Read CHAPTER V - MARRIAGE OF HENRY AND ANNE BOLEYN of The Reign of Henry the Eighth‚ Volume I, free online book, by James Anthony Froude, on

Although in the question of the divorce the king had interfered despotically to control the judgment of the universities, he had made no attempt, as we have seen, to check the tongues of the clergy.  Nor if he had desired to check them, is it likely that at the present stage of proceedings he could have succeeded.  No law had as yet been passed which made a crime of a difference of opinion on the pope’s dispensing powers; and so long as no definitive sentence had been pronounced, every one had free liberty to think and speak as he pleased.  So great, indeed, was the anxiety to disprove Catherine’s assertion that England was a locus suspectus, and therefore that the cause could not be equitably tried there, that even in the distribution of patronage there was an ostentatious display of impartiality.  Not only had Sir Thomas More been made chancellor, although emphatically on Catherine’s side; but Cuthbert Tunstal, who had been her counsel, was promoted to the see of Durham.  The Nun of Kent, if her word was to be believed, had been offered an abbey, and that Henry permitted language to pass unnoticed of the most uncontrolled violence, appears from a multitude of informations which were forwarded to the government from all parts of the country.  But while imposing no restraint on the expression of opinion, the council were careful to keep themselves well informed of the opinions which were expressed, and an instrument was ready made to their hands, which placed them in easy possession of what they desired.  Among the many abominable practices which had been introduced by the ecclesiastical courts, not the least hateful was the system of espionage with which they had saturated English society; encouraging servants to be spies on their masters, children on their parents, neighbours on their neighbours, inviting every one who heard language spoken anywhere of doubtful allegiance to the church, to report the words to the nearest official, as an occasion of instant process.  It is not without a feeling of satisfaction, that we find this detestable invention recoiling upon the heads of its authors.  Those who had so long suffered under it, found an opportunity in the turning tide, of revenging themselves on their oppressors; and the country was covered with a ready-made army of spies, who, with ears ever open, were on the watch for impatient or disaffected language in their clerical superiors, and furnished steady reports of such language to Cromwell.

Specimens of these informations will throw curious light on the feelings of a portion at least of the people.  The English licence of speech, if not recognised to the same extent as it is at present, was certainly as fully practised.  On the return of the Abbot of Whitby from the convocation at York in the summer of 1532, when the premunire money was voted, the following conversation was reported as having been overheard in the abbey.

The prior of the convent asked the abbot what the news were.  “What news,” said the abbot, “evil news.  The king is ruled by a common Anne Boleyn, who has made all the spiritualty to be beggared, and the temporalty also.  Further he told the prior of a sermon that he had heard in York, in which it was said, when a great wind rose in the west we should hear news.  And he asked what that was; and he said a great man told him at York, and if he knew as much as three in England he would tell what the news were.  And he said who were they? and he said the Duke of Norfolk, the Earl of Wiltshire, and the common Anne Boleyn."

The dates of these papers cannot always be determined; this which follows, probably, is something later, but it shows the general temper in which the clergy were disposed to meet the measures of the government.

“Robert Legate, friar of Furness, deposeth that the monks had a prophecy among them, that ’in England shall be slain the decorate rose in his mother’s belly,’ and this they interpret of his Majesty, saying that his Majesty shall die by the hands of priests; for the church is the mother, and the church shall slay his Grace.  The said Robert maintaineth that he hath heard the monks often say this.  Also, it is said among them that the King’s Grace was not the right heir to the crown; for that his Grace’s father came in by no line, but by the sword.  Also, that no secular knave should be head of the church; also that the abbot did know of these treasons, and had made no report thereof."

Nor was it only in the remote abbeys of the North that such dangerous language was ventured.  The pulpit of St. Paul’s rang Sunday after Sunday with the polemics of the divorce; and if “the holy water of the court” made the higher clergy cringing and cowardly, the rank and file, even in London itself, showed a bold English front, and spoke out their thoughts with entire recklessness.  Among the preachers on Catherine’s side, Father Forest, famous afterward in Catholic martyrologies, began to distinguish himself.  Forest was warden of a convent of Observants at Greenwich attached to the royal chapel, and having been Catherine’s confessor, remained, with the majority of the friars, faithful to her interests, and fearless in the assertion of them.  From their connection with the palace, the intercourse of these monks with the royal household was considerable; their position gave them influence, and Anne Boleyn tried the power of her charms, if possible, to gain them over.  She had succeeded with a few of the weaker brothers, but she was unable (and her inability speaks remarkably for Henry’s endurance of opposition through the early stages of the controversy) to protect those whose services she had won from the anger of their superiors.  One monk in whom she was interested the warden imprisoned, another there was an effort to expel, because he was ready to preach on her side; and Forest himself preached a violent sermon at Paul’s Cross, attacking Cromwell and indirectly the king. He was sent for to the court, and the persecuted brothers expected their triumph; but he returned, as one of them wrote bitterly to Cromwell, having been received with respect and favour, as if, after all, the enmity of a brave man found more honour at the court than the complacency of cowardice.  Father Forest, says this letter, has been with the king.  “He says he spake with the king for half an hour and more, and was well retained by his Grace; and the King’s Grace did send him a great piece of beef from his own table; and also he met with my Lord of Norfolk, and he says he took him in his arms and bade him welcome."

Forest, unfortunately for himself, misconstrued forbearance into fear, and went his way at last, through treason and perjury, to the stake.  In the meantime the Observants were left in possession of the royal chapel, the weak brother died in prison, and the king, when at Greenwich, continued to attend service, submitting to listen, as long as submission was possible, to the admonitions which the friars used the opportunity to deliver to him.

In these more courteous days we can form little conception of the licence which preachers in the sixteenth century allowed themselves, or the language which persons in high authority were often obliged to bear.  Latimer spoke as freely to Henry VIII. of neglected duties, as to the peasants in his Wiltshire parish.  St. Ambrose did not rebuke the Emperor Theodosius more haughtily than John Knox lectured Queen Mary and her ministers on the vanities of Holyrood; and Catholic priests, it seems, were not afraid to display even louder disrespect.

On Sunday, the first of May, 1532, the pulpit at Greenwich was occupied by Father Peto, afterwards Cardinal Peto, famous through Europe as a Catholic incendiary; but at this time an undistinguished brother of the Observants convent.  His sermon had been upon the story of Ahab and Naboth, and his text had been, “Where the dogs licked the blood of Naboth, even there shall they lick thy blood, O king.”  Henry, the court, and most likely Anne Boleyn herself, were present; the first of May being the great holy-day of the English year, and always observed at Greenwich with peculiar splendour.  The preacher had dilated at length upon the crimes and the fall of Ahab, and had drawn the portrait in all its magnificent wickedness.  He had described the scene in the court of heaven, and spoken of the lying prophets who had mocked the monarch’s hopes before the fatal battle.  At the end, he turned directly to Henry, and assuming to himself the mission of Micaiah, he closed his address in the following audacious words: “And now, O king,” he said, “hear what I say to thee.  I am that Micaiah whom thou wilt hate, because I must tell thee truly that this marriage is unlawful, and I know that I shall eat the bread of affliction and drink the waters of sorrow, yet because the Lord hath put it in my mouth I must speak it.  There are other preachers, yea too many, which preach and persuade thee otherwise, feeding they folly and frail affections upon hopes of their own worldly promotion; and by that means they betray thy soul, thy honour, and thy posterity; to obtain fat bénéfices, to become rich abbots and bishops, and I know not what.  These I say are the four hundred prophets who, in the spirit of lying, seek to deceive thee.  Take heed lest thou, being seduced, find Ahab’s punishment, who had his blood licked up by the dogs.”

Henry must have been compelled to listen to many such invectives.  He left the chapel without noticing what had passed; and in the course of the week Peto went down from Greenwich to attend a provincial council at Canterbury, and perhaps to communicate with the Nun of Kent.  Meantime a certain Dr. Kirwan was commissioned to preach on the other side of the question the following Sunday.

Kirwan was one of those men of whom the preacher spoke prophetically, since by the present and similar services he made his way to the archbishopric of Dublin and the bishopric of Oxford, and accepting the Erastian theory of a Christian’s duty, followed Edward VI. into heresy, and Mary into popery and persecution.  He regarded himself as an official of the state religion; and his highest conception of evil in a Christian was disobedience to the reigning authority.  We may therefore conceive easily the burden of his sermon in the royal chapel.  “He most sharply reprehended Peto,” calling him foul names, “dog, slanderer, base beggarly friar, rebel, and traitor,” saying “that no subject should speak so audaciously to his prince:”  he “commended” Henry’s intended marriage, “thereby to establish his seed in his seat for ever;” and having won, as he supposed, his facile victory, he proceeded with his peroration, addressing his absent antagonist.  “I speak to thee, Peto,” he exclaimed, “to thee, Peto, which makest thyself Micaiah, that thou mayest speak evil of kings; but now art not to be found, being fled for fear and shame, as unable to answer my argument.”  In the royal chapel at Greenwich there was more reality than decorum.  A voice out of the rood-loft cut short the eloquent declamation.  “Good sir,” it said, “you know Father Peto is gone to Canterbury to a provincial council, and not fled for fear of you; for to-morrow he will return again.  In the meantime I am here as another Micaiah, and will lay down my life to prove those things true which he hath taught.  And to this combat I challenge thee; thee Kirwan, I say, who art one of the four hundred into whom the spirit of lying is entered, and thou seekest by adultery to establish the succession, betraying thy king for thy own vain glory into endless perdition.”

A scene of confusion followed, which was allayed at last by the king himself, who rose from his seat and commanded silence.  It was thought that the limit of permissible licence had been transcended, and the following day Peto and Elstowe, the other speaker, were summoned before the council to receive a reprimand.  Lord Essex told them they deserved to be sewn into a sack and thrown into the Thames.  “Threaten such things to rich and dainty folk, which have their hope in this world,” answered Elstowe, gallantly, “we fear them not; with thanks to God we know the way to heaven to be as ready by water as by land." Men of such metal might be broken, but they could not be bent.  The two offenders were hopelessly unrepentant and impracticable, and it was found necessary to banish them.  They retired to Antwerp, where we find them the following year busy procuring copies of the Bishop of Rochester’s book against the king, which was broadly disseminated on the continent, and secretly transmitting them into England; in close correspondence also with Fisher himself, with Sir Thomas More, and for the ill fortune of their friends, with the court at Brussels, between which and the English Catholics the intercourse was dangerously growing.

The Greenwich friars, with their warden, went also a bad way.  The death of the persecuted brother was attended with circumstances in a high degree suspicious. Henry ordered an enquiry, which did not terminate in any actual exposure; but a cloud hung over the convent, which refused to be dispelled; the warden was deposed, and soon after it was found necessary to dissolve the order.

If the English monks had shared as a body the character of the Greenwich Observants, of the Carthusians of London and Richmond, and of some other establishments, which may easily be numbered, the resistance which they might have offered to the government, with the sympathy which it would have commanded, would have formed an obstacle to the Reformation that no power could have overcome.  It was time, however, for the dissolution of the monasteries, when the few among them, which on other grounds might have claimed a right to survive, were driven by their very virtues into treason.  The majority perished of their proper worthlessness; the few remaining contrived to make their existence incompatible with the safety of the state.

Leaving for the present these disorders to mature themselves, I must now return to the weary chapter of European diplomacy, to trace the tortuous course of popes and princes, duping one another with false hopes; saying what they did not mean, and meaning what they did not say.  It is a very Slough of Despond, through which we must plunge desperately as we may; and we can cheer ourselves in this dismal region only by the knowledge that, although we are now approaching the spot where the mire is deepest, the hard ground is immediately beyond.

We shall, perhaps, be able most readily to comprehend the position of the various parties in Europe, by placing them before us as they stood severally in the summer of 1532, and defining briefly the object which each was pursuing.

Henry only, among the great powers, laid his conduct open to the world, declaring truly what he desired, and seeking it by open means.  He was determined to proceed with the divorce, and he was determined also to continue the Reformation of the English Church.  If consistently with these two objects he could avoid a rupture with the pope, he was sincerely anxious to avoid it.  He was ready to make great efforts, to risk great sacrifices, to do anything short of surrendering what he considered of vital moment, to remain upon good terms with the See of Rome.  If his efforts failed, and a quarrel was inevitable, he desired to secure himself by a close maintenance of the French alliance; and having induced Francis to urge compliance upon the pope by a threat of separation if he refused, to prevail on him, in the event of the pope’s continued obstinacy, to put his threat in execution, and unite with England in a common schism.  All this is plain and straightforward Henry concealed nothing, and, in fact, had nothing to conceal.  In his threats, his promises, and his entreaties, we feel entire certainty that he was speaking his real thoughts.

The emperor’s position, also, though not equally simple, is intelligible, and commands our respect.  Although if he had consented to sacrifice his aunt, he might have spared himself serious embarrassment; although both by the pope and by the consistory such a resolution would probably have been welcomed with passionate thankfulness; yet at all hazards Charles was determined to make her his first object, even with the risk of convulsing Europe.  At the same time his position was encumbered with difficulty.  The Turks were pressing upon him in Hungary and in the Mediterranean; his relations with Francis fortunately for the prospects of the Reformation were those of inveterate hostility; while in Germany he had been driven to make terms with the Protestant princes; he had offended the pope by promising them a general council, in which the Lutheran divines should be represented; and the pope, taught by recent experience, was made to fear that these symptoms of favour towards heresy, might convert themselves into open support.

With Francis the prevailing feeling was rivalry with the emperor, combined with an eager desire to recover his influence in Italy, and to restore France to the position in Europe which had been lost by the defeat of Pavia, and the failure of Lautrec at Naples.  This was his first object, to which every other was subsidiary.  He was disinclined to a rupture with the pope; but the possibility of such a rupture had been long contemplated by French statesmen.  It was a contingency which the pope feared: which the hopes of Henry pictured as more likely than it was and Francis, like his rivals in the European system, held the menace of it extended over the chair of St. Peter, to coerce its unhappy occupant into compliance with his wishes.  With respect to Henry’s divorce, his conduct to the University of Paris, and his assurances repeated voluntarily on many occasions, show that he was sincerely desirous to forward it.  He did not care for Henry, or for England, or for the cause itself; he desired only to make the breach between Henry and Charles irreparable; to make it impossible for ever that “his two great rivals” should become friends together; and by inducing the pope to consent to the English demand, to detach the court of Rome conclusively from the imperial interests.

The two princes who disputed the supremacy of Europe, were intriguing one against the other, each desiring to constitute himself the champion of the church; and to compel the church to accept his services, by the threat of passing over to her enemies.  By a dexterous use of the cards which were in his hands, the King of France proposed to secure one of two alternatives.  Either he would form a league between himself, Henry, and the pope, against the emperor, of which the divorce, and the consent to it, which he would extort from Clement, should be the cement; or, if this failed him, he would avail himself of the vantage ground which was given to him by the English alliance to obtain such concessions for himself at the emperor’s expense as the pope could be induced to make, and the emperor to tolerate.

Such, in so far as I can unravel the web of the diplomatic correspondence, appear to have been the open positions and the secret purposes of the great European powers.

There remains the fourth figure upon the board, the pope himself, labouring with such means as were at his disposal to watch over the interests of the church, and to neutralise the destructive ambition of the princes, by playing upon their respective selfishnesses.  On the central question, that of the divorce, his position was briefly this.  Both the emperor and Henry pressed for a decision.  If he decided for Henry, he lost Germany; if he decided for Catherine, while Henry was supported by Francis, France and England threatened both to fall from him.  It was therefore necessary for him to induce the emperor to consent to delay, while he worked upon the King of France; and, if France and England could once be separated, he trusted that Henry would yield in despair.  This most subtle and difficult policy reveals itself in the transactions open and secret of the ensuing years.  It was followed with a dexterity as extraordinary as its unscrupulousness, and with all but perfect success.  That it failed at all, in the ordinary sense of failure, was due to the accidental delay of a courier; and Clement, while he succeeded in preserving the allegiance of France to the Roman see, succeeded also and this is no small thing to have accomplished in weaving the most curious tissue of falsehood which will be met with even in the fertile pages of Italian subtlety.

With this general understanding of the relation between the great parties in the drama, let us look to their exact position in the summer of 1532.

Charles was engaged in repelling an invasion of the Turks, with an anarchical Germany in his rear, seething with fanatical anabaptists, and clamouring for a general council.

Henry and Francis had been called upon to furnish a contingent against Solyman, and had declined to act with the emperor.  They had undertaken to concert their own measures between themselves, if it proved necessary for them to move; and in the meantime Cardinal Grammont and Cardinal Tournon were sent by Francis to Rome, to inform Clement that unless he gave a verdict in Henry’s favour, the Kings of France and England, being une mesme chose, would pursue some policy with respect to him, to which he would regret that he had compelled them to have recourse.  So far their instructions were avowed and open.  A private message revealed the secret means by which the pope might escape from his dilemma; the cardinals were to negotiate a marriage between the Duke of Orleans and the pope’s niece (afterwards so infamously famous), Catherine de Medicis.  The marriage, as Francis represented it to Henry, was beneath the dignity of a prince of France, he had consented to it, as he professed, only for Henry’s sake; but the pope had made it palatable by a secret article in the engagement, for the grant of the duchy of Milan as the lady’s dowry.

Henry, threatened as we have seen with domestic disturbance, and with further danger on the side of Scotland, which Charles had succeeded in agitating, concluded, on the 23rd of June, a league, offensive and defensive, with Francis, the latter engaging to send a fleet into the Channel, and to land 15,000 troops in England if the emperor should attempt an invasion from the sea. For the better consolidation of this league, and to consult upon the measures which they would pursue on the great questions at issue in Christendom, and lastly to come to a final understanding on the divorce, it was agreed further that in the autumn the two kings should meet at Calais.  The conditions of the interview were still unarranged on the 22nd of July, when the Bishop of Paris, who remained ambassador at the English court, wrote to Montmorency to suggest that Anne Boleyn should be invited to accompany the King of England on this occasion, and that she should be received in state.  The letter was dated from Ampthill, to which Henry had escaped for a while from his Greenwich friars and other troubles, and where the king was staying a few weeks before the house was given up to Queen Catherine.  Anne Boleyn was with him; she now, as a matter of course, attended him everywhere.  Intending her, as he did, to be the mother of the future heir to his crown, he preserved what is technically called her honour unimpeached and unimpaired.  In all other respects she occupied the position and received the homage due to the actual wife of the English sovereign; and in this capacity it was the desire of Henry that she should be acknowledged by a foreign prince.

The bishop’s letter on this occasion is singularly interesting and descriptive.  The court were out hunting, he said, every day; and while the king was pursuing the heat of the chase, he and Mademoiselle Anne were posted together, each with a crossbow, at the point to which the deer was to be driven.  The young lady, in order that the appearance of her reverend cavalier might correspond with his occupation, had made him a present of a hunting cap and frock, a horn and a greyhound.  Her invitation to Calais he pressed with great earnestness, and suggested that Marguerite de Valois, the Queen of Navarre, should be brought down to entertain her.  The Queen of France being a Spaniard, would not, he thought, be welcome:  “the sight of a Spanish dress being as hateful in the King of England’s eyes as the devil himself.”  In other respects the reception should be as magnificent as possible, “and I beseech you,” he concluded, “keep out of the court, deux sortes de gens, the imperialists, and the wits and mockers; the English can endure neither of them."

Through the tone of this language the contempt is easily visible with which the affair was regarded in the French court.  But for Francis to receive in public the rival of Queen Catherine, to admit her into his family, and to bring his sister from Paris to entertain her, was to declare in the face of Europe, in a manner which would leave no doubt of his sincerity, that he intended to countenance Henry.  With this view only was the reception of Anne desired by the King of England; with this view it was recommended by the bishop, and assented to by the French court.  Nor was this the only proof which Francis was prepared to give, that he was in earnest.  He had promised to distribute forty thousand crowns at Rome, in bribing cardinals to give their voices for Henry in the consistory, with other possible benefactions.

He had further volunteered his good offices with the court of Scotland, where matters were growing serious, and where his influence could be used to great advantage.  The ability of James the Fifth to injure Henry happily fell short of his inclination, but encouraged by secret promises from Clement and from the emperor, he was waiting his opportunity to cross the Border with an army; and in the meantime he was feeding with efficient support a rebellion in Ireland.  Of what was occurring at this time in that perennially miserable country I shall speak in a separate chapter.  It is here sufficient to mention, that on the 23rd of August, Henry received information that McConnell of the Isles, after receiving knighthood from James, had been despatched into Ulster with four thousand men, and was followed by Mackane with seven thousand more on the 3rd of September. Peace with England nominally continued; but the Kers, the Humes, the Scotts of Buccleugh, the advanced guard of the Marches, were nightly making forays across the Border, and open hostilities appeared to be on the point of explosion. If war was to follow, Henry was prepared for it.  He had a powerful force at Berwick, and in Scotland itself a large party were secretly attached to the English interests.  The clan of Douglas, with their adherents, were even prepared for open revolt, and open transfer of allegiance. But, although Scottish nobles might be gained over, and Scottish armies might be defeated in the field, Scotland itself, as the experience of centuries had proved, could never be conquered.  The policy of the Tudors had been to abstain from aggression, till time should have soothed down the inherited animosity between the two countries; and Henry was unwilling to be forced into extremities which might revive the bitter memories of Flodden.  The Northern counties also, in spite of their Border prejudices, were the stronghold of the papal party, and it was doubtful how far their allegiance could be counted upon in the event of an invasion sanctioned by the pope.  The hands of the English government were already full without superadded embarrassment, and the offered mediation of Francis was gratefully welcomed.

These were the circumstances under which the second great interview was to take place between Francis the First and Henry of England. Twelve years had passed since their last meeting, and the experience which those years had brought to both of them, had probably subdued their inclination for splendid pageantry.  Nevertheless, in honour of the occasion, some faint revival was attempted of the magnificence of the Field of the Cloth of Gold.  Anne Boleyn was invited duly; and the Queen of Navarre, as the Bishop of Paris recommended, came down to Boulogne to receive her.  The French princes came also to thank Henry in person for their deliverance out of their Spanish prison; and he too, on his side, brought with him his young Marcellus, the Duke of Richmond, his only son illegitimate unfortunately but whose beauty and noble promise were at once his father’s misery and pride; giving point to his bitterness at the loss of his sons by Catherine; quickening his hopes of what might be, and deepening his discontent with that which was.  If this boy had lived, he would have been named to follow Edward the Sixth in the succession, and would have been King of England; but he too passed away in the flower of his loveliness, one more evidence of the blight which rested upon the stem of the Tudors.

The English court was entertained by Francis at Boulogne.  The French court was received in return at Calais by the English.  The outward description of the scene, the magnificent train of the princes, the tournaments, the feasts, the dances, will be found minutely given in the pages of Hall, and need not be repeated here.  To Hall indeed, the outward life of men, their exploits in war, and their pageantries in peace, alone had meaning or interest; and the backstairs secrets of Vatican diplomacy, the questionings of opinion, and all the brood of mental sicknesses then beginning to distract the world, were but impertinent interferences with the true business of existence.  But the healthy objectiveness of an old English chronicler is no longer possible for us; we may envy where we cannot imitate; and our business is with such features of the story as are of moment to ourselves.

The political questions which were to be debated at the conference, were three; the Turkish Invasion, the General Council, and King Henry’s divorce.

On the first, it was decided that there was no immediate occasion for France and England to move.  Solyman’s retreat from Vienna had relieved Europe from present peril; and the enormous losses which he had suffered, might prevent him from repeating the experiment.  If the danger became again imminent, however, the two kings agreed to take the field in person the following year at the head of eighty thousand men.

On the second point they came to no conclusion, but resolved only to act in common.

On the third and most important, they parted with a belief that they understood each other; but their memories, or the memory of one of them, proved subsequently treacherous; and we can only extract what passed between them out of their mutual recriminations.

It was determined certainly that at the earliest convenient moment, a meeting should take place between the pope and Francis; and that at this meeting Francis should urge in person concession to Henry’s demands.  If the pope professed himself unable to risk the displeasure of the emperor, it should be suggested that he might return to Avignon, where he would be secure under the protection of France and England.  If he was still reluctant, and persisted in asserting his right to compel Henry to plead before him at Rome, or if he followed up his citations by inhibitions, suspensions, excommunications, or other form of censure, Francis declared that he would support Henry to the last, whether against the pope himself or against any prince or potentate who might attempt to enforce the sentence.  On this point the promises of the King of France were most profuse and decided; and although it was not expressly stated in words, Henry seems to have persuaded himself that, if the pope pressed matters to extremities, Francis had engaged further that the two countries should pursue a common course, and unite in a common schism.  The two princes did in fact agree, that if the general council which they desired was refused, they would summon provincial councils on their own authority.  Each of them perhaps interpreted their engagements by their own wishes or interests.

We may further believe, since it was affirmed by Henry, and not denied by Francis, that the latter advised Henry to bring the dispute to a close, by a measure from which he could not recede; that he recommended him to act on the general opinion of Europe that his marriage with Queen Catherine was null, and at once upon his return to England to make Anne Boleyn his wife.

So far the account is clear.  This advice was certainly given, and as certainly Francis undertook to support Henry through all the consequences in which the marriage might involve him.  But a league for mutual defence fell short of what Henry desired, and fell short also of what Francis, by the warmth of his manner, had induced Henry for the moment to believe that he meant.  It is probable that the latter pressed upon him engagements which he avoided by taking refuge in general professions; and no sooner had Henry returned to England, than either misgivings occurred to him as to the substantial results of the interview, or he was anxious to make the French king commit himself more definitely.  He sent to him to beg that he would either write out, or dictate and sign, the expressions which he had used; professing to wish it only for the comfort which he would derive from the continual presence of such refreshing words but surely for some deeper reason.

Francis had perhaps said more than he meant; Henry supposed him to have meant more than he said.  Yet some promise was made, which was not afterwards observed; and Francis acknowledged some engagement in an apology which he offered for the breach of it.  He asserted, in defence of himself, that he had added a stipulation which Henry passed over in silence, that no steps should be taken towards annulling the marriage with Catherine in the English law courts until the effect had been seen of his interview with the pope, provided the pope on his side remained similarly inactive. Whatever it was which he had bound himself to do, this condition, if made at all, could be reconciled only with his advice that Henry should marry Anne Boleyn without further delay, on the supposition that the interview in question was to take place immediately; for the natural consequences of the second marriage would involve, as a matter of course, some speedy legal declaration with respect to the first.  And when on various pretexts the pope postponed the meeting, and on the other part of his suggestion Henry had acted within a few months of his return from Calais, it became impossible that such a condition could be observed.  It availed for a formal excuse; but Francis vainly endeavoured to disguise his own infirmity of purpose behind the language of a negotiation which conveyed, when it was used, a meaning widely different.

The conference was concluded on the 1st of November, but the court was detained at Calais for a further fortnight by violent gales in the Channel.  In the excited state of public feeling, events in themselves ordinary assumed a preternatural significance.  The friends of Queen Catherine, to whom the meeting between the kings was of so disastrous augury, and the nation generally, which an accident to Henry at such a time would have plunged into a chaos of confusion, alike watched the storm with anxious agitation; on the king’s return to London, Te Deums were offered in the churches, as if for his deliverance from some extreme and imminent peril.  The Nun of Kent on this great occasion was admitted to conferences with angels.  She denounced the meeting, under celestial instruction, as a conspiracy against Heaven.  The king, she said, but for her interposition, would have proceeded, while at Calais, to his impious marriage; and God was so angry with him, that he was not permitted to profane with his unholy eyes the blessed Sacrament.  “It was written in her revelations,” says the statute of her attainder, “that when the King’s Grace was at Calais, and his Majesty and the French king were hearing mass in the Church of Our Lady, that God was so displeased with the King’s Highness, that his Grace saw not at that time the blessed sacrament in the form of bread, for it was taken away from the priest, being at mass, by an angel, and was ministered to the said Elizabeth, there being present and invisible, and suddenly conveyed and rapt thence again into the nunnery where she was professed."

She had an interview with Henry on his return through Canterbury, to try the effect of her Cassandra presence on his fears; but if he still delayed his marriage, it was probably neither because he was frightened by her denunciations, nor from alarm at the usual occurrence of an equinoctial storm.  Many motives combined to dissuade him from further hesitation.  Six years of trifling must have convinced him that by decisive action alone he could force the pope to a conclusion.  He was growing old, and the exigencies of the succession, rendered doubly pressing by the long agitation, required immediate resolution.  He was himself satisfied that he was at liberty to marry whom he pleased and when he pleased, his relationship to Catherine, according to his recent convictions, being such as had rendered his connection with her from the beginning invalid and void.  His own inclinations and the interests of the nation pointed to the same course.  The King of France had advised it.  Even the pope himself, at the outset of the discussion, had advised it also.  “Marry freely,” the pope had said; “fear nothing, and all shall be arranged as you desire.”  He had forborne to take the pope at his word; he had hoped that the justice of his demands might open a less violent way to him; and he had shrunk from a step which might throw even a causeless shadow over the legitimacy of the offspring for which he longed.  The case was now changed; no other alternative seemed to be open to his choice, and it was necessary to bring the matter to a close once and for all.

But Henry, as he said himself, was past the age when passion or appetite would be likely to move him, and having waited so many years, he could afford to wait a little longer, till the effects of the Calais conferences upon the pope should have had time to show themselves.  In December, Clement was to meet the emperor at Bologna.  In the month following, it might be hoped that he would meet Francis at Marseilles or Avignon, and from their interview would be seen conclusively the future attitude of the papal and imperial courts.  Experience of the past forbade anything like sanguine expectation; yet it was not impossible that the pope might be compelled at last to yield the required concessions.  The terms of Henry’s understanding with Francis were not perhaps made public, but he was allowed to dictate the language which the French cardinals were to make use of in the consistory; and the reception of Anne Boleyn by the French king was equivalent to the most emphatic declaration that if the censures of the church were attempted in defence of Catherine, the enforcement of them would be resisted by the combined arms of France and England.

And the pope did in fact feel himself in a dilemma from which all his address was required to extricate him.  He had no support from his conscience, for he knew that he was acting unjustly in refusing the divorce; while to risk the emperor’s anger, which was the only honest course before him, was perhaps for that very reason impossible.  He fell back upon his Italian cunning, and it did not fail him in his need.  But his conduct, though creditable to his ingenuity, reflects less pleasantly on his character; and when it is traced through all its windings, few reasonable persons will think that they have need to blush at the causes which led to the last breach between England and the papacy.

From the time of Catherine’s appeal and the retirement of Campeggio, Clement, with rare exceptions, had maintained an attitude of impassive reserve.  He had allowed judgment to be delayed on various pretexts, because until that time delay had answered his purposes sufficiently.  But to the English agents he had been studiously cold, not condescending even to hold out hopes to them that concession might be possible.  Some little time before the meeting at Calais, however, a change was observed in the language both of the pope himself and of the consistory.  The cardinals were visibly afraid of the position which had been taken by the French king; questions supposed to be closed were once more admitted to debate in a manner which seemed to show that their resolution was wavering; and one day, at the close of a long argument, the following curious conversation took place between some person (Sir Gregory Cassalis, apparently), who reported it to Henry, and Clement himself.  “I had desired a private interview with his Holiness,” says the writer, “intending to use all my endeavours to persuade him to satisfy your Majesty.  But although I did my best, I could obtain nothing from him; he had an answer for everything which I advanced, and it was in vain that I laboured to remove his difficulties.  At length, however, in reply to something which I had proposed, he said shortly, Multo minus scandalosum fuisset dispensare cum majestate vestra super duabus uxoribus, quam ea cedere quae ego petebam, it would have created less scandal to have granted your Majesty a dispensation to have two wives than to concede what I was then demanding.  As I did not know how far this alternative would be pleasing to your Majesty, I endeavoured to divert him from it, and to lead him back to what I had been previously saying.  He was silent for a while, and then, paying no regard to my interruption, he continued to speak of the ‘two wives,’ admitting however that there were difficulties in the way of such an arrangement, principally it seemed because the emperor would refuse his consent from the possible injury which it might create to his cousin’s prospects of the succession.  I replied, that as to the succession, I could not see what right the emperor had to a voice upon the matter.  If some lawful means could be discovered by which your Majesty could furnish yourself with male offspring, the emperor could no more justly complain than if the queen were to die and the prospects of the princess were interfered with by a second marriage of an ordinary kind.  To this the pope made no answer.  I cannot tell what your Majesty will think, nor how far this suggestion of the pope would be pleasing to your Majesty.  Nor indeed can I feel sure, in consequence of what he said about the emperor, that he actually would grant the dispensation of which he spoke.  I have thought it right, however, to inform you of what passed."

This letter is undated, but it was written, as appears from internal evidence, some time in the year 1532.

The pope’s language was ambiguous, and the writer did not allow himself to derive from it any favourable augury; but the tone in which the suggestions had been made was by many degrees more favourable than had been heard for a very long time in the quarter from which they came, and the symptoms which it promised of a change of feeling were more than confirmed in the following winter.

Charles was to be at Bologna in the middle of December, where he was to discuss with Clement the situation of Europe, and in particular of Germany, with the desirableness of fulfilling the engagements into which he had entered for a general council.

This was the avowed object of the meeting.  But, however important the question of holding a council was becoming, it was not immediately pressing; and we cannot doubt that the disquiet occasioned by the alliance of England and France was the cause that the conference was held at so inconvenient a season.  The pope left Rome on the 18th of November, having in his train a person who afterwards earned for himself a dark name in English history, Dr. Bonner, then a famous canon lawyer attached to the embassy.  The journey in the wild weather was extremely miserable; and Bonner, whose style was as graphic as it was coarse, sent home a humorous account of it to Cromwell. Three wretched weeks the party were upon the road, plunging through mire and water.  They reached Bologna on the 8th of December, where, four days after them, arrived Charles V. It is important, as we shall presently see, to observe the dates of these movements.  I shall have to compare with them the successive issues of several curious documents.  On the 12th of December the pope and the emperor met at Bologna; on the 24th Dr. Bennet, Henry’s able secretary, who had been despatched from England to be present at the conference, wrote to report the result of his observations.  He had been admitted to repeated interviews with the pope, as well before as after the emperor’s arrival; and the language which the former made use of could only be understood, and was of course intended to be understood, as expressing the attitude in which he was placing himself towards the imperial faction.  Bennet’s letter was as follows:

“I have been sundry and many times with the pope, as well afore the coming of the emperour as sythen, yet I have not at any time found his Holiness more tractable or propense to show gratuity unto your Highness than now of late, insomuch that he hath more freely opened his mind than he was accustomed, and said also that he would speak with me frankly without any observance or respect at all.  At which time, I greatly lamented (your Highness’s cause being so just) no means could be found and taken to satisfy your Highness therein; and I said also that I doubted not but that (if his Holiness would) ways might be found by his wisdom, now at the emperour’s being with him, to satisfy your Highness; and that done, his Holiness should not only have your Highness in as much or more friendship than he hath had heretofore, but also procure thereby that thing which his Holiness hath chiefly desired, which is, as he hath said, a universal concord among the princes of Christendom.  His Holiness answered, that he would it had cost him a joint of his hand that such a way might be excogitate; and he said also, that the best thing which he could see to be done therein at this present, for a preparation to that purpose, was the thing which is contained in the first part of the cipher. Speaking of the justness of your cause, he called to his remembrance the thing which he told me two years past; which was, that the opinion of the lawyers was more certain, favourable, and helping to your cause than the opinion of the divines; for he said that as far as he could perceive, the lawyers, though they held quod Papa possit dispensare in this case, yet they commonly do agree quod hoc fieri debeat ex maxima causa, adhibita causae cognitione, which in this case doth not appear; and he said, that to come to the truth herein he had used all diligence possible, and enquired the opinion of learned men, being of fame and indifferency both in the court here and in other places.  And his Holiness promised me that he would herein use all good policy and dexterity to imprint the same in the emperour’s head; which done, he reckoneth many things to be invented that may be pleasant and profitable to your Highness; adding yet that this is not to be done with a fury, but with leisure and as occasion shall serve, lest if he should otherwise do, he should let and hinder that good effect which peradventure might ensue thereby."

This letter has all the character of truth about it.  The secretary had no interest in deceiving Henry, and it is quite certain that, whether honestly or not, the pope had led him to believe that his sympathies were again on the English side, and that he was using his best endeavours to subdue the emperor’s opposition.

On the 26th of December, two days later, Sir Gregory Cassalis, who had also followed the papal court to Bologna, wrote to the same effect.  He, too, had been with the pope, who had been very open and confidential with him.  The emperor, the pope said, had complained of the delay in the process, but he had assured him that it was impossible for the consistory to do more than it had done.  The opinion of the theologians was on the whole against the papal power of dispensation in cases of so close relationship; of the canon lawyers part agreed with the theologians, and those who differed from them were satisfied that such a power might not be exercised unless there were most urgent cause, unless, that is, the safety of a kingdom were dependent upon it.  Such occasion he had declared that he could not find to have existed for the dispensation granted by his predecessor.  The emperor had replied that there had been such occasion:  the dispensation had been granted to prevent war between Spain and England; and that otherwise great calamities would have befallen both countries.  But this was manifestly untrue; and his Holiness said that he had answered, It was a pity, then, that these causes had not been submitted at the time, as the reason for the demand, which it was clear that they had not been:  as the case stood, it was impossible for him to proceed further.  Upon which he added, “Se vidisse Caesarem obstupefactum.”  “I write the words,” continued Sir Gregory, “exactly as the pope related them to me.  Whether he really spoke in this way, I cannot tell; of this, however, I am sure, that on the day of our conversation he had taken the blessed sacrament.  He assured me further, that he had laboured to induce the emperor to permit him to satisfy your Majesty.  I recommended him that when next the emperor spoke with him upon the subject, he should enter at greater length on the question of justice, and that some other person should be present at the conference, that there might be no room left for suspicion."

The manner of Clement was so unlike what Cassalis had been in the habit of witnessing in him, that he was unable, as we see, wholly to persuade himself that the change was sincere:  the letter, however, was despatched to England, and was followed in a few days by Bonner, who brought with him the result of the pope’s good will in the form of definite propositions instructions of similar purport having been forwarded at the same time to the papal nuncio in England.  The pope, so Henry was informed, was now really well disposed to do what was required; he had urged upon the emperor the necessity of concessions, and the cause might be settled in one of two ways, to either of which he was himself ready to consent.  Catherine had appealed against judgment being passed in England, as a place which was not indifferent.  Henry had refused to allow his cause to be heard anywhere but in his own realm; pleading first his privilege as a sovereign prince; and secondly, his exemption as an Englishman. The pope, with appearance of openness, now suggested that Henry should either “send a mandate requiring the remission of his cause to an indifferent place, in which case he would himself surrender his claim to have it tried in the courts at Rome, and would appoint a legate and two auditors to hear the trial elsewhere;” or else, a truce of three or four years being concluded between England, France, and Spain, the pope would “with all celerity indict a general council, to which he would absolutely and wholly remit the consideration of the question."

Both proposals carried on their front a show of fair dealing, and if honestly proffered, were an evidence that something more might at length be hoped than words.  But the true obstacle to a settlement lay, as had been long evident, rather in the want of an honest will, than in legal difficulties or uncertainty as to the justice of the cause; and while neither of the alternatives as they stood were admissible or immediately desirable, there were many other roads, if the point of honesty were once made good, which would lead more readily to the desired end.  Once for all Henry could not consent to plead out of England; while an appeal to a council would occupy more time than the condition of the country could conveniently allow.  But the offer had been courteously made; it had been accompanied with language which might be sincere; and the king replied with grace, and almost with cordiality; not wholly giving Clement his confidence, but expressing a hope that he might soon be no longer justified in withholding it.  He was unable, he said, to accept the first condition, because it was contrary to his coronation oath; “it so highly touched the prerogative royal of the realm, that though he were minded to do it, yet must he abstain without the assent of the court of parliament, which he thought verily would never condescend to it." The other suggestion he did not absolutely reject, but the gathering of a council was too serious a matter to be precipitated, and the situation of Christendom presented many obstacles to a measure which would be useless unless it were carried through by all the great powers in a spirit of cordial unanimity.  He trusted therefore that if the pope’s intentions were really such as he pretended to entertain, he would find some method more convenient of proving his sincerity.

It was happy for Henry that experience had taught him to be distrustful.  Events proved too clearly that Clement’s assumed alteration of tone was no more than a manoeuvre designed to entice him to withdraw from the position in which he had entrenched himself, and to induce him to acknowledge that he was amenable to an earthly authority exterior to his own realm. In his offer to refer the cause to a general council, he proved that he was insincere, when in the following year he refused to allow a council to be a valid tribunal for the trial of it.  The course which he would have followed if the second alternative had been accepted, may be conjectured from the measures which, as I shall presently show, he was at this very moment secretly pursuing.  Henry, however, had happily resolved that he would be trifled with no further; he felt instinctively that only action would cut the net in which he was entangled; and he would not hesitate any longer to take a step which, in one way or another, must bring the weary question to a close.  If the pope meant well, he would welcome a resolution which made further procrastination impossible; if he did not mean well, he could not be permitted to dally further with the interests of the English nation.  Within a few days, therefore, of Bonner’s return from Bologna, he took the final step from which there was no retreat, and “somewhere about St. Paul’s day," Anne Boleyn received the prize for which she had thirsted seven long years, in the hand of the King of England.  The ceremony was private.  No authentic details are known either of the scene of it or the circumstances under which it took place; but it is said to have been performed by the able Rowland Lee, Bishop of Lichfield, summoned up for the purpose from the Welsh Marches, of which he was warden.  It was done, however in one way or other finally done the cast was thrown, and a match was laid to the train which now at length could explode the spell of intrigue, and set Henry and England free.

We have arrived at a point from which the issue of the labyrinth is clearly visible.  The course of it has been very dreary; and brought in contact as we have been with so much which is painful, so much which is discreditable to all parties concerned, we may perhaps have lost our sense of the broad bearings of the question in indiscriminate disgust.  It will be well, therefore, to pause for a moment to recapitulate those features of the story which are the main indications of its character, and may serve to guide our judgment in the censure which we shall pass.

It may be admitted, or it ought to be admitted, that if Henry VIII. had been contented to rest his demand for a divorce merely on the interests of the kingdom, if he had forborne, while his request was pending, to affront the princess who had for many years been his companion and his queen; if he had shown her that respect which her high character gave her a right to demand, and which her situation as a stranger ought to have made it impossible to him to refuse; his conduct would have been liable to no imputation, and our sympathies would without reserve have been on his side.  He could not have been expected to love a person to whom he had been married as a boy for political convenience, merely because she was his wife; especially when she was many years his senior in age, disagreeable in her person, and by the consciousness of it embittered in her temper.  His kingdom demanded the security of a stable succession; his conscience, it may not be doubted, was seriously agitated by the loss of his children; and looking upon it as the sentence of Heaven upon a connection, the legality of which had from the first been violently disputed, he believed that he had been living in incest, and that his misfortunes were the consequence of it.  Under these circumstances he had a full right to apply for a divorce.

The causa urgentissima of the canon law for which, by the pope’s own showing, the dispensing powers had been granted to him, had arisen in an extreme form; and when the vital interests of England were sacrificed to the will of a foreign prince, sufficient reason had arisen for the nation to decline submission to so emphatic injustice, and to seek within itself its own remedies for its own necessities.  These considerations must be allowed all their weight; and except for them, it is not to be supposed that Henry would have permitted private distaste or inclination to induce him to create a scandal in Europe.  In his conduct, however, as in that of most men, good was chequered with evil, and sincerity with self-deception.  Personal feeling can be traced from the first, holding a subsidiary, indeed, but still an influential place, among his motives; and exactly so far as he was influenced by it, his course was wrong, as the consequence miserably proved.  The position which, in his wife’s presence, he assigned to another woman, however he may have persuaded himself that Catherine had no claim to be considered his wife, admits neither of excuse nor of palliation; and he ought never to have shared his throne with a person who consented to occupy that position.  He was blind to the coarseness of Anne Boleyn, because, in spite of his chivalry, his genius, his accomplishments, in his relations with women he was without delicacy himself.  He directed, or attempted to direct, his conduct by the broad rules of what he thought to be just; and in the wide margin of uncertain ground where rules of action cannot be prescribed, and where men must guide themselves by consideration for the feelings of others, he so far as women were concerned was altogether or almost a stranger.  Such consideration is a virtue which can be learned only in the society of equals, where necessity obliges men to practise it.  Henry had been a king from his boyhood; he had been surrounded by courtiers who had anticipated all his desires; and exposed as he was to an ordeal from which no human being could have escaped uninjured, we have more cause, after all, to admire him for those excellences which he conquered for himself, than to blame the defects which he retained.

But if in his private relations the king was hasty and careless, towards the pope to whom we must now return, he exhausted all resources of forbearance:  and although, when separation from Rome was at length forced upon him, he then permitted no half measures, and swept into his new career with the strength of irresistible will, it was not till he had shown resolution no less great in the endurance of indignity; and of the three great powers in Europe, the prince who was compelled to break the unity of the Catholic church, was evidently the only one who was capable of real sacrifices to preserve it unbroken.  Clement comprehended his reluctance, but presumed too far upon it; and if there was sin in the “great schism” of the Reformation, the guilt must rest where it is due.  We have now to show the reverse side of the transactions at Bologna, and explain what a person wearing the title of his Holiness, in virtue of his supposed sanctity, had been secretly doing.

In January, 1532, some little time before his conversation with Sir Gregory Cassalis on the subject of the two wives, the pope had composed a pastoral letter to Henry, which had never been issued.  From its contents it would seem to have been written on the receipt of an indignant remonstrance of Queen Catherine, in which she had complained of her desertion by her husband, and of the public position which had been given to her rival.  She had supposed (and it was the natural mistake of an embittered and injured woman) that Anne Boleyn had been placed in possession of the rights of an actual, and not only of an intended wife; and the pope, accepting her account of the situation, had written to implore the king to abstain, so long as the cause remained undetermined, from creating so great a scandal in Christendom, and to restore his late queen to her place at his side.  This letter, as it was originally written, was one of Clement’s happiest compositions. He abstained in it from using any expression which could be construed into a threat:  he appealed to Henry’s honourable character, which no blot had hitherto stained; and dwelling upon the general confusion of the Christian world, he urged with temperate earnestness the ill effects which would be produced by so open a defiance of the injunctions of the Holy See in a person of so high a position.  So far all was well.  Henry had deserved that such a letter should be written to him; and the pope was more than justified in writing it.  The letter, however, if it was sent, produced no effect, and on the 15th of November, three days before Clement’s departure to Bologna, where he pretended (we must not forget) that he considered Henry substantially right; he added a postscript, in a tone not contrasting only with his words to the ambassadors, but with the language of the brief itself.

Again urging Henry’s delinquencies, his separation from his wife, and the scandal of his connection with another person, he commanded him, under penalty of excommunication, within one month of the receipt of those injunctions, to restore the queen to her place, and to abstain thenceforward from all intercourse with Anne Boleyn pending the issue of the trial.  “Otherwise,” the pope continued, “when the said term shall have elapsed, we pronounce thee, Henry King of England, and the said Anne, to be ipso facto excommunicate, and command all men to shun and avoid your presence; and although our mind shrinks from allowing such a thought of your Serenity, although by ourselves and by our auditory of the Rota an inhibition has been already issued against you; although the act of which you are suspected be in itself forbidden by all laws human and divine, yet the reports which are brought to us do so move us, that once more we do inhibit you from dissolving your marriage with the aforesaid Catherine, or from continuing process, in your own courts, of divorce from her.  And we do also hereby warn you, that you presume not to contract any new marriage with the said or with any other woman; we declare such marriage, if you still attempt it, to be vain and of none effect, and so to be regarded by all persons in obedience to the Apostolic see."

An inhibitory mandate, was a natural consequence of the conference of Calais, provided that the pope intended to proceed openly and uprightly; and if it had been sent upon the spot, Henry could have complained of nothing worse than of an honourable opposition to his wishes.  But the mystery was not yet exhausted.  The postscript was not issued, it was not spoken of; it was carried secretly to Bologna, and it bears at its foot a further date of the 23rd of December, the very time, that is to say, at which the pope was representing himself to Bennet as occupied only in devising the best means of satisfying Henry, and to Sir Gregory Cassalis, as so convinced of the justice of the English demands, that he had ventured in defence of them to the edge of rupture with the emperor.

It might be urged that he was sincere both in his brief and in his conversation; that he believed that a verdict ought to be given, and would at last be given, against the original marriage, and that therefore he was the more anxious to prevent unnecessary scandal.  Yet a menace of excommunication couched in so haughty a tone, could have been honestly reconciled with his other conduct, only by his following a course with respect to it which he did not follow by informing the ambassadors openly of what he had done, and transmitting his letter through their hands to Henry himself.  This he might have done; and though the issue of such a document at such a time would have been open to question, it might nevertheless have been defended.  His Holiness, however, did nothing of the kind.  No hint was let fall of the existence of any minatory brief; he sustained his pretence of good will, till there was no longer any occasion for him to counterfeit; and two months later it suddenly appeared on the doors of the churches in Flanders.

Henry at first believed it to be forgery, One forged brief had already been produced by the imperialists in the course of their transactions, and he imagined that this was another; even his past experience of Clement had not prepared him for this last venture of effrontery; he wrote to Bennet, enclosing a copy, and requiring him to ascertain if it were really genuine.

The pope could not deny his hand, though the exposure, and the strange irregular character of the brief itself troubled him, and Bonner, who was again at the papal court, said that “he was in manner ashamed, and in great perplexity what he might do therein."

His conduct will be variously interpreted, and to attempt to analyse the motives of a double-minded man is always a hazardous experiment; but a comparison of date, the character of Clement himself, the circumstances in which he was placed, and the retrospective evidence from after events, points almost necessarily to but one interpretation.  It is scarcely disputable that, frightened at the reception of Anne Boleyn in France, the pope found it necessary to pretend for a time an altered disposition towards Henry; and that the emperor, unable to feel wholly confident that a person who was false to others was true to himself, had exacted the brief from him as a guarantee for his good faith; Charles, on his side, reserving the publication until Francis had been gained over, and until Clement was screened against the danger which he so justly feared, from the consequences of the interview at Calais.

There was duplicity of a kind; this cannot be denied; and if not designed to effect this object, this object in fact it answered.  While Clement was talking smoothly to Bennet and Cassalis, secret overtures were advanced at Paris for a meeting at Nice between the pope, the emperor, and the King of France, from which Henry was to be excluded. The emperor made haste with concessions to Francis, which but a few months before would have seemed impossible.  He withdrew his army out of Lombardy, and left Italy free; he consented to the marriage which he had so earnestly opposed between Catherine de Medici and the Duke of Orleans, agreeing also, it is probable, to the contingency of the Duchy of Milan becoming ultimately her dowry.  And Francis having coquetted with the proposal for the Nice meeting, not indeed accepting, but not absolutely rejecting it, Charles consented also to waive his objections to the interview between Francis and the pope, on which he had looked hitherto with so much suspicion; provided that the pope would bear in mind some mysterious and unknown communication which had passed at Bologna.

Thus was Francis won.  He cared only, as the pope had seen, for his own interests; and from this time he drew away, by imperceptible degrees, from his engagements to England.  He did not stoop to dishonour or treacherous betrayal of confidence, for with all his faults he was, in the technical acceptation of that misused term, a gentleman.  He declined only to maintain the attitude which, if he had continued in it, would have compelled the pope to yield; and although he continued honestly to urge him to make concessions, he no longer affected to make them the price of preserving France in allegiance to the Holy See.  Nor need we regret that Francis shrank from a resolution which Henry had no right to require of him.  To have united with France in a common schism at the crisis of the Reformation would have only embarrassed the free motions of England; and two nations whose interests and whose tendencies were essentially opposite, might not submit to be linked together by the artificial interests of their princes.  The populace of England were unconsciously on the rapid road to Protestantism.  The populace of France were fanatically Catholic.  England was to go her way through a golden era of Elizabeth to Cromwell, the Puritans, and a Protestant republic; a republic to be perpetuated, if not in England herself, yet among her great children beyond the sea.  France was to go her way through Bartholomew massacres and the dragonnades to a polished Louis the Magnificent, and thence to the bloody Medea’s cauldron of Revolution, out of which she was to rise as now we know her.  No common road could have been found for such destinies as these; and the French prince followed the direction of his wiser instincts when he preferred a quiet arrangement with the pope, in virtue of which his church should be secured by treaty the liberties which she desired, to a doubtful struggle for a freedom which his people neither wished nor approved.  The interests of the nation were in fact his own.  He could ill afford to forsake a religion which allowed him so pleasantly to compound for his amatory indulgences by the estrapade and a zeal for orthodoxy.

It became evident to Henry early in the spring that he was left substantially alone.  His marriage had been kept secret with the intention that it should be divulged by the King of France to the pope when he met him at Marseilles; and as the pope had pretended an anxiety that either the King of England should be present in person at that interview, or should be represented by an ambassador of adequate rank, a train had been equipped for the occasion, the most magnificent which England could furnish.  Time, meanwhile, passed on; the meeting, which was to have taken place first in January, and then in April, was delayed till October, and in the interval the papal brief had appeared in Flanders; the queen’s pregnancy could not admit of concealment; and the evident proof which appeared that France was no longer to be depended upon, convinced the English government that they had nothing to hope for from abroad, and that Henry’s best resources were to be found, where in fact they had always been, in the strength and affection of his own people.

From this choking atmosphere, therefore, we now turn back to England and the English parliament; and the change is from darkness to light, from death to life.  Here was no wavering, no uncertainty, no smiling faces with false hearts behind them; but the steady purpose of resolute men, who slowly, and with ever opening vision, bore the nation forward to the fair future which was already dawning.

Parliament met at the beginning of February, a few days after the king’s marriage, which, however, still remained a secret.  It is, I think, no slight evidence of the calmness with which the statesmen of the day proceeded with their work, that in a session so momentous, in a session in which the decisive blow was to be struck of the most serious revolution through which the country as yet had passed, they should have first settled themselves calmly down to transact what was then the ordinary business of legislation, the struggle with the vital evils of society.  The first nine statutes which were passed in this session were economic acts to protect the public against the frauds of money-making tradesmen; to provide that shoes and boots should be made of honest leather; that food should be sold at fair prices, that merchants should part with their goods at fair profits; to compel, or as far as the legislature was able to do it, to compel all classes of persons to be true men; to deal honestly with each other, in that high Quixotic sense of honesty which requires good subjects at all times and under all circumstances to consider the interests of the commonwealth as more important than their own.  I have already spoken of this economic legislation, and I need not dwell now upon details of it; although under some aspects it may be thought that more which is truly valuable in English history lies in these unobtrusive statutes than in all our noisy wars, reformations, and revolutions.  The history of this as of all other nations (or so much of it as there is occasion for any of us to know), is the history of the battles which it has fought and won with evil; not with political evil merely, or spiritual evil; but with all manifestations whatsoever of the devil’s power.  And to have beaten back, or even to have struggled against and stemmed in ever so small a degree those besetting basenesses of human nature, now held so invincible that the influences of them are assumed as the fundamental axioms of economic science; this appears to me a greater victory than Agincourt, a grander triumph of wisdom and faith and courage than even the English constitution or the English liturgy.  Such a history, however, lies beside the purpose which I may here permit myself; and the two acts with which the session closed, alone in this place require our attention.

The first of these is one of the many “Acts of Apparel,” which are to be found in the early volumes of the statute book.  The meaning of these laws becomes intelligible when we reflect upon the condition of the people.  The English were an organised nation of soldiers; they formed an army perpetually ready for the field, where the degrees were determined by social position; and the dresses prescribed to the various orders of society were the graduated uniforms which indicated the rank of the wearers.  When every man was a soldier, and every gentleman was an officer, the same causes existed for marking, by costume, the distinctions of authority, which lead to the answering differences in the modern regiments.

The changing conditions of the country at the time of the Reformation, the growth of a middle class, with no landed possessions, yet made wealthy by trade or other industry, had tended necessarily to introduce confusion; and the policy of this reign, which was never more markedly operative than during the most critical periods of it, was to reinvigorate the discipline of the feudal system; and pending the growth of what might better suit the age, pending the great struggle in which the nation was engaged, to hold every man at his post.  The statute specifies its object, and the motives with which it was passed.

“Whereas,” says the preamble, “divers laws, ordinances, and statutes have been with great deliberation and advice provided and established for the necessary repressing and avoiding the inordinate excess daily more and more used in the sumptuous and costly array and apparel accustomably worn in this realm, whereof hath ensued, and daily do chance such sundry high and notable inconveniences as be to the great and notorious detriment of the commonweal, the subversion of politic order in knowledge and distinction of people according to their preeminence and degrees, to the utter impoverishment and undoing of many light and inexpert persons inclined to pride, the mother of all vices:  Be it enacted," but I need not enter into the particulars of the uniforms worn by the nobles and gentlemen of the court of Henry VIII.; the temper, not the detail, is of importance; and of the wisdom or unwisdom of such enactments, we who live in a changed age should be cautious of forming a hasty opinion.  The ends which the old legislation proposed to itself, have in latter ages been resigned as impracticable.  We are therefore no longer adequate judges how far those ends may in other times have been attainable, and we can still less judge of the means through which the attainment of them was sought.

The second act of which I have to speak is open to no such ambiguity; it remains among the few which are and will be of perpetual moment in our national history.  The conduct of the pope had forced upon the parliament the reconsideration of the character of his supremacy; and when the question had once been asked, in the existing state of feeling but one answer to it was possible.

The authority of the church over the state, the supreme kingship of Christ, and consequently of him who was held to be Christ’s vicar, above all worldly sovereignties, was an established reality of mediaeval Europe.  The princes had with difficulty preserved their jurisdiction in matters purely secular; while in matters spiritual, and in that vast section of human affairs in which the spiritual and the secular glide one into the other, they had been compelled all such of them as lay within the pale of the Latin communion to acknowledge a power superior to their own.  To the popes was the ultimate appeal in all causes of which the spiritual courts had cognisance.  Their jurisdiction had been extended by an unwavering pursuit of a single policy, and their constancy in the twelfth century was rewarded by absolute victory.  In England, however, the field was no sooner won than it was again disputed, and the civil government gave way at last only when the danger seemed to have ceased.  So long as the papacy was feared, so long as the successors of St. Peter held a sword which could inflict sensible wounds, and enforce obedience by penalties, the English kings had resisted both the theory and the application.  While the pope was dangerous he was dreaded and opposed.  When age had withered his arm, and the feeble lightnings flickered in harmless insignificance, they consented to withdraw their watchfulness, and his supremacy was silently allowed as an innocent superstition.  It existed as some other institutions exist at the present day, with a merely nominal authority; with a tacit understanding, that the power which it was permitted to retain should be exerted only in conformity with the national will.

Under these conditions the Tudor princes became loyal subjects to the Holy See, and so they would have willingly remained, had not Clement, in an evil hour for himself, forgotten the terms of the compact.  He laid upon a legal fiction a strain which his predecessors, in their palmiest days, would have feared to attempt; and the nation, after grave remonstrance, which was only received with insults, exorcised the chimaera with a few resolute words for ever.  The parliament, in asserting the freedom of England, carefully chose their language.  They did not pass a new law, but they passed an act declaratory merely of the law which already existed, and which they were vindicating against illegal encroachment.  “Whereas,” says the Statute of Appeals, “by divers sundry old authentic histories and chronicles, it is manifestly declared and expressed that this realm of England is an empire, and so hath been accepted in the world; governed by one supreme head and king, having the dignity and royal estate of the imperial crown of the same; unto whom a body politic compact of all sorts and degrees of people, divided in terms by names of spiritualty and temporalty, be bound and ought to bear, next to God, a natural and humble obedience:  he being also institute and furnished by the goodness and sufferance of Almighty God with plenary, whole, and entire power, pre-eminence and authority, prerogative and jurisdiction, to render and yield justice and final determination to all manner of folk resident or subject within this his realm, without restraint or provocation to any foreign prince or potentate of the world:  the body spiritual whereof having power when any cause of the law divine happened to come in question, or of spiritual learning, [such cause being] declared, interpret, and shewed by that part of the body politic called the spiritualty, now usually called the English church; (which also hath been reported and also found of that sort, that both for knowledge, integrity, and sufficiency of numbers, it hath been always thought to be, and is also at this hour sufficient and meet of itself, without the interfering of any exterior person or persons, to declare and determine all such doubts, and to administer all such offices and duties as to the administration of their rooms spiritual doth appertain):  and the laws temporal, for trial of property of lands and goods, and for the conservation of the people of this realm in unity and peace, having been and yet being administered, adjudged, and executed by sundry judges and administers of the said body politic called the temporalty:  and seeing that both these authorities and jurisdictions do conjoin together for the due administration of justice, the one to help the other:  and whereas the king’s most noble progenitors, and the nobility and commons of this said realm at divers and sundry parliaments, as well in the time of King Edward I., Edward III., Richard II., Henry IV., and other noble kings of this realm, made sundry ordinances, laws, and provisions for the conservation of the prerogatives, liberties, and pre-éminences of the imperial crown of this realm, and of the jurisdiction spiritual and temporal of the same, to keep it from the annoyance as well of the see of Rome as from the authority of other foreign potentates attempting the diminution or violation thereof, as often as from time to time any such annoyance or attempt might be known or espied:  and notwithstanding the said good statutes and ordinances, and since the making thereof, divers inconveniences and dangers not provided for plainly by the said statutes, have risen and sprung by reason of appeals sued out of this realm to the see of Rome, in causes testamentary, causes of matrimony and divorce, right of tithes, oblations, and obventions, not only to the great inquietation, vexation, trouble, costs, and charges of the King’s Highness, and many of his subjects and residents in this his realm; but also to the delay and let of the speedy determination of the said causes, for so much as parties appealing to the said court of Rome most commonly do the same for the delay of justice; and forasmuch as the great distance of way is so far out of this realm, so that the necessary proofs, nor the true knowledge of the causes, can neither there be so well known, nor the witnesses so well examined there as within this realm, so that the parties grieved by means of the said appeals be most times without remedy; in consideration hereof, all testamentary and matrimonial causes, and all suits for tithes, oblations, and obventions shall henceforth be adjudged in the spiritual and temporal courts within the realm, without regard to any process of foreign jurisdiction, or any inhibition, excommunication, or interdict.  Persons procuring processes, inhibitions, appeals, or citations from the court of Rome, as well as their fautors, comforters, counsellors, aiders and abettors, all and every of them shall incur the penalties of premunire; and in all such cases as have hitherto admitted of appeal to Rome, the appeals shall be from the Archdeacon’s court to the Bishop’s court, from the Bishop’s court to that of the Archbishop, and no further."

The act was carried through Parliament in February, but again, as with the Annates Bill, the king delayed his sanction till the post could reach and return from the Vatican.  The Bishop of Bayonne wrote that there was hope that Clement might yet give way, and entreated that the king would send an “excusator,” a person formally empowered to protest for him that he could not by the laws of England plead at a foreign tribunal; and that with this imperfect recognition of his authority the pope would be satisfied.

Chastillon, the French ambassador, had an interview with the king, to communicate the bishop’s message.

“The morning after,” Chastillon wrote, “his Majesty sent for me and desired me to repeat my words before the council.  I obeyed; but the majority declared, that there was nothing in them to act upon, and that the king must not put himself in subjection.  His Majesty himself, too, I found less warm than in his preceding conversation.  I begged the council to be patient.  I said everything that I could think of likely to weigh with the king, I promised him a sentence from our Holy Father declaring his first marriage null, his present marriage good.  I urged him on all grounds, public and private, to avoid a rupture with the Holy See.  Such a sentence, I said, would be the best security for the queen, and the safest guarantee for the unopposed succession of her offspring.  If the marriage was confirmed by the Holy Father’s authority, the queen’s enemies would lose the only ground where they could make a stand.  The peace of the realm was now menaced.  The emperor talked loudly and made large preparations.  Let the king be allied with France, and through France with the Holy See, and the emperor could do him no harm.  Thus I said my proposals were for the benefit of the realm of his Majesty, and of the children who might be born to him.  The king would act more prudently both for his own interest, and for the interest of his children, in securing himself, than in running a risk of creating universal confusion; and, besides, he owed something to the king his brother, who had worked so long and so hard for him.

“After some further conversation, his Majesty took me aside into a garden, where he told me that for himself he agreed in what I had said; but he begged me to keep his confidence secret.  He fears, I think, to appear to condescend too easily.

“He will not, however, publish the acts of parliament till he sees what is done at Rome.  The vast sums of money which used to be sent out of the country will go no longer; but in other respects he will be glad to return to good terms.  He will send the excusator when he hears again from M. de Paris; and for myself, I think, that although the whole country is in a blaze against the pope, yet with the good will and assistance of the king, the Holy Father will be reinstated in the greater part of his prerogatives.”

But the hope that the pope would yield proved again delusive.  Henry wrote to him himself in the spirit of his conversation with Chastillon.  His letter was presented by Cardinal Tournon, and Clement said all that could be said in acknowledgment without making the one vital concession.  But whenever it was put before him that the cause must be heard and decided in England and in no other place, he talked in the old language of uncertainty and impossibilities; and Henry learning at the same time that a correspondence was going forward between Clement and Francis, with the secrets of which he was not made acquainted, went forward upon his own way.  April brought with it the certainty that the expected concessions were delusive.  Anne Boleyn’s pregnancy made further delay impossible.  D’Inteville, who had succeeded Chastillon as French ambassador, once more attempted to interfere, but in vain.  Henry told him he could not help himself, the pope forced him to the course which he was pursuing, by the answer which he had been pleased to issue; and he could only encounter enmity with its own weapons.  “The archbishop,” d’Inteville wrote to Francis, “will try the question, and will give judgment.  I entreated the king to wait till the conference at Nice, but he would not consent.  I prayed him to keep the sentence secret till the pope had seen your Majesty; he replied it was impossible."

Thus the statute became law which transferred to the English courts of law the power so long claimed and exercised by the Roman see.  There are two aspects under which it may be regarded, as there were two objects for which it was passed.  Considered as a national act, few persons will now deny that it was as just in itself as it was politically desirable.  If the pope had no jurisdiction over English subjects, it was well that he should be known to have none; if he had, it was equally well that such jurisdiction should cease.  The question was not of communion between the English and Roman churches, which might or might not continue, but which this act would not affect.  The pope might still retain his rights of episcopal precedency, whatever those might be, with all the privileges attached to it.  The parliament merely declared that he possessed no right of interference in domestic disputes affecting persons and property.

But the act had a special as well as a national bearing, and here it is less easy to arrive at a just conclusion.  It destroyed the validity of Queen Catherine’s appeal; it placed a legal power in the hands of the English judges to proceed to pass sentence upon the divorce; and it is open to the censure which we ever feel entitled to pass upon a measure enacted to meet the particular position of a particular person.  When embarrassments have arisen from unforeseen causes, we have a right to legislate to prevent a repetition of those embarrassments.  Our instincts tell us that no legislation should be retrospective, and should affect only positions which have been entered into with a full knowledge at the time of the condition of the laws.

The statute endeavours to avoid the difficulty by its declaratory form; but again this is unsatisfactory; for that the pope possessed some authority was substantially acknowledged in every application which was made to him; and when Catherine had married under a papal dispensation, it was a strange thing to turn upon her, and to say, not only that the dispensation in the particular instance had been unlawfully granted, but that the pope had no jurisdiction in the matter by the laws of the land which she had entered.

On the other hand, throughout the entire negotiations King Henry and his ministers had insisted jealously on the English privileges.  They had declared from the first that they might, if they so pleased, fall back upon their own laws.  In desiring that the cause might be heard by a papal legate in England, they had represented themselves rather as condescending to a form than acknowledging a right; and they had, in fact, in allowing the opening of Campeggio’s court, fallen, all of them, even Henry himself, under the penalties of the statutes of provisors.  The validity of Catherine’s appeal they had always consistently denied.  If the papal jurisdiction was to be admitted at all, it could only be through a minister sitting as judge within the realm of England; and the maxim, “Ne Angli extra Angliam litigare cogantur,” was insisted upon as the absolute privilege of every English subject.

Yet, if we allow full weight to these considerations, a feeling of painful uncertainty continues to cling to us; and in ordinary cases to be uncertain on such a point is to be in reality certain.  The state of the law could not have been clear, or the statute of appeals would not have been required; and explain it as we may, it was in fact passed for a special cause against a special person; and that person a woman.

How far the parliament was justified by the extremity of the case is a further question, which it is equally difficult to answer.  The alternative, as I have repeatedly said, was an all but inevitable civil war, on the death of the king; and practically, when statesmen are entrusted with the fortunes of an empire, the responsibility is too heavy to allow them to consider other interests.  Salus populi suprema lex, ever has been and ever will be the substantial canon of policy with public men, and morality is bound to hesitate before it censures them.  There are some acts of injustice which no national interest can excuse, however great in itself that interest may be, or however certain to be attained by the means proposed.  Yet government, in its easiest tax, trenches to a certain extent on natural right and natural freedom; and trenches further and further in proportion to the emergency with which it has to deal.  How far it may go in this direction, or whether Henry VIII. and his parliament went too far, is a difficult problem; their best justification is an exceptive clause introduced into the act, which was intended obviously to give Queen Catherine the utmost advantage which was consistent with the liberties of the realm.  “In case,” says the concluding paragraph, “of any cause, or matter, or contention now depending for the causes before rehearsed, or that hereafter shall come into contention for any of the same causes in any of the foresaid courts, which hath, doth, shall, or may touch the king, his heirs or successors, kings of this realm; in all or every such case or cases the party grieved as aforesaid shall or may appeal from any of the said courts of this realm, to the spiritual prelates and other abbots and priors of the Upper House, assembled and convocate by the king’s writ in convocation." If Catherine’s cause was as just as Catholics and English high churchmen are agreed to consider it, the English church might have saved her.  If Catherine herself had thought first or chiefly of justice, she would not perhaps have accepted the arbitration of the English convocation; but long years before she would have been in a cloister.

Thus it is that while we regret, we are unable to blame; and we cannot wish undone an act, to have shrunk from which might have spared a single heart, but might have wrecked the English nation.  We increase our pity for Catherine because she was a princess.  We measure the magnitude of the evils which human beings endure by their position in the scale of society; and misfortunes which private persons would be expected to bear without excessive complaining, furnish matter for the lamentation of ages when they touch the sacred head which has been circled with a diadem.  Let it be so.  Let us compensate the queen’s sorrows with unstinted sympathy; but let us not trifle with history, by confusing a political necessity with a moral crime.

The English parliament, then, had taken up the gauntlet which the pope had flung to it with trembling fingers:  and there remained nothing but for the Archbishop of Canterbury to make use of the power of which by law he was now possessed.  And the time was pressing, for the new queen was enciente, and further concealment was not to be thought of.  The delay of the interview between the pope and Francis, and the change in the demeanour of the latter, which had become palpably evident, discharged Henry of all promises by which he might have bound himself; and to hesitate before the menaces of the pope’s brief would have been fatal.

The act of appeals being passed, convocation was the authority to which the power of determining unsettled points of spiritual law seemed to have lapsed.  In the month of April, therefore, Cranmer, now Archbishop of Canterbury, submitted to it the two questions, on the resolution of which the sentence which he was to pass was dependent.

The first had been already answered separately by the bench of bishops and by the universities, and had been agitated from end to end of Europe was it lawful to marry the widow of a brother dying without issue, but having consummated his marriage; and was the Levitical prohibition of such a marriage grounded on a divine law, with which the pope could not dispense, or on a canon law of which a dispensation was permissible?

The pope had declared himself unable to answer; but he had allowed that the general opinion was against the power of dispensing, and there could be little doubt, therefore, of the reply of the English convocation, or at least of the upper house.  Fisher attempted an opposition; but wholly without effect.  The, question was one in which the interests of the higher clergy were not concerned, and they were therefore left to the dominion of their ordinary understandings.  Out of two hundred and sixty-three votes, nineteen only were in the pope’s favour.

The lower house was less unanimous, as might have been expected, and as had been experienced before; the opposition spirit of the English clergy being usually then, as much as now, in the ratio of their poverty.  But there too the nature of the case compelled an overwhelming majority. It was decided by both houses that Pope Julius, in granting a licence for the marriage of Henry and Catherine, had exceeded his authority, and that this marriage was therefore, ab initio, void.

The other question to be decided was one of fact; whether the marriage of Catherine with Prince Arthur had or had not been consummated, a matter which the Catholic divines conceived to be of paramount importance, but which to few persons at the present day will seem of any importance whosoever.  We cannot even read the evidence which was produced without a sensation of disgust, although in those broader and less conscious ages the indelicacy was less obviously perceptible.  And we may console ourselves with the hope that the discussion was not so wounding as might have been expected to the feelings of Queen Catherine, since at all official interviews, with all classes of persons, at all times and in all places, she appeared herself to court the subject. There is no occasion in this place to follow her example.  It is enough that Ferdinand, at the time of her first marriage, satisfied himself, after curious inquiry, that he might hope for a grandchild; and that the fact of the consummation was asserted in the treaty between England and Spain, which preceded the marriage with Henry, and in this supposed brief of Pope Julius which permitted it. We cannot in consequence be surprised that the convocation accepted the conclusion which was sanctioned by so high authority, and we rather wonder at the persistency of Catherine’s denials.  With respect to this vote, therefore, we need notice nothing except that Dr. Clerk, Bishop of Bath and Wells was one of an exceedingly small minority, who were inclined to believe that the denial might be true, and this bishop was one of the four who were associated with Cranmer when he sate at Dunstable for the trial of the cause.

The ground being thus opened, and all preparations being completed, the archbishop composed a formal letter to the king, in which he dwelt upon the uncertain prospects of the succession, and the danger of leaving a question which closely affected it so long unsettled.  He expatiated at length on the general anxiety which was felt throughout the realm, and requested permission to employ the powers attached to his office to bring it to some conclusion.  The recent alterations had rendered the archbishop something doubtful of the nature of his position; he was diffident and unwilling to offend; and not clearly knowing in the exercise of the new authority which had been granted to him, whether the extension of his power was accompanied with a parallel extension of liberty in making use of it, he wrote two copies of this letter, with slight alterations of language, that the king might select between them the one which he would officially recognise.  Both these copies are extant; both were written the same day from the same place; both were folded, sealed, and sent.  It seems, therefore, that neither was Cranmer furnished beforehand with a draught of what he was to write; nor was his first letter sent back to him corrected.  He must have acted by his own judgment; and a comparison of the two letters is singular and instructive.  In the first he spoke of his office and duty in language, chastened indeed and modest, but still language of independence; and while he declared his unwillingness to “enterprise any part of that office” without his Grace’s favour obtained, and pleasure therein first known, he implied nevertheless that his request was rather of courtesy than of obligation, and had arisen rather from a sense of moral propriety than because he might not legally enter on the exercise of his duty without the permission of the crown.

The moderate gleam of freedom vanishes in the other copy under a few pithy changes, as if Cranmer instinctively felt the revolution which had taken place in the relations of church and state.  Where in the first letter he asked for his Grace’s favour, in the second he asked for his Grace’s favour and licence where in the first he requested to know his Grace’s pleasure as to his proceeding, in the second he desired his Most Excellent Majesty to license him to proceed.  The burden of both letters was the same, but the introduction of the little word license changed all.  It implied a hesitating belief that the spiritual judges might perhaps thenceforward be on a footing with the temporal judges and the magistrates; that under the new constitution they were to understand that they held their offices not directly under God as they had hitherto pretended, but under God through the crown.

The answer of Henry indicated that he had perceived the archbishop’s uncertainty; and that he was desirous by the emphatic distinctness of his own language to spare him a future recurrence of it.  He accepted the deferential version of the petition; but even Cranmer’s anticipation of what might be required of him had not reached the reality.  In running through the preamble, the king flung into the tone of it a character of still deeper humility; and he conceded the desired licence in the following imperial style.  “In consideration of these things,” i.e. of the grounds urged by the archbishop for the petition “albeit we being your King and Sovereign, do recognise no superior on earth but only God, and not being subject to the laws of any earthly creature; yet because ye be under us, by God’s calling and ours, the most principal minister of our spiritual jurisdiction within this our Realm, who we think assuredly is so in the fear of God, and love towards the observance of his laws, to the which laws, we as a Christian king have always heretofore, and shall ever most obediently submit ourself, we will not therefore refuse (our pre-eminence, power, and authority to us and to our successors in this behalf nevertheless saved) your humble request, offer, and towardness that is, to mean to make an end according to the will and pleasure of Almighty God in our said great cause of matrimony, which hath so long depended undetermined, to our great and grievous unquietness and burden of our conscience.  Wherefore we, inclining to your humble petition, by these our letters sealed with our seal, and signed with our sign manual, do license you to proceed in the said cause, and the examination and final determination of the same; not doubting but that ye will have God and the justice of the said cause only before your eyes, and not to regard any earthly or worldly affection therein; for assuredly the thing which we most covet in the world, is so to proceed in all our acts and doings as may be the most acceptable to the pleasure of Almighty God our Creator, to the wealth and honour of us, our successors and posterity, and the surety of our Realm, and subjects within the same."

The vision of ecclesiastical independence, if Cranmer had indulged in it, must have faded utterly before his eyes on receiving this letter.  As clergy who committed felony were no longer exempted from the penalties of their crimes; so henceforward the courts of the clergy were to fell into conformity with the secular tribunals.  The temporal prerogatives of ecclesiastics as a body whose authority over the laity was countervailed with no reciprocal obligation, existed no longer.  This is what the language of the king implied.  The difficulty which the persons whom he was addressing experienced in realising the change in their position, obliged him to be somewhat emphatic in his assertion of it; and it might be imagined at first sight, that in insisting on his superiority to the officers of the spiritual courts, he claimed a right to dictate their sentences.  But to venture such a supposition would be to mistake the nature of English sovereignty and the spirit of the change.  The supreme authority in England was the law; and the king no more possessed, or claimed a power of controlling the judgment of the bishops or their ministers, than he could interfere with the jurisdiction of the judges of the bench.  All persons in authority, whether in church or state, held their offices thenceforth by similar tenure; but the rule of the proceedings in each remained alike the law of the land, which Henry had no more thought of superseding by his own will than the most constitutional of modern princes.

The closing sentences of his reply to Cranmer are striking, and it is difficult to believe that he did not mean what he was saying.  From the first step in the process to the last, he maintained consistently that his only object was to do what was right.  He was thoroughly persuaded that the course which he was pursuing was sanctioned by justice and persons who are satisfied that he was entitled to feel such persuasion, need not refuse him the merit of sincerity, because (to use the language which Cromwell used at the fatal crisis of his life) “It may be well that they who medelle in many matters are not able to answer for them all.”

Cranmer, then, being fortified with this permission, and taking with him the Bishops of London, Winchester, Lincoln, and Bath and Wells (the latter perhaps having been chosen in consequence of his late conduct in the convocation, to give show of fairness to the proceeding), went down to Dunstable and opened his court there.  The queen was at Ampthill, six miles distant, having entered on her sad tenancy, it would seem, as soon as the place had been evacuated by the gaudy hunting party of the preceding summer.  The cause being undecided, and her title being therefore uncertain, she was called by the safe name of “the Lady Catherine,” and under this designation she was served with a citation from the archbishop to appear before him on Saturday, the 10th of May.  The bearers of the summons were Sir Francis Bryan (an unfortunate choice, for he was cousin of the new queen, and insolent in his manner and bearing), Sir Thomas Gage, and Lord Vaux.  She received them like herself with imperial sorrow.  They delivered their message; she announced that she refused utterly to acknowledge the competency of the tribunal before which she was called; the court was a mockery; the archbishop was a shadow. She would neither appear before him in person, nor commission any one to appear on her behalf.

The court had but one course before it she was pronounced contumacious, and the trial went forward.  None of her household were tempted even by curiosity to be present.  “There came not so much as a servant of hers to Dunstable, save such as were brought in as witnesses;” some of them having been required to give evidence in the re-examination which was thought necessary, as to the nature of the relation of their mistress with her first boy husband.  As soon as this disgusting question had been sufficiently investigated, nothing remained but to pronounce judgment.  The marriage with the king was declared to have been null and void from the beginning, and on the 23rd of May, the archbishop sent to London the welcome news that the long matter was at an end.

It was over; over at last; yet so over, that the conclusion could but appear to the losing party a fresh injustice.  To those who were concerned in bringing it to pass, to the king himself, to the nation, to Europe, to every one who heard of it at the time, it must have appeared, as it appears now to us who read the story of it, if a necessity, yet a most unwelcome and unsatisfying one.  That the king remained uneasy is evident from the efforts which he continued to make, or which he allowed to be made, notwithstanding the brief of the 23rd of December, to gain the sanction of the pope.  That the nation was uneasy, we should not require the evidence of history to tell us.  “There was much murmuring in England,” says Hall, “and it was thought by the unwise that the Bishop of Rome would curse all Englishmen; that the emperor and he would destroy all the people.”  And those who had no such fears, and whose judgment in the main approved of what had been done, were scandalised at the presentation to them at the instant of the publication of the divorce, of a new queen, four months advanced in pregnancy.  This also was a misfortune which had arisen out of the chain of duplicities, a fresh accident swelling a complication which was already sufficiently entangled.  It had been occasioned by steps which at the moment at which they were ventured, prudence seemed to justify; but we the more regret it, because, in comparison with the interests which were at issue, the few months of additional delay were infinitely unimportant.

Nevertheless, we have reason to be thankful that the thing, well or ill, was over; seven years of endurance were enough for the English nation, and may be supposed to have gained even for Henry a character for patience.  In some way, too, it is needless to say, the thing must have ended.  The life of none of us is long enough to allow us to squander so large a section of it struggling in the meshes of a law-suit; and although there may be a difference of opinion on the wisdom of having first entered upon ground of such a kind, few thinking persons can suggest any other method in which either the nation or the king could have extricated themselves.  Meanwhile, it was resolved that such spots and blemishes as hung about the transaction should be forgotten in the splendour of the coronation.  If there was scandal in the condition of the queen, yet under another aspect that condition was matter of congratulation to a people so eager for an heir; and Henry may have thought that the sight for the first time in public of so beautiful a creature, surrounded by the most magnificent pageant which London had witnessed since the unknown day on which the first stone of it was laid, and bearing in her bosom the long-hoped-for inheritor of the English crown, might induce a chivalrous nation to forget what it was the interest of no loyal subject to remember longer, and to offer her an English welcome to the throne.

In anticipation of the timely close of the proceedings at Dunstable, notice had been given in the city early in May, that preparations should be made for the coronation on the first of the following month.  Queen Anne was at Greenwich, but, according to custom, the few preceding days were to be spent at the Tower; and on the 19th of May, she was conducted thither in state by the lord mayor and the city companies, with one of those splendid exhibitions upon the water which in the days when the silver Thames deserved its name, and the sun could shine down upon it out of the blue summer sky, were spectacles scarcely rivalled in gorgeousness by the world-famous wedding of the Adriatic.  The river was crowded with boats, the banks and the ships in the pool swarmed with people; and fifty great barges formed the procession, all blazing with gold and banners.  The queen herself was in her own barge, close to that of the lord mayor; and in keeping with the fantastic genius of the time, she was preceded up the water by “a foyst or wafter full or ordnance, in which was a great dragon continually moving and casting wildfire, and round about the foyst stood terrible monsters and wild men, casting fire and making hideous noise." So, with trumpets blowing, cannon pealing, the Tower guns answering the guns of the ships, in a blaze of fireworks and splendour, Anne Boleyn was borne along to the great archway of the Tower, where the king was waiting on the stairs to receive her.

And now let us suppose eleven days to have elapsed, the welcome news to have arrived at length from Dunstable, and the fair summer morning of life dawning in treacherous beauty after the long night of expectation.  No bridal ceremonial had been possible; the marriage had been huddled over like a stolen love-match, and the marriage feast had been eaten in vexation and disappointment.  These past mortifications were to be atoned for by a coronation pageant which the art and the wealth of the richest city in Europe should be poured out in the most lavish profusion to adorn.

On the morning of the 31st of May, the families of the London citizens were stirring early in all houses.  From Temple Bar to the Tower, the streets were fresh strewed with gravel, the footpaths were railed off along the whole distance, and occupied on one side by the guilds, their workmen, and apprentices, on the other by the city constables and officials in their gaudy uniforms, “with their staves in hand for to cause the people to keep good room and order." Cornhill and Gracechurch Street had dressed their fronts in scarlet and crimson, in arras and tapestry, and the rich carpet-work from Persia and the East.  Cheapside, to outshine her rivals, was draped even more splendidly in cloth of gold, and tissue, and velvet.  The sheriffs were pacing up and down on their great Flemish horses, hung with liveries, and all the windows were thronged with ladies crowding to see the procession pass.  At length the Tower guns opened, the grim gates rolled back, and under the archway in the bright May sunshine, the long column began slowly to defile.  Two states only permitted their representatives to grace the scene with their presence Venice and France.  It was, perhaps, to make the most of this isolated countenance, that the French ambassador’s train formed the van of the cavalcade.  Twelve French knights came riding foremost in surcoats of blue velvet with sleeves of yellow silk, their horses trapped in blue, with white crosses powdered on their hangings.  After them followed a troop of English gentlemen, two and two, and then the Knights of the Bath, “in gowns of violet, with hoods purfled with miniver like doctors.”  Next, perhaps at a little interval, the abbots passed on, mitred in their robes; the barons followed in crimson velvet, the bishops then, and then the earls and marquises, the dresses of each order increasing in elaborate gorgeousness.  All these rode on in pairs.  Then came alone Audeley, lord-chancellor, and behind him the Venetian ambassador and the Archbishop of York; the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Du Bellay, Bishop of Bayonne and of Paris, not now with bugle and hunting-frock, but solemn with stole and crozier.  Next, the lord mayor, with the city mace in hand, the Garter in his coat of arms; and then Lord William Howard Belted Will Howard, of the Scottish Border, Marshal of England.  The officers of the queen’s household succeeded the marshal in scarlet and gold, and the van of the procession was closed by the Duke of Suffolk, as high constable, with his silver wand.  It is no easy matter to picture to ourselves the blazing trail of splendour which in such a pageant must have drawn along the London streets, those streets which now we know so black and smoke-grimed, themselves then radiant with masses of colour, gold, and crimson, and violet.  Yet there it was, and there the sun could shine upon it, and tens of thousands of eyes were gazing on the scene out of the crowded lattices.

Glorious as the spectacle was, perhaps however, it passed unheeded.  Those eyes were watching all for another object, which now drew near.  In an open space behind the constable there was seen approaching “a white chariot,” drawn by two palfreys in white damask which swept the ground, a golden canopy borne above it making music with silver bells:  and in the chariot sat the observed of all observers, the beautiful occasion of all this glittering homage; fortune’s plaything of the hour, the Queen of England queen at last borne along upon the waves of this sea of glory, breathing the perfumed incense of greatness which she had risked her fair name, her delicacy, her honour, her self-respect, to win; and she had won it.

There she sate, dressed in white tissue robes, her fair hair flowing loose over her shoulders, and her temples circled with a light coronet of gold and diamonds most beautiful loveliest most favoured perhaps, as she seemed at that hour, of all England’s daughters.  Alas! “within the hollow round” of that coronet

  Kept death his court, and there the antick sate,   Scoffing her state and grinning at her pomp.    Allowing her a little breath, a little scene   To monarchise, be feared, and kill with looks,   Infusing her with self and vain conceit,   As if the flesh which walled about her life   Were brass impregnable; and humoured thus,   Bored through her castle walls; and farewell, Queen.

Fatal gift of greatness! so dangerous ever! so more than dangerous in those tremendous times when the fountains are broken loose of the great deeps of thought; and nations are in the throes of revolution; when ancient order and law and tradition are splitting in the social earthquake; and as the opposing forces wrestle to and fro, those unhappy ones who stand out above the crowd become the symbols of the struggle, and fall the victims of its alternating fortunes.  And what if into an unsteady heart and brain, intoxicated with splendour, the outward chaos should find its way, converting the poor silly soul into an image of the same confusion, if conscience should be deposed from her high place, and the Pandora box be broken loose of passions and sensualities and follies; and at length there be nothing left of all which man or woman ought to value, save hope of God’s forgiveness.

Three short years have yet to pass, and again, on a summer morning, Queen Anne Boleyn will leave the Tower of London not radiant then with beauty on a gay errand of coronation, but a poor wandering ghost, on a sad tragic errand, from which she will never more return, passing away out of an earth where she may stay no longer, into a presence where, nevertheless, we know that all is well for all of us and therefore for her.

But let us not cloud her shortlived sunshine with the shadow of the future.  She went on in her loveliness, the peeresses following in their carriages, with the royal guard in their rear.  In Fenchurch Street she was met by the children of the city schools; and at the corner of Gracechurch Street a masterpiece had been prepared of the pseudo-classic art, then so fashionable, by the merchants of the Styll Yard.  A Mount Parnassus had been constructed, and a Helicon fountain upon it playing into a basin with four jets of Rhenish wine.  On the top of the mountain sat Apollo with Calliope at his feet, and on either side the remaining Muses, holding lutes or harps, and singing each of them some “posy” or epigram in praise of the queen, which was presented, after it had been sung, written in letters of gold.

From Gracechurch Street, the procession passed to Leadenhall, where there was a spectacle in better taste, of the old English Catholic kind, quaint perhaps and forced, but truly and even beautifully emblematic.  There was again a “little mountain,” which was hung with red and white roses; a gold ring was placed on the summit, on which, as the queen appeared, a white falcon was made to “descend as out of the sky” “and then incontinent came down an angel with great melody, and set a close crown of gold upon the falcon’s head; and in the same pageant sat Saint Anne with all her issue beneath her; and Mary Cleophas with her four children, of the which children one made a goodly oration to the queen, of the fruitfulness of St. Anne, trusting that like fruit should come of her."

With such “pretty conceits,” at that time the honest tokens of an English welcome, the new queen was received by the citizens of London.  These scenes must be multiplied by the number of the streets, where some fresh fancy met her at every turn.  To preserve the festivities from flagging, every fountain and conduit within the walls ran all day with wine; the bells of every steeple were ringing; children lay in wait with song, and ladies with posies, in which all the resources of fantastic extravagance were exhausted; and thus in an unbroken triumph and to outward appearance received with the warmest affection she passed under Temple Bar, down the Strand by Charing Cross to Westminster Hall.  The king was not with her throughout the day; nor did he intend to be with her in any part of the ceremony.  She was to reign without a rival, the undisputed sovereign of the hour.

Saturday being passed in showing herself to the people, she retired for the night to “the king’s manour house at Westminster,” where she slept.  On the following morning, between eight and nine o’clock, she returned to the hall, where the lord mayor, the city council, and the peers were again assembled, and took her place on the high dais at the top of the stairs under the cloth of state; while the bishops, the abbots, and the monks of the abbey formed in the area.  A railed way had been laid with carpets across Palace Yard and the Sanctuary to the abbey gates, and when all was ready, preceded by the peers in their robes of parliament, the Knights of the Garter in the dress of the order, she swept out under her canopy, the bishops and the monks “solemnly singing.”  The train was borne by the old Duchess of Norfolk her aunt, the Bishops of London and Winchester on either side “bearing up the lappets of her robe.”  The Earl of Oxford carried the crown on its cushion immediately before her.  She was dressed in purple velvet furred with ermine, her hair escaping loose, as she usually wore it, under a wreath of diamonds.

On entering the abbey, she was led to the coronation chair Where she sat while the train fell into their places, and the preliminaries, of the ceremonial were despatched.  Then she was conducted up to the high altar, and anointed Queen of England, and she received from the hands of Cranmer, fresh come in haste from Dunstable, with the last words of his sentence upon Catherine scarcely silent upon his lips, the golden sceptre, and St. Edward’s crown.

Did any twinge of remorse, any pang of painful recollection, pierce at that moment the incense of glory which she was inhaling?  Did any vision flit across her of a sad mourning figure which once had stood where she was standing, now desolate, neglected, sinking into the darkening twilight of a life cut short by sorrow?  Who can tell?  At such a time, that figure would have weighed heavily upon a noble mind, and a wise mind would have been taught by the thought of it, that although life be fleeting as a dream, it is long enough to experience strange vicissitudes of fortune.  But Anne Boleyn was not noble and was not wise, too probably she felt nothing but the delicious, all-absorbing, all-intoxicating present, and if that plain, suffering face presented itself to her memory at all, we may fear that it was rather as a foil to her own surpassing loveliness.  Two years later, she was able to exult over Catherine’s death; she is not likely to have thought of her with gentler feelings in the first glow and flush of triumph.

We may now leave these scenes.  They concluded in the usual English style, with a banquet in the great hall, and with all outward signs of enjoyment and pleasure.  There must have been but few persons present however who did not feel that the sunshine of such a day might not last for ever, and that over so dubious a marriage no Englishman could exult with more than half a heart.  It is foolish to blame lightly actions which arise in the midst of circumstances which are and can be but imperfectly known; and there may have been political reasons which made so much pomp desirable.  Anne Boleyn had been the subject of public conversation for seven years, and Henry, no doubt, desired to present his jewel to them in the rarest and choicest setting.  Yet to our eyes, seeing, perhaps, by the light of what followed, a more modest introduction would have appeared more suited to the doubtful nature of her position.

At any rate we escape from this scene of splendour very gladly as from something unseasonable.  It would have been well for Henry VIII. if he had lived in a world in which women could have been dispensed with; so ill, in all his relations with them, he succeeded.  With men he could speak the right word, he could do the right thing; with women he seemed to be under a fatal necessity of mistake.

It was now necessary, however, after this public step, to communicate in form to the emperor the divorce and the new marriage.  The king was assured of the rectitude of the motives on which he had himself acted, and he knew at the same time that he had challenged the hostility of the papal world.  Yet he did not desire a quarrel if there were means of avoiding it; and more than once he had shown respect for the opposition which he had met with from Charles, as dictated by honourable care for the interests of his kinswoman.  He therefore, in the truest language which will be met with in the whole long series of the correspondence, composed a despatch for his ambassador at Brussels, and expressed himself in a tone of honest sorrow for the injury which he had been compelled to commit.  Neither the coercion which the emperor had exerted over the pope, nor his intrigues with his subjects in Ireland and England, could deprive the nephew of Catherine of his right to a courteous explanation; and Henry directed Doctor Nicholas Hawkins in making his communication “to use only gentle words;” to express a hope that Charles would not think only of his own honour, but would remember public justice; and that a friendship of long standing, which the interests of the subjects of both countries were concerned so strongly in maintaining, might not be broken.  The instructions are too interesting to pass over with a general description.  After stating the grounds on which Henry had proceeded, and which Charles thoroughly understood, Hawkins was directed to continue thus:

“The King of England is not ignorant what respect is due unto the world.  How much he hath laboured and travailed therein he hath sufficiently declared and showed in his acts and proceedings.  If he had contemned the order and process of the world, or the friendship and amity of your Majesty, he needed not to have sent so often to the pope and to you both, nor continued and spent his time in delays.  He might have done what he has done now, had it so liked him, with as little difficulty as now, if without such respect he would have followed his pleasure.”

The minister was then to touch the pope’s behaviour and Henry’s forbearance, and after that to say:

“Going forward in that way his Highness saw that he could come to no conclusion; and he was therefore compelled to step right forth out of the maze, and so to quiet himself at last.  And is it not time to have an end in seven years?  It is not to be asked nor questioned whether the matter hath been determined after the common fashion, but whether it hath in it common justice, truth, and equity.  For observation of the common order, his Grace hath done what lay in him.  Enforced by necessity he hath found the true order which he hath in substance followed with effect, and hath done as becometh him.  He doubteth not but your Majesty, remembering his cause from the beginning hitherto, will of yourself consider and think, that among mortal men nothing should be immortal; and suits must once have an end, si possis recte, si non quocunque modo.  If his Highness cannot as he would, then must he do as he may; and he that hath a journey to be perfected must, if he cannot go one way, essay another.  For his matter with the pope, he shall deal with him apart.  Your Majesty he taketh for his friend, and as to a friend he openeth these matters to you, trusting to find your Majesty no less friendly than he hath done heretofore."

If courtesy obliged Henry to express a confidence in the stability of the relations between himself and Charles, which it was impossible that he could have felt, yet in other respects this letter has the most pleasant merit of honesty.  Hawkins was so much overcome by “the sweetness of it,” that “he nothing doubted if that the emperor read the same, by God’s grace he should be utterly persuaded;” and although in this expectation he was a little over sanguine, as in calmer moments he would have acknowledged, yet plain speech is never without its value; and Charles himself after he had tried other expedients, and they had not succeeded with him, found it more prudent to acquiesce in what could no longer be altered, and to return to cordiality.

For the present he remained under the impression that by the great body of the English the divorce was looked upon with coldness and even with displeasure, that the king was supported only by the complacency of a few courtiers, and that the nation were prepared to compel him to undo the wrong which had been inflicted upon Catherine and the princess.  So he was assured by the Spanish party in England; so all the disaffected assured him, who were perhaps themselves deceived.  He had secured Ireland, and Scotland also in so far as James’s promises could secure it; and he was not disposed to surrender for the present so promising a game till he had tried his strength and proved his weakness.  He replied coldly to Hawkins, “That for the King of England’s amity he would be glad thereof, so the said king would do works according.  The matter was none of his; but the lady, whose rights had been violated, was his aunt and an orphan, and that he must see for her, and for her daughter his cousin."

The scarcely ambiguous answer was something softened the following day; perhaps only, however, because it was too plain a betrayal of his intentions.  He communicated at once with Catherine, and Henry speedily learnt the nature of the advice which he had given to her.  After the coronation had passed off so splendidly, when no disturbance had risen, no voice had been raised for her or for her daughter, the poor queen’s spirit for the moment had sunk; she had thought of leaving the country, and flying with the Princess Mary to Spain.  The emperor sent to urge her to remain a little longer, guaranteeing her, if she could command her patience, an ample reparation for her injuries.  Whatever might appear upon the surface, the new queen, he was assured, was little loved by the people, and “they were ready to join with any prince who would espouse her quarrel." All classes, he said, were agreed in one common feeling of displeasure.  They were afraid of a change of religion; they were afraid of the wreck of their commerce; and the whole country was fast ripening towards insurrection.  The points on which he relied as the occasion of the disaffection betrayed the sources of his information.  He was in correspondence with the regular clergy through Peto at Antwerp, and through his Flemish subjects with merchants of London.  Among both these classes, as well as among the White Rose nobles, he had powerful adherents; and it could not have been forgotten in the courts, either of London or Brussels, that within the memory of living men, a small band of exiles, equipped by a Duke of Burgundy, had landed at a Yorkshire village, and in a month had revolutionised the kingdom.

In the eyes of Charles there was no reason why an attempt which had succeeded once might not succeed again under circumstances seemingly of far fairer promise.  The strength of a party of insurrection is a power which official statesmen never justly comprehend.  It depends upon moral influences, which they are professionally incapable of appreciating.  They are able complacently to ignore the existence of substantial disaffection though all society may be undermined; they can build their hopes, When it suits their convenience, on the idle trifling of superficial discontent.  In the present instance there was some excuse for the mistake.  That in England there really existed an active and organised opposition, prepared, when opportunity offered, to try the chances of rebellion, was no delusion of persons who measured facts by their desires; it was an ascertained peril of serious magnitude, which might be seriously calculated upon; and if the experiment was tried, reasonable men might fairly be divided in opinion on the result to be expected.

In the meantime the government had been obliged to follow up the coronation of the new queen by an act which the situation of the kingdom explained and excused; but which, if Catherine had been no more than a private person, would have been wanton cruelty.  Among the people she still bore her royal title; but the name of queen, so long as she was permitted to retain it, was an allowed witness against the legality of the sentence at Dunstable.  There could not be “two queens” in England, and one or other must retire from the designation.  A proclamation was therefore issued by the council, declaring, that in consequence of the final proofs that the Lady Catherine had never been lawfully married to the king, she was to bear thenceforward the title which she had received after the death of her first husband, and be called the Princess Dowager.

Harsh as this measure was, she had left no alternative to the government by which to escape the enforcement of it, by her refusal to consent to any form of compromise.  If she was queen, Anne Boleyn was not queen.  If she was queen, the Princess Mary remained the heir to the crown, and the expected offspring of Anne would be illegitimate.  If the question had been merely of names, to have moved it would have been unworthy and wicked; but where respect for private feeling was incompatible with the steps which a nation felt necessary in order to secure itself against civil convulsions, private feeling was compelled not unjustly to submit to injury.  Mary, though still a girl, had inherited both her father’s will and her mother’s obstinacy.  She was in correspondence, as we have seen, with the Nun of Kent, and aware at least, if she was not further implicated in it, of a conspiracy to place her on the throne.  Charles was engaged in the same designs; and it will not be pretended that Catherine was left without information of what was going forward, or that her own conduct was uninfluenced by policy.  These intrigues it was positively necessary to stifle, and it was impossible to leave a pretext of which so powerful a use might be made in the hands of a party whose object was not only to secure to the princess her right to succeed her father, but to compel him by arms either to acknowledge it, or submit to be deposed.

Our sympathies are naturally on the side of the weak and the unsuccessful.  State considerations lose their force after the lapse of centuries, when no interests of our own are any longer in jeopardy; and we feel for the great sufferers of history only in their individual capacity, without recalling or caring for the political exigencies to which they were sacrificed.  It is an error of disguised selfishness, the counterpart of the carelessness with which in our own age, when we are ourselves constituents of an interested public, we ignore what it is inconvenient to remember.

Thus, therefore, on one hot Midsummer Sunday in this year 1533, the people gathering to church in every parish through the English counties, read, nailed upon the doors, a paper signed Henry R., setting forth that the Lady Catherine of Spain, heretofore called Queen of England, was not to be called by that title any more, but was to be called Princess Dowager, and so to be held and esteemed.  The proclamation, we may suppose, was read with varying comments; of the reception of it in the northern counties, the following information was forwarded to the crown.  The Earl of Derby, lord-lieutenant of Yorkshire, wrote to inform the council that he had arrested a certain “lewd and naughty priest,” James Harrison by name, on the charge of having spoken unfitting and slanderous words of his Highness and the Queen’s Grace.  He had taken the examinations of several witnesses, which he had sent with his letter, and which were to the following effect:

Richard Clark deposeth that the said James Harrison reading the proclamation, said that Queen Catherine was queen, Nan Bullen should not be queen, nor the king should be no king but on his bearing.

William Dalton deposeth, that in his hearing the above-named James said, I will take none for queen but Queen Catherine who the devil made Nan Bullen, that hoore, queen?  I will never take her for queen and he the said William answered, “Hold thy peace, thou wot’st not what thou sayest but that thou art a priest I should punish thee, that others should take example.”

Richard Sumner and John Clayton depose, that they came in company with the said James from Perbalt to Eccleston, when the said James did say, “This is a marvellous world the king will put down the order of priests and destroy the Sacrament, but he cannot reign long, for York will be in London hastily."

Here was the later growth of the spirit which we saw a few months previously in the monks of Furness.  The mutterings of discontent had developed into plain open treason, confident of success, and scarcely caring to conceal itself and Yorkshire was preparing for rebellion and “the Pilgrimage of Grace.”

There is another quarter also into which we must follow the proclamation, and watch the effect of the royal order in a scene where it is well that we should for a few moments rest.  Catherine was still at Ampthill, surrounded by her own attendants, who formed an inner circle, shielding her retirement against impertinent curiosity.  She rarely or never allowed herself to be seen; Lord Mountjoy, with an official retinue, was in attendance in the house; but the occupation was not a pleasant one, and he was as willing to respect the queen’s seclusion as she to remain secluded.  Injunctions arrived however from the court at the end of June, which compelled him to request an interview; a deputation of the privy council had come down to inform the ex-queen of the orders of the government, and to desire that they might be put in force in her own family.  Aware probably of the nature of the communication which was to be made to her, she refused repeatedly to admit them to her presence.  At length, however, she nerved herself for the effort, and on the 3rd of July Mountjoy and the state commissioners were informed that she was ready to receive them.

As they entered her room she was lying on a sofa.  She had a bad cough, and she had hurt her foot with a pin, and was unable to stand or walk.  Her attendants were all present by her own desire; she was glad to see around her some sympathising human faces, to enable her to endure the cold hard eyes of the officials of the council.

She inquired whether the message was to be delivered in writing or by word of mouth.

They replied that they had brought with them instructions which they were to read, and that they were further charged with a message which was to be delivered verbally.  She desired that they would read their written despatch.  It was addressed to the Princess Dowager, and she at once excepted to the name.  She was not Princess Dowager, she said, but queen, and the king’s true wife.  She came to the king a clear maid for any bodily knowledge of Prince Arthur; she had borne him lawful issue and no bastard, and therefore queen she was, and queen she would be while she lived.

The commissioners were prepared for the objection, and continued, without replying, to read.  The paper contained a statement of worn-out unrealities; the old story of the judgment of the universities and the learned men, the sentence of convocation, and of the houses of parliament; and, finally, the fact of substantial importance, that the king, acting as he believed according to the laws of God, had married the Lady Anne Boleyn, who was now his lawful wife, and anointed Queen of England.

Oh yes, she answered when they had done, we know that, and “we know the authority by which it has been done more by power than justice.”  The king’s learned men were learned heretics; the honest learning was for her.  As for the seals of the universities there were strange stories about the way in which they had been obtained.  The universities and the parliament had done what the king bade them; and they had gone against their consciences in doing it; but it was of no importance to her she was in the hands of the pope, who was God’s vicar, and she acknowledged no other judge.

The commissioners informed her of the decision of the council that she was no longer to bear the title of queen.  It stood, they said, neither with the laws of God nor man, nor with the king’s honour, to have two queens named within the realm; and in fact, there was but one queen, the king’s lawful wife, to whom he was now married.

She replied shortly that she was the king’s lawful queen, and none other.

There was little hope in her manner that anything which could be said would move her; but her visitors were ordered to try her to the uttermost.

The king, they continued, was surprised that she could be so disobedient; and not only that she was disobedient herself, but that she allowed and encouraged her servants in the same conduct.

She was ready to obey the king; she answered, when she could do so without disobeying God; but she could not damn her soul even for him.  Her servants, she said, must do the best they could; they were standing round her as she was speaking; and she turned to them with an apology, and a hope that they would pardon her.  She would hinder her cause, she said; and put her soul in danger, if on their account she were to relinquish her name, and she could not do it.

The deputation next attempted her on her worldly side.  If she would obey, they informed her that she would be allowed not only her jointure as Princess Dowager and her own private fortune, but all the settlements which had been made upon her on her marriage with the king.

She “passed not upon possessions, in regard of this matter,” she replied.  It touched her conscience, and no worldly considerations were of the slightest moment.

In disobeying the king, they said; seeing that she was none other than his subject, she might give cause for dissension and disturbance; and she might lose the favour of the people.

She “trusted not,” she replied she “never minded it, nor would she” she “desired only to save her right; and if she should lose the favour of the people in defending that right, yet she trusted to go to heaven cum fama et infamia.”

Promises and persuasions being unavailing, they tried threats.  She was told that if she persisted in so obstinate a course, the king would be obliged to make known to the world the offers which he had made to her, and the ill reception which they had met with and then he would perhaps withdraw those offers, and conceive some evil opinions of high displeasure towards her.

She answered that there was no manner of offers neither of lands nor goods that she had respect unto in comparison of her cause and as to the loss of the king’s affection, she trusted to God, to whom she would daily pray for him.

The learned council might as well have reasoned with the winds; or threatened the waves of the sea.  But they were not yet weary, and their next effort was as foolish as it was ungenerous.  They suggested, “that if she did reserve the name of queen, it was thought that she would do it of a vain desire and appetite of glory; and further, she might be an occasion that the king would withdraw his love from her most dear daughter the Lady Princess, which should chiefly move her, if none other cause did.”

They must have known little of Catherine, if they thought she could be influenced by childish vanity.  It was for no vain glory that she cared, she answered proudly; she was the king’s true wife, and her conscience forbade her to call herself otherwise; the princess was his true begotten child; and as God hath given her to them, so for her part she would render her again; neither for daughter, family, nor possessions, would she yield in her cause; and she made a solemn protestation, calling on every one present to bear witness to what she said, that the king’s wife she was, and such she would take herself to be, and that she would never surrender the name of queen till the pope had decided that she must bear it no longer.

So ended the first interview.  Catherine, before the commissioners left her, desired to have a copy of the proposals which they had brought, that she might translate and send them to Rome.  They returned with them the next day, when she requested to see the report which they intended to send to the council of the preceding conversation.  It was placed in her hands; and as she read it and found there the name of Princess Dowager, she took a pen and dashed out the words, the mark of which indignant ink-stroke may now be seen in the letter from which this account is taken. With the accuracy of the rest she appeared to be satisfied only when she found again their poor suggestion that she was influenced by vanity, she broke out with a burst of passionate indignation.

“I would rather be a poor beggar’s wife,” she said, “and be sure of heaven, than queen of all the world, and stand in doubt thereof by reason of my own consent.  I stick not so for vain glory, but because I know myself the king’s true wife and while you call me the king’s subject, I was his subject while he took me for his wife.  But if he take me not for his wife, I came not into this Realm as merchandise, nor to be married to any merchant; nor do I continue in the same but as his lawful wife, and not as a subject to live under his dominion otherwise.  I have always demeaned myself well and truly towards the king and if it can be proved that either in writing to the pope or any other, I have either stirred or procured anything against his Grace, or have been the means to any person to make any motion which might be prejudicial to his Grace or to his Realm, I am content to suffer for it.  I have done England little good, and I should be sorry to do it any harm.  But if I should agree to your motions and persuasions, I should slander myself, and confess to have been the king’s harlot for twenty-four years.  The cause, I cannot tell by what subtle means, has been determined here within the king’s Realm, before a man of his own making, the Bishop of Canterbury, no person indifferent I think in that behalf; and for the indifference of the place, I think the place had been more indifferent to have been judged in hell; for no truth can be suffered here, whereas the devils themselves I suppose do tremble to see the truth in this cause so sore oppressed."

Most noble, spirited, and like a queen.  Yet she would never have been brought to this extremity, and she would have shown a truer nobleness, if four years before she could have yielded at the pope’s entreaty on the first terms which were proposed to her.  Those terms would have required no humiliating confessions; they would have involved no sentence on her marriage nor touched her daughter’s legitimacy.  She would have broken no law of God, nor seemed to break it.  She was required only to forget her own interests; and she would not forget them, though all the world should be wrecked by her refusal.  She denied that she was concerned in “motions prejudicial to the king or to the Realm,” but she must have placed her own interpretation on the words, and would have considered excommunication and interdict a salutary discipline to the king and parliament.  She knew that this sentence was imminent, that in its minor form it had already fallen; and she knew that her nephew and her friends in England were plotting to give effect to the decree.  But we may pass over this.  It is not for an English writer to dwell upon those faults of Catherine of Arragon, which English remorse has honourably insisted on forgetting.  Her injuries, inevitable as they were, and forced upon her in great measure by her own wilfulness, remain among the saddest spots in the pages of our history.

One other brief incident remains to be noticed here, to bring up before the imagination the features of this momentous summer.  It is contained in the postscript of a letter of Cranmer to Hawkins the ambassador in Germany; and the manner in which the story is told is no less suggestive than the story itself.

The immediate present, however awful its import, will ever seem common and familiar to those who live and breathe in the midst of it.  In the days of the September massacre at Paris, the theatres were open as usual; men ate, and drank, and laughed, and cried, and went about their common work, unconscious that those days which were passing by them, so much like other days, would remain the dies nefasti, accursed in the memory of mankind for ever.  Nothing is terrible, nothing is sublime in human things, so long as they are before our eyes.  The great man has so much in common with men in general, the routine of daily life, in periods the most remarkable in history, contains so much that is unvarying, that it is only when time has done its work; and all which was unimportant has ceased to be remembered, that such men and such times stand out in their true significance.  It might have been thought that to a person like Cranmer, the court at Dunstable, the coronation of the new queen, the past out of which these things had risen, and the future which they threatened to involve, would have seemed at least serious; and that engaged as he had been as a chief actor, in a matter which, if it had done nothing else, had broken the heart of a high-born lady whom once he had honoured as his queen, he would have been either silent about his exploits, or if he had spoken of them, would have spoken not without some show of emotion.  We look for a symptom of feeling, but we do not find it.  When the coronation festivities were concluded he wrote to his friend an account of what had been done by himself and others in the light gossiping tone of easiest content; as if he were describing the common incidents of a common day.  It is disappointing, and not wholly to be approved of.  Still less can we approve of the passage with which he concludes his letter.

“Other news we have none notable, but that one Frith, which was in the Tower in prison, was appointed by the King’s Grace to be examined before me, my Lord of London, my Lord of Winchester, my Lord of Suffolk, my Lord Chancellor, and my Lord of Wiltshire; whose opinion was so notably erroneous that we could not dispatch him, but were fain to leave him to the determination of his ordinary, which is the Bishop of London.  His said opinion is of such nature, that he thought it not necessary to be believed as an article of our faith that there is the very corporeal presence of Christ within the host and sacrament of the altar; and holdeth on this point much after the opinion of Oecolampadius.

“And surely I myself sent for him three or four times to persuade him to leave that imagination.  But for all that we could do therein, he would not apply to any counsel.  Notwithstanding now he is at a final end with all examinations; for my Lord of London hath given sentence, and delivered him to the secular power when he looketh every day to go unto the fire.  And there is also condemned with him one Andrew a tailor for the self-same opinion; and thus fare you well."

These victims went as they were sentenced, dismissed to their martyr’s crowns at Smithfield, as Queen Anne Boleyn but a few days before had received her golden crown at the altar of Westminster Abbey.  Twenty years later another fire was blazing under the walls of Oxford; and the hand which was now writing these light lines was blackening in the flames of it, paying there the penalty of the same “imagination” for which Frith and the poor London tailor were with such cool indifference condemned.  It is affecting to know that Frith’s writings were the instruments of Cranmer’s conversion; and the fathers of the Anglican church have left a monument of their sorrow for the shedding of this innocent blood in the Order of the Communion service, which closes with the very words on which the primate, with his brother bishops, had sate in judgment.