread in which she stood of offending Philip. Demander license de votre Haultesse, is crossed through and altered into Supplier très humblement. Where she had described herself as obeissante, she enlarged the word into très obeissante; and the tone throughout is most piteous. She entreats the King to appoint some person or persons to talk with her about the marriage. She says that the conscience which she has about it she has had for twenty-four years; that is to say, since Elizabeth's birth. Nevertheless, she will agree to Philip's wish, if the realm will agree. She is ready to discuss it; but she complains, so far as she dares complain, of the confessor. The priests trouble her, she says. 'Alfonsez espécialement me proposoit questions si obscures que mon simple entendement ne les pouvoit comprehendre, comme pour exemple il me demandoit qui estoit roy au temps de Adam, et disoit comme j'estoy obligée de faire ceste marriage par ung article de mon Credo, mais il ne l'exposoit.… Aultres choses trop difficiles pour moy d'entendre.… ainsy qu'il estoit impossible en si peu de temps de changer.… conscience.… Votre Haultesse escript en ses dictes lettres que si le consent de ce royaulme iroyt au contraire, Votre Haultesse en imputeroit la coulpe en moy. Je supplie en toute humilité votre Haultesse de différer ceste affaire jusques à votre retour; et donques Votre Haultesse sera juge si je seray coulpable ou non. Car autrement je vinray en jalousie de Votre Haultesse la quelle sera pire à moy que mort; car j'en ay commencé déjà d'en taster trop à mon grand regret,' &c.—Cotton MSS., Titus, b. 2: printed very incorrectly in Strype's Memorials, vol. vi. 418.
- Cranmer to Queen Mary: Jenkins, vol. i. p. 369. This protest was committed to Pole to answer, who replied to it at length.
The authority of the Pope in a secular kingdom, the legate said, was no more a foreign power than 'the authority of the soul of man coming from heaven in the body generate on earth.' 'The Pope's laws spiritual did no other but that the soul did in the body, giving life to the same, confirming and strengthening the same;' and that it was which the angel signified in Christ's conception, declaring what his authority should be, that he should sit super domum David, which was a temporal reign, ut confirmet illud et corroboret, as the spiritual laws did.'
The quotation is inaccurate. The words in the Vulgate are, Dabit ille Dominus sedem David patris ejus: et regnabit in domo Jacob in æternum.
The letter contains another illustration of Pole's habit of mind. 'There was never spiritual man,' he says, 'put to execution according to the order of the laws of the realm but he was first by the canon laws condemned and degraded; whereof there be as many examples afore the time of breaking the old order of the realm these last years, us hath been delinquents. Let the records be seen. And specially this is notable of the Bishop of ——, which, being imprisoned for high treason, the King would not proceed to his condemnation and punishment afore he had the Pope's bull given him.…'
The historical argument proceeded smoothly up to the name, which, however, was not and is not to be found. Pole was probably thinking of Archbishop Scrope, who, however, unfortunately for the argument, was put to death without the Pope's sanction.—Draft of a Letter from Cardinal Pole to Cranmer: Harleian MSS. 417.
- Pole to Philip: Epistolæ Reg. Pol., vol. v. p. 47.
- Damnatæ memoriæ. Sentence Definitive against Thomas Cranmer: Foxe, vol. viii
- An allusion to a scaffold in St Paul's Church, on which Cranmer had sat as a commissioner; said to have been erected over an altar.
- Foxe, vol. viii. p. 73.
- Cranmer to a Lawyer: Jenkins, vol. i. p. 384.
- Epist. Reg. Pol., vol. v. p. 248. I am obliged to abridge and epitomize
- Car se je n'écoutois que les mouvemens de la nature, se je ne vous parlois qu'en mon nom, je vous tiendrois un autre langage an plutôt je ne vous dirois rien; je m'entretiendroís avec Dieu seul at je lui demanderois de faire tomber le feu du ciel pour vous consumer avec cette maison ou vous avez passe en abandonnant l'Eglise. The letter was only known to the editor of Pole's remains in a French translation. I do not know whether the original exists, or whether it was in Latin or in English.
- The innumerable modern writers who agree with Pole on the iniquity of the divorce of Catherine forget that, according to the rule which most of us now acknowledge, the marriage of Henry with his brother's wife really was incestuous—really was forbidden by the laws of God and nature; that the Pope had no more authority to dispense with those laws then than he has now; and that if modern law is right, Cranmer did no more than his duty.
- Jenkins, vol. iv. p. 129.
- Forasmuch as the King's and Queen's Majesties, by consent of Parliament, have received the Pope's authority within this realm, I am content to submit myself to their laws herein, and to take the Pope for chief head of this Church of England so far as God's laws and the customs of this realm will permit.
- Of this fifth submission there is a contemporary copy among the MSS. at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. It was the only one known to Foxe; and this, with, the fact of its being found in a separate form, gives a colour of probability to Mr Southey's suspicion that the rest were forgeries. The whole collection was published by Bonner, who injured his claims to credit by printing with the others a seventh recantation, which was never made, and by concealing the real truth. But the balance of evidence I still think is in favour of the genuineness of the first six. The first four lead up to the fifth, and the invention of them after the fifth had been made would have been needless. The sixth I agree with Strype in considering to have been composed by Pole, and signed by Cranmer.
- Recantations of Thomas Cranmer: Jenkins, vol. iv. p. 393.
- Death of Cranmer, related by a Bystander: Harleian MSS., 442. Printed, with some inaccuracies, by Strype.
- Narrative of the Execution of Thomas Cranmer: MS. Harleian, 422. Another account gives among the causes which Cole mentioned, that 'it seemed meet, according to the law of equality, that, as the death of the Duke of Northumberland of late made even with Sir Thomas More, Chancellor, that died for the Church, so there should be one that should make even with Fisher, Bishop of Rochester; and because that Ridley, Hooper, and Ferrars were not able to make even with that man, it seemed that Cranmer should be joined with them to fill up their part of equality.'—Foxe, vol. viii. p. 85. Jenkins, vol. iv. p. 133.
- MS. Harleian, 422.
- Shakspeare was perhaps thinking of this speech of Cranmer when he wrote the magnificent lines which he placed in the mouth of the dying Gaunt:—
'O, but they say, the tongues of dying men
Enforce attention, like deep harmony:
Where words are scarce, they are seldom spent in vain:
For they breathe truth, that breathe their words in pain.
He, that no more must say, is listened more
Than they whom youth and ease have taught to gloze;More are men's ends marked, than their lives before
The setting sun, and music at the close,
As the last taste of sweets, is sweetest last;
Writ in remembrance more than things long past.'
- There are two original contemporary accounts of Cramner's Words—Harleian MSS., 417 and 422,—and they agree so far almost word for word with 'The Prayer and Saying of Thomas Cranmer a little before his Death,' which was published immediately after by Boniier. But we now encounter the singular difficulty, that the conclusion given by Bonner is altogether different. The Archbishop is made to repeat his recantation, and express especial grief for the books which he had written upon the Sacrament.
There is no uncertainty as to what Cranmer really said; but, inasmuch as Bonner at the head of his version of the speech has described it as 'written with his own hand,' it has been inferred that he was required to make a copy of what he intended to say,—that he actually wrote what Bonner printed, hoping to the end that his life would be spared; and that he would have repeated it publicly, had he seen that there -was a chance of his escape. Finding, however, that bis execution had been irrevocably determined on, he made the substitution at the last moment.
There are many difficulties in this view, chiefly from the character of the speech itself, which has the stamp upon it of too evident sincerity to have been composed with any underhand intentions. The tone is in harmony throughout, and the beginning leads naturally to the conclusion which Cranmer really spoke.
There is another explanation, which is to me more credible. The Catholics were furious at their expected triumph being snatched from them. Whether Cranmer did or did not write what Bonner says he wrote, Bonner knew that he had not spoken it, and yet was dishonest enough to print it as having been spoken by him, evidently hoping that the truth could be suppressed, and that the Catholic cause might escape the injury which the Archbishop's recovered constancy must inflict upon it. A man who was capable of so considerable a falsehood would not have hesitated for the same good purpose to alter a few sentences. Pious frauds have been committed by more religious men than Edmund Bonner. See the Recantation of Thomas Cranmer, reprinted from Bonner's original pamphlet: Jenkins, vol. iv. p. 393.
- Harleian MS., 422. Strype has misread the word into 'run,' losing the point of the expression.