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son of John More, by Anne daughter and heir of Si Edward Cressacre; only son of Sir Thomas, Lord 3 Chancellor.
Now as the Biographer tells us himself, that he was “the youngest and meanest of all his family; the youngest of thirteen children, and the youngest and meanest of five sons," and as he speaks of his own “children," how could he be the same Thomas, of whom Anthony Wood speaks, a in whose epitaph it is said, that he took orders at Rome, and in fratrem natu minorem amplum transcripsit patrimonium; and afterwards died at Rome, April 11, 1625?
Yet this last person is also called “ Magni illius Thomæ Mori, Anglice Cancellarii et Martyris, pronepoti atque hæredi."
Before me lies that bulky folio volume, entitled, “ The Workes of Sir Thomas More, Knyght, sometyme Lorde Chancellour of England; wrytten by him in the Englysh tonge. Printed at London, at the costes and charges of Cawood, John Waly, und Richarde Tottell. Anno 1557." This, Dibdin pronounces to be “one of the rarest books of English Literature," and Lewis, long before, speaks of it as very scarce.
As ^ The Life of Sir Thomas,' by his great grandson, is held in great esteem, I am tempted to extract from its close the following praises of the illustrious Martyr, accompanied by a just censure of his cruel death.
* Ath. i. 40.
Extracts from More's Life. “Of all Protestants, John Rivius speaketh most passionately of King Henry's cruel fact, and Sir Thomas's piety, in these Swords, lib. 2. de Conscientia: He that is in a Prince's Court,
ought freely, if he be asked his judgment, rather to tell his mind plainly, what is most behoveful for his Prince's good, than to speak placentia, tickling his ears with flattery; neither ought he to praise things which are not praise-worthy, nor to dispraise matters that are not worthy of high commendations; yea, although he be in danger of getting no favour by persuading it, but rather punishment and disgrace for gainsaying men's appetites.' Then bringing Papinianus (that great lawyer) for a lively example thereof, who chose rather to die, than to justify the Emperor Caracalla's killing of his own brother, against his own conscience; he addeth: Such a man was lately in our memory, that singular and excellent for learning and piety; yea, the only ornament and glory of his country, Thomas More; who, because he would not agree to, nor approve by his consent, against his own conscience, the new marriage of the King of England, who would needs be divorced from his first wife, and marry another, he was first cast into prison, one that had singularly well deserved of the King himself, and of England; and when he constantly continued in his opinion, which he truly thought to be most just, most lawful and godly, emboldened to defend it by a sincere conscience, he was put to death by that wicked parricide, that most hateful and cruel tyrant; a cruelty not heard of before in this our age. Oh! ingratitude and singular impiety of the king's, who could endure first to macerate with a tedious and loathsome
imprisonment, such a sincere and holy good man; one that had been K. so careful of his glory, so studious of his country's profit; he that
had persuaded him always to all justice and honesty, dissuaded him from all contraries, and not convinced of any crime, nor found in any fault, he slew him (Oh! miserable wickedness) not only being innocent, but him that had deserved high rewards, and his most faithful and trusty Chancellor. Are these thy rewards, 0 King? Is this the thanks thou returnest him for all his trusty service and good will unto thee? Doth this man reap this commodity for his most faithful acts and employments? But, Oh! More, thou art now happy, and enjoyest eternal felicity; who wouldst leese thy head rather than approve any thing against thine own conscience, who more esteemest righteousness, justice, and piety, than life itself; and whilst thou art deprived of this mortal life, thou passest to the true and immortal happiness of heaven; whilst thou art taken away from men, thou art raised up amongst the numbers of holy Saints and Angels of bliss.' b
“ Last of all, I will recount what the good Emperor Charles the Fifth said unto Sir Thomas Elliot, then the King's Embassador in his Court, after he had heard of Bishop Fisher and Sir Thomas More's martyrdoms; on a time he spoke of it to Sir Thomas Elliot, who seemed to excuse the matter, by making some doubt of the report, to whom the Emperor replied: “It is too true; but if we had had two such lights in all our kingdoms, as these men were, we could rather have chosen to have lost two of the best and strongest towns in all our empire, than suffer ourselves to be deprived of them, much less to endure to have them wrongfully taken from us.'
“ And though none of these should have written any thing thereof, yet the matter itself speaketh abundantly that the cause was most unjust, the manner thereof most infamous, and Sir THOMAS More's patience most admirable, his piety, his learning, his virtues incomparable: famous was he for his noble martyrdom; infamous King Henry for his most unjust condemnation. These things do aggravate King Henry's fault: First, that he killed him by a law, wherein he never offended, either by word or deed, and by that which concerned not temporal policy, but religion only; not rebellious against the King, but fearful to offend his own conscience; which though he refused to approve, yet did he never reprove it, or any other man for taking it. Secondly, that he put to death so rare a man, so beloved of all, so virtuous, so wise, so courteous, and witty; which might be motives sufficient even to pardon a guilty offender. Thirdly, for beheading a man that had done him so much
This, and the foregoing passage are quoted from Rivius, by Dr. Stapleton, in bis “ Life of Sir Thomas More," cap. 21. p. 367, 368.
service, yea the whole kingdom such good offices, his faithful Chancellor for twenty years together, his expert Embassador, his just Lord Chancellor, the very flower of his realm. Many things also do amplify and increase Sir THOMAS MORE's immortal glory; first, in that to all the King's demands he had behaved himself so sincerely and impartially, opening his mind ingenuously; so that the King seemed still to like him, though his opinion were contrary to his liking. Secondly, that he had suffered already the loss of his goods, being condemned to perpetual imprisonment, and only for silence. Thirdly, in that he took all crosses for the love of God most patiently. Fourthly, that he died for a controversy in religion, never before called in question by any precedent example. Finally, that he only of all the Council would not flatter the King, nor keep either goods, dignity, or life, with the danger of the loss of his soul. All which prove what a rare man, how admirable and virtuous a Christian, and how glorious a martyr he is."
It is impossible to contemplate many of the great and many of the amiable traits which shone in the character of Sir Thomas MORE, without a swelling of the heart, that elevates our nature.
July 12, 1915. AFTER an interval of two years, perhaps the Reader may not dislike a renewal of The Sylvan WANDERER's lucubrations. Does the calm of Solitude still delight; or does it cherish his cares; or appal hinn by its vacancy? Has the interruption of business forced upon him new lessons; or the still shifting masquerade of public life impressed him with new sentiments ?
It is probable that while the mental faculties continue sound, extended experience will every day open new lights on life and manners to an attentive and acute observer. For my part, I confess that between the ages of fifty and fifty-two, I have learned much in this way; have had occasion to correct many erroneous notions; and doubt not, that after the recurrence of a similar period (if I live so long) I shall