Page images
PDF
EPUB

“ for there was never King so deceived by man.” He added on another occasion that “the Lord Privy Seal drew “every day towards his death, and that he escaped very “ hardly at the last insurrection, and that he was the “greatest briber in England, and that he was espied “well enough.” “ Other particulars of this strange story are furnished by the deposition of another witness, one William Berners, which seem hitherto to have escaped the notice of historians. Berners deposed that George Poulett assigned as a reason for Cromwell’s affection for Ireland, that his ancestors had been born there. He gives a more temperate and probably more accurate version of Poulett's indiscreet and mischievous gossip. He makes Poulett say “that my “Lord Cromwell was a great taker and briber, and fol“ lowed much his old master the Cardinal's fashion, but “ he said and sware by God's body it was well bestowed “ upon him, for he spent it honourably and freely like a “gentleman (though he were none), and did help many “honest men and good fellows, and preferred his servants “ Well.” Alen, the active contriver of the mischief, who, either to curry favour with the Lord Privy Seal, or out of hatred to Poulett, had betrayed the conversation, repeats the substance of his information in an unpublished letter,

* See the depositions, State Papers, II. 551.

t From Ireland came the report that Cromwell was the son of a blacksmith. “The country folk here,” says Abp. Brown, “much hate your “Lordship, and despitefully call you in their Irish tongue the blacksmith', son.” (Brown to Cromwell, 30th March 1538. See Brown's Life in the “Phoenix.”) Stow reconciles the two reports respecting Cromwell's origin, with great probability. He says that Cromwell was born in Putney, that his father was a blacksmith and afterwards a brewer, and his mother married a second husband, a shearman (cloth shearer), whose business Cromwell apparently followed. (Chron. 580.)

dated the 9th of March 1538. He says to Cromwell it had been affirmed that “there was no lord or gentleman “ in England that loved or favoured your Lordship, “ because your Lordship was so great a taker of money, “ for your Lordship would do or speak for no man but “all for money.” These words, he adds, were repeated by Mr. Moyle, another of the commissioners. These reports reached Cromwell's ears at the close of 1538, through the instrumentality of Alen. When Grey was called upon to explain the part he had taken in this matter, he made an insufficient apology. In his letter to Henry VIII.” he supports substantially the main heads of Alen's information; acknowledges all that Poulett had said of Cromwell's declining popularity with the King, and the efforts made by his brother, the Treasurer, and the Admiral FitzWilliam to bring him into favour again. Anticipating the question, why he had not reported Poulett's scandals before, he attempts to excuse himself by saying: “The very truth is, he spake certain “words to me by (of) my said Lord (Cromwell), which I “ forbare to relate the same to your Highness, looking “ daily and making suit to have been the messenger “ myself, by your most gracious licence, and so to have “ declared the same.” A man of more discretion and calmness than Grey would have found it difficult to stand against this torrent of accusations, which gained force and volume every day, and threatened to overwhelm the unfortunate Deputy. If he could have spared time from his military and other duties, and have devoted himself exclusively to the work of self-justification, explanation, and defence, he would have found it no easy or enviable task. What with

* 9 May 1539, S. P. III. 127.

the inability of his messengers, what with his ignorance of the main points charged against him—except so far as they could be gleaned from his correspondence with England —his uncertainty as to the temper of the King and his minister, Grey found it impossible to continue his administration, and begged anxiously to be recalled. It was the only chance he had of explaining his own conduct. The insinuations or gross assertions of his enemies were unceasingly circulated and kept alive by an active knot of malicious informers in England and in Ireland, who did what they could to prejudice the King against the Deputy. “My good Lord,” he writes to Cromwell,” “for the love “ of God, considering my poor service and true heart to “ serve my master, and that I have matter to utter unto “ his Majesty, and to speak with your good Lordship, for “ his Majesty's honour, profit, and the commonwealth of “his Grace's subjects of this poor land, [I pray] that ye “ would be a mean for my repair thither, according my “old long suit; assuring your good Lordship that it is the “ longest and painfullest suit to my heart that ever I “ made or ever shall make during my life, and the suit “ that my poor heart coveteth to have an end of.” In the February of the next year he repeats this request, with greater earnestness, if possible, than before. “For the “love of God, and for the poor goodwill, love, and zeal “ that I bear unto your Lordship, help to alleviate my “ burden, be it for never so short a time; for I assure “ you, next the goodness of God, there is not that thing in “ this world that I more desire."f Aware, as I have said, at this time, of the disadvantages attending upon Grey's recall, of the critical

* 30 December 1539; State Papers, III. 168.
t State Papers, III. 185. See also pp. 190, 193.

state of Ireland, always more critical at the rumour of a change of Deputy, the King and Cromwell attempted to soothe Grey's irritation,” and wisely enjoined on his chief opponents, Ormond and Alen, peace and reconciliation. Ostensibly the King's injunction took effect, for Ormond writes on 20th December to Cromwell, that although heretofore “I had my Lord Deputy in no less “jealousy than he had me, much by the means of such as “ passed more to please our objections, than having respect “ to the common weal or charitable concord amongst us, “ . . . . . . this unity that is now knit betwixt him and “ me shall not, God willing, dissever, for my part.”f And in a letter by Grey to the same, it is stated that he had sent James Bathe to utter his “griefs against the Lord “Chancellor (Alen) here; howbeit, since the receipt of “ your Lordship's letter to me and the Council, addressed “ for our joining together, I assure your good Lordship we “ have been and beth in good conformity to serve the “ King's Majesty, and trust in God the same shall con“tinue; and I promise your good Lordship there shall be none occasion given of any breach of my part, though there be occasion given unto me to the contrary.”f

(1540.) To maintain this appearance of unanimity the Council of Ireland, on 16th January, next year, in their letter to the King, not only applauded Grey for his painful services and good conformity that he was now in “with us of your Council,” but recommended that he should be preferred to some advantageous marriage. “Considering that “ your said Deputy hath lived a great season sole without “a wife, and is desirous to marry, it might please your “Grace to prefer him to some honourable and profitable

* State Papers, III. p. 189. f Ibid. p. 167.
f Ibid. p. 168.

“marriage, whereby he shall the better live well towards “God, and be the better able to serve your Majesty.” But whilst they held one language to the King, they held another language to Cromwell. Only two days after, writing in favour of Alen, whom they describe as a wise, sober, and discreet person, they request Cromwell to be upon his guard against all complaints made against him and others by Grey; “nothing doubting but your Lord“ ship, knowing the conditions of my Lord Deputy, will “ regard his writings and informations, especially proceed“ing of malice, as they be worthy.”f It was clear, notwithstanding Grey's services, that he must be recalled. Whether his temper, soured by age, disease, and disappointment, was intractable, or that the divisions of the Council had grown to a height too great to be remedied by ordinary means, it was impossible that he could continue any longer in office. Grey was accordingly summoned to England on the 1st of April 1540, with orders to accelerate his journey, that he might be “eftsoons dispatched thither again.”: He left at the beginning of May of the same year, and soon after his arrival was thrown into the Tower. His ancient enemies did not cease to press their opportunities against the fallen Deputy. Among others, Archbishop Brown, whose

* State Papers, III. 173. In this they had more regard to Grey, or rather to their own fears of offending him, than to the lady ; for Grey suffered from attacks of the gout. (See pp. 135, 159.) “This man,” says Walter Cowley to Cromwell, in the commencement of 1540, recommending Grey for some reward for his painful services, “is waxing aged, and hath “none issue, and I judge his disease will much shorten his life, whereby “his Grace may the more liberal depart with him.” (Ib. p. 180.)

f Ibid. III. 175. This letter is signed by the Earl of Ormond, Brown, Archbishop of Dublin, Aylmer, Brabazon, and Cowley, all of whom two days before had concurred in recommending Grey to the King.

f See the King's letter, Ibid. III. 194.

« PreviousContinue »