The Trial Resumed – Catherine Summoned – Twelve Articles – The Witnesses' Evidence – Arthur and Catherine Really Married – Campeggio Opposes the Argument of Divine Right – Other Arguments – The Legates Required to Deliver Judgment – Their Tergiversations – Change in Men's Minds – Final Session – General Expectation – Adjournment During Harvest – Campeggio Excuses This Impertinence – The King's Indignation – Suffolk's Violence – Wolsey's Reply – He is Ruined – General Accusations – The Cardinal Turns to an Episcopal Life
THE trial was resumed. The bishop of Bath and Wells waited upon the queen at Greenwich, and peremptorily summoned her to appear in the parliament-chamber. On the day appointed Catherine limited herself to sending an appeal to the pope. She was declared contumacious, and the legates proceeded with the cause.
Twelve articles were prepared, which were to serve for the examination of the witnesses, and the summary of which was, that the marriage of Henry with Catherine, being forbidden both by the law of God and of the church, was null and void.
The hearing of the witnesses began, and Dr. Taylor, archdeacon of Buckingham, conducted the examination. Their evidence, which would now be taken only with closed doors, may be found in Lord Herbert of Cherbury's History of Henry VIII. The duke of Norfolk, high-treasurer of England, the duke of Suffolk, Maurice St. John, gentleman-carver to Prince Arthur, the viscount Fitzwalter and Anthony Willoughby, his cup-bearers, testified to their being present on the morrow of the wedding at the breakfast of the prince, then in sound health, and reported the conversation that took place. The old duchess of Norfolk, the earl of Shrewbury, and the marquis of Dorset, confirmed these declarations, which proved that Arthur and Catherine were really married. It was also called to mind that, at the time of Arthur's death, Henry was not permitted to take the title of prince of Wales, because Catherine hoped to give an heir to the crown of England.
“If Arthur and Catherine were really married," said the king's counselors after these extraordinary depositions, "the marriage of this princess with Henry, Arthur's brother, was forbidden by the divine law, by an express command of God contained in Leviticus, and no dispensation could permit what God had forbidden." Campeggio would never concede this argument, which limited the right of the popes; it was necessary therefore to abandon the divine right (which was in reality to lose the cause), and to seek in the bull of Julius II and in his famous brief, for flaws that would invalidate them both; and this the king's counsel did, although they did not conceal the weakness of their position. "The motive alleged in the dispensation," they said, "is the necessity of preserving a cordial relation between Spain and England; now, there was nothing that threatened their harmony. Moreover, it is said in this document that the pope grants it at the prayer of Henry, prince of Wales. Now as this prince was only thirteen years old, he was not of age to make such a request. As for the brief, it is found neither in England not in Rome; we cannot therefore admit its authenticity.” It was not difficult for Catherine’s friends to invalidate these objections. "Besides," they added, "a union that has lasted twenty years sufficiently establishes its own lawfulness. And will you declare the Princess Mary illegitimate, to the great injury of this realm?”
The king's advocates then changed their course. Was not the Roman legate provided with a decretal pronouncing the divorce, in case it should be proved that Arthur's marriage had been really consummated? Now, this fact had been proved by the depositions. "This is the moment for delivering judgment," said Henry and his counselors to Campeggio. "Publish the pope's decretal." But the pope feared the sword of Charles V, then hanging over his head; and accordingly, whenever the king advanced one step, the Romish prelate took several in an opposite direction. "I will deliver judgment in five days," said he; and when the five days were expired, he bound himself to deliver it in six. "Restore peace to my troubled conscience," exclaimed Henry. The legate replied in courtly phrase; he had gained a few days' delay, and that was all he desired.
Such conduct on the part of the Roman legate produced an unfavorable effect in England, and a change took place in the public mind. The first movement had been for Catherine; the second was for Henry. Clement's endless delays and Campeggio's stratagems exasperated the nation. The king's argument was simple and popular: "The pope cannot dispense with the laws of God;" while the queen, by appealing to the authority of the Roman pontiff, displeased both high and low. "No precedent," said the lawyers, "can justify the king's marriage with his brother's widow.”
There were, however, some evangelical Christians who thought Henry was "troubled" more by his passions than by his conscience; and they asked how it happened that a prince, who represented himself to be so disturbed by the possible transgression of a law of doubtful interpretation, could desire, after twenty years, to violate the indisputable law which forbade the divorce?... On the 21st of July, the day fixed ad concludendum, the cause was adjourned until the Friday following, and no one doubted that the matter would then be terminated.
All prepared for this important day. The king ordered the dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk to be present at the sitting of the court; and being himself impatient to hear the so much coveted judgment, he stole into a gallery of the parliament chamber facing the judges.
The legates of the holy see having taken their seats, the attorney-general signified to them, "that everything necessary for the information of their conscience having been judicially laid before them, that day had been fixed for the conclusion of the trial." There was a pause; everyone feeling the importance of this judgment, waited for it with impatience. "Either the papacy pronounces my divorce from Catherine," the king had said, "or I shall divorce myself from the papacy." That was the way Henry put the question. All eyes, and particularly the king's were turned on the judges; Campeggio could not retreat; he must now say yes or no. For some time he was silent. He knew for certain that the queen's appeal had been admitted by Clement VII, and that the latter had concluded an alliance with the emperor. It was no longer in his power to grant the king's request. Clearly foreseeing that a no would perhaps forfeit the power of Rome in England, while a yes might put an end to the plans of religious emancipation which alarmed him so much, he could not make up his mind to say either yes or no.
At last the nuncio rose slowly from his chair, and all the assembly listened with emotion to the oracular decision which for so many years the powerful king of England had sought from the Roman pontiff. "The general vacation of the harvest and vintage," he said, "being observed every year by the court of Rome, dating from tomorrow the 24th of July, the beginning of the dog-days, we adjourn, to some future period, the conclusion of these pleadings."
The auditors were thunderstruck. "What! because the malaria renders the air of Rome dangerous at the end of July, and compels the Romans to close their courts, must a trial be broken off on the banks of the Thames, when its conclusion is looked for so impatiently?" The people hoped for a judicial sentence, and they were answered with a jest; it was thus Rome made sport of Christendom. Campeggio, to disarm Henry's wrath, gave utterance to some noble sentiments; but his whole line of conduct raises legitimate doubts as to his sincerity. "The queen," he said, "denies the competency of the court; I must therefore make my report to the pope, who is the source of life and honor, and wait his sovereign orders. I have not come so far to please any man, be he king or subject. I am an old man, feeble and sickly, and fear none but the Supreme Judge, before whom I must soon appear. I therefore adjourn this court until the 1st of October.”
It was evident that this adjournment was only a formality intended to signify the definitive rejection of Henry's demand. The same custom prevails in the British legislature.
The king, who from his place of concealment had heard Campeggio's speech, could scarcely control his indignation. He wanted a regular judgment; he clung to forms; he desired that his cause should pass successfully through all the windings of ecclesiastical procedure, and yet here it is wrecked upon the vacations of the Romish court. Henry was silent, however, either from prudence, or because surprise deprived him of the power of speech, and he hastily left the gallery.
Norfolk, Suffolk, and the other courtiers, did not follow him. The king and his ministers, the peers and the people, and even the clergy, were almost unanimous, and yet the pope pronounced his veto. He humbled the Defender of the Faith to flatter the author of the sack of Rome. This was too much. The impetuous Suffolk started from his seat, struck his hand violently on the table in front of him, cast a threatening look upon the judges, and exclaimed: "By the mass, the old saying is confirmed today, that no cardinal has ever brought good to England.” “Sir, of all men in this realm," replied Wolsey, "you have the least cause to disparage cardinals, for if I, poor cardinal, had not been, you would not have a head on your shoulders." It would seem that Wolsey pacified Henry, at the time of the duke's marriage with the Princess Mary. "I cannot pronounce sentence," continued Wolsey, "without knowing the good pleasure of his holiness." The two dukes and the other noblemen left the hall in anger, and hastened to the palace. The legates, remaining with their officers, looked at each other for a few moments. At last Campeggio, who alone had remained calm during this scene of violence, arose, and the audience dispersed.
Henry did not allow himself to be crushed by this blow. Rome, by her strange proceedings, aroused in him that suspicious and despotic spirit, of which he gave such tragic proofs in after-years. The papacy was making sport of him. Clement and Wolsey tossed his divorce from one to the other like a ball which, now at Rome and now in London, seemed fated to remain perpetually in the air. The king thought he had been long enough the plaything of his holiness and of the crafty cardinal; his patience was exhausted, and he resolved to show his adversaries that Henry VIII was more than a match for these bishops. We shall find him seizing this favorable opportunity, and giving an unexpected solution to the matter.
Wolsey sorrowfully hung his head; by taking part with the nuncio and the pope, he had signed the warrant of his own destruction. So long as Henry had a single ray of hope, he thought proper still to dissemble with Clement VII; but he might vent all his anger on Wolsey. From the period of the Roman Vacations the cardinal was ruined in his master's mind. Wolsey's enemies seeing his favor decline, hastened to attack him. Suffolk and Norfolk in particular, impatient to get rid of an insolent priest who had so long chafed their pride, told Henry that Wolsey had been continually playing false; they went over all his negotiations month by month and day by day, and drew the most overwhelming conclusions from them. Sir William Kingston and Lord Manners laid before the king one of the cardinal's letters which Sir Francis Bryan had obtained from the papal archives. In it the cardinal desired Clement to spin out the divorce question, and finally to oppose it, seeing (he added) that if Henry was separated from Catherine, a friend to the reformers would become queen of England. This letter clearly expressed Wolsey's inmost thoughts: Rome at any price... and perish England and Henry rather than the popedom! We can imagine the king's anger.
Anne Boleyn's friends were not working alone. There was not a person at court whom Wolsey's haughtiness and tyranny had not offended; no one in the king's council in whom his continual intrigues had not raised serious suspicions. He had (they said) betrayed in France the cause of England; kept up in time of peace and war secret intelligence with Madam, mother of Francis I; received great presents from her; oppressed the nation, and trodden under foot the laws of the kingdom. The people called him Frenchman and traitor, and all England seemed to vie in throwing burning brands at the superb edifice which the pride of this prelate had so laboriously erected.
Wolsey was too clear-sighted not to discern the signs of his approaching fall. "Both the rising and the setting sun (for thus an historian calls Anne Boleyn and Catherine of Aragon) frowned upon him," and the sky, growing darker around him, gave token of the storm that was to overwhelm him. If the cause failed, Wolsey incurred the vengeance of the king; if it succeeded, he would be delivered up to the vengeance of the Boleyns, without speaking of Catherine's, the emperor's, and the pope's. Happy Campeggio! thought the cardinal, he has nothing to fear. If Henry's favor is withdrawn from him, Charles and Clement will make him compensation. But Wolsey lost everything when he lost the king's good graces. Detested by his fellow-citizens, despised and hated by all Europe, he saw to whatever side he turned nothing but the just reward of his avarice and falseness. He strove in vain, as on other occasions, to lean on the ambassador of France; Du Bellay was solicited on the other side. "I am exposed here to such a heavy and continual fire that I am half dead," exclaimed the bishop of Bayonne; and the cardinal met with an unusual reserve in his former confidant.
Yet the crisis approached. Like a skillful but affrighted pilot, Wolsey cast his eyes around him to discover a port in which he could take refuge. He could find none but his see of York. He therefore began once more to complain of the fatigues of power, of the weariness of the diplomatic career, and to extol the sweetness of an episcopal life. On a sudden he felt a great interest about the flock of whom he had never thought before. Those around him shook their heads, well knowing that such a retreat would be to Wolsey the bitterest of disgraces. One single idea supported him; if he fell, it would be because he had clung more to the pope than to the king: he would be the martyr of his faith. -What a faith, what a martyr!
Anne Boleyn at Hever – She Reads the Obedience of a Christian Man – Is Recalled to Court – Miss Gainsford and George Zouch – Tyndale's Book Converts Zouch – Zouch in the Chapel-Royal – The Book Seized – Anne Applies to Henry – The King Reads the Book – Pretended Influence of the Book on Henry – The Court at Woodstock – The Park and its Goblins – Henry's Esteem for Anne
WHILE these things were taking place, Anne was living at Hever Castle in retirement and sadness. Scruples from time to time still alarmed her conscience. It is true, the king represented to her unceasingly that his salvation and the safety of his people demanded the dissolution of a union condemned by the divine law, and that what he solicited several popes had granted. Had not Alexander VI annulled, after ten years, the marriage of Ladislaus and Beatrice of Naples? Had not Louis XII, the father of his people, been divorced from Joan of France? Nothing was more common, he said, than to see the divorce of a prince authorized by a pope; the security of the state must be provided for before everything else. Carried away by these arguments and dazzled by the splendor of a throne, Anne Boleyn consented to usurp at Henry's side the rank belonging to another. Yet, if she was imprudent and ambitious, she was feeling and generous, and the misfortunes of a queen whom she respected soon made her reject with terror the idea of taking her place. The fertile pastures of Kent and the gothic halls of Hever Castle were by turns the witnesses of the mental conflicts this young lady experienced. The fear she entertained of seeing the queen again, and the idea that the two cardinals, her enemies, were plotting her ruin, made her adopt the resolution of not returning to court, and she shut herself up in her solitary chamber.
Anne had neither the deep piety of a Bilney, nor the somewhat vague and mystic spirituality observable in Margaret of Valois; it was not feeling which prevailed in her religion, it was knowledge, and a horror of superstition and pharisaism. Her mind required light and activity, and at that time she sought in reading the consolations so necessary to her position. One day she opened one of the books prohibited in England, which a friend of the Reformation had given her: The Obedience of a Christian Man. Its author was William Tyndale, that invisible man whom Wolsey's agents were hunting for in Brabant and Germany, and this was a recommendation to Anne. "If thou believe the promises," she read, "then God's truth justifieth thee; that is, forgiveth thy sins and sealeth thee with his Holy Spirit. If thou have true faith, so seest thou the exceeding and infinite love and mercy which God hath shown thee freely in Christ: then must thou needs love again: and love cannot but compel thee to work. If when tyrants oppose thee thou have power to confess, then art thou sure that thou art safe. If thou be fallen from the way of truth, come thereto again and thou art safe. Yea, Christ shall save thee, and the angels of heaven shall rejoice at thy coming." These words did not change Anne's heart, but she marked with her nail, as was her custom, other passages which struck her more, and which she desired to point out to the king if, as she hoped, she was ever to meet him again. She believed that the truth was there, and took a lively interest in those whom Wolsey, Henry, and the pope were at that time persecuting.
Anne was soon dragged from these pious lessons, and launched into the midst of a world full of dangers. Henry, convinced that he had nothing to expect henceforward from Campeggio, neglected those proprieties which he had hitherto observed, and immediately after the adjournment ordered Anne Boleyn to return to court; he restored her to the place she had formerly occupied, and even surrounded her with increased splendor. Every one saw that Anne, in the king's mind, was queen of England; and a powerful party was formed around her which proposed to accomplish the definitive ruin of the cardinal.
After her return to court, Anne read much less frequently The Obedience of a Christian Man and the Testament of Jesus Christ. Henry's homage, her friends' intrigues, and the whirl of festivities, bade fair to stifle the thoughts which solitude had aroused in her heart. One day having left Tyndale's book in a window, Miss Gainsford, a fair young gentlewoman attached to her person, took it up and read it. A gentleman of handsome mien, cheerful temper, and extreme mildness, named George Zouch, also belonging to Anne's household, and betrothed to Miss Gainsford, profiting by the liberty his position gave him, indulged sometimes in "love tricks." On one occasion when George desired to have a little talk with her, he was annoyed to find her absorbed by a book of whose contents he knew nothing; and taking advantage of a moment when the young lady had turned away her head, he laughingly snatched it from her. Miss Gainsford ran after Zouch to recover her book; but just at that moment she heard her mistress calling her, and she left George, threatening him with her finger.
As she did not return immediately, George withdrew to his room, and opened the volume; it was the Obedience of a Christian Man. He glanced over a few lines, then a few pages, and at last read the book through more than once. He seemed to hear the voice of God. "I feel the Spirit of God," he said, "speaking in my heart as he has spoken in the heart of him who wrote the book." The words which had only made a temporary impression on the preoccupied mind of Anne Boleyn, penetrated to the heart of her equerry and converted him. Miss Gainsford, fearing that Anne would ask for her book, entreated George to restore it to her; but he positively refused, and even the young lady's tears failed to make him give up a volume in which he had found the life of his soul. Becoming more serious, he no longer jested as before; and when Miss Gainsford peremptorily demanded the book, he was, says the chronicler, "ready to weep himself.”
Zouch, finding in this volume an edification which empty forms and ceremonies could not give, used to carry it with him to the king's chapel. Dr. Sampson, the dean, generally officiated; and while the choir chanted the service, George would be absorbed in his book, where he read: "If when thou seest the celebration of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, thou believest in this promise of Christ: This is my body that is broken for you, and if thou have this promise fast in thine heart, thou art saved and justified thereby; thou eatest his body and drinkest his blood. If not, so helpeth it thee not, though thou hearest a thousand masses in a day: no more than it should help thee in a dead thirst to behold a bush at a tavern door, if thou knewest not thereby that there was wine within to be sold. The young man dwelt upon these words: by faith he ate the body and drank the blood of the Son of God. This was what was passing in the palaces of Henry VIII; there were saints in the household of Caesar.
Wosley, desirous of removing from the court everything that might favor the Reformation, had recommended extreme vigilance to Dr. Sampson, so as to prevent the circulation of the innovating books. Accordingly, one day when George was in the chapel absorbed in his book, the dean, who, even while officiating, had not lost sight of the young man, called him to him after the service, and rudely taking the book from his hands, demanded: "What is your name, and in whose service are you?" Zouch having replied, the dean withdrew with a very angry look, and carried his prey to the cardinal.
When Miss Gainsford heard of this mishap, her grief was extreme; she trembled at the thought that the Obedience of a Christian Man was in Wolsey's hands. Not long after this, Anne having asked for her book, the young lady fell on her knees, confessed all, and begged to be forgiven. Anne uttered not a word of reproach; her quick mind saw immediately the advantage she might derive from this affair. "Well," said she, "it shall be the dearest book to them that ever the dean or cardinal took away.”
“The noble lady," as the chronicler styles her, immediately demanded an interview of the king, and on reaching his presence she fell at his feet, and begged his assistance. "What is the matter, Anne?" said the astonished monarch. She told him what had happened, and Henry promised that the book should not remain in Wolsey's hands.
Anne had scarcely quitted the royal apartments when the cardinal arrived with the famous volume, with the intention of complaining to Henry of certain passages which he knew could not fail to irritate him, and to take advantage of it even to attack Anne, if the king should be offended. Henry's icy reception closed his mouth; the king confined himself to taking the book, and bowing out the cardinal. This was precisely what Anne had hoped for. She begged the king to read the book, which he promised to do.
And Henry accordingly shut himself up in his closet, and read the Obedience of a Christian Man. There were few works better calculated to enlighten him, and none, after the Bible, that has had more influence upon the Reformation in England. Tyndale treated of obedience, "the essential principle," as he terms it, "of every political or religious community." He declaimed against the unlawful power of the popes, who usurped the lawful authority of Christ and of his Word. He professed political doctrines too favorable doubtless to absolute power, but calculated to show that the reformers were not, as had been asserted, instigators of rebellion. Henry read as follows: “The king is in the room of God in this world. He that resisteth the king, resisteth God; he that judgeth the king, judgeth God. He is the minister of God to defend thee from a thousand inconveniences; though he be the greatest tyrant in the world, yet is he unto thee a great benefit of God; for it is better to pay the tenth than to lose all, and to suffer wrong of one man than of every man."
These are indeed strange doctrines for rebels to hold, thought the king; and he continued:“Let kings, if they had lever [ rather] be Christians indeed than so to be called, give themselves altogether to the wealth [well-being] of their realms after the ensample of Jesus Christ; remembering that the people are God's, and not theirs; yea, are Christ's inheritance, bought with his blood. The most despised person in his realm (if he is a Christian) is equal with him in the kingdom of God and of Christ. Let the king put off all pride, and become a brother to the poorest of his subjects."
It is probable that these words were less satisfactory to the king. He kept on reading:“Emperors and kings are nothing now-a-days, but even hangmen unto the pope and bishops, to kill whomsoever they condemn, as Pilate was unto the scribes and pharisees and high bishops to hang Christ.”
This seemed to Henry rather strong language.
“The pope hath received no other authority of Christ than to preach God's word. Now, this word should rule only, and not bishops' decrees or the pope's pleasure. In praesentia majoris cessat potestas minoris, in the presence of the greater the less hath no power. The pope, against all the doctrine of Christ, which saith, My kingdom is not of this world, hath usurped the right of the emperor. Kings must make account of their doings only to God. No person may be exempt from this ordinance of God; neither can the profession of monks and friars, or anything that the popes or bishops can lay for themselves, except them from the sword of the emperor or king, if they break the laws. For it is written, (Romans 13) Let every soul submit himself unto the authority of the higher powers."
"What excellent reading!" exclaimed Henry, when he had finished; "this is truly a book for all kings to read, and for me particularly."
Captivated by Tyndale's work, the king began to converse with Anne about the church and the pope; and she who had seen Margaret of Valois unassumingly endeavor to instruct Francis I strove in like manner to enlighten Henry VIII. She did not possess the influence over him she desired; this unhappy prince was, to the very end of his life, opposed to the evangelical reformation; Protestants and Catholics have been equally mistaken when they have regarded him as being favorable to it. "In a short time," says the annalist quoted by Strype at the end of his narrative, "the king, by the help of this virtuous lady, had his eyes opened to the truth. He learned to seek after that truth, to advance God's religion and glory, to detest the pope's doctrine, his lies, his pomp, and pride, and to deliver his subjects from the Egyptian darkness and Babylonian bonds that the pope had brought him and his subjects under. Despising the rebellions of his subjects and the rage of so many mighty potentates abroad, he set forward a religious reformation, which, beginning with the triple-crowned head, came down to all the members of the hierarchy." History has rarely delivered a more erroneous judgment. Henry's eyes were never opened to the truth, and it was not he who made the Reformation. It was accomplished first of all by Scripture, and then by the ministry of simple and faithful men baptized of the Holy Ghost.
Yet Tyndale's book and the conduct of the legates had given rise in the king's mind to new thoughts which he sought time to mature. He desired also to conceal his anger from Wolsey and Campeggio, and dissipate his spleen, says the historian Collyer; he therefore gave orders to remove the court to the palace of Woodstock. The magnificent park attached to this royal residence, in which was the celebrated bower constructed (it is said) by Henry II to conceal the fair Rosamond, offered all the charms of the promenade, the chase, and solitude. Hence he could easily repair to Langley, Grafton, and other country-seats. It was not long before the entertainments, horse-races, and other rural sports began. The world with its pleasures and its grandeur, were at the bottom the idols of Anne Boleyn's heart; but yet she felt a certain attraction for the new doctrine, which was confounded in her mind with the great cause of all knowledge, perhaps even with her own. More enlightened than the generality of women, she was distinguished by the superiority of her understanding not only over her own sex, but even over many of the gentlemen of the court. While Catherine, a member of the third order of St. Francis, indulged in trifling practices, the more intelligent, if not more pious Anne, cared but little for amulets which the friars had blessed, for apparitions, or visions of angels. Woodstock furnished her with an opportunity of curing Henry VIII of the superstitious ideas natural to him. There was a place in the forest said to be haunted by evil spirits; not a priest or a courtier dared approach it. A tradition ran that if a king ventured to cross the boundary, he would fall dead. Anne resolved to take Henry there. Accordingly, one morning she led the way in the direction of the place where these mysterious powers manifested their presence (as it was said) by strange apparitions; they entered the wood; they arrived at the so much dreaded spot; all hesitated; but Anne's calmness reassured her companions; they advanced; they found... nothing but trees and turf, and, laughing at their former terrors, they explored every corner of this mysterious resort of the evil spirits. Anne returned to the palace, congratulating herself on the triumph Henry had gained over his imaginary fears. This prince, who could as yet bear with superiority in others, was struck with Anne Boleyn's.
Never too gay nor yet too melancholy,
A heavenly mind is hers, like angels holy.
None purer ever soared above the sky,
O mighty marvel, thus may every eye
See of what monster strange the humble serf am I;
Monster indeed, for in her frame divine
A woman's form, man's heart, and angel's head combine.
Embarrassment of the Pope – The Triumphs of Charles Decide Him – He Traverses the Cause to Rome – Wolsey's Dejection – Henry's Wrath – His Fears – Wolsey Obtains Comfort – Arrival of the Two Legates at Grafton – Wolsey's Reception by Henry – Wolsey and Noifolk at Dinner – Henry with Anne – Conference between the King and the Cardinal – Wolsey's Joy and Grief – The Supper at Euston – Campeggio's Farewell Audience – Wolsey's Disgrace – Campeggio at Dover – He is Accused by the Courtiers – Leaves England – Wolsey Foresees His Own Fall and That of the Papacy
WHILE the court was thus taking its pleasure at Woodstock; Wolsey remained in London a prey to the acutest anguish. "This avocation to Rome," wrote he to Gregory Da Casale, "will not only completely alienate the king and his realm from the apostolic see, but will ruin me utterly." This message had hardly reached the pope, before the imperial ambassadors handed to him the queen's protest, and added in a very significant tone: "If your holiness does not call this cause before you, the emperor, who is determined to bring it to an end, will have recourse to other arguments." The same perplexity always agitated Clement: Which of the two must be sacrificed, Henry or Charles? Anthony de Leyva, who commanded the imperial forces, having routed the French army, the pope no longer doubted that Charles was the elect of Heaven. It was not Europe alone which acknowledged this prince's authority; a new world had just laid its power and its gold at his feet. The formidable priest-king of the Aztecs had been unable to withstand Cortez; could the priest-king of Rome withstand Charles V? Cortez had returned from Mexico, bringing with him Mexican chiefs in all their barbarous splendor, with thousands of pesos, with gold and silver and emeralds of extraordinary size, with magnificent tissues and birds of brilliant plumage. He had accompanied Charles, who was then going to Italy, to the place of embarkation, and had sent to Clement VII costly gifts of the precious metals, valuable jewels, and a troop of Mexican dancers, buffoons, and jugglers, who charmed the pope and the cardinal above all things.
Clement, even while refusing Henry's prayer, had not as yet granted the emperor's. He thought he could now resist no longer the star of a monarch victorious over two worlds, and hastened to enter into negotiations with him. Sudden terrors still assailed him from time to time: My refusal (he said to himself) may perhaps cause me to lose England. But Charles, holding him in his powerful grasp, compelled him to submit. Henry's antecedents were rather encouraging to the pontiff. How could he imagine that a prince, who alone of all the monarchs of Europe had once contended against the great reformer, would now separate from the popedom? On the 6th of July, Clement declared to the English envoys that he avoked to Rome the cause between Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. In other words, this was refusing the divorce. "There are twenty-three points in this case," said the courtiers, "and the debate on the first has lasted a year; before the end of the trial, the king will be not only past marrying but past living.'” When he learned that the fatal blow had been struck, Bennet, in a tone of sadness, exclaimed: "Alas! most holy father, by this act the Church in England will be utterly destroyed; the king declared it to me with tears in his eyes."-"Why is it my fortune to live in such evil days?" replied the pope, who, in his turn, began to weep; "but I am encircled by the emperor's forces, and if I were to please the king, I should draw a fearful ruin upon myself and upon the church... God will be my judge.”
On the 15th of July, Da Casale sent the fatal news to the English minister. The king was cited before the pope, and in case of refusal condemned in a fine of 10,000 ducats. On the 18th of July, peace was proclaimed at Rome between the pontiff and the emperor, and on the next day (these dates are important) Clement, wishing still to make one more attempt to ward off the blow with which the papacy was threatened, wrote to Cardinal Wolsey: "My dear son, how can I describe to you my affliction? Show in this matter the prudence which so distinguishes you, and preserve the king in those kindly feelings which he has ever manifested towards me." A useless attempt! Far from saving the papacy, Wolsey was to be wrecked along with it.
Wolsey was thunderstruck. At the very time he was assuring Henry of the attachment of Clement and Francis, both were deserting him. The "politic handling" failed, which the cardinal had thought so skillful, and which had been so tortuous. Henry now had none but enemies on the continent of Europe, and the Reformation was daily spreading over his kingdom. Wolsey's anguish cannot be described. His power, his pomp, his palaces were all threatened; who could tell whether he would even preserve his liberty and his life. -A just reward for so much duplicity.
But the king's wrath was to be greater than even the minister's alarm. His terrified servants wondered how they should announce the pontiff's decision. Gardiner, who, after his return from Rome, had been named secretary of state, went down to Langley on the 3rd of August to communicate it to him. What news for the proud Tudor! The decision on the divorce was forbidden in England; the cause avoked to Rome, there to be buried and unjustly lost; Francis I treating with the emperor; Charles and Clement on the point of exchanging at Bologna the most striking signs of their unchangeable alliance; the services rendered by the king to the popedom repaid with the blackest ingratitude; his hope of giving an heir to the crown disgracefully frustrated; and last, but not least, Henry VIII, the proudest monarch of Christendom, summoned to Rome to appear before an ecclesiastical tribunal... it was too much for Henry. His wrath, a moment restrained, burst forth like a clap of thunder, and all trembled around him. "Do they presume," he exclaimed, "to try my cause elsewhere than in my own dominions? I, the king of England, summoned before an Italian tribunal!... yes,... I will go to Rome, but it shall be with such a mighty army that the pope, and his priests, and all Italy shall be struck with terror. -I forbid the commission to consider its functions at an end." Henry would have desired to tear off Campeggio's purple robes, and throw this prince of the Roman church into prison, in order to frighten Clement; but the very magnitude of the insult compelled him to restrain himself. He feared above all things to appear humbled in the eyes of England, and he hoped, by showing moderation, to hide the affront he had received. "Let everything be done," he told Gardiner, "to conceal from my subjects these letters of citation, which are so hurtful to my glory. Write to Wolsey that I have the greatest confidence in his dexterity, and that he ought, by good handling, to win over Campeggio and the queen's counselors; and, above all, prevail upon them at any price not to serve these citatory letters on me." But Henry had hardly given his instructions when the insult of which he had been the object recurred to his imagination; the thought of Clement haunted him night and day, and he swore to exact a striking vengeance from the pontiff. Rome desires to have no more to do with England... England in her turn will cast off Rome. Henry will sacrifice Wolsey, Clement, and the church; nothing shall stop his fury. The crafty pontiff has concealed his game, the king shall beat him openly; and from age to age the popedom shall shed tears over the imprudent folly of a Medici.
Thus after insupportable delays, which had fatigued the nation, a thunderbolt fell upon England. Court, clergy, and people, from whom it was impossible to conceal these great events, were deeply stirred, and the whole kingdom was in commotion. Wolsey, still hoping to ward off the ruin impending over both himself and the papacy, immediately put in play all that dexterity which Henry had spoken of; he so far prevailed that the letters citatorial were not served on the king, but only the brief addressed to Wolsey by Clement VII. The cardinal, all radiant with this trivial success, and desirous of profiting by it to raise his credit, resolved to accompany Campeggio, who was going down to Grafton to take leave of the king. When the coming of the two legates was heard of at court, the agitation was very great. The dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk regarded this proceeding as the last effort of their enemy, and entreated Henry not to receive him. "The king will receive him," said some. "The king will not receive him," answered others. At length, one Sunday morning, it was announced that the prelates were at the gates of the mansion. Wolsey looked round with an anxious eye for the great officers who were accustomed to introduce him. They appeared, and desired Campeggio to follow them. When the legate had been taken to his apartments, Wolsey waited his turn; but great was his consternation on being informed that there was no chamber appointed for him in the palace. Sir Henry Norris, groom of the stole, offered Wolsey the use of his own room, and the cardinal followed him, almost sinking beneath the humiliation he had undergone. He made ready to appear before the king, and summoning up his courage, proceeded to the presence-chamber.
The lords of the council were standing in a row according to their rank; Wolsey, taking off his hat, passed along, saluting each of them with affected civility. A great number of courtiers arrived, impatient to see how Henry would receive his old favorite; and most of them were already exulting in the striking disgrace of which they hoped to be witnesses. At last the king was announced.
Henry stood under the cloth of state; and Wolsey advanced and knelt before him. Deep silence prevailed throughout the chamber.... To the surprise of all, Henry stooped down and raised him up with both hands... Then, with a pleasing smile, he took Wolsey to the window, desired him to put on his hat, and talked familiarly with him. "Then," says Cavendish, the cardinal's gentleman usher, "it would have made you smile to behold the countenances of those who had laid wagers that the king would not speak with him.”
But this was the last ray of evening which then lighted up the darkening fortunes of Wosley: the star of his favor was about to set forever... The silence continued, for everyone desired to catch a few words of the conversation. The king seemed to be accusing Wolsey, and Wolsey to be justifying himself. On a sudden Henry pulled a letter out of his bosom, and showing it to the cardinal, said in a loud voice: "How can that be? is not this your hand?" It was no doubt the letter which Bryan had intercepted. Wolsey replied in an under-tone, and seemed to have appeased his master. The dinner hour having arrived, the king left the room, telling Wolsey that he would not fail to see him again; the courtiers were eager to make their profoundest reverences to the cardinal, but he haughtily traversed the chamber, and the dukes hastened to carry to Anne Boleyn the news of this astonishing reception.
Wolsey, Campeggio, and the lords of the council sat down to dinner. The cardinal, well aware that the terrible letter would be his utter ruin, and that Henry's good graces had no other object than to prepare his fall, began to hint at his retirement. "Truly," said he with a devout air, "the king would do well to send his bishops and chaplains home to their cures and benefices." The company looked at one another with astonishment. "Yea, marry," said the duke of Norfolk somewhat rudely, "and so it were meet for you to do also."-"I should be very well contented therewith," answered Wolsey, "if it were the king's pleasure to license me with leave to go to my cure at Winchester."-"Nay, to your benefice at York, where your greatest honor and charge is," replied Norfolk, who was not willing that Wolsey should be living so near Henry. -"Even as it shall please the king," added Wolsey, and changed the subject of conversation.
Henry had caused himself to be announced to Anne Boleyn, who (says Cavendish) "kept state at Grafton more like a queen than a simple maid." Possessing extreme sensibility, and an ardent imagination, Anne, who felt the slightest insult with all the sensibility of her woman's heart, was very dissatisfied with the king after the report of the dukes. Accordingly, heedless of the presence of the attendants, she said to him: "Sir, is it not a marvelous thing to see into what great danger the cardinal hath brought you with all your subjects?"-"How so, sweetheart?" asked Henry. Anne continued: “Are you ignorant of the hatred his exactions have drawn upon you? There is not a man in your whole realm of England worth one hundred pounds, but he hath made you his debtor." Anne here alluded to the loan the king had raised among his subjects. "Well, well," said Henry, who was not pleased with these remarks, "I know that matter better than you."-"If my lord of Norfolk, my lord of Suffolk, my uncle, or my father had done much less than the cardinal hath done," continued Anne, "they would have lost their heads ere this."-"Then I perceive," said Henry, "you are none of his friends."-"No, sir, I have no cause, nor any that love you," she replied. The dinner was ended; the king, without appearing at all touched, proceeded to the presence-chamber, where Wolsey expected him.
After a long conversation, carried on in a low tone, the king took Wolsey by the hand and led him into his private chamber. The courtiers awaited impatiently the termination of an interview which might decide the fate of England; they walked up and down the gallery, often passing before the door of the closet, in the hope of catching from Wolsey's looks, when he opened it, the result of this secret conference; but one quarter of an hour followed another, these became hours, and still the cardinal did not appear. Henry having resolved that this conversation should be the last, was no doubt collecting from his minister all the information necessary to him. But the courtiers imagined he was returning into his master's favor; Norfolk, Suffolk, Wiltshire, and the other enemies of the prime minister, began to grow alarmed, and hastened off to Anne Boleyn, who was their last hope.
It was night when the king and Wolsey quitted the royal closet; the former appeared gracious, the latter satisfied; it was always Henry's custom to smile on those he intended to sacrifice. "I shall see you in the morning," he said to the cardinal with a friendly air. Wolsey made a low bow, and, turning round to the courtiers, saw the king's smile reflected on their faces. Wiltshire, Tuke, and even Suffolk, were full of civility. "Well," thought he, "the motion of such weathercocks as these shows me from what quarter the wind of favor is blowing."
But a moment after the wind began to change. Men with torches waited for the cardinal at the gates of the palace to conduct him to the place where he would have to pass the night. Thus he was not to sleep beneath the same roof with Henry. He was to lie at Euston, one of Empson's houses, about three miles off. Wolsey, repressing his vexation, mounted his horse, the footmen preceded him with their links, and after an hour's riding along very bad roads he reached the lodging assigned him.
He had sat down to supper, to which some of his most intimate friends had been invited, when suddenly Gardiner was announced. Gardiner owed everything to the cardinal, and yet he had not appeared before him since his return from Rome. He comes no doubt to play the hypocrite and the spy, thought Wolsey. But as soon as the secretary entered, Wolsey rose, made him a graceful compliment, and prayed him to take a seat. "Master Secretary," he asked, "where have you been since your return from Rome?"-"I have been following the court from place to place."-"You have been hunting then? Have you any dogs?" asked the prime minister, who knew very well what Gardiner had been doing in the king's closet. "A few," replied Gardiner. Wolsey thought that even the secretary was a bloodhound on his track. And yet after supper he took Gardiner aside, and conversed with him until midnight. He thought it prudent to neglect nothing that might clear up his position; and Wolsey sounded Gardiner, just as he himself had been sounded by Henry not long before.
The same night at Grafton the king gave Campeggio a farewell audience, and treated him very kindly, "by giving him presents and other matters," says Du Bellay. Henry then returned to Anne Boleyn. The dukes had pointed out to her the importance of the present moment; she therefore asked and obtained of Henry, without any great difficulty, his promise never to speak to his minister again. The insults of the papacy had exasperated the king of England, and as he could not punish Clement, he took his revenge on the cardinal.
The next morning, Wolsey, impatient to have the interview which Henry had promised, rode back early to Grafton. But as he came near, he met a numerous train of servants and sumpter-horses; and presently afterward Henry, with Anne Boleyn and many lords and ladies of the court, came riding up. "What does all this mean?" thought the cardinal in dismay. "My lord," said the king, as he drew near, "I cannot stay with you now. You will return to London with cardinal Campeggio." Then striking the spurs into his horse, Henry galloped off with a friendly salutation. After him came Anne Boleyn, who rode past Wolsey with head erect, and casting on him a proud look. The court proceeded to Hartwell Park, where Anne had determined to keep the king all day. Wolsey was confounded. There was no room for doubt; his disgrace was certain. His head swam, he remained immovable for an instant, and then recovered himself; but the blow he had received had not been unobserved by the courtiers, and the cardinal's fall became the general topic of conversation.
After dinner, the legates departed, and on the second day reached Moor Park, a mansion built by Archbishop Neville, one of Wolsey's predecessors, who for high treason had been first imprisoned at Calais, and afterward at Ham. These recollections were by no means agreeable to Wolsey. The next morning the two cardinals separated; Campeggio proceeded to Dover, and Wolsey to London.
Campeggio was impatient to get out of England, and great was his annoyance, on reaching Dover, to find that the wind was contrary. But a still greater vexation was in reserve. He had hardly lain down to rest himself, before his door was opened, and a band of sergeants entered the room. The cardinal, who knew what scenes of this kind meant in Italy, thought he was a dead man, and fell trembling at his chaplain's feet begging for absolution. Meantime the officers opened his luggage, broke into his chests, scattered his property about the floor, and even shook out his clothes.
Henry's tranquility had not been of long duration. "Campeggio is the bearer of letters from Wolsey to Rome," whispered some of the courtiers; "who knows but they contain treasonable matter?" "There is, too, among his papers the famous decretal pronouncing the divorce," said one; "if we had but that document it would finish the business." Another affirmed that Campeggio "had large treasure with him of my lord's (Wolsey's) to be conveyed in great tons to Rome," whither it was surmised the cardinal of York would escape to enjoy the fruits of his treason. "It is certain," added a third, "that Campeggio, assisted by Wolsey, has been able to procure your majesty's correspondence with Anne Boleyn, and is carrying it away with him." Henry, therefore, sent a messenger after the nuncio, with orders that his baggage should be thoroughly searched.
Nothing was found, neither letters, nor bull, nor treasures. The bull had been destroyed; the treasures Wolsey had never thought of intrusting to his colleague; and the letters of Anne and Henry, Campeggio had sent on before by his son Rodolph, and the pope was stretching out his hands to receive them, proud, like his successors, of the robbery committed by two of his legates.
Campeggio being reassured, and seeing that he was neither to be killed nor robbed, made a great noise at this act of violence, and at the insulting remarks which had given rise to it. "I will not leave England," he caused Henry to be informed, "until I have received satisfaction." "My lord forgets that he is legate no longer," replied the king, "since the pope has withdrawn his powers; he forgets, besides, that, as bishop of Salisbury, he is my subject; as for the remarks against him and the cardinal of York, it is a liberty the people of England are accustomed to take, and which I cannot put down." Campeggio, anxious to reach France, was satisfied with these reasons, and soon forgot all his sorrows at the sumptuous table of Cardinal Duprat.
Wolsey was not so fortunate. He had seen Campeggio go away, and remained like a wrecked seaman thrown on a desert isle, who has seen depart the only friends capable of giving him any help. His necromancy had forewarned him that this would be a fatal year. The angel of the maid of Kent had said: "Go to the cardinal and announce his fall, because he has not done what you had commanded him to do." Other voices besides hers made themselves heard: the hatred of the nation, the contempt of Europe, and, above all, Henry's anger, told him that his hour was come. It was true the pope said that he would do all in his power to save him; but Clement's good offices would only accelerate his ruin. Du Bellay, whom the people believed to be the cardinal's accomplice, bore witness to the change that had taken place in men's minds. While passing on foot through the streets of the capital, followed by two valets, "his ears were so filled with coarse jests as he went along," he said, "that he knew not which way to turn." "The cardinal is utterly undone," he wrote, "and I see not how he can escape." The idea occurred to Wolsey, from time to time, to pronounce the divorce himself; but it was too late. He was even told that his life was in danger. Fortune, blind and bald, her foot on the wheel, fled rapidly from him, nor was it in his power to stop her. And this was not all: after him (he thought) there was no one who could uphold the church of the pontiffs in England. The ship of Rome was sailing on a stormy sea among rocks and shoals; Wolsey at the helm looked in vain for a port of refuge; the vessel leaked on every side; it was rapidly sinking, and the cardinal uttered a cry of distress. Alas! he had desired to save Rome, but Rome would not have it so.
A Meeting at Waltham – Youth of Thomas Cranmer – His Early Education – Studies Scripture for Three Years – His Functions as Examiner – The Supper at Waltham – New View of the Divorce – Fox Communicates it to Henry – Cranmer's Vexation – Conference with the King – Cranmer at the Boleyns
As Wolsey's star was disappearing in the West in the midst of stormy clouds, another was rising in the East, to point out the way to save Britain. Men, like stars, appear on the horizon at the command of God.
On his return from Woodstock to Greenwich, Henry stopped full of anxiety at Waltham in Essex. His attendants were lodged in the houses of the neighborhood. Fox, the almoner, and Secretary Gardiner, were quartered on a gentleman named Cressy, at Waltham Abbey. When supper was announced, Gardiner and Fox were surprised to see an old friend enter the room. It was Thomas Cranmer, a Cambridge doctor. "What! is it you?" they said, "and how came you here?" "Our host's wife is my relation," replied Cranmer, "and as the epidemic is raging at Cambridge, I brought home my friend's sons, who are under my care." As this new personage is destined to play an important part in the history of the Reformation, it may be worth our while to interrupt our narrative, and give a particular account of him.
Cranmer was descended from an ancient family, which came into England, as is generally believed, with the Conqueror. He was born at Aslacton in Nottinghamshire on the 2nd July 1489, six years after Luther. His early education had been very much neglected; his tutor, an ignorant and severe priest, had taught him little else than patiently to endure severe chastisement-a knowledge destined to be very useful to him in after-life. His father was an honest country gentleman, who cared for little besides hunting, racing, and military sports. At this school, the son learned to ride, to handle the bow and the sword, to fish, and to hawk; and he never entirely neglected these exercises, which he thought essential to his health. Thomas Cranmer was fond of walking, of the charms of nature, and of solitary meditations; and a hill, near his father's mansion, used often to be shown where he was wont to sit, gazing on the fertile country at his feet, fixing his eyes on the distant spires, listening with melancholy pleasure to the chime of the bells, and indulging in sweet contemplations. About 1504, he was sent to Cambridge, where "barbarism still prevailed," says an historian. His plain, noble, and modest air conciliated the affections of many, and, in 1510, he was elected fellow of Jesus College. Possessing a tender heart, he became attached, at the age of twenty-three, to a young person of good birth, (says Foxe,) or of inferior rank, as other writers assert. Cranmer was unwilling to imitate the disorderly lives of his fellow-students, and although marriage would necessarily close the career of honors, he married the young lady, resigned his fellowship (in conformity with the regulations), and took a modest lodging at the Dolphin. He then began to study earnestly the most remarkable writings of the times, polishing, it has been said, his old asperity on the productions of Erasmus, of Lefevre of Etaples, and other great authors; every day his crude understanding received new brilliancy. He then began to teach in Buckingham (afterward Magdalene) College, and thus provided for his wants.
His lessons excited the admiration of enlightened men, and the anger of obscure ones, who disdainfully called him (because of the inn at which he lodged) the hostler. "This name became him well," said Fuller, "for in his lessons he roughly rubbed the backs of the friars, and famously curried the hides of the lazy priests." His wife dying a year after his marriage, Cranmer was re-elected fellow of his old college, and the first writing of Luther's having appeared, he said: "I must know on which side the truth lies. There is only one infallible source, the Scriptures; in them I will seek for God's truth." And for three years he constantly studied the holy books, without commentary, without human theology, and hence he gained the name of the Scripturist. At last his eyes were opened; he saw the mysterious bond which united all biblical revelations, and understood the completeness of God's design. Then without forsaking the Scriptures, he studied all kinds of authors. He was a slow reader, but a close observer; he never opened a book without having a pen in his hand. He did not take up with any particular party or age; but possessing a free and philosophic mind, he weighed all opinions in the balance of his judgment, taking the Bible for his standard.
Honors soon came upon him; he was made successively doctor of divinity, professor, university preacher, and examiner. He used to say to the candidates for the ministry: "Christ sendeth his hearers to the Scriptures, and not to the church." -"But," replied the monks, "they are so difficult."-"Explain the obscure passages by those which are clear," rejoined the professor, "Scripture by Scripture. Seek, pray, and he who has the key of David will open them to you." The monks, affrighted at this task, withdrew bursting with anger; and erelong Cranmer's name was a name of dread in every convent. Some, however, submitted to the labor, and one of them, Doctor Barrett, blessed God that the examiner had turned him back; "for," said he, "I found the knowledge of God in the holy book he compelled me to study." Cranmer toiled at the same work as Latimer, Stafford, and Bilney.
Fox and Gardiner having renewed acquaintance with their old friend at Waltham Abbey, they sat down to table, and both the almoner and the secretary asked the doctor what he thought of the divorce. It was the usual topic of conversation, and not long before, Cranmer had been named member of a commission appointed to give their opinion on this affair. "You are not in the right path," said Cranmer to his friends; "you should not cling to the decisions of the church. There is a surer and a shorter way which alone can give peace to the king's conscience."-"What is that?" they both asked.-"The true question is this," replied Cranmer: "What says the word of God? If God has declared a marriage of this nature bad, the pope cannot make it good. Discontinue these interminable Roman negotiations. When God has spoken, man must obey."-"But how shall we know what God has said?"-"Consult the universities; they will discern it more surely than Rome.”
This was a new view. The idea of consulting the universities had been acted upon before; but then their own opinions only had been demanded; now, the question was simply to know what God says in his word. "The word of God is above the church," was the principle laid down by Cranmer, and in that principle consisted the whole of the Reformation. The conversation at the supper-table of Waltham was destined to be one of those secret springs which an invisible Hand sets in motion for the accomplishment of his great designs. The Cambridge doctor, suddenly transported from his study to the foot of the throne, was on the point of becoming one of the principal instruments of Divine wisdom.
The day after this conversation, Fox and Gardiner arrived at Greenwich, and the king summoned them into his presence the same evening. "Well, gentlemen," he said to them, "our holidays are over; what shall we do now? If we still have recourse to Rome, God knows when we shall see the end of this matter."-"It will not be necessary to take so long a journey," said Fox; "we know a shorter and surer way."-"What is it?" asked the king eagerly. -"Doctor Cranmer, whom we met yesterday at Waltham, thinks that the Bible should be the sole judge in your cause." Gardiner, vexed at his colleague's frankness, desired to claim all the honor of this luminous idea for himself; but Henry did not listen to him. "Where is Doctor Cranmer?" said he, much affected. "Send, and fetch him immediately. Mother of God! (this was his customary oath) this man has the right sow by the ear. If this had only been suggested to me two years ago, what expense and trouble I should have been spared!”
Cranmer had gone into Nottinghamshire; a messenger followed and brought him back. "Why have you entangled me in this affair?" he said to Fox and Gardiner. "Pray make my excuses to the king." Gardiner, who wished for nothing better, promised to do all he could; but it was of no use. "I will have no excuses," said Henry. The wily courtier was obliged to make up his mind to introduce the ingenuous and upright man, to whom that station, which he himself had so coveted, was one day to belong. Cranmer and Gardiner went down to Greenwich, both alike dissatisfied.
Cranmer was then forty years of age, with pleasing features, and mild and winning eyes, in which the candor of his soul seemed to be reflected. Sensible to the pains as well as to the pleasures of the heart, he was destined to be more exposed than other men to anxieties and falls; a peaceful life in some remote parsonage would have been more to his taste than the court of Henry VIII. Blessed with a generous mind, unhappily he did not possess the firmness necessary in a public man; a little stone sufficed to make him stumble. His excellent understanding showed him the better way; but his great timidity made him fear the more dangerous. He was rather too fond of relying upon the power of men, and made them unhappy concessions with too great facility. If the king had questioned him, he would never have dared advise so bold a course as that he had pointed out; the advice had slipped from him at table during the intimacy of familiar conversation. Yet he was sincere, and after doing everything to escape from the consequences of his frankness, he was ready to maintain the opinion he had given.
Henry, perceiving Cranmer's timidity, graciously approached him. "What is your name?" said the king, endeavoring to put him at his ease. "Did you not meet my secretary and my almoner at Waltham?" And then he added: "Did you not speak to them of my great affair?"- repeating the words ascribed to Cranmer. The latter could not retreat: "Sir, it is true, I did say so."-"I see," replied the king with animation, "that you have found the breach through which we must storm the fortress. Now, sir doctor, I beg you, and as you are my subject I command you, to lay aside every other occupation, and to bring my cause to a conclusion in conformity with the ideas you have put forth. All that I desire to know is, whether my marriage is contrary to the laws of God or not. Employ all your skill in investigating the subject, and thus bring comfort to my conscience as well as to the queen's."
Cranmer was confounded; he recoiled from the idea of deciding an affair on which depended, it might be, the destinies of the nation, and sighed after the lonely fields of Aslacton. But grasped by the vigorous hand of Henry, he was compelled to advance. "Sir," said he, "pray intrust this matter to doctors more learned than I am."-"I am very willing," answered the king, "but I desire that you will also give me your opinion in writing." And then summoning the Earl of Wiltshire to his presence, he said to him: "My lord, you will receive Doctor Cranmer into your house at Durham Place, and let him have all necessary quiet to compose a report for which I have asked him." After this precise command, which admitted of no refusal, Henry withdrew.
In this manner was Cranmer introduced by the king to Anne Boleyn's father, and not, as some Romanist authors have asserted, by Sir Thomas Boleyn to the king. Wiltshire conducted Cranmer to Durham House (now the Ade1phi in the Strand), and the pious doctor, on whom Henry had imposed these quarters, soon contracted a close friendship with Anne and her father, and took advantage of it to teach them the value of the divine word, as the pearl of great price. Henry, while profiting by the address of a Wolsey and a Gardiner, paid little regard to the men; but he respected Cranmer, even when opposed to him in opinion, and until his death placed the learned doctor above all his courtiers and all his clerks. The pious man often succeeds better, even with the great ones of this world, than the ambitious and the intriguing.