History of England (Froude)/Chapter 6
WHERE changes are about to take place of great and enduring moment, a kind of prologue, on a small scale, sometimes anticipates the true opening of the drama; like the first drops which give notice of the coming storm, or as if the shadows of the reality were projected forwards into the future, and imitated in dumb show the movements of the real actors in the story.
Such a rehearsal of the English Reformation was witnessed at the close of the fourteenth century, confused, imperfect, disproportioned, to outward appearance barren of results; yet containing a representative of each one of the mixed forces by which that great change was ultimately effected, and foreshadowing even something of the course which it was to run.
There was a quarrel with the Pope upon the extent of the Papal privileges; there were disputes between the laity and the clergy,—accompanied, as if involuntarily, by attacks on the sacramental system and the Catholic faith,—while innovation in doctrine was accompanied also with the tendency which characterized the extreme development of the later Protestants—towards political republicanism, the fifth monarchy, and community of goods. Some account of this movement must be given in this place, although it can be but a sketch only. 'Lollardry' has a history of its own; but it forms no proper part of the history of the Reformation. It was a separate phenomenon, provoked by the same causes which produced their true fruit at a later period; but it formed no portion of the stem on which those fruits ultimately grew. It was a prelude which was played out, and sank into silence, answering for the time no other end than to make the name of heretic odious in the ears of the English nation. In their recoil from their first failure, the people stamped their hatred of heterodoxy into their language; and in the word miscreant, misbeliever, as the synonym of the worst species of reprobate, they left an indelible record of the popular estimate of the followers of John Wycliffe.
The Lollard story opens with the disputes between the Crown and the See of Rome on the presentation to English benefices. For the hundred and fifty years which succeeded the Conquest, the right of nominating the archbishops, the bishops, and the mitred abbots, had been claimed and exercised by the Crown. On the passing of the Great Charter, the Church had recovered its liberties, and the privilege of free election had been conceded by a special clause to the clergy. The practice which then became established was in accordance with the general spirit of the English constitution. On the vacancy of a see, the cathedral chapter applied to the Crown for a congé d'élire. The application was a form; the consent was invariable. A bishop was then elected by a majority of suffrages; his name was submitted to the metropolitan, and by him to the Pope. If the Pope signified his approval, the election was complete; consecration followed; and the bishop having been furnished with his bulls of investiture, was presented to the King, and from him received 'the temporalities' of his see. The mode in which the great abbots were chosen was precisely similar; the superiors of the orders to which the abbeys belonged were the channels of communication with the Pope, in the place of the archbishops; but the elections in themselves were free, and were conducted in the same manner. The smaller church benefices, the small monasteries or parish churches, were in the hands of private patrons, lay or ecclesiastical; but in the case of each institution a reference was admitted, or was supposed to be admitted, to the Court of Rome.
There was thus in the Pope's hand an authority of an indefinite kind, which it was presumed that his sacred office would forbid him to abuse, but which, however, if he so unfortunately pleased, he might abuse at his discretion. He had absolute power over every nomination to an English benefice; he might refuse his consent till such adequate reasons, material or spiritual, as he considered sufficient to induce him to acquiesce, had been submitted to his consideration. In the case of nominations to the religious houses, the superiors of the various orders residing abroad had equal facilities for obstructiveness; and the consequence of so large a confidence in the purity of the higher orders of the Church became visible in an Act of Parliament which it was found necessary to pass in 1306-7.
'Of late,' says this Act, 'it has come to the knowledge of the King, by the grievous complaint of the honourable persons, lords, and other noblemen of his realm, that whereas monasteries, priories, and other religious houses were founded to the honour and glory of God, and the advancement of holy Church, by the King and his progenitors, and by the said noblemen and their ancestors; and a very great portion of lands and tenements have been given by them to the said monasteries, priories, and religious houses, and the religious men serving God in them; to the intent that clerks and laymen might be admitted in such houses, and that sick and feeble folk might be maintained, hospitality, almsgiving, and other charitable deeds might be done, and prayers be said for the souls of the founders and their heirs; the abbots, priors, and governors of the said houses, and certain aliens their superiors, as the abbots and priors of the Cistertians, the Premonstrants, the orders of Saint Augustine and of Saint Benedict, and many more of other religions and orders, have at their own pleasure set divers heavy, unwonted heavy and importable tallages, payments, and impositions upon every of the said monasteries and houses subject unto them, in England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, without the privity of the King and his nobility, contrary to the laws and customs of the said realm; and thereby the number of religious persons being oppressed by such tallages, payments, and impositions, the service of God is diminished, alms are not given to the poor, the sick, and the feeble; the healths of the living and the souls of the dead be miserably defrauded, hospitality, alms-giving, and other godly deeds do cease; and so that which in times past was charitably given to godly uses and to the service of God, is now converted to an evil end, by permission whereof there groweth great scandal to the people.' To provide against a continuance of these abuses, it was enacted that no 'religious' persons should, under any pretence or form, send out of the kingdom any kind of tax, rent, or tallage; and that 'priors aliens' should not presume to assess any payment, charge, or other burden whatever upon houses within the realm.
The language of this Act was studiously guarded. The Pope was not alluded to; the specific methods by which the extortion was practised were not explained; the tax upon presentations to benefices, either having not yet distinguished itself beyond other impositions, or the Government trusting that a measure of this general kind might answer the desired end. Lucrative encroachments, however, do not yield so easily to treatment; nearly fifty years after it became necessary to re-enact the same statute; and while recapitulating the provisions of it, the Parliament found it desirable to point out more specifically the intention with which it was passed.
The popes in the interval had absorbed in their turn from the heads of the religious orders, the privileges which by them had been extorted from the affiliated societies. Each English benefice had become the fountain of a rivulet which flowed into the Roman exchequer, or a property to be distributed as the private patronage of the Roman Bishop: and the English Parliament for the first time found itself in collision with the Father of Christendom.
'The Pope,' says the fourth of the twenty-fifth of Edward III., 'accroaching to himself the signories of the benefices within the realm of England, doth give and grant the same to aliens which did never dwell in England, and to cardinals which could not dwell here, and to others as well aliens as denizens, whereby manifold inconveniences have ensued.' 'Not regarding' the statute of Edward I., he had also continued to present to bishoprics, abbeys, priories, and other valuable preferments: money in large quantities was carried out of the realm from the proceeds of these offices, and it was necessary to insist emphatically that the Papal nominations should cease. They were made in violation of the law, and were conducted with simony so flagrant that English benefices were sold in the Papal courts to any person who would pay for them, whether an Englishman or a stranger. It was therefore decreed that the elections to bishoprics should be free as in time past, that the rights of patrons should be preserved, and penalties of imprisonment, forfeiture, or outlawry, according to the complexion of the offence, should be attached to all impetration of benefices from Rome by purchase or otherwise.
If statute law could have touched the evil, these enactments would have been sufficient for the purpose; but the influence of the popes in England was of that subtle kind which was not so readily defeated. The law was still defied, or still evaded; and the struggle continued till the close of the century, the legislature labouring patiently, but ineffectually, to confine with fresh enactments their ingenious adversary.
At length symptoms appeared of an intention on the part of the popes to maintain their claims with spiritual censures, and the nation was obliged to resolve upon the course which, in the event of their resorting to that extremity, it would follow. The lay lords and the House of Commons found no difficulty in arriving at a conclusion. They passed a fresh penal statute with prohibitions even more emphatically stringent, and decided that 'if any man brought into this realm any sentence, summons, or excommunication, contrary to the effect of the statute, he should incur pain of life and members, with forfeiture of goods; and if any prelate made execution of such sentence, his temporalities should be taken from him, and should abide in the King's hands till redress was made.'
So bold a measure threatened nothing less than open rupture. The Act, however, seems to have been passed in haste, without determined consideration; and on second thoughts, it was held more prudent to attempt a milder course. The strength of the opposition to the Papacy lay with the Commons. When the session of Parliament was over, a great council was summoned to reconsider what should be done, and an address was drawn up, and forwarded to Rome, with a request that the then reigning Pope would devise some manner by which the difficulty could be arranged. Boniface IX. replied with the same want of judgement which was shown afterwards on an analogous occasion by Clement VII. He disbelieved the danger; and daring the Government to persevere, he granted a prebendal stall at Wells to an Italian cardinal, to which a presentation had been made already by the King. Opposing suits were instantly instituted between the claimants in the courts of the two countries. A decision was given in England in favour of the nominee of the King, and the bishops agreeing to support the Crown were excommunicated. The Court of Rome had resolved to try the issue by a struggle of force, and the Government had no alternative but to surrender at discretion, or to persevere at all hazards, and resist the usurpation.
1392-3.The proceedings on this occasion seem to have been unusual, and significant of the importance of the crisis. Parliament either was sitting at the time when the excommunication was issued, or else it was immediately assembled; and the House of Commons drew up, in the form of a petition to the King, a declaration of the circumstances which had occurred. After having stated generally the English law on the presentation to benefices, 'Now of late,' they added, 'divers processes be made by his Holiness the Pope, and censures of excommunication upon certain bishops, because they have made execution of the judgments [given in the King's courts], to the open disherison of the crown; whereby, if remedy be not provided, the crown of England, which hath been so free at all times, that it has been in no earthly subjection, should be submitted to the Pope; and the laws and statutes of the realm by him be defeated and avoided at his will, in perpetual destruction of the sovereignty of the King our lord, his crown, his regality, and all his realm.' The Commons, therefore, on their part, declared, 'That the things so attempted were clearly against the King's crown and his regality, used and approved of in the time of all his progenitors, and therefore they and all the liege commons of the realm would stand with their said lord the King, and his said crown, in the cases aforesaid, to live and die.' Whether they made allusion to the Act of 1389 does not appear—a measure passed under protest from one of the estates of the realm was possibly held unequal to meet the emergency—at all events they would not rely upon it. For after this peremptory assertion of their own opinion, they desired the King, 'and required him in the way of justice,' to examine severally the lords spiritual and temporal how they thought, and how they would stand. The examination was made, and the result was satisfactory. The lay lords replied without reservation that they would support the Crown. The bishops (they were in a difficulty for which all allowance must be made) gave a cautious, but also a manly answer. They would not affirm, they said, that the Pope had a right to excommunicate them in such cases, and they would not say that he had not. It was clear, however, that, legal or illegal, such excommunication was against the privileges of the English Crown, and therefore that, on the whole, they would and ought to be with the Crown, loialment, like loyal subjects, as they were bound by their allegiance.
In this unusual and emphatic manner, the three estates agreed that the Pope should be resisted; and an Act passed 'that all persons suing at the Court of Rome, and obtaining thence any bulls, instruments, sentences of excommunication which touched the King, or were against him, his regality, or his realm, and they which brought the same within the realm, or received the same, or made thereof notification, or any other execution whatever, within the realm or without, they, their notaries, procurators, maintainers and abettors, fautors and counsellors, should be put out of the King's protection, and their lands and tenements, goods and chattels, be forfeited.'
The resolute attitude of the country terminated the struggle. Boniface prudently yielded, and for the moment, and indeed for ever under this especial form, the wave of Papal encroachment was rolled back. The temper which had been roused in the contest, might perhaps have carried the nation further. The liberties of the Crown had been asserted successfully. The analogous liberties of the Church might have followed; and other channels, too, might have been cut off, through which the Papal exchequer fed itself on English blood. But at this crisis the anti-Roman policy was arrested in its course by another movement, which turned the current of suspicion, and frightened back the nation to conservatism.
While the Crown and the Parliament had been engaged with the Pope, the undulations of the dispute had penetrated down among the body of the people, and an agitation had been commenced of an analogous kind against the spiritual authorities at home. The Parliament had lamented that the duties of the religious houses were left unfulfilled, in consequence of the extortions of their superiors abroad. The people, who were equally convinced of the neglect of duty, adopted an interpretation of the phenomenon less favourable to the clergy, and attributed it to the temptations of worldliness, and the self-indulgence generated by enormous wealth.
1360.This form of discontent found its exponent in John Wycliffe, the great forerunner of the Reformation, whose austere figure stands out above the crowd of notables in English history, with an outline not unlike that of another forerunner of a greater change.
The early life of Wycliffe is obscure. Lewis, on the authority of Leland, says that he was born near Richmond, in Yorkshire. Fuller, though with some hesitation, prefers Durham. He emerges into distinct notice in 1360, ten years subsequent to the passing of the first Statute of Provisors, having then acquired a great Oxford reputation as a lecturer in divinity, and having earned for himself powerful friends and powerful enemies. He had made his name distinguished by attacks upon the clergy for their indolence and profligacy: attacks both written and orally delivered those written, we observe, being written in English, not in Latin. In 1365, Islip, Archbishop of Canterbury, appointed him Warden of Canterbury Hall; the appointment, however, was made with some irregularity, and the following year, Archbishop Islip dying, his successor, Langhani, deprived Wycliffe, and the sentence was confirmed by the King. It seemed, nevertheless, that no personal reflection was intended by this decision, for Edward III. nominated the ex-warden one of his chaplains immediately after, and employed him on an important mission to Bruges, where a conference on the benefice question was to be held with a Papal commission.
Other Church preferment was subsequently given to Wycliffe; but Oxford remained the chief scene of his work. He continued to hold his professorship of divinity; and from this office the character of his history took its complexion. At a time when books were rare and difficult to be procured, lecturers who had truth to communicate fresh drawn from the fountain, held an influence which in these days it is as difficult to imagine as, however, it is impossible to overrate. Students from all Europe flocked to the feet of a celebrated professor, who became the leader of a party by the mere fact of his position.
The burden of Wycliffe's teaching was the exposure of the indolent fictions which passed under the name of religion in the established theory of the Church. He was a man of most simple life; austere in appearance, with bare feet and russet mantle. As a soldier of Christ, he saw in his Great Master and his Apostles the patterns whom he was bound to imitate. By the contagion of example he gathered about him other men who thought as he did; and gradually, under his captaincy, these 'poor priests,' as they were called—vowed to poverty because Christ was poor—vowed to accept no benefice, lest they should misspend the property of the poor, and because, as apostles, they were bound to go where their Master called them, spread out over the country as an army of missionaries, to preach the faith which they found in the Bible—to preach, not of relics and of indulgences, but of repentance and of the grace of God. They carried with them copies of the Bible which Wycliffe had translated, leaving here and there, as they travelled, their costly treasures, as shining seed points of light; and they refused to recognize the authority of the bishops, or their right to silence them.
If this had been all, and perhaps if Edward III. had been succeeded by a prince less miserably incapable than his grandson Richard, Wycliffe might have made good his ground; the movement of the Parliament against the Pope might have united in a common stream with the spiritual move against the Church at home, and the Reformation have been antedated by a century. He was summoned to answer for himself before the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1377. He appeared in court supported by the presence of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, the eldest of Edward's surviving sons, and the authorities were unable to strike him behind so powerful a shield.
But the 'poor priests' had other doctrines besides those which they discovered in the Bible, relating to subjects with which, as apostles, they would have done better if they had shrunk from meddling. The inefficiency of the clergy was occasioned, as Wycliffe thought, by their wealth and by their luxury. He desired to save them from a temptation too heavy for them to bear, and he insisted that by neglect of duty their wealth had been forfeited, and that it was the business of the laity to take it from its unworthy possessors. The invectives with which the argument was accompanied produced a widely-spread irritation. The reins of the country fell simultaneously into the weak hands of Richard II., and the consequence was a rapid spread of disorder. In the year which followed Richard's accession, consistory judges were assaulted in their courts, sanctuaries were violated, priests were attacked and ill-treated in church, churchyard, and cathedral, and even while engaged in the mass; the contagion of the growing anarchy seems to have touched even Wycliffe himself, and touched him in a point most deeply dangerous.
His theory of property, and his study of the character of Christ, had led him to the near confines of Anabaptism. Expanding his views upon the estates of the Church, into an axiom, he taught that 'charters of perpetual inheritance were impossible;' 'that God could not give men civil possessions for ever;' 'that property was founded in grace, and derived from God;' and 'seeing that forfeiture was the punishment of treason, and all sin was treason against God, the sinner must consequently forfeit his right to what he held of God.' These propositions were nakedly true, as we shall most of us allow; but God has his own methods of enforcing extreme principles; and human legislation may only meddle with them at its peril. The theory as an abstraction could be represented as applying equally to the laity as to the clergy, and the new teaching received a practical comment in 1381, in the invasion of London by Wat, the tyler of Dartford, and 100,000 men, who were to level all ranks, put down the Church, and establish universal liberty. Two priests accompanied the insurgents, not Wycliffe's followers, but the licentious counterfeits of them, who trod inevitably in their footsteps, and were as inevitably countenanced by their doctrines. The insurrection was attended with the bloodshed, destruction, and ferocity natural to such outbreaks. The Archbishop of Canterbury and many gentlemen were murdered; and a great part of London sacked and burnt. It would be absurd to attribute this disaster to Wycliffe, nor was there any desire to hold him responsible for it; but it is equally certain that the doctrines which he had taught were incompatible, at that particular time, with an effective repression of the spirit which had caused the explosion. It is equally certain that he had brought discredit on his nobler efforts by ambiguous language on a subject of the utmost difficulty, and had taught the wiser and better portion of the people to confound heterodoxy of opinion with sedition, anarchy, and disorder.
So long as Wycliffe lived, his own lofty character was a guarantee for the conduct of his immediate disciples; and although his favour had far declined, a party in the State remained attached to him, with sufficient influence to prevent the adoption of extreme measures against the 'poor priests.' In the year following the insurrection, an Act was passed for their repression in the House of Lords, and was sent down by the King to the Commons. They were spoken of as 'evil persons,' going from place to place in defiance of the bishops, preaching in the open air to great congregations at markets and fairs, 'exciting the people,' 'engendering discord between the estates of the realm.' The ordinaries had no power to silence them, and had therefore desired that commissions should be issued to the sheriffs of the various counties, to arrest all such persons, and confine them, until they would 'justify themselves' in the ecclesiastical courts. Wycliffe petitioned against the bill, and it was rejected; not so much perhaps out of tenderness for the reformer, as because the Lower House was excited by the controversy with the Pope; and being doubtfully disposed towards the clergy, was reluctant to subject the people to a more stringent spiritual control.
But Wycliffe himself meanwhile had received a clear intimation of his own declining position. His opposition to the Church authorities, and his efforts at re-invigorating the faith of the country, had led him into doubtful statements on the nature of the eucharist; he had entangled himself in dubious metaphysics on a subject on which no middle course is really possible; and being summoned to answer for his language before a synod in London, he had thrown himself again for protection on the Duke of Lancaster. The Duke (not unnaturally under the circumstances) declined to encourage what he could neither approve nor understand; and Wycliffe, by his great patron's advice, submitted. He read a confession of faith before the bishops, which was held satisfactory; Dec. 31, 1834.he was forbidden, however, to preacn again in Oxford, and retired to his living of Lutterworth, in Leicestershire, where two years later he died.
With him departed all which was best and purest in the movement which he had commenced. The zeal of his followers was not extinguished, but the wisdom was extinguished which had directed it; and perhaps the being treated as the enemies of order had itself a tendency to make them what they were believed to be. They were left unmolested for the next twenty years, the feebleness of the Government, the angry complexion which had been assumed by the dispute with Rome, and the political anarchy in the closing decade of the century, combining to give them temporary shelter; but they availed themselves of their opportunity to travel further on the dangerous road on which they had entered; and on the settlement of the country under Henry IV. they fell under the general ban which struck down all parties who had shared in the late disturbances.
They had been spared in 1382, only for more sharp denunciation, and a more cruel fate; and Boniface having healed, on his side, the wounds which had been opened, by well-timed concessions, there was no reason left for leniency. 1400–1.The character of the Lollard teaching was thus described (perhaps in somewhat exaggerated language) in the preamble of the Act of 1401.
'Divers false and perverse people,' so runs the Act De Heretico comburendo, 'of a certain new sect, damnably thinking of the faith of the sacraments of the Church, and of the authority of the same, against the law of God and of the Church, usurping the office of preaching, do perversely and maliciously, in divers places within the realm, preach and teach divers new doctrines, and wicked erroneous opinions, contrary to the faith and determination of Holy Church. And of such sect and wicked doctrines they make unlawful conventicles, they hold and exercise schools, they make and write books, they do wickedly instruct and inform people, and excite and stir them to sedition and insurrection, and make great strife and division among the people, and other enormities horrible to be heard, daily do perpetrate and commit. The diocesans cannot by their jurisdiction spiritual, without aid of the King's Majesty, sufficiently correct these said false and perverse people, nor refrain their malice, because they do go from diocese to diocese, and will not appear before the said diocesans; but the jurisdiction spiritual, the keys of the Church, and the censures of the same, do utterly contemn and despise; and so their wicked preachings and doctrines they do from day to day continue and exercise, to the destruction of all order and rule, right and reason.'
Something of these violent accusations is perhaps due to the horror with which false doctrine in matters of faith was looked upon in the Catholic Church, the grace by which alone an honest life was made possible being held to be dependent upon orthodoxy. But the Lollards had become political revolutionists as well as religious reformers; the revolt against the spiritual authority had encouraged and countenanced a revolt against the secular; and we cannot be surprised, therefore, that these institutions should have sympathized with each other, and have united to repress a danger which was formidable to both.
The bishops, by this Act, received arbitrary power to arrest and imprison on suspicion, without check or restraint of law, at their will and pleasure. Prisoners who refused to abjure their errors, who persisted in heresy, or relapsed into it after abjuration, were sentenced to be burnt at the stake—a dreadful punishment, on the wickedness of which the world has long been happily agreed. Yet we must remember that those who condemned teachers of heresy to the flames, considered that heresy itself involved everlasting perdition; that they were but faintly imitating the severity which orthodoxy still ascribes to Almighty God Himself.
The tide which was thus setting back in favour of the Church did not yet, however, flow freely, and without a check. The Commons consented to sacrifice the heretics, but they still cast wistful looks on the lands of the religious houses. On two several occasions, in 1406, and again in 1410, spoliation was debated in the Lower House, and representations were made upon the subject to the King. The country, too, continued to be agitated with war and treason; and when Henry V. became King, in 1412, the Church was still uneasy, and the Lollards were as dangerous as ever. Whether by prudent conduct they might have secured a repeal of the persecuting Act is uncertain; it is more likely, from their conduct, that they had made their existence incompatible with the security of any tolerable government.
A rumour having gone abroad that the King intended to enforce the laws against heresy, notices were found fixed against the doors of the London churches, that if any such measure was attempted, a hundred thousand men would be in arms to oppose it. These papers were traced to Sir John Oldcastle, otherwise called Lord Cobham, a man whose true character is more difficult to distinguish, in the conflict of the evidence which has come down to us about him, than that of almost any noticeable person in history. He was perhaps no worse than a fanatic. He was certainly prepared, if we may trust the words of a royal proclamation (and Henry was personally intimate with Oldcastle, and otherwise was not likely to have exaggerated the charges against him), he was prepared to venture a rebellion, with the prospect of himself becoming the president of some possible Lollard commonwealth. The King, with swift decisiveness, annihilated the incipient treason. Oldcastle was himself arrested. He escaped out of the Tower into Scotland; and while Henry was absent in France he seems to have attempted to organize some kind of Scotch invasion; but he was soon after again taken on the Welsh Border, tried and executed. An Act which was passed in 1414 described his proceedings as an 'attempt to destroy the King, and all other manner of estates of the realm, as well spiritual as temporal, and also all manner of policy, and finally the laws of the land.' The sedition was held to have originated in heresy, and for the better repression of such mischiefs in time to come, the lord chancellor, the judges, the justices of the peace, the sheriffs, mayors, bailiffs, and every other officer having government of people, were sworn on entering their office to use their best power and diligence to detect and prosecute all persons suspected of so heinous a crime.
Thus perished Wycliffe's labour,—not wholly, because his translation of the Bible still remained a rare treasure; a seed of future life, which would spring again under happier circumstances. But the sect which he organized, the special doctrines which he set himself to teach, after a brief blaze of success, sank into darkness; and no trace remained of Lollardry except the black memory of contempt and hatred with which the heretics of the fourteenth century were remembered by the English people, long after the actual Reformation had become the law of the land.
So poor a close to a movement of so fair promise was due partly to the agitated temper of the times; partly, perhaps, to a want of judgment in Wycliffe; but chiefly and essentially because it was an untimely birth. Wycliffe saw the evil; he did not see the remedy; and neither in his mind nor in the mind of the world about him, had the problem ripened itself for solution. England would have gained little by the premature overthrow of the Church, when the house out of which the evil spirit was cast out could have been but swept and garnished for the occupation of the seven devils of anarchy.
The fire of heresy continued to smoulder, exploding occasionally in insurrection, occasionally blazing up in nobler form, when some poor seeker for the truth, groping for a vision of God in the darkness of the years which followed, found his way into that high presence through the martyr's fire. But substantially, the nation relapsed into obedience—the Church was reprieved for a century. Its fall was delayed till the spirit in which it was attacked was winnowed clean of all doubtful elements—until Protestantism had recommenced its enterprise in a desire, not for a fairer adjustment of the world's good things, but in a desire for some deeper, truer, nobler, holier insight into the will of God. It recommenced not under the auspices of a Wycliffe, not with the partial countenance of a Government which was crossing swords with the Father of Catholic Christendom, and menacing the severance of England from the unity of the faith, but under a strong dynasty of undoubted Catholic loyalty, with the entire administrative power, secular as well as spiritual, in the hands of the episcopate. It sprung up spontaneously, unguided, unexcited, by the vital necessity of its nature, among the masses of the nation.
Leaping over a century, I pass to the year 1525, at which time, or about which time, a society was enrolled in London calling itself 'The Association of Christian Brothers,' It was composed of poor men, chiefly tradesmen, artisans, a few, a very few of the clergy; but it was carefully organized, it was provided with moderate funds, which were regularly audited; and its paid agents went up and down the country carrying Testaments and tracts with them, and enrolling in the order all persons who dared to risk their lives in such a cause. The harvest had been long ripening. The records of the bishops' courts are filled from the beginning of the century with, accounts of prosecutions for heresy–with prosecutions, that is, of men and women to whom the masses, the pilgrimages, the indulgences, the pardons, the effete paraphernalia of the establishment, had become intolerable; who had risen up in blind resistance, and had declared, with passionate anger, that whatever was the truth, all this was falsehood. The bishops had not been idle; they had plied their busy tasks with stake and prison, and victim after victim had been executed with more than necessary cruelty. But it was all in vain: punishment only multiplied offenders, and 'the reek' of the martyrs, as was said when Patrick Hamilton was burnt at St Andrews, 'infected all that it did blow upon.'
There were no teachers, however, there were no books, no unity of conviction, only a confused refusal to believe in lies. Copies of Wycliffe's Bible remained, which parties here and there, under death penalties if detected, met to read; copies, also, of some of his tracts were extant; but they were imprinted transcripts, most rare and precious, which the watchfulness of the police made it impossible to multiply through the press, and which remained therefore necessarily in the possession of but a few fortunate persons.
The Protestants were thus isolated in single groups or families, without organization, without knowledge of each other, with nothing to give them coherency as a party; and so they might have long continued, except for an impulse from some external circumstances. They were waiting for direction, and men in such a temper are seldom left to wait in vain.
The state of England did but represent the state of all Northern Europe. Wherever the Teutonic language was spoken, wherever the Teutonic nature was in thepeople, there was the same weariness of unreality, the same craving for a higher life. England rather lagged behind than was a leader in the race of discontent. In Germany, all classes shared the common feeling; in England it was almost confined to the lowest. But, wherever it existed, it was a free, spontaneous growth in each separate breast, not propagated by agitation, but springing self sown, the expression of the honest anger of honest men at a system which had passed the limits of toleration, and which could be endured no longer. At such times the minds of men are like a train of gunpowder, the isolated grains of which have no relation to each other, and no effect on each other, while they remain unignited; but let a spark kindle but one of them, and they shoot into instant union in a common explosion. Such a spark was kindled in Germany, at Wittenberg, on the 3ist of October, 1517. In the middle of that day Luther's denunciation of was fixed against the gate of All Saints Church, Wittenberg, and it became, like the brazen serpent in the wilderness, the sign to which the sick spirits throughout the western world looked hopefully and were healed. In all those millions of hearts the words of Luther found an echo, and flew from lip to lip, from ear to ear. The thing which all were longing for was done, and in two years from that day there was scarcely perhaps a village from the Irish Channel to the Danube in which the name of Luther was not familiar as a word of hope and promise. Then rose a common cry for guidance. Books were called for—above all things, the great book of all, the Bible. Luther's inexhaustible fecundity flowed with a steady stream, and the printing presses in Germany and in the Free Towns of the Netherlands, multiplied Testaments and tracts in hundreds of thousands. Printers published at their own expense as Luther wrote. The continent was covered with disfrocked monks who had become the pedlars of these precious wares; and as the contagion spread, noble young spirits from other countries, eager themselves to fight in God's battle, came to Wittenberg to learn from the champion who had struck the first blow at their great enemy how to use their weapons. 'Students from all nations came to Wittenberg,' says one, 'to hear Luther and Melancthon. As they came in sight of the town they returned thanks to God with clasped hands; for from Wittenberg, as heretofore from Jerusalem, proceeded the light of evangelical truth, to spread thence to the utmost parts of the earth.' Thither came young Patrick Hamilton from Edinburgh, whose 'reek' was of so much potency, a boy-enthusiast of nature as illustrious as his birth; and thither came also from England, which is here our chief concern, William Tyndal, a man whose history is lost in his work, and whose epitaph is the Reformation. Beginning life as a restless Oxford student, he moved thence to Cambridge, thence to Gloucestershire, to be tutor in a knight's family, and there hearing of Luther's doings, and expressing himself with too warm approval to suit the clergy of the neighbourhood, he was obliged to fly. From Gloucestershire he removed to London, where Cuthbert Tunstall had lately been made bishop, and from whom he perhaps looked for countenance in an intention to translate the New Testament. Tunstall showed little encouragement to this enterprise; but a better friend rose where he was least looked for; and a London alderman, Humfrey Monmouth by name, hearing the fiery young enthusiast preach on some occasion at St Dunstan's, took him to his home for half a year, and kept him there: where 'the said Tyndal,' as the alderman declared, 'lived like a good priest, studying both night and day; he would eat but sodden meat, by his good will, nor drink but small single beer; nor was he ever seen to wear linen about him all the time of his being there.' The half-year being passed, Monmouth gave him ten pounds, with which provision he went off to Germany; and the alderman, for assisting him in that business, went to the Tower—escaping, however, we are glad to know, without worse consequences than a short imprisonment. Tyndal saw Luther, and under his direction translated the Gospels and Epistles. Thence he repaired to Cologne, where he began to print. Being alarmed by threats of seizure, he carried the half- completed types to Worms, and there an edition of 3000 copies was finished and sent to England.
Afterwards he settled at Antwerp, where, under shelter of the liberties of the city, he established a printing press, and, assisted by Frith, composed a series of books which were to accomplish for the teaching of England what Luther and Melancthon were accomplishing for Germany. Such volumes as the people most required were multiplied as fast as the press could produce them; and for the dissemination of these precious writings, the brave London Protestants dared, at the hazard of their lives, to form themselves into an organized association.
It is well to pause and look for a moment at this small band of heroes; for heroes they were, if ever men deserved the name. Unlike the first reformers who had followed Wycliffe, they had no earthly object, emphatically none; and equally unlike them, perhaps, because they had no earthly object, they were all, as I have said, poor men—either students, like Tyndal, or artisans and labourers who worked for their own bread, and in tough contact with reality, had learnt better than the great and the educated the difference between truth and lies. Wycliffe had royal dukes and noblemen for his supporters—knights and divines among his disciples—a king and a House of Commons looking upon him, not without favour. The first Protestants of the sixteenth century had for their king the champion of Holy Church, who had broken a lance with Luther; and spiritual rulers over them alike powerful and imbecile, whose highest conception of Christian virtue was the destruction of those who disobeyed their mandates. The masses of the people were indifferent to a cause which promised them no material advantage; and the Commons of Parliament, while contending with the abuses of the spiritual authorities, were laboriously anxious to wash their hands of heterodoxy. 'In the crime of heresy, thanked be God,' said the bishops in 1529, 'there hath no notable person fallen in our time;' no chief priest, chief ruler, or learned Pharisee—not one. 'Truth it is that certain apostate friars and monks, lewd priests, bankrupt merchants, vagabonds and lewd idle fellows of corrupt nature, have embraced the abominable and erroneous opinions lately sprung in Germany, and by them have been some seduced in simplicity and ignorance. Against these, if judgment have been exercised according to the laws of the realm, we be without blame. If we have been too remiss or slack, we shall gladly do our duty from henceforth.' Such were the first Protestants in the eyes of their superiors. On one side was wealth, rank, dignity, the weight of authority, the majority of numbers, the prestige of centuries; here too were the phantom legions of superstition and cowardice; and here were all the worthier influences so pre-eminently English, which lead wise men to shrink from change, and to cling to things established, so long as one stone of them remains upon another. This was the army of conservatism. Opposed to it were a little band of enthusiasts, armed only with truth and fearlessness; 'weak things of the world,' about to do battle in God's name; and it was to be seen whether God or the world was the stronger. They were armed, I say, with the truth. It was that alone which could have given them victory in so unequal a struggle. They had returned to the essential fountain of life; they re-asserted the principle which has lain at the root of all religions, whatever their name or outward form, which once burnt with divine lustre in that Catholicism which was now to pass away; the fundamental axiom of all real life, that the service which man owes to God is not the service of words or magic forms, or ceremonies or opinions; but the service of holiness, of purity, of obedience to the everlasting laws of duty.
When we look through the writings of Latimner, the apostle of the English Reformation, when we read the depositions against the martyrs, and the lists of their crimes against the established faith, we find no opposite schemes of doctrine, no 'plans of salvation;' no positive system of theology which it was held a duty to believe; these things were of later growth, when it became again necessary to clothe the living spirit in a perishable body. We find only an effort to express again the old exhortation of the Wise Man—'Will you hear the beginning and the end of the whole matter? Fear God and keep his commandments, for that is the whole duty of man.'
Had it been possible for mankind to sustain themselves upon this single principle without disguising its simplicity, their history would have been painted in far other colours than those which have so long chequered its surface. This, however, has not been given to us; and perhaps it never will be given. As the soul is clothed in flesh, and only thus is able to perform its functions in this earth, where it is sent to live; as the thought must find a word before it can pass from mind to mind; so every great truth seeks some body, some outward form, in which to exhibit its powers. It appears in the world, and men lay hold of it, and represent it to themselves, in histories, in forms of words, in sacramental symbols; and these things, which in their proper nature are but illustrations, stiffen into essential fact, and become part of the reality. So arises in era after era an outward and mortal expression of the inward immortal life; and at once the old struggle begins to repeat itself between the flesh and the spirit, the form and the reality. For a while the lower tendencies are held in check; the meaning of the symbolism is remembered and fresh; it is a living language, pregnant and suggestive. By and by, as the mind passes into other phases, the meaning is forgotten; the language becomes a dead language; and the living robe of life becomes a winding-sheet of corruption. The form is represented as everything, the spirit as nothing; obedience is dispensed with; sin and religion arrange a compromise; and outward observances, or technical inward emotions, are converted into jugglers' tricks, by which men are enabled to enjoy their pleasures and escape the penalties of wrong. Then such religion becomes no religion, but a falsehood; and honourable men turn away from it, and fall back in haste upon the naked elemental life.
This, as I understand it, was the position of the early Protestants. They found the service of God buried in a system where obedience was dissipated into superstition; where sin was expiated by the vicarious virtues of other men; where, instead of leading a holy life, men were taught that their souls might be saved through masses said for them, at a money rate, by priests whose licentiousness disgraced the nation which endured it; a system in which, amidst all the trickery of the pardons, pilgrimages, indulgences,—double-faced as these inventions are—wearing one meaning in the apologies of theologians, and quite another to the multitude who live and suffer under their influence,—one plain fact at least is visible. The people substantially learnt that all evils which could touch either their spirits or their bodies, might be escaped by means which resolved themselves, scarcely disguised, into the payment of moneys.
The superstition had lingered long; the time had come when it was to pass away. Those in whom some craving lingered for a Christian life turned to the heart of the matter, to the book which told them who Christ was, and what he was; and finding there that holy example for which they longed, they flung aside, in one noble burst of enthusiastic passion, the disguise which had concealed it from them. They believed in Christ, not in the bowing rood, or the pretended wood of the cross on which he suffered; and when that saintly figure had once been seen—the object of all love, the pattern of all imitation—thenceforward neither form nor ceremony should stand between them and their God.
Under much confusion of words and thoughts, confusion pardonable in all men, and most of all in them, this seems to me to be transparently visible in the aim of these 'Christian Brothers;' a thirst for some fresh and noble enunciation of the everlasting truth, the one essential thing for all men to know and believe. And therefore they were strong; and therefore they at last conquered. Yet, if we think of it, no common daring was required in those who would stand out at such a time in defence of such a cause. The bishops might seize them on mere suspicion; and the evidence of the most abandoned villains sufficed for their conviction. By the Act of Henry V., every officer, from the lord chancellor to the parish constable, was sworn to seek them out and destroy them; and both bishops and officials had shown no reluctance to execute their duty. Hunted like wild beasts from hiding-place to hiding-place; decimated by the stake, with the certainty that however many years they might be reprieved, their own lives would close at last in the same fiery trial; beset by informers, imprisoned, racked, and scourged; worst of all, haunted by their own infirmities, the flesh shrinking before the dread of a death of agony—thus it was that they struggled on; earning for themselves martyrdom—for us, the free England in which we live and breathe. Among the great, until Cromwell came to power, theyhad but one friend, and he but a doubtful one, who long believed the truest kindness was to kill them. Henry VIII. was always attracted towards the persons of the reformers. Their open bearing commanded his respect. Their worst crime in the bishops' eyes—the translating the Bible—was in his eyes not a crime, but a merit; he had himself long desired an authorized English version, and at length compelled the clergy to undertake it; while in the most notorious of the men themselves, in Tyndal and in Frith, he had more than once expressed an anxious interest. But the convictions of his early years were long in yielding. His feeling, though genuine, extended no further than to pity, to a desire to recover estimable heretics out of errors which he would endeavour to pardon. They knew, and all the 'brethren' knew, that if they persisted, they must look for the worst from the King and from every earthly power; they knew it, and they made their account with it. An informer deposed to the council, that he had asked one of the society 'how the King's Grace did take the matter against the sacrament; which answered, the King's Highness was extreme against their opinions, and would punish them grievously; also that my Lords of Norfolk and Suffolk, my Lord Marquis of Exeter, with divers other great lords, were very extreme against them. Then he (the informer) asked him how he and his fellows would do seeing this, the which answered they had two thousand books out against the Blessed Sacrament, in the commons' hands; and if it were once in the commons' heads, they would have no further care.'
Tyndal then being at work at Antwerp or Hamburgh. and the society for the dispersion of his books thus preparing itself in England, the authorities were not slow in taking the alarm. The isolated discontent which had prevailed hitherto had been left to the ordinary tribunals; the present danger called for measures of more systematic coercion. This duty naturally devolved on Wolsey, and the office of Grand Inquisitor, which he now assumed, could not have fallen into more competent hands.
Wolsey was not cruel. There is no instance, I believe, in which he of his special motion sent a victim to the stake;—it would be well if the same praise could be allowed to Cranmer. There was this difference between the Cardinal and other bishops, that while they seemed to desire to punish, Wolsey was contented to silence; while they, in their conduct of trials, made escape as difficult as possible, Wolsey sought rather to make submission easy. He was too wise to suppose that he could cauterize heresy, while the causes of it, in the corruption of the clergy, remained unremoved; and the remedy to which he trusted, was the infusing new vigour into the constitution of the Church. Nevertheless, he was determined to repress, as far as outward measures could repress it, the spread of the contagion; and he set himself to accomplish his task with the full energy of his nature, backed by the whole power, spiritual and secular, of the kingdom. The country was covered with, his secret police, arresting suspected persons and searching for books. In London the scrutiny was so strict that at one time there was a general flight and panic; suspected butchers, tailors, and carpenters, hiding themselves in the holds of vessels in the river, and escaping across the Channel. Even there they were not safe. Heretics were outlawed by a common consent of the European Governments. Special offenders were hunted through France by the English emissaries with the permission and countenance of the Court, and there was an attempt to arrest Tyndal at Brussels, from which, for that time, he happily escaped.
Simultaneously the English Universities fell under examination, in consequence of the appearance of dangerous symptoms among the younger students. Dr Barnes, returning from the continent, had used violent language in a pulpit at Cambridge; and Latimer, then a neophyte in heresy, had grown suspect, and had alarmed the heads of houses. Complaints against both of them were forwarded to Wolsey, and they were summoned to London to answer for themselves.
Latimer, for some cause, found favour with the Cardinal, and was dismissed, with a hope on the part of his judge that his accusers might prove as honest as he appeared to be, and even with a general license to preach. Barnes was less fortunate; he was far inferior to Latimer; a noisy, unwise man, without reticence or prudence. In addition to his offences in matters of doctrine, he had attacked Wolsey himself with somewhat vulgar personality; and it was thought well to single him out for a public, though not a very terrible, admonition. His house had been searched for books, which he was suspected, and justly suspected, of having brought with him from abroad. These, however, through a timely warning of the danger, had been happily secreted, or it might have gone harder with him. As it was, he was committed to the Fleet on the charge of having used heretical language. An abjuration was drawn up by Wolsey, which he signed; and while he remained in prison preparations were made for a ceremony, in which he was to bear a part, in St Paul's church, by which the Catholic authorities hoped to produce some salutary effect on the disaffected spirits of London.
Vast quantities of Tyndal's publications had been collected by the police. The bishops, also, had subscribed among themselves to buy up the copies of the New Testament before they left Antwerp;—an unpromising method, like an attempt to extinguish fire by pouring oil upon it; they had been successful, however, in obtaining a large immediate harvest, and a pyramid of offending volumes was ready to be consumed in a solemn auto da fé.
In the morning of Shrove Sunday, then, 1527, we are to picture to ourselves a procession moving along London streets from the Fleet prison to St Paul's Cathedral. The warden of the Fleet was there, and the knight marshal, and the tipstaffs, and 'all the company they could make,' 'with bills and glaives;' and in the midst of these armed officials, six men marching in penitential dresses, one carrying a lighted taper five pounds' weight, the others with symbolic fagots, signifying to the lookers-on the fate which their crimes had earned for them, but which this time, in mercy, was remitted. One of these was Barnes; the other five were 'Stillyard men,' undistinguishable by any other name, but detected members of the brotherhood.
It was eight o'clock when they arrived at St Paul's. The people had flocked in crowds before them. The public seats and benches were filled. All London had hurried to the spectacle. A platform was erected in the centre of the nave, on the top of which, enthroned in pomp of purple and gold and splendour, sat the great Cardinal, supported on each side with eighteen bishops, mitred abbots, and priors—six-and-thirty in all; his chaplains and 'spiritual doctors' sitting also where they could find place, 'in gowns of damask and satin.' Opposite the platform, over the north door of the cathedral, was a great crucifix—a famous image, in those days called the Rood of Northen; and at the foot of it, inside a rail, a fire was burning, with the sinful books, the Tracts and Testaments, ranged round it in baskets, waiting for the execution of sentence.
Such was the scene into the midst of which the six prisoners entered. A second platform stood in a conspicuous place in front of the Cardinal's throne, where they could be seen and heard by the crowd; and there upon their knees, with their fagots on their shoulders, they begged pardon of God and the Holy Catholic Church for their high crimes and offences. When the confession was finished, Fisher, Bishop of Rochester preached a sermon: and the sermon over, Barnes turned to the people, declaring that 'he was more charitably handled than he deserved, his heresies were so heinous and detestable.'
There was no other religious service: mass had perhaps been said previous to the admission into the church of heretics lying under censure; and the knight marshal led the prisoners down from the stage to the fire underneath the crucifix. They were taken within the rails, and three times led round the blazing pile, casting in their fagots as they passed. The contents of the baskets were heaped upon the fagots, and the holocaust was complete. This time, an unbloody sacrifice was deemed sufficient. The Church was satisfied with penance, and Fisher pronounced the prisoners absolved, and received back into communion.
So ended this strange exhibition, designed to work great results on the consciences of the spectators. It may be supposed, however, that men whom the tragedies of Smithfield failed to terrify, were not likely to be affected deeply by melodrame and blazing paper.
A story follows of far deeper human interest, a story in which the persecution is mirrored with its true lights and shadows, unexaggerated by rhetoric; and which, in its minute simplicity, brings us face to face with thatold world, where men like ourselves lived, and worked, and suffered, three centuries ago.
Two years before the time at which we have now arrived, Wolsey, in pursuance of his scheme of converting the endowments of the religious houses to purposes of education, had obtained permission from the Pope to suppress a number of the smaller monasteries. He had added largely to the means thus placed at his disposal from his own resources, and had founded the great college at Oxford, which is now called Christchurch. Desiring his magnificent institution to be as perfect as art could make it, he had sought his professors in Rome, in the Italian Universities, wherever genius or ability could be found; and he had introduced into the foundation several students from Cambridge, who had been reported to him as being of unusual promise. Frith, of whom we have heard, was one of these. Of the rest, John Clark, Sumner, and Taverner are the most noticeable. At the time at which they were invited to Oxford, they were tainted, or some of them were tainted, in the eyes of the Cambridge authorities, with suspicion of heterodoxy; and it is creditable to Wolsey's liberality, that he set aside these unsubstantiated rumours, not allowing them to weigh against ability, industry, and character. The Church authorities thought only of crushing what opposed them, especially of crushing talent, because talent was dangerous. Wolsey's noble anxiety was to court talent, and if possible to win it.
The young Cambridge students, however, ill repaid his confidence (so, at least, it must have appeared to him), and introduced into Oxford the rising epidemic. Clark, as was at last discovered, was in the habit of reading St Paul's Epistles to young men in his rooms; and a gradually increasing circle of undergraduates, of three or four years' standing, from various colleges, formed themselves into a spiritual freemasonry, some of them passionately insisting on being admitted to the lectures, in spite of warnings from Clark himself, whose wiser foresight knew the risk which they were running, and shrank from allowing weak giddy spirits to thrust themselves into so fearful peril.
This little party had been in the habit of meeting for about six months, when at Easter, 1527, Thomas Garret, a fellow of Magdalen, who had gone out of residence, and was curate at All Hallows Church, in London, re-appeared in Oxford. Garret was a secret member of the London Society, and had come down, at Clark's instigation, to feel his way in the University. So excellent a beginning had already been made, that he had only to improve upon it. He sought out all such young men as were given to Greek, Hebrew, and the polite Latin; and in this visit met with so much encouragement, that the Christmas following he returned again, this time bringing with him treasures of forbidden books, imported by 'the Christian Brothers;' New Testaments, tracts and volumes of German divinity, which he sold privately among the initiated.
He lay concealed, with his store, at 'the house of one Radley,' the position of which cannot now be identified; and there he remained for several weeks, unsuspected by the University authorities, till orders were sent by Wolsey to the Dean of Christchurch, for his arrest. Precise information was furnished at the same time respecting himself, his mission in Oxford, and his place of concealment.
Tuesday, Feb. 17, 1528.The proctors were put upon the scent, and Tuesday, directed to take him; but one of them, Arthur Cole, of Magdalen, by name, not from any sympathy with Garret's objects, as the sequel proved, but probably from old acquaintance, for they were fellows at the same college, gave him information of his danger, and warned him to escape.
His young friends, more alarmed for their companion than for themselves, held a meeting instantly to decide what should be done; and at this meeting was Anthony Dalaber, an undergraduate of Alban Hall, and one of Clark's pupils, who will now tell the story of what followed.
'The Christmas before that time, I, Anthony Dalaber, the scholar of Alban Hall, who had books of Master Garret, had been in my country, at Dorsetshire, at Stalbridge, where I had a brother, parson of this parish, who was very desirous to have a curate out of Oxford, and willed me in any wise to get him one there, if I could. This just occasion offered, it was thought good among the brethren (for so we did not only call one another, but were indeed one to another) that Master Garret, changing his name, should be sent forth with my letters into Dorsetshire, to my brother, to serve him there for a time, until he might secretly convey himself from thence some whither over the sea. According hereunto I wrote my letters in all haste possible unto my brother, for Master Garret to be his curate; but not declaring what he was indeed, for my brother was a rank Papist, and afterwards was the most mortal enemy that ever I had, for the Gospel's sake.
Feb 18.'So on Wednesday (Feb. 18), in the morning before Shrove-tide, Master Garret departed out of Oxford towards Dorsetshire, with my letter, for his new service.'
The most important person being thus, as was supposed, safe from immediate danger, Dalaber was at leisure to think a little about himself; and supposing, naturally, that the matter would not end there, and that some change of residence might be of advantage for his own security, he moved off from Alban Hall (as undergraduates it seems were then at liberty to do) to Gloucester College, under pretence that he desired to study civil law, for which no facilities existed at the Hall. This little matter was effected on the Thursday; and all Friday and Saturday morning he 'was so much busied in setting his poor stuff in order, his bed, his books, and such things else as he had,' that he had no leisure to go forth anywhere those two days, Friday and Saturday.
'Having set up my things handsomely,' he continues, 'the same day, before noon, I determined to spend that whole afternoon, until evensong time, at Frideswide College, at my book in mine own study; and so shut my chamber door unto me, and my study door also, and took into my head to read Francis Lambert upon the Gospel of St Luke, which book only I had then within there. All my other books written on the Scriptures, of which I had great numbers, I had left in my chamber at Alban's Hall, where I had made a very secret place to keep them safe in, because it was so dangerous to have any such books. And so, as I was diligently reading in the same book of Lambert upon Luke, suddenly one knocked at my chamber door very hard, which made me astonished, and yet I sat still and would not speak; then he knocked again more hard, and yet I held my peace; and straightway he knocked again yet more fiercely; and then I thought this: peradventure it is somebody that hath need of me; and therefore I thought myself bound to do as I would be done unto; Friday, Feb. 20.and so, laying my book aside, I came to the door Friday, and opened it, and there was Master Garret, as a man amazed, whom I thought to have been with my brother, and one with him.'
Garret had set out on his expedition into Dorsetshire, but had been frightened, and had stolen back into Oxford on the Friday, to his old hiding place, where, in the middle of the night, the proctors had taken him. He had been carried to Lincoln, and shut up in a room in the rector's house, where he had been left all clay. In the afternoon the rector went to chapel, no one was stirring about the college, and he had taken advantage of the opportunity to slip the bolt of the door and escape. Saturday, Feb. 21.He had a friend at Gloucester College, 'a monk who had bought books of him;' and Gloucester lying on the outskirts of the town, he had hurried down there as the readiest place of shelter. The monk was out; and as no time was to be lost, Garret asked the servant on the staircase to show him Dalaber's rooms.
As soon as the door was opened, 'he said he was undone, for he was taken.' 'Thus he spake unadvisedly in the presence of the young man, who at once slipped down the stairs,' it was to be feared, on no good errand. 'Then I said to him,' Dalaber goes on, 'alas, Master Garret, by this your uncircumspect coming here and speaking so before the young man, you have disclosed yourself and utterly undone me. I asked him why he was not in Dorsetshire. He said he had gone a day's journey and a half; but he was so fearful, his heart would none other but that he must needs return again unto Oxford. With deep sighs and plenty of tears, he prayed me to help to convey him away; and so he cast off his hood and gown wherein he came to me, and desired me to give him a coat with sleeves, if I had any; and he told me that he would go into Wales, and thence convey himself, if he might, into Germany. Then I pui on him a sleeved coat of mine. He would also have had another manner of cap of me, but I had none but priestlike, such as his own was.
'Then kneeled we both down together upon our knees, and lifting up our hearts and hands to God our hea Tenly Father, desired Him, with plenty of tears, so to conduct and prosper him in his journey, that he might well escape the danger of all his enemies, to the glory of His Holy Name, if His good pleasure and will so were. And then we embraced and kissed the one the other, the tears so abundantly flowing out from both our eyes, that we all bewet both our faces, and scarcely for sorrow could we speak one to another. And so he departed from me, apparelled in my coat, being committed unto the tuition of our Almighty and merciful Father.
'When he was gone down the stairs from my chamber, I straightways did shut my chamber door, and went into my study; and taking the New Testament in my hands, kneeled down on my knees, and with many adeep sigh and salt tear, I did, with much deliberation, read over the tenth chapter of St Matthew's Gospel, praying that God would endue his tender and lately born little flock in Oxford with heavenly strength by his Holy Spirit; that quietly to their own salvation,, with all godly patience, they might bear Christ's heavy cross, which I now saw was presently to be laid on their young and weak backs, unable to bear so huge a burden without the great help of his Holy Spirit.
'This done, I laid aside my book safe, folded up Master Garret's gown and hood, and so, having put on my short gown, and shut my doors, I went towards Frideswide (Christchurch), to speak with that worthy martyr of God, Master Clark. But of purpose I went by St Mary's church, to go first unto Corpus Christi College, to speak with Diet and Udal, my faithful brethren and fellows in the Lord. By chance I met by the way a brother of ours, one Master Eden, fellow of Magdalen, who, as soon as he saw me, said, we were all undone, for Master Garret was returned, and was in prison. I said it was not so; he said it was. I heard, quoth he, our proctor, Master Cole, say and declare the same this day. Then I told him what was done; and so made haste to Frideswide, to find Master Clark, for I thought that he and others would be in great sorrow.
'Evensong was begun; the dean and the canons were there in their grey amices; they were almost at Magnificat before I came thither. I stood in the choir door and heard Master Taverner play, and others of the chapel there sing, with and among whom I myself was wont to sing also; but now my singing and music were turned into sighing and musing. As I there stood, in cometh Dr Cottisford, the commissary, as fast as ever he could go, bareheaded, as pale as ashes (I knew his grief well enough); and to the dean he goeth into the choir, where he was sitting in his stall, and talked with him, very sorrowfully: what, I know not; but whereof I might and did truly guess. I went aside from the choir door to see and hear more. The commissary and dean came out of the choir, wonderfully troubled as it seemed. About the middle of the church met them Dr London, puffing, blustering, and blowing like a hungry and greedy lion seeking his prey. They talked together awhile; but the commissary was much blamed by them, insomuch that he wept for sorrow.
'The doctors departed, and sent abroad their servants and spies everywhere. Master Clark, about the middle of the compline, came forth of the choir. I followed him to his chamber, and declared what had happened that afternoon of Master Garret's escape. Then he sent for one Master Sumner and Master Bets, fellows and canons there. In the mean time he gave me a very godly exhortation, praying God to give us all the wisdom of the serpent and the harmlessness of doves, for we should shortly have much need thereof. When Master Sumner and Master Bets came, he caused me to declare again the whole matter to them two. Then desiring them to tell our other brethren in that college, I went to Corpus Christi College, to comfort our brethren there, where I found in Diet's chamber, looking for me, Fitzjames, Diet, and Udal. They all knew the matter before by Master Eden, whom I had sent unto Fitzjames. So I tarried there and supped with them, where they had provided meat and drink for us before my coming; and when we had ended, Fitzjames would needs have me to lie that night with him in my old lodging at Alban's Hall. But small rest and little sleep took we both there that night.'
Sunday, Feb. 22.The next day, which was Sunday, Dalaber rose at live o'clock, and as soon as he could leave the Hall, hastened off to his rooms at Gloucester. The night had been wet and stormy, and his shoes and stockings were covered with mud. The college gates, when he reached them, were still closed, an unusual thing at that hour; and he walked up and down under the walls in the bleak grey morning, till the clock struck seven, 'much disquieted, his head full of forecasting cares,' but resolved, like a brave man, that come what would, he would accuse no one, and declare nothing but what he saw was already known. The gates were at last opened; he went to his rooms, and for some time his key would not turn in the door, the lock having been meddled with. At length he succeeded in entering, and found everything in confusion, his bed tossed and tumbled, his study door open, and his clothes strewed about the floor. A monk who occupied the opposite rooms, hearing him return, came to him and said that the commissary and the two proctors had been there looking for Garret. Bills and swords had been thrust through the bed-straw, and every corner of the room searched for him. Finding nothing, they had left orders that Dalaber, as soon as he returned, should appear before the prior of the students.
'This so troubled me,' Dalaber says, 'that I forgot to make clean my hose and shoes, and to shift me into another gown; and all bedirted as I was, I went to the said prior's chamber.' The prior asked him where he had slept that night. At Alban's Hall, he answered, with his old bedfellow, Fitzjames. The prior said he did not believe him, and asked if Garret had been at his rooms the day before. He replied that he had. Whither had he gone, then? the prior inquired; and where was he at that time? 'I answered,' says Dalaber, 'that I knew not, unless he was gone to Woodstock; he told me that he would go there, because one of the keepers had promised him a piece of venison to make merry with at Shrovetide. This tale I thought meetest, though it were nothing so.' At this moment the University beadle entered with two of the commissary's servants, bringing a message to the prior that he should repair at once to Lincoln, taking Dalaber with him. 'I was brought into the chapel,' the latter continues, 'and there I found Dr Cottisford, commissary; Dr Higdon, Dean of Cardinal's College; and Dr London, Warden of New College; standing together at the altar. They called for chairs and sat down, and then [ordered] me to come to them; they asked me what my name was, how long I had been at the University, what I studied,' with various other inquiries: the clerk of the University, meanwhile, bringing pens, ink, and paper, and arranging a table with a few loose boards upon tressels. A mass book, he says, was then placed before him, and he was commanded to lay his hand upon it, and swear that he would answer truly such questions as should be asked him. At first he refused; but afterwards, being persuaded, 'partly by fair words, and partly by great threats,' he promised to do as they would have him; but in his heart he 'meant nothing so to do.' 'So I laid my hand on the book,' he goes on, 'and one of them gave me my oath, and, commanded me to kiss the book. They made great courtesy between them who should examine me; at last, the rankest Pharisee of them all took upon him to do it.
'Then he asked me again, by my oath, where Master Garret was, and whither I had conveyed him. I said I had not conveyed him, nor yet wist where he was, nor whither he was gone, except he was gone to Woodstock, as I had before said. Surely, they said, I brought him some whither this morning, for they might well perceive by my foul shoes and dirty hosen that T had travelled with him the most part of the night. I answered plainly, that I lay at Alban's Hall with Sir Fitzjames, and that I had good witness thereof. They asked me where I was at evensong. I told them at Frideswide, and that I saw, first, Master Commissary, and then Master Doctor London, come thither to Master Dean. Doctor London and the Dean threatened me that if I would not tell the truth I should surely be sent to the Tower of London, and there be racked, and put into Little-ease.
'At last when they could get nothing out of me whereby to hurt or accuse any man, or to know anything of that which they sought, they all three together brought me up a long stairs, into a great chamber, over Master Commissary's chamber, wherein stood a great pair of very high stocks. Then Master Commissary asked me for my purse and girdle, and took away my money and my knives; and then they put my legs into the stocks, and so locked me fast in them, in which I sat,. my feet being almost as high as my head; and so they departed, locking fast the door, and leaving me alone.
'When they were all gone, then came into my remembrance the worthy forewarning and godly declaration of that most constant martyr of God, Master John Clark, who, well nigh two years before that, when I did earnestly desire him to grant me to be his scholar, said unto me after this sort: 'Dalaber, you desire you wot not what, and that which you are, I fear, unable to take upon you; for though now my preaching be sweet and pleasant to you, because there is no persecution laid on you for it, yet the time will come, and that, peradventure, shortly, if ye continue to live godly therein, that God will lay on you the cross of persecution, to try you whether you can as pure gold abide the fire. You shall be called and judged a heretic; you shall be abhorred of the world; your own friends and kinsfolk will forsake you, and also hate you; you shall be cast into prison, and none shall dare to help you; you shall be accused before bishops, to your reproach and shame, to the great sorrow of all your friends and kinsfolk. Then will ye wish ye had never known this doctrine; then will ye curse Clark, and wish that ye had never known him because he hath brought you to all these troubles.'
'At which words I was so grieved that I fell down on my knees at his feet, and with tears and sighs besought him that, for the tender mercy of God, he would not refuse me; saying that I trusted, verily, that he which had begun this in me would not forsake me, but would give me grace to continue therein to the end., When he heard me say so, he came to me, took me in his arms and kissed me, the tears trickling from his eyes; and said unto me: 'The Lord God Almighty grant you so to do; and from henceforth for ever, take me for your father, and I will take you for my son in Christ.''
In these meditations the long Sunday morning wore away. A little before noon the commissary came again to see if his prisoner was more amenable; finding him, however, still obstinate, he offered him some dinner a promise which we will hope he fulfilled, for here Dalaber's own narrative abruptly forsakes us, leaving uncompleted, at this point, the most vivid picture which remains to us of a fraction of English life in the reign of Henry VIII. If the curtain fell finally on the little group of students, this narrative alone would furnish us with rare insight into the circumstances under which the Protestants fought their way. The story, however, can be carried something further, and the strangest incident connected with it remains to be told.
Monday, Feb. 23.Dalaber breaks off on Sunday at noon. The same day, or early the following morning, he was submitted once more to examination: this time, for the discovery of his own offences, and to induce him to give up his confederates. With respect to the latter he proved 'marvellous obstinate,' 'All that was gotten of him was with much difficulty;' nor would he confess to any names as connected with heresy or heretics except that of Clark, which was already known. About himself he was more open. He wrote his 'book of heresy,' that is, his confession of faith, 'with his own hand'—his evening's occupation, perhaps, in the stocks in the rector of Lincoln's house; and the next day ho was transferred to prison.
This offender being thus disposed of, and strict secresy being observed to prevent the spread of alarm, a rapid search was set on foot for books in all suspected quarters. The fear of the authorities was that 'the infect persons would flee,' and 'convey' their poison 'away with them.' The officials, once on the scent of heresy, were skilful in running down the game. No time was lost, and by Monday evening many of 'the brethren' had been arrested, their rooms examined, and their forbidden treasures discovered and rifled. Dalaber's store was found 'hid with marvellous secresy;' and in one student's desk a duplicate of Garret's list—the titles of the volumes with which the first 'Religious Tract Society' set themselves to convert England.
Information of all this was conveyed in haste by Dr London to the Bishop of Lincoln, as the ordinary of the University; and the warden told his story with much; self-congratulation. On one point, however, the news which he had to communicate was less satisfactory. Garret himself was gone—utterly gone. Dalaber was obstinate, and no clue to the track of the fugitive could be discovered. The police were at fault; neither bribes nor threats could elicit anything; and in these desperate circumstances, as he told the Bishop, the three heads of houses conceived that they might strain a point of propriety for so good a purpose as to prevent the escape of a heretic. Accordingly, after a full report of the points of their success, Doctor London went on to relate the following remarkable proceeding:
'After Master Garret escaped, the commissary being in extreme pensiveness, knew no other remedy but this extraordinary, and caused a figure to be made by one expert in astronomy—and his judgment doth continually persist upon this, that he fled in a tawny coat south-eastward, and is in the middle of London, and will shortly to the sea-side. He was curate unto the parson of Honey Lane. It is likely he is privily cloaked there. Wherefore, as soon as I knew the judgment of this astronomer, I thought it expedient and my duty with all speed to ascertain your good lordship of all the premises; that in time your lordship may advertise my lord his Grace, and my lord of London. It will be a gracious deed that he and all his pestiferous works, which he carrieth about, might be taken, to the salvation of his soul, opening of many privy heresies, and extinction of the same.'
Tuesday, Feb. 24.We might much desire to know what the Bishop's sensations were in reading this letter to know whether it occurred to him that in this naïve acknowledgment, the Oxford heresy hunters were themselves confessing to an act of heresy; and that by the law of the Church, which they were so eager to administer, they were liable to the same death which they were so zealous to secure for the poor vendors of Testaments. So indeed they really were. Consulting the stars had been ruled from immemorial time to be dealing with the devil; the penalty of it was the same as for witchcraft; yet here was a reverend warden of a college considering it his duty to write eagerly of a discovery obtained by these forbidden means, to his own diocesan, begging him to communicate with the Cardinal of York and the Bishop of London, that three of the highest Church authorities in England might become participes criminis, by acting on this diabolical information.
Meanwhile, the commissary, not wholly relying on the astrologer, but resolving prudently to make use of the more earthly resources which were at his disposal, had sent information of Garret's escape to the corporations of Dover, Rye, Winchester, Southampton, and Bristol, with descriptions of the person of the fugitive; and this step was taken with so much expedition, that before the end of the week no vessel was allowed to leave either of those harbours without being strictly searched.
The natural method proved more effectual than the supernatural, though again with the assistance of a singular accident. Grarret had not gone to London; unfortunately for himself, he had not gone to Wales as he had intended. He left Oxford, as we saw, the evening of Saturday, February sist. That night he reached a village called Corkthrop, where he lay concealed till Wednesday; and then, not in the astrologer's orangetawny dress, but in 'a courtier's coat and buttoned cap,' which he had by some means contrived to procure, he set out again on his forlorn journey, making for the nearest sea-port, Bristol, where the police were looking out to receive him. His choice of Bristol was peculiarly unlucky. The 'chapman' of the town was the stepfather of Cole, the Oxford proctor: to this person, whose name was Master Wilkyns, the proctor had written a special letter, in addition to the commissary's circular; and the family connection acting as a spur to his natural activity, a coast guard had been set before Garret's arrival, to watch for him down the Avon banks, and along the Channel shore for fifteen miles. All the Friday night 'the mayor, with the aldermen, and twenty of the council, had kept privy watch,' and searched suspicious houses at Master Wilkyns's instance; the whole population were on the alert, and when the next afternoon, a week after his escape, the poor heretic, footsore and weary, dragged himself into the town, he found that he had walked into the lion's mouth. He quickly learnt the danger to which he was exposed, and hurried off again with the best speed which he could command; but it was too late. The chapman, alert and indefatigable, had heard that a stranger had been seen in the street; the police were set upon his track, and he was taken at Bedminster, a suburb on the opposite bank of the Avon, and hurried before a magistrate, where he at once acknowledged his identity.
Saturday, Feb. 28.With such, happy success were the good chapman's efforts rewarded. Yet in this world there is no light without shadow; no pleasure without its alloy. In imagination, Master Wilkyns had thought of himself conducting the prisoner in triumph into the streets of Oxford, the hero of the hour. The sour formality of the law condemned him to ill-merited disappointment. Garret had been taken beyond the liberties of the city; it was necessary, therefore, to commit him to the county gaol, and he was sent to Ilchester.' Master Wilkyns offered himself to be bound to the said justice in three hundred pounds to discharge him of the said Garret, and to see him surely to Master Proctor's of Oxford; yet could he not have him, for the justice said that the order of the law would not so serve,' The fortunate captor had therefore to content himself with, the consciousness of his exploit, and the favourable report of his conduct which was sent to the bishops; and Garret went first to Ilchester, and thence was taken by special writ, and surrendered to Wolsey.
Thus unkind had fortune shown herself to the chief criminal, guilty of the unpardonable offence of selling Testaments at Oxford, and therefore hunted down as a mad dog, and a common enemy of mankind. He escaped for the present the heaviest consequences, for Wolsey persuaded him to abjure. A few years later we shall again meet him, when he had recovered his better nature, and would not abjure, and died as a brave man should die. In the mean time we return to the University, where the authorities were busy trampling out the remains of the conflagration.
Two days after his letter respecting the astrologer, the Warden of New College wrote again to the Diocesan, with an account of his further proceedings. He was an efficient inquisitor, and the secrets of the poor undergraduates had been unravelled to the last thread. Some of 'the brethren' had confessed; all were in prison; and the doctor desired instructions as to what should be done with them. It must be said for Dr London, that he was anxious that they should be treated leniently. Dalaber described him as a roaring lion, and he was a bad man, and came at last to a bad end. But it is pleasant to find that even he, a mere blustering arrogant official, was not wholly without redeeming points of character; and as little good will be said for him hereafter, the following passage in his second letter may be placed to the credit side of his account. The tone in which he wrote was at least humane, and must pass for more than an expression of natural kindness, when it is remembered that he was addressing a person with whom tenderness for heresy was a crime.
'These youths,' he said, 'have not been long conversant with Master Garret, nor have greatly perused his mischievous books; and long before Master Garret was taken, divers of them were weary of these works, and delivered them to Dalaber. I am marvellous sorry for the young men. If they be openly called upon, although they appear not greatly infect, yet they shall never avoid slander, because my Lord's Grace did send for Master Garret to be taken. I suppose his Grace will know of your good lordship everything. Nothing shall be hid, I assure your good lordship, an every one of them were my brother; and I do only make this moan for these youths, for surely they be of the most towardly young men in Oxford; and as far as I do yet perceive, not greatly infect, but much to blame for reading any part of these works.'
Doctor London's intercession, if timid, was generous; he obviously wished to suggest that the matter should be hushed up, and that the offending parties should be dismissed with a reprimand. If the decision had rested with Wolsey, it is likely that this view would have been readily acted upon. But the Bishop of Lincoln was a person in whom the spirit of humanity had been long exorcised by the spirit of an ecclesiastic. He was staggering along the last years of a life against which his own register bears dreadful witness, and he would not burden his conscience with mercy to heretics. He would not mar the completeness of his barbarous career. He singled out three of the prisoners—Garret, Clark, and Ferrars and especially entreated that they should be punished. 'They be three perilous men,' he wrote to Wolsey, 'and have been the occasion of the corruption of youth They have done much mischief, and for the love of God let them be handled thereafter.' Wolsey had Garret in his own keeping, and declined to surrender him. Ferrars had been taken at the Black Friars, in London, and making his submission, was respited, and escaped with abjuration. But Clark was at Oxford, in the Bishop's power, and the wicked old man was allowed to work his will upon him. A bill of heresy was drawn, which the prisoner was required to sign. He refused, and must have been sent to the stake, had he not escaped by dying prematurely of the treatment which he had received in prison. His last words only are recorded. He was refused the communion, not perhaps as a special act of cruelty, but because the laws of the Church would not allow the holy thing to be profaned by the touch of a heretic. When he was told that it would not be suffered, he said 'crede et manducâsti'—'faith is the communion;' and so passed away; a very noble person, so far as the surviving features of his character will let us judge; one who, if his manhood had fulfilled the promise of his youth, would have taken no common part in the Reformation.
The remaining brethren were then dispersed. Some were sent home to their friends—others, Anthony Dalaber among them, were placed on their trial, and being terrified at their position, recanted, and were sentenced to do penance. Ferrars was brought to Oxford for the occasion, and we discern indistinctly (for the mere fact is all which survives) a great fire at Carfax; a crowd of spectators, and a procession of students marching up High- street with fagots on their shoulders, the solemn beadles leading them with gowns and maces. The ceremony was repeated to which Dr Barnes had been submitted at St Paul's. They were taken three times round the fire, throwing in each first their fagot, and then some one of the offending books, in token that they repented and renounced their errors.
Thus was Oxford purged of heresy. The state of innocence which Dr London pathetically lamented was restored, and the heads of houses had peace till their rest was broken by a ruder storm.
In this single specimen we may see a complete image of Wolsey's persecution, as with varying details it was carried out in every town and village from the Tweed to the Land's End. I dwell on the stories of individual suffering, not to colour the narrative, or to re-awaken feelings of bitterness which may well rest now and sleep for ever; but because, through the years in which it was struggling for recognition, the history of Protestantism is the history of its martyrs. No rival theology, as I have said, had as yet shaped itself into formulas. We have not to trace any slow-growing elaboration of opinion. Protestantism, before it became an establishment, was a refusal to live any longer in a lie. It was a falling back upon the undefined untheoretic rules of truth and piety which lay upon the surface of the Bible, and a determination rather to die than to mock with unreality any longer the Almighty Maker of the world. We do not look in the dawning manifestations of such a spirit for subtleties of intellect. Intellect, as it ever does, followed in the wake of the higher virtues of manly honesty and truthfulness. And the evidences which were to effect the world's conversion were no cunningly arranged syllogistic demonstrations, but once more those loftier evidences which lay in the calm endurance by heroic men of the extremities of suffering, and which touched—not the mind with conviction, but the heart with admiring reverence.
In the concluding years of his administration Wolsey was embarrassed with the divorce. Difficulties were gathering round him, from the failure of his hopes abroad and the wreck of his popularity at home; and the activity of the persecution was something relaxed, as the guiding mind of the great minister ceased to have leisure to attend to it. The bishops, however, continued, each in his own diocese, to act with such vigour as they possessed. Their courts were unceasingly occupied with vexatious suits, commenced without reason, and conducted without justice. They summoned arbitrarily as suspected offenders whoever had the misfortune to have provoked their dislike; either compelling them to criminate themselves by questions on the intricacies of theology, or allowing sentence to be passed against them on the evidence of abandoned persons, who would not have been admissible as witnesses before the secular tribunals.
It might have been thought that the clear perception which was shown by the House of Commons of the injustice with which the trials for heresy were conducted, the disregard, shameless and flagrant, of the provisions of the statutes under which the bishops were enabled to proceed, might have led them to reconsider the equity of persecution in itself; or, at least, to remove from the office of judges persons who had shown themselves so signally unfit to exercise that office. It would have been indecent, however, if not impossible, to transfer to a civil tribunal the cognizance of opinion; and, on the other hand, there was as yet among the upper classes of the laity no kind of disposition to be lenient towards those who were really unorthodox. The desire so far was only to check the reckless and random accusations of persons whose offence was to have criticised, not the doctrine, but the moral conduct, of the Church authorities. The Protestants, although from the date of the meeting of the Parliament and Wolsey's fall their ultimate triumph was certain, gained nothing in its immediate consequences. They suffered rather from the eagerness of the political reformers to clear themselves from complicity with heterodoxy; and the bishops were even taunted with the spiritual dissensions of the realm as an evidence of their indolence and misconduct. Language of this kind boded ill for the 'Christian Brethren;' and the choice of Wolsey's successor for the office of chancellor soon confirmed their apprehensions. Wolsey had chastised them with whips; Sir Thomas More would chastise them with scorpions; and the philosopher of the Utopia, the friend of Erasmus, whose life was of blameless beauty, whose genius was cultivated to the highest attainable perfection, was to prove to the world that the spirit of persecution is no peculiar attribute of the pedant, the bigot, or the fanatic, but may co-exist with the fairest graces of the human character. The lives of remarkable men usually illustrate some emphatic truth. Sir Thomas More may be said to have lived to illustrate the necessary tendencies of Romanism in an honest mind convinced of its truth; to show that the test of sincerity in a man who professes to regard orthodoxy as an essential of salvation, is not the readiness to endure persecution, but the courage which will venture to inflict it.
The seals were delivered to the new chancellor in November, 1529. By his oath on entering office he was bound to exert himself to the utmost for the suppression of heretics: he was bound, however, equally to obey the conditions under which the law allowed them to be suppressed. Unfortunately for his reputation as a judge, he permitted the hatred of 'that kind of men,' which he did not conceal that he felt, to obscure his conscience on this important feature of his duty, and tempt him to imitate the worst iniquities of the bishops. I do not intend in this place to relate the stories of his cruelties in his house at Chelsea, which he himself partially denied, and which at least we may hope were exaggerated. Being obliged to confine myself to specific instances, I choose rather those on which the evidence is not open to question; and which prove against More, not the zealous execution of a cruel law, for which we may not fairly hold him responsible, but a disregard, in the highest degree censurable, of his obligations as a judge.
By the Act of Henry IV., the bishops were bound to bring offenders to trial in open court, within three months of their arrest, if there were no lawful impediment. If conviction followed, they might imprison at their discretion. Except under these conditions, they were not at liberty to imprison.
By the Act of Henry V., a heretic, if he was first indicted before a secular judge, was to be delivered within ten days (or if possible, a shorter period) to the bishop, 'to be acquit or convict' by a jury in the spiritual court, and to be dealt with accordingly.
The secular judge might detain a heretic for ten days before delivering him to the bishop. The bishop might detain him for three months before his trial. Neither the secular judge nor the bishop had power to inflict indefinite imprisonment at will while the trial was delayed; nor if on the trial the bishop failed in securing a conviction, was he at liberty to detain the accused person any longer on the same charge, because the result was not satisfactory to himself. These provisions were not preposterously lenient. Sir Thomas More should have found no difficulty in observing them himself, and in securing the observance of them by the bishops, at least in cases where he was himself responsible for the first committal. It is to be feared that he forgot that he was a judge in his eagerness to be a partisan, and permitted no punctilious legal scruples to interfere with the more important object of ensuring punishment to heretics.
The first case which I shall mention is one in which the Bishop of London was principally guilty; not, however, without More's countenance, and, if Foxe is to be believed, his efficient support.
In December, 1529, the month succeeding his appointment as chancellor, More, at the instance of the Bishop of London, arrested a citizen of London, Thomas Philips by name, on a charge of heresy.
The prisoner was surrended in due form to his diocesan, and was brought to trial on the 4th of February; a series of articles being alleged against him by Foxford, the Bishop's vicar-general. The articles were of the usual kind. The prisoner was accused of having used unorthodox expressions on transubstantiation, on purgatory, pilgrimages, and confession. It does not appear whether any witnesses were produced. The vicar-general brought his accusations on the ground of general rumour, and failed to maintain them. Whether there were witnesses or not, neither the particular offences, nor even the fact of the general rumour, could be proved to the satisfaction of the jury. Philips himself encountered each separate charge with a specific denial, declaring that he neither was, nor ever had been, other than orthodox: and the result of the trial was, that no conviction could be obtained. The prisoner 'was found so clear from all manner of infamous slanders and suspicions, that all the people before the said Bishop, shouting in judgment as with one voice, openly witnessed his good name and fame, to the great reproof and shame of the said Bishop, if he had not been ashamed to be ashamed.' The case had broken down; the proceedings were over, and by law the accused person was free. But the law, except when it was on their own side, was of little importance to the Church authorities. As they had failed to prove Philips guilty of heresy, they called upon him to confess his guilt by abjuring it; 'as if,' he says, 'there were no difference between a nocent and an innocent, between a guilty and a not guilty.'
He refused resolutely, and was remanded to prison, in open violation of the law. The Bishop, in conjunction with Sir Thomas More, sent for him from time to time, submitting him to private examinations, which again were illegal; and urged the required confession, in order, as Philips says, 'to save the Bishop's credit.'
The further they advanced, the more difficult it was to recede; and the Bishop at length, irritated at his failure, concluded the process with an arbitrary sentence of excommunication. From this sentence, whether just or unjust, there was then no appeal, except to the Pope. The wretched man, in virtue of it, was no longer under the protection of the law, and was committed to the Tower, where he languished for three years, protesting, but protesting fruitlessly, against the tyranny which had crushed him, and clamouring for justice in the deaf ears of pedants who knew not what justice meant.
If this had occurred at the beginning of the century, the prisoner would have been left to die, as countless multitudes had already died, unheard, uncared for, unthought of; the victim not of deliberate cruelty, but of that frightfullest portent, folly armed with power. Happily the years of his imprisonment had been years of swift revolution. The House of Commons had become a tribunal where oppression would not any longer cry wholly unheard; Philips appealed to it for protection, and recovered his liberty.
The weight of guilt in this instance presses essentially on Stokesley; yet a portion of the blame must be borne also by the chancellor, who first placed Philips in Stokesley's hands; who took part in the illegal private examinations, and who could not have been ignorant of the prisoner's ultimate fate. If, however, it be thought unjust to charge a good man's memory with an offence in which his part was only secondary, the following iniquity was wholly and exclusively his own. I relate the story without comment in the address of the injured person to More's successor.
'To the Right Hon. the Lord Chancellor of England (Sir T. Audeley) and other of the King's Council.
'In most humble wise showeth unto your goodness your poor bedeman John Field, how that the next morrow upon twelfth day, in the twenty-first year of our sovereign lord the King's Highness, Sir Thomas More, Knight, then being Lord Chancellor of England, did send certain of his servants, and caused your said bedeman, with certain others, to be brought to his place at Chelsea, and there kept him (after what manner and fashion it were now long to tell), by the space of eighteen days; and then set him at liberty, binding him to appear before him again the eighth day following in the Star Chamber, which was Candlemas eve; at which day your said bedeman appeared, and was then sent to the Fleet, where he continued until Palm Sunday two years after, [in violation of both the statutes,] kept so close the first quarter that his keeper only might visit him; and always after closed up with those that were handled most straitly; often searched, sometimes even at midnight; besides snares and traps laid to take him in. Betwixt Michaelmas and Allhalloween tide next after his coming to prison there was taken from your bedeman a Greek vocabulary, price five shillings; Saint Cyprian's works, with a book of the same Sir Thomas More's making, named the Supplication of Souls. For what cause it was done he committeth to the judgment of God, that seeth the souls of all persons. The said Palm Sunday, which was also our Lady's day, towards night there came two officers of the Fleet, named George Porter and John Butler, and took your bedeman into a ward alone, and there, after long searching, found his purse hanging at his girdle; which they took, and shook out the money to the sum of ten shillings, which was sent him to buy such necessaries as he lacked, and delivered him again his purse, well and truly keeping the money to themselves, as they said, for their fees; and forthwith carried him from the Fleet (where he lost such poor bedding as he then had, and could never since get it), and delivered him to the Marshalsea, under our gracious sovereign's commandment and Sir Thomas More's. When the Sunday before the Hogation week following, your bedeman fell sick; and the Whitsun Monday was carried out on four men's backs, and delivered to his friends to be recovered if it so pleased God. At which time the keeper took for your bedeman's fees other ten shillings, when four shillings should have sufficed if he had been delivered in good health.
'Within three weeks it pleased God to set your bedeman on his feet, so that he might walk abroad. Whereof when Sir Thomas More heard (who went out of his chancellorship about the time your bedeman was carried out of prison), although he had neither word nor deed which he could ever truly lay to your bedeman's charge, yet made he such means by the Bishops of Winchester and London, as your bedeman heard say, to the Hon. Lord Thomas Duke of Norfolk, that he gave new commandment to the keeper of the Marshalsea to attach again your said bedeman; which thing was speedily done the Sunday three weeks after his deliverance. And so he continued in prison again until Saint Lawrence tide following; at which time money was given to the keeper, and some things he took which were not given, and then was your bedeman re-delivered through the King's goodness, under sureties bound in a certain sum, that he should appear the first day of the next term following, and then day by day until his dismission. And so hath your bedeman been at liberty now twelve months waiting daily from term to term, and nothing laid to his charge as before.
'Wherefore, the premises tenderly considered, and also your said bedeman's great poverty, he most humbly beseecheth your goodness that he may now be clearly discharged; and if books, money, or other things seem to be taken or kept from him otherwise than justice would, eftsoons he beseecheth you that ye will command it to be restored.
'As for his long imprisonment, with other griefs thereto appertaining, he looketh not to have recompense of man; .but committeth his whole cause to God, to whom your bedeman shall daily pray, according as he is bound, that ye may so order and govern the realm that it may be to the honour of God and your heavenly and everlasting reward.'
I do not find the result of this petition, but as it appeared that Henry had interested himself in the story, it is likely to have been successful. We can form but an imperfect judgment on the merits of the case, for we have only the sufferer's ex parte complaint, and More might probably have been able to make some counterstatement. But the illegal imprisonment cannot be explained away, and cannot be palliated; and when a judge permits himself to commit an act of arbitrary tyranny, we argue from the known to the unknown, and refuse reasonably to give him credit for equity where he was so little careful of law.
Yet a few years of misery in a prison was but an insignificant misfortune when compared with the fate under which so many other poor men were at this time overwhelmed. Under Wolsey's chancellorship the stake had been comparatively idle; he possessed a remarkable power of making recantation easy; and there is, I believe, no instance in which an accused heretic was brought under his immediate cognizance, where he failed to arrange some terms by which submission was made possible. With Wolsey heresy was an error—with More it was a crime. Soon after the seals changed hands the Smithfield fires recommenced; and, the chancellor acting in concert with them, the bishops resolved to obliterate, in these edifying spectacles, the recollection of their general infirmities. The crime of the offenders varied—sometimes it was a denial of the corporal presence, more often it was a reflection too loud to be endured on the character and habits of the clergy; but whatever it was, the alternative lay only between abjuration humiliating as ingenuity could make it, or a dreadful death. The hearts of many failed them in the trial, and of all the confessors those perhaps do not deserve the least compassion whose weakness betrayed them, who sank and died broken-hearted. Of these silent sufferers history knows nothing. A few, unable to endure the misery of having, as they supposed, denied their Saviour, returned to the danger from which they had fled, and washed out their fall in martyrdom. Latimer has told us the story of his friend Bilney—little Bilney, or Saint Bilney, as he calls him, his companion at Cambridge, to whom he owed his own conversion. Bilney, after escaping through Wolsey's hands in 1527, was again cited in 1529 before the Bishop of London. Three times he refused to recant. He was offered a fourth and last chance. The temptation was too strong, and he fell. For two years he was hopelessly miserable; at length his braver nature prevailed. There was no pardon for a relapsed heretic, and if he was again in the Bishop's hands he knew well the fate which awaited him.
He told his friends, in language touchingly significant, that 'he would go up to Jerusalem;' and began to preach in the fields. The journey which he had undertaken was not to be a long one. He was heard to say in a sermon, that of his personal knowledge certain things which had been offered in pilgrimage had been given to abandoned women. The priests, he affirmed, 'take away the offerings, and hang them about their women's necks; and after that they take them off the women, if they please them not, and hang them again upon the images.' This was Bilney's heresy, or formed the ground of his arrest; he was orthodox on the mass, and also on the power of the keys; but the secrets of the sacred order were not to be betrayed with impunity. He was seized, and hurried before the Bishop of Norwich; and being found heterodox on the Papacy and the mediation of the saints, by the Bishop of Norwich he was sent to the stake.
Another instance of recovered courage, and of martyrdom consequent upon it, is that of James Bainham, a barrister of the Middle Temple. This story is noticeable from a very curious circumstance connected with it.
Bainham had challenged suspicion by marrying the widow of Simon Fish, the author of the famous Beggars' Petition, who had died in 1528; and, soon after his marriage, was challenged to give an account of his faith. He was charged with denying transubstantiation, with questioning the value of the confessional, and the power of the keys; and the absence of authoritative Protestant dogma had left his mind free to expand to a yet larger belief. He had ventured to assert, that 'if a Turk, a Jew, or a Saracen do trust in God and keep his law, he is a good Christian man,'—a conception of Christianity, a conception of Protestantism, which we but feebly dare to whisper even at the present day. The proceedings against him commenced with a demand that he should give up his books, and also the names of other barristers with whom he was suspected to have held intercourse. He refused; and in consequence his wife w r as imprisoned, and he himself was racked in the Tower by order of Sir Thomas More. Enfeebled by suffering, he was then brought before Stokesley, and terrified by the cold merciless eyes of his judge, he gave way, not about his friends, but about himself: he abjured, and was dismissed heartbroken. This was on the seventeenth of February. He was only able to endure his wretchedness for a month. At the end of it, he appeared at a secret meeting of the Christian Brothers, in 'a warehouse in Bow Lane,' where he asked forgiveness of God and all the world for what he had done; and then went out to take again upon his shoulders the heavy burden of the cross.
The following Sunday, at the church of St Augustine, he rose in his seat with the fatal English Testament in his hand, and 'declared openly, before all the people, with weeping tears, that he had denied God,' praying them all to forgive him, and beware of his weakness; 'for if I should not return to the truth,' he said, 'this Word of God would damn me, body and soul, at the day of judgment.' And then he prayed 'everybody rather to die than to do as he did, for he would not feel such a hell again as he did feel for all the world's good.'
Of course but one event was to be looked for; he knew it, and himself wrote to the Bishop, telling him what he had done. No mercy was possible: he looked for none, and he found none.
Yet perhaps he found what the wise authorities thought to be some act of mercy. They could not grant him pardon in this world upon any terms; but they would not kill him till they had made an effort for his soul. He was taken to the Bishop of London's coal cellar at Fulham, the favourite episcopal penance chamber, where he was ironed and put in the stocks; and there was left for many days, in the chill March weather, to bethink himself. This failing to work conviction, he was carried to Sir Thomas More's house at Chelsea, where for two nights he was chained to a post and whipped; thence, again, he was taken back to Fulham for another week of torture; and finally to the Tower, for a further fortnight, again with ineffectual whippings.
The demands of charity were thus satisfied. The pious Bishop and the learned chancellor had exhausted their means of conversion; they had discharged their consciences; and the law was allowed to take its course. The prisoner was brought to trial on the 20th of April, April 20, 1532.as a relapsed heretic. Sentence followed; and on the last of the month the drama closed in the usual manner at Smithfield. Before the fire was lighted Bainham made a farewell address to the people, laying his death expressly to More, whom he called his accuser and his judge.
It is unfortunately impossible to learn the feelings with which these dreadful scenes were witnessed by the people. There are stories which show that, in some instances, familiarity had produced the usual effect; that the martyrdom of saints was at times of no more moment to an English crowd than the execution of ordinary felons—that it was a mere spectacle to the idle, the hardened, and the curious. On the other hand, it is certain that the behaviour of the sufferers was the argument which at last converted the nation; and an effect which in the end was so powerful with the multitude, must have been visible long before in the braver and better natures. The increasing number of prosecutions in London shows, also, that the leaven was spreading. There were five executions in Smithfield between 1529 and 1533, besides those in the provinces. The prisons were crowded with offenders who had abjured and were undergoing sentence; and the list of those who were 'troubled' in various ways is so extensive, as to leave no doubt of the sympathy which, in London at least, must have been felt by many, very many, of the spectators of the martyrs' deaths. We are left, in this important point, mainly to conjecture; and if we were better furnished with evidence, the language of ordinary narrative would fail to convey any real notion of perplexed and various emotions. We have glimpses, however, into the inner world of men, here and there of strange interest; and we must regret that they are so few.
A poor boy at Cambridge, John Randall, of Christ's College, a relation of Foxe the martyrologist, destroyed himself in these years in religious desperation; he was found in his study hanging by his girdle, before an open Bible, with his dead arm and finger stretched pitifully towards a passage on predestination.
A story even more remarkable is connected with Bainham's execution. Among the lay officials present at the stake, was 'one Pavier,' town clerk of London. This Pavier was a Catholic fanatic, and as the flames were about to be kindled he burst out into violent and abusive language. The fire blazed up, and the dying sufferer, as the red flickering tongues licked the flesh from off his bones, turned to him and said, 'May God forgive thee, and shew more mercy than thou, angry reviler, shewest to me,' The scene was soon over; the town clerk went home. A week after, one morning when his wife had gone to mass, he sent all his servants out of his house on one pretext or another, a single girl only being left, and he withdrew to a garret at the top of the house, which he used as an oratory. A large crucifix was on the wall, and the girl having some question to ask, went to the room, and found him standing before it 'bitterly weeping.' He told her to take his sword, which was rusty, and clean it. She went away, and left him; when she returned, a little time after, he was hanging from a beam, dead. He was a singular person. Edward Hall, the historian, knew him, and had heard him say, that 'if the King put forth the New Testament in English, he would not live to bear it.' And yet he could not bear to see a heretic die. What was it? Had the meaning of that awful figure hanging on the torturing cross suddenly revealed itself? Had some inner voice asked him whether, in the prayer for his persecutors with which Christ had parted out of life, there might be some affinity with words which had lately sounded in his own ears? God, into whose hands he threw himself, self- condemned in his wretchedness, only knows the agony of that hour. Let the secret rest where it lies, and let us be thankful for ourselves that we live in a changed world.
Thus, however, the struggle went forward; a forlorn hope of saints led the way up the breach, and paved with their bodies a broad road into the new era; and the nation the meanwhile was unconsciously waiting till the works of the enemy were won, and they could walk safely in and take possession. While men like Bilney and Bainham were teaching with words and writings, there were stout English hearts labouring also on the practical side of the same conflict, instilling the same lessons, and meeting for themselves the same consequences. Speculative superstition was to be met with speculative denial. Practical idolatry required a rougher method of disenchantment.
Every monastery, every parish church, had in those days its special relics, its special images, its special something, to attract the interest of the people. The reverence for the remains of noble and pious men, the dresses which they had worn, or the bodies in which their spirits had lived, was in itself a natural and pious emotion; but it had been petrified into a dogma; and like every other imaginative feeling which is submitted to that bad process, it had become a falsehood, a mere superstition, a substitute for piety, not a stimulus to it, and a perpetual occasion of fraud. The people brought offerings to the shrines where it was supposed that the relics were of greatest potency. The clergy, to secure the offerings, invented the relics, and invented the stories of the wonders which had been worked by them. The greatest exposure of these things took place at the visitation of the religious houses. In the mean time, Bishop Shaxton's unsavoury inventory of what passed under the name of relics in the diocese of Salisbury, will furnish an adequate notion of these objects of popular veneration. There 'be set forth and commended unto the ignorant people,' he said, 'as I myself of certain which be already come to my hands, have perfect knowledge, stinking boots, mucky combes, ragged rochettes, rotten girdles, pyl'd purses, great bullocks' horns, locks of hair, and filthy rags, gobbetts of wood, under the name of parcels of the holy cross, and such pelfry beyond estimation.' Besides matters of this kind, there were images of the Virgin or of the Saints; above all, roods or crucifixes, of especial potency, the virtues of which had begun to grow uncertain, however, to sceptical Protestants; and from doubt to denial, and from denial to passionate hatred, there were but a few brief steps. The most famous of the roods was that of Boxley in Kent, which used to smile and bow, or frown and shake its head, as its worshippers were generous or closehanded. The fortunes and misfortunes of this image I shall by and by have to relate. There was another, however, at Dovercourt, in Suffolk, of scarcely inferior fame. This image was of such power that the door of the church in which it stood was open at all hours to all comers, and no human hand could close it. Dovercourt therefore became a place of great and lucrative pilgrimage, much resorted to by the neighbours on all occasions of difficulty.
Now it happened that within the circuit of a few miles there lived four young men, to whom the virtues of the rood had become greatly questionable. If it could work miracles, it must be capable, so they thought, of protecting its own substance; and they agreed to apply a practical test which would determine the extent of its abilities. Accordingly (about the time of Bainham's first imprisonment), Robert King of Dedham, Robert Debenham of Eastbergholt, Nicholas Marsh of Dedham, and Robert Gardiner of Dedham, 'their consciences being burdened to see the honour of Almighty God so blasphemed by such an idol,' started off 'on a wondrous goodly night' in February, with hard frost and a clear full moon, ten miles across the wolds, to the church.
The door was open, as the legend declared; but nothing daunted, they entered bravely, and lifting down the 'idol' from its shrine, with its coat and shoes, and the store of tapers which were kept for the services, they carried it on their shoulders for a quarter of a mile from the place where it had stood, 'without any resistance of the said idol.' There setting it on the ground, they struck a light, fastened the tapers to the body, and with the help of them, sacrilegiously burnt the image down to a heap of ashes; the old dry wood 'blazing so brimly,' that it lighted them a full mile of their way home.
For this night's performance, which, if the devil is the father of lies, was a stroke of honest work against him and his family, the world rewarded these men after the usual fashion. One of them, Robert Gardiner, escaped the search which was made, and disappeared till better times; the remaining three were swinging in chains six months later on the scene of their exploit. Their fate was perhaps inevitable. Men who dare to be the first in great movements are ever self-immolated victims. But I suppose that it was better for them to be bleaching on their gibbets, than crawling at the feet of a wooden rood, and believing it to be God.
These were the first Paladins of the Reformation; the knights who slew the dragons and the enchanters, and made the earth habitable for common flesh and blood. They were rarely, as we have said, men of great ability, still more rarely men of 'wealth and station;' but men rather of clear senses and honest hearts. Tyndal was a remarkable person, and so Clark and Frith promised to become; but the two last were cut off before they had found scope to show themselves; and Tyndal remaining abroad, lay outside the battle which was being fought in England, doing noble work, indeed, and ending as the rest ended, with earning a martyr's crown; but taking no part in the actual struggle except with his pen. As yet but two men of the highest order of power were on the side of Protestantism—Latimer and Cromwell. Of them we have already said something; but the time was now fast coming when they were to step forward, pressed by circumstances which could no longer dispense with them, into scenes of far wider activity; and the present seems a fitting occasion to give some closer account of their history. When the breach with the Pope was made irreparable, and the Papal party at home had assumed an attitude of suspended insurrection, the fortunes of the Protestants entered into a new phase. The persecution ceased; and those who but lately were carrying fagots in the streets, or hiding for their lives, passed at once by a sudden alternation into the sunshine of political favour. The summer was but a brief one, followed soon by returning winter; but Cromwell and Latimer had together caught the moment as it went by; and before it was over, a work had been done in England which, when it was accomplished once, was accomplished for ever. The conservative party recovered their power, and abused it as before; but the chains of the nation were broken, and no craft of kings or priests or statesmen could weld the magic links again.
It is a pity that of two persons to whom England owes so deep a debt, we can piece together such scanty biographies. I must attempt, however, to give some outline of the little which is known.
The father of Latimer was a solid English yeoman, of Thurcaston, in Leicestershire. 'He had no lands of his own,' but he rented a farm 'of four pounds by the year,' on which 'he tilled so much as kept half a dozen men;' 'he had walk for a hundred sheep, and meadow ground for thirty cows.' The world prospered with him; he was able to save money for his son's education and his daughters' portions; but he was freehanded and hospitable; he kept open house for his poor neighbours; and he was a good citizen, too, for 'he did find the King a harness with himself and his horse,' ready to do battle for his country, if occasion called. His family were brought up 'in godliness and the fear of the Lord;' and in all points the old Latimer seems to have been a worthy, sound, upright man, of the true English mettle.
There were several children. The Reformer was born about 1490, some five years after the usurper Richard had been killed at Bosworth. Bosworth beingno great distance from Thurcaston, Latimer the father is likely to have been present in the battle, on one side or the other—the right side in those times it was no easy matter to choose—but he became a good servant of the new Government and the little Hugh, when a boy of seven years old, helped to buckle on his armour for him, 'when he went to Blackheath field.' Being a soldier himself, the old gentleman was careful to give his sons, whatever else he gave them, a sound soldier's training. 'He was diligent,' says Latimer, 'to teach me to shoot with the bow: he taught me how to draw, how to lay my body in the bow—not to draw with strength of arm, as other nations do, but with the strength of the body. I had my bows bought me according to my age and strength; as I increased in these, my bows were made bigger and bigger.' Under this education, and in the wholesome atmosphere of the farmhouse, the boy prospered well; and by and by, showing signs of promise, he was sent to school. When he was fourteen, the promises so far having been fulfilled, his father transferred him to Cambridge.
He was soon known at the University as a sober, hard-working student. At nineteen, he was elected fellow of Clare Hall; at twenty, he took his degree, and became a student in divinity, when he accepted quietly, like a sensible man, the doctrines which he had been brought up to believe. At the time when Henry VIII. was writing against Luther, Latimer was fleshing his maiden sword in an attack upon Melancthon; and he remained, he said, till he was thirty, 'in darkness and the shadow of death.' About this time he became acquainted with Bilney, whom he calls 'the instrument whereby God called him to knowledge.' In Bilney, doubtless, he found a sound instructor; but a careful reader of his sermons will see traces of a teaching for which he was indebted to no human master. His deepest knowledge was that which stole upon him unconsciously through the experience of life and the world His words are like the clear impression of a seal; the account and the result of observations, taken first hand, on the condition of the English men and women of his time, in all ranks and classes, from the palace to the prison. He shows large acquaintance with books; with the Bible, most of all; with patristic divinity and school divinity; and history, sacred and profane: but if this had been all, he would not have been the Latimer of the Reformation, and the Church of England would not, perhaps, have been here to-day. Like the physician, to whom a year of practical experience in a hospital teaches more than a life of closet study, Latimer learnt the mental disorders of his age in the age itself; and the secret of that art no other man, however good, however wise, could have taught him. He was not an echo, but a voice; and he drew his thoughts fresh from the fountain—from the facts of the era in which God had placed him.
He became early famous as a preacher at Cambridge, from the first, 'a seditious fellow,' as a noble lord called him in later life, highly troublesome to unjust persons in authority. 'None, except the stiff-necked and uncircumcised, ever went away from his preaching, it was said, without being affected with high detestation of sin,;and moved to all godliness and virtue.' And, in his audacious simplicity, he addressed himself always to his individual hearers, giving his words a personal application, and often addressing men by name. This habit brought him first into difficulty in 1525. He was preaching before the University, when the Bishop of Ely came into the church, being curious to hear him. He paused till the Bishop was seated; and when he recommenced, he changed his subject, and drew an ideal picture of a prelate as a prelate ought to be; the features of which, though he did not say so, were strikingly unlike those of his auditor. The Bishop complained to Wolsey, who sent for Latimer, and inquired what he had said. Latimer repeated the substance of his sermon; and other conversation then followed, which showed Wolsey very clearly the nature of the person with whom he was speaking. No eye saw more rapidly than the Cardinal's the difference between a true man and an impostor; and he replied to the Bishop of Ely's accusations by granting the offender a license to preach in any church in England. 'If the Bishop of Ely cannot abide such doctrine as you have here repeated,' he said, 'you shall preach it to his beard, let him say what he will.'
Thus fortified, Latimer pursued his way, careless of the University authorities, and probably defiant of them. He was still orthodox in points of theoretic belief. His mind was practical rather than speculative, and he was slow in arriving at conclusions which had no immediate bearing upon action. No charge could be fastened upon him, definitely criminal; and he was too strong to be crushed by that compendious tyranny which treated as an act of heresy the exposure of imposture or delinquency.
On Wolsey's fall, however, he would have certainly been silenced: if he had fallen into the hands of Sir Thomas More, he would have perhaps been prematurely sacrificed. But, fortunately, he found a fresh protector in the King. Henry heard of him, sent for him, and, with instinctive recognition of his character, appointed him one of the royal chaplains. He now left Cambridge and removed to Windsor, but only to treat his royal patron as freely as he had treated the Cambridge doctors—not with any absence of respect, for he was most respectful, but with that highest respect whicli dares to speak unwelcome truth where the truth seems to be forgotten. He was made chaplain in 1530—during the new persecution, for which Henry was responsible by a more than tacit acquiescence. Latimer, with no authority but his own conscience, and the strong certainty that he was on God's side, threw himself between the spoilers and their prey, and wrote to the King, protesting against the injustice which was crushing the truest men in his dominions. The letter is too long to insert; the close of it may show how a poor priest could dare to address the imperious Henry VIII.:
'I pray to God that your Grace may take heed of the worldly wisdom which is foolishness before God; that you may do that [which] God commandeth, and not that [which] seemeth good in your own sight, without the word of God; that your Grace may be found acceptable in his sight, and one of the members of his Church; and according to the office that he hath called your Grace unto, you may be found a faithful minister of his gifts, and not a defender of his faith: for he will not have it defended by man or man's power, but by his word only, by the which he hath evermore defended it, and that by a way far above man's power or reason.
'Wherefore, gracious King, remember yourself; have pity upon your soul; and think that the day is even at hand when you shall give account for your office, and of the blood that hath been shed by your sword. In which day, that your Grace may stand steadfastly, and not be ashamed, but be clear and ready in your reckoning, and have (as they say) your quietus est sealed with the blood of our Saviour Christ, which only serveth at that day, is my daily prayer to Him that suffered death for our sins, which also prayeth to his Father for grace for us continually; to whom be all honour and praise for ever. Amen. The Spirit of God preserve your Grace.'
These words, which conclude an address of almost unexampled grandeur, are unfortunately of no interest to us, except as illustrating the character of the priest who wrote them, and the King to whom they were written. The hand of the persecutor was not stayed. The rack and the lash and the stake continued to claim their victims. So far it was labour in vain. But the letter remains, to speak for ever for the courage of Latimer; and to speak something, too, for a prince that could respect the nobleness of the poor yeoman's son, who dared in such a cause to write to him as a man to a man. To have written at all in such a strain was as brave a step as was ever deliberately ventured. Like most brave acts, it did not go unrewarded; for Henry remained ever after, however widely divided from him in opinion, his unshaken friend.
In 1531, the King gave him the living of West Kingston, in Wiltshire, where for a time he now retired. Yet it was but a partial rest. He had a special license as a preacher from Cambridge, which continued to him (with the King's express sanction) the powers which he had received from Wolsey. He might preach in any diocese to which he was invited; and the repose of a country parish could not be long allowed in such stormy times to Latimer. He had bad health, being troubled with headache, pleurisy, coiic, stone; his bodily constitution meeting feebly the demands which he was forced to make upon it. But he struggled on, travelling up and down, to London, to Kent, to Bristol, wherever opportunity called him; marked for destruction by the bishops, if he was betrayed into an imprudent word, and himself living in constant expectation of death.
At length the Bishop of London believed that Latimer was in his power. He had preached at St Abb's, in the city, 'at the request of a company of merchants,' in the beginning of the winter of 1531; and soon after his return to his living, he was informed that he was to be cited before Stokesley. His friends in the neighbourhood wrote to him, evidently in great alarm, and more anxious that he might clear himself, than expecting that he would be able to do so; he himself, indeed, had almost made up his mind that the end was coming.
The citation was delayed for a few weeks. It was issued at last, on the 10th of January, 1531–2, and was served by Sir Walter Hungerford, of Farley. The offences with which he was charged were certain 'excesses and irregularities' not specially denned; and the practice of the bishops in such cases was not to confine the prosecution to the acts committed; Jan. 10.but to draw up a series of articles, on which it was presumed that the orthodoxy of the accused person was open to suspicion, and to question him separately upon each. Latimer was first examined by Stokesley; subsequently at various times by the bishops collectively; and finally, when certain formulas had been submitted to him, which he refused to sign, his case was transferred to Convocation. The Convocation, as we know, were then in difficulty with their premunire; they had consoled themselves in their sorrow with burning the body of Tracy; and they would gladly have taken further comfort by burning Latimer. He was submitted to the closest cross-questionings, in the hope that he would commit himself. They felt that he was the most dangerous person to them in the kingdom, and they laboured with unusual patience to ensure his conviction. With a common person they would have rapidly succeeded. But Latimer was in no haste to be a martyr; he would be martyred patiently when the time was come for martyrdom; but he felt that no one ought 'to consent to die,' as long as he could honestly live; and he baffled the episcopal inquisitors with their own weapons. He has left a most curious account of one of his interviews with them.
'I was once in examination,' he says, 'before five or six bishops, where I had much turmoiling. Every week, thrice, I came to examination, and many snares and traps were laid to get something. Now, God knoweth, I was ignorant of the law; but that God gave me answer and wisdom what I should speak. It was God indeed, for else I had never escaped them. At the last, I was brought forth to be examined into a chamber hanged with arras, where I was before wont to be examined, but now, at this time, the chamber was somewhat altered: for whereas before there was wont ever to be a fire in the chimney, now the fire was taken away, and an arras hanging hanged over the chimney; and the table stood near the chimney's end, so that I stood between the table and the chimney's end. There was among these bishops that examined me one with whom I had been very familiar, and took him for my great friend, an aged man, and he sat next the table end. Then, among all other questions, he put forth one, a very subtle and crafty one, and such one indeed as I could not think so great danger in. And when I would make answer, 'I pray you, Master Latimer,' said he, 'speak out; I am very thick of hearing, and here be many that sit far off.' I marvelled at this, that I was bidden to speak out, and began to misdeem, and gave an ear to the chimney; and, sir, there I heard a pen walking in the chimney, behind the cloth. They had appointed one there to write all mine answers; for they made sure work that I should not start from them: there was no starting from them: God was my good Lord, and gave me answer; I could never else have escaped it. The question was this: 'Master Latimer, do you not think, on your conscience, that you have been suspected of heresy?'—a subtle question—a very subtle question. There was no holding of peace would serve. To hold my peace had been to grant myself faulty. To answer was every way full of danger. But God, which hath always given me answer, helped me, or else I could never have escaped it. Ostendite mihi numisma censús. Shew me, said he, a penny of the tribute money. They laid snares to destroy him, but he overturneth them in their own traps.'
The bishops, however, were not men who were nice in their adherence to the laws; and it would have gone ill with Latimer, notwithstanding his dialectic ability. He was excommunicated and imprisoned, and would soon have fallen into worse extremities; but at the last moment he appealed to the King, and the King, who knew his value, would not allow him to be sacrificed. He had refused to subscribe the Articles proposed to him. Henry intimated to the Convocation that it was not his pleasure that the matter should be pressed further; they were to content themselves with a general submission, which should be made to the Archbishop, without exacting more special acknowledgments. This was the reward to Latimer for his noble letter. He was absolved, and returned to his parish, though snatched as a brand out of the fire.
Soon after, the tide turned, and the Reformation entered into a new phase.
Such is a brief sketch of the life of Hugh Latimer, to the time when it blended with the broad stream of English history. With respect to the other very great man whom the exigencies of the State called to power simultaneously with him, our information is far less satisfactory. Though our knowledge of Latimer's early story comes to us in fragments only, yet there are certain marks in it by which the outline can be determined with certainty. A cloud rests over the youth and early manhood of Thomas Cromwell, through which, only at intervals, we catch glimpses of authentic facts; and these few fragments of reality seem rather to belong to a romance than to the actual life of a man.
Cromwell, the malleus monachorum, was of good English family, belonging to the Cromwells of Lincolnshire. One of these, probably a younger brother, moved up to London and conducted an iron-foundry, or other business of that description, at Putney. He married a lady of respectable connections, of whom we know only that she was sister of the wife of a gentleman in Derbyshire, but whose name does not appear. The old Cromwell dying early, the widow was re-married to a cloth-merchant; and the child of the first husband, who made himself so great a name in English story, met with the reputed fortune of a stepson, and became a vagabond in the wide world. The chart of his course wholly fails us. One day in later life he shook by the hand an old bell-ringer at Sion House before a crowd of courtiers, and told them that 'this man's father had given him many a dinner in his necessities.' And a strange random account is given by Foxe of his having joined a party in an expedition to Rome to obtain a renewal from the Pope of certain immunities and indulgences for the town of Boston; a story which derives some kind of credibility from its connection with Lincolnshire, but is full of incoherence and unlikelihood. Following still the popular legend, we find him in the autumn of 1515 a ragged stripling at the door of Frescobaldi's banking-house in Florence, begging for help. Frescobaldi had an establishment in London, with a large connection there; and seeing an English face, and seemingly an honest one, he asked the boy who and what he was. 'I am, sir,' quoth he, 'of England, and my name is Thomas Cromwell; my father is a poor man, and by occupation a cloth-shearer; I am strayed from my country, and am now come into Italy with the camp of Frenchmen that were overthrown at Garigliano, where I was page to a footman, carrying after him his pike and burganet.' Something in the boy's manner was said to have attracted the banker's interest; he took him into his house, and after keeping him there as long as he desired to stay, he gave him a horse and sixteen ducats to help him home to England. Foxe is the first English authority for the story; and Foxe took it from Bandello, the novelist; but it is confirmed by, or harmonizes with, a sketch of Cromwell's early life in a letter of Chappuys, the imperial ambassador, to Chancellor Granvelle. 'Master Cromwell,' wrote Chappuys in 1535, 'is the son of a poor blacksmith, who lived in a small village four miles from London, and is buried in a common grave in the parish churchyard. In his youth, for some offence, he was imprisoned, and had to leave the country. He went to Flanders, and thence to Rome and other places in Italy.'
Returning to England, he married the daughter of a woollen-dealer, and became a partner in the business, where he amassed or inherited a considerable fortune. Circumstances afterwards brought him, while still young, in contact with Wolsey, who discovered his merit, took him into service, and, in 1525, employed him in the most important work of visiting and breaking up the small monasteries, which the Pope had granted for the foundation of the new colleges. He was engaged with this business for two years, and was so efficient that he obtained an unpleasant notoriety, and complaints of his conduct found their way to the King. Nothing came of these complaints, however, and Cromwell remained with the Cardinal till his fall.
It was then that the truly noble nature which was in him showed itself. He accompanied his master through his dreary confinement at Esher, doing all that man could do to soften the outward wretchedness of it; and at the meeting of Parliament, in which he obtained a seat, he rendered him a still more gallant service. The Lords had passed a bill of impeachment against Wolsey, violent, vindictive, and malevolent. It was to be submitted to the Commons, and Cromwell prepared to attempt an opposition. Cavendish has left a most characteristic description of his leaving Esher at this trying time. A cheerless November evening was closing in with rain and storm. Wolsey was broken down with sorrow and sickness; and had been unusually tried by parting with his retinue, whom he had sent home, as unwilling to keep them attached any longer to his fallen fortunes. When they were all gone, 'My lord,' says Cavendish, 'returned to his chamber, lamenting the departure of his servants, making his moan unto Master Cromwell, who comforted him the best he could, and desired my lord to give him leave to go to London, where he would either make or mar before he came again, which was always his common saying. Then after long communication with my lord in secret, he departed, and took his horse and rode to London; at whose departing I was by, whom he bade farewell, and said, ye shall hear shortly of me, and if I speed well I will not fail to be here again within these two days.' He did speed well. 'After two days he came again with a much pleasanter countenance, and meeting with me before he came to my lord, said unto me, that he had adventured to put in his foot where he trusted shortly to be better regarded or all were done.' He had stopped the progress of the impeachment in the Lower House, and was answering the articles one by one. In the evening; he rode down to Esher for instructions. In the morning he was again at his place in Parliament; and he conducted the defence so skilfully, that finally he threw out the bill, saved Wolsey, and himself 'grew into such estimation in every man's opinion, for his honest behaviour in his master's cause, that he was esteemed the most faithfullest servant, [and] was of all men greatly commended.'
Henry admired his chivalry, and perhaps his talent. The loss of Wolsey had left him without any very able man, unless we may consider Sir Thomas More such, upon his council, and he could not calculate on More for support in his anti-Roman policy; he was glad, therefore, to avail himself of the service of a man who had given so rare a proof of fidelity, and who had been trained by the ablest statesman of the age.
To Wolsey Cromwell could render no more service except as a friend, and his warm friend he remained to the last. He became the King's secretary, representing the Government in the House of Commons, and was at once on the high road to power. If we please we may call him ambitious; but an ambitious man would scarcely have pursued so refined a policy, or have calculated on the admiration which he gained by adhering to a fallen minister. He did not seek greatness—greatness rather sought him as the man in England most fit to bear it. His business was to prepare the measures which were to be submitted to Parliament by the Government. His influence, therefore, grew necessarily with the rapidity with which events were ripening; and when the conclusive step was taken, and the King was married, the virtual conduct of the Reformation passed into his hands. His Protestant tendencies were unknown as yet, perhaps, even to his own conscience; nor to the last could he arrive at any certain speculative convictions. He was drawn towards the Protestants as he rose into power by the integrity of his nature, which compelled him to trust only those on the sincerity of whose convictions he could depend.
APPENDIX TO CHAPTER VI.
WILL OF THOMAS CROMWELL—1529.
IN the name of God, Amen. The 12th day of July, in the year of our Lord God MCCCCCXXIX., and in the 21st year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord, King Henry VIII., I, Thomas Cromwell, of London, Gentleman, being whole in body and in good and perfect memory, lauded be the Holy Trinity, make, ordain, and declare this my present testament, containing my last will, in manner as following:—First I be<jueath my soul to the great God of heaven, my Maker, Creator, and Redeemer, beseeching the most glorious Virgin and blessed Lady Saint Mary the Virgin and Mother, with all the holy company of heaven, to be mediators and intercessors for me to the Holy Trinity, so that I may be able, when it shall please Almighty God to call me out of this miserable world and transitory life, to inherit the kingdom of heaven amongst the number of good Christian people; and whensoever I shall depart this present life I bequeath my body to be buried where it shall please God to ordain me to die, and to be ordered after the discretion of mine executors undernamed. And for my goods which our Lord hath lent me in this world, I will shall be ordered and disposed in manner and form as hereafter shall ensue. First I give and bequeath unto my son Gregory Cromwell six hundred threescore six pounds, thirteen shillings, and fourpence, of lawful money of England, with Hie which six hundred threescore six pounds, thirteen shillings, and fourpence, I will mine executors undernamed immediately or as soon as they conveniently may after my decease, shall purchase lands, tenements, and hereditaments to the clear yearly value of 33l. 6s. 8d. by the year above all charges and reprises to the use of my said son Gregory, for term of his life; and after the decease of the said Gregory to the heirs male of his body lawfully to be begotten, and for lack of heirs male of the body of the said Gregory, lawfully begotten, to the heirs general of his body lawfully begotten. And for lack of such heirs to the right heirs of me the said Thomas Cromwell, in fee. I will also that immediately and as soon as the said lands, tenements, and hereditaments shall be so purchased after my death as is aforesaid by mine executors, that the yearly profits thereof shall be wholly spent and employed in and about the education and finding honestly of my said son Gregory, in virtue, good learning, and manners, until such time as he shall come to the full age of 24 years. During which time I heartily desire and require my said executors to be good unto my said son Gregory, and to see he do lose no time, but to see him virtuously ordered and brought up according to my trust.
Item. I give and bequeath to my said son Gregory, when he shall come to his full age of 24 years, two hundred pounds of lawful English money to order them as our Lord shall give him grace and discretion, which 200l. I will shall be put in surety to the intent the same may come to his hands at his said age of 24 years. Item. I give and bequeath to my said son Gregory of such household stuff as God hath lent me, three of my best featherbeds with their bolsters; 2nd, the best pair of blankets of fustian, my best coverlet of tapestry and my quilt of yellow Turkey satin; one pair of my best sheets, four pillows of down, with four pair of the best pillowberes, four of my best tablecloths, four of my best towels, two dozen of my finest napkins, and two dozen of my other napkins, two garnish of my best vessel, three of my best brass pots, three of my best brass pans, two of my best kettles, two of my best spits, my best joined bed of Flanders work, with the bst——and tester, and other the appurtenances thereto belonging; my best press, carven of Flanders work, and my best cupboard, carven of Flanders work, with also six joined stools of Flanders work, and six of my best cushions. Item. I give and bequeath to my said son Gregory a basin with an ewer parcel-gilt, my best salt gilt, my best cup gilt, three of my best goblets; three other of my goblets parcel-gilt, twelve of my best silver spoons, three of my best drinking alepots gilt; all the which parcels of plate and household stuff I will shall be safely kept to the use of my said son Gregory till he shall come to his said full age of 24. And all the which plate, household stuff, napery, and all other the premises, I will mine executors do put in safe keeping until my said son come to the said years or age of 24. And if he die before the age of 24, then I will all the said plate, vessel, and household stuff shall be sold by mine executors. And the money thereof coming to be given and equally divided amongst my poor kinsfolk, that is to say, amongst the children as well of mine own sisters Elizabeth and Katherine, as of my late wife's sister Joan, wife to John Williamson; and if it happen that all the children of my said sisters and sister-in-law do die before the partition be made, and none of them be living, then I will that all the said plate, vessel, and household stuff shall be sold and given to other my poor kinsfolk then being in life, and other poor and indigent people, in deeds of charity for my soul, my father and mother their souls, and all Christian souls.
[ Item. I give and bequeath to my daughter Anne an hundred marks of lawful money of England when she shall come to her lawful age or happen to be married, and 40l. toward her finding until the time that she shall be of lawful age or be married, which 40l. I will shall be delivered to my friend John Cook, one of the six Clerks of the King's Chancery, to the intent he may order the same and cause the same to be employed in the best wise he can devise about the virtuous education and bringing up of my said daughter till she shall come to her lawful age or marriage. Then I will that the said 100 marks, and so much of the said 40l. as then shall be unspent and unemployed at the day of the death of my said daughter Anne, I will it shall remain to Gregory my son, if he then be in life; and if he be dead, the same hundred marks, and also so much of the said 40l. as then shall be unspent, to be departed amongst my sisters' children, in manner and form aforesaid. And if it happen my said sister's children then to be all dead, then I will the said 100 marks and so much of the said 40l. as shall be unspent, shall be divided amongst my kinsfolk, such as then shall be in life.] Item. I give and bequeath unto my sister Elizabeth Wellyfed 4ol., three goblets without a cover, a mazer, and a nut. Item, I give and bequeath to my nephew Richard Willyams [servant with my Lord Marquess Dorset, 66l. 13s. 4d.], 40l. sterling, my [fourth] best gown, doublet, and jacket. Item. I give and bequeath to my nephew Christopher Wellyfed 40l., [20l.] my fifth gown, doublet, and jacket. Item. I give and bequeath to my nephew William Wellyfed the younger 20l., [40l.] Item. I give and bequeath to my niece Alice Wellyfed, to her marriage, 20l. And if it happen her to die before marriage, then I will that the said 20l. shall remain to her brother Christopher. And if it happen him to die, the same 20l. to remain to Wm. Wellyfed the younger, his brother. And if it happen them all to die before their lawful age or marriage, then I will that all their parts shall remain to Gregory my son. And if it happen him to die before them, then I will all the said parts shall remain [to Anne and Grace, my daughters] to Richard Willyams and Walter Willyams, my nephews. And if it happen them to die, then I will that all the said parts shall be distributed in deeds of charity for my soul, my father's and mother's souls, and all Christian souls. Item. I give and bequeath to my mother-in-law Mercy Prior, 40l. of lawful English money, and her chamber, with certain household stuff; that is to say, a featherbed, a bolster, two pillows with their beres, six pair of sheets, a pair of blankets, a garnish of vessel, two pots, two pans, two spits, with such other of my household stuff as shall be thought meet for her by the discretion of mine executors, and such as she will reasonably desire, not being bequeathed to other uses in this my present testament and last will. Item. I give and bequeath to my said mother-in-law a little salt of silver, a mazer, six silver spoons, and a drinking-pot of silver. And also I charge mine executors to be good unto her during her life. Item. I give and bequeath to my brother-in-law William Wellyfed, 20l., my third gown, jacket, and doublet. Item. I give and bequeath to John Willyams my brother-in-law, 100 marks, a gown, a doublet, a jacket, a featherbed, a bolster, six pair of sheets, two table-cloths, two dozen napkins, two towels, two brass pots, two brass pans, a silver pot, a nut parcel-gilt; and to Joan, his wife, 40l. Item. I give and bequeath to Joan Willyams, their daughter, to her marriage, 20l., and to every other of their children 12l. 13s. 4d. Item. I bequeath to Walter Willyams, my nephew, 20l. Item. I give and bequeath to Ralph Sadler, my servant, 200 marks of lawful English money, my second gown, jacket, and doublet, and all my books. Item. I give and bequeath to Hugh Whalley, my servant, 61. 13s. 4d. Item. I give and bequeath to Stephen Vaughan, sometime my servant, 100 marks, a gown, jacket, and doublet. Item. I give and bequeath to Page, my servant, otherwise colled John De Pount, 61. 13s. 4d. [Item. I give and bequeath to Elizabeth Gregory, sometime my servant, 20l., six pair of sheets, a featherbed, a pair of blankets, a coverlet, two table-cloths, one dozen napkins, two brass pots, two pans, two spits.] And also to Thomas Avery, my servant, 61. 13s. 4d. [Item. I give and bequeath to John Cooke, one of the six Master Clerks of the Chancery, 10l., my second gown, doublet, and jacket. Item. I give and bequeath to Roger More, servant of the King's bakehouse, 6l. 13s. 4d., three yards of satin; and to Maudelyn, his wife, 3l. 6ss. 8d.] Item. I give and bequeath to John Horwood, 6l. 13s. 4d. [Item. I give and bequeath to my little daughter Grace 100 marks of lawful English money when she shall come to her lawful age or marriage; and also 40l. towards her exhibition and finding until such time she shall be of lawful age or be married, which 40l. I will, shall be delivered to my brother-in-law, John Willyams, to the intent he may order and cause the same to be employed in and about the virtuous education and bringing up of my said daughter, till she shall come to her lawful age or marriage. And if it happen my said daughter to die before she come to her lawful age or marriage, then I will that the said 100 marks, and so much of the said 40l. as shall then be unspent and unemployed about the finding of my said daughter at the day of the death of my said daughter shall remain and be delivered to Gregory my son, if he then shall happen to be in life; and if he be dead, then the said 100 marks, and the said residue of the said 40L., to be evenly departed among my grown kinsfolk—that is to say, my sisters' children aforesaid.] Item. That the rest of mine apparel before not given or bequeathed in this my testament and last will shall be given and equally departed amongst my servants after the order and discretion of mine executors. Item. I will also that mine executors shall take the yearly profits above the charges of my farm of Carberry, and all other things contained in my said lease of Carberry, in the county of Middlesex, and with the profits thereof shall yearly pay unto my brother-in-law William (Wellyfed) and Elizabeth his wife, mine only sister, twenty pounds; give and distribute for my soul quarterly 40 shillings during their lives and the longer of them; and after the decease of the said William and Elizabeth, the profits of the said farm over and above the yearly rent to be kept to the use of my son Gregory till he be come to the age of 24 years. And at the years of 24, the said lease and farm of Carberry I do give and bequeath to my son Gregory, to have the same to him, his executors and assigns. And if it fortune the said Gregory my son to die before, my said brother-in-law and sister being dead, he shall come to the age of 24 years, then I will my said cousin Richard Willyams shall have the farm with the appurtenances to him and to his executors and assigns; and if it happen my said brother-in-law, my sister, my son Gregory, and my said cousin Richard, to die before the accomplishment of this my will touching the said farm, then I will mine executors shall sell the said farm, and the money thereof coming to employ in deeds of charity, to pray for my soul and all Christian souls. Item. I will mine executors shall conduct and hire a priest, being an honest person of continent and good living, to sing for my soul by the space of seven years next after my death, and to give him for the same 6l. 13s. 4d. for his stipend. Item. I give and bequeath towards the making of highways in this realm, where it shall be thought most necessary, 20l., to be disposed by the discretion of mine executors. Item. I give and bequeath to every the five orders of Friars within the City of London, to pray for my soul, 20 shillings. Item. I give and bequeath to 60 poor maidens in marriage, 40l., that is to say, 13s. 40d. to every of the said poor maidens, to be given and distributed by the discretion of mine executors. Item. I will that there shall be dealt and given after my decease amongst poor people householders, to pray for my soul, 20l., such as by mine executors shall be thought most needful. Item. I give and bequeath to the poor parishioners of the parish where God shall ordain me to have my dwelling-place at the time of my death, 10l., to be truly distributed amongst them by the discretion of mine executors. Item. I give and bequeath to my parish church for my tithes forgotten, 20 shillings. Item. To the poor prisoners of Newgate, Ludgate, King's Bench, and Marshalsea, to be equally distributed amongst them, 10l. Willing, charging, and desiring mine executors underwritten, that they shall see this my will performed in every point according to my true meaning and intent as they will answer to God, and discharge their consciences. The residue of all my goods, chattels, and debts not bequeathed, my funeral and burial performed, which I will shall be done without any earthly pomp, and my debts paid, I will shall be sold, and the money thereof coming to be distributed in works of charity and pity, after the good discretion of mine executors undernamed. Whom I make and ordain, Stephen Vaughan, Ralph Sadler, my servants, and John Willyams my brother-in-law. Praying and desiring the same mine executors to be good unto my son Gregory, and to all other my poor friends and kinsfolk and servants aforenamed in this my testament. And of this my present testament and last will I make Roger More mine overseer; unto whom and also to every of the other mine executors I give and bequeath 6l. 13s. 4d. for their pains to be taken in the execution of this my last will and testament, over and above such legacies as herebefore I have bequeathed them in this same testament and will. In witness whereof, to this my present testament and last will I have set to my hand in every leaf contained in this book, the day and year before limited.
Item. I give and bequeath to William Brabazon, my servant, 20l. 8s., a gun, a doublet, a jacket, and my second gelding.
It. To John Avery, Yeoman of the Bedchamber with the King's Highness. 6l. 13s. 4d., and a doublet of satin.
It. to Thurston, my cook, 6l. 13s. 4d.
It. to William Body, my servant, 6l. 13s. 4d.
It. to Peter Mewtas, my servant, 6l. 13s. 4d.
It. to Ric. Sleysh, my servant, 6l. 13s. 4d.
It. to George Wilkinson, my servant, 6l. 13s. 4d.
It. to my friend, Thomas Alvard, 10l., and my best gelding.
It. to my friend, Thomas Eush, 10l.
It. to my servant, John Hynde, my horsekeeper, 3l. 6s. 8d.
Item. I will that mine executors shall safely keep the patent of the manor of Eomney to the use of my son Gregory, and the money growing thereof, till he shall come to his lawful age, to be yearly received to the use of my said son, and the whole revenue thereof coming to be truly paid unto him at such time as he shall come to the age of 24 years.
END OF VOL. I.
Richard Clay & Sons, Limited, London & Bungay.
- The origin of the word Lollards has been always a disputed question. I conceive it to be from Lolium. They were the 'tares' in the corn of Catholicism.
- 35 Ed. I.; Statutes of Carlisle, cap. 1–4.
- 35 Ed. I. cap. 1–4.
- 25 Ed. III. stat. 4. A clause in the preamble of this Act bears a significantly Erastian complexion: come seinte Eglise estoit founde en estat de prelacie deins le royaulme Dengleterre par le dit Roi et ses progenitours, et countes, barons, et nobles de ce Royaulme et lours ancestres, pour eux et le poeple enfourmer de la lei Dieu. If the Church of England was held to have been founded not by the successors of the Apostles, but by the king and the nobles, the claim of Henry VIII. to the supremacy was precisely in the spirit of the constitution.
- 38 Ed III. stat. 2; 3 Ric. II. cap. 3; 12 Ric. II. cap. 15; 13 Ric. II. stat. 2. The first of these Acts contains a paragraph which shifts the blame from the popes themselves to the officials of the Roman courts. The statute is said to have been enacted en eide et confort du pape qui moult sovent a estee trublez par tieles et semblables clamours et impetracions, et qui y meist voluntiers covenable remedie, si sa seyntetee estoit sur ces choses enfournee. I had regarded this passage as a fiction of courtesy like that of the Long Parliament who levied troops in the name of Charles I. The suspicious omission of the clause, however, in the translation of the statutes which was made in the later years of Henry VIII. justifies an interpretation more favourable to the intentions of the popes.
- The abbots and bishops decently protested. Their protest was read in Parliament and entered on the Rolls. Rot. Parl. iii.  quoted by Lingard, who has given a full account of these transactions.
- 13 Ric. II. stat. 2.
- See 16 Ric. II. cap. 5.
- This it will be remembered was the course which was afterwards followed by the Parliament under Henry VIII. before abolishing the payment of first-fruits.
- Lingard says, that 'there were rumours that if the prelates executed the decree of the King's courts, they would be excommunicated.'—Vol. iii. p. 172. The language of the Act of Parliament, 16 Ric. II. cap. 5, is explicit that the sentence was pronounced.
- 16 Ric. II. cap 5.
- 16 Ric. II. cap. 5.
- Lewis, Life of Wycliffe.
- If such scientia media might be allowed to man, which is beneath certainty and above conjecture, such should I call our persuasion that he was born in Durham.—Fuller's Worthies, vol. i. p. 479.
- The Last Age of the Church was written in 1356. See Lewis, p. 3
- Lewis, p. 287.
- 1 Ric. II. cap. 13.
- Walsingham, 206–7, apud Lingard. It is to be observed, however, that Wycliffe himself limited his arguments strictly to the property of the clergy. See Milman's History of Latin Christianity, vol. v. p. 508.
- Walsingham, p. 275, apud Lingard.
- 5 Ric. II. cap. 5.
- Wilkins, Concilia, iii. 160–167.
- De Heretico comburendo. 2 Hen. IV. cap. 15.
- Stow, 330, 338
- Rot. Parl. iv. 24, 108, apud Lingard; Rymer, ix. 89, 119, 129, 170, 193; Milman, vol. v. p. 520–535.
- 2 Hen. V. stat. I, cap. 7.
- There is no better test of the popular opinion of a man than the character assigned to him on the stage; and till the close of the sixteenth century Sir John Oldcastle remained the profligate buffoon of English comedy. Whether in life he bore the character so assigned to him, I am unable to say. The popularity of Henry V., and the splendour of his French wars, served no doubt to colour all who had opposed him with a blacker shade than they deserved; but it is almost certain that Shakspeare, though not intending Falstaff as a portrait of Oldcastle, thought of him as he was designing the character; and it is altogether certain that by the London public Falstaff was supposed to represent Oldcastle. We can hardly suppose that such an expression as 'my old lad of the castle,' should be accidental; and in the epilogue to the Second Part of Henry the Fourth, when promising to reintroduce Falstaff once more, Shakspeare says, 'where for anything I know he shall die of the sweat, for Oldcastle died a martyr, and this is not the man.' He had, therefore, certainly been supposed to be the man, and Falstaff represented the English conception of the character of the Lollard hero. I should add, however, that Dean Milman, who has examined the records which remain to throw light on the character of this remarkable person with elaborate care and ability, concludes emphatically in his favour.
- Two curious letters of Henry VI. upon the Lollards, written in 1431, are printed in the Archæologia, vol. xxiii. p. 339, &c. 'As God knoweth,' he says of them, 'never would they be subject to his laws nor to man's, but would be loose and free to rob, reve, and dispoil, slay and destroy all men of thrift and worship, as they proposed to have done in our father's days; and of lads and lurdains would make lords.'
- Proceedings of an organized Society in London called the Christian Brethren, supported by voluntary contributions, for the dispersion of tracts against the doctrines of the Church: Rolls House MS.
- Hale's Precedents. The London and Lincoln Registers, in Foxe, vol. iv.: and the MS. Registers of Archbishops Morton and Warham, at Lambeth.
- Knox's History of the Reformation in Scotland.
- Also we object to you that divers times, and specially in Robert Durdant's house, of Iver Court, near unto Staines, you erroneously and damnably read in a great book of heresy, all [one] night, certain chapters of the Evangelists, in English, containing in them divers erroneous and damnable opinions and conclusions of heresy, in the presence of divers suspected persons.—Articles objected against Richard Butler—London Register: Foxe, vol. iv. p. 178.
- Foxe, vol. iv. p. 176.
- Michelet, Life of Luther, p. 71.
- Michelet, Life of Luther, p. 41.
- Wood's Athenæ Oxonienses.
- Foxe, vol. iv. p. 618.
- The suspicious eyes of the Bishops discovered Tyndal's visit, and the result which was to be expected from it.
On Dec. 2nd, 1525, Edward Lee, afterwards Archbishop of York, then king's almoner, and on a mission into Spain, wrote from Bordeaux to warn Henry. The letter is instructive:
'Please your Highness to understand that I am certainly informed as I passed in this country, that an Englishman, your subject, at the solicitation and instance of Luther, with whom he is, hath translated the New Testament into English; and within few days intendeth to return with the same imprinted into England. I need not to advertise your Grace what infection and danger may ensue hereby if it be not withstanded. This is the next way to fulfil your realm with Lutherians. For all Luther's perverse opinions be grounded upon bare words of Scripture, not well taken, ne understanded, which your Grace hath opened in sundry places of your royal book. All our forefathers, governors of the Church of England, hath with all diligence forbid and eschewed publication of English Bibles, as appeareth in constitutions provincial of the Church of England. Nowe, sire, as God hath endued your Grace with Christian courage to sett forth the standard against the Philistines and to vanquish them, so I doubt not but that he will assist your Grace to prosecute and perform the same—that is, to undertread them that they shall not now lift up their heads; which they endeavour by means of English Bibles. They know what hurt such books hath done in your realm in times past.'—Edward Lee to Henry VIII.: Ellis, third series, vol. ii. p. 71. Tyndal's visit to Luther has been questioned. Lee's words, however, are positive, and Foxe says no less distinctly, 'He went into Saxony, where he had conference with Luther and other learned men.'
- Answer of the Bishops: Rolls House MS. See cap. 3.
- Answer of the Bishops, chap. 3.
- See, particularly, State Papers, vol. vii. p. 302.
- Proceedings of the Christian Brethren: Rolls House MS.
- See the letter of Bishop Fox to Wolsey: Strype's Memorials, vol. i. Appendix.
- Particulars of Persons who had dispersed Anabaptist and Lutheran Tracts: Rolls House MS.
- Dr Taylor to Wolsey: Rolls House MS. Clark to Wolsey: State Papers, vol. vii. pp. 80, 8l.
- Ellis, third series, vol. ii. p. 189.
- Memoirs of Latimer prefixed to Sermons, pp. 3, 4: and see Strype's Memorials, vol. i.
- Foxe, vol. v. p. 416.
- Tunstall, Bishop of London, has had the credit hitherto of this ingenious folly, the effect of which, as Sir Thomas More warned him, could only be to supply Tyndal with money.—Hall, 762, 763. The following letter from the Bishop of Norwich to Warham shows that Tunstall was only acting in canonical obedience to the resolution of his metropolitan:—
'In right humble manner I commend me unto your good Lordship, doing the same to understand that I lately received your letters, dated at your manor of Lambeth, the 26th day of the month of May, by the which I do perceive that your Grace hath lately gotten into your hands all the books of the New Testament, translated into English, and printed beyond the sea; as well those with the glosses joined unto them as those without the glosses.
'Surely, in myn opinion, you have done therein a gracious and a blessed deed; and God, I doubt not, shall highly reward you therefore. And when, in your said letters, ye write that, insomuch as this matter and the danger thereof, if remedy had not been provided, should not only have touched you, but all the bishops within your province; and that it is no reason that the holle charge and cost thereof should rest only in you; but that they and every of them, for their part should advance and contribute certain sums of money towards the same: I for my part will be contented to advance in this behalf, and to make payment thereof unto your servant, Master William Potkyn.
'Pleaseth it you to understand, I am well contented to give and advance in this behalf ten marks, and shall cause the same to be delivered shortly; the which sum I think sufficient for my part, if every bishop within your province make like contribution, after the rate and substance of their benefices. Nevertheless, if your Grace think this sum not sufficient for my part in this matter, your further pleasure known, I shall be as glad to conform myself thereunto in this, or any other matter concerning the Church, as any your subject within your province; as knows Almighty God, who long preserve you. At Hoxne in Suffolk, the 14th day of June, 1527. Your humble obedience and bedeman,
- Foxe, vol. iv.
- The Papal bull, and the King's license to proceed upon it, are printed in Rymer, vol. vi. part ii. pp. 8 and 17. The latter is explicit on Wolsey' s personal liberality in establishing this foundation. Ultro et ex propriâ liberalitate et munificentiâ, nec sine gravissimo suo sumptu et impensis, collegium fundare conatur.
- Would God my Lord his Grace had never been motioned to call any Cambridge man to his most towardly college., It were a gracious deed if they were tried and purged and restored unto their mother from whence they came, if they be worthy to come thither again. We were clear without blot or suspicion till they came, and some of them, as Master Dean hath known a long time, hath had a shrewd name.—Dr London to Archbishop Warham: Rolls House MS.
- Dr London to Warham: Rolls House MS.
- Dalaber's Narrative.
- Clark seems to have taken pupils in the long vacation. Dalaber at least read with him all one summer in the country.—Dr London to Warham: Rolls House MS.
- The Vicar of Bristol to the Master of Lincoln College, Oxford: Rolls House. MS.
- Dr London to Warham: Rolls House MS.
- Radley himself was one of the singers at Christchurch.—Dr London to Warham: Rolls House MS.
- Dr London to Warham: Rolls House MS.
- On the site of the present Worcester College. It lay beyond the walls of the town, and was then some distance from it across the fields.
- Christchurch, where Dalaher occasionally sung in the quire. Vide infra.
- Some part of which let us read with him. 'I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves; be ye therefore wise as serpents and harmless as doves. But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; and ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak, for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak; for it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death; and the father the child; and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. Whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth; I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. He that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. He that taketh not his cross and followeth after me is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it, and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.'
- Rector of Lincoln.
- Warden of New College.
- The last prayer.
- Dr Maitland, who has an indifferent opinion of the early Protestants, especially on the point of veracity, brings forward this assertion of Dalaber as an illustration of what he considers their recklessness. It seems obvious, however, that a falsehood of this kind is something different in kind from what we commonly mean by unveracity, and has no affinity with it. I do not see my way to a conclusion; but I am; satisfied that Dr Maitland's strictures are unjust. If Garret was taken, he was in danger of a cruel death, and his escape could only be made possible by throwing the bloodhounds off the scent. A refusal to answer would not have been sufficient; and the general laws by which our conduct is ordinarily to be directed, cannot be made so universal in their application as to meet all contingencies. It is a law that we may not strike or kill other men, but occasions rise in which we may innocently do both. I may kill a man in defence of my own life or my friend's life, or even of my friend's property; and surely the circumstances which dispense with obedience to one law may dispense equally with obedience to another. If I may kill a man to prevent him from robbing my friend, why may I not deceive a man to save my friend from being barbarously murdered? It is possible that the highest morality would forbid me to do either. I am unable to see why, if the first be permissible, the second should be a crime. Rahab of Jericho did the same thing which Dalaber did, and on that very ground was placed in the catalogue of saints.
- A cell in the Tower, the nature of which we need not inquire into.
- Foxe, vol. v. p. 421.
- Dr London to the Bishop of Lincoln: Rolls House MS.
- Dr London to the Bishop of Lincoln: Rolls House MS.
- Dr Forman, rector of All Hallows, who had himself been in trouble for heterodoxy.
- Dr London to the Bishop of Lincoln, Feb. 20, 1528: Rolls House MS.
- Now Cokethorpe Park, three miles from Stanton Harcourt, and about twelve from Oxford. The village has disappeared.
- Vicar of All Saints, Bristol, to the Rector of Lincoln: Rolls House MS.
- The Vicar of All Saints to the Rector of Lincoln: Rolls House MS.
- Dr London to the Bishop of Lincoln: Rolls House MS.
- Long extracts from it are printed in Foxe, vol. iv.
- Another of the brethren, afterwards Bishop of St David's, and one of the Marian victims.
- Bishop of Lincoln to Wolsey, March 5, 1527–8: Rolls House MS: and see Ellis, third series, vol. ii. p. 77.
- Ellis, third series, vol. ii. p. 77.
- With some others he was cast into a prison where the salt-fish lay, through the stink whereof the most part of them were infected; and the said Clark, being a tender young man, died in the same prison.'—Foxe, vol. iv. p. 615.
- London to Warham: Rolls House MS.
- Petition of the Commons, cap. 3.
- Ibid. And, as we saw in the Bishops' reply, they considered their practice in these respects wholly defensible.—See Reply of the Bishops, cap. 3.
- Petition of the Commons, cap. 3.
- 2 Hen. V. stat. 1.
- He had been 'troublesome to heretics,' he said, and he had 'done it with a little ambition;' for 'he so hated this kind of men that he would be the sorest enemy that they could have, if they would not repent.'—More's Life of More, p. 211.
- See Foxe, vol. iv. pp. 689, 698, 705.
- 2 Hen. V. stat. 1.
- John Stokesley.
- Petition of Thomas Philips to the House of Commons: Rolls House MS.
- Petition of Thomas Philips to the House of Commons: Rolls House MS.
- Foxe, vol. v. pp. 29, 30.
- The circumstances are curious. Philips begged that he might have the benefit of the King's writ of corpus cum causâ, and be brought to the bar of the House of Commons, where the Bishop of London should be subpœnaed to meet him. [Petition of Thomas Philips: Rolls House MS.] The Commons did not venture on so strong a measure; but a digest of the petition was sent to the Upper House, that the Bishop might have an opportunity of reply. The Lords refused to receive or consider the case: they replied that it was too 'frivolous an affair' for so grave an assembly, and that they could not discuss it. [Lords' Journals, vol. i. p. 66.] A deputation of the Commons then waited privately upon the Bishop, and being of course anxious to ascertain whether Philips had given a true version of what had passed, they begged him to give some written explanation of his conduct, which might be read in the Commons' House. [Lords' Journals, vol. i. p. 71.] The request was reasonable, and we cannot doubt that, if explanation had been possible, the Bishop would not have failed to offer it; but he preferred to shield himself behind the judgment of the Lords. The Lords, he said, had decided that the matter was too frivolous for their own consideration: and without their permission, he might not set a precedent of responsibility to the Commons by answering their questions.
This conduct met with the unanimous approval of the Peers. [Lords' Journals, vol. i. p. 71. Omnes proceres tam spirituales quam temporales unâ voce dicebant, quod non consentaneum fuit aliquem procerum prædictorum alicui in eo loco responsurum.] The demand for explanation was treated as a breach of privilege, and the Bishop was allowed to remain silent. But the time was passed for conduct of this kind to be allowed to triumph. If the Bishop could not or would not justify himself, his victim might at least be released from unjust imprisonment. The case was referred to the King: and by the King and the House of Commons Philips was set at liberty.
- Petition of John Field: Rolls House MS.
- Jan. 1529–30.
- Illegal. See 2 Hen. V. stat. 1.
- Seventh Sermon before King Edward. First Sermon before the Duchess of Suffolk.
- Foxe, vol. iv. p. 649.
- Articles against James Bainham: Foxe, vol. iv. p. 703
- Foxe, vol. iv. p. 702.
- Foxe, vol. iv. p. 705.
- Foxe, vol. iv. p. 694.
- Hall, p. 806; and see Foxe, vol. iv. p. 705.
- Instructions given by the Bishop of Salisbury: Burnet's Collectanea, p. 493.
- From a letter of Robert Gardiner: Foxe, vol. iv. p. 706.
- Latimer's Sermons, p. 101.
- Latimer speaks of sons and daughters.—Sermons, p. 101.
- Where the Cornish rebels came to an end in 1497.—Bacon's History of Henry the Seventh.
- Latimer's Sermons, p. 197.
- On which occasion, old relations perhaps shook their heads, and made objection to the expense. Some such feeling is indicated in the following glimpse behind the veil of Larimer's private history:—
'I was once called to one of my kinsfolk,' he says ('it was at that time when I had taken my degree at Cambridge); I was called, I say, to one of my kinsfolk which was very sick, and died immediately after my coming. Now, there was an old cousin of mine, which, after the man was dead, gave me a wax candle in my hand, and commanded me to make certain crosses over him that was dead; for she thought the devil should run away by and by. Now, I took the candle, but I could not cross him as she would have me to do; for I had never seen it before. She, perceiving I could not do it, with great anger took the candle out of my hand, saying, 'It is pity that thy father spendeth so much money upon thee;' and so she took the candle, and crossed and blessed him; so that he was sure enough.'—Latimer's Sermons, p. 499.
- 'I was as obstinate a Papist as any was in England, insomuch that, when I should be made Bachelor of Divinity, my whole oration went against Philip Melancthon and his opinions.'—Latimer's Sermons, p. 334.
- Jewel of Joy, p. 224 et seq.: Parker Society's edition. Latimer's Sermons, p. 3.
- Latimer's Remains, pp. 27–31.
- Latimer's Remains, pp. 308–9.
- Latimer to Sir Edward Baynton: Letters, p. 329.
- Letters, p. 323.
- He thought of going abroad. 'I have trust that God will help me,' he wrote to a friend; 'if I had not, I think the ocean sea should have divided my Lord of London and me by this day.'—Remains, p. 334.
- Latimer to Sir Edward Baynton.
- 1 See Latimer's two letters to Sir Edward Baynton: Remains, pp. 322–351.
- 'As ye say, the matter is weighty, and ought substantially to be looked upon, even as weighty as my life is worth; but how to look substantially upon it otherwise know not I, than to pray my Lord God, 'day and night, that, as he hath emboldened me to preach his truth, so he will strengthen me to suffer for it.
'I pray you pardon me that I write no more distinctly, for my head is [so] out of frame, that it would be too painful for me to write it again. If I be not prevented shortly, I intend to make merry with my parishioners, this Christmas, for all the sorrow, lest perchance I never return to them again; and I have heard say that a doe is as good in winter as a buck in summer.'—Latimer to Sir Edward Baynton, p. 334.
- Latimer's Remains, p. 334.
- Ibid. p. 350.
- 'I pray you, in God's name, what did you, so great fathers, so many, so long season, so oft assembled together? "What went you about? What would ye have brought to pass? Two things taken away—the one, that ye (which I heard) burned a dead man,—the other, that ye (which I felt) went about to burn one being alive. Take away these two noble acts, and there is nothing else left that ye went about that I know,' &c. &c.—Sermon preached before the Convocation: Latimek's Sermons, p. 46.
- 'My affair had some bounds assigned to it by him who sent for me up, but is now protracted by intricate and wily examinations, as if it would never find a period; while sometimes one person, sometimes another, ask me questions, without limit and without end.'—Latimer to the Archbishop of Canterbury: Remains, p. 352.
- Remains, p. 222.
- Sermons, p. 294.
- The process lasted through January, February, and March.
- Sermons, p. 294.
- He subscribed all except two—one apparently on the power of the Pope, the other I am unable to conjecture. Compare the Articles themselves—printed in Latimer's Remains, p. 466—with the Sermon before the Convocation.—Sermons, p. 46; and Burnet, vol. iii. p. 116.
- Nicholas Glossop to Cromwell: Ellis, third series, vol. ii. p. 237.
- Where he was known among the English of the day as Master Friskyhall.
- See Foxe, vol. v. p. 392.
- Eustace Chapuys to Chancellor Granvelle: MS. Archiv. Brussels: Pilgrim, p. 106.
- See Cromwell's will in an appendix to this chapter. This document, lately found in the Rolls House, furnishes a clue at last to the connections of the Cromwell family.
- Are we to believe Foxe's story that Cromwell was with the Duke of Bourbon at the storming of Rome in May, 1527? See Foxe, vol. v. p. 365. He was with Wolsey in January, 1527. See Ellis, third series, vol. ii. p. 117. And he was again with him early in 1528. Is it likely that he was in Italy on such an occasion in the interval? Foxe speaks of it as one of the random exploits of Cromwell's youth, which is obviously untrue; and the natural impression which we gather is, that he was confusing the expedition of the Duke of Bourbon with some earlier campaign. On the other hand, Foxe's authority was Cranmer, who was likely to know the truth; and it is not impossible that, in the critical state of Italian politics, the English Government might have desired to have some confidential agent in the Duke of Bourbon's camp. Cromwell, with his knowledge of Italy and Italian, and his adventurous ability, was a likely man to have been sent on such an employment; and the story gains additional probability from another legend about him, that he oncesaved the life of Sir John Russell, in some secret affair at Bologna. See Foxe, vol. v. p. 67. Now, although Sir John Russell had been in Italy several times before (he was at the battle of Pavia, and had been employed in various diplomatic missions), and Cromwell might thushave rendered him the service in question on an earlier occasion, yet he certainly was in the Papal States, on a most secret and dangerous mission, in the months preceding the capture of Rome.—State Papers, vol. vi. p. 560, &c. The probabilities may pass for what they are worth till further discovery.
- A damp, unfurnished house belonging to Wolsey, where he wasordered to remain till the Government had determined upon their course towards him. See Cavendish.
- Cavendish, pp. 269–70.
- Cavendish, p. 276.
- Chapuys says, that a quarrel with Sir John Wallop first introduced Cromwell to Henry. Cromwell, 'not knowing how else to defend himself, contrived with presents and entreaties to obtain an audience of the King, whom he promised to make the richest sovereign that ever reigned in England.'—Chapuys to Granvelle: The Pilgrim, p. 107.
- Or "Willyams. The words are used indifferently.
- The clause enclosed between brackets is struck through.
- Struck through.