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sensuality and atrocious cruelty, without any redeeming qualification, that despot was our eighth Henry. We had observed his to have been an example of iniquity so enormous, and so wholly detestable, that neither in the unscrupulous zeal of religious and political party, nor yet among the conflicting passions of controversial writers, had any one been found hardy or insensible enough to defend or to palliate it. We had deemed the universal reprobation of mankind for ever recorded against the savage and inexorable tyrant, who, most truly has it been said, "spared neither man in his hate nor woman in his lust:" the butcher of the poor victims of his wanton appetites; the murderer of his most faithful servants; the ferocious persecutor both of Catholics and Protestants; who, in the madness of his pride, imposed contradictory articles of belief on the consciences of a whole people, and consigned the most virtuous spirits of both parties to the flames or the scaffold, to glut his thirst of blood, or to gratify his fierce and inconsistent bigotry. Yet it is this monster of cruel, uncontrollable passions, who, Mr. Sharon Turner protests has not been impartially appreciated,' and whose defence he has felt proud of undertaking. His whole volume is an eulogy of the virtues, and an apology for the crimes, of one of the very worst men, and certainly the most execrable, because the most capricious tyrant, that ever sat on the throne of this kingdom.

Now, if Mr. Sharon Turner had found means to refute all the dark tales of Henry's judicial murders, and to disprove them, as no more than so many atrocious inventions of enemies, his disposition to rescue the memory of the calumniated monarch would be intelligible and praiseworthy. If it had been possible for him, even by the production of any new evidence, to have detracted from the number or enormity, and to have altered the character of these deeds of ferocious cruelty, his dissent from the conclusions of all former historians would at least have been comprehensible and plausible. But none of these things has he been enabled to do: so far as the conduct of the king is concerned, his volume positively has not thrown a particle of new light upon the actions of this reign; here he has not discovered a single fact which was not previously before the world: and the plan of his defence is limited to the miserable attempt to advance novel reasons, and to seek the most curious palliation, for all the perpetual guilt which, in its commission, he cannot deny.

The mere narrative of the notorious circumstances of Henry's life, no sophistry can materially colour or suppress: and it is only in opinions and conclusions, upon events too well known to beperverted, that our judicious historian has possessed the power of differing from all his predecessors. Mr. Sharon Turner is a sentimental philanthropist, who bewails the evil passions of mankind, and declaims much on the demoniac phrenzy of strife and battle, the wickedness of worldly ambition, and the horrors which schemes

of conquest and political intrigues have entailed upon suffering humanity. All this is well: but how shall we reconcile the consistency of a writer, whose periods alternately inculcate the loveliness of virtue and mercy, and palliate the most frightful violations of both? How shall we, with him, sternly reprobate the moral insensibility of Francis, who, on the bloody field of Marignano, slept soundly amidst the carnage which he had directed; and yet regard with complacency the far more shocking and deliberate obduracy of his hero, whose cruel heart was impervious to the pleadings of our best affections, whose unrelenting slaughter was, in his domestic and civil life, of his wives, his servants, and his subjects? This didactic reprehension of lesser crimes, blending with the defence and extenuation of deeper guilt-and especially as proceeding from an author, who abounds in saintly truisms, and has evidently aspired to render his work a mirror of moral reflections-this utter confusion of the shades of human offence, is surely among the most strange and pitiable perversions of intellect into which man has ever been betrayed!

The leading events in the life and the reign of Henry VIII. are too familiar to every reader to need that we should offer any connected abstract of the contents of this ponderous tome: and we gladly disclaim both the necessity and the intention of following Mr. Turner, through his minute elaboration of details. We shall only refer to a few passages, to illustrate the mode in which the author has treated the character of the king, and to justify the comments into which we have been led.

Mr. Turner ushers in the main purpose of his volume, by tediously copying all the formal encomiums which were heaped upon Henry during his early reign by his lettered contemporaries; and choosing to receive a great part of this complimentary adulation for the language of truth, he is absurdly eager at the outset, to establish a favourable impression of the character of his hero, which may stand him in need in the darker parts of his progressive career. After carefully inserting these long-drawn panegyrics, he sums them up in the following conclusion:

'The reader has now before him as large a picture as can be furnished of what the most eminent of his contemporaries thought and expressed of Henry up to his forty-seventh year. Whether, if he possessed till that time the qualities that were so long applauded, they could be entirely extinguished in him, when a new political situation led to the cruelties which sullied his last ten years, the moral philosoper may reasonably doubt. These unfavourable additions, and their causes, will be considered in a future chapter; but it is important to note, that Pole, his severest censor, more than once intimates, that if he would have fully submitted himself again to the Papal See, he would have appeared in all his pristine amiability: at least, would have been so considered and represented by those who, for his revolt from it, were passionately painting him as a moral mulatto, without, however, being quite convinced that he actually was such.'-pp. 36-37.

That the cruelties which sullied his reign were confined to his last ten years, is a curious assertion: since neither his unfeeling divorce of his innocent queen Catharine, for the gratification of his legal adultery, nor his execution of her unhappy successor, nor yet his judicial murders of More and Fisher, were included within that period. That the earlier parts of his reign were not signalized by atrocities, is, however, true: but how this fact can be pleaded in extenuation of his later crimes, the reader will probably be at some loss to discover. If he originally possessed the amiable qualities which our author has so largely ascribed to him, and among which (p. 593). Mr. Sharon Turner enumerates a mild and friendly temper, the moral philosopher may indeed reasonably doubt how they should become totally extinguished in his nature. But to suppose the existence of this 'pristine amiability' in his character, is to take for granted the subject-matter of the doubt. To the impartial observer of his earlier actions, the arbitrary, violent, and capricious complexion both of his domestic conduct, and foreign measures, will rather appear in sufficient consistency with his later life although his unruly passions had not yet been provoked by opposition to break forth into the atrocities of which they were capable. The "nemo repente fuit turpissimus" of the poet, affords a more rational standard for the estimate of his true character: the pattern of all virtue which Mr. Sharon Turner has delighted to imagine, could never have degenerated on a sudden into the bloated and gloomy despot. The germs of that fierce impatience of restraint which led to so many horrors, were inherent in his disposition. Even when Sir Thomas More was cherished in the sunshine of his favour, the shrewd observation of that virtuous minister had instructed him in his insecurity against the heartless selfishness of such a master. Observe his well-known answer to a congratulation on being seen arm-in-arm with the king: "I believe he doth as singularly affect me as any subject within his realm; howbeit, if my head would win him a castle in France, it should not fail to go." And the emphatic and dying declaration of Wolsey, had been yet stronger: "rather than he will either miss or want any part of his will or appetite, he will put the loss of one half of his realm in danger. Be assured what matter ye put in his head, ye shall never put it out again."

The unrelenting persecution with which Henry completed the ruin, and shortened the days of the man with whom he had lived for twenty years in the closest intimacy and confidence, is to be received, we presume, for one signal proof of his mild and friendly temper. When Cavendish waited on him to communicate the particulars of Wolsey's death, the compassionate monarch continued the amusement in which he was engaged, before he would hear the pitiable tale; and the strongest interest he expressed, was for the fate-not of the man-but of a certain 15007. of his effects! As a minister, Wolsey was any thing rather than blame

less, but there is much justice in the extenuation which Hume has found for his measures in the character of his master: since "the subsequent part of Henry's reign was undoubtedly much more criminal than that which had been directed by Wolsey's counsels."

In his account of the occasion which prepared the disgrace of Wolsey, the business of the king's divorce from Catherine of Arragon, it is really ludicrous to observe how Mr. Sharon Turner has laboured to shift the whole shame of having originated that iniquitous project, from the king to his favourite. It was the 'disturbing cardinal' who pressed the matter; it was the religious scruples which were infused into Henry's delicate conscience, that first unsettled his feelings on the legality of his long union, and alienated his mind from the fond and virtuous woman,

"That like a jewel had hung twenty years
About his neck, yet never lost her lustre ;

Of her, that loved him with an excellence
That angels love good men with."

Nor has a passage from a private letter of Wolsey to the king, so early as 1527, six years before the completion of the divorce, and which Mr. Turner has here himself published, opened his eyes to the fact, that the scruples of the royal feeling had far more relation to the flesh than the spirit. The furtherance of the divorce, is here called by Wolsey the king's "great and secret affair;" as "his deliverance out of a thralled, pensive, and dolorous life;" and as being necessary for "the continuance of his health." Is there here anything to be found in the record, touching his ghostly peace, or spiritual misgivings? Yet it was after this, that the royal hypocrite protested before his assembled council, that, saving his religious doubts, he preferred Catherine above all other women; and long after it is acknowledged that he had conceived his violent passion for Anne Boleyn--Miss Anne Boleyn,' as Mr. Turner most politely calls her he uttered a second more solemn and public assertion, that "he had stirred the divorce to settle his conscience, and for no other cause, as God could judge;" and that "if the queen should be adjudged his lawful wife, there was never any thing more pleasant nor more acceptable to him in his life." Will it be believed, that, even the barefaced falsehood of this declaration should not be too gross for Mr. Turner's credulity? Yet he adds, that the king entered into the question only to learn the truth, is a fact which the evidence supports.' That any being in his senses should really and seriously imagine that Henry was prompted by religious scruples, would have appeared to us most incredible; and Mr. Turner, we take it, is the first man who has ever dissented from the arch and pithy conclusion of the poet : "Cham. It seems the marriage with his brother's wife Has crept too near his conscience. No, his conscience


Has crept too near another lady."

The cruel execution of Anne Boleyn, to make way for a new object of the royal appetite, may in itself illustrate the only real motive which had produced the divorce of the exemplary Catherine. For the indulgence of his licentious passions, Henry seems to have thought marriage at least a necessary form; and thus it was, as has often been observed, that he plunged into deeper crimes than those which he appeared to avoid. For, while he was scrupulous in legalizing his adulteries, no compunctious visitings of humanity, none of the ordinary feelings of our kind, ever restrained him for an instant from arriving at the gratification of his desires, through the most cruel injustice, and perjury, and blood.

On the mere question of Anne Boleyn's innocence, it is not easy to decide; and we share with Mr. Turner the doubts which he expresses on this point. But, so far as Henry's treatment of her is concerned, the atrocity of her execution is little relieved by the possibility of her guilt; and the scandalous impatience of his marriage with Jane Seymour, on the very day after the shocking tragedy of her death, offers the most certain and revolting proof of the motives which had instigated him to her destruction. On this occasion, Mr. Turner, for once, forgetting the defence of his ⚫ amiable' hero, gives vent to a burst of indignation.

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The king's conduct, on this occasion, displayed only the vindictive resentment of the mortified husband. To consign the long-beloved wife of his bosom; the selected object of his tenderest caresses,-for whom he had braved and defeated popes, priests, sovereigns, slander, hatred, treason, and peril-to a violent, public, and defaming death; and by a signature, written in the very apartments where he had feasted upon her smiles; listened, delighted, to her merry chit-chat, and danced enraptured with her grace, in all her fearless and unforeseeing gaiety; ordering the little neck,' which he had so often admired and caressed, to be cut asunder by the butchering strokes of a common executioner, was an act better suited to an Othello, to a relentless Moor, or to a turbaned Turk, than to the most polished and cultivated prince of one of the most civilized nations on the globe. It was unnecessary, because divorce and degradation would have answered every public end. It was cruel beyond excuse. It was pride and passion, obeying the dishonourable impulses of an unmanly revenge.' -pp. 639, 640.

Yet even here it is observable that our author takes it for granted, that she was guilty, though he immediately afterwards proceeds to record his formal dubitations on the fact. Without following Mr. Turner through the edifying picture of the remaining years of Henry's domestic life, we shall just copy the following summary justification of his general conduct to his wives:

'The king's domestic affections and tendencies, induced him to place his private happiness in marriage, unlike Francis, who sought his indulgences elsewhere; but this virtuous disposition being too much allied with a determined self-gratification, led the English king into that defamation and evil which have made him seem the nursery Blue Beard, both

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