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with a lavish distribution of his wealth among his courtiers
and his people, soon exhausted the full treasury left behind by · his parsimonious father. With the infatuation common to kings, especially when young, stirring and intrepid, he mingled readily in the intrigues which were at that time agitating
Europe, and took a personal share in continental warfare. · He displayed, however, more courage than generalship: the - devastation of a few districts, and the siege of unimportant
fortresses, comprised nearly the whole of his exploits. The battle of Spurs was a mere echauffourée ; and though an able
commander might have made it decisive by following up the · advantage, it terminated in nothing. His first measures in the
exercise of sovereignty were prudent and politic. He chose his ministers from the tried counsellors of his father, and gave up to the arm of law and the public indignation, the tools who had been employed in urging the exactions and oppressions of the former reign. In nothing does the ability of Henry appear more conspicuous, than in the choice of his political advisers throughout his administration. In whatever other respects they may have failed, they were statesmen and men of talent; · while their negotiations, though not always honest or directed to fair and useful ends, maintained for their master a high rank among the arbiters of Europe. He erred unquestionably · in his excessive patronage of Wolsey, and, by suffering that able but unprincipled minister to usurp the whole direction of affairs, and to make the interests of his master a cover for his own personal intrigues, involved himself at length in circumstances of difficulty, if not of hazard. This, however, was a solitary case. No other statesman was permitted to exercise a similar usurpation, though Henry seems, at all times, to have placed considerable trust in his counsellors. One instance of his deference is so remarkable, that we shall give it in the .quaint language of the worthy old chronicler Hall, whose work we recommend to all who are partial to minute description. The pageantry and secret history, the gilding and gossip of - Henry's court, are given with an accuracy and detail, that is sometimes piquant, and always valuable. We modernise the spelling for the convenience of our readers. ** In which month (May 1519) the king's counsel secretly
communed together of the king's gentleness and liberality 'to all persons; by the which they perceived that certain • young men in his privy chamber, not regarding his estate nor • degree, were so familiar and homely with him, and played
such light touches with him that they forgat themselves. Which things although the king of his gentle nature suffered ' and not rebuked nor reproved it, yet the king's council • thought it not meet to be suffered for the king's honour, and
therefore they altogether came to the king, beseeching him • all these enormities and lightness to redress. To whom the • king answered, that he had chosen them of his council, both • for the maintenance of his honour, and for the defence of all * things that might blemish the same, wherefore if they saw • any about him misuse themselves, he committed it to their • reformation. Then the king's council caused the lord cham• berlain to call before them Carew (and another who yet • liveth, and therefore shall not at this time be named) with • divers other also of the privy chamber, which had been in • the French court, and banished them the court for divers * considerations, laying nothing particularly to their charges. * And they that had offices were commanded to go to their • offices; which discharge out of the court grieved sore the • hearts of these young men which were called the king's • minions. Then was there four sad and ancient knights put • into the king's privy chamber; and divers officers were • changed in all places.'
These details make up an interesting picture. A young king, full of gayety and frolic, giving up, at the remonstrance of his grave counsellors, his select and familiar companions, and accepting a lugubre assortment of " sad and ancient gentry, instead of a band of choice spirits, instinct with Pa. risian vivacity, and, like himself, reckless and dissipated. .
The rise, splendid career, and miserable fall of Cardinal Wolsey, form some of the most striking circumstances of this extraordinary reign. Dr. Lingard is pleased to ascribe to this showy, proud, and selfish statesman all that is praiseworthy in the life of the king.
• The best eulogy,' he affirms, on his character is to be found in the contrast between the conduct of Henry before, and after the Cardinal's fall. As long as Wolsey continued in favour, the royal passions were confined within certain bounds; the moment his influ. ence was extinguished, they burst through every restraint, and by their caprice and violence alarmed his subjects, and astonished the other nations of Europe.'
This is another specimen of the intrepidity with which Dr. L. writes history. Some years, certainly not the least innocent of Henry's reign, passed before the elevation of Wolsey; and from the date of his death in November 1530, to the prosecutions of Fisher and More in 1534, we know of no transaction, excepting the divorce, (in which Wolsey himself was a primary agent,) to which Dr. Lingard's vituperation can apply. Mr. Turner's character of Wolsey is ably and impartially
drawn; it is too long for our limits, and we can only therefore give it in part.
• Although Wolsey grew up to manhood with powers and faculties that, if rightly used, would have placed him among those elevated and selected characters whom we agree to call great men, he so soon spoilt and misdirected himself, that he never became such. Pride, arrogance, vanity, and dissimulation, the destroyers of all moral grandeur, diminished him so repeatedly into an egotist, an actor, a hypocrite, a trickster, a tyrant, an ambi-dexter, a coxcomb, and a pantomimical puppet, that the natural giant fell tu pieces, like the mighty image whose limbs, half iron and half clay, had no continuous strength and no substantial foundation.
• During his predominance in the royal councils, the reign of Henry VIII. may be denominated a reign of foreign embassies; for, under no preceding sovereign had so many ambasssadors been sent cout, and so many negotiations carried on by the English Government, as occurred while Wolsey was prime minister. The spirit of his administration was peculiarly diplomatic, and always flowing from, and connected with, himself. The self-projected prominence of his own person was here also distinguished. Other statesmen sink themselves to advance their sovereign, and lose themselves in the cabinet of their fellows. Wolsey always made himself the principal, and usually the sole director of the helm of government. He was both its pilot and its captain, and caused it to be felt through Europe that he was so, and he was accordingly treated with as such. It was his object to govern Europe by his own pen and by his own tongue, while others used the sword ; and if he did not effectuate all his own intricate projects, he was at least perpetually defeating or paralyzing those of others.
• If the measures to which he led his royal master be considered only in their individual detail, they bear the features of being subtle, inconsistent, entangling, deceptious, interested, and insincere ; and some of his negotiations deserve the worst of these epithets. He was certainly a double-dealer, and neither understood the value of good faith, frankness, honour, probity, and undisguising intrepidity, nor could make them the foundation nor the instruments of his policy. He frequently preferred the wily, the intricate, the secret, the insidious, the selfish, the mysterious, and the contradictory-not more, indeed, perhaps not so much, as several other statesmen of his day, and especially those of the Roman court, which, for the last half century, had been repeatedly giving to the world, or at least to the various ambassadors who could detect its meandering, the worst speci. mens of the worst principles which Machiavel, whether satirically or seriously, has illustrated in his “ Il Principe"-a work perhaps rather meant to reveal, than to teach, what every moral sense and manly judgement can only read to abhor, and what has been declining in human practice ever since his exposure.'
It will not be expected that we should engage deeply in the discussions connected with this important and complicated
period of English history. There is scarcely a transaction of Henry's life and suvereignty, that has not been made a subject of attack and defence. His first marriage, his divorce, his do. mestic and political character, his conduct to liis ininisters and his people, his dealings with the clergy,-in short, a question has been raised in reference to almost every step of his career. Whoever may wish to ascertain with how much dexterity history may be made to subserve the purposes of party, cannot do better than study Dr. Lingard : whoever desires to know, as nearly as possible, the real colour and character of events, will ,act wisely in consulting Mr. Turner. There are, however, á few particulars to which, before laying his interesting volume aside, we must direct the attention of our readers. · It is important to remark-important, we mean, as it regards
the cavils of the Romanists—that Henry was no Protestant: he was nothing better nor worse than a mutinous Catholic. It is well observed by Heylin (as quoted by Mr. Turner), that, finding the Pope the greatest obstacle to his desires, be first divested bim by degrees of his supremacy; and finally ex
tinguished his authority in the realm of England, without 6 noise or trouble, to the great admiration and astonishment of • the rest of the Christian world. But, for his own part, he • adhered to his old religion; severely persecuted those who "" dissented from it, and died in that faith and doctrine which " he had sucked in with his mother's milk.' Again, the Pope's refusal to sanction the divorce, which was the originating cause of all the changes that took place, as well as the excitement that awoke the latent ferocity of the King's spirit, was
not a willing, but a constrained opposition. · • Religion was verbally connected with the discussions and purposes of the pope and Henry, but had really no influence with either, in the objects, conduct, or termination of the contest. Both were strict Catholics at its beginning and at its end. Both hated, and at that time equally persecuted the Reformers. Human passions and worldly interests commenced, continued, and decided it. If Francis had driven Charles out of Italy, Henry would have had his divorce, and the pope liave remained the supreme head and the honoured sovereign of the English Churchi, till some other convulsion overthrew his dominion. But the imperial sword prevailing, Clement was intimidated, and the British nation became emancipated from religious slavery; from a mercenary ritual'; from dogmas without reason, and from much debilitating superstition. The separation from the papacy was not at first in the contemplation, nór, until driven to it by the failure of every other conceivable succedaneum, was it even at the last, in the desire of the English King. However he may have been abused for it by the Romish clergy from that day to the present, no sovereign has deserved more largely their admiration for his long deference to the papal see ; for his persevering endeavour to keep in friendship with it, and for his unequalled patience in waiting to obtain it by solicitation, reasoning, and the course of events. What king can be adduced in history, of his power, spirit, and character, who, after becoming so passionately in love in the year 1527, yet arrested the impulses of his natural impetuosity, and restrained his own wishes in the dearest object of human sympathy, for nearly six years, until the end of January 1533, before he broke through every confining bond, and gratified his affection, by the marriage he had so long sighed for? Instead of censuring his imputed vices for the measure, let steady impartiality admire the self-command he had so long exerted. Even the pope had counselled him to take the same step at the commencement of the difficulties. But the King, with a self-government scarcely explicable in his imputed character, paused for six years, that he might, if possible, fulfil his own wishes, in a way that would give universal satisfaction to the critical mind and mural feeling of Europe. The compelled refusal of the pope to gratify the wishes of Henry, was evidence to his own times as well as to ours, that the battle between the ecclesiastical and civil powers of Europe was then determined. The gigantic scheme projected by many pontiffs, but first boldly attempted by Gregory VII. to be realized, about four hundred and fifiy years before, of raising the Popedom above the thrones of Christendom, and of making all social dignities subordinate to the sacerdotal, was at that time totally defeated, and was perceived to be so, and has never recovered from the disaster. Its three mortal wounds it received at the battle of Pavia, at the sack of Rome, and at the destruction of the French army before Naples; expiring finally with the capture of St. Pol at Landriana.'
This is strongly and unanswerably urged. It is, in fact, idle to state the matter in any other way. Catherine, Henry's queen, was a Spanish princess, and Charles V., as her near relative, as king of Spain, and as the political enemy of Francis, was interested in resisting the divorce. Italy was the arena on which these two great rivals contended for the mastery; and the generals of the Emperor were men of greater skill than those of the King of France. The Pope leant to the latter, but the power of the former was not to be trified with ; and Henry, the ally of Francis, pleaded in vain, although the disposition of the Roman court was favourable to his wishes-- Drive out Charles, ' and the divorce shall be pronounced ; but, while he remains,
he is our master. Francis had committed an irretrievable error in outraging the Constable de Bourbon ; and that noble. man, the most consummate officer of his age, headed the armies of Charles, and led them to victory. He decided, in favour of the Imperialists, the desperate conflict of Pavia; he fell while leading them to the successful assault of Rome itself; and he prepared the way for the final defeats of the French army, by the Prince of Orange at Aversa, and by De Leyva at Landriana.
Vol. XXVII. N.S.