Page images
PDF
EPUB

LORD CROMWELL.

When the articles of impeachment against Cardinal Wolsey were sent down to the Lower House, Thomas Cromwell, who had been a fervant of the Cardinal, defended his old and disgraced Master with such ability, that the charges of high treason brought against him were thrown out. “ Upon this honest begin" ning,says Lord Herbert, “ Cromwell ob. “ tained his first reputation."

“ Mr. Cromwell, (now highly in the King's “ favour,)” says Mr. More, in his very entere taining Life of his Grandfather, 6 came of a “ message from the King to Sir Thomas; “ wherein when they had thoroughly talked to“ gether, before his going away, Sir Thomas " said to him, Mr. Cromwell, you are entered " into the service of a most noble, wise, and “ liberal Prince. If you will follow my poor " advice, you shall in your counsell-giving to his “ Majestie ever tell him what he ought to doe, 66 but never what he is able to doe; so shall you 66 shewe yourself a true and faithful servant, and " a right worthie counsellour: for if a Lion “ knew his own strength, hard were it for anie “ man to rule him. But,” adds Mr. More,

66 Cromwell

evei

“ Cromwell never learned this lesson ; for he “ ever gave that counsell to his Prince which 6 he thought would best please him, and not " what was lawful.”

Cromwell's reasons for serving his cruel and rapacious Sovereign in dissolving the Monasteries and Abbeys in England, are such as might have suggested themselves to every unprincipled minion of authority who wished to gloss over the injustice of his proceedings, and are thus stated by Lord Herbert : “ First, said he, in regard to the Clergy, « as they have taken an oath to the Pope, they 66 are only the King's half subjects. Secondly, “ With respect to expelling the Monks, he said, so that was nothing more than to restore them 6 to their first institution of being lay and la. « bouring persons. And thirdly, he added, That “ the particular austerities practised by them as “ members of religious houses, they might prac. “ tisę, if they pleased, in any other situation.”

- Henry,” adds Lord Herbert, “ finding 56 Cromwell no longer necessary, gave way to 56 the frivolous accusations of his enemies, and “ brought him to the block, at which he suffered 66 unlamented; though (according to the same “ noble historian) he had been noted, in the ex66 ercise of his places of judicature, to have used 6 much moderation ; and in his greatest pomp, « to have taken notice of, and to have been - “ thankful to, mean persons of his old acquaint65 ance.”

SIR THOMAS MORE. In how different a manner do Princes appre, ciate the merits of their servants !-When that honour to human nature, Sir Thomas More, was beheaded by his cruel and ungrateful Sovereign, Charles the Fifth said to Sir Thomas Ellyot, “ If I had been master of such a servant, of “ whose doings ourselves have had these many “ years no small experience, I would rather have 66 lost the best citie of my dominions than have “ lost such a worthic Counsellor.”

Sir Thomas, who well knew the disposition of Ilenry, said one day to his son Mr. Roper, who had complimented him upon seeing the King walk with his arm about his neck, “ I " thanke our Lord, I find his Grace a very “ good lorde indeed, and I do believe he doth “ as singularly favour me as any subject within “ this realme. Howbeit, son Roper, I may “ tell thee, I have no cause to be proud thereof; “ for if my head would winne him a castle in “ France, yt should not fayle to go.”

Mr.

Mr. Roper's life of his venerable father-in-law is one of the few pieces of natural biography that welave in our language, and must be perused with great pleasure by those who love antient times, antient manners, and antient virtues. Of Sir Thomas More's disinterestedness and integrity in his office of Chancellor, Mr. Roper gives this instance :-" That after the resignation of it “ he was not able fufficiently to finde meat, drink, “ fuell, apparel, and such other necessary charges; 66 and that after his debts payed he had not I “ know (his chaine excepted) in gold and silver “ left him the value of one hundred pounds."

Mr. Roper thus describes Sir Thomas More: “ He was a man of singular worth, and .of a 66 cleare unspotted conscience, as witnesseth 66 Erasmus, more pure and white than the " whitest snow, and of such an angelical wit,

as England, he sayth, never had the like be“ fore nor never shall again. Universally as as well in the lawes of our realme (a studie in “ effect able to occupy the whole lyfe of a man) " as in all other sciences right well studied, he 66 was in his days accounted a man worthie 66 famous memory.”

This excellent man is thus described by Erasmus, in a letter to Ulderic Haller :

66 More

: 6 More seems to be made and born for “ friendship, of which virtue he is a sincere “ follower and very strict observer. He is not « afraid to be accused of having many friends, “ which, according to Hesiod, is no great praise. " Every one may become More's friend; he is “ not slow in chusing; he is kind in cherishing, 66 and constant in keeping them. If by accident " he becomes the friend of one whose vices he 6 cannot correct, he slackens the reins of friend. “ ship towards him, diverting it rather by little « and little, than by entirely dissolving it. « Those persons whom he finds to be men of “ sincerity, and consonant to his own virtuous “ disposition, he is so charmed with, that he ap66 pears to place his chief worldly pleasure in " their conversation and company. And al“ though More is negligent in his own temporal “ concerns, yet no one is more assiduous than « himself in assisting the suits of his friends. 66 Why should I say more? If any person were « desirous to have a perfect model of friendship, « no one can afford him a better than More. 6 In his conversation there is so much affability « and sweetness of manner, that no man can be 6 of so austere a disposition, but that More's “ conversation must make him cheerful; and no “ matter so unpleasing, but that with his wit he

can take away from it all disgust.”

.

Erasmus

« PreviousContinue »