Графични страници
PDF файл
[graphic][subsumed][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Ir it be a misfortune to be overpraised, tenderness; the actors are held to have been Deitber the men nor the women who played sufficiently rewarded with success, and at our prominent parts in English history during hands deserve only to be restored to their the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, will proper place by a judicious scrutiny of their have reason to complain of the manner in faults. We are not lenient to Henry the wbich their reputations have been dealt with | Eighth, or to Mary Tudor, or to Elizabeth. by their countrymen. To have accomplished Oliver Cromwell's reputation has the taint any thing remarkable, throughout this period, still of the Tyburn gallows upon it. Wolsey, appears to be a ground rather for suspicion | Thomas Cromwell, Gardiner, the Seymours, than for admiration; and a certain uniformity the Dudleys, the Cecils, Sir Francis Walsingof failure, like that which marks the career ham, or Francis Bacon—these names, once of Mary Queen of Scots, alone commands a illustrious, are now tarnished over with every general interest. It is not enough to have most unworthy imputatiop; and Sir Thomas died tragically; the wise and the unwise More is, perhaps, the only really remarkable came too often to a common end at the stake man who still remains a favorite with us; or on the scaffold: we have but to run over rather, probably, because he was the greatest in our own minds the most conspicuous names of the victims of a falling side, than because of those centuries, and to consider the posi- we essentially value either his character or tion which they occupy in the popular esti- | his actions. mation, to be at once aware, that only those This unprosperous condition of public among them who have effected nothing, who opinion, however, is not maintained without have been sufferers merely, are regarded with partial remonstrance; people who have cared

to examine the authentic accounts of the

times, having perceived very clearly on how • Life of Cardinal Wolsey. By John Galt. Third Edition, with additional Illustrations from

slight a foundation the popular judgments of Cavendish's Life of Wolsey, and other sources.

them are based, and raising their voices with London: David Bogue. 1846.

| more effect or less, in behalf of this person VOL XXXIII. NO. I.

or that, as their knowledge or their sympa- stances, glaringly wrong and unjust. Authies lead. Sharon Turner finds viriue in thentic records have come to light, of the Henry VIII: Oliver Cromwell is a hero to Duke of Buckingham's trial; and no one who Carlyle; and Miss Strickland pleads well and carefully reads them, if he is in the least wisely for Mary Tudor. There are still per acquainted with the temper of the times, can sons who, in spite of Mr. Macaulay, believe doubt either the reality of his treason, or the that something may be said for Cranmer; and necessity of his punishment. He was tried Gardiner and Bonner, Dr. Maitland tells us, by his peers, fairly and honorably; his guilt, were no such bad fellows after all. So too, not a thing of the moment, but carefully prea fresh edition of Gall's “Life of Wolsey," meditated for years, was proved beyond posis a witness that there are readers who can sibility of question; and, under the existing tolerate an approving word, even of the great circumstances of the country, no honest Cardinal; a witness, indeed, more than usually minister could have advised the remission of credible, since, of all honest books of his the peoalty. Still more without ground is tory, this of Mr. Galt's is the most difficult the accusation brought against Wolsey about to read; and only the obvious integrity of the "benevolences," which he is represented the writer, and a very strong interest in the as having originated without consulting the subject, enables us, though the volume is a king; which Henry is made so grandly to short one, to lahor to the end of it. It is remit, and Wolsey basely to claim credit for satisfactory, indeed, that this book continues the remission. The money was required to to be read; but Wolsey bas certainly not carry out the war in France, at the moment been fortunate in his champion; and in the at which it was crippled by the defeat and various histories of England which swarm imprisonment of Francis I.; and the war out, year after year, there are no traces of itself was one which Wolsey regarded as disany change of opinion produced by it. He astrous alike to England, to Europe, and to remains where fortune Aung him, to point a Christendom; a war against which his influmoral of fallen ambition; in fact, as Shake- ence had been strained to its utmost. The speare left him: a vulgar, unlovely figure, Commons mutinied—but not against him ; arrogant in prosperity, and mean in his ruin and he used the opportunity to prevail on a person in whose elevation no one takes Henry to give way. It is true, that when it pleasure, and whom no one pities in his dis. was ihe fashion to lay the odium of every grace, and such, notwithstanding Mr. Galt's unpopular measure upon him, those who were well-meant effort, he is likely to remain for really responsible for it endeavored to escape

The impression of such a portrait, their fault, and make him answer for it; but drawn by such a hand, whether it be or be Henry's own words are sufficient to bear bim not a representation of the man as he really clear, who expressly told Anne Boleyn, when lived and was, will not again be effaced from she spoke of it to him, " that he knew more the imagination of inankind; and wherever of that matter than she, and the Cardinal English bistory is read, the name of Wolsey was not to blame.' will still continue shadowed over with pride, In the story of the French princess, whom injustice, falsehood, and profligacy; with a Shakespeare makes Wolsey intend for Henry, character from end to end essentially odious, after the divorce had been completed, he folwhich not all the pathos of his fall, nor the lows Hall, who relates it elaborately. But tender “Chronicling" of Griffith, can induce Cavendish furnishes so complete a refutation one to forgive, or even to pity.

of Hall, that we are surprised to find ShakeAnd yet it is singular, that not any one of speare repeating him. Cavendish was with the accusations most offensive in Shake- Wolsey in France at the time when the nespeare's description will bear examination. gotiation was supposed to be going forward; Some are unquestionably false : and the evi- and as the story did at that time actually dences of the rest are so slight, that it would, originate, it is worth while to extract what not cloud the reputation of a living man. he says about it. Shakespeare followed Hall and Cavendish (as indeed, he might have fairly thought himself

In this time of my lord's being in France, over safe in following them) without hesitation; and his nobles, he sustained divers displeasure of

and beside bis noble entertainment with the king yet it is quite certain, from recent discoveries, the French slave (sic) that devised a certain book however the fact be explained, that not Hall only, but Cavendish also, whenever he is

* The servants, who were waiting at supper in speaking of any thing which lay beyond his the King's room, heard him say so, and informed own personal observation, is, in many in-1 Cavendish of it.



which was set forth in articles upon the cause of habits. Shakespeare accuses him, through my lord being there, which should be, as they the mouth of Queen Catharine ; and from the surmised, that my lord was come thither to conclade two marriages-the one between the king out, forming part of a judicial estimate of

manner in which the accusation is brought Ispake heretofore, [the divorce of Queen Catha: Wolsey's character, it is clear that Shakerine had not at this time been mooted in Eng. speare himself believed it to be just, and deJand, but the legitimacy of the Princess Mary sired his readers to believe it. On reviewing had been publicly called in question in the French the evidence, however,—and we believe that Chambers; the suggestion of a second marriage, we possess all which Shakespeare had before for the king was, therefore, an additional inso- him, and much which he had not,---it does not lence,] the other between my Lady Mary and the Duke of Orleans, with divers other conclusions

warrant any such conclusion. A charge of and agreements touching the same. Of this book

the kind is included in the articles of immany were imprinted and conveyed into England peachment against Wolsey, which were drawn unknown to my lord, he being then in France, to up by the Lords, and to which Hall most the great slander of the realm of England and strangely represents him as having pleaded of my lord cardinal. But whether they were de guilty ; but these articles, when sent down to vised of policy to pacify the mutterings of the the Commons, were dismissed as unworthy people, which had' divers communications and of notice ; while, at the same time, a fact imaginations of my lord being there, or whether they were devised of some malicious person, as

comes out, which explains the manner in the disposition of the common people are accus

which the impression may have arisen about tomed to do, whatever the occasion or cause was, him, among persons ready to judge hardly, this I am well assured of, that, after my lord was and yet have arisen unfairly. It is certain, thereof advertised, and had perused one of the that Wolsey had two children, and that both said books, he was not a little offended, and as they and iheir mother were supported by sembled all the privy council of France together, him up to the last year of his life. There is to whom he spoke his mind thus—that it was not only a suspicion in them but also a great rebuke

no evidence to show when they were born; and defamation of the king's honor to see and and as he was twenty-five years old, at least, know any such seditions untruths openly divulged before he was in priest's orders, it is quite and set forth by any malicious and subtle traitor possible that he broke no vow in his relation of this realm; saying furthermore, that if the with their mother. But if he did,-if, in the like had been attempted within the realm of days of his early manhood, those iron vows England, he doubted not but to see it punished failed to crush in him the instincts and cravaccording to the traitorous demeanor and deserts of the author thereof.*

ings of humanity, and he fell before the

temptation,-let it pass for what it is worth. In the presence of evidence such as this, it It was a sin, perhaps a great one ; yet not an is scarcely possible to maintain the story any there is no pardon. 'Doubtless, it furnished

infinite sin, nor one, we hope, for which longer. And it is not so unimportant as it may seem to ascertain whether there be truth occasion for scandal

. The single act admitted in it or not, since it is commonly represented easily of being represented as a habit; and as an essential feature in Wolsey's scheme of the maintenance of the mother might have policy. He encouraged, we are told, the borne a hard complexion; yet the connection, divorce of Queen Caiharine because he de- in itself, may, for all we know, have been of sired to revenge himself on the Emperor

the briefest duration; and while those who Charles for a personal affront; and in mar

bore Wolsey ill-will may have believed that rying Henry to the Princess Renée, he would he was keeping a mistress, he may have bind him in a close connection with Charles's been but fulfilling the bonest duty of an

honestly penitent man. We are aware that most dangerous enemy.

Of his actual conduct in the matter of the this is only hypothesis ; and that, on the divorce, we shall speak at length presently. other side, there are the positive assertions of In the mean time, to proceed with Shake the articles of impeachment, and certain speare's charges : there is another matter in angry words wbich Hall ascribes to Cathewhich a most unfavorable impression is left rine; but there is no subject in which greater against him, on which it is desirable to say because there is none in which persons are

caution is required in forming an opinion, something. He is said to have shared deeply in the prevailing vice of the celibate ecclesi- more ready to generalize a habit out of an astics, and to have been a person of profligate act. And if we are to believe the fact of the

habit, it implies an amount of hypocrisy and

insincerity in Wolsey, which it is difficult to Cavendish. Singen edition, p. 181. believe could have existed in any man who

was occupying so conspicuous a position. No such stories as were current at the pages' common hypocrite, indeed, he was, if, being dinner table. These, at a distance of twentyhimself consistently profligate, he was so loud five years from his master's death, he comagainst the similar sins of the clergy, and so posed into a book, at a time when it was eager to reform them; yet it is surely possi-creditable to him to have dared to speak well ble that a man may have known what sin of Wolsey at all; but when the many years was by his own experience, and may yet which had intervened of clamor and prehave hated it without hypocrisy,—may ho-judice had impaired his real knowledge, and nestly have labored to save others from fall had even injured partially his good feeling. ing into it. If it be not so, God help us all! Thus his book is full of inconsistency; and, Let us summon up our own lives before us, at the first perusal, it is hard to know with and call others hypocrites, if we dare. Once what feelings he really regarded Wolsey. At for all, the one fact which we know about one time he speaks of him with tender affecthe matter is, that he was the father of two tion; at another, he imputes actions to him children, who were born at some period long which would justly have forfeited all affecpreceding his disgrace, and, perhaps, his ordi- tion. Now, he gives him credit for devout nation; the remainder being only inference, and genuine piety; now, he insinuates that while, to set against it, we have positive evi- he wore but the hypocritical show of piety, dence that, in the midst of all his splendor, writing in fact with one eye on the truth he was apparently an earnest and devout which he knew, with the other on Queen man—a man in whom, whatever of life was Mary, whom it was dangerous to offend. yet remaining in the perishing faith of Ca- Hence a large clearance will have to be tholicism, was present in more than ordinary made out of our history books, and many

fameasure, and to whom God and duty were vorite stories for which Cavendish has made very meaning and living words.

himself responsible. We have been told So it stands with these particular charges; much about Henry's carelessness in matters and if we consent to let them drop, it must of business during the first years of his reign; be acknowledged that the shadows in Shake- and that it was encouraged by an artifice of speare lose not a little of their depth of hue. Wolsey's. “As the ancient councillors," says Nor, if the discovery, in these instances, of so Cavendish, "advised the king to leave bis much rhetorical exaggeration, leads us to look pleasure and to attend to the affairs of the more closely into the narratives of Shake- realm, so busily did the Almoner persuade speare's authorities, and to test them, as we him to the contrary.” And now we have the are well able to do, by the State Papers which clearest proof from letters of Henry's own have since his time been brought to light, will and from authentic correspondence of the they in any degree regain our confidence. members of his council, that at no time after Hall, indeed, except when his personal dislike bis accession, not even when he was a mere to Wolsey gets the better of him, (and then he boy, was the king less than his own first mican be incredibly wrong,) is generally accu- nister. His very coronation oath was interrate. Taken as a whole, we should be inclined lined with his own hand, and in words which to rate Hall's Chronicle among the very he erased, and in the words which he subbest historical works in the language. But stituted, it is easy to read the spirit of the Cavendish, with whom, in the subject before same Henry who broke the Papal power. us, we are now most concerned, is not to be Again, Cavendish tells us that Wolsey illtrusted at all beyond the range of his own ac- treated Archbishop Wareham, and that in tual observation; and with the exception, per- order to secure his own elevation to the chanhaps, of Sir James Melville, has introduced cellorship he contrived to have Wareham more elaborate falsehoods into English his- dismissed from it—while we find in the contory, than any other single writer. He was temporary correspondence that Wareham, so one of those men who, unhappily, are ready far from being dismissed, with difficulty obwith an opinion upon every thing, whether tained permission to resign; and Sir Thomas they have or have not a right to have formed More, when afterwards imitating his example, one, and guessing with the utmost facility, expressly wrote to him in praise and admiraa page in Wolsey's household, he knew as Possessing such uncommon facilities for much, perhaps, of the affairs of the state, going wrong, it is not to be wondered at that which were passing through Wolsey's hands, Cavendish should also miss his way among as young gentlemen in similar situations might the complications of the Anne Boleyn story. be supposed to know; that is, such views and l Yet here he goes even beyond our expectations, and he represents himself as having | terbury and York, but also received the blessed been perfectly cognizant of facts which can sacrament upon the same before the Duke of Nornot possibly have taken place, at least in the

folk and others the king's council learned in the manner in which he relates them. He de

spiritual law, assuring you, Mr. Secretary, by the clares that Anne Boleyn was contracted* to

said oath and blessed body which afore I received,

and hereafter intend to receive, that the same may Lord Percy, one of the young noblemen then

be to my damnation, if ever there were any conresiding under Wolsey's care ; that Wolsey | tract or promise of marriage between her and me." separated them by the king's order, and that Anne Boleyn never forgave him for the loss

Equally remote from the truth is the acof her lover. He introduces conversations

count which the same writer gives us of the between Wolsey and Lord Percy, in wbich

Duke of Bourbon's campaigns in Italy, of the latter acknowledges and defends his en

the battle of Pavia, and of the double policy gagement, declaring that he had entered into

which he ascribes to Wolsey ; for if he is it before many witnesses.” He brings the

right in his account of the policy itself, he is Earl of Northumberland to London on this

so hopelessly wrong in the facts with which

he interweaves it, as to oblige us to distrust express occasion, and introduces a long harangue which the earl is supposed to have

him wholly. What opportunity, indeed, is addressed to his son in the presence of the

he likely to have had of knowing more about assembled members of Wolsey's household ; ]

the matter than any other Englishman? He he declares that he forced Lord Percy's obe

could but know the floating rumors of the dience under a threat of disinheritance, and

palace, and if we may interpret the past by married him in haste to a daughter of Lord

our present experience, the amount of truth Shrewsbury in order to prevent future difficul

in such rumors is generally rather below ties. Now it is possible that something may

zero than above it--a plain negative quantity have pased between Lord Percy and Anne

of entire falsehood. Boleyn; but Percy could not have defended

But the saddest of all Cavendish's errors

| is in the version which Shakespeare has copied an engagement which could not have existed, and Lord Northumberland, if he really inter

so literally of the great scene before the lefered, could not have said what Cavendish

gates, between Queen Catharine and Henry, gives as his words, and for a very simple

in the Hall of the Black Friars. It is the reason. We bave evidence in a letter to the

saddest, not because it is the most incorrect, Earl of Shrewsbury, (Lodge's Illustrations,

but because, under Shakespeare's treatment, vol. 1. p. 20,) that Lord Percy was contracted

the beautiful story has woven itself into the to Lady Mary Talbot, the lady whom he ac

very heart of our pational traditions ; and to tually married, before he ever saw Anne Bo

question the truth of it is almost to bring hisleyn, and that, therefore, no second contract

tory itself into discredit. Cavendish, as we with the latter could have been entered into

said, wrote at the time of the reaction under by him; while it is again impossible that,

Queen Mary: he was possessed strongly with supposing him to have attempted it, bis father,

the Catholic detestation of the Reformation, in his supposed address to him, should have

and of all which had arisen out of it; and made no allusion to the previous engagement

Queen Catharine's treatment—so justly felt which was immediately afterwards fulfilled. |

to be the central injury of the Catholics, as But we have stronger proof than this of Ca- |

if her real figure was not sad enough or her vendish's mistake. Something, indeed, must

story pathetic enough in its grand simplicity have passed; for at the time when Queen

-shaped itself out in his recollection into an Anne's prematrimonial proceedings were un

ideal and dramatized form, beautisul indeed, dergoing investigation, Lord Percy was ex

exceedingly, but which is not a real picture of amined upon oath before the Privy Council,

the wrongs of Catharine of Arragon. It was but if he had so openly acknowledged his

Burnet* who first discovered that the fine engagement with her to Wolsey, he would

speeches attributed both to the king and to scarcely have ventured to swear as he did on

her could never have been delivered. He that occasion, or to bave written such a letter

found the original register of the proceedings as the following to Cromwell:

of the court, from which it appears, with the

útmost clearness, that the king and queen "I perceive," the letter runs, “ that there is a were not present together before the legates supposed precontract between the queen and me, I at all. His statement has since that time, whereupon I was not only heretofore examined !

been called eagerly in question; and no wonopon mine oath before the Archbishops of Can

der when such a treasure is being wrested * Cavendish, p. 120-129.

* Burnet. Nares ed. vol. iii. p. 64.

« ПредишнаНапред »