« PreviousContinue »
“ with him," adds Burnet, “ More's persecuă 66 tions ended; for soon after he laid down'the “ Great Seal, which put the poor preachers at 66 ease.”
Luther being asked, Whether Sir Thomas More was executed for the Gospel's sake? answered, “ By no means, for he was a very notable tyrant.
He was the King's chiefest counsellor, a very “ learned and a very wise man. He shed the “ blood of many innocent Christians that con“ fessed the Gospel, and plagued and tormented es them like an executioner.”
“ Colloq. Mensal.” 464.
Yet how discordant does More's practice seem to be to his opinions! In his celebrated “ Utopia” he lays it down as a maxim, that no one ought to be punished for his religion, and that every person might be of what religion he pleased.
BISHOP OF ROCHESTER. Henry the Eighth having demanded of the Convocation the surrender to him of the small Abbies in England, the Clergy in general agreed
to his requisition. - Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, perceiving how his brethren were inclined, thus addressed them :
« My Lords, and the rest of my Brethren here “ assembled, I pray you to take good heed to “ what you do, lest you do not know what you " can and what you cannot do. For indeed the " things that are demanded at our hands are none “ of ours to grant, nor theirs to whom we should « bestow them, if we should grant them their “ desires; but they are the legacies of those tef
tators who have given them to the Church for “ ever, under the penalty of a heavy curse im“ posed on all those who shall any way go about a to alienate their property from the Church : “ and besides, if we should grant these lesser “ Abbies, &c. to the King, what shall we do “ otherwise than shew him the way how in time “ it may be lawful to him to demand the greater? 4 Wherefore, the manner of these proceedings “ puts me in mind of a fable : How the axe “ (which wanted a handle) came upon a time “ unto the wood, making his moan to the great 6 trees, how he wanted a handle to work withal, “ and for that cause he was constrained to fit “ idle. Wherefore he made it his request to “ them, that they would be pleased to grant him “ one of their small saplings within the wood, to « make him a handle. So, becoming a complete
« axe, 66 axe, he fell to work within the same wood; “ that in process of time there was neither great to nor small tree to be found in the place where
the wood stood. And so, my Lords, if you
grant the King these smaller Monasteries, you “ do but make him a handle, whereby, at his “ own pleasure, he may cut down all the Cedars « within your Libanus ; and then you may thank
yourselves, after you have incurred the heavy displeasure of Almighty God.”
“ This speech," says his Biographer, Dr. Bayley, “ changed the minds of all those who were “ formerly bent to gratify the King's demands “ herein, so that all was rejected for that time."
Cromwell was sent to the good Bishop by the King, to know what he would do if the Pope should send him a Cardinal's hat. “ Sir," replied Fisher, “ I know myself to be so far 66 unworthy of any such dignity, that I think of 66 nothing less; but if any such thing should hap
pen, assure yourself I should improve that fac vour to the best advantage that I could in “ assisting the holy Catholick Church; and in es that respect I would receive it upon my knees.” Cromwell having reported this answer to the King, he said, with great indignation, “ Yea, is " he yet so lusty? Well, let the Pope send him
« a Cara
to a Cardinal's hat when he will. Mother of 36 God! he shall wear it on his shoulders then; so for I will leave him never a head to set it on.”
Henry was soon afterwards as good as his word, and sent to the block one of the most virtuous and upright prelates that his kingdom had ever produced. The Bishop met his fate with the constancy and resignation of a martyr.
· Charles the Fifth, on hearing of the death of --this Prelate, told Sir Thomas Ellyot, the King of England's Ambassador at his Court, that in killing Bishop Fisher, his master had killed at one blow all the Bishops of England: “ For," added he, 66 the Bishop was such an one, as for all pura $6 poses I think the King had not the like again do in his realme, neither yet was he to be matched 5 throughout all Christendom.”
This great man describes a custom prevalent in England in his time among the females, the discontinuance of which, as the British ladies have most affuredly gained great attractions since
the days of Erasmus, strangers, no less than natives, must most truly lament.
“ Ex Angliâ, 1449. 66 Sunt hic in Angliâ nymphæ* divinis vul« tibus, blandæ, faciles. Eft præterea mos nun« quam fatis laudandus, five quò venias, om
* « The English,” says Mr. Barry, in his excellent work upon the Obstructions to the Arts in England, “ have been • remarked for the beauty of their form even so early as “ the time of Gregory the Great, and it was one of the “ motives for sending Austin the Monk amongst them. “ Our women also we shall but Nightly mention, for it would " bear too much the appearance of an insult over others, “ were we to do, but half justice to their elegant arranger ment of proportions and beautiful delicate carnations."
• There is a delicate peachy bloom of complexion very “ common in England (which is the source of an infinite “ truly piduresque variety, as it follows the directions and " the passions of the mind) that is rarely and but partially “ to be met with anywhere else, except in the fancied de66 scriptions of the Greek and Latin poets."
The celebrated Roger Ascham, in one of his letters from Augsburg, thus speaks of the English: ::“ England need fear no outward enemies ; the lusty lads,
“ verelie be in England. I have seen on a Sunday more “ likelie men walking in St. Paul's Church, than I ever yet “ saw in Augusta, where lieth an Emperor with a garrison, « three Kings, a Queen, three Princes, a number of Dukes, u &c."