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Title: The Cabinet Portrait Gallery of British Worthies (Vol 3 of 12)

Date of first publication: 1845

Author: C. Cox (d. 1845)

Editor: Charles Knight (1791-1873)

Date first posted: March 182913

Date last updated: March 18 2013

Faded Page eBook #20130360

This ebook was produced by: Marcia Brooks, Paul Ereult & the Online Distributed Proofreading Canada Team at http://www.pgdpcanada.net

(This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive/American Libraries.)












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It sometimes happens that a remarkable man has a very commonplace history; sometimes that a man whose life has been full of strange events has been a person of a very commonplace character: in the present instance the man and his fortunes were alike extraordinary. The life in all its parts has the colour of a legend or romance; both his rise and his fall were rocket-like; but he was neither carried so rapidly to so great a height solely by the force of circumstances, nor would he perhaps have been thrown down as he was but in some degree through that [Pg 6]same irrepressibility, and, as we may say, brilliant wildness of nature which had helped him to mount so far above his original condition.

Thomas Cromwell, best known, both in his own day and in our national history, by his first title of nobility, the Lord Cromwell, was born in or near the village of Putney, in Surrey, where his father, Walter Cromwell, it is commonly said, followed the trade first of a blacksmith, afterwards of a brewer; but, according to another account, was fuller, though that version of the story may possibly have arisen from the circumstance of his mother after his father's death, which appears to have happened when her son was a boy, marrying a London shearman, or cloth-shearer. The date of his birth is not recorded, but it was probably about the year 1490.

Of his other relations we only know that he had a sister who married Morgan Williams, a gentleman of an ancient Welsh family, whose son, changing his name to that of his uncle and patron, became Sir Richard Cromwell, and was the grandfather of Oliver Cromwell the Protector. From this marriage of Thomas Cromwell's sister, which must have taken place before her brother became a great man, since his nephew, Richard Williams, or Cromwell, was then of mature age, and from other considerations which he advances, Noble, the author of the 'Memoirs of the Protectoral House,' argues that the blacksmith or brewer of Putney was probably, although a tradesman, a man of substance, and by no means, as he has been sometimes represented, a mere handicraftsman or mechanic. "We may presume," says Noble, "that, as the blacksmith was enabled to change his business, from many favourable circumstances, to that of a brewer, which latter was a much superior one in the reign of King Henry VIII. than at present, it is highly probable that, though he died a brewer, he might leave a very good (perhaps large) fortune behind him: we know of many of the noblest families in England that are descended from persons who were lord mayors and sheriffs of London, and others who were of trades which would disgrace (in the estimation of the illiberal) the families of the middling class of people in this kingdom. If we[Pg 7] suppose that Mr. Walter Cromwell, the brewer of Putney, died rich, as there is the highest probability he did not die poor, there can be no reason assigned why his daughter should be thought an improper match for Mr. Morgan Williams, a Welsh gentleman of an estate of three or four hundred a year, when Mr. Morgan Williams's son and grandson, two of the richest knights and private subjects in the kingdom, married, the one the daughter of a skinner, and the other that of a mercer, or at least of those companies. Lady Ann Bolen, or Bullen, and Lady Jane Seymour, two of the many wives of King Henry VIII., were descended from tradesmen of London." On the whole, then, we may conclude Walter Cromwell of Putney to have been no common blacksmith, wielding his hammer and shoeing horses with his own hands, but a master tradesman, probably employing many workmen, and prospering so as to be eventually enabled to set up as what we may call a capitalist, and the head of what was more of the nature of a commercial establishment than a trade. His widow, too, in this case, may have made a good second marriage, and the shearman may have been a merchant, not, as is commonly assumed, a mechanic. Noble supposes that Morgan Williams, whose father was employed by Jasper Tudor, Duke of Bedford, uncle to King Henry VII., and also by King Henry VIII., may have made the acquaintance of Miss Cromwell, living with her mother in London, when he and his father came up to give their attendance at court. This connexion among the three families of Cromwell, Williams, and Tudor—the history of each of which is so remarkable—merits the more attention, that it has not been usually noticed. We shall find that the marriage of his sister was not Cromwell's only alliance with the Williamses.

Young Cromwell does not appear to have received what can be called a learned education; but it is admitted that, besides the more ordinary branches, he was taught a little Latin at school; and this may give additional probability to what has been said about his father not having been a mere common blacksmith. The popular[Pg 8] tradition of the next age, indeed, appears to have represented him as having been a bookish boy, filled and inflamed with many sublime and mysterious studies. There is an old play, called 'The Life and Death of Thomas Lord Cromwell,' first published, as far as is known, in 1602, but perhaps written a good many years before that date, in the opening scene of which one of his father's men is introduced complaining that he can hardly take his afternoon's nap for young Master Thomas, who, says he, "keeps such a coil in his study, with the sun and the moon and the seven stars, that I do verily think he'll read out his wits." And then the youth himself is brought forward soliloquizing, after the fashion of a juvenile Faustus:—

"Good morrow, morn, I do salute thy brightness.
The night seems tedious to my troubled soul;
Whose black obscurity binds in my mind
A thousand sundry cogitations.
And now Aurora with a lively dye
Adds comfort to my spirit, that mounts on high;
Too high, indeed, my state being so mean.
My study, like a mineral of gold,
Makes my heart proud, wherein my hope's enrolled;
My books are all the wealth I do possess,
And unto them I have engaged my heart.
O, learning, how divine thou seem'st to me,
Within whose arms is all felicity," &c.

This play has been attributed to Shakspere; but, although it is not in his manner, nor in any high manner, and has little or no dramatic or even poetical spirit, it is not destitute of a certain kind of talent, that at least by which a story is clearly told in the way of dialogue; and it is at any rate curious as preserving the notions about Cromwell and his history which had floated in the popular mind probably ever since his own day.

Whatever may have been his original advantages or disadvantages, it appears to have been mainly to his own abilities, and his mounting or restless spirit, that he owed his rise from obscurity. The story that is told of his early life is, shortly, that, impatient of confinement[Pg 9] within the bounds of his native country, he set out before he had yet taken to any occupation by which he might earn his bread for the continent; that after rambling over France, Germany, and Italy, and acquiring the languages of all these countries, he was engaged as their chief clerk or secretary by the English factory, or body of resident English merchants, at Antwerp; and that he remained in that situation till about the year 1510, when he embraced an opportunity that offered of accompanying two of his countrymen on a mission to the papal court. The case was this, as related by Fox in his 'Acts and Monuments:'—The town of Boston, desiring to have a renewal from the pope, Julius the Second, of certain privileges, called the great and the lesser pardons, which had been repeatedly confirmed by his holiness's predecessors, despatched two persons for that purpose, who, coming to Antwerp on their way, there fell into company with Cromwell, and, probably struck by his evident capacity, while they had great doubts of the sufficiency of their own qualifications for the important business that had been intrusted to them, proposed that he should become their associate. The sequel is curious, as told by the old martyrologist, who, it may be observed, does not much relish such an introduction of his hero to public life:—"Cromwell, although perceiving the enterprise to be of no small difficulty, to traverse the pope's court, for the unreasonable expenses amongst those greedy cormorants, yet, having some skill of the Italian tongue, and as yet not grounded in judgment of religion in those his youthful days, was at length obtained and content to give the adventure, and so took his journey towards Rome. Cromwell, loth to spend much time, and more loth to spend his money, and again perceiving that the pope's greedy humour must needs be served with some present or other (for without rewards there is no doing at Rome) began to cast with himself what thing best to devise wherein he might best serve the pope's devotion. At length, having knowledge how that the pope's holy tooth greatly delighted in new-fangled strange delicates and dainty dishes, it[Pg 10] came in his mind to prepare certain fine dishes of jelly, after the best fashion, made after our country manner here in England, which to them of Rome was not known nor seen before. This done, Cromwell observing his time accordingly, as the pope was newly come from hunting into his pavilion, he with his companions approached with his English presents, brought in with a three-man's song (as we call it) in the English tongue, and all after the English fashion. The pope suddenly marvelled at the strangeness of the song, and, understanding that they were Englishmen, and that they came not empty-handed, willed them to be called in. Cromwell then showing his obedience, and offering his jolly junkets, such as kings and princes only, said he, in the realm of England use to feed upon, desired the same to be accepted in benevolent part, which he and his companions, as poor suitors unto his holiness, had there brought and presented, as novelties meet for his recreation, &c. Pope Julius, seeing the strangeness of the dishes, commanded by and by his cardinal to take the assay, who in tasting thereof liked it so well, and so likewise the pope after him, that, knowing of them what their suits were, and requiring of them to make known the making of that meat, he incontinent, without any more ado, stamped both their pardons, as well the greater as the lesser." "And thus," adds the venerable but withal facetious historian, "were the jelly pardons of the town of Boston obtained as you have heard, for the maintenance of their decayed port." We need not trouble the reader with the copy or summary of the pardons which follows, filling a whole long closely printed column of the huge old black-letter folio.

All the common accounts here follow one another in overleaping a long interval of time in the strangest and most unaccountable manner. Thus, Fox, after having told us that Cromwell gave a wonderful evidence both of the strength of his memory and of his industry and perseverance in getting by heart the whole of Erasmus's Latin translation of the New Testament "in his journey going and coming from Rome," as if he had returned[Pg 11] from that city after a stay of only a few months, goes on:—"All this while it appeareth that Cromwell had yet no sound taste nor judgment of religion, but was wild and youthful, without sense or regard of God and his word, as he himself was woont oft times to declare unto Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, showing what a ruffian he was in his young days, and how he was in the wars of the Duke of Bourbon at the siege of Rome.... and so continued, till at length by learning the text of the New Testament without book, of Erasmus's translation, in his going and coming from Rome (as is aforesaid) he began to be touched and called to better understanding." But the famous sack of Rome by the Duke of Bourbon took place, as is well known, in May, 1527; so here are events which were seventeen years apart jumbled together as if they had happened in the same year. From the rest of Fox's narrative it is evident that he was entirely ignorant or thoughtless of the date of this sack of Rome, at which he states Cromwell to have been present; for he brings him back to England some years before it actually occurred. But the story is told in a way equally unintelligible in an elaborate article in the 'Biographia Britannica,' where, after mention of his journey to Rome in 1510, the narrative proceeds:—"Whilst he remained in Italy, he served for some time as a soldier under the Duke of Bourbon, and was at the sacking of Rome; and at Bologna he assisted John Russell, Esq., afterwards Earl of Bedford, in making his escape when he had like to be betrayed into the hands of the French, being secretly in those parts about our king's affairs." And then comes the anecdote about his getting the translation of the New Testament by heart, "in his journey to and from Rome." Dr. Lingard, who seems to have consulted Roman Catholic authorities, affirms generally that Cromwell "in his early youth served as a trooper in the wars of Italy; from the army he passed to the service of a Venetian merchant; and, after some time, returning to England, exchanged the counter for the study of the law." As[Pg 12] for his assisting the Earl of Bedford to make his escape from Bologna, the mere fact is mentioned by Fox, but without any date. For the particular stratagem which he is said to have employed the reader may be referred to the old play, in which this incident makes a principal figure. Noble, in his "Memoirs of the Protectoral House," makes it to have happened after the sack of Rome, when Cromwell had been "involved in great distress upon the defeat of that army which had pillaged the holy city," and been "relieved by a generous Italian of the name of Frescobaldo," and when Russell, who was not yet ennobled, was about to be sent a prisoner to France, "because employed in some secret service by King Henry VIII. against the see of Rome."

But, on the whole, it seems in the highest degree improbable that Cromwell remained in Italy to so late a date as he must have done if he was really present at the sack of Rome by the Duke of Bourbon. Dr. Lingard states that after his return to England Wolsey "employed him to dissolve the monasteries which had been granted for the establishment of his colleges, a trust which he discharged to the satisfaction of his patron, at the same time that he enriched himself." Now it was in 1524 and 1525, that Wolsey obtained from Pope Clement VII. the two bulls authorising him to suppress twenty-two small priories and nunneries for the endowment of the college founded by him at Oxford, now called Christ Church. Fox himself, who makes Cromwell to have remained in Italy till after the sack of Rome in 1527, tells us in the next page that he was employed by Wolsey in expediting the suppression of these religious houses—"which," says he, "was about the year of our Lord 1525." At all events, it seems to be admitted on all hands that he was taken into the service or employment of the Cardinal soon after he returned to his native country. Fox asserts that both More, afterwards chancellor, and Gardiner, afterwards bishop of Winchester, were in the Cardinal's household at or about the same time with Cromwell.[Pg 13] This is a strange misstatement as to Sir Thomas More, who never was in Wolsey's household at any time of his life.

But here we meet with another difficulty, which the common accounts of Cromwell do not attempt to clear up, and do not even notice. So far from having remained abroad in Italy even till 1524, he had in all probability returned to his native country at least seven or eight years before that date—for he must have been married, and to an English lady of good connexions, at the latest by the year 1517, seeing that his son Gregory was summoned to the House of Lords in April, 1539, and must therefore have been born in or before 1518. The lady that Cromwell married was Jane (or, according to other accounts, Elizabeth), daughter and heir of Sir John Prior, Knight, and widow of Thomas Williams, Esq., a Welsh gentleman, of the same family with the Morgan Williams who, probably before this, married Cromwell's sister.

From all these facts we should be disposed to conclude that Cromwell returned home from the continent about 1516. And we may now observe, as further illustrative of the dependence to be placed on old Fox even in regard to matters with which it might be thought he ought to be best acquainted, that it was not till this year that Cromwell could possibly have got Erasmus's New Testament by heart, inasmuch as it was only now first published. He was probably still abroad when he met with the book; and the story told by Fox will accord very well with all the ascertained facts, if we suppose the task he is said to have accomplished to have been performed on his way home to England about this time. The anecdote may be taken as a remarkable evidence, not only of Cromwell's powers of memory, but of the enthusiasm inspired by Erasmus's translation when it first appeared.

Some time after he was taken into the employment of Wolsey, who, we are told, made him his solicitor, Cromwell is stated to have obtained a seat in the House of Commons; and it is recorded to his honour that, when the articles charging the Cardinal with high treason[Pg 14] were sent down to that House, he defended his master there with great wit and eloquence; "and upon this honest beginning," says Lord Herbert, in his History of the Reign of Henry VIII., "Cromwell obtained his first reputation." It is stated on good authority that he had at this time made himself very generally odious by the zeal and energy with which he served his unpopular patron: Cardinal Pole asserts from his own knowledge, that, at the time of Wolsey's fall, Cromwell's punishment was also loudly demanded by the public voice: "I was myself then in London," writes Pole, "and heard what was said: there was nothing that the people looked for more eagerly." Dr. Lingard's account is, that "he followed Wolsey to Esher; but, despairing of the fortune of the fallen favourite, hastened to Court, purchased with presents the protection of the ministers, and was confirmed in that office under the king which he had before held under the Cardinal, the stewardship of the lands of the dissolved monasteries."

It must have been almost immediately after this, in the end of the year 1530, or early in 1531, that he secured the royal notice and favour by boldly proposing to Henry, as is affirmed, to rid himself at once of all the difficulties about his divorce from Queen Katharine by throwing off the yoke of the Roman Pontiff, and assuming to himself the ecclesiastical supremacy within his own dominions. He is said to have made this proposal at an audience which he solicited and obtained, and to which he went declaring his intention thereby either to make or mar his fortune. The scheme is believed to have met with Henry's instantaneous approval. If we may depend upon this story, which is told with some variations, but with an agreement in the substance, by both Roman Catholic and Protestant authorities, Cromwell has a better right than any other man to be accounted the author of the Reformation in England.

What is perfectly certain is, that from this time Cromwell was taken into the closest confidence by the king, was loaded with honours and other favours, and was raised with almost unexampled rapidity through a suc[Pg 15]cession of offices to nearly all of the supreme authority that could be conveyed to a subject. In 1531 he was knighted, admitted of the Privy Council, and made Master of the Jewel-House; in 1532 he was appointed Clerk of the Hanaper, and soon after Chancellor of the Exchequer for life; in 1534 he was raised to the posts of Master of the Rolls, and Principal Secretary of State; in 1535 he was commissioned to superintend the general suppression of the monasteries with the title of Visitor General; in 1536 he exchanged his place of Master of the Rolls for that of Lord Privy Seal, and a few days after was made a peer, with the title of Lord Cromwell of Okeham; the same year he was constituted Vicar General and Vicegerent over all the spirituality, under the King, and in that capacity took his seat in the convocation, as the King's representative, above both archbishops; in 1537 he was made Chief Justice Itinerant beyond Trent, and a Knight of the Garter; in 1538 he was made Constable of Carisbrook Castle, and received a grant of the Castle and Lordship of Okeham in Rutlandshire; in 1539 he was enriched by grants of thirty other manors which had belonged to the dissolved religious houses, and was advanced to the dignity of Earl of Essex (the oldest of the then existing English earldoms), his son being at the same time called to the House of Lords by his father's former title; and shortly after his ambition was still farther gratified by having conferred upon him the office of Lord High Chamberlain of England, which had for a long succession of generations been held by the De Veres, Earls of Oxford, one of the most distinguished families of the ancient peerage.

During nearly all this time, too, he may be considered, as we have said, to have been really the ruler of the kingdom. And the most interesting part of his story is the manner in which he used his supreme power.

He was, in the first place, beyond all question a most zealous, active, and efficient promoter of the Reformation in religion. With that cause, indeed, his personal interests were intimately and inseparably involved; but there[Pg 16] is every reason to believe that his honest convictions of right and truth were also strongly enlisted on the same side. The popish writers have attributed to him the most flagitious principles, or rather have denied him the possession of any principles of either religion or morals; but their general denunciations are discountenanced by all that we really know of the man and of his life. He may have been, and probably was, both ambitious and rapacious—fond of power, as strong and ardent minds are apt to be, in all its forms; his daring and enthusiastic temperament may have even made him sometimes unscrupulous enough, and reckless of everything except the object of the moment; but it does not follow that he must have been a bad man, or without good and high qualities. He appears to have been on the whole conscientious, at least in so far as regarded the ends he had in view, although not always very particular as to his means. But the latter characteristic belongs more or less to all the more aspiring spirits of that time. The objects for which men then contended against one another appeared to be of such infinite importance as to justify their attainment in any way. Besides, the regular dominion of law had not yet been established; society was still in a convulsed and semi-chaotic state; even in civil life, to a great extent, the only recognised morality was something little better than that now practised in war and on the field of battle.

Cromwell, placed in the seat of supreme authority, may have used his power despotically; but, although he no doubt committed some questionable acts, his general administration appears to have been far from oppressive or unpopular. On the contrary, even when he somewhat disregarded or overstepped the law, he seems usually to have acted both with a right purpose and in accordance with the public sentiment. Some stories preserved by Fox are illustrative of this, and are also curious as picturing a social state so different from that which now exists in England. One is about the mere report of his approach dispersing a body of ruffians who had barricaded both ends of Paternoster Row with carts,[Pg 17] and were about to have a conflict in the public street. "It happened," says the historian, "that, as this desperate skirmish should begin, the Lord Cromwell, coming from the court through Paul's Churchyard, and entering into Cheap, had intelligence of the great fray toward, and because of the carts he could not come at them, but was forced to go about the Little Conduit, and so came upon them through Pannier Alley. Thus, as the conflict began to wax hot, and the people were standing by in great expectation to see them fight, suddenly, at the noise of the Lord Cromwell's coming, the camp brake up, and the ruffians to go; neither could the carts keep in those so courageous campers, but well was he that first could be gone. And so ceased this tumultuous outrage, without any other parting, only through the authority of the Lord Cromwell's name." Then follows another story, which he tells with immense gusto, "concerning a certain serving-man," as he expresses it, "of the like ruffianly order, who, thinking to dissever himself from the common usage of all other men in strange new-fangleness of fashions by himself (as many there be whom nothing doth please which is daily seen and received), used to go with his hair hanging about his ears down unto his shoulders, after a strange monstrous manner, counterfeiting, belike, the wild Irishmen, or else crinitus Ioppas, which Virgil speaketh of, as one weary of his own English fashion; or else, as one ashamed to be seen like a man, would rather go like a woman, or like to one of the Gorgon sisters, but most of all like to himself, that is, like to a ruffian, that could not tell how to go." After this eloquent exordium, the narrative proceeds:—"As this ruffian, ruffling thus with his locks, was walking in the streets, as chance was, who should meet him but the Lord Cromwell, who, beholding the deform and unseemly manner of his disguised going, full of much vanity and hurtful example, called the man to question with him whose servant he was; which being declared, then was demanded whether his maister or any of his fellows used so to go with such hair about their shoulders as he did, or no? Which when he denied,[Pg 18] and was not able to yield any reason for refuge of that his monstrous disguising, at length he fell to this excuse, that he had made a vow. To this the Lord Cromwell answered again, that, for so much as he had made himself a votary, he would not force him to break his vow; but, until his vow should be expired, he should lie the mean time in prison; and so sent him immediately to the Marshalsea, where he endured till at length this intonsus Cato, being persuaded by his maister to cut his hair, by suit and petition of friends he was brought again to the Lord Cromwell with his head polled according to the accustomed sort of his other fellows, and so was dismissed." We cannot help adding the curious and characteristic comment with which the old martyrologist concludes: the passage is one which should not be overlooked by the investigators of the history of English costume:—"If," says he, "the same Lord Cromwell, which could not abide this serving-man so disfigured in his hair, were now in these our days alive, with the same authority which then he had, and saw these new-fangle fashions of attire used here amongst us both of men and women, I suppose verily that neither these monstrous ruffs, nor these prodigious hose, and prodigal, or rather hyperbolical barbarous breeches (which seem rather like barrels than breeches), would have any place in England. In which unmeasurable excess of vesture, this I have to marvel; first, how these serving-men, which commonly have nothing else but their wages, and that so slender and bare, can maintain such stops,[1] so huge and so sumptuous, which commonly stand them in more than their three years' wages do come unto. Secondly, I marvel that their maisters and lords (who shall yield to God account of their servants' doings) do not search and try out their servants' walks, how they come by these expences, wherewith to uphold this bravery, seeing their stipendary wages, and all revenues else they have, will not extend thereunto. Thirdly, this most of all is to be marvelled, that magistrates, which have in their hands the[Pg 19] ordering and guiding of good laws, do not provide more severely for the needful reformation of these enormities. But here we may well see, and truly this may say, that England once had a Cromwell."

Another of Fox's stories, entitled "How Cromwell holp a poor woman with child out of great trouble, longing for a piece of meat in time of Lent," is much too long to be given in full. It begins—"In the year of our Lord, 1538, Sir William Forman being mayor of the city of London, three weeks before Easter, the wife of one Thomas Freebairn, dwelling in Paternoster Row, being with child, longed after a morsel of a pig, and told her mind unto a maid dwelling in Abchurch Lane, desiring her, if it were possible, to help her unto a piece. The maid, perceiving her earnest desire, shewed unto her husband what his wife had said unto her, telling him that it might chance to cost her her life, and the child's too which she went withall, if she had it not. Upon this, Thomas Freebairn, her husband, spake to a butterwife which he knew, that dwelled at Hornsey, named Goodwife Fisher, to help him to a pig for his wife, for she was with child, and longed sore to eat of a pig. Unto whom the said Goodwife Fisher promised that she would bring him one the Friday following; and so she did, being ready dressed and scalded before. But, when she had delivered him the pig, she craftily conveyed one of the pig's feet, and carried it unto Doctor Cockes, at that time being Dean of Canterbury, dwelling in Ivy Lane, who, at that time of his dinner, before certain guests which he had bidden, shewed his pig's foot, declaring who had the body thereof; and, after that they had talked their pleasure and dinner was done, one of his guests, being landlord unto Freebairn aforesaid, called M. Garter, and by his office King of Arms, sent his man unto the said Freebairn, demanding if there were nobody sick in his house. Unto whom he answered that they were all in good health, he gave God thanks. Then said he again, it was told his maister that somebody was sick, or else they would not eat flesh in Lent. Unto whom Freebairn made answer, that his[Pg 20] wife was with child, and longed for a piece of a pig, and if he could get some for her he would. Then departed his landlord's man home again." There are nearly two long columns more about this affair, or about as much as would fill four or five of our pages, Freebairn, having been first brought before the bishop, Stokesley, was, after examination, sent by him along with the pig openly through the streets to the house of Sir Roger Chomley, the recorder, in the Old Bailey; the recorder not being at home, he was lodged for the night in the Compter; the next day, which was Saturday, he was brought before the mayor and his brethren in Guildhall, and by them he was sentenced to stand on the following Monday on the pillory in Cheapside, "with the one half of the pig on the one shoulder, and the other half on the other." "Then," continues the account, "spake the wife of the said Freebairn unto the mayor and the bench, desiring that she might stand there, and not he, for it was long of her and not of him. After this they took a satin list, and tied it fast about the pig's neck, and made Freebairn to carry it hanging on his shoulder until he came unto the Compter of the Poultry, from whence he came." Freebairn's wife then applied to Cromwell, taking with her "an honest woman, the wife of one Michael Lobley, which was well acquainted with divers in the Lord Cromwell's house;" Cromwell sent for the mayor; and, although what passed between them is not known, the result was that the poor man was set at large upon his own recognisance of twenty pounds, without being exhibited in the pillory surmounted by the pig. "But," it is added, "shortly after that he was delivered out of this his trouble, Maister Garter, of whom we have spoken before, being his landlord, warned him out of his house; so that in four years after he could not get another, but was constrained to be within other good folks', to his great hindrance and undoing."

Lord Cromwell's house, to which Mrs. Freebairn repaired on this occasion, stood on the site of the present Hall of the Company of Drapers, on the north side of Throgmorton Street. It was a magnificent structure,[Pg 21] which he erected in the earlier portion of his career of court favour, when he was as yet only Sir Thomas Cromwell, and Master of the Jewel-House. Yet even then some parts of his procedure, at least, were sufficiently energetic and summary, if we may credit an anecdote recorded by Stow. "This house," writes the antiquary in his 'Survey of London,' "being finished, and having some reasonable plot of ground left for a garden, he caused the pales of the gardens adjoining to the north part thereof on a sudden to be taken down, twenty-two foot to be measured forthright into the north of every man's ground, a line there to be drawn, a trench to be cast, a foundation laid, and an high brick wall to be builded. My father had a garden there, and there was a house standing close to his south pale: this house they loosed from the ground, and bare upon rollers into my father's garden twenty-two foot ere my father heard thereof: no warning was given him, nor other answer, when he spake to the surveyors of that work, but that their master, Sir Thomas, commanded them so to do: no man durst go to argue the matter, but each man lost his land; and my father paid his whole rent, which was six shillings eight-pence the year, for that half which was left. Thus much of mine own knowledge have I thought good to note, that the sudden rising of some men causeth them to forget themselves." This way which Cromwell took of clearing a space about him may be regarded as in keeping with his profession of a levelling reformer, and with his practice as the puller down of monastic establishments and the blower up of old supremacies.

But in one important respect, at any rate, Cromwell did not, after his elevation, forget himself. The old accounts bear the strongest testimony to his grateful remembrance and recognition in the height of his greatness of every person that had done him a service or a kindness in his days of obscurity and poverty. The old play makes this a prominent part of his character. Fox has various stories in proof of the same thing. "It is commonly seen," he observes, "that men advanced once[Pg 22] from base degree to ample dignities do rise also with fortune into such insolency and exaltation of mind, that not only they forget themselves what they were, but also cast out of remembrance all their old friends and former acquaintance which have been to them before beneficial. From which sort of men how far the courteous condition of this Christian earl did differ, by divers examples it may appear. As, by a certain poor woman keeping some time a victualling house about Hounslow, to whom the said Lord Cromwell remained in debt for certain old reckonings to the sum of forty shillings. It happened that the Lord Cromwell, with Cranmer Archbishop of Canterbury, riding through Cheapside, towards the Court, in turning his eye over the way, and there espying this poor woman brought now in need and misery, eftsoons caused her to be called unto him: who being come, after certain questions asked of her if she were not such a woman, and dwelling in such a place, at last, he demanded if he were not behind for a certain payment of money between him and her. To whom she, with reverent obeisance, confessed that he ought her money for a certain old reckoning which was yet unpaid, whereof she stood now in great necessity, but never durst call upon him, nor could come at him for to require her right. Then the Lord Cromwell, sending the poor woman home to his house, and one of his servants withal that the porter should let her in, after his return from the court not only discharged the debt which he ought but also gave her a yearly pension of four pounds and a livery every year while she lived." It is to be supposed that he had quite forgotten the debt till the circumstance was recalled to his mind by the sight of the woman. As for the fear which kept her from asking for her money, it is probably to be set down not to any special reputation which Cromwell had for disregarding such just claims, but to the insolence and tyranny with which the poorer classes and the bulk of the community were generally treated at this period by the rich and powerful. On another occasion, when Cromwell was sitting at dinner, in the king's palace at[Pg 23] Sheen, now Richmond, along with other lords of the council with whom he had come thither to examine certain monks charged with having denied the royal supremacy, "it chanced him," Fox tells us, "to spy afar off a certain poor man, which there served to sweep their cells and cloister, and to ring the bells. Whom, when the Lord Cromwell had well advised,[2] he sent for the poor man to come unto him, and, before all the table, most lovingly and friendly calling him by his name, took him by the hand and asked how he did, with many other good words; and turning therewith to the lords, 'My lords,' quoth he, 'see you this poor man? This man's father hath been a great friend to me in my necessity, and hath given me many a meal's meat.' Then said he unto the poor man, 'Come unto me, and I will provide for thee, and thou shalt not lack so long as I live.' Such as there were present, and saw and heard the same, report it to be true." The existence of such stories is at all events an evidence of the popular impression of what manner of man Cromwell was; nor is their probability contradicted by any thing that we really know of his conduct and character; with all his thorough-going and high-handed mode of proceeding when he had an object to compass upon which he had set his heart, there is every reason to believe that he was a high-spirited and kind-hearted as well as a resolute and very able man.

But the most famous of all the stories told of his remembrance of his old friends in his new estate, is that of the Florentine merchant Francesco Frescobaldo. It makes a principal figure in the old play, where the Italian, there called Friskyball, is one of the leading dramatis personæ, and his connexion with Cromwell a main part of the plot. It was probably first told by the Italian novelist Bandello, from whose book, which he refers to by the grave title of Historia Italica, Fox has translated it. The substance of it is, that Frescobaldo, who had frequently visited and resided in England, was one day in Florence applied to for alms by a young[Pg 24] Englishman, whom, partly for the sake of his country, partly from being taken by his engaging appearance and manners, he relieved with great liberality; that the generous Italian afterwards met with misfortunes and lost nearly all he had in the world; that he then came over to London in the hope of recovering some old debts due to him in this country; and that he was accidentally seen in the street by Cromwell, now the greatest man in England, who instantly alighted from his horse, took the stranger in his arms to the man's infinite amazement, declared that he was the poor young Englishman to whom Frescobaldo, who could hardly be brought to remember the incident, had shown so bountiful a heart and hand many long years ago; and, taking him to his house, there installed him as his chief friend, and by his influence and authority soon compelled all his debtors to pay him to the uttermost farthing. "And during all this time," concludes the story, "Frescobaldo continually lodged in the house of the Lord Cromwell, who ever gave him such entertainment as he had right well deserved, and oftentimes moved him to abide in England, offering him the loan of 60,000 ducats for the space of four years, if he would continue and make his bank in London. But Frescobaldo, who desired to return into his country, and there quietly to continue the rest of his life, with the great favour of the Lord Cromwell, after many thanks for his high and noble entertainment, departed towards his desired home: where, richly arriving he gave himself quietly to live. But this wealth he small time enjoyed; for in the first year of his return he died."

Cromwell's last elevation, to the earldom of Essex and the office of Lord High Chamberlain of England, seemed designed only to make the precipice from which he was to be thrown down the higher. On the last day of the same year, 1539, in which these honours were conferred upon him, Anne of Cleves landed at Dover, having been selected on his recommendation by Henry to be his new queen, in the room of Jane Seymour, whom he had lost more than two years before. The success, so[Pg 25] far, of the policy by which he had thus made a protégée of his own the wife of his sovereign, proved his ruin. Other minor causes concurred in strengthening the fury of the storm that overtook him; but it was the disgust on Henry's part by which this marriage was immediately followed that lost him the royal favour, and left him to destruction. So sagacious a man had not been unvisited by occasional apprehensions that the airy fabric of his fortunes might some time or other be blown down still more suddenly than it had arisen; but the catastrophe came at last with an instantaneousness for which he probably had not been prepared. On the morning of the 10th of June, 1540, he appeared in his place in the House of Lords as usual; at three o'clock in the afternoon he was arrested by the Duke of Norfolk, as he sat at the council table, on a charge of high treason. The particular acts of which he was accused were acts of excess in the exercise of his various high powers, of many of which he was no doubt guilty; he was besides charged with having protected heretics and heretical opinions, which there is no question that he had also done to a considerable extent; but when it was affirmed that on one occasion he had declared his readiness to strike a dagger into the heart of any man who should oppose the Reformation, were it the king himself, it is probable that words were imputed to him which he had never used. The means, or pretences, however, were of little consequence; his destruction, in whatever way it might be brought about, was resolved upon. The worst stain upon Cromwell's memory is his having about a year before his fall induced parliament to pass a bill of attainder for high treason against Margaret Countess of Salisbury (the mother of Cardinal Pole), upon which she was eventually executed without ever having been brought to trial. This iniquitous precedent was now applied in his own case: the bill of attainder was quickly and without difficulty carried through the two houses—no member of either, so far as is known, venturing to speak in vindication of the accused, except only his chief friend Cranmer, who uttered a few timid[Pg 26] words in his behalf on the first reading of the bill, but voted for it on the second and the third readings. He lay for about six weeks in the Tower, during which he in vain repeatedly importuned the capricious and hard-hearted tyrant whom he had so long and zealously served. "Consider," he concludes one of his letters preserved by Burnet, "that I [am] a most woeful prisoner, ready to take the death when it shall please God and your majesty; and yet the frail flesh inciteth me continually to call to your Grace for mercy and grace for mine offences. And thus Christ save, preserve, and keep you. Written at the Tower, this Wednesday the last of June, with the heavy heart and trembling hand of your Highness's most heavy and most miserable prisoner, and poor slave, Thomas Cromwell. Most gracious prince, I cry for mercy, mercy, mercy!" Another, which he appears to have written when he was first committed to the Tower, is in a strain still more imploring. "Most gracious king and most merciful sovereign," it begins, "Your most humble, most obeysand, and most bounden subject, and most lamentable servant and prisoner, prostrate at the feet of your most excellent majesty, have heard your pleasure by the mouth of your comptroller, that I should write to your most excellent Highness such things as I thought meet to be written, considering my most miserable state and condition. For the which your most abundant goodness, benignity, and licence, the immortal God, three and one, reward your majesty." He then goes on to protest his innocence of the charge of high treason with extraordinary vehemence. "As I ever," he says, "have had love to your majesty's person, life, prosperity, health, wealth, joy, and comfort,..... God so help me in this mine adversity, and confound me if ever I thought the contrary..... If it were in my power, as it is in God's, to make your majesty to live ever young and prosperous, God knoweth I would.... Should any faction, or any affection to any point, make me a traitor to your majesty, then all the devils in hell confound me, and the vengeance of God light upon me if I should once have thought it.... I would to Christ I had obeyed[Pg 27] your often most gracious, grave counsels and advertisements, then it had not been with me as now it is. Yet our Lord, if it be his will, can do with me as he did with Susan, who was falsely accused.... If I would not....willingly die for your comfort, I would I were in hell, and I would I should receive a thousand deaths." All this may not be thought very dignified; but it seems to betray strength of conviction if not strength of character, and rather an excessive ardour of temperament than that cold Machiavelism and absence of all principle which is imputed to Cromwell by the Romish writers. He went to his death in that perplexing manner of which we have several other examples in this reign, leaving the true character and meaning of his whole life and conduct uncertain and disputable if we were to attempt to make it out only from his dying words. He was beheaded on Tower Hill on the 28th of July, and in a speech which he made on the scaffold, after thanking God for having appointed him such a death for his offences, and remarking that he had been a great traveller in the world, and, being but of a base degree, had been called to great estate, and since coming thereunto had offended his prince, for which he heartily asked him forgiveness, he added, "And now I pray you that be here to bear me record, I die in the Catholic faith, not doubting in any article of my faith, no, nor doubting in any sacrament of the Church. Many hath slandered me, and reported that I have been a bearer of such as have maintained evil opinions, which is untrue; but I confess, that, like as God by his holy spirit doth instruct us in the truth, so the devil is ready to seduce us, and I have been seduced; but bear me witness that I die in the Catholic faith of the Holy Church." It seems hardly possible to interpret these expressions as meaning any thing else than that he had at one time held certain heretical opinions which he now renounced; if not this, what did he mean by saying that he had been seduced, but that he now died in the Catholic faith? Nevertheless Burnet, although he confesses that, "by what he spoke at his death, he left it much doubted of what religion he died,"[Pg 28] insists that it is certain he was a Lutheran. "The term Catholic faith," Burnet goes on, "used by him in his last speech, seemed to make it doubtful; but that was then used in England in its true sense, in opposition to the novelties of the see of Rome.... So that his profession of the Catholic faith was strangely perverted, when some from thence concluded that he died in the communion of the Church of Rome. But his praying in English, and that only to God through Christ, without any of those tricks that were used when those of that church died, showed he was none of theirs."


[1] Stoops, or large wooden wine-cans.

[2] Considered.

[Pg 29]


John Howard, Duke of Norfolk, perished at Bosworth Field in the year 1485, bravely fighting for Richard III. Being attainted by the first parliament of Henry VII., all his great estates and property of every kind were forfeited to the crown. His son Thomas, who had been created Earl of Surrey during his father's life-time (in the year 1483, and by Richard III.), was also in the battle of Bosworth Field; and, after fighting valiantly, and being severely wounded, he was taken prisoner. The earl was also attainted; he was thrown into the Tower, and was for some time thought to be in imminent danger of losing his head. He lay in close prison more than three years, but was liberated and restored to the earldom of Surrey in 1489. He had conciliated Henry VII. by his prudent and cautious behaviour. When re-admitted at court, he rapidly rose in the good graces of the politic sovereign. His son, Lord Thomas Howard, was allowed to marry, about the year 1495, the[Pg 30] Lady Anne Plantagenet, youngest daughter to Edward IV., to whom, when only a child, he had been affianced at the beginning of the reign of Richard III. By this marriage the Lord Thomas Howard had four children, who are said to have all died young. His wife, the Lady Anne, died in 1512 or 1513,[3] the date being uncertain, and a very short time after her decease the Lord Thomas married the Lady Elizabeth, daughter to Edward Stafford duke of Buckingham, the son and successor of the unfortunate duke of that name who was beheaded for insurrection and treason in the time of Richard III. When he so hurriedly contracted this second marriage, the Lord Thomas was forty years old, the bride scarcely fifteen. But there was another circumstance which cast a gloom over this hurried marriage: the Lady Elizabeth was tenderly attached to the young Earl of Westmoreland, and was on the point of being married to him when the richer and far more powerful Howard demanded her hand, and induced her weak father to break off the previous match. From this marriage proceeded Henry, the eldest son (the poet, and the subject of the present memoir), Thomas, who afterwards became Viscount Bindon, and Mary, who married Henry Fitzroy duke of Richmond.

Thomas the restored Earl of Surrey continued to[Pg 31] prosper under Henry VII., and was repeatedly employed in cases of emergency by that king, to whose despotic and rapacious system of government he was exceedingly submissive. On the accession of Henry VIII. he continued in favour at court; and in February 1514, as a reward for his great victory obtained over the Scots at Flodden Field, in September, 1513, he was created Duke of Norfolk, his son Thomas, the father of the poet, being at the same time created Earl of Surrey. This duke had the good fortune to die in his bed in 1524, before Henry VIII. plunged into blood. He had been lord high treasurer as well as earl marshal. On his decease the father of the poet succeeded to the dukedom and to the high offices which his father had held. When the tyranny began, he, as much as any great man living, flattered the tyrant and aided him in his deeds. The date of the poet's birth is not known. It is said to have been in 1515 or 1516, or two or three years after the battle of Flodden Field. But others assign a still more recent and less probable date; and this difference, which exists even among professed heralds and genealogists, is a pretty convincing proof that the date is very doubtful and uncertain. Doubts are also entertained as to the place of his birth; but the probability is, that he was born at Framlingham Castle, in Suffolk. Nearly at the same time (or, as we are disposed to believe, somewhat later), that he came into the world, which he afterwards described as a place which

"But serves us for a stage to play
Our tragedies upon,"

was born that Henry Fitzroy and natural son of Henry VIII. who subsequently became the poet's brother-in-law. According to several concurrent traditions, the two boys were educated and brought up together, and thus contracted a friendship which lasted till death. A minute search into documents seems to prove that they could not have lived much together until Surrey was[Pg 32] fourteen or fifteen years old;[4] but there is nothing to disprove the belief that they might have met frequently before that time, and have played together as thoughtless happy boys at Windsor. Nay, if we are to believe Surrey's own words in one of his poems (and the passage is as much entitled to be taken in an autobiographical sense as other verses which have been so interpreted, and which they do not in reality contradict), he certainly spent some of his boyish or childish years with Henry Fitzroy in the place which had so long been the residence of the poetical James I. of Scotland. The passage is this:—

——"Proud Windsor, where I, in lust and joy,
With a king's son, my childish years did pass
In greater feast than Priam's son of Troy."

This is a distinct statement from that contained in another passage in the same poem, which has been cited as a proof that they were young men before they met at Windsor Castle, in

"Those large green courts, where we were wont to rove,
With eyes cast up unto the Maiden Tower,
With easy sighs, such as men draw in love."

But there is no inconsistency or contradiction in the two passages: they may have passed some time together, and have studied together at Windsor as boys, and have met there and lived there afterwards as youths. We know that the king's natural son was sent to Sheriff Hutton, in Yorkshire, when he was about six years old; but we do not know how long or how short a time he stayed there; and although Surrey went to live with his father at Kenninghall, in Norfolk, when he was about eight years old, we have nothing to show that he constantly resided there during the rest of his boyhood. Dr. Nott, his laborious but somewhat dull and pedantic biographer, who loves to weave dark cobwebs over tradition, treats the subject as if there were no travelling in[Pg 33] those days for a noble, or even for a princely boy. The king being exceedingly fond of his son was likely to have him frequently in the neighbourhood of the court, and to look out for a companion and playmate for him of his own age; and where could he suit himself better than in the young, noble, and promising Howard? Wherever the poet alludes to Henry Fitzroy, it is as the dear friend and playmate of early life. In 1525, when he is said to have been only in his tenth or eleventh year, Henry Fitzroy was created Earl of Nottingham and Duke of Richmond and Somerset, and ample revenues were allotted to him to maintain a household or little court.[5] Great care was taken of his education; his father, the king, prided himself on his own learning, and Cardinal Wolsey, who had an ardent and sincere love of literature, was his god-father. As he grew up, he became master of several languages, and attained to an excellent taste in polite literature. Similar pains were taken in the education of the young Surrey, who counted among his kinsmen Bouchier Lord Berners, the translator of Froissart's Chronicles; Thomas Lord Stafford, who wrote in verse, and was the cause of the publication of the 'Mirror for Magistrates;' Edward Vere, Earl of Oxford, who was a poet; Lord Morley, who was conversant with Italian literature, and published some translations from Petrarca; George Boleyn (afterwards Lord Rochford), brother to Anne Boleyn, who wrote songs and sonnets, and to one or two other noblemen who were distinguished by their literary acquirements. As a boy, Surrey was noted for the quickness of his natural parts, and for the progress he had made in his studies. Anthony à Wood, a pleasant gossip, but a bad historical authority where his assertions are not supported by other evidence, says that Surrey was sent to complete his education at Oxford, and that it was probable the Duke of Richmond (Henry Fitzroy) accompanied him thither.[Pg 34] There is not the shadow of a proof that either of these young men ever studied either at Oxford or at Cambridge, either singly or together. From the evidence of Surrey's poems, we are inclined to believe that they completed their studies together at Windsor (to which fair place Surrey so frequently alludes), leading a happy life among

"The stately seats, the ladies bright of hue,
The dances short, long tales of sweet delights."

On the 13th of February, 1532, when Surrey, according to the date usually (but, as we fancy, incorrectly) given to his birth, was only sixteen or seventeen years old, he was contracted to the Lady Frances Vere, daughter of John earl of Oxford. The marriage was to take place on or before the feast of the Pentecost next ensuing; and it is believed to have been solemnized at the time agreed upon. Only a few months after this marriage Surrey visited France in company with the Duke of Richmond, and was present at the interview which took place at Boulogne between Francis I. and Henry VIII., the latter sovereign being accompanied by Anne Boleyn, who was not yet his wife. Anne Boleyn was niece to Surrey's father, the Duke of Norfolk, who laboured without conscience or delicacy to bring about her aggrandizement, and who, in furtherance of her elevation to the throne, behaved both basely and barbarously to Cardinal Wolsey and to Sir Thomas More. After the interview between his father and the French king, the Duke of Richmond went to Paris, whither his friend Surrey appears to have accompanied him. Surrey, however, could not have stayed long in that capital, for at Anne Boleyn's coronation, on Whitsuntide, 1533, he bore one of the state swords in the procession. In the month of August of the same year the Duke of Richmond was recalled by the king from Paris to London; and a few months after this he was married to the Lady Mary Howard, Surrey's only sister, through the intervention, it is said, of Anne Boleyn, who had received such important services from her uncle the Duke[Pg 35] of Norfolk. On account of their own youth, and the still tenderer age of their respective brides, neither Surrey nor Richmond lived with their wives until 1535. The intervening year was spent wholly or in part by the two young men at Windsor, riding and hunting, rendering themselves perfect in military exercises, and making half Platonic and half troubadour love to ladies that were not their brides, but more accessible than they. There was a good deal of this nonsense at the time, and it may possibly have been innocent enough, or at least free from any direct guilt; but Doctor Nott commits a great error in challenging continence and morality as characteristics of this age. Years after this happy residence at Windsor, and when Richmond was in his grave, and Surrey no longer a happy man, he wrote the following lines, which give a lively picture of the kind of life he had led at that royal seat, and which are at the same time a good specimen of his poetical powers. The amusements were many.

"The palm-play, where, despoiled for the game,
With dazed eyes oft we by gleams of love,
Have miss'd the ball, and got sight of our dame,
To bait her eyes, which kept the leads above.
The gravel'd ground, with sleeves tied on the helm,
On foaming horse, with swords and friendly hearts;
With cheer, as though one should another whelm,
Where we have fought and chased oft with darts.
With silver drops the meads yet spread for ruth;
In active games of nimbleness and strength,
Where we did strain, trained with swarms of youth,
Our tender limbs, that yet shot up in length.
The secret groves, which oft we made resound
Of pleasant plaint, and of our ladies' praise;
Recording soft what grace each one had found,
What hope of speed, what dread of long delays.
The wild forest, the clothed holts with green;
With reins availed, and swiftly-breathed horse,
With cry of hounds, and merry blasts between,
Where we did chase the fearful hart of force.[Pg 36]
The void walls eke that harbour'd us each night:
Wherewith, alas! revive within my breast
The sweet accord, such sleeps as yet delight;
The pleasant dreams, the quiet bed of rest,
The secret thoughts, imparted with such trust;
The wanton talk, the divers change of play;
The friendship sworn, each promise kept so just,
Wherewith we past the winter nights away.
And with this thought the blood forsakes the face;
The tears berain my cheeks of deadly hue:
The which, as soon as sobbing sighs, alas!
Up-supped have, thus I my plaint renew:
'O place of bliss! renewer of my woes!
Give me account, where is my noble fere?
Whom in thy walls thou did'st each night enclose;
To other lief; but unto me most dear.'
Echo, alas! that doth my sorrow rue,
Returns thereto a hollow sound of plaint.
Thus I alone, where all my freedom grew,
In prison pine, with bondage and restraint;
And with remembrance of the greater grief,
To banish the less, I find my chief relief."

In 1535 Surrey and his young wife kept house together; he apparently having left his friend the Duke of Richmond still at Windsor. In March, 1536, Surrey's eldest son, Thomas, was born. With a superstition common to the time, he called in an astrologer to cast the child's nativity. According to a calculation which has been preserved, the stars foreboded that the infant would suffer sorrow and misfortunes, and that his father would come to an untimely end. But we suspect this bit of astrology to have been written on what Gibbon calls the safe side of prophecy, that is to say, after the event; for the paid star-gazers always predicted greatness and happiness to such as could pay them well, and no man of that craft would show such a nativity to such a personage as Surrey. Troubles, however, awaited the earl on his first entrance into public life. Sir Thomas More was proved a true prophet in regard to the speedy downfall of Anne Boleyn. On May-day, 1536, the king pub[Pg 37]licly showed his displeasure and rage against her at Greenwich, and the next day she was met upon the river by her uncle the Duke of Norfolk, Audley the Chancellor, and Thomas Cromwell, who informed her that she was accused of adultery, and who conveyed her to the Tower. From the moment that Norfolk perceived that his niece, whom he had helped to make queen, was falling from her high estate, he strove to do away the evil impressions which might be made on the king's mind by his near relationship to Anne, and by the aid he had given her, with a great display of zeal for the king's honour, and of forwardness in taking part in all proceedings against his unhappy and at least imprudent niece.[6] In his quality of earl marshal he could scarcely avoid residing at her trial; but he did more than this, and much that he did was gratuitous labour, or was undertaken under base personal fears of the king's anger or suspicion. These great men, who had helped to build up a despotism, now felt that none of their heads could be safe under it, unless they were subservient in all things to the tyrant. On the 15th of May Anne Boleyn was brought to trial in Westminster Hall, before seven and twenty right noble peers, who had been selected by the king as men sure to give the death sentence he wanted, in order that he might marry Jane Seymour—which he did the very day after the execution of Anne. Not only did her uncle the Duke of Norfolk sit upon this trial, but Anne's own father was one of her judges! Norfolk presided as lord high steward; and his son the poetical Surrey sate under him as his representative as earl marshal. Norfolk, as president of the court, pronounced the iniquitous and brutal sentence, by which she was either to be burned alive on the green in the Tower, or beheaded, as the king in his pleasure should think fit. Biographers, assuming from his poetry[Pg 38] that Surrey was a person of lively sensibility, and of a highly generous nature, sympathise with the grief he must have felt on this occasion. But they can produce nothing to show the existence of any such grief; and the poet, like his father, continued to be the assiduous and devoted courtier of Henry VIII., and he certainly took part in many transactions which ill accord with the gentle spirit of poetry; not bearing in mind the sentiment he expresses in verse—

"Such craft returns to thine own harm, and doth thyself defile."

About a month after the execution of Anne Boleyn Surrey's uncle the Lord Thomas Howard was attainted of high treason and committed to the Tower, for having married the Lady Margaret Douglas without the king's permission. Although this lady was niece to the king, there was then no act of parliament which made the marriage criminal; but Henry had set himself above all law, and Lords and Commons were now ready to take his will for law. The Lord Thomas was not brought to the scaffold; he languished in the Tower for nearly two years, and then and there died, of a broken heart, say some, but according to others of poison, administered to him as the easiest means of dissolving his marriage with the king's niece. That lady, who had been shut up in prison, was liberated as soon as her husband was dead. She was afterwards married to the Earl of Lennox, and by him was mother to the ill-starred Lord Darnley, husband to Mary Queen of Scots, and father to our James I. These tyrannous proceedings were enough to make all great men tremble, and to engender in them subserviency, trickery, and cunning; and they lasted until scarcely any honour or spirit was left in the English aristocracy.

The gentle and accomplished Duke of Richmond was one of the few persons who attended the execution of Anne Boleyn on the green within the tower. He did not survive that event more than two months and three days, dying on the 22nd of July, 1536, leaving Surrey's[Pg 39] sister a very handsome, young, and childless widow. On this occasion the poet's grief appears to have been certain, and sincere, and deep. He frequently recalls the memory of his departed friend in his poems. According to the old and well-known story, it was some time after losing his dear friend that Surrey, leaving his young wife and child at home, went upon an extensive tour to the continent, and signalized himself in Italy by maintaining in tilts and tournaments against all comers the superiority of the charms of the fair Geraldine over those of all womankind. There is more than one point in this old story which must ever remain endeared to the poet and the painter; but the historian and biographer must, we fear, discard the whole narrative as fabulous. It is proved almost beyond the reach of a doubt that Surrey could not have been absent from England, except perhaps for a month or two during the period assigned to his extensive tour and long residence at Venice, Florence, Milan, &c.; and indeed that he never was in Italy at all. Although he names the city of Florence in one of his poems (which is the only one in which he names Geraldine) as the birth-place of the ancestors of his enigmatical mistress, the Lady Geraldine, he merely names it; and in all his writings there is not one descriptive passage which can be referred to Italy, or to any part of it—there is no allusion either to the touching remains of ancient, or the glorious productions of modern art, with which that beautiful peninsula was then crowded. Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael had been dead only a few years; Michael Angelo was alive and at the height of his glory, and Correggio, and Parmegiano, and Titian were flourishing, and the subject of every cultivated Italian's discourse and praise. It was utterly impossible for any one to make even a hurried journey through Italy without seeing the works of these immortal masters, and if they had been seen by a poet like Surrey they must have found some mention in his writings. Nor could Surrey have visited the native country of Petrarca, his favourite poet, without noticing the fact anywhere, and without devoting a line to the place of his birth, or to[Pg 40] Arquà (near Venice), where he died, and where his remains were lying in a remarkable tomb. No poet could have seen the mountains and valleys, the lakes and ruins, and the other grand and beautiful features of Italian scenery without leaving some allusion to them—something to denote that he had seen them, and had been impressed by them. Nor could a man like Surrey, illustrious by birth and still more by genius and personal accomplishments, have lived in the great cities of Italy without attracting the notice of the Italians of that most literary and poetical age. Yet there is not to be found so much as the name or title of Surrey mentioned by any contemporary Italian writer. As for the love-challenges and tournaments, they had never been much in vogue in that peninsula, and they had entirely gone out of fashion long before the time of our noble poet. If he had ever issued such challenges the Italians would have laughed at him, and his eccentricities would have been recorded both in prose and in mock heroic verse. As Doctor Nott has shown, the simple truth appears to be, that the gossiping Anthony à Wood, who was the first to relate this marvellous tour as an authentic piece of biography, took the whole story from the romance of 'Jack Wilton,' written by Nash, and published in 1594, many years after Surrey's death, altering the romance where it suited his purpose, and suppressing some incidents and adventures (such as Surrey's being engaged in a dishonourable intrigue and thrown into prison at Venice) which would not have suited the romantic texture he was weaving, or have raised the character of the noble poet whom Anthony was eulogizing. Nash's romance, which is full of the most palpable anachronisms, contains the tilts and tournaments and challenges in Italy, the visit at Florence to the very chamber in which Geraldine was born, and the scene at the emperor's court in Germany, where that mighty magician Cornelius Agrippa gratified the poet with a sight of his fair Geraldine in a magic mirror, as she lay on a couch, mourning for his absence: all these things are to be found in 'Jack Wilton,' and are not to be traced to any other source. Walter Scott[Pg 41] has turned the striking story of the mirror to good account. But Nash has another incident which is not so well known. At an earlier stage of Surrey's travels, he makes Surrey acquainted with Erasmus, and makes Cornelius Agrippa conjure up the ghost of Cicero, in order that the earl and Erasmus may hear him recite his oration for Roscius, which the said ghost does "with such fervent exaltation of spirits, and such soul-stirring gestures," as fill the auditors with amazement.

Who the fair Geraldine was, or whether she was anything more than an ideal mistress, invented in imitation of the Laura of Petrarca, or the Beatrice of Dante, for the mere purposes of poetry (a wife being considered too real and homely for such an end), has never yet been ascertained satisfactorily, although it has been usual to give that character a real existence in the person of a beautiful Irish lady—the Lady Elizabeth Fitzgerald, more commonly called the Lady Elizabeth Garrat. This lady's family were sometimes called the Fitzgeralds, and sometimes the Geraldines. She was daughter to Gerald Fitzgerald, ninth earl of Kildare, whose ancestors were said (without any evidence to support the assertion, and a good deal to contradict it) to have descended from the Geraldi of Florence. This lady was about eight years old when Nash brings her out in the magic mirror languishing for love of Surrey, and when he makes Surrey challenge the chivalry of Italy in support of her claim to unrivalled beauty. About the year 1542, when this lady was about fourteen years old, she became one of the ladies of the chamber to the Princess Mary, afterwards Queen Mary. In the following year, when she could not have been much more than fifteen years old, she was married to Sir Anthony Brown, who was sixty. On Sir Anthony's death, in 1549, she became the third wife of Henry Clinton earl of Lincoln, whom she survived.[7] Surrey,[Pg 42] who was married to the Lady Frances Vere in 1535, may have become acquainted at court with this fair young Irishwoman in 1542 or 1543, and may have conceived for her a Platonic or romantic affection, but the facts are not mentioned by any contemporary, nor are they borne out by Surrey's own writings; and although the famous sonnet may be made applicable to this lady, it is exceedingly doubtful whether any of the other passages in Surrey's poems can be at all considered as referring to her. It seems even probable that some of his amorous verses were really addressed to his own fair young wife, or intended as descriptions of her charms. But that which has been generally taken for passion may, in almost every case, be referred to an imitation of the matter as well as the manner of Petrarca. Surrey appears to have been busy in England during the period fixed for his fabulous travels. In May, 1536, he was present at the trial of Anne Boleyn, and in the month of October of the same year he was knighted by the king at St. James's. He held some offices at court, and when in the country he appears to have been occupied in building a celebrated mansion called Mount Surrey, near the city of Norwich. In the month of October, 1537, when the queen, Jane Seymour, escaped a worse fate at the hands of her capricious and tyrannical husband, by dying after an accouchement, the Earl of Surrey was appointed one of the chief mourners. He is to be traced as resident in England from this date down to the end of the year 1540; and during the interval a young family was growing up around him, and he lived, as far as evidence or probability goes, very affectionately with his wife. At the beginning of the year 1540, when Henry married the Lady Anne of Cleves, Surrey greatly distinguished himself in the jousts and tournaments which were held on that occasion; and towards the close of that year he was[Pg 43] sent over to Calais with Lord Russel and the Earl of Southampton, to see that everything within the English pale was in a proper state of defence, as an attack was apprehended from the French king. But Surrey's stay was very short, for he was back at court before Christmas. In the autumn of 1541 he was appointed, conjointly with his father the Duke of Norfolk, Steward of the University of Cambridge.

In the course of this year the whole of the Howard family must have been thrown into more or less consternation by an uxorious revolution at court. Having put away the Lady Anne of Cleves as an unlovable and insupportable wife, the king, in the month of August, 1540, had married the pretty Lady Catherine Howard, who was niece to Surrey's father the duke of Norfolk. The king declared that he had never wived well until now: but in less than a year the dear Catherine was in the Tower, charged with incontinence before marriage and adultery after it. There was a driving and scrambling for evidence among all the members of the Howard family, and among all their servants and dependants: menials and gentlemen were put to the rack in order to extort confession, and the dowager duchess of Norfolk, the widow of the hero of Flodden field (in whose household the young Catherine had been brought up), was imprisoned, plundered, and tormented in an execrable manner, as were also her son the Lord William Howard, her daughter the Lady Bridgwater, and Lord William's wife. The old duchess-dowager behaved with honour and courage, but not so did other members of her family. The duke of Norfolk steered much the same course as he had previously done in the affairs of that other unhappy niece Anne Boleyn; and in servile letters to the king he deplored his calamity in being uncle to two such bad women. The right noble duke, in a letter which is still preserved, calls the old duchess "his ungracious mother-in-law," his sister Lady Bridgwater his "lewd sister," and speaks of his brother Lord William and of all the rest of the family that were in the Tower as flagrantly guilty, and altogether undeserving of mercy:[Pg 44] nay, he takes credit to himself for having been a principal informer against his hapless niece the Lady Catherine Howard, whose youthful indiscretions—if she had been really guilty of them, which is doubtful—were not punishable by any civil law, and whose guilt after her union with the king was only sustained by evidence extorted from some at the rack, and from others through dread of it. "Prostrate at your feet," says the duke to the tyrant, "I most humbly beseech your majesty to call to your remembrance that a great part of this matter is come to light by my declaration to your majesty."[8] As the Lady Catherine was not brought to a trial like the Lady Anne, his grace of Norfolk had not to pronounce sentence of death upon this niece, who was attainted by act of parliament without any examination, and in virtue of that attainder consigned to the block. Yet it should appear that the duke voted on that bill. Other members of the family were condemned to perpetual imprisonment, forfeiture of goods, and sequestration of estates during their lives; but the duke and his poetical son came off unscathed. Yet Norfolk's conduct only went to increase the fury and the strength of the merciless despot, and to pave the way to the scaffold for himself and his son whenever Henry might conceive suspicions, or take offence against anything they did or said. In April, 1542, two months after the execution of his fair kinswoman, Catherine Howard, the poet was made knight of the Garter.

But in the month of July of the same year he fell into disgrace, and incurred a painful imprisonment for having challenged John à Leigh, a gentleman of good family, lord of the manor of Stockwell in Middlesex, and a relation of his own, in consequence of some private quarrel, the real ground of which has never been discovered. He was committed to the Fleet Prison—a foul and pestiferous place at that time—and was there to remain during the king's pleasure, having two of his servants to attend upon him, but no friends suffered to resort to ban[Pg 45]quet with him. He did not bear his punishment with much equanimity. When he had been only a few days in prison he wrote a piteous letter to the Lords of the Council, pleading his youth and inexperience, "the fury of reckless youth," professing great penitence and submission, and imploring the lords to be a means with the king of obtaining his liberation from "this noisome prison, whose pestilent airs are not unlike to bring some alteration of health." He made several applications before his prayer was attended to. At last he was removed to Windsor on the 1st of August; and on the 5th of that month he was liberated, having entered into a recognizance of 10,000 marks not to offer any bodily displeasure, either by word or deed, or by himself, his servants, or any other at his procurement, to John à Leigh, esquire, or any of his. Immediately after his liberation he was sent to join his father, the Duke of Norfolk, who was invading Scotland with 20,000 men. This proved to be a very inglorious campaign, for Norfolk could scarcely penetrate a good day's march beyond the borders, nor stay on Scottish ground longer than eight days, at the end of which he savagely burned twenty villages and the town of Kelso (as many years before he had burned the town and beautiful old abbey of Jedburgh[9]), and then hastily retreated to Berwick. Surrey commemorated in one of his poems the fact of his seeing "Kelsal blaze." In every way it was an inglorious raid, for Henry VIII. and the duke of Norfolk were in close correspondence with a set of traitorous Scots lords, who had undertaken to betray their king, and who did betray him, and break his heart not long afterwards.

A few months after his return from Scotland Surrey was again in disgrace, being summoned, on the 1st of April, 1543, before the Privy Council, to answer for two[Pg 46] offences with which he had been charged—the one for having eaten meat in Lent-time contrary to the king's prohibition, the other for having "in a lewd and unseemly manner of walking," strolled about the streets of London by night, breaking the citizens' windows with stones discharged from a cross-bow. "Touching the eating of flesh," says the minute in the Privy Council book, "he alleged a licence; although he had not so secretly used the same as appertained; and touching the stone-bows, he could not deny that he had had very evil-doings therein, submitting himself therefore to such punishment as should be thought good: whereupon he was committed to the Fleet." The elaborate Dr. Nott takes a deep concern in this wild escapade, and justifies his hero in a manner unprecedented even among biographers. In introducing the subject, he calls it "a singular occurrence," which, he adds, "marks the romantic turn of Surrey's mind; and enables us to form some opinion as to the nature of his sentiments on the subject of religion." The doctor then gives the two charges, with Surrey's answer to them; but not thinking that answer, as recorded in the Privy Council book, enough for his purpose (and there is no other answer or pleading in existence), he turns over Surrey's poems, and takes a passage out of a bitter satire against the citizens of London, which the poet wrote in his spite at their having accused him, and condensing this passage, and turning it into prose, the doctor gives it as part of a defensive speech, delivered by the night-wandering and window-breaking earl to "my lords" of the privy council, not hesitating to introduce an abuse of "papal Rome," which does not exist in the satire, and which can hardly be wrung from it by any implication or forced meaning. In the satire, which is the worst thing Surrey ever wrote, being in fact not a half jocose poem, but a savage and utterly tasteless declamation, he says nothing about his "lewd and unseemly manner of walking" in the night, but declares that he was excited to the breaking of the citizens' windows by the dissolute life, the pride, envy, malice, sloth, gluttony, drunkenness, greed of lucre, and other[Pg 47] loathsome vices of the citizens: and that he thought, as sinful men are alarmed at "the fearful thunder-clap," so the citizens, startled out of their sluggard sleep by his cross-bow, might be moved to fear and repentance by the sudden rapping of his pebble-stones. But Doctor Nott, who does not appear to know or to suspect that Henry VIII. was no Protestant, that there were no declared Protestants, properly so called, at that time in England, that Protestants were burning at the stake, and that the noble Howards, one and all (with the exception of the widowed Duchess of Richmond), were strongly attached to the old religion, although the Duke of Norfolk and his son Surrey conformed with the will of the king, who was still the champion of all the great and distinctive dogmas of the Roman church, and aided him in despoiling the monastic orders and in persecuting such as (like Sir Thomas More) would not acknowledge the king's spiritual supremacy,—Dr. Nott will have it that the earl broke the windows of the citizens because they were unconverted Roman Catholics! If modes of faith had anything to do with the exploit, it is much more likely that Surrey became a window-breaker out of his hatred of the sacramentaries.[10] On the same day that he was brought before the Privy Council, there appeared in the same presence Thomas Wyatt the younger and young Pickering, who were charged with the same offences. They confessed to the charge about eating meat in Lent-time, pleading, as Surrey had done, that they had a licence—and licences or indulgences of this sort continued to be granted by the crown, as they had been granted before by the pope, long[Pg 48] after the Reformation, which was now in reality only beginning, had been carried out and completed[11]—but they stiffly denied the window-breaking with stones and cross-bows. Wyatt was sent to the Compter, and Pickering to the Porter's Lodge. The next day they were again called before the Council, and then, after some resistance, they confessed that they had been window-breakers; and thereupon they were both committed, not to the Fleet but to the Tower. Wyatt, who was son of Sir Thomas Wyatt, the poet and friend of Surrey, lost his head through an insane insurrection he made at the beginning of the reign of Queen Mary; but so far from being a champion of the Protestant cause, as Doctor Nott calls him, he was even at that distance of time a Papist. The best excuse to plead for all the three night-strollers and window-breakers, would be to say that it was some frolic of intoxication; and notwithstanding Surrey's solemn and savage satire, we are more than half disposed to believe that he and his friends Wyatt and Pickering had acted upon no other impulse than that which has animated some lordlings in our own day to break windows and wrench knockers from doors. Wyatt and Pickering were liberated on the 3rd of May, upon their entering into a recognizance of 200l. each for their good behaviour in time to come. How long Surrey remained a prisoner in the Fleet does not seem to be clearly ascertained; but it could not have been very long, for in the month of October of this same year, 1543, he was campaigning in France with Sir John Wallop. He gained great applause by his conduct at the siege of Landrecy, although that siege ended in a downright failure, and although the whole campaign was rather disgraceful than otherwise to the English, who were well-nigh losing all their artillery on their retreat to Calais. Surrey returned to England some time in November. Shortly after his return he took into his family, in the quality of a physi[Pg 49]cian, the learned and celebrated Hadrian Junius, who appears to have been introduced to him by the notorious bishop Bonner. He gave this scholar comfortable apartments in his mansion of Kenninghall, and allowed him a yearly pension of fifty angels. Junius appears to have acted as tutor to Surrey's sons, as well as physician to the whole family. In the month of July, 1544, when Henry took the field in France "like a very god of war," the vanguard of the army was commanded by the Duke of Norfolk, and Surrey held the office of Marshal of the Army. Boulogne was reduced after a two months' siege and the consumption of an incredible quantity of gunpowder; but there the glory of the campaign ended; and upon the king's departure for England jealousies and fierce quarrels broke out between Norfolk and the Earl of Hertford, who had risen rapidly in favours and power, as brother to Jane Seymour and uncle to Prince Edward, the heir apparent. Surrey behaved bravely, and was seriously wounded in one affair; but the campaign, like all the expeditions of Henry VIII. on the continent, was but a pompous parade, ending in downright failure. Both Surrey and his father, after leaving a weak garrison in Boulogne, were obliged to make a run of it from that place to the strong walls of Calais, being pursued by the Dauphin. Both father and son came over to England. Late in the summer of the following year Surrey again crossed over to Calais with 5000 men, and was there joined by 3000 more. To equip himself for this expedition he had been obliged to mortgage some property. His force was not sufficient to undertake any great enterprise, and there appears to have been no very good understanding between him and the officers serving under him or with him. The French were now attempting to recapture Boulogne. Surrey solicited for the command of that place with an earnestness which displeased the king. After much importunity he obtained that command in the month of September. He found Boulogne in a weak and almost helpless condition, and he soon made it strong and drove away most of the French that were beleaguering it. Even du Bellay and other French[Pg 50] writers of the time speak with admiration of his energy and activity, and great personal courage. Early in the spring of the following year, having sallied out of Boulogne, Surrey sustained a defeat near St. Etienne, a portion of his infantry being seized with a sudden panic, and flying off the field in shameful disorder. He remained at Boulogne some three months after this reverse, and he so little expected being recalled from the command that he requested the king to allow his wife to go over and join him. But towards the end of March Surrey learned from a friend at court that the Earl of Hertford, the enemy of his house, had been appointed to the supreme command of all the English territories in France. The friend at court, who was Secretary Paget, advised Surrey to conciliate Hertford by submissive behaviour, knowing well that the earl was now all-powerful. The Duke of Norfolk appears to have been submissive enough, for, sinking his family pride, he proposed to marry his daughter, the Duchess of Richmond, widow to the king's natural son, and Surrey's bosom friend, Henry Fitzroy, to Hertford's brother, Sir Thomas Seymour, who afterwards married Catherine Parr, the widow of Henry VIII., and who, during that marriage, is more than suspected of having aspired to the hand of the Princess Elizabeth, and to a seat upon, or by, the English throne. Hertford, who, as Duke of Somerset and Lord Protector under Edward VI., conceived such a dread of his brother's ambition and rivalry that he brought him to the scaffold, was very probably alarmed at the proposed match with the Duchess of Richmond, which, by giving his brother the support of the great House of Norfolk, might have made Lord Thomas Seymour more powerful than the Earl of Hertford. Yet, on the other hand, it has been surmised that Sir Thomas already entertained much higher matrimonial views, and was averse to match with the widow of the king's natural son. It appears that the Duchess of Richmond herself had no inclination whatever to the match proposed by her father, and, as she afterwards said very distinctly, recommended and urged upon her by her[Pg 51] brother Surrey, who "urged her to marry Sir Thomas Seymour, wishing her to endear herself so into the king's favour that she might the better bear rule, as others had done."[12]

There is nothing to show whether Surrey did or did not make other efforts to conciliate Hertford, or whether he did or did not solicit to hold an inferior command in the army in France. Hertford arrived at Calais in the month of April, and at the same time Surrey received the King's orders to return to England, being told that his Majesty wished to confer with him on the subject of some new fortifications which he had proposed making at Boulogne. But he had no sooner quitted that place, than the command was given to Lord Gray, his personal enemy, and the friend or creature of Hertford. Upon this usage Surrey appears to have broken out furiously against the whole house of Seymour, calling them perfidious men, mushrooms in nobility, and traitors to king and country. He is even said to have threatened them with the sure vengeance of the Howards as soon as the king should be no more; and as Surrey's temper appears to have been at all times rather violent and incautious, and as his provocation was exceedingly great, we may easily credit this assertion. The court and all the high places in England swarmed with spies and eaves-droppers; and there were everywhere men ready to promote their own interests by betraying even the closest confidence of friendship. Surrey was denounced to the king, and was soon lodged as a prisoner in Windsor Castle. His father the Duke of Norfolk, feeling that the wrath of Henry was to be disarmed only by abject submission, wrote a letter to the Lords of the Council, humbly entreating them to give the king thanks for having pleased so to advertise him of his foolish son's demeanour; expressing gladness that his son had behaved humbly and repentantly, and requesting that he might be severely treated, or "earnestly handled,"[Pg 52] in order to prevent his giving his Majesty any cause of discontent hereafter. This imprisonment in Windsor Castle must have been of short duration, for Surrey, who was not committed until the 11th or 12th of July, was at liberty in the month of August, and was then selected by the king, together with his father the Duke of Norfolk and Archbishop Cranmer, to receive at Hampton Court the French ambassador, who had been sent over to ratify the recently concluded peace. Shortly after this grand scene at Hampton Court, Surrey withdrew either to Framlingham Castle or to Kenninghall; and it appears to have been at this doubtful and perilous crisis that a violent quarrel broke out between him and his father the duke. These noble Howards were never a loving or united family. It is supposed that both father and son continued to express in their retirement and among their own household their hatred and contempt of the Seymours, and that these expressions were treacherously reported to the king, who was now languishing in sickness and in great pain, and in constant fear of death. Henry knowing well that Hertford, who would be in a manner the natural guardian of his young son, Prince Edward, was without influence among the high nobility, trembled at the consequences which might result from this declared and rancorous enmity of the Howards; and Hertford, who was constantly with the dying king, certainly believed that he must either strike in time, and by one great blow destroy the Duke of Norfolk and the Earl of Surrey, while Henry yet lived, or prepare to be destroyed by them as soon as he should be dead. Nor, if we consider the temper of the men and the state of parties at the time, can we for a moment doubt, that if the Seymours had not destroyed the Howards, they would themselves have been brought to the Tower and the scaffold. There were also men in the king's council, besides Cranmer and Lord Russel, who were thorough Protestants in their hearts, though forced by their interests and their fears to declare that the Reformation ought not to go farther than the king had been pleased to carry it; and these men were convinced that the[Pg 53] Howards and most of the old nobility wore not only opposed to any further extension of Church Reform, but also averse to much which had been done already in that respect. The Duke of Norfolk was indisputably a zealous Papist, and at the head of that religious party: Lord Hertford was the head of the extreme Protestant party, and perhaps by conviction, and certainly through interest, was disposed to convert the more than half Romish church of England into an essentially Protestant church. The first blow aimed by these Protestant Councillors was at the head of Bishop Gardiner, who was a near friend of the Duke of Norfolk, and one of the most determined Papists in England. Gardiner adroitly warded the blow, but he was driven from the council-board, and excluded by the King from the number of those appointed to be executors of his will and councillors to his infant son. At court Hertford concealed his ulterior views about religion, but in city and country he was regarded as the only man that could and would complete the Reformation. But for this religious feeling he would scarcely have had a party at all. There is no doubt that it was he that convinced the distempered Henry, that to remove Norfolk and his far more able and dangerous son, was a duty he owed, both to his successor Prince Edward, and to his people. The tyrant is less answerable for these last savage acts of his reign, than for any of the state crimes that had been previously committed; for his mind was distempered and weak as well as his body, and in the last stages of the proceedings against the Howards it may be doubted whether he really knew what Hertford and his council were doing.

On the 2nd of December Surrey was summoned from Kenninghall to appear again before the Privy Council, one Sir Richard Southwell, who had formerly professed himself his friend, having deposed "that he knew certain things of the Earl, that touched his fidelity to the King." Surrey's evil genius the Earl of Hertford presided at this meeting of the council, and with the exception of Wriothesly the Chancellor, who was friendly to the old religion, all the ministers and council present[Pg 54] appear to have been implacable enemies of the house of Howard. Surrey "vehemently affirmed himself a true man, desiring to be tried by justice, or else offering himself to fight in his shirt with Southwell. But the Lords for the present only committed them both."[13] We are not told to what prison Surrey and his accuser were sent in the first instance. When this startling news reached the Duke of Norfolk in the country, he wrote to his friend Bishop Gardiner at London to inquire into the extent of the danger. The Duke's letter was intercepted, and carried to the Privy Council, who thereupon summoned the Duke to appear immediately at court. Norfolk arrived in town on Sunday the 12th of December, when he was seized and sent straight to the Tower. And on the same day Surrey, having been again before the Privy Council, was committed as a traitor to the same dismal prison. Father and son were conveyed, the one by water, the other by land; and neither was aware of the fate of the other. From his dungeon Norfolk wrote to the King, "Undoubtedly I know not that I have offended any man, unless it be such as be angry with me for being quick against such as have been accused for Sacramentaries." [The thorough Protestants of the time, who had seen their friends and teachers burned for denying the real presence in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, were called Sacramentaries.] On Sunday night, immediately after the Duke's arrest, Southwell with Gates and Carew, two men practised in the art of seizure and confiscation, were sent into Norfolk and Suffolk to make sure of the furniture, money, and other moveable property of the Duke and Earl, and to terrify the females of their families, and their domestic servants, into confessions and disclosures that might be turned against the prisoners. Ever since the fall of Cardinal Wolsey this had been the usual and indeed unvaried manner of proceeding. The Duchess of Richmond at once declared that her brother Surrey was noted to be a rash man, and that notwithstanding her natural affection for her father, she would not hide or conceal anything she knew from his[Pg 55] Majesty's knowledge.[14] Surrey's wife, having several young children in her nursery, and being near her confinement, was left at Kenninghall; but the Duchess of Richmond and other ladies, together with the servants, were brought up to London, to be "travailed with by the Council," and then to make their depositions. The Duke's wife was to seek in another direction, for she was not living either at Framlingham or Kenninghall, but was residing by herself, and in a very humble way, at Redburne in Hertfordshire. It is said that she had never borne much love to her husband, and that she was not much concerned for her son. The Duchess, it will be remembered, was Lady Elizabeth Stafford, who had been forced by her father the Duke of Buckingham, to break her engagement with the young lord she loved, and to marry Norfolk, who was so much older than herself. In the year 1521, seven or eight years after her marriage with Norfolk, when her father the Duke was sacrificed to the suspicion and tyranny of Henry VIII., it was her husband that pronounced the death-sentence. In doing this Norfolk is said to have wept like a child. Yet previously to Buckingham's attainder and execution his son-in-law Norfolk is reported to have joined his enemies and to have intrigued against him. It is assumed that these things weighed heavily upon the mind of the Duchess of Norfolk, who, however, continued to live with her husband many years after they had occurred. She is described as a woman of violent passions, proud, jealous, suspicious, and revengeful; and the Duke is set down as an inconstant and ungenerous husband, who openly entertained as his favourite or mistress, a young gentlewoman of the name of Holland. After many scandalous quarrels the Duke and Duchess had separated a few years before this great storm, and she had gone to live in Hertfordshire upon a paltry allowance of three hundred marks a year. She had repeatedly complained by letter to the council of the ill-treatment she had received from her husband, declaring that even her insuf[Pg 56]ficient allowance was irregularly paid. She had personally presented formal articles of complaint against the Duke to the King himself; and now that the crisis had come, she charged Norfolk with being as disloyal to his king as he was untrue to his wife. There is reason to believe that the Duchess did not wait for the arrest of her son and husband to display the full extent of her vengeance, but that she accused Norfolk of treasonable words some time before that event, or as soon as she saw that Hertford was bent upon his destruction, and pointed out the means by which evidence might be obtained to convict him. She was brought up to London, but in the subsequent proceedings she was delicately placed in the background of the abominable picture. Yet affection and nature were sufficiently violated without her prominent appearance. The first witness examined by the council was that fair Mistress Holland who had captivated the old Duke, and who had been by him enriched and covered with jewels and introduced at court. She deposed that the Duke had told her, that none of the King's council loved him, because they were new men, and not noblemen born, as also because he believed in the sacraments according to the Church of Rome; that the King loved him not because he was too much loved in his country, but that he would follow his father's lesson, which was, that the less value others set by him, the more he would set by himself; that he had complained of being excluded from his Majesty's secret council, and had spoken of the King's unwieldy and unhealthy state of body, saying that he could not live long, and that after his death the realm was likely to fall into an ill case through diversity of opinions. In extenuation of the Duke, but in aggravation of a charge against his son, she said that Norfolk had strongly disapproved of an addition Surrey had made to the family arms. She confessed that the Earl of Surrey loved her not, that the Duchess of Richmond had no love for her brother (a fact proved upon other evidence) and that she (Mistress Holland) had always addicted herself much to the said Duchess of Richmond.[Pg 57]

The next person to gratify the ears of the lords of the council was the Duchess of Richmond herself. She began her deposition by telling the story of the marriage which her father and brother had attempted to bring about between her and Sir Thomas Seymour, adding the astounding assertion, that her father would have had her brother Surrey, whose wife was then living and well, to have matched with the Earl of Hertford's daughter. She stated that she had often seen her brother incensed against Hertford, and had often heard him say, that those new men loved none of the old nobility, and that, if God should call away the king, they should smart for it. She declared that her brother had hated them all since his being in custody in Windsor Castle, but that her father seemed not to care for their ill-will, saying, his truth should bear him out; that her brother had said the king was displeased with him for the defeat he had sustained in France, and that the royal displeasure, as he conceived, had been increased by those who hated him for having set up an altar in the church at Boulogne; that he had said, "God long save my father's life, for if he were dead they would shortly have my head;" that he had reviled some of the members of the present council; that he had used many passionate words; and also that he had dissuaded her from going too far in reading the Scriptures. But the capital point of her deposition against the life of her own brother was this,—she said, that Surrey had borne on his arms, instead of a duke's coronet, a cap of maintenance and a crown, "to her judgment much like a close crown, and underneath the arms was a cipher, which she took to be the king's cipher, H. R." These her two surmises were set down as proofs of high treason in Surrey.[15]

After this unloving sister had said her worst, Sir Edmund Knevett was called in. He said he knew of no untruth directly by the Earl of Surrey, but suspected him of—dissimulation and vanity! He added, that a servant of Surrey's had been in Italy with Cardinal Pole, and[Pg 58] had returned thence into his service; that Surrey kept one Pasquale, an Italian, as a jester, but more likely a spy, and so reputed; that there was also one Pelegrino, an Italian, entertained by the said earl, who loved to converse with foreigners, and to conform his behaviour to them; wherein he, the deponent, thought that Surrey had some great ill device: and this was all that Sir Edmund Knevett had to say. Then, one Thomas Pope informed the council, that one John Freeman had told him that the Duke of Norfolk, some time ago, during the commotions about religion in the North, had condemned a certain act of parliament, which did violence to men's consciences, as the worst act that had ever been made. Lord Herbert says, that it seemed there were other depositions; but we know of none other except that of an officer in the Heralds' College,[16] which relates solely to the quartering of the royal arms, the offence which was made prominent on Surrey's trial, and for which in fact he was condemned. Other suspicions, we know, had been infused into the mind of the dying king; but it appears to have been thought proper to suppress all mention of them in public. Surrey was suspected of a design upon the king's eldest daughter, the Princess Mary! The king's irregular divorce from his wife Catherine seems to have shaken his own and other people's faith in the sanctity and stability of the marriage contract; and thus it may have been thought that the earl, when tempted by ambition, would easily rid himself of his living wife and the mother of his children. Among the State Papers of this reign there is a remarkable document, without title or date, in the hand-writing of Wriothesly the Chancellor, with various interlineations and corrections written by the king himself, in a tremulous hand, like that of one sick and suffering. The paper consists of a set of queries, evidently preparatory to the prosecution of the Howards. After the questions, What a man deserves, being of the collateral line to the heir of the crown, for quartering the royal arms of England[Pg 59] &c.,—there is this startling query, which should seem to have some connection with the project entertained by Norfolk, and Surrey to marry the Duchess of Richmond to Sir Thomas Seymour, and so establish her in favour at court:—"If a man compasses with himself to govern the realm, do actually go about to rule the king, and should for that purpose advise his daughter or sister to become his harlot, thinking thereby to bring it to pass, and so would rule both father and son, what this importeth?" These words are all in King Henry's own trembling hand-writing. We give them as indicative of his suspicions, not as proofs against the parties accused. The hatred which she bore to her brother, and the terror she was in, cast a strong shade of doubt even on every part of the evidence of the Duchess of Richmond herself. The remaining queries in the remarkable State Paper document apply exclusively to Surrey, who was far more dreaded by Hertford and the whole Seymour party than his father the duke, who was now an old man, and who had never had a tithe of his son's genius; and they ask, What a man deserves who has said, "If the king should die, who should have the rule of the prince but my father or I? who has endeavoured to deprave the king's council; who has threatened to shut up another man as soon as the king were dead; who was continually threatening to kill or hurt a person that in his duty of allegiance had revealed such matter as he had heard from him touching the king; and who, without the royal licence, had given arms to strangers?"

Such depositions as were taken before the Privy Council were sent down to the king's judges, then at Norwich; and on the 7th of January the judges informed the lords of the council that they found the charges to be true, both against the Duke of Norfolk and the Earl of Surrey, that they amounted to high treason, and that they the judges desired to know whether Sir Edmund Knevett (who had been one of the witnesses for the prosecution), Sir Thomas Paston, Sir John Peer, and others, should be named for the jury.[17] [Pg 60]

The father and son, however, were not included in one indictment and tried together, nor did the indictment drawn up against Surrey include any other special charge than the amplified one of his having falsely, maliciously, and traitorously, set up and borne the arms of Edward the Confessor, then used by the Prince of Wales, mixed and joined with his own proper arms. A special commission was immediately formed to try the earl: and on the 13th of January, "the king," says Lord Herbert, "being now dangerously sick," Surrey was arraigned in Guildhall, before Wriothesly the Chancellor, Hoverthorn the Lord Mayor, and the other commissioners who had been appointed by the King, or rather by Hertford. Surrey boldly pleaded not guilty. A jury of Norfolk men was then chosen, and the trial proceeded. The original trial is not to be found; and in the accounts extant there is a provoking silence as to the evidence produced by the court, and the witnesses who spoke for the defender. We are told generally that the defendant, being a man of deep understanding, sharp wit, and high courage, defended himself many ways; sometimes denying the accusations as false, and weakening the credit of his adversaries; and sometimes interpreting the words he had spoken in a far other sense than that in which they were represented. With respect to the main point, the quartering of the arms of the Confessor, he alleged that he had taken the opinion of heralds therein; that his ancestors had long quartered those arms, and worn them, as well within the kingdom as without; that he had borne those arms himself in King Henry's presence without giving any offence; and that his ancestors had borne them in the presence of several of King Henry's predecessors.

When a witness was brought against him, vivâ voce, who pretended to repeat some high words which Surrey had used, and his own braving answer thereto, the prisoner gave no other reply to the jury than that he left it to them to judge, whether it were probable that this man should speak thus insolently to the Earl of Surrey, and he not strike him.[Pg 61]

It appears that the Norfolk family had really a right to quarter the royal arms, and that this right was afterwards admitted by Queen Mary. But if there be any doubt upon this heraldic question, there can surely be none that the charge was too frivolous to affect life. Nevertheless the jury, doing that which they were called together to do, and apparently without any hesitation, brought in a verdict of guilty; and thereupon the chancellor sentenced him to the death of a traitor. Two men of the wealthy and trading Norfolk family of Gresham sat upon this base jury, which, however, was neither better nor worse than the generality of juries at this time; they were Sir Richard the father, and Sir John the uncle, of the Sir Thomas Gresham who built the Royal Exchange. From Guildhall Surrey was sent back to the Tower; "and so the flower of the English nobility was, on the 19th of January, beheaded, the king being then in extremity and breathing his last in blood."[18] But it appears, from a memorandum in the Burghley State Papers, written in Secretary Cecil's own hand, as also from other authorities, that Surrey was executed, not on the 19th, but on the 21st of January. At neither of these dates was the king in a state to sign the death warrant, or even to apply the stamp which he had been for some time in the habit of using whenever his signature was required. Holinshed says, that even on the 13th, the day of Surrey's trial, the king was "lying in the extremities of death." Hertford and his party surrounded the death-bed, to the exclusion of all others: they may have applied the royal stamp, and the memory of the tyrant may perhaps be relieved of this the last blood shed in his sanguinary reign.

Surrey was executed on Tower Hill. No record is preserved of his behaviour in his last moments. No doubt, like Sir Thomas More, he was forbidden to address the people; and it is probable that the execution took place at some early or unusual hour. His body was buried in the church of All Hallows, Barking, in[Pg 62] Tower Street. A monument was afterwards erected to him by his second son, the Earl of Northampton, in the fine old church of Framlingham in Suffolk. It is said that the Earl of Northampton also removed his body to Framlingham; but the fact is doubted, as there is no mention made of it in the register of Framlingham Church, which appears to have been carefully kept. That well-preserved church, which stands almost within the shadow of the ruins of Framlingham Castle—that ancient seat of the Dukes of Norfolk, where the Bigods, the Mowbrays, and the Howards, had successively displayed their power, magnificence, and baronial hospitality, is a place that calls for a pilgrimage from every one that can feel an interest in the old annals of his country. It contains within itself a compendious history of the illustrious House of Howard. There, besides the tomb of the poet and the graves of other members of a family that was for a long time as unfortunate as it was illustrious, are the monuments of the Duke John, who perished at Bosworth Field, and the monument of Duke Thomas, the son of Surrey, who was beheaded and attainted by Queen Elizabeth, in 1572, for his correspondence with Mary Queen of Scots. Books and homilies cannot convey so deep an impression of the vicissitudes of fortune, nor can an elaborate chapter of history so completely pourtray the convulsive and unhappy condition of greatness in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

Surrey's father, the Duke of Norfolk, from his cell in the Tower, repeatedly requested to be confronted with his accusers, either in presence of the king or in that of the council. He protested that he had never called in question the king's supremacy over the church, and that if he had had twenty lives he would rather have spent them all against the Bishop of Rome than ever have seen him have any more power in this realm. Being thoroughly convinced that it was the enmity he had shown to the Protestant party which pressed most heavily upon him, he did violence to his conscience, making other protestations to show that he believed according to act of parliament, and requesting the council to per[Pg 63]mit him to purchase a copy of Sabellicus, "who," he says, "doth declare most of any book that I have read how the Bishop of Rome from time to time hath usurped his power against all princes by their unwise sufferance." Much is to be allowed to a man helpless in the hands of implacable enemies, pleading for his own life and estates, and much more for a father pleading for the life of a son; but the name of Surrey does not occur in these applications, and it should appear that the duke continued his mean and prevaricating conduct after he knew that his son had perished. It was resolved by the Seymours that no more justice or lenity should be shown to the duke than he, in the time of his favour and might, had meted out to others. It is not probable that any of his mean-spirited applications were shown to the dying king. After several private examinations in the Tower, the duke, upon some promises tendered to him in the name of the king, consented to write or sign a submission and confession. In this document he confessed that during his long and difficult services he had occasionally communicated to others some of the secrets of the Privy Council, contrary to his oath; that he had concealed high treason, in keeping secret the false and traitorous act, most presumptuously committed by his son Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, in quartering the arms of Edward the Confessor (when this was written his son was yet alive[19]), that[Pg 64] he had himself treasonably borne on his shield the said arms of England, with the difference of labels of silver, which of right belonged only to Prince Edward; and finally that for these heinous offences he had deserved by the laws of the realm to be attainted of high treason, and to suffer the punishment, losses, and forfeitures that appertain thereunto; although he most humbly, and with a most sorrowful and repentant heart, did beseech his highness the king to have mercy, pity, and compassion on him. To complete the old man's degradation, one of the witnesses to the signing of this paper in the Tower was Lord Hertford.

The Seymours had no time to lose, for the life of the king was hanging by a thread. Instead of arraigning Norfolk before his peers, they proceeded according to the iniquitous system which Thomas Cromwell had introduced, and by which, in retributive justice, he had been himself hurled to the block. A bill of attainder, founded on the confession, was brought into the House of Lords, and read three times on three successive days, Archbishop Cranmer being present at every reading. The Commons did their work with equal despatch, returning the bill, passed, in three days more. This was done by the 25th of January, and on the 27th Wriothesly the Chancellor informed the two houses that his majesty, being not sufficiently well to attend himself, had been pleased to appoint certain lords to signify his assent to the bill. And therefore the commission, which was said to be under the sign manual, but to which Henry's stamp no doubt had been put without his knowledge, was read; the pretended royal assent was given by the lords who had appointed themselves, or who had been appointed by Hertford; and, without losing precious moments, an order was despatched to the lieutenant of the Tower to execute the Duke of Norfolk at an early hour on the following morning. During these last precipitate and most illegal measures, Archbishop Cranmer was again in the House of Lords.[20] The thing was done[Pg 65] in such hurry and confusion that the bill was never enrolled, and consequently was not to be considered as an act. But during that very night of the 27th of January, or at a very early hour on the morning of the 28th, the king died. It has been said that the Lieutenant of the Tower, believing the warrant to be informal, as it could not have received the king's signature, or knowing by secret information that the king was actually dead, refused to proceed to the execution. We think it rather more probable that the order was countermanded by the Lords of the Council as soon as Henry had breathed his last. Most of our annalists have set it down, somewhat vaguely, that the Seymour party, which succeeded to almost absolute power, did not think it advisable to begin a new reign by shedding the blood of the first nobleman of England; but, from the character of the majority of those men, we may be justified in believing that they were deterred merely by the dread of odium and of after-consequences to themselves, in case of a failure of the schemes and forgeries which they were committing in order to secure their, as yet, unstable power. They concealed the death of the king from Friday the 28th till Monday the 31st; but they must have known it to be impossible to disguise for any length of time that Henry had expired before the hour which had been fixed for Norfolk's execution. If the king had lived two or three hours longer, no doubt, the head of Norfolk would have been upon the block; but, then, it might have been made to pass as the deed of a living king, and not as the unauthorized vengeance of personal enemies. The interval between Henry's death on the night of the 27th or morning of the 28th, and the disclosure of the fact on the 31st, is said to have been spent in debating upon what was to be done with the Duke of Norfolk. This subject may have occupied a part, and that a very[Pg 66] serious part of their attention; but they had many other things to think about; and much of that time must have been spent in forging the clauses of the king's will upon which they rested all their claim to all the powers and offices of the state, and their claim to the partition among them of the estates and property of the Howards and of other victims to bills of attainder. But whatever were the lucky accidents, or the motives in the hearts of his enemies, that stayed the execution, Norfolk was certainly reprieved, being left in the Tower with the iniquitous sentence hanging over him; the Seymours neither annulling that sentence, nor taking any pains to give it a greater appearance of regularity and justice. On the 20th of February, when the child Edward VI. had been crowned in Westminster Abbey, and when Lord Hertford had taken into his own hands the high state offices which had been held by Norfolk, and had made himself Duke of Somerset, Governor of the person of the king's majesty, and Protector of all his realms, a general pardon for state offences was proclaimed, but in this the Duke of Norfolk, as well as Cardinal Pole, and a few others, were excepted. The old duke lay a close prisoner in the Tower, from December, 1546, till the 3rd of August, 1553, when the accession of Queen Mary restored him to liberty and to his honours and estates. Before Mary's first parliament was dissolved the attainders were legally reversed, it being declared that no special matter had been proved either against the Duke of Norfolk, or his son the Earl of Surrey, except the wearing of part of the royal coat of arms. The old duke died in the following year, 1554.

Biographers have been accustomed to represent the Earl of Surrey as a man whose character was almost without spot or blemish, and to give him credit for qualities and virtues which have no recognizable existence in the period in which he lived. The facts which we have stated upon the best existing evidence will enable the reader to form a correcter notion of him. But the defects of the man, whatever they may have been, cannot be pleaded in extenuation of the lawless way in which[Pg 67] he was cut off by his enemies, nor can they obscure his fame as a poet, scholar, and refiner of the language or rhythm of English verse. The delicacy which we vainly look for in his portrait is to be found in much of his poetry. Except in some passages in his version of the second and fourth books of the Æneid, which seem to us remarkable for their power, he is seldom very powerful; but he is almost everywhere neat and delicate, and is not unfrequently tender. But at times his delicacy becomes absolute weakness. He is entitled to high praise as being the first to introduce the use of blank verse. This he borrowed from the Italian writers, with whom it was a novel experiment in his day. From the same rich school of verse he introduced the sonnet. He was also the first Englishman who used the elegiac quatrain, which was admired and used by Dryden, and brought to perfection by Gray in his Elegy. His best sonnet, and perhaps the best piece he ever produced in any form, measure, or style, is his address to Spring. We subjoin it as a gentle and soothing conclusion to the harsh and tragical story of his life. We have slightly modernized the orthography, but have not otherwise altered the sonnet.

The sweet season that bud and bloom forth brings,
With green hath clad the hill, and eke the vale,
The nightingale with feathers new she sings;
The turtle to her mate hath told her tale:
Summer is come, for every spray now springs.
The hart hath hung his old head on the pale,
The buck in brake his winter coat he flings,
The fishes fleet with new repaired scale,
The adder all her slough away she flings,
The swift swallow pursueth the flies small,
The busy bee her honey how she mings;
Winter is worn that was the flower's bale:
And thus I see among these pleasant things
Each care decays, and yet my sorrow springs.


[3] There is an evident want of accuracy in all this part of the history of the Howard family. It is not known with any precision in what year the Lady Anne Plantagenet died, nor can any details be found respecting her life. It is said that the four children she bore her husband were all sons, and that they all died very young; but the dates of their deaths are not known, nor does there appear to be any authentic record about them. Neither the date of the second marriage, nor the date of Surrey's birth is anywhere given in registers or family documents. These facts have been acknowledged by a member of the family who has devoted much care to the inspection of documents. See Indications of memorials, monuments, paintings, &c., of persons of the Howard family, by Henry Howard, of Corby Castle. A.D. 1834.

[4] Dr. Nott. 'Memoirs of Surrey,' prefixed to his edition of the works of Surrey and Sir Thomas Wyatt.

[5] The age of Henry Fitzroy may, very probably, be misstated. We cannot discover that the date of his birth is anywhere given with any pretension to accuracy.

[6] These facts rest upon the indisputable testimony of the State Papers relating to the reign of Henry VIII., edited by the Record Commission, and published by Government. These papers contain many letters written by Norfolk himself, some to the king, some to the lords of the council, &c.

[7] The worthy bearer of the name of Howard, from whom we have already quoted, believes that Geraldine was purely an imaginary person, a Phillis or Chloe; that the poet was fondly attached to his wife; that at the date assigned to the famous sonnet wherein Surrey mentions her name, the Irish Geraldine was only ten years old; that at Surrey's execution this young lady was only eighteen, having been sixty when she died in the month of March, 1589.

[8] State Papers collected and edited by the Record Commission.

[9] In his first Scottish campaign, the poet's father or the army under his command was unusually destructive and ferocious. According to the Scottish historian, Buchanan, they destroyed whatever they could reach, sparing neither the turreted castle nor the straw-covered hut.

[10] Mr. Henry Howard, of Corby Castle, is astonished—as well he may be—at Dr. Nott's making Surrey a Protestant in the teeth of the evidence that lay before him. This careful examiner of family documents says decidedly that Surrey was a Catholic—that his wife was a Catholic, and because she was so, her children, after her husband's execution, were taken from her by the Protestant Seymours, and sent to be brought up by the Duchess of Richmond, who made profession of the Reformed faith.

[11] Several of these licences or indulgences granted under Edward VI., and even under Queen Elizabeth, are to be found in Rymer's Fœdera.

[12] Lord Herbert of Cherbury. Life and Reign of Henry VIII.

[13] Lord Herbert.

[14] State Papers.

[15] Lord Herbert.

[16] MS. in the Heralds' College, as cited by Dr. Nott.

[17] Lord Herbert.

[18] Bishop Godwin.

[19] The right-minded bearer of the noble name of Howard says nobly—"It is humiliating to see such a failure in a man for the sake of the very few years of life he might have to linger through, lowering himself, in the letters he wrote to the king and council, and in the admission he made that by using the arms, which he had at all times been sanctioned to bear, he had been guilty of a treasonable act. By such an admission, he, as far as in him lay, gave sanction to the pending iniquitous proceedings against his son, and assisted in sealing his doom, for when he admitted such to be treasonable acts, how could it be expected that the jury would have courage to find that they were not so?"—Henry Howard, Indications of Memorials, Monuments, &c., of the Howard family.

[20] Journals of the Lords. Upon this unquestionable authority Bishop Burnet is convicted of error or misrepresentation in stating that Cranmer, to avoid concurring in the guilt of this act of attainder, withdrew to Croydon before the bill was introduced.

[Pg 68]


Our memoir of the Earl of Surrey shows in what manner the old family of the Howards was sacrificed to secure the political ascendancy of the new family of the Seymours. Hertford, the mortal foe of the poet, had scarcely attained to his high eminence as Duke of Somerset, Protector of the Kingdom, Governor of the person of the King's Majesty, Lieutenant-General of all his Majesty's Forces by land and by sea, Lord High Treasurer, and Earl Marshal of England, ere he became jealous of the ambition, and alarmed at the daring intrigues of his own brother Sir Thomas Seymour, who, since the death of Henry VIII., had been raised to the peerage by the title of Baron Seymour, of Sudley, and had been appointed Lord High Admiral. This Thomas Seymour, it will be remembered, was the man to whom the Duke of Norfolk had wished to marry his daughter, the Duchess of Richmond—a match which Surrey himself is said to have strongly recommended to his sister.[Pg 69] But, in June 1547, scarcely five months after the death of Henry VIII., the Lord High Admiral espoused that king's widow, Catherine Parr, who was too desperately enamoured to wait any longer. By this marriage the lord admiral hoped to acquire the wealth which Catherine Parr had accumulated while she was queen, to share in the dower to which she was now entitled, and to obtain through her means an easy access to the boy-king Edward VI., over whom Catherine was supposed to have great influence. By a royal grant, dated in August 1548, the lord admiral, in his own right, was put in possession of an immense deal of landed property, part of it being taken from the spoils of the Howard family. Violent and inconstant, he soon quarrelled with his wife. To the princess (afterwards queen) Elizabeth, who was living with Catherine Parr, his behaviour was so extraordinary and so free as to provoke, almost inevitably, the suspicion that he aspired to a union with her. Evidence was also produced to prove that the princess, then only in her fifteenth year, was rather warmly attached to the lord admiral; and it is stated by several old writers, that she, in effect, never forgot this her first love. Catherine Parr did not conceal her jealousy and wrath either from Elizabeth or from the lord admiral her husband. After a scene disgraceful to all concerned in it, Elizabeth was removed to a wiser and safer keeping, being apparently sent to the then royal house at Hatfield.[21]

While Elizabeth resided with Catherine Parr and the lord admiral, there lived under the same roof, Elizabeth's near relative—the Lady Jane Grey, upon whom, also, the licentious and unscrupulous lord admiral had his designs.

The Lady Jane Grey is supposed to have been born at Bradgate in Leicestershire, about the year 1537, or four years after the birth of the Princess Elizabeth. As usual, there is a want of precision as to place or date.[Pg 70] She was the eldest of the three daughters of Henry Grey, Marquess of Dorset, by the Lady Frances, daughter of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, by the Lady Mary Tudor, youngest sister of Henry VIII. Thus she was, through her mother, grand-niece of Henry VIII. and first cousin once removed to Edward VI.[22]

There is no authentic account of the Lady Jane's earliest years. She is first mentioned in connexion with Catherine Parr, at the time when she was sent to reside with her at Chelsea, very soon after the death of Henry VIII. If the date usually given to her birth be correct (of which there is some doubt), she could not have been much more than ten years old at that time. She resided in the house at Chelsea both before Catherine's imprudent marriage with the lord admiral and after that event, which followed so closely upon the death of the old king. Young as she was, she could not have learned much good in that house. Thus early, projects of marriage were agitated for her; and the lord admiral, bearing in mind her near relationship to the Royal Family, upon which, hereafter, some right or claim might be raised, became exceedingly urgent with her parents to intrust to him the disposal of her hand. Her father, the Marquess of Dorset, was poor in purse and quite as poor in spirit; and it is an unquestionable fact that, upon mercenary calculations and considerations, he conceded to this powerful and remorseless Seymour the disposal of her in marriage. The lord admiral's projects in regard to the Lady Jane varied according to times and circumstances; but it is quite clear that he always calculated upon making her an instrument or a means of promoting his own interests or his insane schemes of ambition. In September 1548, the family having removed from Chelsea to Hanworth, Catherine Parr, after giving birth[Pg 71] to a daughter, died, complaining, with her last breath, of the wrongs she had received from her husband the lord admiral. According to the common practice of those dishonourable and iniquitous times, he was charged with having poisoned Catherine, in order to clear the path to a greater marriage. The Lady Jane was in the house when Catherine died; and there the admiral wanted to keep her. The Princess Elizabeth had been for some time removed; and it was evidently upon this very account that he was the more eager to retain Lady Jane Grey, whose right to the crown was in reality afterwards set forth as superior to that of Elizabeth. The publication of a curious correspondence between his lordship and Jane's father, the Marquess of Dorset, shows the admiral's excessive eagerness to keep the young lady in his power.[23] Notwithstanding this earnestness, the young lady was, however, sent back to her father and mother, the Marquess of Dorset still promising that the admiral should have "the bestowing of her." Yet the admiral soon got her back into his actual keeping by bribing her right noble father. This has been proved beyond controversy by a recent writer, who gives a letter written by the Marquess of Dorset himself, after the lord admiral's trial, wherein he (the marquess) states that it was his determination not to have permitted his daughter to return to Seymour (then, be it said, not only a widower, but one whose looseness and profligacy were open and notorious), but that the lord admiral went himself to Dorset House—"and was so earnest in persuasion that he could not resist him, amongst the which persuasions was that he would marry her to the king's majesty;"—and lest an opposition might be offered by the mother, Sir William Skevington was employed by Seymour to win over the marchioness and to overcome her natural reluctance.[24] But other persuasions were used by the wealthy and impatient lord admiral. So soon as the[Pg 72] Lady Jane had returned to him at Hanworth, he sent her needy father 500l. "as it were for an earnest-penny of the favour that he would show unto him, and which sum formed part of 2000l. that he had promised to lend him, and for which he refused any bond, saying that the Lady Jane should be his pledge."[25]

Thus the young lady was again in the lord admiral's actual keeping, and so she remained until his brother the Protector—a more decorous, but scarcely a more honourable man than himself—threw him into the Tower and made the parliament attaint him of treason. As the lord admiral was plotting against his brother Somerset, and endeavouring to ruin him by attaining a complete ascendency over the young king, and as Edward VI. though delicate, did not as yet show symptoms of the disease which carried him to the grave, he may really at one time have contemplated marrying the Lady Jane to that prince. He might have hoped from such an union many advantages. Yet it is by no means clear that he did not at one time contemplate marrying the young girl himself; for the revolutionary scheme for changing the order of succession which was carried out after the death of Edward VI. may have floated in his sanguine and ambitious mind, even while that prince was living and likely to live. At a very early period it was a common notion among the most zealous of the Protestant party, that, either by marriage with her cousin Edward or by virtue of her own right and zealous protestantism, the Lady Jane would be seated on the throne of England.

After several secret examinations in the Tower, but without any trial whatever, the lord admiral was brought to the block, on Tower-hill, on the 20th of March, 1549, or two months and a day after his first committal. The first signature to the warrant for his execution was that of his own brother, the Protector Somerset, and Archbishop Cranmer signed it with the rest of the members of council. He had made no confessions, having to all threats[Pg 73] and persuasions constantly replied that he ought to be put upon an open trial by his peers, and brought face to face with his accusers; and he died protesting that he had never committed or intended any treason against the king or the realm. Somerset's conduct to his brother was pitiless and atrocious; but his own evil hour soon came: in the month of September, 1549, scarcely six months after the execution of his brother, the lords of the council declared against him: on the 14th of October he was himself charged with high treason and committed to the Tower; his enemy Dudley, Earl of Warwick, succeeding to his offices and more than kingly power. Before this sudden downfall of Protector Somerset, Lady Jane Grey's father thought of matching her with Lord Hertford, Somerset's son, and corresponded cautiously with the protector on that subject, professing great devotion and friendship to the duke. But when Somerset was stricken down by men bolder but not better than himself, this right noble marquess, like all the rest of his great friends, arrayed himself under the banners of my Lord Protector Warwick. It has been most truly said by one thoroughly acquainted with contemporary documents and the whole history of these reigns, that at no other period was the detestable disposition to render every connexion subservient to political purposes so much the prevailing feeling as in the reigns of the Tudors; when the ties of friendship or even of kindred were seldom suffered to interfere with the prospects or projects of advancement.[26] In no time could there well have been less public honesty and more private treachery.

The Duke of Somerset, unlike his brother the lord admiral, had not even the virtue of courage; by confessions signed on his knees, and by the most humiliating submissions to the Earl of Warwick, he saved his life, and even got out of the Tower on the 6th of February, 1550. Warwick thought that he had rendered himself too contemptible to be any longer dangerous as a political rival;[Pg 74] but this confidence of the de facto protector was abated by several occurrences; and then Somerset was again seized and sent to the Tower. It is his own royal nephew Edward who coolly notes that, on Friday the 22nd of January, 1552, "the Duke of Somerset had his head cut off on Tower-hill, between eight and nine o'clock in the morning."[27] According to the same authority, the Lord Strange, upon being examined before the council touching the duke's delinquencies, had confessed that Somerset had "willed him to stir" the young king to marry his third daughter, the Lady Jane Seymour, and had wished him (the said Lord Strange) to act as his spy at court, and to report to him whatever the king did or said, and whenever any of his council spoke secretly with his majesty. "This," adds the royal journalist, "he (Lord Strange) confessed of himself."[28] Thus had the Duke of Somerset shed his own brother's blood and soiled his soul with other guilt to perish on a scaffold so soon after that brother. Before his execution his successful rival Dudley, Earl of Warwick, had made himself Duke of Northumberland, and had elevated Lady Jane Grey's father to be Duke of Suffolk. The Marquess of Dorset's patent is dated the 10th of October, 1551, and that of the Earl of Warwick on the next day. This is sufficient evidence—if not of the contemplated matrimonial alliance between the two families of the Greys and Dudleys, which subsequently took place—at the least of the close friendship subsisting between Lady Jane Grey's father and the present protector, or (not to prostitute the name of friendship) of the subservience of the lady's father to the despotic and aspiring Protector Northumberland. No party appears to have had any commendations to bestow upon this Marquess of Dorset. Dugdale says that he was a man of "a harmless simplicity," that he was "neither much misliked nor much regarded," and so was created Duke of Suffolk—which dignity had that year become extinct through the death of his wife's half-brother, Henry Brandon, without issue. Since[Pg 75] Dugdale's time evidence has been produced which throws a doubt on this harmlessness and simplicity, and which exhibits the marquess-duke as a selfish intriguer and cowardly plotter.

In the meantime—or ever since the arrest of the lord admiral—the Lady Jane Grey had been residing with her father and mother, and chiefly, as it appears, at Broadgate or Bradgate in Leicestershire. Here she had for her instructor Dr. John Aylmer, a Protestant clergyman, who was domestic chaplain to her father, and who, under Queen Elizabeth, obtained the mitre, being named Bishop of London (in 1577). Aylmer is described as being a man of learning, and admirably qualified by temper and patience to be an instructor to the young. The celebrated Roger Ascham, who had been for nearly two years employed in instructing the Princess Elizabeth in the learned languages, must have been well acquainted with Lady Jane at the time that both she and Elizabeth were living with Catherine Parr and the lord admiral, for he was appointed tutor to the princess in 1548, after Catherine's marriage with Seymour. Although he does not state the fact, it is more than probable that the Lady Jane partook of the instruction which Ascham gave to Elizabeth. In 1551, or about two years after her removal from the house of the lord admiral, Ascham, returning from a visit to his native place in Yorkshire, and being on the point of going to Germany as secretary to Sir Richard Morysine, ambassador to the Emperor Charles V., he saw Lady Jane Grey in her paternal mansion in Leicester; and the following is his own naïve and interesting account of the interview.

"Before I went into Germany, I came to Brodegate in Leicestershire to take my leave of that noble Lady Jane Grey, to whom I was exceeding much beholden. Her parents, the duke and duchess, with all the household, gentlemen and gentlewomen, were hunting in the park. I found her in her chamber reading Phædo Platonis in Greek, and that with as much delight as some gentlemen would read a merry tale in Boccace. After salutation and duty done, with some other talk, I asked[Pg 76] her why she would lose such pastime in the park? Smiling, she answered me: 'I wis, all their sport in the park is but a shadow to that pleasure that I find in Plato. Alas! good folk, they never felt what true pleasure meant.' 'And how came you, Madame,' quoth I, 'to this deep knowledge of pleasure? And what did chiefly allure you to it, seeing not many women, but very few men have attained thereunto?' 'I will tell you,' quoth she, 'and tell you a truth which perchance ye will marvel at. One of the greatest benefits that ever God gave me, is that he sent me so sharp and severe parents, and so gentle a schoolmaster. For, when I am in presence either of father or mother, whether I speak, keep silence, sit, stand, or go, eat, drink, be merry or sad, be sewing, playing, dancing, or doing anything else, I must do it, as it were, in such weight, measure, and number, even so perfectly as God made the world; or else I am so sharply taunted, so cruelly threatened, yea, presently, sometimes with pinches, nips, and bobs, and other ways (which I will not name for the honour I bear them) so without measure misordered, that I think myself in hell, till time come that I must go to Mr. Elmer [Aylmer], who teacheth me so gently, so pleasantly, with such fair allurements to learning, that I think all the time nothing while I am with him. And when I am called from him, I fall on weeping, because whatsoever I do else, but learning, is full of grief, trouble, fear, and whole misliking unto me: and thus my book hath been so much my pleasure, and bringeth daily to me more pleasure, and more, that in respect of it all other pleasures, in very deed, be but trifles and troubles unto me.' I remember this talk gladly, both because it is so worthy of memory, and because also it was the last talk that ever I had, and the last time that ever I saw that noble and worthy lady."[29]

Assuming the date assigned to her birth as correct, the Lady Jane was even at this time no more than fourteen years old. But we must again remind the reader that[Pg 77] the date of her birth is conjectural. Some time after this visit at Bradgate, Ascham wrote a long letter in Latin to the Lady Jane, in which he warmly declares his admiration of her understanding as well as of her learning, and requests of her not only to answer him in Greek, but also to write a letter in the same language to his friend Sturmius, a celebrated scholar, whose choice Latinity had procured for him the title of the 'Cicero of Germany.' Ascham tells her that he is anxious to have an indifferent witness to the truth of the report which he was making in Germany of her rare acquirements.[30] He speaks of her in other letters with perfect enthusiasm, insisting that Aristotle's praise of women is justified or perfected in her. He further says—"She possesses good manners, prudence, and a love of labour. She has every talent, without the least weakness of her sex. She speaks French and Italian as well as she does English. She writes elegantly, and with propriety. She has more than once spoken Greek with me, and she writes in Latin with great strength and sentiment."[31]

Sir Thomas Chaloner the elder, another contemporary, who must at one time have been personally acquainted with Lady Jane, as he was closely connected with the Protector Somerset, not only confirms Ascham's assertions, but adds to her erudition and accomplishments, making her know three Oriental languages, as well as Greek and Latin. Chaloner says that she was well versed in Hebrew, Chaldee, and Arabic; that she also excelled in all feminine accomplishments, playing well, singing exquisitely, surpassing the rest of women in curious needlework, and writing an elegant hand; and that, with all these rare endowments, she was of a mild, humble, and modest disposition. As usual, some deductions must be made from the exaggeration and extravagance of panegyric. The Protestant party, who made an idol of her, and who doubly expected her to be their queen, made more wonderful that which was wonderful enough without, and her melancholy and touching fate[Pg 78] naturally indisposed men to the making of any rigid inquisitions into the extraordinary reports. She was not likely to know the three Oriental languages, because there appears to have been nobody at that time in England capable of teaching them, and because there were no books to supply the place of a master. If she had known Hebrew, Chaldee, and Arabic, Ascham would assuredly have mentioned it in plain prose at the time, and not have left it to be recorded by Chaloner in eulogistic Latin verse a good many years after her death. Still, however, it will remain indisputable that her intellect was wonderfully precocious, and that her attainments were very great. Nor is there any good reason for doubting that she was the modest, amiable, gentle creature she is represented to have been. She had been the victim of ambition and selfish intrigue from her childhood; and it was her own selfish father that made a sacrifice of her.

In the beginning of the year 1553 Edward VI. was seized with a violent cough, which no medicines could relieve; and the cough was soon followed or accompanied by other sure symptoms of consumption. In the month of May it was evident that he was sinking rapidly. Towards the end of May, when it was quite clear that the young king was dying, the Lady Jane Grey was hastily married to Lord Guildford Dudley, son of the Duke of Northumberland. The protector had three other sons, who were all older than this bridegroom; but as they were all married already, the Lord Guildford was chosen to have the crown matrimonial. Northumberland having without difficulty induced the Duchess of Suffolk to transfer her right to her eldest daughter the fair bride, he proceeded to develop his plan to the king.[32] He terrified the dying boy by representing the[Pg 79] dangers and calamities which he said must arise from the succession of either of his sisters. The princess Mary, the elder, was known to be a bigoted papist, who, if allowed to ascend the throne, would undo all that had been done during Edward's time, in the settlement of the Protestant religion; yet Mary could not be set aside without urging a plea—that of her illegitimacy—which would equally exclude Elizabeth, for both those princesses had been bastardized by acts of parliament—Mary after the divorce of her mother, Catherine of Arragon, and Elizabeth after the trial and execution of her mother Anne Boleyn. According to the Duke of Northumberland, and those who acted with him, the only safe course was to pass by both his sisters, and appoint his cousin, the thoroughly Protestant Lady Jane Grey, to be his successor. It had often and long since been laid down in law that the mere will and testament of a sovereign could not alter or dispose of the succession—that the crown of England was not to be bequeathed like a house or a piece of land; but law and the constitution had sunk into insignificance under the Tudor despotism, and it was urged that Edward might follow the example of his father Henry, and execute a new entail of the crown. Northumberland, with his own daring hand, laid pens and paper before the dying king, who was certainly sincere and thoroughly conscientious in his love to the Reformed Church, and detestation and dread of the old one; and Edward with his own pen sketched a draft of the instrument entailing the crown on Lady Jane; and as soon as a fair copy of the deed could be written out, he signed it with his own name, above and below, and on each margin. The chief justice of the Common Pleas, one of the puisne judges of the same court, the attorney and solicitor general, and one other of the crown lawyers, being called upon to draw up the instrument in a more legal or technical form, refused to do the work, alleging that it would subject them to the pains of high treason.[Pg 80] But Northumberland came rushing into the room in a fury, calling the chief justice a traitor, threatening them all, so that they thought he would have beaten them, and telling them that in so just a cause he was ready to fight with any man in his shirt; and so, on the very next day, these timid lawyers consented to draw the will, the young king declaring that he would have it ratified by parliament, which was to meet in the month of September. The instrument, being engrossed on parchment, was carried to the chancery. On the 21st of June it received the signatures of all the lords of the Council, of most of the judges, and of the attorney and solicitor general. Previously to this Northumberland had induced twenty-four members of the Council to sign another and more private paper, pledging themselves by their oaths and honour to observe every article contained in his majesty's own device respecting the succession; to defend it to the uttermost; and if any man should ever attempt to alter it, to repute him an enemy to the kingdom, and punish him as he deserved. The first signature to this paper was that of Archbishop Cranmer. The death that was so confidently expected happened in a few days. On the evening of the 6th of July, Edward VI. breathed his last at Greenwich, having lived fifteen years, eight months, and twenty-two days.

The ability and decision of the Duke of Northumberland bore no proportion to his ambition, and were altogether unequal to the daring scheme he had undertaken. Although that event had been expected for months, the death of Edward found him in a very unprepared state. He had neglected the important measure of getting possession of the persons of the two princesses, Mary and Elizabeth, who were both at large in the country. Nay, it is generally reported and believed that he had not even obtained the assent of Lady Jane Grey to enact the part which he and her father had chosen for her. The motives which induced the Lady Jane to accept the crown, with her eyes open to the danger and illegality of the measure, were strong and various: she was beset not only by her own family and that of her husband, but also[Pg 81] by a great number of Protestants, who had a clear foresight of the Marian persecutions; her own devotion to the Reformed Church was enthusiastic; and she was told that that church must perish unless she seated herself on the throne and surrounded herself with Protestant counsellors; her young and handsome husband was brought in to beg and entreat, and exercise all his influence over her affectionate heart; but that which perhaps was the most potent inducement of all was the conviction that her family and friends had already gone too far to retract, and that so she must go on with them or see them perish. In order to gain time, and to make those preparations which ought to have been made long before, the Duke of Northumberland, the lords of the Council, and all the people about the court at Greenwich agreed to conceal King Edward's death: and it was concealed from the evening of the 6th till the afternoon of the 8th of July, when the Lord Mayor of London, six aldermen, and twelve other citizens "of chiefest account" were called down to Greenwich, where they were secretly told that the king was dead, and were shown his last will and the letters patent by which he had appointed the Lady Jane to be his successor.

Before the mayor and his company were allowed to return to London, they swore allegiance to Lady Jane, and were bound under a great penalty not to divulge these "secret passages," until they should receive orders from the Council. On the following day Lady Jane was conveyed to the Tower of London, and there publicly received as queen; and in the course of that evening the death of Edward was publicly divulged for the first time, and Jane was proclaimed in the city with somewhat less than the usual formality. The people of London were very cold, many of them whispering the name of Queen Mary, and comparatively very few of them entering into the spirit of this revolution in the order of succession. It appears that the amiable victim did not entertain any sanguine hope. "So far was she," says Bishop Godwin, "from any desire of this advancement, that she began to act her part of royalty with many tears, thus plainly[Pg 82] showing to those who had access to her that she was forced by her relations and friends to this high, but dangerous post." But before these open proceedings, both the princesses were fully acquainted with all the "secret passages," and with all the intentions of Northumberland, who was betrayed by some of the Lords of the Council who pretended to act with him; and Mary, safe in Framlingham Castle, that stronghold of the Catholic Howards, was calling an army to her standard. In the course of that decisive day, the 9th of July, the Council received a letter from Mary, claiming the crown as her indisputable inheritance. The lords of the Council, writing from the Tower of London, replied on the same day, affirming that "our sovereign lady, Queen Jane," was invested and possessed with the just and right title to the crown, "not only by good order of old antient good laws of this realm, but also by our late sovereign lord's letters patent, signed with his own hand, and sealed with the great seal of England," &c.—that they must obey her said grace Queen Jane and none other—that "forasmuch as the divorce made between the king of famous memory, King Henry VIII., and the Lady Catherine (Mary's mother), was necessary to be had both by the everlasting laws of God, and also by the most part of the noble and learned universities of Christendom, and confirmed also by the sundry acts of parliament remaining yet in their force," she (Mary) was "thereby justly made illegitimate and uninheritable to the crown imperial of this realm," &c. They concluded by telling her that if she would be quiet and obedient, as she ought, she would find them ready to do her any service not inconsistent with their duty to Queen Jane; but that if she acted otherwise, she would be grievous to them, to herself, and to the kingdom. This letter of the Council was signed in the first place by Archbishop Cranmer, and then by the Marquess of Winchester, the Earl of Bedford, the Earl of Northampton, the Bishop of Ely Lord Chancellor, the Duke of Northumberland, the Duke of Suffolk, the Earls of Arundel, Shrewsbury, and Pembroke; Lord Cobham, Lord Rich (the lawyer[Pg 83] who had behaved so badly to Sir Thomas More), William Cecil (afterwards secretary to Queen Elizabeth, and Lord Burghley), and nine other members of the Council. But a good many of these men were already determined to save their own heads by abandoning the revolution at the first opportunity, and several of them besides Cecil were corresponding secretly either with Mary or with Elizabeth.

Forces raised to serve the Lady Jane, or rather Northumberland, went over in a mass to Queen Mary; and even a small fleet which was sent round the coast of Suffolk and Norfolk hoisted her flag. On the 12th of July Mary was proclaimed in the important city of Norwich, which forthwith sent her men and ammunition. Quitting Framlingham Castle near the Suffolk coast, she came to that other great seat of the Howards, Kenninghall in Norfolk, where she was joined by the Earls of Bath and Sussex, Sir Thomas Wharton, Sir John Mordaunt, Sir William Drury, and many other gentlemen of rank and influence.

Northumberland, being aware that some of the lords of the Council were not to be trusted, dreaded the cabals they might raise against him, if he took the field and left them in London; and he knew not whom to trust with the command of the Queen Jane's army if he did not go himself with it. At last he thought of placing the Duke of Suffolk, Lady Jane's father, at the head of the forces, which were to fall upon Mary before she should gain more strength, and, if possible, to bring her out of Norfolk a prisoner to the Tower. But Suffolk had no military reputation, and Northumberland was evidently afraid of trusting him alone, while the Council, for their own safety, were bent upon making the chief plotter go himself. Their manœuvre was aided by the filial tenderness of Lady Jane, whose feelings were always worked upon, and who, with sighs and tears, requested that her dear father might tarry in her company. Then the lords of the Council flattered the pride or military conceit of Northumberland, by telling him that he was so great a soldier that none would dare lift up their weapons against him. In the end Northumberland said—"Since[Pg 84] ye think it good, I and mine will go, not doubting of your fidelity to the queen's majesty, whom I leave in your custody." He also reminded them of their oaths of allegiance to the virtuous Lady Jane, "who," said he, "by your and our enticement, is rather of force placed on the throne, than by her own seeking and request;" and he bade them consider that the cause of God, the promotion of the Gospel, and the fear of the Papists, the original grounds upon which they had given their consent to the proclaiming of Queen Jane, bound them to the cause for which he was going to fight.[33] Nearly every man whom Northumberland thus addressed had made up his mind to declare for Queen Mary as soon as his back should be turned, but they one and all promised and vowed to support the good cause; and so Northumberland departed. On the Sunday after his departure, Ridley bishop of London, whose whole soul was in the revolution, as offering the only chance of preventing the return of papistry, with the fiery persecution of the Protestants, and who was afterwards burned by Queen Mary at Oxford, preached at St. Paul's Cross most eloquently and passionately, telling the people that the right and title of the Lady Jane were indisputable, and inveighing not only against the Lady Mary, but also against the Lady Elizabeth, of whose religion great doubts were then and long afterwards entertained. But on the same Sunday—the 16th of July—while Ridley was preaching at Paul's Cross, one of the lords of the Council stole out of the Tower to his house in the city to make arrangements for the Council going over in a body to Queen Mary; and two days after this, Cranmer, Cecil, and the rest of the councillors, persuaded Lady Jane's imbecile father that more forces must be levied, and that they must levy them; and that to be of full use to his daughter, they, her trusty and loyal Council, must be permitted to quit the Tower, and sit in the city, in Baynard's Castle, then the residence of the Earl of Pembroke, one of the said Council, who had signed the answer to Mary,[Pg 85] and who was married to a sister of Catherine Parr. No sooner were these lords of the Council safe within Baynard's Castle than they declared with one voice for Queen Mary, and instantly despatched two of the members of their own body—the Earl of Arundel and Cecil—with Sir William Paget, to Norfolk, to notify their submission and exceeding great loyalty: and in the course of the same day they caused Mary to be proclaimed in Cheapside, and went in procession to St. Paul's, singing Te Deum. This being done, the lords of the Council detached some forces to besiege the Tower. The timid Duke of Suffolk threw open the Tower gates to them as soon as they appeared, and entering his daughter's chamber, told her that she must be content to be unqueened, and return to a private station. As for Suffolk himself, he was allowed to post off to Baynard's Castle, where, as a member of the Council, he subscribed the decrees they were issuing in the name of Queen Mary; but his daughter the Lady Jane and her husband Lord Guildford Dudley were kept fast in the Tower. The following little anecdote shows the sudden, stage-like progress of this drama.

A Mr. Edward Underhill, who had been admitted into the band of gentlemen-pensioners by Edward VI., had been placed about the person of the Lady Jane, for he was a most zealous Protestant, being commonly designated "the hot-gospeller." He was a favourite with the new court, and was on duty at the Tower, when his wife, who was living in the city, was delivered of a son. The Duke of Suffolk and the Earl of Pembroke had consented to stand as sponsors by proxy, and the Lady Jane had not only signified her intention of being god-mother, but had also desired that the child should be called Guildford, after her husband. The baptism, as appointed, took place on the 19th of July (in the course of which day the lords of the Council proclaimed Mary, and made Jane a state-prisoner), Lady Throckmorton being deputed by Jane to act as the royal proxy. On leaving the Tower, Lady Throckmorton received the usual commands from Lady Jane herself, according to established etiquette—she left Jane surrounded by the pomps and[Pg 86] circumstances of royalty, but when, after a short absence, she returned from the christening to the Tower, she was overwhelmed with astonishment at finding that the canopy of state, together with all other ensigns of royalty, had been knocked down and removed from Jane's apartment. Lady Throckmorton, however, was soon informed of the change which had taken place during her short absence; being further told that her lady was a prisoner for high treason, and that she must attend her, but under the weight of a similar capital charge.[34]

Finding that his troops were deserting him, and that the cause was betrayed and abandoned on all sides, the Duke of Northumberland, on the 20th of July, the day after Mary's proclamation in London, being in the town of Cambridge, went to the market-cross and proclaimed Queen Mary there, and was himself the first man to throw up his cap, and cry "God save her!" This did not save him from the Tower and the scaffold. On the 3rd of August, Queen Mary entered London in triumph, having previously disbanded her army, which had never had occasion to draw a sword. On the 18th of August, the Duke of Northumberland, his eldest son John earl of Warwick, and William Parr, marquess of Northampton, were arraigned at Westminster Hall, where Cranmer, Cecil, Lady Jane's father, the Duke of Suffolk, and other members of the Council, sate in judgment,—Thomas duke of Norfolk, the recently-liberated captive, the survivor of his accomplished son the Earl of Surrey, presiding as Lord High Steward. They were brought in guilty of treason by the very men who had acted with them. The Earl of Warwick, who had not been a member of the Council, was reprieved; but Northumberland, with two other members of the Council, who had been tried by another court, was beheaded on Tower-hill, on the 22nd of August. On the scaffold he declared that he died in the Catholic faith!

On the 13th of November, the Lady Jane Grey, her[Pg 87] youthful husband Lord Guildford, his brother Lord Ambrose Dudley, and Archbishop Cranmer, were all condemned to suffer death as traitors; but Queen Mary sent them back to the Tower, and apparently without any intention of ever bringing them to the block. It was not until this the day of the trial that Jane was allowed to see her husband. On returning to the dismal state prison the young couple were again separated. They were otherwise treated with much leniency, and both were allowed considerable liberty within the precincts of the Tower, and were indulging in the fond hope of a pardon, when, early in the following year, 1554, Wyatt's mad rebellion broke out. This Sir Thomas Wyatt was a Catholic gentleman of Kent, and son of the poet of that name who has been associated in glory with the Earl of Surrey. Although connected by blood with the Dudleys, he had refused to co-operate with Northumberland in setting up Lady Jane, and had even been forward to proclaim Queen Mary at Maidstone, before knowing that she had been proclaimed any where else. But, Catholic as he was, Wyatt abhorred the cruel bigotry and grasping ambition of the Spanish court, and consequently the marriage which Mary had contracted with Philip II.; and being an honest but an exceedingly rash man—so rash as to appear almost half insane—he entered into a plot with a set of faithless scoundrels, or cowards, who engaged to raise the standard of revolt in different parts of the kingdom at one and the same time. Lady Jane's father, who had received the queen's free pardon, not only entered into this plot, but ran away into Warwickshire, and there with his two brothers, the Lord John and the Lord Leonard Grey, made proclamation against the queen's marriage, and called the people to arms. Wyatt, after a feeble and ridiculous attempt to get possession of the city of London, was beaten and made prisoner on the 7th of February.

This insurrection cost the lives of 400 persons, who were executed in the course of February and March, besides many who were put to death afterwards. The Duke of Suffolk was defeated and made prisoner in the[Pg 88] midland counties, and Sir Peter Carew, another of the conspirators, was defeated in the west. Carew had the good fortune to escape to France, but the father of Lady Jane was captured. During the insurrection Mary and her court were agitated by suspicions, and after the insurrection by revenge. The princess Elizabeth, who was accused of corresponding with Wyatt, was placed under arrest the very day after Wyatt's first rising in Kent, and was subsequently committed to the Tower. Other victims were sent to the same state prison; and Mary being induced to believe that the life of the Lady Jane was incompatible with her own safety and the tranquillity of the country, in three or four days after Wyatt's discomfiture, signed the death-warrant both for Jane and her husband. On the morning of the 12th February, the Lord Guildford Dudley was taken out to Tower-hill, where, after saying his prayers and shedding a few tears, he laid his head on the block and died quietly. The fate of this young and handsome man excited commiseration among the spectators, and as it was calculated that that of his wife would make a still deeper impression, it had been resolved to execute her more privately within the walls of the Tower. Queen Mary showed what she and all Catholics considered a laudable anxiety for the soul of this youthful and gentle sacrifice: during her imprisonment various efforts were made to shake her Protestant faith, and Fecknam or Feckenham, one of Queen Mary's chaplains, and a very Catholic Dean of St. Paul's, assailed her in her last hours with arguments and disputations; but it appears she was steadfast in the doctrines which she had studied under learned teachers. On the dreadful morning she declined a meeting with her husband, saying, that it would rather foment their grief than be a comfort in death, and that they should soon meet in a better place and happier estate. She even saw him conducted towards Tower-hill, and, with the same settled spirit, she beheld his headless trunk when it was returned to be buried in the Tower chapel. The sight was worse than death, but it failed to deprive her of her strength of mind, or of the glorious hope of a[Pg 89] happy immortality. By this time her own scaffold upon the green within the Tower was ready; and almost as soon as her husband's body passed towards the chapel the lieutenant led her forth to die. She uttered no moan and shed not a tear, although her two gentlewomen Elizabeth Tilney and Mistress Helen "wonderfully wept." She had a book in her hand, wherein she read and prayed until she reached the scaffold. From that platform she addressed a few modest words to the very few spectators who had been admitted to witness her end, stating that she had justly merited her fate for suffering herself to be made the instrument, however unwillingly, of the ambition of others. She then implored God's mercy, caused herself to be disrobed by her gentlewomen, veiled her own eyes with her handkerchief, and stretched her neck across the billet. The executioner was moved, and lingered with his upheld axe. She exhorted him to do his office. At last the axe fell, and her fair head rolled away from the body, drawing tears from the eyes of all present, not excepting those who were most devoted to Queen Mary and to the faith she professed.[35]

The Duke of Suffolk, who had never been worthy of the child whom his ambition and imbecility had sacrificed, was publicly beheaded on Tower-hill, on the 23rd of February, eleven days after the execution of his daughter and son-in-law. Sir Thomas Wyatt perished at the same place on the 11th of April; Lord Thomas Grey, one of Suffolk's brothers, was executed about a fortnight after, and other executions followed. But the only victim that excited any lasting interest, or that deserved to excite it, was the fair Lady Jane. Honest old Fuller, with his usual point, and apparently with little inaccuracy, unless it be in relation to her age, of which some doubts must be entertained, says of her—"She had the innocency of childhood, the beauty of youth, the solidity of middle, the gravity of old age, and all at eighteen; the birth of a princess, the learning of a[Pg 90] clerk, the life of a saint, and the death of a malefactor for her parent's offences."

The literary remains of Lady Jane, all of a religious, and most of them of a controversial character, are these—I. Three letters in Latin to Henry Bullinger, written before her marriage, between the years 1550 and 1553.—II. A letter to a friend newly fallen from the Faith.—III. A conference with Feckenham written a few days before her execution.—IV. A prayer for her own use whilst a prisoner in the Tower.—V. A letter to her father from the Tower.—VI. A letter to her sister Catherine, written on Sunday the 11th of February, 1554, the night before her execution, on the blank leaf of a Greek New Testament.—VII. Notes in a Manuscript Manual of prayers.—These are believed by her latest and best editor[36] to be unquestionably hers. Some of her numerous biographers, with singular bad taste, and with a total disregard of the fact that she was led out to execution immediately after Lord Guildford's body passed her dungeon window, have attributed to her three epigrams on her husband's headless body, one in Greek, one in Latin, and the third in English. We should wish to deduct from her acknowledged compositions the controversial letter written to the relapsed friend—Dr. Harding, who, after professing the reformed faith, had returned to the old church—for it is intolerant and most violent in spirit, and coarse and altogether unfeminine in expression; and although Sir N. H. Nicolas appears to entertain no doubt upon the subject, we still hesitate to believe that it was written by her, and that it has reached us unaltered. Nor can we renounce this saving doubt without shaking our faith in the thoroughly amiable and gentle character which has been drawn for the youthful controversialist.


[21] These strange facts, with others yet more startling, are contained in the Burghley 'State Papers.'

[22] Sir Nicholas Harris Nicolas, Memoir prefixed to the 'Literary Remains of Lady Jane Grey,' 1825. When Mary Tudor married Charles Brandon, she was the dowager queen of France, being the young widow of Louis XII.

[23] See 'Lady Jane Grey and her Times,' by George Howard, Esq. 8vo. London, 1822.

[24] Id.

[25] George Howard, Esq. 'Lady Jane Grey and her Times.'

[26] Sir Nicholas Harris Nicolas, in Memoir of Lady Jane Grey, already cited.

[27] King Edward's Journal.

[28] Id.

[29] Roger Ascham, the "Schoolmaster."

[30] Familiarum Epistolarum Libri Tres.

[31] Id.

[32] It is scarcely necessary to say a word about a right so very defective in law.

By the laws of descent the next heir to the throne after the two princesses, Mary and Elizabeth, was not Lady Jane Grey, but the celebrated Mary Queen of Scots, daughter and heiress of James V. King of Scots, son and heir of James IV., by Margaret, eldest sister of Henry VIII. Lady Jane descended from the youngest sister of Henry.

[33] Stow, Annals.

[34] Biographia Britannica.

[35] De Thou. Bishop Godwin.

[36] Sir N. H. Nicolas.

[Pg 91]


Thomas Cranmer was the son of a gentleman of Nottinghamshire, who traced his descent from one of the followers of the Conqueror. He was born at Aslacton, in that county, on the second day of July, 1489: and it is stated that so recently as the year 1790, traces might be seen of the walks and pleasure-grounds which belonged to the mansion of his fathers. Tradition also long pointed out a small rising ground or mount in the immediate neighbourhood of the house, from whose summit the future primate of England was accustomed to survey the beauty of the surrounding scenery, and to hearken to the music of the village bells. These memorials have disappeared: and although such traditions are of little biographical value, they are interesting as indicating the sort of circumstances by which plain but not unpoetical minds imagine that the early footsteps of an illustrious man should be traced.

Young Cranmer received his rudiments of instruction from "a rude parish clerk," under whom he learnt little; while the harsh disposition of his schoolmaster subjected him to much painful discipline. Although his father intended that he should have the advantages of a[Pg 92] learned education, he was not willing that he should be ignorant of the exercises in which a gentleman was, in that age, expected to be proficient. He permitted him to shoot, to hunt, to hawk, and to ride unbroken horses; so that even when he became archbishop, he was able to mount without hesitation, and to ride becomingly the roughest horses that came into his stables. It is added by Strype, that notwithstanding very defective sight, he could "shoot in the long-bow, and many times kill the deer with his cross-bow."

Cranmer lost his father early; but his excellent mother carried out the intentions which her husband had formed, in pursuance of which, when her son had reached the age of fourteen years, which was in 1503, she sent him to Jesus College, Cambridge. Of this society he was elected Fellow in 1510 or 1511. Much of the intervening period had been consumed upon the scholastic divinity which in that age formed the predominant study at Cambridge. After his election to the fellowship, his studies took a wider and more liberal range. The writings of Erasmus began by this time to be received with favour in England, especially by the younger scholars, and to open up the minds which had been more or less absorbed in the subtle vagaries of the schoolmen, whose influence had for some ages darkened all the realms of thought. After Cranmer had devoted four or five years to Erasmus, Faber, and other good authors, Luther began to write; and perceiving the great controversies which were there arising in the lesser as well as weightier matters of religion, he was led next to apply himself to the study of the Scriptures, which engaged his almost exclusive attention for three years, and thus laid a good foundation of Scriptural knowledge, which availed him much in later days. After this he allowed himself to expatiate freely among good authors, both new and old: but was still careful to digest well whatever he deemed worthy his perusal. Reading was a slow operation to him, as he always accompanied it with the use of the pen, wherewith he filled his adversaria with whatever struck him as worthy of especial[Pg 93] note, by the actual transcription of shorter passages, and by references to and abstracts of such as were too long to be conveniently transcribed. Yet he was careful that this should not supersede the exercise of his memory and judgment; but the collections formed by this pains-taking mode of study were of great value to him in the controversies in which he was afterwards engaged.

This course he followed till he took his degree of Doctor in Divinity in 1523, when he was in the thirty-fourth year of his age.

About ten years before this, that is, when he was in the twenty-third year of his age, being then Master of Arts, he vacated his fellowship by marriage with a lady who is described by Strype as "a gentleman's daughter." She was, however, related by affinity to the wife of the person who kept the Dolphin Inn, at Cambridge; and for this reason Cranmer, instead of procuring apartments for her elsewhere, allowed her to reside in that house with her kinswoman, and there openly resorted to her society. This arrangement, however convenient or unobjectionable it might have seemed to a studious man then little conversant with the world, ill suits the ideas of refinement and delicacy which society has now formed, and which it somewhat unreasonably exacts from men of a past and less cultivated age. Even in that age, however, Cranmer's proceedings did not escape animadversion, and it became the foundation of the idle story that he, for some time, acted as hostler of the Dolphin Inn.

Although Cranmer's marriage lost him his fellowship, it did not disqualify him from the office of college reader or lecturer, and to that office he was actually appointed in Magdalen College, then called Buckingham College, and previously Monks' College, because monks resorted to it. Here he lectured with distinction and success, but in what faculty is not known, though there can be little doubt that it was in divinity.

The loss of his wife a year after his marriage, enabled Cranmer's own college of Jesus to testify its appreciation of his great merits, by the rare and very remarkable[Pg 94] course of re-electing the widower to the fellowship he had forfeited by his marriage. He was thus enabled to resume and carry on without interruption the studies which have already been described. In gratitude for this mark of esteem, he some years after declined to desert his college, when tempted to do so by the offer of a better preferment in Wolsey's new college of Christ Church at Oxford. The invitation is, however, a fair sign of the estimation in which his attainments and abilities were already held.

Soon after taking his doctor's degree, Cranmer was appointed to the divinity lectureship in his own college; and in the university to that of public examiner in theology. In this capacity he did much good, at the cost of some immediate dissatisfaction, by turning back all those candidates for divinity degrees who appeared notoriously ignorant of the sacred Scriptures; for at this time it was not unusual for men deeply read in school theology, and aspiring to the degrees of bachelor and doctor in divinity, to be without any direct acquaintance with the Book upon which the whole system of Christian faith and doctrine is built.

While he was thus employed, about the year 1529, an epidemical disorder, with many symptoms like the plague, broke out at Cambridge, and caused a dispersion of the members of the University. Cranmer retired into Essex, to the house of Mr. Cressy, a gentleman of fortune residing at Waltham, whose sons had been his pupils at Cambridge, and whose education he still continued to superintend. This visit was destined to produce circumstances which effected an entire change in his course of life, and in which lay the foundation of all his future fortune.

King Henry the Eighth happened to be at that time in a progress through some of the southern counties of England; and Fox, provost of King's College, with Gardiner, then secretary of state, were invited as part of his suite to the house of Mr. Cressy, where they passed the evening with Cranmer. Aware of his high reputation as a divinity lecturer at Cambridge, they were[Pg 95] anxious to obtain his opinion on the question which then agitated the court and country, respecting the validity of the king's marriage with his brother's widow, Catherine of Aragon—or rather whether the Pope had the power of rendering such a marriage valid by the dispensation which he had given. His opinion on this point was not known; for he had been absent from Cambridge when the question had been sent to the university, which it had answered in favour of the validity of the marriage under the Pope's dispensation.

Cranmer declared that the subject was one to which he had not felt it necessary to give any close attention. But he indirectly made light of any validity which the marriage, if in itself unlawful, could derive from the dispensing power of the Pope. He said that it seemed to him the validity or invalidity of the marriage must be determined by Scripture; and the sense of Scripture in the matter might be most satisfactorily collected by taking the opinions of the divines in the universities of Europe upon this simple question, "Whether it was lawful to marry a brother's wife?" The protracted and costly processes which were otherwise necessary might thus be spared; and if the judgment of the Universities were in accordance with the king's wishes—that is, against the marriage—he might then with a satisfied conscience act upon that decision without any further reference to Rome. This is obviously the purport of his advice, which may be collected from the different reports of it. The counsel given by Cranmer was not absolutely new; but it had not before been produced with the same degree of distinctness and weight of authority.

As this opinion was entirely in accordance with that of Gardiner, if not of Fox, the king was made acquainted with it two days after at Greenwich. He was at once struck by the prospect which it offered of bringing to a satisfactory conclusion the difficulty which vexed his life; and exclaimed "Where is this Doctor Cranmer? I perceive he hath the right sow by the ear!" A messenger was immediately dispatched for him; but he was so far from anticipating any results personal to himself[Pg 96] from the suggestion he had thrown out in an evening's talk, that he had actually departed from Waltham when the messenger arrived. He was found, however, and brought to London—not very willingly, it is said; and on his arrival was introduced to the king. Henry received him graciously, and was very favourably impressed by the learning and ability, and by the grave and modest demeanour, with which he stated his views in regard to the marriage. He commanded him to lay aside from that hour all other business, and devote his whole attention to this great matter. He was directed to digest his views carefully in writing; and that he might do so undisturbed, he was consigned to the care of the Earl of Wiltshire and Ormond, who was ordered to afford him suitable entertainment at Durham Place. As this nobleman was the father of the Lady Anne Boleyn—who was already known to be the intended queen in case the marriage with Catherine should be declared invalid—the choice of a host for Cranmer was unfortunate, as it subjected him to the suspicion of being placed under an undue and partial influence. But in other respects the choice was suitable, the Earl of Wiltshire being the friend of Erasmus, a patron of learning and learned men, and generally regarded as one of the most learned and pious noblemen in the country. A strong intimacy soon grew up between the Doctor and his entertainers; and Strype thinks it a happy circumstance that he was placed with them, seeing that through the intercourse with him, this noble family, and the Lady Anne in particular, became more confirmed in the principles of the Reformation, which, in the high station to which she eventually attained, she favoured and promoted so far as her means and opportunities allowed.

In the treatise which Cranmer was soon enabled to lay before the king, he maintained that the marriage of Henry with the widow of his brother was condemned by the authority of the Scriptures, the Councils, and the Fathers; and he denied that the dispensing power of the Pope could give validity to a union expressly prohibited by the word of God. The king asked him the[Pg 97] startling question, whether he was prepared to maintain these positions before the Bishop of Rome himself; and when Cranmer answered that he was quite ready to do so, Henry declared that it was his intention to send him thither.

From this time the intercourse between the king and Cranmer was frequent; and the readiness with which, through the ample resources of his learning, he had been enabled to execute the task entrusted to him, fully established him in the royal favour and confidence. It is probably not long after this that he was appointed to the archdeaconry of Taunton, and was presented to a parochial benefice, the name of which has eluded the research of his biographers.

Wide circulation was given throughout Europe to the treatise of Cranmer, by way of preparing the minds of university divines for the consideration of the questions about to be proposed to them, and the next year, 1530, a royal commission was sent abroad to collect their suffrages. This commission was composed of the Earl of Wiltshire, Cranmer, Lee, archbishop elect of York; Stokesley, bishop elect of London; Tregonel, Karn, and Benet, doctors of laws. The commission first directed their course to France, and from thence passed on to Italy, and afterwards to Germany, leaving Cranmer alone at Rome, to dispute the matter at the Papal court. Here he remained some months, and was treated with courtesy and respect, but strove in vain to bring to an issue a question which brought the pope's dispensing power into dispute, and which could not be determined satisfactorily to Henry without offence to the Emperor, who took much interest in the matter, seeing that Catherine of Aragon was his aunt.

The decisions of the French and Italian universities were in accordance with the opinions which Cranmer had promulgated; but those of the German universities were less favourable, being more under the influence of the Emperor. The Lutheran universities, indeed, were ready enough to deny the dispensing power of the pope as to a matter clearly prohibited by Scripture, but they[Pg 98] hesitated to say that such a marriage was in itself contrary to the divine laws.

At the end of the year 1530 Cranmer returned from Rome, it being quite clear that his longer stay availed nothing for the object he had in view. He found the king in high spirits from the success which had attended the measure recommended by him; for it had put him in possession of the judgments of the most learned bodies in Christendom in favour of the object he desired to accomplish. After a very short stay in England, during which he found time to answer Reginald Pole's book against the divorce, he was again sent abroad on an embassy to the Emperor himself, doubtless for the purpose of advancing at the imperial court the matter the king had most at heart. In this he does not appear to have had much success, even among the great Reforming divines whom he made it his business to consult. Their general feeling seems to have been that, however questionable or inexpedient the contraction of this unhappy marriage may have been in the first instance, it was harsh and unjust to call it in question after the lapse of so many years: and Luther, for one, in his usual blunt way, declared, on this ground apparently, that the divorce would be a greater enormity than the marriage.

It is deeply to be lamented that the cause of the Reformation in this country, and the elevation of Cranmer, should be so closely connected with this painful matter. The character of neither has escaped without spot from this connection. But they take narrow views indeed, who regard this matter as the cause of the Reformation. The causes lay far deeper; and, from the influences at work, the Reformation was inevitable had Catherine of Aragon never lived, nor Henry VIII. ever reigned.

During his residence in Germany, Cranmer took a step which in him was of very great importance. In the course of an intimacy with the celebrated Osiander, then pastor at Nuremberg, he formed an attachment to his niece, and early in 1532 was married to her. By this step he declared himself almost, if not altogether, a Protestant, as it amounted to a denial that any pope or[Pg 99] council had the right to impose the obligation of celibacy upon the clergy, whose liberty in this respect had not been abridged by the law of God, or by the practice of the primitive church.

But Cranmer's time, while on the Continent, was by no means engrossed by the divorce question. He was entrusted with many private dispatches from the king; he discharged with ability and success the general duties of an ambassador; he had matters of trade to negotiate for the merchants of England trading to the Low Countries. Once he was obliged to furnish himself with camp equipage and attend the Emperor, who had taken the field against the Turks. He thus had various opportunities of showing himself to be a man whose knowledge was by no means confined to his profession, but was of a more general cast than the simplicity of his character and his quiet disposition had led men to suppose.

There is no reason to doubt that this residence in Germany, and intercourse with many chief men of the Protestant party, tended much to strengthen that favourable opinion of the Reformation which his previous studies at Cambridge had led him to entertain.

While his attention was engaged in the matters connected with his embassy, he received a message that the king intended to reward his various and eminent services by bestowing on him the archiepiscopal see of Canterbury, which had become vacant on the 23rd of August, 1532, by the death of Dr. Warham.

Cranmer had doubtless formed expectations of advancement from the king's favour; but this so greatly surpassed his expectations or wishes, that he was less gratified than surprised and perplexed at this intelligence. To one whose ecclesiastical honours were so recent and unimportant, the advancement to the primacy of all England seemed somewhat too abrupt; he also felt that some difficulty might arise from the marriage which he had so recently contracted; and he seriously hesitated respecting the oath to the pope which he would be required to take.

None of these obstacles, however, proved insuperable;[Pg 100] for he soon returned to England, and was consecrated archbishop of Canterbury, March 30th, 1533. The oath of fidelity to the pope he took under protest, "that he took it in no sense but such as was wholly consistent with the laws of God, the king's prerogative, and the statutes of the realm; that he did not thereby bind himself from speaking his mind freely in matters of religion, the government of the church, and the rights of the crown; and that he meant on all occasions to oppose the illegal authority of the pope, and to condemn his errors."

Soon after his advancement, Cranmer was called upon to act as judge in the painful matter of the divorce; for the king, fortified by the opinions collected from the universities, determined to bring the matter to a close without any further reference to Rome. Accordingly, he presided officially in a Consistory held at Dunstable, in which Queen Catherine, in default of her appearance, in answer to the summons sent to her, was pronounced contumacious, and a final sentence of divorce was passed. The matter was, in fact, urgent, for the king had before this privately married the Lady Anne Boleyn, and a prospect had arisen of her giving birth to a child, whose rights might be seriously affected by further delay. A few months after, on the 7th of September, 1533, a female child was born; and at her baptism, which soon followed, the archbishop, by the king's desire, became her god-father, and gave her the name of Elizabeth.

Cranmer was no doubt very glad to be rid of this unhappy affair of the divorce, and of the questions and responsibilities connected with it. We also rejoice; and shall now be able to mark more closely the real character of the man, as manifested in the high station to which he had attained. Of the public matters in which he took part we shall say little, for that would be to enter into every important matter of the reigns in which he lived. We shall choose rather to dwell upon the circumstances which illustrate the history and character of the individual.

It is well to point out that at, and for some time after, his elevation, Cranmer was not otherwise opposed to[Pg 101] Romanism than as regarded the subject of the ecclesiastical power of the pope in this country. His dogmatic theology was ever on the great point of transubstantiation in accordance with that of Rome; and he regarded those who disputed it—the Sacramentarians, as they were called—as heretics; and no one at that time doubted that heretics ought to be punished even unto death, to deter others from their soul-destroying errors. Even those who suffered, admitted this doctrine, and denied only that their own opinions were to be treated as heretical. It is scarcely to be regarded as a charge against Cranmer, that he had not realized those views of toleration which were the growth of a later age, and which no man in his time entertained. From constitutional mildness of disposition and aversion to blood-shedding, he would not be forward in originating proceedings against those whom he regarded as heretics; but he shrunk not from any duty in this matter which his office seemed to impose, and he beheld without disapprobation the severities which some of the bishops of his province exercised. There is the memorable case of John Frith, who was examined before Cranmer and the Bishops of London and Winchester, for those very opinions regarding the sacrament which Cranmer himself eventually entertained, and which were common to all the reformers of the succeeding reign. Frith's views now seemed so "notably erroneous," that after Cranmer had in vain sought to turn him from them in three or four interviews, he was consigned to the tender mercies of his ordinary, Stokesley, Bishop of London; "and now," says Cranmer in one of his letters, "he is at a final end with all his examination; for my lord of London hath given sentence and delivered him to the secular power; where he looketh every day to go unto the fire." He adds quietly, "And there is also condemned with him one Andrew, a tailor of London, for the self-same opinion."

But although, from his treatment of the Sacramentarians, and from the general turn of his conduct and writings, it is very evident that Cranmer did not clear at a single bound the wide difference which was afterwards[Pg 102] established between the Protestantism of the Anglican Church and the prescribed orthodoxy of the Roman communion; it is equally manifest from other parts of his conduct and writings, and especially from his famous Protest, that at the time of his elevation his views were in a state of progress, and that he stood prepared for any further change, whether in doctrine or discipline, which his reading, reflection, or experience might suggest. The reader who has well considered the character of Henry the Eighth, knows that this was just the character and temper of mind suited for carrying on the work of the Reformation under a monarch like this, who remained, doctrinally, a rigid Romanist to the last day of his existence. It is therefore so far from being a disparagement to the master-builder of this cause in England that he was not a Luther, a Calvin, or a Knox—that it is safe to say that their qualities would not have suited the time, the country, and the king; and that their labours, instead of being conducted, like those of Cranmer, with great judgment and discretion to a successful issue, would speedily have been interrupted by death upon the scaffold or at the stake.

The divorce of Queen Catherine, and the marriage with and coronation of Anne Boleyn, brought matters to an issue with the see of Rome. The pope threatened, and afterwards executed a sentence of excommunication against Henry, who on his part was not slow to retaliate by measures for casting off the authority of the papacy, in which Cranmer took an active and important part, but which are too much matters of national history to claim consideration in this brief memoir.

These matters having been settled, and the ferment which they produced having in some degree subsided, the archbishop applied himself with diligence to the charge of his province, and to the advancement of religion. Among other things he undertook a visitation of his whole province, which, however necessary under the circumstances of the time, was an unusual measure, no such visitation having taken place for more than a century. It was particularly unpalatable to the bishops[Pg 103] not favourable to the recent measures; and Gardiner of Winchester, and Stokesley of London, openly declared their dissatisfaction. The former was probably not well pleased at the high advancement of one whom he had been instrumental in introducing to the notice of the king; and although he had vigorously promoted the divorce, he was not prepared for the innovations which seemed impending, and which Cranmer manifested much disposition to promote. The same was the case with Stokesley, who on many occasions conducted himself most discourteously to the primate. One example of this is remarkable. Cranmer from the moment of his advancement was most anxious to place the Scriptures before the people in their own tongue, and the consent of the king having been obtained, the archbishop proceeded in this manner: he began with the New Testament, and taking Tyndale's translation of it, he divided it into nine or ten parts, which he caused to be written out large and fair in as many paper-books. These books he sent to the most learned among the bishops and other ecclesiastics, with a request that they would give a careful revision of the parts allotted to them, and return the corrected books to him by a given day. When that day arrived, all the books had been returned except Stokesley's. On this the primate sent a letter to Fulham, requesting that the book might be sent by the bearer, his secretary. On receiving this, Stokesley said, "I marvel what my lord of Canterbury meaneth, that he thus abuseth the people in giving them liberty to read the Scriptures, which doth nothing else but infect them with heresy. I have bestowed never one hour on my portion, nor never will. And therefore my lord shall have his book back again, for I will never be guilty of bringing the simple people into error." And he accordingly sent it back in the state in which he received it. Cranmer was somewhat disturbed at this, as Stokesley had made no objection when he received the book, and the whole manner of the thing was grossly insulting to him.

There existed, in fact, on the episcopal bench, and in the higher offices of the church, a formidable amount of[Pg 104] hostility to any further changes and improvements. Aware of the opposition he had to expect from this quarter, he was glad when opportunities occurred of promoting the advancement of men more favourable to "the new learning," as it was called, and more willing to accept its consequences. In 1535 he had the satisfaction of consecrating Latimer and Shaxton, one to the see of Worcester, and the other to that of Salisbury; and several other promotions were effected through his influence, tending to weaken the influence of Rome in this country.

The same year was signalized by the advancement of Thomas Cromwell to the office of vicar-general to the king, as head of the church, in all ecclesiastical affairs. The powers given to him were very great; and in his official capacity precedence even over the archbishop was assigned to him. He was, however, on good terms with Cranmer, was himself well inclined to "the new learning," and was fully disposed to employ his authority in carrying on the great ecclesiastical revolution in which so much progress had been already made. This vast power was first applied to the visitation and suppression of the monasteries, and to the confiscation of their revenues. As Cranmer had no hand in this measure, and as the course which he approved was not taken, this is not the place to dwell upon it further than to state that, although both he and Latimer were favourable to the suppression of these strong-holds of Papal influence, it was their wish that three or four religious houses should have been preserved in every county, which under proper regulation might have offered shelter to contemplative piety, and might have opened a quiet harbour for many a troubled spirit that sighed for rest. It was also Cranmer's wish, which on proper occasions he never ceased to urge, that the revenues of these establishments, instead of being confiscated to enrich rapacious courtiers, should be reserved as a fund for the establishment and maintenance of schools and colleges throughout the country.

It was the misfortune of the archbishop to be not long[Pg 105] after implicated, by the obligations of his office, in the tyrannical and heartless proceedings of the king against Anne Boleyn. The question of her guilt or innocence can perhaps never be satisfactorily determined, unless documents not known to be now in existence should hereafter be brought to light. There is every reason to believe that much of what was laid to her charge could not be true; but the best friends of her memory must admit that much of her demeanour, although very probably no more than the result of mere thoughtlessness and natural buoyancy of temper, very ill became the high station to which she had been raised. On her degradation, all her old friends and adherents forsook her, lest they should be involved in her ruin. There was but one exception—Cranmer alone ventured, as far as the impetuosity of the royal savage permitted, to endeavour to moderate the violent prejudices entertained against her. The delicate management with which, in his letter to the king, he strove to produce a re-action in her behalf, and to convey his own testimony in favour of her character, will be best understood and appreciated by those who have the most carefully studied the position in which he stood, and the character of the man whom he sought to influence. This well-meant endeavour was unavailing; sentence of death was pronounced against her; and the dread of death having extorted from her a pretended confession of some lawful impediments to her marriage with the king, the archbishop was constrained to pronounce the marriage null and invalid on that plea. That he performed this duty of his office with an aching heart, we may readily believe; but he could not have evaded it without laying down his bishoprick; and he appears to have thought that her life might by this measure be preserved; for it did not appear how the penalties of high treason could be enforced against one whose marriage with the king was thus declared to have been invalid. But Henry, whose character was not then so well known as it afterwards became, did not stand upon such nice distinctions, and all the grace he would allow was that she should not perish at the[Pg 106] stake, but that the fair head which he had once thought worthy of a diadem should roll in blood upon the scaffold. The best vindication of Anne Boleyn's memory is that which the king himself offered the next day, when, in violation of the commonest decencies of life, he led her successor, the Lady Jane Seymour, to the altar.

The influence of Cranmer lay on deeper foundations than many had hitherto supposed; for it was soon seen that the death of Anne Boleyn, which was hailed as a triumph by the papal party, did not in any degree affect the power of the archbishop, or impede the cause to which he was devoted. Of that cause, the whole weight may be said to have rested at this time upon him, for neither Latimer, Shaxton, nor Barlow (of St. David's), were well suited to be active coadjutors therein. Of Latimer we shall presently have occasion to speak. No one valued the fine qualities of this good man more than did the archbishop, but it is easy to perceive that he dreaded more damage in those critical times from his indiscretion, than he hoped advantage from his counsel. As the single leader, he managed the great interests confided to him with a degree of judgment and address which can only be fairly estimated by those who consider that in the objects to which his views tended every day with increased distinctness, he had to cope not only with the determined opposition of the papal party—who were supported in all doctrinal matters by the king himself—but with the conflicting opinions of the different parties into which the Protestants themselves were divided. He therefore avoided provoking too strong an opposition by premature innovations, and considered well each step before it was taken. He began with redressing the abuses in his own courts,—retrenching his own fees and those of his officers. He abolished needless holidays. He then applied himself to regulate the preaching of the clergy, with the view of rendering their discourses vehicles of public instruction. His steps in reforming the doctrines of the Church were more guarded and cautious. The Roman ceremonies were not abolished, but were so explained as to remove supersti[Pg 107]tion from the observance of them. In the doctrine of the real presence he was still a firm believer; and he personally assisted at the disputation which the king personally maintained in favour of it against the unfortunate John Lambert, who suffered a cruel death for the freedom with which he declared his opinions.

In the year 1538 Cranmer was cheered by the completion of an impression of the whole Bible in English, partly under his patronage, in one large folio volume, known by the name of Matthew's Bible. This name was fictitious. The translation was partly by Tyndale and partly by Coverdale; but as the former had suffered martyrdom in Flanders—the primate judged it expedient to set it forth under a name untainted with heresy. This great work the public owed to the enterprise of the printers, Grafton and Whitchurch; and a letter from the former to Cromwell is extant, in which he states that the impression amounted to 1500 copies, and that he had sunk no less than 500l.—no small sum for that time—in the enterprise. Cranmer exerted himself greatly in bringing the work into notice, and enforcing the use of it. In a letter to Cromwell he declares that the gift of a thousand pounds would have gladdened him far less than this happy event. Through the vicar-general's influence it was licensed by the king; and a copy was ordered to be affixed to a desk in every parish church. It was received with incredible ardour by the people. Those who had the means purchased it for themselves, while others flocked to the churches to read it or hear it read.

Some time after this the archbishop fell under some displeasure from the opposition which he offered to the spoliation of the revenues of the religious houses. The anti-Protestant party were also successful in urging upon the king the necessity of taking some decided proceeding to show the world that his measures had been taken not against the church, but against the supremacy of the pope. This resulted in the famous act of the Six Articles, to which Cranmer gave a decided and powerful opposition, which alone is quite sufficient to rescue[Pg 108] his memory from the charge of subserviency to the king, which has sometimes been alleged against him. Indeed, the king, who took so much interest in the measure that he went down to the House of Lords in person, and spoke in favour of it, pointedly requested him to absent himself from the debate; but he refused, alleging that the cause was not his own, but God's. There was only one point in the six articles—that in favour of the real presence—which was not contrary to his views; and as they thus furnish an index to the state of his opinions, their contents may be briefly stated:—1. That the real body of Christ is present in the Eucharist. 2. That the Sacrament should not be administered in both kinds to the laity. 3. That vows of chastity made by men or women are binding by the law of God. 4. That the law of God warrants the celebration of private masses. 5. That it does not allow the marriage of priests. 6. That it makes auricular confession necessary.

This act gave great affliction to the archbishop, not only as casting a cloud over the cause for which he laboured, but as affecting his own domestic comfort; for the fifth article constrained him to send his wife—with whom he had hitherto lived in a private way—together with their children, home to her friends in Germany. His adversaries also exulted in the supposed destruction of his influence; for those who knew best the character of Henry, and how ill he could tolerate the least opposition to his wishes, made sure that the primate's recent conduct had quite ruined him with the king. They were very much mistaken. To the honour of Henry be it said, that this display of sturdy integrity made no apparent diminution in his regard for Cranmer, if it did not rather increase his esteem for him. He even felt and expressed some concern for the trouble into which the primate must be plunged, and avowedly with the view of diverting his anxiety, he ordered the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk, and all the peers of parliament, to go and dine with him the next day at Lambeth, "to comfort him in his grief." They obeyed; some of them with no great satisfaction; and Norfolk, in the hearing of the rest, sig[Pg 109]nified to "the archbishop his majesty's pleasure, that he should take comfort from the assurance that his good will towards him was still unimpaired; that the king was much impressed by the industry and learning displayed by him in the recent debates; and that he trusted he would not be too much cast down at the unsuccessful result of his exertions." This brought upon Cranmer a flood of compliments from all his guests. Among the rest, Cromwell declared his belief that the archbishop had been born in a most happy hour. It was, he said, the lot of all the other counsellors of the king frequently to incur his displeasure and to feel the weight of his rebuke: but no one could ever gain a hearing who attempted to insinuate anything to the disadvantage of his grace of Canterbury.

Among the consequences of the Six Articles was the resignation of their sees by Latimer and Shaxton, which, with the not long subsequent downfall of Cromwell, again left the primate almost alone in the work he had undertaken.

In the same year, 1540, a new edition of the Scriptures appeared, in the shape of a large folio, enriched with a noble Preface by the archbishop, and hence known by the name of 'Cranmer's Bible.' Notwithstanding the former ordinance, many parishes in England still remained without the sacred volume; and now that the means of supply had been secured, a proclamation was issued, enforcing the previous ordinance under the penalty of 40s. a month so long as the omission should continue. This proclamation was greatly disliked by the anti-Protestant party, and although they could do nothing against it at the time, they were enabled about two years after to prevail upon the king to recall his sanction from the free and public perusal of the Scriptures, and to suppress the practice for the remainder of his reign. This was a matter of infinite concern to Cranmer.

In the course of 1541, a most painful and delicate task was imposed upon Cranmer, which it seemed equally dangerous to perform or to decline. One Lascelles, just previously to the king's return from the north, made[Pg 110] known to him the criminal conduct of the then queen, Catherine Howard. This he imparted to the Lord Chancellor Audley and to the Earl of Hertford, both of whom shrunk from having anything to do in the matter, and left to the archbishop the responsibility of communicating to the king or of suppressing the information he had received. By consulting them, he had put the latter course out of his power. He committed to writing the particulars revealed to him, and delivered the paper to the king on the very day after that in which the monarch had solemnly, in the chapel at Hampton Court, returned thanks to God for the connubial felicity which he enjoyed with his excellent and virtuous queen. The sequel is well known—more victims for the block—more blood upon the page which records the domestic history of Henry VIII.

In the year 1542, a strong effort to ruin the archbishop was made by the Roman party under Gardiner. Various meetings were held, and a variety of charges, amounting together to what was then considered heresy, were digested into a voluminous body of articles against the archbishop. This was sent into the privy council ostensibly from the prebendaries of the archbishop's own cathedral. These documents were soon in the hands of the king, who by a little reflection detected the animus of the proceeding as a confederacy for Cranmer's destruction, and felt convinced that Gardiner was at the bottom of it. Upon this conviction he acted, with his usual promptitude. He one evening ordered his barge, and proceeded forthwith to Lambeth, taking the papers in his sleeve. When Cranmer appeared on the steps by the water-side, Henry called to him, "O my chaplain, now I know who is the greatest heretic in Kent." He then gave him the articles, and desired him to inspect them. The primate was thunderstruck to find among the names of his accusers many members of his own church who were under great obligations to him, and of many magistrates whom he had treated with kindness and respect. He instantly fell on his knees, and implored that a commission should be appointed to sift the matter[Pg 111] to the bottom. "A commission there shall be," said the king; "but the archbishop of Canterbury shall be at the head of it, with such colleagues as he may please to appoint." Cranmer remonstrated against this; but the king was inflexible; and the investigation was entered upon without delay. Such a commission could not work well, however; and, seeing this, the king added two other commissioners, who proceeded with vigour and despatch, and brought to light all the dark intricacies of the plot against the primate. Gardiner, by a timely and somewhat abject apology, succeeded in preventing the letters which revealed his share in the confederacy from being laid before the House of Lords; and the prebendaries abased themselves to the very dust before the man they had striven to destroy. Cranmer, with his customary lenity, dismissed them with a mild admonition and his full forgiveness, reminding us of the saying which was current concerning him:—"Do my lord of Canterbury an ill turn, and he is your friend for ever." This was not long after again illustrated when Sir John Gostwick complained in his place in parliament, that the archbishop in his sermons at Canterbury and Sandwich had spoken heretically of the sacrament of the altar. This person did not belong to Kent, and had never heard a syllable from the lips of the person he accused. When the circumstance came to the ears of the king, he flew into a passion, and with small regard for the privilege of parliament, exclaimed, "Tell that varlet Gostwick that he hath played a villainous part to abuse in open parliament the primate of the realm. If he does not instantly acknowledge his fault to my lord of Canterbury, I will make him the poorest Gostwick that ever bore the name. What! does he pretend that, being in Bedfordshire, he could hear my lord of Canterbury preaching in Kent?" On hearing this the poor knight was heartily scared; he flew to Lambeth, and not only secured the pardon of the archbishop, but his intercession on his behalf with the king, who was not without difficulty pacified. In fact, Henry seems at this time to have had a very distinct perception of the dangers which beset the primate[Pg 112] from the sleepless enmity with which all his movements were watched, and to have felt how much his safety depended upon his support and confidence. He seems indeed to have had a presentiment of the fate that awaited him; for he was more than once heard to say, "What would they do with him, if I were gone!" The death of Charles Brandon, duke of Suffolk, the king's brother-in-law, in 1545, deprived Cranmer of the most sincere and powerful friend that he now possessed at court; and his enemies availed themselves of this weakening of his interest for renewing their attacks. Representing to the king that the archbishop and his learned men had so infected the realm with their unsavoury doctrines, that three parts out of four in the land had become abominable heretics, and that the truth could not be known or spoken so long as he continued at liberty and a member of the council, they prevailed upon the king to give a seeming consent to his committal to the Tower. Late the same night Henry sent to call the archbishop out of his bed to attend him at Whitehall. On his arrival the king informed him of all that had taken place; and when the primate professed that he was ready to go to the Tower, provided that he might not be deprived of the liberty of defending himself against his accusers—the king burst out with—"O Lord God, what simplicity is yours! Know you not this—that no sooner shall you be in the Tower than the knaves will come forward to arraign you—who, while you are at liberty, will not dare to show their face? No, no; not so, my lord of Canterbury. Go you to the council to-morrow, and when you appear before them demand to be confronted with your accusers. Should there be a moment's hesitation, produce this ring, the sight of which will instantly bring the matter before me." The archbishop followed these directions to the letter. By eight o'clock the next morning he was in attendance upon the council. They were not then prepared to call him in; and he was left waiting in the ante-room, among the serving men in attendance. A hint of this fact was given to the king by his physician, Dr. Butts; and he impatiently curbed his wrath with[Pg 113]—"It is very well—I shall talk with them by and by." At length Cranmer was admitted to the council chamber; and when he heard the complaint against him, he required that his accusers should be produced. This met with no attention, and finding that they were bent on his immediate commitment to the Tower, he exhibited the ring which the king had given to him the night before. This unwelcome object threw the whole assembly into confusion, and, as in duty bound, they at once repaired to the royal presence. Henry rated them soundly for their conduct. "Ha, my lords!" he said, "I thought that I had a wise and discreet council; but now I find that I am deceived. How have you handled here my lord of Canterbury? What make ye of him? Is he a slave, that ye shut him of the council chamber among serving men? Would ye be so handled yourselves?" After more taunts to the same effect, he proceeded with much solemnity;—"I would have you well understand, that I account my lord of Canterbury a faithful man towards me as ever was prelate in this realm, and one to whom I am in many ways beholden, by the faith I owe unto God;" here he laid his hand upon his breast, and added, "And therefore whoso loveth me will on that account regard him." On this nothing but the language of deprecation and apology was heard from the bewildered courtiers, who protested that they had never meant any harm to my lord of Canterbury, and had only moved for his committal to the Tower in the conviction that he would after trial come forth with augmented reputation and glory. "Well," said the king, "I pray you use not my friends so. I perceive now well enough how the world goeth among you. There remaineth malice among you one to another; let it be avoided out of hand, I would advise you." He then withdrew, and the lords crowded round the archbishop to shake hands with him, and assure him of their regard. The king's favourite recipe for promoting a good understanding among people, was by making them dine together; and he often used it in behalf of Cranmer, by sending the lords of the council to Lambeth to dine at his hospitable[Pg 114] table; and this he did not neglect on the present occasion.

After the signal defeat which has been described, the enemies of the archbishop no longer durst, during the life-time of Henry, practise against him as a traitor or a heretic; and they were obliged to be content with low detraction, and with attempting to excite a feeling against him as a mean and avaricious prelate. Sir John Seymour (brother of the future Protector) was among those who ventured to insinuate to the king that the revenues of the primacy were not now employed in maintaining that dignified hospitality which became so eminent a station. The king seemed to take little notice of this at the time; but some weeks after he found an occasion of sending Sir John over to Lambeth at the hour of dinner. He arrived just in time to witness the becoming splendour and liberality of the archbishop's establishment, and was himself pressed to take a seat among the guests. Penetrating the design of the king in sending him to Lambeth, Seymour, on his return, acknowledged his error, and confessed that next to the king's there was no table in the realm more nobly kept than that of the primate. "Aye," said the king, "I well perceive what you would be at. With your good will the revenues of the bishopricks should follow the same fate with those of the monasteries, but while I live that shall never be." The calumny was, however, not suffered to drop; and five years after, in the time of Edward the Sixth, the reports of his parsimony and great wealth extorted a vigorous reply from him, in which, among other things, he says: "That he took not half so much care for his living when he was a scholar at Cambridge as he did at present: for although he had now much more revenue, he had also much more to do with it. That he had more care now to live as an archbishop than he had then to live as a scholar. That he now paid double for every thing he bought; and that any auditor who examined his accounts would find it no easy matter to discover any surplus on which he could grow rich."[Pg 115]

Now that we are got into the palace, it may be well to introduce a few particulars which Strype and others have preserved respecting Cranmer's personal habits and manner of life.

The regular and laborious habits of study which he followed at Cambridge were still maintained by him, so far as altered circumstances allowed; and when no urgent business lay before him, it was still his delight to spend three-fourths of the day in study, as had been his wont at college. His ordinary distribution of time was this:—His usual hour of rising was five. The four next hours were commonly given to reading and devotion. The interval between nine o'clock and the hour of dinner (probably twelve, at the latest) was dedicated to public business, the reception of suitors, and to the despatch of matters connected with his ecclesiastical office. After dinner, if any petitioners or suitors remained to be heard, his time was at their disposal, and the least successful seldom departed without reason to extol the patience and lenity of their judge. If no such matters remained, an hour or more was employed by him either in chess, or in looking at those who played that game. He then returned to his study till five; and it was his custom there to pursue his literary labours, not sitting in a chair, but standing at a desk. This practice, which is certainly most conducive to bodily health, and answers some of the purposes of exercise, he had, perhaps, acquired in Germany, where it was and is very common. From five o'clock till supper the interval was occupied, partly in hearing the Common Prayer, and partly in walking or other recreation. At the supper-table the archbishop was often merely a spectator, as his appetite did not always require that meal; and he then sat with his gloves on, conversing with the guests whom his hospitality had assembled. An hour of gentle exercise or cheerful pastime followed; and at nine he went back to his study and there remained till he had retired to rest.

This orderly distribution of his time and habit of constant study enabled Cranmer to make such incessant and[Pg 116] large accumulations of knowledge, that nothing could be more absurd than the charge of ignorance or imperfect learning which was among those which his adversaries sometimes urged against him. He was not a bright or ready man, not inventive, utterly without imagination; but his judgment was strong, his powers of analysis great, and his resources were not only boundless, but effectively produced when allowed to produce them in his own way. This was so well understood by Henry the Eighth, that when he was desirous of having any doubt or question solved, "he would," says Morice, Cranmer's secretary, "but send word to my lord over night, and the next day the king would have in writing brief notes of the doctors' minds, as well divines as lawyers, both old and new, with a conclusion of his own mind; which he could never get in such readiness of any, no, not of all his clergy and chaplains about him, in so short a time. For being thoroughly seen in all kinds of expositors, he could incontinently lay open thirty, forty, sixty, or more some whiles, of authors. And so, reducing the notes of them altogether, would advertise the king more in one day than all his learned men could do in a month ... And therefore it was that the king said on a time to the bishop of Winchester (Gardiner), the king and my lord of Winchester defending together that the Canons of the Apostles were of as good authority as the four Evangelists, contrary to my lord Cranmer's assertion, 'My lord of Canterbury,' said the king, 'is too old a truant for us twain.'"

No doubt his adversaria, or note-books, and collections from the fathers and church writers, greatly assisted him on such occasions. These books had accumulated in the course of years, under Cranmer's habits of study, to a vast monument of learned labour, of which Peter Martyr, who saw them when sheltered by the archbishop at Lambeth, speaks with much admiration, affirming that there was no book either of the ancient or modern writers, especially on the subject of the Eucharist, which he had not noted with his own hand in the most remarkable places; no councils, various decrees of popes, which he had not[Pg 117] read and well considered. The result of all this, as regards the particular question of the Eucharist, and of an argument on the subject which he held with Ridley, was, that shortly before the death of King Henry he had abandoned the Romish doctrine of the real presence for the view still entertained by the Anglican church. It is indeed stated that he rested intermediately on the consubstantiation of the Lutherans; but of this no satisfactory proof has been produced.

Strype, who was a great lover of books, gloats over the memories of Cranmer's library, which he says was the storehouse of the ecclesiastical writers of all ages, and was freely open to the use of learned men. Here old Latimer, who lived with the archbishop at Lambeth after giving up his bishoprick, spent many an hour, and found some books so remarkable, that he once spoke of the matter in a sermon to the king (Edward VI.). So when Roger Ascham wanted the works of Gregory Nyssen in the original Greek, and could not find the book at Cambridge, he obtained the loan of it for several months from the primate's library. "For in those times," adds Strype, "it was rare to meet with the Greek fathers in their own language, and not spoiled in some ill Latin translation."

Cranmer is almost the only person, perhaps the only one, whom Henry VIII. had at all times upheld, to whom he had been at all times faithful through good and evil report. This is one of the redeeming points of his character. He died in 1547, and when in his last agonies, sent for Cranmer. By the time the prelate arrived he was speechless; and when asked to give some sign of his hope in God's mercy through Jesus Christ, he could only wring his hand, and then expired.

This event was of great importance to Cranmer, and to the cause in which he had become more and more engaged. The "numbing spell" which had hung over his exertions was removed; and under the young prince, his godson and pupil, who now ascended the throne, he was more free than he ever had been to carry out the objects dear to his heart. To these objects he devoted[Pg 118] himself with the zeal of one who felt that every hour was precious, and yet with a discretion which the time and country required, and which point him out as the man beyond all others suited to the work which had been committed to him. The tendency of all the measures he promoted was to carry forward into more decided Protestantism the mongrel Romanism which had prevailed in the preceding reign. This he accomplished by cautious and well-considered steps, which scarcely kept pace with the expectations and wishes of the continental reformers, particularly of the ardent Calvin, who strove by writing to hurry him on more precipitately; but to whom Cranmer replied with great amenity, justifying his own course of proceeding.

Important as was the position of Cranmer, and signal as were his labours during this reign, few circumstances occur illustrative of his personal history and character. The facts are such as rather belong to the history of his time and of his cause, and in this place need but be very briefly indicated.

By the will of the late king Cranmer found himself at the head of the regency of sixteen, but he rarely interfered in matters of state, taking the lead in ecclesiastical affairs alone. His first object was to settle the supremacy, as the foundation of all subsequent proceedings; and with this view he set the example of obtaining a new licence for himself to exercise his functions from the young King Edward. A general visitation was then commenced, by which many abuses were amended and irregularities restrained. The free use of the Scriptures was again allowed. Preaching had become so much of a nullity, that the Homilies were issued to be read in churches. The Catechism was now framed, and the Liturgy and Canon Law remodelled, chiefly by Cranmer himself; superstitious ceremonies and processions were discouraged; and many changes of less import were introduced. Not the least anxious of his labours was the drawing up of the Articles of the Church of England, of which, in their first state, as prepared by him, there were forty-two.[Pg 119]

The severe enactments of the last reign were repealed; and Cranmer found his hands strengthened by the presence of the English reformers, who had taken refuge in foreign countries, and now ventured to return home, and of the learned foreigners who sought refuge from the persecutions of the Continent. Among the former were Coverdale, Hooper, Philpot, and Rogers; and among the latter Peter Martyr, Bucer, Aless, and Fagius, whom he entertained at Lambeth, and afterwards settled in professorships—Martyr, at Oxford, as Regius Professor of Divinity; and Bucer and Fagius at Cambridge. He also patronized John A'lasco, the exiled Polish nobleman, and the congregation attached to him; Sleidan, the historian; Leland, the antiquarian; and, though last not least, Latimer. By intercourse with these eminent men, and by correspondence with Osiander, Melanchthon, and Calvin, his own views on many points of doctrine were carried forward to conclusions more and more adverse to those which the Roman Church maintained. It was indeed his ardent wish to promote a general union of all the Protestant churches; but this became every year more and more difficult; and although the project was applauded by the Continental reformers, they could not be prevailed upon to take any effectual steps in furtherance of it.

His advice was generally followed in filling up vacant sees in his province, and to him most of them owed their advancement who in the next reign sacrificed their lives or homes to their principles. On one point he more than once, however, found himself acting rather with the Romish and against the Protestant party; and this was in resisting encroachments upon the revenues of the colleges, and upon the temporalities of sees, which were made or attempted at the instance of the nobles, whose appetite had been whetted rather than satiated by the spoil of the monasteries, and who seem to have regarded this as the best and most essential part of the Reformation. He was also very careful in collating benefices to adapt the pastor to the flock: and after his death there was found among his papers a list of towns endorsed,[Pg 120] "Memorandum: these towns to have learned ministers."

The last public act of Cranmer during the reign of Edward regarded the succession of the crown. In this matter he was greatly influenced by the oath he had formerly taken in favour of the Princess Mary, and would not therefore readily consent to her exclusion in behalf of the Lady Jane Grey; but at length he gave way in compliance with the earnest and pathetic entreaties of the young king himself.

The public sentiment was, however, outraged by the ambitious project of Northumberland, of which that interesting lady was the unwilling tool and became the victim; and this, with the natural respect of the English people for what they deem rightful authority, speedily cast the innocent usurper from the throne, and seated the Princess Mary on it. She was the daughter of Catherine of Aragon, and was known to be not only a most devoted adherent of Romanism, but to harbour a most implacable resentment against all those who had been instrumental in procuring or facilitating her mother's divorce. When therefore she came to the throne, in 1553, Cranmer saw that it was time for him to set his house in order. He lost no time in directing his steward to pay all his debts, observing, "In a short time, perhaps, we may not be able." And when this was done, he said, "I thank God I am now mine own man, and with God's help am able to answer all the world, and all worldly adversities." And he was not long left without a full measure of the adversities which he anticipated.

It has been stated that, although during the reign of Henry he had stoutly upheld the Roman doctrine of transubstantiation, his views had eventually undergone a change through his deeper study of the question and his intercourse with Ridley; and during the reign of Edward he wrote a book against the real presence, which made much noise, and excited some discussion. He therefore now stood fully committed to the Protestant view in this leading subject of controversy. When therefore a rumour went abroad that he had offered to cele[Pg 121]brate mass at the burial of the late king, and that he had already caused the mass to be restored in Canterbury, he felt himself bound to contradict it by a public declaration; and in the same document he rather throws himself upon danger by volunteering that, with the assistance of Peter Martyr and a few others, he would maintain in public disputation against any man the reformations accomplished in the last reign.

This declaration afforded to his enemies the handle against him which they desired. A copy of it being sent to the queen's commissioners, he was cited to appear before them, and bring an inventory of his goods. It does not appear what was the precise charge against him on this first occasion: but soon after, he was called before the Star Chamber, and, after being severely questioned, committed to the Tower, partly for his late compliance in the alteration of the succession, partly from the bold avowal of his principles; but chiefly, no doubt, from the inveterate malice which had been conceived against him for the divorce of the queen's mother, the blame of which was wholly ascribed to him, although Gardiner and other bishops had been quite as deeply concerned in it.

Not long after his committal, the friends of Cranmer took occasion of a visit which the queen paid to the Tower, to intercede with her on his behalf, and to request that he might be admitted to her presence. But she would neither hear nor see him.

In parliament he was attainted, and was afterwards adjudged guilty of high-treason at Guildhall. He was then considered as divested of his archbishoprick, and its revenues were placed under sequestration. It was peculiarly distressing to him to be condemned under a charge of treason; and this induced him to make any submission which might obtain his pardon. His services towards Mary herself during the life-time of her father had been very great, and this spoke much in his favour; but no services to herself could blot out her deep remembrance of his exertions in promoting the divorce of her mother; and this, with the leading part he had taken in the late[Pg 122] reformations, rendered him personally obnoxious to her—the object of her deep dislike. At length, however, this charge of treason was permitted to drop; but he remained in confinement as a heretic.

He might, however, it appears, have saved himself by a timely flight from England, as many other eminent men of the Protestant party, seeing the coming storm, did without scruple. But while he fully approved of this course in them, and indeed advised it, he deemed that it would better become one who had been the prime mover in the changes which had become so obnoxious, to hold his ground to the last.

He remained for some time in the Tower without any further step being taken against him. But he was at length summoned to appear before the convocation, which having met at St. Paul's, was adjourned to Oxford. The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was the question proposed to be settled in this convocation.

To Oxford Cranmer was accordingly conducted by Lord Williams of Thame, together with his companions in misfortune, Latimer and Ridley, who, with Bradford, had been confined in the same small apartment with him in the Tower. Up to this time they had all been treated with some respect, whatever they wanted had been readily supplied, and their own servants had been allowed to attend them: but now all comforts were denied them, and they were ignominiously cast into Bocardo, the common jail. This was in March, 1544; and on the 14th of the ensuing month the strife of words began. On that day the representatives of the Lower House of Convocation, with the prolocutor, Dr. Weston, at their head, and attended by the delegates of both universities, went in procession to St. Mary's Church, and seated themselves in the chair, in front of the high altar. After the usual preliminaries, an order was sent to mayor and bailiffs to produce Dr. Cranmer before them. The archbishop soon appeared, guarded by a body of bill-men. He stood with his staff in hand, with a grave and composed aspect, and remained in that posture, having declined the seat which had been offered to him. The[Pg 123] prolocutor then opened the proceedings in an harangue, in which, after expatiating upon the necessity of unity in the church, he turned to Cranmer, and lamented that he, who had been once a Catholic man, should have made a lamentable breach in that unity, not merely by teaching erroneous doctrines, but by setting forth a new faith every year. It was however the earnest desire of the queen that he should, if possible, be recovered from his schismatical separation; and she had therefore charged them with the office of reclaiming him. The three questions chosen for discussion were then read; and they were so framed as to affirm the well-known Romish views respecting the real presence, transubstantiation, and the sacrifice of the mass.

Receiving the paper, Cranmer joined the prolocutor in a most ardent desire for Christian unity, "when it can be obtained with a good conscience." Then reading over the articles with care three or four times, he shook his head, and said he feared that this paper afforded a very insufficient basis for the religious unity which all so much desired. The ready and accomplished Ridley in this case would at once have launched forth in answer to these articles: but Cranmer, as our previous knowledge of his habits of mind would lead us to expect, said that if the articles were left with him, he would undertake to be prepared with a full answer in writing by the next morning. This was allowed, together with the use of such books as he might require, and he was then conducted back to the Bocardo. During the whole of this proceeding the demeanour of Cranmer was grave, modest, and respectful; and as he stood—a pale and enfeebled old man, in a plain habit, leaning upon his staff, many of those who had known him in his prosperous days, and saw how confinement and ill-usage had banished the glow of health from his cheek, and subdued his once brisk and active step, were moved even to tears, although they differed from him in opinion.

Cranmer sent in his answer the next day, which was Sunday; and Monday was appointed for the discussion with him of the question on which the parties differed;[Pg 124] Ridley was to have Tuesday, and Latimer Wednesday, for the same purpose. The mockery of all disputation under such circumstances must be apparent—seeing that to one party death must be the penalty of opposition, whatever be the success of the argument. Such odds are fearful. In other respects the discussion was managed with great disadvantage to the sufferers. Cranmer complained of the shortness of the time allowed: and claimed the privilege of opposing as well as of answering. But all was in vain. Sentence of condemnation was passed against them all on the 20th of April. But it was not executed, for the incompetency of the tribunal having become apparent, it was resolved to reserve them for a new trial when the pope's authority in the land should be formally re-established. Meanwhile, however, they were still treated as convicted criminals. Cranmer remained in custody in Bocardo, and the two others were severally consigned to the charge of public officers of Oxford, who kept them "in ward" in their houses. Seventeen months elapsed before a new Commission was issued for the trial of Latimer and Ridley. After their condemnation, the proceedings against Cranmer commenced, under a more solemn process which his metropolitan dignity was considered to demand; for according to the usage of the Roman Church, it was necessary that the authority for proceedings against him should issue directly from the pope himself. These proceedings commenced in St. Mary's Church, before Dr. Brokes, Bishop of Gloucester, who sat as representative of the Cardinal de Puteo, the chief commissioner appointed by the pope. When Cranmer was produced before this tribunal, habited in a black gown, with his doctor's hood over his shoulders, he respectfully saluted the royal proctors, but looked steadfastly at the Papal Commissioner without removing his cap, or showing any other mark of reverence. When reproved for this, he answered that he had forborne the customary marks of submission, not out of any disrespect to the Bishop of Gloucester, but out of regard to the oath he had taken, not to acknowledge the papal authority in this realm; and that if the[Pg 125] commission had derived its powers from the crown instead of from the see of Rome, he would instantly have acknowledged them with all becoming deference. In fact he denied the competency of the tribunal; but in answer to the matters laid to his charge, he entered into a vindication of his conduct and character, and re-asserted and enforced all his obnoxious opinions. The commission could not pronounce his condemnation, but an official report of the proceedings was despatched to Rome. This procedure closed September 13, 1554; but before they commenced this, Cranmer had received a citation dated September 7, commanding him to appear at Rome in the course of eighty days, there to answer for himself in person before the pontiff. This was of course only a form, as his imprisonment rendered obedience impossible; but it had the effect of delaying the execution during that period.

Not long after Cranmer was sent back to prison to await the final sentence from Rome, his friends Latimer and Ridley were led past his prison to that fiery ordeal through which they so gloriously passed. As they went by, they looked up to catch his eye; but he was at that moment engaged in a discussion with the friar de Soto, who had been sent to argue with him; yet he afterwards surveyed the distant execution from the top of the north-gate, and offered up his prayers to God that they might be supported in their mortal agonies.

On the 29th of November, the eighty days appointed for his appearance at Rome had elapsed. On the 4th of December, at the instance of Cardinal de Puteo, he was sentenced to excommunication, and deprived of the archbishoprick. The final executory letter of the pope was dated December the 14th. It alleged, that having been cited to Rome, and having taken no care to appear, he had incurred the guilt of contumacy; and it then proceeded to declare him guilty of heresy and other enormities, for which causes he was declared to be excommunicated; and Bonner, Bishop of London, and Thirlby, Bishop of Ely, were charged to degrade him from his archbishoprick, and then deliver him over to the secular[Pg 126] arm. No attempt was made to put this mandate into execution till the 14th of February, 1556, when Cranmer was summoned to appear before the papal delegates in St. Mary's Church. He was there invested with a coarse imitation of the archiepiscopal robes and insignia, which were successively removed by the delegates—by Thirlby with gentleness and pity, but by Bonner with coarse brutality and scornful jests. This miserable pageantry was concluded by the exhibition of the primate in his doublet, over which was contemptuously cast the threadbare gown of a yeoman bedel, with a townsman's cap upon his head; while Bonner insultingly exclaimed, "Now, 'you are my lord' no more:" and in addressing disparaging remarks regarding him to the people, as he did repeatedly, he marked the distinction by emphatically indicating him as "This gentleman here." Cranmer bore all this very meekly, save that he hesitated when they attempted to take the mock crosier from him; and that he put in a written appeal to a general council against these proceedings.

It now seems to have entered the minds of the dominant party that their work would be incomplete unless they could by some means prevail upon the great leader of the Reformation to recant, and to declare his adhesion to the opinions he had so earnestly laboured to subvert. With this view their whole conduct towards him underwent a change. He received visits of condolence and courtesy from various members of the university. He was invited frequently to the deanery of Christ Church, where he exchanged for a time the inconveniences of a prison for the society of learned men and the liberal hospitality of college life; and he was often requested to join in a game at bowls—an exercise in which he took great pleasure. In short, no marks of attention and respect were omitted, and no wish he could form was left ungratified. In the midst of these indulgences he was plied with a well-managed alternation of intimidation and encouragement. He was assured that nothing would gratify the queen so much as his submission, and that nothing short of this would gratify her; he was told that[Pg 127] he still possessed the good will of the nobility; and that no obstacles but of his own creating existed to the recovery of his former dignity, or, if he liked it better, to his passing his remaining days in honourable retirement. Unhappily they prevailed. The sudden return to social intercourse and comfort, after so long confinement and privation, dissipated his firm resolves, and rekindled his love of life; and, in an evil hour, he put his name to a paper expressing his assent to the disputed tenets of the Roman Church.

This recantation was immediately printed and widely circulated, and the triumph of the Romanists was complete.

But they knew not how to use the triumph they had gained. No greater benefit to their cause could possibly accrue—no greater damage to the name and influence of Cranmer could be inflicted, than by suffering him to live on in retirement, or in prison, with no opportunity of producing a signal re-action in his favour, and of wiping out the deep stain which that ink had shed upon his name. They resolved that he should perish, notwithstanding the great promises which had been held out to him.

Before he knew this—almost as soon as the act had been committed, remorse for the deed began to prey upon Cranmer's mind. "I have denied the faith—I have pierced myself through with many sorrows," were among the words in which his contrition found vent. That he who had been the leader, and should have stood for an example unto others, should have thus apostatised, was to him a dreadful thought; and he saw no means of retrieving the error into which he had fallen, so completely was he in the hands of those who triumphed in the ruin of his character and influence. Happily for his name and honour, the deep and blind malice of his enemies afforded him the most glorious opportunity that could be desired.

Up to the 29th of March, the day previous to that fixed for his execution, he had received no notice of it; but he was visited on the evening of that day by Dr.[Pg 128] Cole, who indirectly intimated to him his approaching doom. He forthwith proceeded to prepare himself for this great consummation of his fears and hopes; and employed the rest of the evening in drawing up a repentant speech and a prayer, together with a full confession of his apostacy.

It had been intended that he should be taken directly from prison to the stake; but as the day proved wet and stormy, it was concluded that all the preparatory ceremonies should take place under cover. Accordingly, about nine o'clock in the morning, Lord Williams received him at the prison gate and conducted him to St. Mary's Church. Here a sermon was preached by Dr. Cole, who strove to vindicate the execution notwithstanding the recantation; desired the hearers to take warning by the example; and exhorted Cranmer to bear his last worldly trial with fortitude. Having concluded his sermon, the preacher turned round and desired those present to join with him in silent prayer for the unhappy man before them. A solemn stillness ensued, during which every eye and every hand were lifted towards heaven. Cranmer, who had also fallen on his knees, then arose in all the dignity of affliction, and addressed the spectators:—"I had myself intended to have desired your prayers; my desires have been anticipated; and I return you all that a dying man can give you, my sincerest thanks. To your prayers for me let me add my own." He then gave utterance to a few fervent and pathetic supplications for the Divine mercy, but without indicating the grief that lay heaviest at his heart. Having concluded he rose from his knees, and, taking a paper from his bosom, thus addressed the audience:—"It is now, my brethren, no time to dissemble: I stand upon the verge of death; a vast eternity is before me. What my fears are, or what my hopes, it matters not here to unfold. For one action of my life, at least, I am accountable to the world—my late shameful subscription to opinions which are wholly opposite to my real sentiments. Before this congregation I solemnly declare, that the fear of death alone induced me to this ignomi[Pg 129]nious action; that it hath cost me many bitter tears; and that in my heart I totally reject the pope and the doctrines of the church of Rome."

Amazement and confusion filled the assembly as these words fell from him; and rage rose high in many bosoms. Some vehemently cast his dissimulation in his teeth. But he mildly answered, "Always since I lived hitherto, I have been a hater of falsehood and lover of simplicity, and never before this have I dissembled." He proceeded to speak in support of his real opinions, which threw the whole assembly into an uproar; and, at a signal from Cole, several priests and friars rushed forward from different parts of the church with great eagerness, and hurried him out of the church and along the streets to the place of execution. This was the same spot, in front of Balliol College, where Ridley and Latimer had suffered. On arriving here Cranmer kneeled down, and prayed to God. He then laid aside his garments to his shirt, and stood ready for death. As he thus stood, his shirt reached down to his feet, which were bare. His head, also uncovered, appeared entirely bare, so that not a single hair could be seen upon it: but his beard was long and thick, giving to his countenance a most venerable aspect. Many, both friends and enemies, were moved, even to tears, at this sad spectacle.

The executioners were ready, and in a little time he stood chained to the stake, with the faggots piled in around him. He had discharged a great duty; he had disburdened his conscience; and he stood amid the implements of death with a serene and composed countenance, while bitter taunts and loud revilings poured in upon him from many of those into whose hands he had fallen. But he continued looking with eyes full of benignity, and gave his hand to some old men that stood by, bidding them farewell. At length the torch was put to the pile, and he was presently involved in a burst of smoke and flame; but on the side next the wind, he was distinctly seen, before the fire reached him, to thrust his right hand into it, and to hold it there with astonish[Pg 130]ing firmness, crying out, "This hand hath offended! this hand hath offended!"

It was soon over. The flames rose intensely around him, and a thick smoke enveloped him; so that life must have been speedily extinct.

Thus perished Thomas Cranmer, in the 67th year of his age, and after he had presided over the English Church twenty years. The view which we take of his character has been indicated in the course of the narrative, and requires no separate exhibition.

"Of all the martyrdoms during this great persecution," remarks Southey, "this was in all its circumstances the most injurious to the Roman cause. It was a manifestation of inveterate and deadly malice toward one who had borne his honours with almost unexampled meekness. It sufficiently disproved the argument on which the Romanists rested, that the constancy of our martyrs arose not from confidence in their faith, and the strength which they derived therefrom; but from vainglory, the pride of consistency, and the shame of retracting what they had so long professed. Such deceitful reasoning could have no place here: Cranmer had retracted, and the sincerity of his contrition for that sin was too plain to be denied, too public to be concealed, too memorable ever to be forgotten. The agony of his repentance had been seen by thousands; and tens of thousands had witnessed how, when that agony was past, he stood calm and immoveable amid the flames, a patient and willing holocaust; triumphant, not over his persecutors alone, but over himself, over the mind as well as the body, over fear, and weakness, and death."

[Pg 131]


Hugh Latimer was born at Thurcaston in Leicestershire, about the year 1484.[37] In one of his sermons before King Edward, he says himself,—"My father was a yeoman, and had no lands of his own, only he had a farm of three or four pounds by the year, at the uttermost, and hereupon he tilled as much as kept half a dozen men. He had a walk for a hundred sheep, and my mother milked thirty kine. He was able, and he did find the king a harness, with himself and his horse, while he came to the place that he should receive the king's wages. I can remember that I buckled his har[Pg 132]ness when he went into Blackheath field.[38] He kept me to school, or else I had not been able to preach before the king's majesty now. He married my sisters with five pounds, or twenty nobles a-piece; so that he brought them up in godliness and fear of God. He kept hospitality for his poor neighbours, and some alms he gave to the poor. And all this he did of the said farm, where he that now hath it payeth sixteen pounds by the year, or more; and is not able to do anything for his prince, for himself, or for his children, or to give a cup of drink to the poor."

This honest yeoman finding that his son Hugh gave promise of a ready wit, was tempted to make a scholar of him; and after having previously given him the best education that the common schools of the neighbourhood afforded, sent him at the age of fourteen to Christ's College, Cambridge. He was chosen fellow of Clare Hall in 1509 while yet an under-graduate. In the following year he proceeded to the degree of Bachelor of Arts, and in 1514 commenced Master of Arts. He states himself that about the age of thirty he proceeded to the degree of Bachelor in Divinity; but it does not appear that he ever took the degree of Doctor in that faculty; and indeed he is never called Doctor, but is always, even when a bishop, styled "Master Hugh Latimer." After completing his degrees he was admitted to the order of the priesthood by the Bishop of Lincoln.

At the university Latimer was distinguished for his "sanctimony of life," as well as for his studious habits. He was besides a most fervent and zealous Romanist, and a bitter opposer of all who favoured the Reformation. He had at one time serious thoughts of taking the cowl, under the impression that he should never go to hell if he once became a friar; and such was the respect in which he was held that he was appointed to the charge of keeping the University Cross, in token of preference for his extraordinary sanctity. It seems[Pg 133] he was so shocked at the impiety of the "new learning" that he actually feared the end of the world to be at hand. On proceeding Bachelor of Divinity, his whole oration was levelled against Philip Melanchthon and the opinions entertained by that eminent person: and it is related that he used sometimes to go to the divinity-school to oppose George Stafford, the divinity lecturer, who had embraced the views of the Reformers, and to dissuade the students from attending his instructions.

It was soon after he took his bachelor's degree in divinity that a change came over his views. The zeal which he on that and other occasions manifested, attracted the attention of Thomas Bilney, then at Cambridge, who conceived an ardent desire to enlist that zeal in the cause to which it was now opposed. His hope that this might be possible, arose from perceiving that the rage which he now manifested against the Reformation, was founded more on an intimacy with the scholastic divinity than on a knowledge of the Scriptures. The method Bilney adopted of making an impression upon Latimer was this; he came to his study, and asked him to hear him make his confession. He readily assented; and Bilney proceeding with his confession, he was so touched, that inquiry was awakened, and, under the instructions of Bilney, he was led to forsake his former modes of study and devote himself more entirely to the Scriptures. Many years after Latimer said to Ridley,—"By travailing thus with me, you use me as Bilney did once, when he converted me,—pretending as though he would be taught of me, he found ways and means to teach me; and so do you."

Latimer was all his life incapable of doing anything by halves. The simple earnestness of his character rendered any temporising medium impossible to him. Under his altered views, he became as zealous in behalf of the new learning as he had lately been against it. One of his first acts was to seek out Stafford and implore his forgiveness for the outrages against him of which he had formerly been guilty. His hostilities against the ancient abuses were now carried on with the most incessant[Pg 134] activity, and in a manner that could not fail to attract the public attention. He employed himself in visiting the sick and the prisoners in the town of Cambridge. He preached frequently, both in English and ad clerum. The account given of his sermons in the university by Becon, who heard them, is, that none, except the stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart, "ever went away from his preaching without being affected with a strong detestation of sin, and moved unto all godliness and virtue." Many also who had been strongly prejudiced against him, on being persuaded by their friends to go and hear him preach, returned from his sermons with all their prejudices softened. In his Sermon on the Card, by a sort of homely ingenuity, he made even the practice of card-playing subservient to religious instruction. In this sermon, preached the Sunday before Christmas 1529, he dealt out to the audience cards from the 5th, 6th, and 7th chapters of Matthew, accompanying them with an application to the superstitious practices of the time. "This blunt preaching," Fuller well remarks, "was in those dark days admirably effectual, which would justly be ridiculous in our age;" and he gives an instance of a preacher in his day who produced nothing but amusement in his audience by "a fond imitation of Latimer's Card sermon."

This sermon gave great offence to the Papal party; and one Dr. Buchneham (Buckingham), prior of the Black Friars, undertook to preach a counter-sermon, in which he, by a still more quaint device, exhibited dice before his audience, in order to illustrate the inexpediency of permitting to the people the use of the Scripture in English—making express reference to certain passages in which there was great danger of gross misapplication of the sacred text, if subjected to be read by men of simple understandings in their own language. Latimer, who thought himself bound to answer this sermon, came soon after to the church, and before a large audience, composed both of University men and townspeople, refuted the arguments of the prior, who was himself present, sitting directly before the preacher,[Pg 135] underneath the pulpit, with his cowl about his shoulders. In the course of his reply, he not only showed the great absurdity of his opponent in assuming such misapplications of Scripture as he had alleged, but exposed, with considerable felicity of sarcastic illustration, the groundlessness of such fears that the figurative language of the Bible should be misunderstood:—"For example," he said, looking at the place where the friar sat, "when painters represent a fox preaching out of a friar's cowl; no one takes this for a real fox, but only for a caution to beware of hypocrisy, craft, and dissimulation." On another occasion West, bishop of Ely, wishing to judge of Latimer's preaching, came suddenly to St. Mary's Church, when he was in the midst of his sermon. Without any appearance of surprise Latimer made a pause till the bishop and his retinue were seated, and then, with remarkable courage and presence of mind, said, that a new and more honourable auditory required a new theme; and he then proceeded from the text Christus existens Pontifex futurorum bonorum, etc., to set forth our Saviour as the true pattern of all bishops. On this theme he discoursed with so much wisdom and eloquence that the bishop after the sermon thanked him for it, declaring that he had never before heard the duties of the episcopal office so ably set forth. He added that he should much wish to hear him preach one sermon in the same place against Martin Luther and his doctrine. Latimer replied:—"My lord, I am not acquainted with the doctrine of Luther, nor are we here permitted to read his works: and therefore it were but a vain thing for me to refute his doctrines, not understanding what he hath written, nor what opinions he holdeth. Sure I am, that I have preached to you this day no man's doctrine, but only the doctrine of God, out of the Scriptures: and if Luther doeth no more than I have done, there needeth no confutation of his doctrine. Otherwise, when I understand that he doth preach against the Scripture, I will be ready with all my heart to confound his doctrine as much as lieth in me." To this discreet, and yet faithful answer, the bishop replied: "Well,[Pg 136] well, Master Latimer, I perceive that you smell of the pan. You will repent this gear one day." And from that day forward he was among the most active of Latimer's enemies, and eventually forbade him to preach in the churches of the University. He was however befriended by Dr. Barnes, prior of the Augustin Friars, who, having an independent jurisdiction, licensed him to preach in the church of the Augustines. He was also comforted by the presence of Bilney, who continued to reside at Cambridge. These two were constant companions in their walks, insomuch that the place which they frequented was afterwards called, from their joint resort to it, Heretics' Hill.

The machinations of Dr. West and other potent adversaries of the "new learning," seemed at length to be crowned with success; for Latimer was summoned to answer the charge of heresy before Cardinal Wolsey. His examination, however, ended in the signal defeat of his accusers; for the Cardinal was so much impressed with his learning and readiness, that he declared that, "If the Bishop of Ely could not abide Latimer's doctrine, he should nevertheless preach it even to his beard." He was accordingly dismissed with honour, tempered by a gentle admonition, and with the cardinal's licence to preach throughout England—an important privilege, of which he failed not to make such good use that he became one of the best known and most popular preachers in the country. His style of preaching was, in fact, from its familiar, homely, and singularly illustrative character, much better suited to captivate a common lay audience than to satisfy college-bred minds.

The name of Latimer appears among those of the persons who were appointed by grace of the senate to define and determine, on behalf of the University of Cambridge, the question relative to the lawfulness of the king's marriage with his brother's widow. He was known to be favourable to the divorce; but it does not appear that he took any active part in the matter. The decision of the University was delivered in March 9th, 1530, and the Sunday after we find Latimer preaching[Pg 137] before the king at Windsor, at the recommendation of Dr. Butts, the royal physician. The king is said to have "greatly praysed Master Latimer's sermon;" and the preacher received five pounds for his services.

Latimer then returned to Cambridge and remained there pursuing his usual course of duty, till he was selected as one of the twelve of "the best learned in divinity in that university," who, in obedience to a royal letter, were sent to London, to meet an equal number of divines from Oxford, in order to give their advice and judgment respecting certain books which had then got into circulation. The deliberations of this learned body resulted in the drawing up of an "Instrument for the abolishing and inhibiting of the Scripture and divers other books to be read in English;" which was followed by a royal proclamation "inhibiting all English books either containing or tending to any matters of Scripture." Latimer had not concurred in the conclusions to which this assembly of divines arrived. It was the determination of the majority, to which he and two or three others were opposed. It was no doubt to his reluctance to be considered as responsible for a determination opposed to his convictions that we owe his famous letter to the king—a long and free-spoken epistle in which he boldly warns the king of the legion of flatterers who laid siege to his greatness, and protested against the suppression of the Scriptures in the vulgar tongue. Henry, with all his faults, had a natural love of honesty and plain-dealing; and although he did not think proper to meet the writer's views, Latimer was so far from incurring any danger or displeasure, that he rather won esteem and goodwill by his unwonted freedom and earnestness. He was soon after appointed one of the royal chaplains; in consequence of which he went to court, where he remained some time, during which he often preached in London. In his seventh sermon before Edward VI., he says, that, when he thus first came to court, a great man out of good will advised him—"You must beware, howsoever ye do, that ye contrary not the king; let him have his saying; follow him; go with him."—"Marry,[Pg 138] out upon this counsel;" adds Latimer. He was far from following it; but spoke out with his usual frank and confiding boldness. Yet he was not altogether indiscreet: for he says further on:—"It is a good wise verse 'Gutta cavat lapidem non vi sed sæpe cadendo, the drop of rain maketh a hole in the stone, not by violence, but by oft falling.' Likewise a prince must be turned, not violently; but he must be won by a little and little. He must have his duty told him; but it must be done with humbleness, with request of pardon, or else it were a dangerous thing." It was however difficult for a man habitually so open-minded, altogether to avoid offence; and that he sometimes displeased those who were about the king is evinced by several anecdotes which he relates in his very sermons. He says, "There is a certain man, that shortly after my first sermon, being asked if he had been at the sermon that day, answered, 'Yea.' 'I pray you,' said he, 'how like you him?' 'Marry,' said he, 'even as I liked him always,—a seditious fellow!'" Again he states that one kneeled down in his presence before the king, and accused him of sedition, on which the king turned to his chaplain and asked, "What say you to this, Sir?" Latimer then fell on his knees, and after asking some taunting questions of his accuser, he turned to the king and said, "I never thought myself worthy, and I never sued to be a preacher before your grace, but I was called to it, and would be willing, if you mislike me, to give place to my betters; for I grant there be a great many more worthy of the place than I am. And if it be your grace's pleasure so to allow them for preachers, I could be content to bear their books after them. But if your grace allow me for a preacher, I would desire your grace to give me leave to discharge my conscience; give me leave to frame my doctrine according to mine audience. I had been a very dolt to preach so at the borders of your realm, as I have preached before your grace." He adds—"And I thank Almighty God, which hath always been my remedy, that my sayings were well accepted of the king; for like a gracious lord, he turned into another communication. It is even as[Pg 139] the Scripture saith:—'The Lord directeth the king's heart!' Certain of my friends came to me with tears in their eyes, and told me they looked I should have been in the Tower the same night."

The court was not however a congenial atmosphere for such a man as Latimer, and he soon grew weary of it, and retired to a living in the country which the king had given to him. This was at West Kington, in Wiltshire. His conduct in this new situation was marked by the most exemplary fidelity and diligence. He not only laboured strenuously to instruct his own flock, but extended his labours into the country round, under the authority which he enjoyed as one of the twelve preachers licensed by the university of Cambridge to preach throughout the realm. This course of proceeding, together with his views arising out of "the new learning" which he promulgated, speedily roused the country clergy against him, and by reason of their complaints, he was summoned to appear before the Archbishop of Canterbury. He accordingly proceeded to London, and was detained there a considerable time from his parish, to his great vexation and uneasiness. It was winter; and he was now, in addition to his mental suffering, in a state of great bodily pain and weakness. Thrice a week he had to appear before the Commissioners of the Archbishop, to undergo an examination—or rather to suffer the attempts made to argue or to intimidate him into subscribing certain articles favourable to the old superstitions. The Commissioners did not deal fairly with him, as instanced by the fact that a concealed witness was introduced to take down his answers, that he might not afterwards secede from them. He thus relates this in one of his sermons: "I pray you, Mr. Latimer, said one, speak out; I am 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 that I should not start from them." At length, wearied out[Pg 140] by ill-health and by their importunate way of proceeding, Latimer wrote a letter to Archbishop Wrangham, couched in humble but manly terms, excusing himself from further attendance. It does not appear how this letter was received: but at this time his sufferings attracted the notice of the king, by whose interposition he was rescued from the danger which hung over him. He is considered however to have expressed some kind of compliance with the articles proposed for his subscription, though it remains matter of doubt whether he actually subscribed to them, and if he did so, to what extent. Fox thinks that he did subscribe through the fear of a sentence of death, his mind not being then nerved to the courage of martyrdom: but if it came to that, it does not appear what need there was of the king's interposition on his behalf, seeing that the act of subscription must of itself have sufficed.

Soon after this the primacy was bestowed on Cranmer, who held the zeal and piety of Latimer in sincere esteem, although he does not seem to have had any very high opinion of his discretion in great affairs. We find that he licensed several persons to preach within his province at the sole instance and recommendation of Latimer; he also empowered him to withdraw such licences if he saw cause; and he confided to him the administration of certain instructions for the regulation of such preachers who, by virtue of his licence, were not subject to diocesan jurisdiction. It was, moreover, owing to Cranmer's good offices that he was named to preach before the king on all the Wednesdays of Lent, 1534; and he wrote him a letter on the occasion, which is still extant, and is curious as indicating the view he took of Latimer's character; as he must have thought the hints and cautions which he gave, necessary for the person to whom they were addressed. He urges him not to take advantage of the opportunity to vindicate himself from the accusations lately made against him, lest it should be supposed that any grudge remained in him against those who had been adverse to him. He also advised him to avoid compromising his character for charity, by introducing allusions[Pg 141] to "any special man's facts, acts, manners, or sayings." He adds, "Furthermore, I would that you should so study to comprehend your matter, that, in any condition, you stand no longer in the pulpit than an hour, or an hour and a half at furthest. For by long expence of time, the king and queen shall peradventure wax so weary at the beginning, that they shall have small delight to continue with you to the end."

The kindness which the king had already shown was ere long followed by a more substantial mark of the royal favour. Latimer was held in high estimation by Anne Boleyn, who had become the consort of Henry; and he was by her means introduced to the notice of Lord Cromwell, the Vicar-General, as one calculated to advance the course of the Reformation. She then obtained his concurrence in recommending him to the king, already well disposed towards him, for the see of Worcester, which had been rendered vacant by the deprivation of the Italian bishop who had held it. This promotion, although altogether unsought and unexpected by Latimer, was conscientiously accepted by him; and he was accordingly consecrated Bishop of Worcester, in September, 1535.

In the critical times in which he was cast, it may be doubted whether Latimer was altogether the man for the anxious responsibilities of the episcopal office. His former labours may seem to have been better suited to his temper and character. He could then accomplish great good, without being accountable to any but God and his own conscience for his proceedings; but for a post so high and eminent, in which he must necessarily take a part in the settlement of great matters, and which gave weight and importance to all his words and actions, he incurred a deep responsibility to the cause which he had embraced, and to the lives and interests embarked in it, which his want of circumspection and his bluntness of speech but ill qualified him to fulfil. It is but fair to say, however, that during the short period of his episcopate, his abundant labours in his own diocese were honourable to the man and to the mitre which had been[Pg 142] bestowed upon him; nor are we acquainted with any of his proceedings when in London which Cranmer himself would not have sanctioned. But Cranmer was then in great want of coadjutors, on whose sound discretion and ripened judgment he could rely; and with regard to this circumstance it may certainly be affirmed, that the advancement of Latimer brought no strength to his hands. The years 1536, 1537, seem to have been spent by Latimer chiefly in settling the affairs of his own diocese; but in 1538 we find him much in London, and taking an active part in many affairs, some of which the friends of his memory would willingly forget. We find him united with Cranmer and another prelate in taking cognizance of "a fanatical doctor" named Crewkehorne. Lambert also, who was afterwards burnt at Smithfield, is mentioned as one of those in the private examination of whom Bishop Latimer was concerned, and against whom he was "most extreme;" and, to crown all, the characteristic zeal he had displayed in this direction, probably induced Cromwell to make choice of him to preach the sermon in Smithfield at the execution of Friar Forest. This alacrity in acting against those whom he regarded as entertaining erroneous opinions, grates painfully upon the sense of those who cherish the memory and love the name of Latimer, and tends to detract from the sympathy which his own fate awakens. But the fact is, those whom Latimer persecuted, and those who persecuted Latimer, equally believed and acted upon the belief that it was their solemn duty to extirpate what they deemed to be heresy; and, if need were, to do so even by blood and fire, that others might be deterred from the same peril of perdition. In this year the bishop also preached a characteristic sermon at St. Paul's Cross; and in the autumn was commissioned to examine into the famous imposture called "the blood of Hales," as he had before been employed to detect the imposture of "the Maid of Kent."

In the following year Latimer joined Cranmer in opposing a vigorous resistance to the act of the Six Articles (see before, p. 108); but the offence of this opposition[Pg 143] was not in his case overlooked, for the king, through Cromwell, signified to him his pleasure that he should resign his bishopric. Latimer accordingly ceased to be Bishop of Worcester on the 1st of July, 1539. It is related, that as soon as he put off his rochet in his chamber, among his friends, he fairly skipped for joy at being released, as he said, from a heavy burden. This shows how onerous the responsibilities of the episcopate must have seemed to a man of his temperament.

It would seem that after the resignation of his bishopric Latimer remained in some sort of confinement, in the house of Dr. Sampson, Bishop of Chichester; and that he remained in this custody till this prelate was himself consigned to the Tower. There is reason for believing that Latimer was then set at liberty; and that although on coming to London for medical advice, having been nearly killed by the falling of a tree, he was subject to some molestation from the bishops and others, yet that he continued at large till 1546. Then, under suspicion of having "counselled or devised with Crome," he was examined before the Privy Council, and at length cast into the Tower, and was kept there till the accession of Edward VI., in 1547. It would therefore appear that the common account of his having been kept six years in the Tower is incorrect.

When Edward came to the crown, and the Protestant party recovered the ascendency which it had lost during the last years of Henry's life, Latimer was not only set at liberty, but the restoration of his bishopric was offered to him; but he was determined not again to be troubled with the cares and responsibilities which the office of a bishop at that time involved, and to which he knew himself unsuited. He therefore declined the offer, urging the claims of advancing age to a life of privacy. He did not, however, remain unemployed, for his name appears in a commission, the object of which was to repress heresy; and he was also one of the divines appointed to reform the ecclesiastical law. He is also said to have assisted Cranmer in composing the Homilies, which were set forth by authority in the first year of King Edward's[Pg 144] reign. His manner of life during this period is thus described by the writer of the Dedication to Latimer's 'Sermons on the Lord's Prayer,' which he preached in 1552:—after indicating the kind of labours to which he applied himself after his release from the Tower, this writer says, "In the which his painful travails he continued all King Edward's time, preaching for the most part every Sunday two sermons, to the great shame, confusion, and damnation of a great number of our fat-bellied unpreaching prelates. For he, being a sore bruised man, and above threescore and seven years of age, took, notwithstanding, all these pains in preaching; and, besides this, every morning ordinarily, winter and summer, about two of the clock in the morning, he was at his book most diligently. And besides this, how careful he was for the preservation of the church of God, and the good success of the Gospel, they can bear record, which at that time were in authority, whom continually, by his letters, he admonished of their duties, and assisted with his godly counsel."

During this period he resided chiefly with Cranmer at Lambeth; where much of his time was consumed in attending to the complaints of the oppressed and needy. He speaks of this himself in his second sermon before King Edward:—"I cannot go to my book, for poor folks come unto me, desiring me that I will speak that their matters may be heard. I trouble my lord of Canterbury; and being at his house, now and then I walk in the garden looking in my book, as I can do but little good at it. But something I must needs do to satisfy this place. I am no sooner in the garden, and having read awhile, but by-and-by cometh some one or other knocking at the gate. Anon cometh my man, and saith: 'Sir, there is one at the gate would speak with you,' When I come, it is some one or other that desireth me that I will speak that his matter may be heard; that he hath lain thus long at great costs and charges, and cannot once have his matter come to a hearing," &c.

In the midst of these useful labours, Latimer had strong forebodings of the perils which awaited the cause[Pg 145] of the Reformation, and of his share in the impending calamities. He used to say that the preaching of the Gospel would cost him his life, and that he cheerfully prepared himself for it; being persuaded that the Bishop of Winchester (Gardiner, then confined in the Tower) was reserved for evil to him.

On the accession of Queen Mary his anticipations were accomplished to the letter. She was scarcely seated on the throne than a pursuivant was sent after him into the country, whither he had once more retired. He was at Coventry, and one Careless, a weaver in that city, gave him timely notice of the arrival of the pursuivant. But although he had good six hours before him, he employed them only in preparations for his journey to London, to the great astonishment of the officer, who found him in perfect readiness to depart, but who, having no orders for his detention, left the citation and went away. From this it has been inferred that the council would have been glad of his escape from the kingdom, lest the persecution of one held in so much veneration by the people should occasion disturbances.

On the 12th of September, 1553, he arrived in London; and on passing through Smithfield, exclaimed, "This place hath long groaned for me!" The next day he appeared before the lords of the council, and, in the language of its minutes, was "for his seditious demeanour committed to the Tower." Out of this, writers unfriendly to his cause and memory have chosen to infer that he was committed "on a charge of sedition." The truth probably is that he expressed himself with his customary bluntness and freedom of speech; that their lordships chose to regard his behaviour as irreverent and contumacious, and that they scrupled not to mark their sense of it by calling it seditious—an epithet which we know to have been often applied even to his preaching by those to whom its plain truth was unpalatable.

In the Tower the treatment of Latimer was brutally severe; but his sense of it was expressed with his usual light-hearted pleasantry. On one occasion he sent to the lieutenant of the Tower a message that "if not better[Pg 146] looked after he should perhaps deceive him." The lieutenant, in great alarm, hastened for an explanation to his prisoner; who replied:—"You look, I think, that I should burn; but unless you let me have some fire, I am like to deceive your expectation; for I am more like here to starve for cold."

He was shortly after removed, together with Cranmer and Ridley, to Oxford, and there subjected to the proceedings which have been already described in the preceding notice of Cranmer. On arriving at Oxford, they were placed together in the common jail called Bocardo, where they were subject to much privation; but were much comforted by the religious conferences which they held together, by reading the Scriptures, and above all by prayer, to which especially they devoted a considerable part of every day, "good old father Latimer" indeed often continuing in a kneeling posture so long that he was unable to rise without help.

When the disputations before the convocation began in April, 1554, Latimer was not brought in till Cranmer and Ridley had successively declared their dissent to the proposed articles, and had retired. He appeared in all the simplicity of his character, with a kerchief and two or three caps on his head, buttoned under his chin, his spectacles hanging by a string at his breast, and a staff in his hand, with the New Testament under his arm. He was almost exhausted in passing through the crowd, and the prolocutor allowed him a chair. He also denied the articles; but he alleged that his age, his infirmities, and the weakness of his memory, disqualified him from opposing them efficiently in the proposed disputation. This was on Saturday. On the following Monday Cranmer opposed the articles, on Tuesday disputed with great ability against them, and on Wednesday Latimer was produced. The prolocutor, addressing him in Latin, desired him to enter upon his argument. He pleaded that he was not very conversant with the Latin tongue, not having used it for twenty years; and he was then permitted to speak in English. Meanwhile he was not unassailed by taunts, hissings, and scornful laughs. He[Pg 147] was very faint, and desired that he might not be long detained. He then obtained permission to read a written protest against the articles, but being prevented from finishing by the indecent uproar which prevailed, he handed the paper to the prolocutor, who offered to read it for him. After casting his eye over it, he declined to fulfil his promise; but demanded of Latimer whether, as he refused to dispute, he would sign the articles or not. He gave a decided negative; and an attempt was then made to draw him into a disputation. He was attacked by several persons in turn; but although he answered direct questions with civility and patience, they could not induce him to argue questions to which he felt himself unable to do justice. The prolocutor finding him inflexible, at length rose and dissolved the assembly, crying out:—"Ye all see the weakness of heresy against the truth; he denieth all truth, and all the old fathers." Latimer made no reply, but wrapping his gown around him, and taking up his Testament and his staff, he walked out as unconcerned as he came in.

In the interval which passed between this and the appearance before the papal commission in the same place, the friends were separated, Cranmer alone remaining in Bocardo. Ridley was kept in custody in the sheriff's house, Latimer in the bailiff's. Their treatment in their new quarters seems to have been marked both by severity and caprice. They were deprived of the services of their own people; the freedom of communication with each other well nigh ceased. They could not always obtain writing materials or books, they were avoided by the university men, and Ridley wondered that their solitude was not cheered by a single kind office from any one of their brethren in scholarship. The sympathies of the humble and unlettered were much more lively in their behalf, and the townspeople of Oxford as well as many at a distance were most liberal in supplying their necessities by gifts of provisions, clothing, and money. As for Latimer, he employed himself almost exclusively in the repeated perusal of the New Testament. He and Ridley were however sometimes allowed to go and dine with[Pg 148] Cranmer in Bocardo. Strype says he had seen a book of their diet every dinner and supper, and the charge thereof; which was at the expense of Winkle and Wells, bailiffs of the city at that time, under whose custody they were. As for example in this method:—

The first of October, dinner.

Bread and aleiid.
Item, oistersid.
Item, butteriid.
Item, eggsiid.
Item, lyngviiid.
Item, a piece of fresh salmonxd.
Cheese and pearsiid.
iis. vid.

Strype does not seem to have seen that this was a fast day, and that the prisoners kept, or were obliged to keep, such days in the usual Romish fashion, by abstaining from animal food; for there is no substantial food but fish in the list. Strype further collects from this book of expenses that they "ate constantly suppers as well as dinners. Their meals amounted to about three or four shillings, seldom exceeding four.[39] Their bread and ale commonly came to two pence or three pence. They had constantly cheese and pears for their last dish, both at dinner and supper, and always wine, the price whereof was ever three pence and no more."[40]

The proceedings of the former commission having been[Pg 149] clearly irregular and illegal, it was necessary to wait till the statutes repealed in the time of Edward were re-enacted, and till the realm of England should be formally reconciled to the pope, before a competent tribunal could be established. Hence the delay which has been indicated. At length, in September, 1555, a new commission was sent down to Oxford by Cardinal Pole as legate à latere, to John White, bishop of Lincoln, Dr. Brokes, bishop of Gloucester, and Dr. Holyman, bishop of Bristol, authorising them "to ascite, examine, and judge Master Hugh Latimer and Master Dr. Ridley, pretensed bishops of Worcester and London, for divers and sundry erroneous opinions, which the said Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley did hold and maintain in open disputations held at Oxford, in the year of our Lord 1554, as long before, in the time of perdition, and since."

On Monday, September 30, 1555, at eight o'clock in the morning, the commissioners repaired to the divinity school at Oxford, and placed themselves "on the high seat made for public lectures and disputations, according to the usage of that school, being then fair set, with cloth of tissue and cushions of velvet." The prisoners were then sent for, and Ridley presently entered, but Latimer was kept back till after the examination of Ridley had been completed. With that examination it is not our present purpose to speak: but a saying of Dr. Brokes may be noted, as intimating the view which the commissioners, and doubtless others, had taken of their relative position in argument and intellect:—"Latimer leaneth to Cranmer, Cranmer to Ridley, and Ridley to the singularity of his own wit; so that if you overthrow the singularity of[Pg 150] Ridley's wit, then must needs the religion of Cranmer and Latimer fall also." In the course of his reply Ridley modestly denied the justice of this comparison, as regarded himself and Cranmer: but it is nevertheless true that while Ridley was fully equal to Latimer and superior to Cranmer in firmness of character, he possessed many high qualities of mind which were wanting to both of his companions in trouble.

Ridley having been examined, the commissioners then proceeded with Latimer. He appeared before them in the same attire as on the first occasion, and was again compelled to undergo a most vexatious questioning on the same articles which had been submitted to him on the former examination, and from which he again expressed his dissent. The pope's supremacy was a point also much pressed upon him, but which he disclaimed with a force of reasoning for which the commissioners were scarcely prepared. His age and infirmities were so far considered that he was allowed to be seated; but in other respects he obtained little consideration from the audience. More than once his answers were received with laughter, which caused him to say:—"Why, my masters, this is no laughing matter; I answer upon life and death." At the conclusion of the examination he was informed that it would be necessary for him to appear again on the ensuing day. But he answered that he required no respite: it would be in vain—his mind was fully made up, and he prayed to be troubled no more. Dr. White, however, said that he trusted God might yet work in him; and that he could not be excused from appearing in St. Mary's Church the next day.

The following day, accordingly, soon after eight o'clock in the morning, the commissioners repaired to the church, where the whole body of the university, and as many of the townspeople as could find room, were assembled to see the issue of the matter. Ridley first appeared before them, and received the sentence of condemnation; Latimer then appeared, and a cloth which had covered the table during the proceedings against Ridley, was then removed, to mark the difference of the degrees of the[Pg 151] prisoners. Perceiving this, Latimer in his quaint manner placed his hat, which was an old felt one, under his elbows, as he leaned upon the table; and then proceeded to address the commissioners, saying, "My lords, I beseech your lordships to set a better order here at your entrance; for I am an old man, and have an evil back, so that the press of the multitude doth much hurt me." The Bishop of Lincoln promised that attention should be paid to his infirm state; for which he returned thanks with a low bow. A strong and final effort was then made to induce him to recant: but finding that no impression could be made upon him, the sentence of condemnation was somewhat abruptly read, and the proceedings terminated, but not before Latimer had put in an appeal "to the next general council that should be truly called in God's name." He was then committed to the custody of the mayor; and care was taken to prevent his being hurt, as he had been at his entrance, by the pressure of the crowd.

Returning to his prison, Latimer remained closely confined till the 16th of October, the day appointed for the execution. Early in the morning of that day, the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford, with his retinue, repaired to the open space in front of Balliol College, where this melancholy tragedy was to take place; and to prevent any tumultuous interruptions from the people, the ground was kept by an armed force under the command of Lord Williams. Every preparation being completed, Latimer was brought forth by the mayor and bailiffs, together with Ridley. The contrast exhibited in the appearance of the two sufferers was striking, and excited the liveliest sympathy in the spectators. Ridley, in the prime of life and intellect, radiant with holy hope, and rejoicing in being deemed worthy to shed forth his life in this great cause, came forward with an elastic step, arrayed with care and attention in the costly dress of his rank and order. But poor old Latimer—less visibly excited by the greatness of the occasion—came forth with quiet contentment written on his countenance, and arrayed in the same frieze gown, kerchief, and buttoned cap which he[Pg 152] had worn at his trial: but in addition to this, he now wore a new long shroud, which came down over his hose to his feet, and marked his preparation for death. Having reached the stake, they affectionately embraced each other, and then kneeled down and prayed; after which they conversed cheerfully together, till Dr. Smith began the appointed sermon. He chose for his text the words—"Although I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing;" and his discourse thereon went to show that the goodness of the cause, and not the manner of death, made the holiness of the person, which he confirmed by the example of Judas, and of a woman who had lately hanged herself in Oxford; and he alleged that, seeing that the persons before him would not save themselves by recanting their heretical opinions, they were in fact their own destroyers. It was an unusually short sermon for that time, not taking more than a quarter of an hour. When it was concluded, Ridley said to Latimer, "Will you begin to answer the sermon, or shall I?" Latimer said, "Begin you first, I pray you." On which Ridley, with his usual ready mastery of his great resources, addressed himself to the task; but the vice-chancellor and the bailiffs ran hastily to him and stopped his mouth with their hands. This drew from Latimer his favourite "old posy"—"Well! there is nothing shut that shall not be opened."

They were then commanded to make ready; and with all meekness they obeyed. Ridley took off the several articles of his dress, and presented them, together with the contents of his pockets, to those who stood near him, who received them with the utmost eagerness. Latimer gave nothing; but very quietly suffered the executioner to disrobe him; and being stripped to his shroud it was marvellous to behold the change for the better in his appearance; for "whereas in his clothes he appeared a withered and crooked silly old man, he now stood bolt upright, as comely a father as one might lightly behold." One chain carried around their bodies, fastened them both to one stake. They accepted thankfully some gunpowder, which Ridley's brother-in-law gave them with[Pg 153] the view of shortening their sufferings; and all being ready, a blazing faggot was brought and laid down at Ridley's feet. It was at that moment that Latimer addressed to him the prophetic and memorable words, "Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man. We shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out." Then, as the flames arose, he cried "O, Father of Heaven, receive my soul!" and received the flames as if embracing them. He was next observed to stroke his face repeatedly with his hands, and, as it were, bathed them in the fire. His head then dropped, and he expired with little if any suffering. The sufferings of Ridley were protracted and horrible: but at length his body slipped through or fell over the chain to the feet of Latimer, and both were utterly consumed in the fierce heat.

Thus closed the career of Hugh Latimer—a man who claims our admiration for no high attainments or vast capacities of intellect—but who, while he engages our curiosity by some eccentricities of character, wins our entire respect, and acquired the great influence he possessed among the people, from whom he sprung, by his singleness of heart, by his simplicity of purpose, by the entire absence of all suspicion of low or selfish aims, and by the earnest and often dangerous intrepidity with which he dared to reprove freely the vices that lurked in high places, where his clear and unambiguous voice pierced like a blast of keen fresh air through the unwholesome and hot haze that gathered round the throne, and that filled the conclaves and councils of his time. There is perhaps no one man whose death did more to advance the cause of the Reformation in the hearts of the people than that of Latimer. He was exactly the man whom they could appreciate and value: and when, to all his other claims to their love and veneration, the insane folly of the Romish party—which amounted to judicial blindness—enabled him to add the greatness which belongs to the man who yields up his life for a principle, his character received that crowning glory which has ever rendered his memory most dear to the English people. The[Pg 154] commanding talents and exalted genius of Ridley more engage the attention of scholars and educated men; but Latimer has ever been the hero of the Reformation with the great body of the people; and their estimation of him has not inaptly been expressed by the title of "the Apostle of England," which their veneration has conferred upon him.


[37] The year of his birth is not known. Some place it in 1470, which must be too early; others in 1491, which must be far too late. The date of 1484 has been chosen, after carefully balancing all the evidence. If 1491 were taken, he could not in 1497 have been old enough to buckle his father's harness, nor of such advanced years at his death, as all accounts agree in stating; and if 1470, he would have been older than incidental statements allow.

[38] Where the Cornish rebels were defeated in 1497.

[39] This must mean for the two daily meals of all the three; as the expense for the whole period did not exceed 63l. 10s. 2d.

[40] Strype further states that the prices of the provisions (it being an extraordinary dear year) were as follows:—"A goose, 14d.; a pig, 12d. or 13d.; a cony, 6d.; a woodcock, 3d. and sometimes 4d.; three plovers, 10d.; half a dozen larks, 3d.; a dozen larks and two plovers, 10d.; a breast of veal, 11d.; a shoulder of mutton, 10d.; roast beef, 12d." The last disbursements entered in this book of accounts were the following:—

s.   d.
For three loads of faggots to burn Ridley and Latimer12   0
Item, one load of furs-faggots3   4
For a carriage of these four loads2   0
Item, a post1   4
Item, two chains3   4
Item, two staples0   6
Item, four labourers2   8

[Pg 155]


John Knox, the Father of the Scottish Reformation, one of the most remarkable of men, both for what he did and what he was—for his personal character as well as for the great transactions in which he was concerned—is notable, among other things, for being an example of that order of ascendant minds in which, whether owing to nature or circumstances, or partly to both, the inherent superiority has not shown itself till comparatively late in life. "Those persons," says Bacon (in his Character of Augustus Cæsar), "which are of a turbulent nature or appetite do commonly pass their youth in many errors; and about their middle, and then and not before, they show forth their perfections; but those that are of a sedate and calm nature may be ripe for great and glorious actions in their youth." This is so far applicable to Knox, that he certainly was not "of a sedate and calm nature;" he was not an Augustus Cæsar, without passions, and all judgment, or rather calculation and[Pg 156] craft. But, as in all other cases, the course of events had much to do in determining the time at which what was in him made itself be seen and felt. No force can altogether make its own opportunities. The sun himself must bide his due hour of rising, and cannot always pierce the obstructing clouds.

A consequence of Knox having been thus late in coming forward into the light, is that the first half of his life is very imperfectly known. He was born in 1505, in East Lothian, either in the town of Haddington, or in the neighbouring village of Gifford. His father is believed to have been a descendant of the Knoxes, proprietors of Knock (whence probably the family name), Ranferly, and Graigends, in the parish of Kilbarchan, in Renfrewshire: his mother's name was Sinclair. Besides John, they had at least another son, William, who also ultimately became a preacher in the Reformed Church, but was bred a merchant, and traded on so considerable a scale as in the year 1552 to have one or more vessels of a hundred tons burthen frequenting the ports of England. What is known of both brothers looks as if their father had been in comfortable circumstances, and perhaps possessed, as tradition reports, of some little landed property. Probably William, from his afterwards going into the church, as well as John, received a learned education. John at least, after having acquired the rudiments of classical knowledge at the grammar school of Haddington, was sent in 1522 to the University of Glasgow. It is supposed that he afterwards studied at St. Andrew's, and it has been generally asserted that he took his degree of Master of Arts there; but there does not appear to be any sufficient evidence for the latter of these statements. It is doubtful indeed if he ever graduated. However, it seems to be admitted that, after finishing his academical curriculum, he taught a class for some time in the University of St. Andrew's. His master in scholastic philosophy, the great study of the time, is affirmed in all the old accounts to have been John Mair—in Latin, Major—now best known from his History of Scotland, but celebrated in his own day as[Pg 157] one of the chief luminaries of philosophy and theology. These sciences he taught at Glasgow, where he was Principal of the University, till 1523, when he removed to St. Andrew's; and there it is said he had both Knox and Buchanan for his pupils. If that was the case, Knox must have studied not at the College of St. Salvator, as has been commonly assumed, but at that of St. Mary, to which it is known that Buchanan belonged, and where it is supposed that Mair taught before he became Provost, or Principal, of St. Salvator's in 1533.[41]

Mair had been educated in France, and there he had acquired some opinions, and a mode of thinking, both on political and ecclesiastical subjects, the influence of which is conceived to have acted powerfully upon his two distinguished pupils. "He had imbibed," says M'Crie, "the sentiments concerning ecclesiastical polity maintained by John Gerson and Peter d'Ailly, who so ably defended the decrees of the Council of Constance and[Pg 158] the liberties of the Gallican Church against the advocates for the uncontrollable authority of the Sovereign Pontiff. He taught that a general council was superior to the Pope, and might judge, rebuke, restrain, and even depose him from his dignity; denied the temporal supremacy of the bishop of Rome, and his right to inaugurate or dethrone princes; maintained that ecclesiastical censures, and even papal excommunications had no force, if pronounced on irrelevant or invalid grounds: he held that tithes were not of divine right, but merely of human appointment; censured the avarice, ambition, and secular pomp of the court of Rome, and of the episcopal order; was no warm friend of the regular clergy; and advised the reduction of monasteries and holidays. His opinions respecting civil government were analogous to those which he held as to ecclesiastical polity. He taught that the authority of kings and princes was originally derived from the people; that the former are not superior to the latter, collectively considered; that, if rulers become tyrannical, or employ their power for the destruction of their subjects, they may lawfully be controlled by them, and, proving incorrigible, may be deposed by the community as the superior power; and that tyrants may be judicially proceeded against, even to capital punishments." From Mair (who, however, was not a person of any remarkable force or reach of understanding) Knox is also supposed to have derived a taste for the subtleties of the scholastic logic, and it is as a teacher of this science that he is said to have first distinguished himself. If it be the fact that he was thus far indebted to the instructions of Mair, he must have studied at St. Andrew's, for Mair, as we have seen, left Glasgow about a year after Knox was entered of that University. There can hardly indeed be a doubt that it was at St. Andrew's his mind was principally trained, and that that city, the then metropolis both of the learning and the religion of Scotland, was the scene in which he first made himself known, as it was also that of the most memorable events of his after career.

It is known that he was ordained as a priest before he[Pg 159] had reached the canonical age of twenty-five, and consequently before the year 1530. He had not therefore been shaken in his original faith by the execution of Patrick Hamilton, the burning of whom for heresy before the gate of the Old, or St. Salvator's, College, on the afternoon of the last day of February, 1528, he has related with strong expressions of indignation in the beginning of his 'History of the Reformation.' Nor is anything known of what he was about from this date till the year 1542, when he is stated to have avowed himself a Protestant, having now reached the age of thirty-seven. It is probable, however, that the change in his opinions had begun six or seven years before this date.

It is certain that he was engaged in teaching publicly in the University of St. Andrew's when he first brought himself under the imputation of heresy, by the new views in regard both to religion and philosophy which he advanced in his lectures. To avoid the consequences he left that city, and, retiring to the south of Scotland, there openly declared his change of belief. He was immediately degraded from the priesthood; and it is asserted that he would have been in danger of assassination, but for the protection of a country gentleman of East Lothian, Hugh Douglas, laird of Langniddry, who had himself embraced the Protestant doctrines, and who now received Knox into his family to be tutor to his two sons. Here he appears to have remained for the next three years; the son of a neighbouring gentleman, John Cockburn of Ormiston, being also placed under his care.

It is from the year 1545 that Knox's life may be said to have passed in the light. From that date, indeed, it becomes part of the history of the country; and many of its most memorable passages have been recorded by his own pen in his 'History of the Reformation.' The first mention that he makes of himself is in giving an account of the peregrination made in the latter part of that year through the western and southern counties by the celebrated George Wishart, who soon afterwards ended his course by suffering martyrdom at St. Andrew's. Wishart was a person of good family, being a brother of the laird[Pg 160] of Pitarrow in Kincardineshire, and probably a son of the Wishart of Pitarrow who was justice-clerk in the reign of James V. He is first heard of as employed in teaching the Greek New Testament at Montrose, from which place, where he no doubt did not confine his teaching to the mere language of the Scriptures, he is stated to have been driven by the Bishop of Brechin in 1537. Upon this he took refuge in England; and it appears by an extract from the records of the corporation of Bristol, which Dr. M'Crie has published, that in consequence of having in a lecture in St. Nicholas' church in that city, on the 15th of May, 1538, set forth "the most blasphemous heresy that ever was heard, openly declaring that Christ's mother hath not nor could not merit for him, nor yet for us;"—"which heresy," it is added, "brought many of the commons of this town into a great error, and divers of them were persuaded by that heretical lecture to heresy,"—he was examined before the Archbishop of Canterbury and other prelates, and, being condemned, was (it must be presumed upon his recantation) sentenced to bear his fagot in St. Nicholas' church on the 13th, and in Christ Church on the 20th of July, and did so accordingly. Some years after he is heard of as resident at Cambridge, where he appears to have become a member of the University. Fox, in his 'Martyrology,' has inserted an interesting account of him, given by Emery Tylney, one of his pupils there in 1543, in which he is said to have been commonly called Master George of Bonnet's College, and is described as "a man of tall stature, polled-headed, and on the same a round French cap of the best; judged of melancholy complexion by his physiognomy, black haired, long bearded, comely of personage, well spoken after his manner of Scotland, courteous, lowly, lovely, glad to teach, desirous to learn." He "was," the writer adds, "well travelled, having on him for his habit or clothing never but a mantle frieze gown to the shoes, a black Milan fustian doublet and plain black hosen, coarse new canvass for his shirts, and white falling bands, and cuffs at the hands. All the which apparel he gave to the poor, some weekly, some monthly,[Pg 161] some quarterly, as he liked, saving his French cap, which he kept the whole year of my being with him. He was a man modest, temperate, fearing God, hating covetousness; for his charity had never end, night, noon, nor day. He forbare one meal in three one day in four for the most part, except something to comfort nature. He lay hard upon a puff of straw; coarse new canvass sheets, which when he changed he gave away. He had commonly by his bedside a tub of water, in the which (his people being in bed, the candle put out, and all quiet) he used to bathe himself, as I, being very young, being assured often heard him, and in one light night discerned him. He loved me tenderly, and I him, for my age, as effectually. He taught with great modesty and gravity, so that some of his people thought him severe, and would have slain him, but the Lord was his defence. And he, after due correction for their malice, by good exhortation amended them, and he went his way." It is a singular trait of the times that a man of this character, and one the sincerity of whose convictions and his elevation over all worldly considerations were afterwards attested by his death at the stake, should nevertheless not have refused to associate himself in a scheme of assassination. Yet such appears to have been the case. A letter to Henry VIII. from the Earl of Hertford, dated Newcastle, 17th April, 1544, first published by Robertson, in his 'History of Scotland,' though previously mentioned by other writers, states that a Scotsman called Wishart had that day come to the Earl with letters from Crichton of Brunstane, and would be immediately sent on to London to communicate to Henry a plan proposed by the Master of Rothes and others for either the apprehension or the slaughter of Cardinal Beaton, at this time the great stay of the Popish interest in Scotland. There can scarcely be a doubt that this Wishart was the reformer and martyr; and the more thorough examination that the affair has recently received from Mr. Tytler makes it clear that Henry saw Wishart, approved of the plot, and promised the conspirators his protection if they[Pg 162] should be compelled to take refuge in England.[42] What is certain is, that Wishart returned to his native country in the latter part of July, 1543,[43] along with the commissioners who had been despatched to England a few weeks before to negotiate the treaty for the marriage of the infant Queen of Scotland and the Prince of Wales. He appears to have spent the next two years chiefly in preaching in different parts of the country against the old religion. Knox, after giving an account of a succession of sermons which he delivered in Ayrshire and the Lothians in the latter part of the year 1545, tells us that one morning, towards the close of the Christmas holidays, when he was at Haddington, before mounting the pulpit to preach, there came to him a boy with a letter from the west country, as soon as he had read which, the narrative continues, "he called for John Knox, who had awaited upon him carefully from the time he came to Lothian." He told Knox that he was wearied of the world—that the gentlemen of the west had written to him that they could not keep the appointment they had made to come up to Edinburgh. After this he paced up and down before the high altar for more than half an hour, his very countenance and visage declaring the grief and alteration of his mind. He then delivered a long and vehement sermon, commencing by adverting to the smallness of his audience—not, he said, amounting to a hundred persons, while he had heard that in the same town "at a vain clerk play," as many as two or three thousand people would sometimes assemble. He went on nearly an hour and a half, "in the which," says Knox, "he declared all the plagues that ensued as plainly as after our eyes saw them performed." That same night the preacher was apprehended in the house of Cockburn of Ormiston. "The manner of his taking," writes Knox, "was this: Departing from the town of[Pg 163] Haddington, he took his good-night, as it were, for ever, of all his acquaintances, especially from Hugh Douglas, of Long Niddry. John Knox pressing to have gone with the said Mr. George, he said, 'Nay; return to your bairns [children, pupils], and God bless you! One is sufficient for a sacrifice.' And he caused a two-handed sword, which commonly was carried with the said Mr. George, be taken from the said Knox, who—albeit unwillingly—obeyed, and returned with Hugh Douglas, of Long Niddry." Cockburn of Ormiston, Crichton of Brunstane, and others accompanied Wishart to Ormiston, where he was to pass the night, on foot, a hard frost making it dangerous or difficult to ride. They had all retired to rest, when a little before midnight Ormiston House was surrounded by a party under the command of the Earl of Bothwell, who, to use Knox's expression, on this occasion made himself for money "butcher to the Cardinal." After some parley Bothwell was admitted into the house, and Wishart was delivered up to him, on his solemn promise that he should come to no harm. He was immediately carried to Beaton, who was waiting at Elphinstone, not a mile off. Then, after being taken to Edinburgh, he was brought back, "for the fashion's sake," as the historian phrases it, that is, for the sake of appearances, to Bothwell's house of Hailes; "but," continues the narrative, "as gold and women have corrupted all worldly and fleshly men from the beginning, so did they him; for the cardinal gave gold, and that largely; and the queen, with whom the said earl was then in the glonders [out of favour], promised favours in all his lawful suits to women, if he would deliver the said Mr. George to be kept in the Castle of Edinburgh. He made some resistance at the first, by reason of his promise; but an effeminate man cannot long withstand the assaults of a gracious queen; and so was the servant of God transported to Edinburgh Castle, where he remained not many days; for that bloody wolf, the Cardinal, ever thirsting for the blood of the servant of God, so travelled with the abused governor that he was content that God's servant should be de[Pg 164]livered to the power of that tyrant." Wishart was burned before the gate of the Cardinal's castle at St. Andrew's on the 28th of March, 1546. His execution was followed by the assassination of Beaton in the same stronghold on the 29th of May following. The conspirators retained possession of the place, and were in course of time joined by many of the members of the reformed party, till their numbers at last amounted to nearly a hundred and fifty persons. Of these Knox was one, but not one of the first. His own account is as follows:—"At the Pasch [Easter] after, Anno 1547, came to the castle of St. Andrew's John Knox, who, wearied of removing from place to place by reason of the persecution that came upon him by this Bishop of St. Andrew's, was determined to have left Scotland, and to have visited the schools of Germany; of England then he had no pleasure, by reason that, the Pope's name being suppressed, his laws and corruptions remained in full vigour; but, because he had the care of some gentlemen's children, whom certain years he had nourished in godliness, their fathers solicited him to go to St. Andrew's, that himself might have the benefit of the castle, and their children the benefit of his doctrine; and so, we say, came he the time foresaid to the said place; and, having in his company Francis Douglas of Longniddry, George his brother, and Alexander Cockburn, then eldest son to the laird of Ormiston, began to exercise them after his accustomed manner. Besides their grammar, and other humane authors, he read unto them a catechism, account whereof he caused them give publicly in the parish kirk of St. Andrew's. He read moreover unto them the Evangel of John, proceeding where he left at his departing from Longniddry, where before his residence was; and that lecture he read in the chapel within the castle at a certain hour." It was this step which led to Knox commencing at the mature age of forty-two his career as a Protestant preacher. His interesting narrative proceeds:—"They of the place, but especially Mr. Henry Balnaves and John Rough, preacher, perceiving the manner of his doctrine,[Pg 165] began earnestly to travail with him, that he would take the preaching place upon him. But he utterly refused, alleging that he would not run where God had not called him; meaning, that he would do nothing without a lawful vocation. Whereupon they privily amongst themselves advising, having with them in company Sir David Lyndsay of the Mount, they concluded that they would give a charge to the said John, and that publicly by the mouth of their preacher." Accordingly, on a day agreed upon, Rough, in concluding a sermon appropriate to the matter in hand, turned round to Knox, and, after asking him not to be offended if he should declare unto him what he had in charge from all present, proceeded: "In the name of God, and of his son Jesus Christ, and in the name of these that presently call you by my mouth, I charge you that ye refuse not this holy vocation, but, as ye tender the glory of God, the increase of Christ's kingdom, the edification of your brethren, and the comfort of me, whom ye understand well enough to be oppressed by the multitude of labours, that ye take upon you the public office and charge of preaching, even as ye look to avoid God's heavy displeasure, and desire that he shall multiply his graces with you." Those present, being then appealed to, signified their assent: "Whereat," continues the account, "the said John, abashed, burst forth in most abundant tears, and withdrew himself to his chamber; his countenance and behaviour, from that day till the day that he was compelled to present himself to the public place of preaching, did sufficiently declare the grief and trouble of his heart; for no man saw any sign of mirth of him, neither yet had he pleasure to accompany any man, many days together." This scene seems to have taken place in the chapel of the castle. About the same time he goes on to relate, he had become involved in a controversy on the question of the two religions with Dean John Annand, whom he describes as "a rotten papist," that "had long troubled John Rough in his preaching." Annand was Principal of St. Leonard's College, and a person of eminent learning, which made him in disputation much more[Pg 166] than a match for Rough, who had received a very imperfect education, though he was popular as a preacher. Knox had in the first instance defended his friend by his pen, and, as he tells us himself, "had beaten the said Dean John from all defences; that he was compelled to fly to his last refuge, that is, to the authority of the church, 'which authority,' said he, 'damneth all Lutherans and heretics,' and therefore he needed no farther disputation." Knox upon this, "in open audience in the parish church of St. Andrew's," undertook to prove that the Roman Church was nothing else than the synagogue of Satan, and the Pope the man of sin, or anti-christ. The people eagerly desired to hear what he had to say in evidence of these strong affirmations; "and so the next Sunday was appointed to the said John to express his mind in the public preaching place." He took for his text the 24th and 25th verses of the seventh chapter of Daniel; and his sermon, treating the subject both doctrinally and historically, was such a dissection, or rather mangling and tearing to pieces, of Popery, as had been scarcely matched by anything ever delivered by Luther himself. There were present his old master, Mair, and other members of the university, with many canons and some friars; and in concluding he challenged any one who should say that he had alleged Scripture, doctor, or history, otherwise than correctly, to meet him in conference before witnesses, when he would prove that he had not. "Of this sermon," the account continues, "which was the first that ever John Knox made in public, were there divers bruits. Some said, 'Others hewed the branches of papistry, but he striketh at the root to destroy the whole.' Others said, 'If the doctors and magistri nostri defend not now the Pope and his authority, which in their own presence is so manifestly impugned, the devil have my part of him and his laws both.' Others said, 'Mr. George Wishart spake never so plainly, and yet he was burnt; even so will he be.' In the end, others said, 'The tyranny of the Cardinal made not his cause the better, neither yet the suffering of God's servant made his cause the worse; and,[Pg 167] therefore, we would counsel you and them to provide better defences than fire and sword, for it may be that else ye shall be disappointed: men now have other eyes than they had then.' This answer gave the laird of Niddry, a man fervent and upright in religion." Then we are told that "the bastard bishop, who was not yet execrated, consecrated they call it"—that is the archbishop elect, John Hamilton, illegitimate brother of the Regent Arran—wrote to the sub-prior touching what had taken place; and upon this "a convention of grey friars and black fiends" was appointed to be held in St. Leonard's Yard, before which first Rough was called and then Knox. The sub-prior, Dean John Winram, who presided, was understood to be inclined in his heart to the new doctrines, and Knox seems to have been at least allowed to defend himself without being silenced or interrupted. He himself speaks of the auditory as being "modest and quiet," and he says that in the disputation "many things were merrily scoffed over." Nor was it followed by any measures to prevent the Reformer from continuing to preach; the possession of the castle, indeed, gave his friends the command of the town, and for the present secured him from molestation. Soon after this the sacrament of the Lord's Supper was administered, apparently in the chapel of the castle, by Rough and Knox, being the first administration of it in Scotland after the reformed mode, except that which Wishart had performed with great privacy immediately before his martyrdom. "God," says Knox, "so assisted his weak soldier, and so blessed his labours, that not only all those of the castle, but also a great number of the town, openly professed, by participation of the Lord's Table in the same purity that now it is ministered in the kirks of Scotland, with that same doctrine that he had taught unto them."

Knox claims to himself the credit of having foreseen and foretold the fall of the castle, which was effected by the aid of a French force on Saturday, the 31st of July, and he evidently takes credit to himself in the matter for something more than human sagacity. Such a trait of character ought not to be suppressed in giving an account[Pg 168] of his life, as it has been by his generally courageous enough biographer Dr. M'Crie, who merely says that he did not expect the garrison would be able to hold out. His own account is, that some of the besieged were chiefly alarmed on account of the ordnance which the enemy had planted upon the Abbey Kirk and upon St. Salvator's College, and of the devastation which the pest, or plague, was making within the walls; "but," he continues, "John Knox was of another judgment, for he ever said that their corrupt life could not escape punishment of God, and that was his continual advertisement from the time that he was called to preach. When they triumphed of their victory—the first twenty days [of the siege] they had many prosperous chances—he lamented, and ever said, they saw not what he saw. When they bragged of the force and thickness of their walls he said, they should be but egg-shells. When they vaunted, 'England will rescue us,' he said, 'Ye shall not see them; but ye shall be delivered into your enemies' hands, and shall be carried unto a strange country.'" Here is a direct claim to the gift of prophecy. Knox distinctly represents himself as another Cassandra, discerning coming events with quite another vision than that of human reason. And the passage is also important as containing his emphatic and decisive testimony as to the character of his associates, and the life they led while they kept possession of the place. The murderers of the Cardinal, and the other friends of the reformed opinions who flocked to join them after the deed, were clearly not all saints in their ordinary walk and conversation.

It was stipulated that the prisoners taken in the castle should be sent over in the first instance to France, and that then, if they did not choose to remain in that country, they should be safely conveyed at the expense of the French king to any other they might desire to go to, Scotland only excepted. This at least is Knox's statement—though such terms, in the circumstances, or in any circumstances, it must be confessed, seem strange and improbable. They were at any rate put on board galleys, in which they were transported to the French[Pg 169] coast, and then carried up the Seine. Some were taken out and confined in prisons on shore; but Knox, with others, was left in the galleys. He is supposed to have been himself the hero of a story which he tells by way of showing the persecution or annoyance to which they were subjected on account of their religion. "Soon after their arrival at Nantes," he says, "a glorious painted lady was brought in to be kissed [it was an image of the Virgin], and, amongst others, was presented to one of the Scotsmen, then chained. He gently said, 'Trouble me not; such an idol is accursed; and therefore I will not touch it.' The patron and the argousin [lieutenant], with two officers, having the chief charge of all such matters, said, 'Thou shalt handle it.' And so they violently thrust it to his face, and put it betwixt his hands, who, seeing the extremity, took the idol, and, advisedly looking about, he cast it in the river, and said, 'Let our Lady now save herself; she is light enough, let her learn to swim.' After that was no Scotsman teazed with that idolatry."

He always felt confident of his deliverance, and was even wont to predict it, according to his own account, with something of prophetic assurance. The galleys appear to have been occasionally sent over to the Scotch coast; and once, when that in which he was was lying betwixt Dundee and St. Andrew's, he being at the time so sick that his life was generally despaired of, one of his fellow prisoners, he tells us, desired him to look at the land, and asked him if he knew it. It was St. Andrew's that was in view, with its crowded spires and pinnacles. "Yes," answered Knox, "I know it well; for I see the steeple of that place where God first opened my mouth in public to his glory; and I am fully persuaded, how weak that ever I now appear, that I shall not depart this life till that my tongue shall glorify his godly name in the same place." He takes care to add that this was reported by the person to whom he spoke the words, in the presence of many witnesses, many years before he again set foot in Scotland.

At length, after a detention of nineteen months, he[Pg 170] regained his liberty in February, 1549, how he has not recorded, nor is it certainly known. Dr. M'Crie seems to think that the French government winked at his making his escape. The affair was probably managed by means of some persons who might have been inconveniently compromised if the circumstances had been published.

He remained, however, an exile from his native country for more than six years longer. In the first instance he proceeded to London, whence he was sent down by the government of Edward VI. to fill the office of preacher at Berwick. In 1551 he was removed to Newcastle; and in December of the same year he was appointed one of the king's chaplains. Early in 1553 he was summoned to London in consequence of certain charges brought against him by the Duke of Northumberland (better known by his previous title of the Earl of Warwick), warden of the Northern Marches; but he so completely vindicated himself, when he appeared before the Privy Council, that he was not only discharged, but was soon afterwards offered first the living of All Hallows in London, and then a bishopric, both of which preferments, however, he declined. He remained in the English capital till after the death of King Edward, on the 6th of July, and the failure of the attempt of the Protestant party, or a section of it, to set up the Lady Jane Grey as queen; he probably left immediately after the throne was secured for Mary. He does not seem, however, to have attempted to conceal himself; on the contrary, he preached repeatedly to large congregations in Buckinghamshire, and then, after revisiting London in September, returned to Newcastle in the last month of the year. It appears to have been at this crisis also that he married; the lady was a Miss Marjory Bowes, a person of good connexions, her father being a younger son of Sir Ralph Bowes of Streatlem; her mother, a daughter, and one of the co-heirs, of Sir Roger Aske of Aske. They had become acquainted while Knox resided at Berwick; and their engagement had been of some years' standing, the[Pg 171] marriage having apparently been prevented from taking place sooner by the opposition of the lady's father, although her mother was strongly in Knox's interest. Many of the Reformer's letters to Mrs. Bowes and her daughter have been preserved; and although those to the latter, whom before their marriage he usually addresses by the title of sister, do not much resemble ordinary love-letters, they express in their own manner, and sometimes very touchingly, a strong and deep-seated affection. One, for instance, written when he was called up to London in the beginning of this year 1553, and when he appears for the moment (with however little reason) to have considered himself in some danger of his life, concludes as follows:—"Rejoice, sister, for the same word that forespeaketh trouble doth certify us of the glory consequent. As for myself, albeit the extremity should now apprehend me, it is not come unlooked for. But alas! I fear that yet I be not ripe nor able to glorify Christ by my death; but what lacketh now, God shall perform in his own time. Be sure I will not forget you and your company so long as mortal man may remember any earthly creature." Words of little sound or show, but yet, coming from a man of Knox's nature and convictions, as assuring as ever were addressed to woman. The high-spirited reformer felt very keenly the usage of his wife's relations. In a letter to his mother-in-law, written after his marriage, he tells her that, having at her request sought an interview with the head of the family, Sir Robert Bowes, with the view of removing the unfavourable impressions that had been taken up, he had been treated in a manner which he had hardly been able to bear. Sir Robert's "disdainful, yea dispiteful words," he says, "have so pierced my heart that my life is bitter unto me." And again, "Were it not that no man's unthankfulness shall move me (God supporting my infirmity) to cease to do profit unto Christ's congregation, those days should be few that England would give me bread. And I fear that, when all is done, I shall be driven to that end; for I cannot abide the disdainful hatred of those of whom not only I[Pg 172] thought I might have craved kindness, but also to whom God hath been by me more liberal than they be thankful."

He did leave England not long after this. Having reason to fear that the new government was about to have him apprehended, he first retired to a place of concealment near the sea-coast, and then took the first opportunity of crossing to France, and was landed at Dieppe on the 20th of January, 1554. From Dieppe he proceeded, after a few weeks, to Geneva; and that town was his head-quarters for many months after this—though he made frequent journeys back to Dieppe in the course of 1554 and 1555, and also resided during part of the latter year at Frankfort, where he officiated as pastor to a Protestant congregation of English refugees, till the famous discussion that arose about the use of the English Liturgy, to which he was opposed, drove him back to Geneva. While here he acquired a knowledge of the Hebrew language; the Greek he had studied before, though probably since he had grown up. At last, in September, 1555, he ventured to revisit his native country. He first repaired to Berwick, in the neighbourhood of which town he had landed, and where his wife and her mother had continued during his absence; and he afterwards made an extensive round among the principal friends of the reformed doctrines in Edinburgh, Angus, Ayrshire, and elsewhere, preaching in various places to crowded audiences, and with extraordinary acceptance. He remained in Scotland till July, 1556, when he was recalled to Geneva by letters from the English congregation there, informing him that he had been elected one of their pastors. This time he took his wife with him, and Geneva was again his residence for a space of more than two years. Two sons were born to him in that city; and while there, also, besides assisting in the preparation of the English version of the Scriptures commonly known by the name of the Geneva Bible, he published in 1558 one of the most famous of his writings, his 'First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment [that is, Regimen, or Government] of Women;' being an attack upon[Pg 173] the custom of allowing females to become national sovereigns, prompted chiefly, no doubt, by the Protestant enmity to the then Queen of England, the bigoted and persecuting Mary. The First Blast was to have been followed by two others; but, although the author never recanted his doctrine, and probably continued to hold it while he lived, the death of Queen Mary and the accession of Elizabeth, which took place the next year, made him feel it to be unnecessary and inexpedient to blow his trumpet again.

The improved prospects of the friends of the Reformation in Scotland, arising from the change of government in England and other causes, now induced the heads of the party to invite Knox to return to his native country: and he accordingly left Geneva in January, 1559, and, after travelling leisurely through France, he sailed from Dieppe on the 12th of April, and landed at Leith on the 2nd of May. With the exception of a short visit to England some years after this, the rest of his life was all passed in Scotland.

From this date his career belongs to the history of the country. His first public appearance was at Perth, then commonly called St. Johnstone's, where, although he does not say so in his own account, he is understood to have been the preacher of the famous sermon on the 11th of May,—described by himself as having been "vehement against idolatry"—which led to, or at least was followed by, the first open popular outbreak against the established religion, and attack upon it by force. He does not in his History directly profess to approve of what was done upon this occasion; but it is plain that, naturally enough, he did not much regret it. In the beginning of his narrative he states that the treachery of the government in outlawing the Protestant preachers, after having induced their adherents, who had assembled for their protection, to disperse on a promise that the proceedings which had been commenced against them should be dropped, so inflamed the multitude, "that neither could the exhortation of the preachers, nor the commandment of the magistrate, stay them from destroying[Pg 174] the places of idolatry;" but in the same breath he tells us that "the preachers had declared before how odious was idolatry in God's presence; what commandment he had given for the destruction of the monuments thereof; what idolatry and what abomination was in the mass." After the vehement sermon on the 11th, "it chanced," he proceeds, "that a priest in contempt would go to the mass; and, to declare his malapert presumption, he would open up a glorious tabernacle which stood upon the high altar. There stood beside certain godly men, and amongst others a young boy, who cried with a loud voice, 'This is intolerable, that when God by his word hath plainly damned idolatry, we shall stand and see it used in despite.' The priest hereat offended, gave the child a great blow; who in anger took up a stone, and, casting at the priest, did hit the tabernacle, and brake down an image; and immediately the whole multitude that were about cast stones, and put hands to the said tabernacle, and to all other monuments of idolatry, which were despatched before the tenth man in the town were advertised, for the most part were gone to dinner. Which noised abroad, the whole multitude convened, not of the gentlemen, neither of them that were earnest professors, but of the rascal multitude; who, finding nothing to do in that church, did run without deliberation to the Grey and Black Friars; and, notwithstanding that they had within them very stark guards kept for their defence, yet were their gates incontinent burst up. The first invasion was upon the idolatry; and thereafter the common people began to seek some spoil." In the Grey Friars especially, he goes on to relate, they found abundance of the best of everything—and linen, clothing, articles of furniture, beef, wine, ale, and other drinks, were carried off in great quantities. Yet, he adds, "So were men's consciences before beaten with the word, that they had no respect to their own particular profit, but only to abolish idolatry, the places and monuments thereof;" "in which," he concludes, "they were so busy and so laborious, that within two days these three great places, monuments of idolatry, to wit,[Pg 175] the Black and Grey Friars, and the Charterhouse Monks, a building of a wondrous cost and greatness, was so destroyed, that the walls only did remain of all these great edifications."

But by this time the Protestants, or, as they called themselves, "the Faithful Congregation of Jesus Christ in Scotland," had taken measures for embodying themselves as a military force, and openly setting the government at defiance. It was resolved by the heads of the party that they should assemble at St. Andrew's on the 4th of June, "for reformation to be made there,"—that is to say, there to put down the old religion, and to set up the new. They met accordingly, bringing Knox with them. First making a tour along the coast of Fife, he preached at Crail on Friday the 8th, at Anstruther on the 9th, and then returned to St. Andrew's, to blow his third and crowning blast there on the Sunday. Hamilton, the archbishop,—"the cruel beast, the Bishop of St. Andrew's," is Knox's designation for him,—hearing of what was going on, came to the town on Saturday night, and sent to the Lords of the Congregation to warn them "that, in case the said John Knox presented himself to the preaching place in his town and principal kirk, he should gar [cause] him be saluted with a dozen of culverins [muskets], whereof the most part should light on his nose." The zealous and intrepid reformer, however, was not to be kept back from what he had resolved to do, although his friends earnestly entreated him to give way for the present. His hour of compensation and triumph was come, and he was resolved that it should make up for all his injuries, for all his sufferings. "In this town and kirk," said he, "began God first to call me to the dignity of a preacher, from the which I was reft by the tyranny of France, by procurement of the bishops, as ye all well enough know. How long I continued prisoner, what torment I sustained in the galleys, and what were the sobs of my heart, is now no time to recite. This only I cannot conceal, which more than one have heard me say when the body was far absent from Scotland, that my[Pg 176] assured hope was in open audience to preach in St. Andrew's before I departed this life." Dr. M'Crie's account would make it appear that it was Knox's intention to preach in the cathedral, and that he actually did preach there; but this is certainly a mistake. The place in which he preached appears clearly to have been the parish church—as, indeed, is expressly stated by Spotswood; and we conceive that the meeting of the Lords of the Congregation, at which he delivered the speech a part of which we have just quoted, must have been held on the previous evening in the same building. His own narrative of what took place on the Sunday is short and quiet. The subject of his sermon was "the ejection of the buyers and the sellers forth of the Temple of Jerusalem;" in treating of which, he says, he "so applied the corruption that was then to the corruption that is in the papistry, and Christ's fact to the duty of those to whom God giveth power, and zeal thereto, that as well the magistrates, the provost and bailies, as the commonalty, did agree to remove all monuments of idolatry, which also they did with expedition." Dr. M'Crie says that "the church [evidently meaning the cathedral] was stripped of images and pictures, and the monasteries were pulled down." Spotswood's words are, "He did so incite the auditors, as, the sermon being ended, they went all and made spoil of the churches, razing the monasteries of the Black and Grey Friars to the ground." From Spotswood, and also from Knox's History, it would appear as if all this was done on the Sunday; but Calderwood has preserved a letter from Knox to a friend, written on the 23rd of the same month, in which he says "That Sunday, and three days after, I did occupy the public place, in the midst of the doctors, who to this day are dumb—even as dumb as their idols, which were burnt in their presence."[44] This, we suppose, is Dr. M'Crie's authority for making the stripping[Pg 177] of the church and the destruction of the monasteries to have happened on the 14th. As for the destruction of the cathedral—a building of great extent and magnificence—which is commonly said to have taken place on this occasion (Martine, for instance, who held the office of secretary to Archbishop Sharp, in his Reliquiæ Divi Andreæ, speaks of it as having been razed after "a sermon of John Knox's against idolatry, preached at Crail to a giddy lawless multitude")—it was more probably the consequence of the extraordinary Act passed by the Parliament held at Edinburgh in August of the following year for demolishing all such cloisters and abbey churches as had not previously been pulled down—the effects of which are thus related by Spotswood:—"Thereupon ensued a pitiful vastation of churches and church buildings throughout all parts of the realm; for every one made bold to put to their hands, the meaner sort imitating the example of the greater and those who were in authority. No difference was made, but all the churches either defaced or pulled to the ground. The holy vessels, and whatsoever else men could gain of, as timber, lead, and bells, were put to sale. The very sepulchres of the dead were not spared. The registers of the church and bibliothecs cast into the fire. In a word, all was ruined; and what had escaped in the time of the first tumult did now undergo the common calamity; which was so much the worse, that the violences committed at this time were coloured with the warrant of public authority. Some ill-advised preachers did likewise animate people in these their barbarous proceedings, crying out, that the places where idols had been worshipped ought by the law of God to be destroyed, and that the sparing of them was the reserving of things execrable..... The report also went that John Knox (whose sayings were by many esteemed as oracles) should in one of his sermons say, that the sure way to banish the rooks was to pull down their nests." The Presbyterian writers generally say as little as possible about these proceedings. The Act of Parliament ordering the general demolition of ecclesiastical build[Pg 178]ings is nowhere even mentioned either by Knox or by Calderwood.[45]

About three weeks after his memorable sermon, or sermons, at St. Andrew's, Knox received and accepted a call from the people of Edinburgh to come over and be their minister. The Scottish capital is the principal scene where he figures throughout nearly all the rest of his career.

We cannot of course, in our narrow limits, enter upon any detail of the succession of events which shortly after this secured the complete ascendancy and permanent establishment of the Reformed faith in Scotland. One chief obstacle was removed by the death, on the 10th of June, 1560, of the Queen Regent, Mary of Guise, a woman of great ability, and devoted to the opinions and the polities of her brothers, the Princes of Lorrain, who were at this time the main supporters of the Roman Catholic interest in France, and a leading part of whose system it was to maintain also the old domination of Popery in Scotland. On the 4th of December following died the French king, Francis II., the husband of the young Queen of Scotland; and this event, by throwing the chief direction of affairs in France into the hands of Catherine de Medicis, the rival of Mary Stuart, and so severing the former intimate connexion between the two kingdoms, and also occupying the Princes of Lorrain with other objects, still further weakened the Roman Catholic party in Scotland, and proved favourable to the advancing cause of the Reformation. But what unquestionably did most for the Lords of the Congregation was the assistance they at last obtained from England. Knox, whose sagacity and sound judgment made him well aware of its importance, had exerted himself to procure such support from the caution and hesitation[Pg 179] of Elizabeth and her ministers with extraordinary eagerness and importunity. In one of his letters to Sir James Croft, the English governor of Berwick, through whom the negotiations were carried on, he goes the length of suggesting the following curious plan for getting over the difficulty arising from Elizabeth being at this time at peace with France:—"If ye list to craft with them," says he, "the sending of a thousand or mo men to us can break no league nor point of peace contracted betwixt you and France; for it is free for your subjects to serve in war any prince or nation for their wages; and, if ye fear that such excuses will not prevail, ye may declare them rebels to your realm when ye shall be assured that they be in our company." Croft in reply expresses his wonder that his correspondent, "being a wise man," could propose so transparent a trick: the world, he tells him, was not so blind but that it would soon see through such devices.

Towards the close of the year 1560 Knox lost his affectionate wife. On Tuesday, the 19th of August, 1561, the young queen arrived from France. "The very face of the heavens," writes Knox, "the time of her arrival, did manifestly speak what comfort was brought into this country with her, to wit, sorrow, darkness, dolour, and all impiety; for in the memory of man, that day of the year, was never seen a more dolorous face of the heaven than was at her arrival, which two days after did so continue. For, besides the surface wet, and corruption of the air, the mist was so thick and dark, that scarce might any man espy another the length of two pair of butts. The sun was not seen to shine two days before nor two days after. That forewarning gave God unto us; but, alas, the most part were blind." On the Sunday following the Romish service was again celebrated in the chapel of Holyrood House. That day week Knox delivered a furious sermon on his favourite subject, the sin of idolatry, in the course of which he said that one mass was a more fearful thing to his mind than if ten thousand armed enemies were to be landed in the realm to suppress the true religion. Some years after, referring[Pg 180] to this crisis, he took credit to himself, or rather asked pardon of heaven, for his moderation; he believed that idolaters ought to be put to death, and he had influence, he said, with a sufficient number of persons, who would now have put in execution God's judgments, if he would have given his consent, in refusing which, and in labouring "rather to mitigate, yea to slacken that fervency that God had kindled in others," he unfeignedly acknowledged himself to have done most wickedly, and besought God to forgive him from the bottom of his heart. Nevertheless when the Queen heard of the length to which he had gone in his sermon she sent for him—and a long conversation or argument took place between them—the first of several which are among the most notable passages in the life of the Reformer. No one was present except Mary's illegitimate brother, the Lord James Stuart—afterwards the Regent Murray, already looked up to as the head of the Protestant party. Knox has himself recorded what passed. She began by charging him with having written a book against her just authority—his famous attack on the regimen of women. He answered that it was most certain he had written such a book, nor had he seen it refuted; on the contrary, he added, he still thought himself better able alone to maintain the truth of what he had there advanced than any ten men in Europe would be found to be to prove him in error. Afterwards, however, he said, with an attempt to mend matters, probably better meant than it was fortunate, "I have communicated my judgment to the world; if the realm finds no inconveniency in the regimen of a woman, that which they approve shall I not farther disallow than within my own breast, but shall be as well content to live under your Grace as Paul was to live under Nero." From this they passed after some time to the much larger and more delicate question of the right of subjects in any circumstances to disobey their rulers. Knox insisted that if rulers misconducted themselves, their subjects might both resist and coerce them. The blind zeal, for instance, he argued, of those princes that would support a false or put down the true[Pg 181] religion was nothing but a mad frenzy; "and therefore," said he, "to take the sword from them, to bind their hands, and to cast them into prison, till that they be brought to a more sober mind, is no disobedience against princes, but just obedience, because that it agreeth with the will of God." At these words, he tells us, an alteration came over the Queen's countenance, and she stood silent and amazed for more than a quarter of an hour. When Knox was asked by some of his friends after this interview what he thought of Mary, "If there be not in her," he answered, "a proud mind, a crafty wit, and an indurate heart against God and his truth, my judgment faileth me."

He was sent for again to the palace in May of the following year, 1562, in consequence of a sermon in which he was reported to have glanced at the Queen's dancing. Upon this occasion he insisted upon repeating to Mary the whole of his discourse, or at least a full summary of it, as it was actually delivered; and he proposed that she should assign him a certain day and hour when he might come to her for the same purpose every week. From this interview we are told, in his History, "the said John departed with a reasonable merry countenance; whereat some papists offended said, 'He is not afraid.' Which heard of him, he answered, 'Why should the pleasing face of a gentlewoman fear me? I have looked in the faces of many angry men, and yet have not been afraid above measure.' And so left the Queen and the Court for that time."

We must pass over his great debate at Maybole on the 28th, 29th, and 30th of September, 1562, with Quintin Kennedy, Abbot of Crossraguel, a report of which he afterwards published; and also his various disputations with Maitland of Lethington and other lay members of his own party, whom he could not always get to adopt his extreme notions, and who besides took quite an opposite view from his of the religious revolution which they had jointly brought about in one most material particular—he claiming the revenues of the old church as the rightful inheritance of the new, they deriding that[Pg 182] theory as "a devout imagination," and, having most of them by securing a share of that spoil for themselves found godliness to be great gain at least in the world that now is, being immoveable in their determination to hold fast what afforded them so comfortable an experience. In 1563 he even quarrelled with the Earl of Murray, upbraiding him with his lukewarmness, and solemnly renouncing his friendship; nor were they reconciled till after nearly two years.

In May 1563 he had a third interview with the Queen. She sent for him to Lochleven, where she then lodged, and "travailed with him earnestly," he tells us, "two hours before her supper, that he would be the instrument to persuade the people not to put hands to punish any man for the using of themselves in their religion as pleased them." He perceived her craft, however, he says, and would go no farther than to assure her that if she would do her duty the people would do theirs. "It should be profitable to your majesty," said he, "to consider what is the thing your Grace's subjects look to receive of your Majesty, and what it is that ye ought to do unto them by mutual contract..... Ye crave of them service; they crave of you protection and defence against wicked doers. Now, Madam, if you shall deny your duty unto them ... think ye to receive full obedience of them? I fear, Madam, ye shall not." "Herewith," he adds, "she, being somewhat offended, passed to her supper." She sent for him again, however, early the next morning, and he met her while she was enjoying the amusement of hawking a little west from Kinross. She was now all smiles—whether, says Knox, "it was the night's sleep, or a deep dissimulation locked in her breast"—and her condescension and show of confidence seem to have made some impression for the moment upon the stern Reformer. But in looking back upon what passed when writing his History he reverts to his more habitual convictions: he inserts the conference, he says, "to let the world see how deeply Mary, Queen of Scotland, can dissemble; and how that she could cause men to think that she bore no indignation for any controversy[Pg 183] in religion, while that yet in her heart was nothing but venom and distruction, as shortly after did appear."

But their next meeting, which took place in the latter part of the same year, was the most remarkable. Knox, in a sermon which he preached in his own church at Edinburgh, had made some strong allusions to the queen's intended marriage with Darnley, the rumour of which was then rife. Calling upon his audience to take note of his words, he concluded by solemnly warning them that, whensoever the nobility of the land professing the Lord Jesus should consent that an infidel—and all papists were infidels—should be head to their sovereign, they would, as far as in them lay, banish Christ from the realm, and bring God's vengeance upon the country and a plague upon themselves, as well as perchance give the queen what would prove to her but small comfort. These words and this manner of speaking, he tells us, were judged intolerable, both by Papists and Protestants; and even his more attached friends were displeased, and blamed him for having gone too far. Information having been quickly carried to the palace, he was sent for, and presented himself before her majesty soon after dinner. Several of his friends accompanied him to Holyrood House, but only John Erskine of Dun, an eminent Protestant who then officiated as superintendent (or spiritual overseer) the district of Angus and Mearns, passed with him into the royal cabinet. As soon as he entered, Mary broke out into what he calls "a vehement fume," crying that never prince had been treated as she was. She vowed to God she would some day be revenged. "And with these words," says Knox, "scarcely could Marnock, her secret chamber-boy, get napkins to hold her eyes dry for the tears; and the howling, besides womanly weeping, stayed her speech." "The said John," he continues, "did patiently abide all the first fume;" but the few words he spoke when he found an opportunity had little or no effect in soothing her. "What have you to do," she repeated, "with my marriage? What are you in this commonwealth?" "A subject born within the same, Madam," replied Knox. "And,[Pg 184] albeit," he proceeded, "although I am neither earl, lord, nor baron, yet to me it appertains no less to forewarn of such things as may hurt it, if I foresee them, than it doth to any of the nobility." He then repeated nearly what he had said in the pulpit about her taking an infidel to be her husband. "At these words," continues the contemptuous narrative, "howling was heard, and tears might have been seen in greater abundance than the matter required. John Erskine of Dun, a man of meek and gentle spirit, stood beside, and entreated what he could to mitigate her anger, and gave unto her many pleasing words of her beauty, of her excellency, and how that all the princes of Europe would be glad to seek her favour." We may conceive the suppressed scorn with which Knox heard all this flattery of his gentle brother clergyman. It was, he intimates, all useless or worse than useless—only casting oil upon the flaming fire. He himself stood still with unaltered countenance, till her majesty's passion, after a long while, somewhat subsided; he then assured her that he had never delighted in the weeping of any of God's creatures; he could scarcely bear the tears of his boys when his own hand corrected them, much less could he rejoice in those of her majesty; still even her tears he must sustain, albeit unwillingly, rather than hurt his conscience or betray the commonwealth by his silence. More offended than ever, the queen ordered him to leave her presence, and he retired to the outer chamber, leaving her majesty with Erskine, who, assisted by the Lord John of Coldingham, remained trying to soothe her for nearly an hour. "The said John," the characteristic relation concludes, "stood in the chamber as one whom men had never seen—so were all afraid—except that the Lord Ochiltree bore him company; and therefore began he to forge talking with the ladies who were there sitting in all their gorgeous apparel; which espied, he merrily said, 'O fair ladies, how pleasing was this life of yours, if it should ever abide, and then in the end that ye might pass to heaven with all this gay gear! But fie upon that knave Death, that will come whether we will or not;[Pg 185] and, when he has laid on his arrest, the foul worms will be busy with this flesh, be it never so fair and so tender; and the silly soul, I fear, shall be so feeble that it can neither carry with it gold, garnishing, targeting [tassels], pearl, nor precious stones.' And by such means procured he company of women, and so passed the time till the laird of Dun willed him to depart to his house with new advertisement."

The popish writers assert that Knox about this time sought in marriage the Lady Barbara Hamilton, eldest daughter of the Duke of Chastelherault, and widow of the Lord Fleming, but was refused. The story is of very doubtful credibility. In March 1564 he married Margaret Stewart, daughter of the Lord Ochiltree. On the 29th of July, 1565, the queen married Darnley.

We cannot here enter upon the discussion which has been recently revived as to whether Knox was privy to the plot for the murder of Rizzio, or Riccio, which took place on the 9th of March, 1566. For the new evidence which is conceived by Mr. Fraser Tytler to establish his participation the reader must be referred to the seventh volume of that gentleman's 'History of Scotland' (8vo., Edinburgh, 1842), pp. 353-362. It is very far from being conclusive. At the same time, it may be observed, the greatest admirers and staunchest defenders of Knox have not been accustomed to treat this imputation as entirely improbable. All that Dr. M'Crie says is, "There is no reason to think that he was privy to the conspiracy which proved fatal to Rizzio. But it is probable that he had expressed his satisfaction at an event which contributed to the safety of religion and the commonwealth, if not also his approbation of the object of the conspiracy."[46] M'Crie admits also, in another place, that Knox "held the opinion that persons who, according to the law of God, and the just laws of society, have forfeited their lives by the commission of flagrant crimes, may warrantably be put to death by private individuals, provided all redress in the ordinary course of justice is[Pg 186] rendered impossible in consequence of the offenders having usurped the executive authority, or being systematically protected by oppressive rulers."[47] Upon this principle he rejoiced over and justified the assassination of Cardinal Beaton. Robertson has some observations in his 'History of Scotland' upon the assassinations of this age, and the light in which they were looked upon, which are highly curious and well worthy of attention.[48]

Knox deemed it prudent to retire from Edinburgh, along with the other conspicuous members of his party, immediately after the slaughter of Rizzio, and he took the opportunity of paying a visit to England. He was still in that part of the island when the murder of Darnley took place on the 10th of February, 1567. He returned to Edinburgh, however, in June following; and he had a prominent and influential part in urging the proceedings afterwards taken against Mary, already a prisoner in Lochleven, which ended in her speedy deposition from the throne. He maintained, indeed, that she ought to be brought to trial; and, if found guilty of adultery and murder, as he had no doubt she was, put to death. Under the regency of the Earl of Murray, he was of course a person of the first importance. Murray was assassinated on the 23rd of January, 1570; and in October thereafter Knox had a stroke of apoplexy. From this attack he recovered so far as to be able to resume his clerical duties; but his diminished strength and the aspect of public affairs together induced him to retire to St. Andrew's in the beginning of May 1571. We have a most graphic description of him at this time in the Diary of James Melville, a Presbyterian clergyman of the next age, who was then a student at St. Andrews:—"Of all the benefits," he writes, "that I had that year [1571] was the coming of that maist notable prophet and apostle of our nation, Mr. John Knox, to St. Andrew's, who, by the faction of the Queen's occupying the castle and town of Edinburgh, was compellit to remove therefrom, with a number of the best, and[Pg 187] choosit to come to St. Andrew's. I heard him teach there the prophecies of Daniel, that simmer and the winter following. I had my pen and my little book, and took away sic [such] things as I could comprehend. In the opening up of his text he was moderate the space of an half hour; but, when he entered to application, he made me so to grew [thrill] and tremble that I could not hald a pen to write. He was very weak. I saw him, every day of his doctrine [teaching, or preaching], go hulie and fear [slowly and warily], with a furring of marticks about his neck, a staff in the ane hand, and gude, godly Richard Ballenden, his servant, hauldin up the other oxter [arm-pit], from the Abbey to the parish kirk, and by the said Richard and another servant lifted up to the pulpit, whar he behovit to lean at his first entry: but, ere he had done with his sermon, he was sa active and vigorous that he was like to ding the pulpit in blads [beat the pulpit in pieces], and fly out of it."

In July, 1572, the adherents of the queen retired from Edinburgh, and on the 17th of August Knox left St. Andrew's to return to that city, on the earnest request of his congregation that "once again his voice might be heard among them." He continued to preach as before till Sunday the 9th of November; but two days after he was seized with a severe cough, which was soon followed by symptoms that left no hope of his recovery. A minute and affecting account of his last days has been preserved by his servant Richard Bannatyne (the same who is called Ballenden by Melville) in a Journal kept by him, which has been printed.[49] We can only make room for a single short extract:—"The Friday, which was the 14 day [of the month], he rose above [qu. about?] his accustomed diet [hour], and yet when he did rise he could scarce sit in a stool; and then, being demandit what he wald do up, said he wald go to the kirk and preach, for he thought it had been[Pg 188] Sunday..... The Saturday, John Durie and Archibald Stewart came in about twelve hours, not knowing how sick he was; and for their cause [he] came to the table, which was the last time that ever he sat at ony thereafter, for he caused pierce ane hogshead of wine which was in the cellar, and willed the said Archibald send for the same so long as it lasted, for he wald never tarry until it were drunken." He breathed his last about eleven o'clock on the night of Monday the 24th. "There," said the Regent Morton, when he was laid in his grave two days after, in the churchyard of St. Giles's, all the nobility then in Edinburgh and a large concourse of people crowding round, "There lies he who never feared the face of man."

Besides his two sons by his first wife, Knox left three daughters by his second, who was afterwards married to Sir Andrew Ker of Faudonside. The sons were both educated for the English Church at St. John's College, Cambridge; the eldest died in 1580; and the youngest, after becoming vicar of Clacton Magna, in 1591. Of the daughters, Elizabeth, the youngest, became the wife of one of the most distinguished Presbyterian clergymen of the next generation, Mr. John Welch, minister of Ayr, and is famous as the heroine of a story, which we shall give as it is told by Dr. M'Crie. Welch had been banished for his opposition to episcopacy; but, having lost his health while abroad, he ventured in 1622 to come to London, when his wife obtained an audience of James I., and petitioned his Majesty that her husband might be allowed to return to his native country. "His Majesty asked her, who was her father? She replied, 'John Knox.' 'Knox and Welch!' exclaimed he; 'the devil never made such a match as that.' 'It's right like, Sir,' said she, 'for we never speired [asked] his advice.' He asked her how many children her father had left, and if they were lads or lasses. She said three, and they were all lasses. 'God be thanked!' cried the king, lifting up both his hands; 'for, an they had been three lads, I had never bruiked [enjoyed] my three kingdoms in peace.' She again urged her request that[Pg 189] he would give her husband his native air. 'Give him his native air!' replied the king, 'give him the devil!' 'Give that to your hungry courtiers,' said she, offended at his profaneness. He told her at last, that if she would persuade her husband to submit to the bishops, he would allow him to return to Scotland. Mrs. Welch, lifting up her apron and holding it towards the king, replied, in the true spirit of her father, 'Please your Majesty, I'd rather kep [receive] his head there.'"

A list of Knox's published works is given in Dr. M'Crie's Life. They amount to nearly twenty; but the greater number are short tracts. The most important is his 'History of the Reformation of Religion within the Realm of Scotland,' an imperfect edition of which was printed in England in 1586, but which only first appeared in a complete form in 1732. Its authenticity has been questioned; but there can scarcely be a doubt that, of the Five Books of which it consists, the first four, coming down to the close of the year 1564, are by Knox.


[41] This is the best account that we can make out of the various statements of Dr. M'Crie in the last edition (8vo. Edinb. 1841) of his 'Life of Knox.' In the earlier editions of his work Dr. M'Crie had stated, in conformity with the common accounts, that Knox was educated at St. Andrew's. In the edition of 1841, which is a reprint of his fifth edition (Edinb. 1831), being the last which he lived to superintend, we are told in the text (at p. 2) that he was sent to Glasgow in 1521, and in the notes (at pp. 381 and 382) that he was entered of that University in 1522. Further confusion and uncertainty are occasioned by other passages having been left standing as in the earlier editions. Thus, without any intimation having been given that Knox had ever left Glasgow, it is stated at p. 8 that he taught philosophy in the University—meaning, as appears afterwards (see p. 23), in the University of St. Andrew's. The late Mr. William M'Gavin, in a sketch of Knox's life prefixed to his edition of the 'History of the Reformation,' Glasgow, 1831, asserts that Knox's matriculation appears in the records of the University of Glasgow under the date of 1520, and claims the credit of having been the first to publish this discovery in his edition of 'The Scots Worthies,' (Glasgow, 1829.) But there can be no doubt that this is a blunder.

[42] History of Scotland, vol. v. (1841), pp. 300, 376-391.

[43] This date, which is important, was first ascertained by Mr. Tytler, Hist. of Scotland, v. 341.

[44] Calderwood's History of the Kirk of Scotland, edited by the Rev. Thomas Thomson. 8vo. Edinburgh, 1842, vol. i., p. 464.

[45] Nor has the Act been preserved: but neither have others which are well attested to have been passed by this Parliament, the records of whose proceedings have nearly all perished. The testimony of Spotswood (History, pp. 174, 175) is express.

[46] Life of Knox, p. 294.

[47] Life of Knox, p. 30.

[48] See Book IV., under the year 1566.

[49] Journal of the Transactions in Scotland, 1570-1573. 8vo. Edinburgh, 1806, pp. 414-429.



Transcriber's Note

Punctuation errors have been corrected.

The following suspected printer's errors have been addressed.

Page 10. maintainance changed to maintenance. (for the maintenance of).

Page 36. swift y changed to swiftly. (and swiftly-breathed horse).

Page 61. noblity changed to nobility. (the English nobility was).

Page 134. sord changed to sort. (by a sort of homely ingenuity,)

Page 159. The year 1330 has been changed to 1530 as it is in connection with the early age of John Knox who is claimed to have lived from about 1505-1572.

Different spellings of the name Frescobaldo have been changed to this one after checking historical literature.



I.William Caxton: a Biography.
II.Mind amongst the Spindles.
III.XII. The Englishwoman in Egypt: Vols. I. & II.
IV.VII. Lamb's Tales from Shakspere: Vols. I. & II.
V.XXV. XXXVIII. LXI. British Manufactures: Series I., II., III., and IV.
VI.IX. XIII. XXXII. The Chinese: Vols. I., II., III., and Supplementary Volume.
VIII.Feats on the Fiord.
X.XIV. Tasso's Jerusalem Delivered: Vols. I & II.
XI.Bird Architecture.
XV.The Elephant.
XVI.XLVIII. Rambles by Rivers.
XVII.XVIII. XXXVI. XXXVII. XLIX. L. History of Literature and Learning in England: Series I., Vols. I. & II.;
Series II., Vols. III. & IV.; Series III., Vols. V. & VI.
XIX.Dialogues on Instinct.
XX.XXIV. XXVI. History of British Commerce: Vols. I., II., & III.
XXI.A Volume of Varieties.
XXII.XXIII. The Camp of Refuge: Vols. I. & II.
XXVII.LVIII. Civil Wars of Rome. Series I. & II.
XXVIII.The Life of Sir Thomas Gresham.
XXIX.XXXI. XXXIII. Pursuit of Knowledge: Vols. I., II., & III.
XXX.Pictures of English Life.--Chaucer.
XXXIV.Memoirs of a Working Man.
XXXV.The Cid.
XXXIX.XL. Insect Architecture, etc.: Vols. I. & II.
XLI.LI. The Lost Senses.--Deafness--Blindness.
XLII.Curiosities of Physical Geography: Vol. I.
XLIII.The Dutch in the Medway.
XLIV.The History of the Dog.
XLV.XLVI. Biographical History of Philosophy: Vols. I. & II.
XLVII.Arabian Tales and Anecdotes.
LII.LIII. Statesmen of the Time of George III.: Series I., Vols. I. & II.
LIV.LIX. Cabinet Portrait Gallery: Vols. I. & II.
LV.LVII. Memoirs of the Early Italian Painters: Vols. I. & II.
LVI.Racine, and the French Classical Drama.
LX.Spenser, and his Poetry: Vol. I.
LXII.A Legend of Reading Abbey.

[The end of The Cabinet Portrait Gallery of British Worthies Vol 3 of 12 by Cox and Knight]