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Cornell University Library

DA 334.M83B83


Thomas More (The Blessed Thomas More

3 1924 027 960 800

Cornell University Library


original of



is in

the Cornell University Library.

There are no known copyright

restrictions in

the United States on the use of the text.

By Henri Joly S. Small crrwn Btif. By Prof. D. S. Abbe Albert 2nd Ed CAJETAN. By L. S. S. 2nd Edition. DOMINIC. ANTONY OF PADUA. BLESSED THOMAS MORE. Ad. . AMBROSE. 2nd Edition. and at the College de France. By Ren^ Marie de la Broise. By Henri Joly. Demimuid. 2nd LOUIS. S. 2nd Ed. ALPHONSUS LIGUORI. S. S. S. By Henri Bremond. Scarlet Art Vellum. 4th Edition. PATRICK. By Prince Emmanuel de Broglie. 2nd Edition. NICHOLAS I. S. By R. 3rd Ed. By Marius Sepet. By Baron Angot des Rotours. S. By the Due de Broglie. Written by Eminent European Scholars. By Jean Guiraud. Kurth. de Maulde la Clavi^re. Lepitre. Petit de JuUeville. By Mgr. 2nd Edition. Hatzfeld. author of numerous works upon Psychology. G. THE PSYCHOLOGY OF THE 3rd Edition. By the Rev Father Largent. S. Sth Edition. By Joseph Vianney. CURfi D'ARS. S. J. Revised Edition. AUGUSTINE. S. FRANCIS OF SALES. THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY. BLESSED JOHN VIANNEY. JEROME. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM. 5th Edition. By L. S. Edition. THOMAS A BECKET. By A. 2nd Edition. Puech.THE SAINTS SERIES An entirely New Series of LIVES OF THE SAINTS in separate volumes. By Prof. TERESA. S. By I'Abb^ Riguet. By Mgr. Deraimuid. the General Editorship of Under M. S. Pingaud. 2nd Edition. Margerie. PETER FOURIER. IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA. BLESSED MARGARET MARY. By Jules Roy. Gilt Lettered. By Henri Joly.. S. SAINTS. 2nd Edition. VINCENT DE PAUL. HENRI JOLY. By Aime By the 2nd Edition. BLESSED JOAN OF ARC. CLOTILDA. Formerly Professor at the Sorbonne. S.



BOWDEN Censor deputatus >{< FRANCISCUS WESTMONAST A. S. . 1904..RCHIEPISCOPUS Die 8 Sept.(Ui^if oBstat HENRICUS G.

Sir Thomas More More) (T'he 'Blessed 'Thomas ^y Henri Bremond - Second Edition 1{^ & T Washbourne Ltd. "Paternoster %ow 1920 London cS" Manchester Birmingham Glasgow X' C6 .






little book is not the work of a historian. I should not have ventured to undertake it, if the life of Sir Thomas More had not been already written


by a member of the

Father Bridgett's work have followed it step by step and sometimes simply abbreviated it. Needless to say I have carefully re-read Mere's works and the contemporary documents which the monumental






of the Letters and Papers renders uni-

versally accessible.


object in doing so

was not

to gather a few trifling discoveries, forgotten or

overlooked by scholars like Father Bridgett and


Gairdner, but to give a lively and fresh impression of
the events, and to become as familiarly as possible

acquainted with Sir


limpidity, is

Thomas More. His nature, for difficult to know thoroughly.
fun, its very transparence


in earnest

and ever in

adds to

mystery, and the extreme variety of
flattered myself that

gifts is disconcerting.


paint More exactly as I saw him, but my ambition was greater than my strength. The most delicate chapters of this life would have to be rewritten, and

the rest indefinitely retouched. I have not sufficient confidence in myself to begin the work again, and I

must be content to call the reader's attention to the documents that will enable him to draw a portrait

a man of constant faith and exemplary piety. Wit and goodwill. To any one who make the attempt I can promise plenty of of letters. wisdom and courage. there is nothing that this saint of modern edification A man : times lacks to be enrolled among our dearest patrons and models. in addition. eo desideres quod ad absolututn . a statesman. ut nihil in pertineat patronum.viii PREFACE Thomas More for himself. and. More may become for us all a friend for all omnibus omnium hours. as Erasmus calls him horarum homo. of Sir cares to and pleasure. a family man.

up with his family. apparently. fixed the main lines of his life and related the essential anecdotes in a slender^ volume which is of infinite value to all students ofl This work. his children's tutor. worthy soul who made no profession to literature. thought of writing a life of More. a useful. Sir Thomas More has suffered comparatively little at the hands of his after his martyrdom. Nicholas Harpsfleld.SOURCES OF THE LIFE OF MORE Hitherto. by rare good fortune. his who married Dorothy CoUey. and was not printed till 1616. copied. got hold of Roper's work. who married Margaret Gigs. Twenty years his son-in-law. Thomas Stapleton. faithfully noted down the reminiscences which were confided to him during a long intimacy by former members of Sir Thomas More's household. and John Harris. conscientious. a young priest of genuine ability who remained in England till the biographers. who Harpsfield's ' MS. and undertook. circulated from hand to handv in manuscript.^ It is commonly admitted that ^ Father Morris. sequent lives of More. Archdeacon of Canterbury. Margaret More's maid. . had This is the copy used by both Father Bridgett and myself. a accession of Elizabeth. His work. Under Mary Tudor. to raise it to the dignity of history.i However. was never printed. Roper. and tedious book of reference. the starting-point of all sub-\ More. John Clements. and never deserved to be. a girl brought secretary.

and at every step he could call upon them for reminiscences and advice. and his wife. No doubt. and Stapleton leisure. faith as a witness to tradition. and Thomas More. there at last set to work to write the lives of the three saints Apostle.. and on the whole is excellent. in relating the of his great-grandfather. Dorothy Colley. a voluntary exile. went into exile with him and lived near him. the biographers who followed (and happily they were few) did nothing but amalga- mate Roper and Stapleton. But for Father Bridgett's opinion. spiritual of these The most is original and rhapsodies the only one that life need detain us. Stapleton's researches are in the main at first hand. When all is his additions to his predecessors' work are unimportant and always of doubtful authenticity. More's secretary. whose name he bore Thomas the Thomas k Becket. and took himself in good said. . Till quite recently. — John Harris. has forgotten to give references to the earliest and the most authoritative of all. and his evidence is almost as valuable as that of an immediate contemporary. for Louvain. Cresacre More thought he was all writing an original work. who as a girl had been in the service of Margaret More. I should be tempted to raise a doubt on the subject but in any case. X SOURCES OF THE LIFE OF MORE may have consulted Roper's notes at though it is strange that a writer so careful always to mention his authorities. To John Harris we owe several precious letters preserved by Stapleton alone. He left England. The book was published at Douai in 1588 under the title of Tres Thomae.

SOURCES OF THE LIFE OF MORE He the is xi a Joinville who never knew St Louis . it should have liked to quote from by Holbein and Erasmus's letters on More make one exacting. Hutton's book written with far more H. where the Utopia was formerly very well known. In France. and far above the rest. we have not a single original life of More. Audin. and pious of biographers. and makes very attractive reading. that deserves to be set apart. but the portrait the chapter in Sir Eminent British Statesmen. and when at last we close the book we know all about its hero. I cannot attempt to enumerate here the shorter studies and other essays. it is the most intelligent and illuriiinating I have met with. who long enjoyed the monopoly amongst us of everything connected with the Reforstudy . After Roper and Stapleton. which followed close on the decree of beatification. art. and may be considered henceforth as the classic life of the martyr. fulfils the demands of the most minute criticism. often. and at same time the most deliciously naive. After Holbein and Erasmus. Mr W. There is one. worthy. His book. image stands out from the relation of events. the writer who has deserved best of Sir Thomas More is Father Bridgett. patient and thorough work as it is. Unfortunately of solid material arranged in lively it is a mass no kind of order no . James Mackintosh's Lives The sketch is heavy of in style but unusually penetrating. however. but is know him not I at all. a little wanting in originality and relief. and many no doubt will find the book.

indicates the Life .* may have chanced is The translation often faulty and always very free. pearing impertinent. whenever possible. More is one of the heroes of D. ^ In his two volumes. no por- here it is we certainly have a portrait. B. the Wit and Wisdom books. I have found it more convenient to refer. to his two B. we see. Finally. i. in must ask pardon in ill-humour show ^ advance for any touches of here and there to expressing myself on this subject. Father Bridgett has collected not only all the most important documents. Etudes sur la Renaissance : Erasme. ii. ^ D. Nisard's triptych on the Renaissance. had a translation of Stapleton his supervision. Though revised.. I reason I At the risk of apmust say that for that very have found the book the more irritating. they remain a youthful work. The Life and Writings of Sir Thomas More and The Wit and Wisdom of Blessed Thomas More. and leaves a more precise and vivid impression than mation. In the English Lives trait at all . Nisard prefers to Latinise the name of More. . Kisard : Melancthon. 1836-1838. Moras. but also a large number of extracts from More's works. xii SOURCES OP THE LIFE OF MORE made under and added notes which are sometimes interesting. but one I in which I impossible to recognise the original. These studies appeared in the Revue des Deux Mondes. at the worst.! The little American life by Walter has also been translated. and were re-printed in 1855.^ This portrait was drawn con amore. It was published by Maison in 1849. those of the English historians.



may I dis- concert our devotional habit. whose every word is an oracle and their every act a marvel. one of those vague and fabulous beings.THOMAS MORE CHAPTER YOUTH (1478-1510) I " Thotnae Mori ingenio quid unquamfinxit natura vel dulcius." sooner do we become the least intimate with one of the beatified for our veneration sion. In all loyalty must His admit that Thomas More is of that number. find a man. I find a man. however." We need not point out to the readers of this Series that there is than such a discovery. velfelicius?" (Erasmus. our surprise is almost too great. whom the Church appoints " I than we reach a similar conclulooked to find a saint. and great is our delight at finding that his nearness to ourselves no obstacle to his being also very near to God. v. ) I " T * LOOKED No to find a preacher. 2. that is. Sometimes. nothing more consoling or more edifying never imagined that our We patron and model was so accessible. . velmollius. man or woman in the simple reality of and stripped of the veneer of convention under which most hagiographers used at one time to stifle the originality of their subjects. There is a danger that our first vivid glimpse is of the holy their lives. Lond.

in This could not be said of Thomas More. and every flower they gather takes in their hands the scent of incense. but his method of despising Not that he espoused it was rather that of the dilettante than the Christian. often attract by a witty mixture of kindliness and a touch of malice. with unpre. or a Pythagorean walking. . it is possible. but in such a life as his. . There is no rule of perfection to forbid their seeing the amusing side of things. If At first is sight he is entirely profane. it is spotless. Or rather. and his biographer can without para^jhrase or reticence. and their souls. he is delighted at their folly. You would take him for a new Democritus. less heavily weighted than our own. THOMAS MORE indeed. . With men of learning he is ravished by their wisdom with fools. that a period of sin would be less of a stumblingblock than a certain way of speaking and acting relate which agrees but ill We know very well that with current ideas of saintliness. it would be truer to say that he was interested and amused by everything. even the most serious. if I may so express it. And yet the lightest of their jests finds a natural setting a chapel or a cloister. . then he was worldly. The most austere of the saints could smile. saintliness is never pompous and willingly leaves grand airs to less genuine virtue. He lays by Colet's sermons. He will close the City oj God to open the Dialogues of Lucian.2 life. to engage in a contest of wit with his friends. to be worldly to look upon this world as a curious spectacle rather than to see folly life as the great stake on which eternity depends. " All the things of this world amuse him. .

ita hie deridenda. as men . But that name. I even imagine that in conversation More had more spirit and more wit than Erasmus. the philosopher." Another intimate friend. the name of Erasmus. ." So says Erasmus. own His sense of fun is joined with his father perfect refinement —you may . call humour and wit his mother. who knew him better than any one. . Mariana. who laughed at all human affairs. he can imitate a good cook and serve up the meat in sharp sauce. contrived to go further than his master. a pamphlet in which More's biographer has collected a number of Latin tributes to his hero. They were taken for and the idea delighted them both. " From childhood. if only at first contemporaries saw no difference between Erasmus and More. From culled the best they will. says the same thing less gracefully. sight. about the market-place to contemplate the tumult of buyers and sellers. When the matter requires it. " Richard Pace. He is amiable -and always good-tempered. no doubt." twins. and puts every one who meets him in a happy frame of mind. their At first sight. he inscribed himself a member of a school. ut ille humana omnia ridenda censuit. . nam. seem made for him. the school of Democritus. had to offer every philosophic sect he but at last." i 'Bridgett. neither gravity nor dignity the sole purpose of making . " he had such a love for witty jests that he seemed to have been sent into the world for them though he never descends to buffoonery. writes Erasmus. enables us to shorten our comments.YOUTH 3 judiced mind. as I underBut he stand. He speaks with the same facility in Latin as in his language.

is a perfectly true one. it is. . With his friends he so speaks of the life of the world to come that you know him to be speaking from his heart and not without the Erasmus knew him well. but in the very midst of one of his profane conversations. even can express. beyond question. not in his oratory. was the impression More left on the London of his time and the Court of Henry VIII. would certainly never have inspired Plandrin with the wish to add a new character to the lifeless and majestic procession which even now still embodies the common idea of a saint. to conclusions and misleading evidence. the Democritus has the soul of a Carthusian. comes to a close in the long perspective of these two lines cum aniicis sic fabulatur de vita futuri saeculi. Before plunging into the depths of that inner life of his. of a lively. witty. airy. let us take a glance at him. The perpetual jester the worldling has is the sweetest-natured of men death constantly in his thoughts. His intimate friend That view of him I truer than . to Ulrich von Hutten. irresponsible person. But there was another and still truer Thomas More.4 THOMAS MORE That was how his intimate friends spoke of him. and no doubt this rough sketch was strictly accurate. : best of hope. ut agnoscar ilium ex animo loqui. and we all shall soon understand how necessary in the face of so distrust hasty complex a physiognomy. neque sine optima spe. That. Such a sketch as that. and his memorable letter which gives the final portrait of Thomas More.

veiled and distant look. his sense of humour too quick. his small. But neither good sense nor internal peace are. Melan- would be His mind is too healthy. Cf. he firm the first conclusion. He He the was rarely he was by. Standing for the time before this wonderful likeness. joy. he loved them. MSS. Affectionate and faithful. The strange and touching story of his two marriages will be found to congive his friendship. according to a contemporary. No doubt he was the gravest unbent pleasantest of companions when Some unexpected lips . " were not great. 183." 2 lacked a kind of expansion and taste for life. grey. p. in high spirits. choly. but no lively gaiety in his falser still. which. 2 vii. II. 287). Wordsworth. 184.287. Ilarpsfield. ' More afterwards attributed one of his illnesses to his habit of "stooping and leaning on bis breast as he writes" (Letters and Papers. . More intimate acquaintance soon shows that the word " sadness " does not quite hit the note.YOUTH Take first 5 his portrait by Holbein. in the romantic sense of the word. jest was always whose smile has been but he scarcely ever laughed was slow to and then never gave it without Possibly his friends loved him more than reserve. one cannot fail to be struck by an impression of half-sadness. properly speaking. hovering on the delicate subtly fixed by Holbein himself. There is plenty of kindness and some shrewdness. yet much pleasing. and his Christian faith too serene. and I am tempted to wonder whether his humour did not conceal an invincible reserve or some timidity of sentiment. . 4th Ed. nor yet glittering. short-sighted i eyes.

the freshnessi and the generosity of youth. priests and scholars. no mother he remembered nothing.! ' and in any case he was determined that rate. had but a poor opinion of things literary. Erasmus was nothing but a kind of idler. . when we call to mind the dry and incomplete education More received. one which would have stifled for ever a less happy disposition.6 THOMAS MORE There is nothing surprising in it. at any speaks of him without enthusiasm. the marvel is that Thomas More. his Erasmus. The habitual companions of his boyhood were men of mature age. he inherited the charm. but of his From her. and. there can have been nothing whatever of the judge in the delicacy and grace that radiated from him so discreetly) but it seems that there was no attempt to find the orphan any feminine tenderness in place of the care of his dead mother. As we shall see. II Almost from his cradle More was entered of a good school of wit. if not the " long hopes." at any rate the spirits. Later in life he delighted to repeat his father's unpolished jests. doubt. and preserve throughout his life. . should ever have been able to hold out against such an atmosphere. the judge. if we may trust the portrait by Holbein. whose childhood was too brief and who became serious all too soon. indeed. the indefinable attractiveness celebrated by his contemporaries (at any rate. perhaps. To him. his father.

more human. even in sharpened his wit on the paternal sallies. " as Sir John More was three times married. I consider that the event proved him His early connection with practical life though it may have made More less learned than a pure humanist. innocent. just rupted" —we are quoting his son — he and uncorwas both loved and feared in the for his keen wit. gentle. sparkling with lucid intelligence." of his was that nothing was so much a matter of luck as marriage. with that bland curiosity of his. part. must have is ' Holbein's sketch is at Windsor. He himself has piously saved from shipwreck some of the good things which his own were soon to eclipse. For my own right. I ween." Bridgett. since boyhood.YOUTH son should be a 7 man of affairs like himself. at over sixty. moreover. and say that there be so many of them shrews. world of the palace worth noting. was a judge of the first order. The judge's pronouncements showed no tenderness to women " for when he heareth folk blame wives. with his eyes still " Courteous. Holbein shows him us. and that one is his own. remarks that. . plainly that there is but one shrew-wife in the world.^ affable. reckon it a perilous chance to Whereupon Father take up one at adventure. little The fact Thomas More. but he saith indeed that every man weeneth he hath Another saying her. he For he saith said that they defame them falsely. merciful. His father. resulted at any rate in his intellect being less bookish. . " If ye should put your hand into a blind bag full of snakes and eels together. ye would.

He was born in the city of London on the 7th February 1478.' And he recalls an epigram of Thomas More's against sayings. or were a kind of humorous philosophy. ex- Latin master. III."' of Thomas More's birth seems now to be beyond question. and was the author of a Latin grammar with the alluring title of Lac puerorum. So varied and picturesque an existence must have brought both pleasure and profit to a boy with the keenness and universal interest of Thomas More. septimam ducit tamen.— 8 it THOMAS MORE would be interesting to know the date of these and whether they embody the fruits of his experience. The boy was then taken into the household of Cardinal Morton. when he was five years old. who had already taught Latimer and Colet. in the sevensettled The date teenth year of the reign of war was then later in full swing. i. Morton had not yet received the hat. It was one of the pleasantest recollections and most fruitful periods of his ' life. of The great ecclesiastical dignitaries of those days in their service. had a certain number of pages who finished their education in this manner. The civil and More could recall how. the lovers of witticisms of this kind " : Hoc quisque dicit . 5. * B.^ Archbishop Canterbury and Chancellor of England. who was soon first to be At the cellent school he known as Richard was sent to he had an Nicholas Holt. Edward IV. Quin sex sepultis. dicit at ducit tamen. he heard a neighbour predict the coming triumph of the Duke of York. .

In his face did shine such an amiable reverence. He stood in the boy's eyes for to a circle." The future Chancellor of Henry VIII. he took great delectation. " In his speech he was fine. " He had great delight many times with rough speech to his suitors. and in memory wonderful was wit he pithy. but without harm. as was pleasant to behold. excellent. in incomparable. was to have occasion later to make use of this kind of excellence. In the which. " He was of a mean stature. as in a virtue much agreeing with his nature. yet earnest and sage." ^ ' Uiepia (Robinson's translation). so that therewith were not joined impudence. eloquent. More was to speak of witty of his proteg&s. and a fresh and lively gratitude. to prove. . what prompt wit and what bold spirit were in every man.YOUTH 9 Nothing tends more to form and elevate a boy's mind than the enthusiastic devotion youth can pay of worth in the daily contact of the home The Cardinal made a profound impression on Thomas More. gentle in communication. and reveals the sign by which the Cardinal had recognised the most confident and great interests of his country. man an incarnation of the Church and of devotion to the Long afterwards. and tinues : In the law he had profound knowledge. and though stricken in age. him in Utopia with a wealth of admiration that was rare with him. but no More conlonger with the same commendation." What follows admits us more directly into their familiar relations. yet bare he his body upright.

" ' Ad Dorp. to explain how much he lacks who lacks Greek "). though with certain conditions. Erasmus. Morton was breaking. fruit. This letter to Dorpius may be found. at the end of the letters of London edition of the iii. taking his best pupil. On his return from Bologna. named Sellyng. For Erasmus's edition. was destined to bear Ill explicare. 40 E. dear Dorpius. set out for Oxford. Other to the letters are collected in vol. in so doing. fuerit desuni cui Grceca desunt " (" he had been admitted Doctor. then aged fourteen.10 THOMAS MORE His example in ail these matters. he had returned to Italy and ^ left him in Mr Hutton further ascribes to the Cardinal's influence robust faith in the Catholicity of the Church. The Oxford of 1492.^ That statement shows the ambition with which the boy More. Thomas Linacre. with other letters of More's. ei mi Dorpi. Mora's Morton. a monk of Canterbury. I need not enter here into the question whether. with "an ancient national tradition. the Oxford of Grocyn and Linacre. he says. 9). was one of the Archbishops who taught men to forget the claim of the English Primate to be alterius orbis papa (p.^ the last among them. of Jortin's Erasmus (edition of 1808). was to every Englishman the city of Greek. letters I have gone as a general rule London . The Cardinal had had no difficulty in finding his page a place there. as Mr Hutton says. where " Infinitum. quam multa 'Twould be an infinite task. and Sir John More had consented to the step. had opened a Greek class near the abbey . then. with him.

3 lo. Sir John More had taken precautions against his son's indulging in any pleasures beyond the study of Aristotle. I say.2 He had no pocket-money. and himself a brilliant humanist." * That is all the exact information we have on our hero's university career. and never learnt to use money badly in a word. ' Cf. with . Dom ' More himself B. — Gasquet.^ But it was a far cry from the gardens of Lorenzo the Magnificent to the poor chambers of Oxford. of study was the same but at Oxford remained grave. says in his letter to Dorpius that Linacre expounded Aristotle to him. The ardour life . and spent my time in no vain or hurtful amusements I did not know what luxury meant.YOUTH the hands of Politian. "It was thus. I loved and thought of nothing but my studies. Essay IX. "that I indulged in no vice or pleasure. . and from them gather the meaning of the sentences which they compose no one." he would say. The coming of the Renaissance in England was marked by no frivolity. 11 Linacre was Thomas More's and thus we have a clear view of the torch of the Renaissance passing from hand to hand. all but monastic. . i. The Old English Bible. gives us some idea of his method of work. " Here I will remark that no one ever lived who did not first ascertain the meaning of words. A reference by Richard Pace. his contemporary. no revival of paganism. For the most insignificant and most necessary expenses he must write to London. Moreover. from the master of Giovanni de Medici to the master tutor of Thomas More. .

he was admitted of Lincoln's Inn as a student of law. of course. and that is our own Thomas More. He was and was shortly afterwards appointed three years in succession as lecturer to the students and minor persons of the Palace. we may add.12 THOMAS MORE one single exception. and an instinct of genius. characteristic of an amateur. In fact. For he is wont to gather the force of the words from the sentences in which they occur. 12. More never had the time to become a professional scholar. but above it. He was then eighteen. More obeyed the summons. ' In 1504 B. In February 1496. a mark of esteem which led to his being selected later to interpret the law before his colleagues of the bar called to the bar in 1501. he entered Parliament. He spoke Latin. arithmetic. and before the judges themselves (1511). Here again he soon distinguished himself. This is not contrary to grammar. all and geometry. He appears. The judge was afraid the love of Greek might turn the young man from the career he had chosen for him." i It is also. and played becomingly on the and viol. He knew also " French. moreover. According to Erasmus. especially in his study and translation of Greek. as fluently as his mothertongue. . to have had more aptitude for Greek than for Latin. i. At the end of two years his father summoned him back to London." devoured the books on history that came flute into his hands. he owed the supple elegance we admire in his writings to nothing but dogged application.

YOUTH 13 IV There is no need to is linger in the courts of justice. great rector of St of Lawrence Jewry the other Hellenist the day. his professional career will rejoin and return to with all We him in his real life the speed we may. His first pro- ceeding was to look for a room close to the Charter House in London. but. William Lilly. Linacre. the Dean of St Paul's. . he devoted the best of his time to work he did not care for . . The rest of his leisure was spent in study. who was the dearest of all. Like many others. the young and attractive scholar. he was always able to withdraw at a given moment from himself. thorough Englishman that he was. the absence of Erasmus. whose only duty liberty of choosing his it was now had been full so far to let himself be led. No better moment could be found. began to enjoy the own course. where he might live in meditation and prayer. Grocyn. We know their names: Colet. IWore's old tutor. who. So far as he could he followed the offices of his neighbours. had gone to perfect his Greek Lilly was living actually in in the Isle of Rhodes. whom he had taken for his confessor. after his Oxford years. who had and in also returned to the capital. the Hellenist. The very few friends he had made were no distraction from work and from thought on God. The real More not to be found there. for it that the young man. and finally.

he is therefore of necessity a Lutheran. being next door to each other. verse and their respective versions were published title together in the same book. they met frequently. and Mr Seebohm has employed for the purpose lingering over. For all his somewhat anxious temperament and slightly obstinate mind. and especially St Augustine. who never either did or wrote a single thing that could justify a doubt of the perfect orthodoxy of his faith. there were others. which Grocyn had reading. with the charming of Progymnasmata Thomae Mori et GuUelmi Lilii sodalium. But it has yet to be demonstrated that because a man admits that abuses have crept into the life of the Churchy because he deplores them and combats them. The ardent and rigid figure of Dean Colet is worth As with nearly all the great Catholic reformers. But the Anthologia was not Thomas More's usual The Fathers of the Church. and More himself proves that Colet's . as they said. If some of his brethren attacked him fiercely as an innovator. placed at his disposal. and he even gave a course of lectures on the de Civitate Dei in the church of St Lawrence. For practice. as disputable authority. interested him more. the Dean of St Paul's was a priest of great sanctity. an audacity of conjecture which is no part of a historian's equipment. and thus. many in number and of inwho remained faithful to him throughout.14 THOMAS MORE the Charter House. the two friends amused themselves by translating epigrams from the Anthologia into Latin . attempts have been made to rob us of him.


name was
not, in fact, that of a suspect,




his letter to a

monk who was

strongly opposed to

new ideas, he praises Longland by simply calling him another Colet: "Alter, ut eius laudes uno verba

compleetar, Coletus."

In other respects the natural affinities between

Colet and Thomas More were but distant. They were united by the same Christian ideas and the same taste for letters. Colet was one of the few preachers iVIore could endure and, last but not least, the young barrister, who was then passing through a critical period, was indebted to his confessor for much kindness, wisdom, and decision. More was at that time considering whether he ought not to renounce the world entirely, and it was probably on Colet's advice that he gave up all idea

of a religious vocation.

was Erasmus who,


summing up


one word

the history of that the

crisis, let loose, in all


of Thomas More's biographers. do not include Father Bridgett and Mr Hutton, but the sober Nisard has been caught out " At twenty years of age," he in a solemn blunder. " senses begins to be heard. the voice of the writes, In spite of his habitual austerity, his poverty, and his ardour for work, the Oxford scholar {he had left Oxford two years before) was disturbed by unknown
^ He continues complacently in that strain he reaches this exquisitely tasteful conclusion " The young man, however, had defeat in prospect.


1 '


Erasmus, iii. 383. itudes sur la Renaissance,

p. 163.

; : ;



of escaping it were always open to him monastery and marriage. His conscience was offended at the thought of a monastery within its walls he would have been disgusted, or perhaps tempted by evil example. Marriage attracted him, in spite of the epigrams he had made on women and he took refuge from profligacy in a holy

Two means





And now

to return to


The brusque

simplicity of his statement tastes better than this







Thomas More's

confidence says


igitur maritus



impression these words convey

that More, being uncertain of his strength, and

not feeling himself clearly called to a more life, decided to live as a Christian in a state of wedlock rather than make a bad priest. And


that, in fact, is the truth of his story.

For some

time he thought seriously of becoming a Franciscan then he gave up the idea for the simple reason that I have just stated. It is really a puerile proceeding

up all this romance of " unknown desires " ^ on such a foundation and we reach the acme of nonsense with M. Nisard when he asks us to see in Thomas More a " Christian who found the cloister
to build

too mild to confine his rebellious youth."



itudis sur la Renaissance, p. 167. In the famous letter to Ulrich von Hutten, to which we shall
Father Bridgett says in this connection


"That was a matter


More himself and

his confessor."


to write like a


* Ibid., p. 185.



Others, still starting from the words of Erasmus, have gone further than Nisard, or at least have expatiated at greater length on the monastic corruption which they suppose to have compelled








resource, to



content to confine


answer to

the words of an Anglican historian

" It is absurd to

More was disgusted with monastic he loathed monks as a disgrace to the Church.' He was throughout his life a warm



friend of the religious orders,

and a devoted admirer
the vices of

of the monastic ideal.

He condemned

he said, as his great-grandson says, 'that at that time religious men in England had somewhat degenerated from their ancient strictness but there is not the slightest and fervour of spirit


sign that his decision to decline the monastic


was due


the smallest degree to a distrust of the

system or Church." I









spring of


Thomas More

dreamed when he did so that so natural a step would one day let loose such a flood of sour ink. I shall come soon to the but delightful story of his betrothal to Jane Colt before closing this chapter on the youth of Thomas More, we must pause for a moment on a work to
certainly never


which he devoted himself during the first year of his married life, and in which he seems to have wished to sum up for his own use the best lessons
of the Renaissance.

Hutton, pp. 27, 28.



The work






book that appeared


1510, with the following old-world title: The


yohn Picus Erie of Myrandula, a great horde of Italy, an excellent connyng man in all sciences, and vertuous of lining : with diners epistles and other workes of ye sayd John Picus, fnll of greate science, vertue, and wisedome : whose life and woorkes bene worthy and digne to be read, and often to be had in

Translated ont of latin into Englishe by

Thomas More. I am quite aware that the name of Pico della Mirandola stands to most people for that of a swash-buckler of dogmatism, and that the young
scholar has paid heavily with us for the swaggering

titles of his theses.

But our misprision




at a


Pico della Mirandola

to-day what he was to his contemporaries, the

hero, the

Prince Charming of
of universal



Renaissance. knowledge, " not



Pater says, "the archangel Raphael

or Mercury, as he might have appeared in a

painting by Sandro Botticelli," entered that famous chamber where a lamp burned day and night before the bust of Plato, Ficino, that old pagan, " seems to have thought there was something not wholly earthly about him at least, he ever afterwards believed that it was not without the co-operation of the stars that the stranger had arrived on that

. an intimate and serious conversa- Ficino himself has related. he would never. but the kinship between the two minds. Savonarola loved the young prince dearly. the story of his fascination. Let it be remembered further that the cell of the prior of St Mark's saw to just another such scene." and a kind of exaltation of humanity that threatened a return to paganism these two extreme tend- — encies meet in Christian harmony." 1 19 Ficino was captured like every one else. the Christian asceticism that could go courageously even to the "folly of the Cross. Pico della Mirandola. in didactic humanism and mingle into More had not the leisure to set forth form this reconciliation of Plato and the if he had set hand to the work. in a dedication Lorenzo de Medici. and hov? the visit determined him to undertake the translation of Plotinus. This double friendship supplies a happy symbol Ficino of the philosophy of Pico and Thomas More. He would have liked to make him one of his monks. and though that joy was denied him he at least had the sweet and mournful honour of burying his disciple's body in the hood and white frock of the Dominican order." says Mr Hutton. Rich colours and the strange recesses of occult investigation. the of the beauty ' Walter Pater.YOUTH day. " More was penetrated with the sense and the mystery of life. and Savonarola. solid Englishman that he was. have brought nearer to earth the adventurous and sometimes bizarre mysticism of Pico della Mirandola. the two Gospels. is plain. Tie Renaissance. and theyfell at once into tion. and souls. " Like the Italian humanist.

. in their religion. 35. impossible to define the simplest of living souls exactly. To him did not seem that Christianity was less true because Paganism was so beautiful. antinomies which ' still weigh on us Hutton. Greek and legal procedure." ^ I must crave the reader's indulgence if he finds that this first chapter leaves him still in the clouds. Erasmus and Pico della Mirandola. The lies writer. Pico was as far removed from the ignorant bigotry satirized in the Letters of obscure men as from the scarce veiled Paganism of of many it disciples the New Learning. p. all these suggestions packed into twenty pages cannot give is fail to more smoke than blame . and the pure the beauty of classic ideals of literature thrilling chords of music and the simple innocence of animal life. how can we hope to understand so rich and diverse a nature so early in its career. and the same thought was never absent from the mind of More.. the thoughts of Plato and the divine mysteries of the Christian appealed each sciousness. the joys of friendship and of love. Marsilio Ficino and Savonarola. no doubt. light. in to but the fault If it is to some extent the subject too. when it is but just emerging from the is ? And there the most perplexing of the antinomies confusion of youthful years more we have propounded. 20 THOMAS MORE human and art. the Renaissance and Catholic reform. turn to his sensitive conhis and ascetic though he was innet contemplation never blinded him to the loveliness of human life. quaintness of old-world learning. the triumph of self-sacrifice.

YOUTH after 21 a lapse of four centuries. we shall the better understand how a Christian can renounce nothing of what is nobly "human." and still remain faithful to the "hard words" of the Gospel. By contemplating Thomas More as amhulando. are not those that Solvitur can be resolved into clear formulas. . he lived.

But that loophole is closed to No of both sides the sympathy was full and entire. T * HAVE poraries already of mentioned that the contemliked associate his Thomas More's youth name with that of Erasmus. and those decisive. strictly speaking.. friendship. On the contrary. there are many passages. 422). Shairp. is to this At distance of time such a conjunction surprise and source of anxiety. 41 B). Dial. might explain everything. Greek. Erasmus. amount of searching will reveal one single line On More that could be construed as containing the slightest disavowal of the work and thought of Erasmus. What course are we to take ? Must we surrender the author of The Praise of Folly to the Protestants or the Freethinkers. : quam dictum alioqui fors ipsi intelligerent non succensuri. plus ab ea ipsa (Moria) dictum. p. and with . If a constant there had been nothing between these two humanists but a close bond of us. p. si ea ipsa quae dicuntur (Mori ad Dorpium. C. Remembrance). Ab aliis sit persuasi credunt. my darling. is A my dear darling (More. high-souled and complete still (J.CHAPTER II ERASMUS AND THOMAS MORE A scholar brotherhood. in which the future martyr adopts all his friend's thoughts and defends them out and out.

are we to join the early biographers of More in an attempt to establish a quarrel between the two friends on the earliest possible opportunity. on the it. the Primate of the English Benedictines. I am aware. spent several fairly His first visit took place when Mofe was beginning his second year Gasquet has devoted a long chapter of his Eve of the Reformation to Erasmus. the other. that an unauthoritative biographer would be ill-advised to attempt to conduct so delicate an interrogatory on his own account. however heavy.ERASMUS AND THOMAS MORE him thirty years 23 and more of the intellectual life of Thomas More ? If the facts demand it. Or. and the only one to interest us understanding that justice and truth allow directly in this chapter. we will make the sacrifice. 1 Erasmus. offers a transparent sincerity.^ and Father Bridgett. and if one of them seems a little too elusive. and mean to confine myself to following step by step the proceedings of two masters whose knowledge and orthodoxy are unquestioned. the official biographer of Blessed Thomas More. and conjure up at all costs some means of separating them in ? We are prepared to do that too. Dom Gasquet. 11 long periods in England. Dom . But any case we must give them a hearing before we judge them. They have both taken us into their confidence. too. as every one knows. on the other hand. in 1497.

Meanwhile Erasmus. presented him with I know not what writing. and a child in the nurse's arms. from time to time. tone of the letters he wrote at that time to More. on ' his return to the Continent. I went home and in spite of the Muses. aged nine." ^ Prince Henry we shall meet again. The scene took place between February 1499 and January 1500. " More. i. after saluting prince Henry. I finished my poem within three days. . More came to see him and proposed to take him to the next village. ". Henry.24 of the l?iw. Lord Mountjoy. 39. praised his B. beginning between them.'s family with the exception of prince Arthur. 40. who had been a pupil of the already famous humanist's in Paris. and I was obliged to make a promise that I would write something to show my respect. and especially so since the prince while we were dining sent me a note asking some fruit of my pen. The king's children gave them audience in great clear that a firm state.. too. Erasmus soon left London for Oxford. One day when Erasmus was resting at Lord Mountjoy's country house. is it and affectionate friendship was They could meet. As I was entirely taken by surprise I had nothing to offer. I was somewhat vexed with More for not warning me. There they found the whole of Henry Vn. from whom I had long been separated. but already possessed with a sense of his own importance.. THOMAS MORE Erasmus was some ten years older than They met probably at the house of William Blount." writes Erasmus. two little princesses. but from the the young student.

ERASMUS AND THOMAS MORE English friends to the skies : 25 the kindness of Prior Charnock. the learning of Colet. and the " suavity " of More." And he published his declamation with a preface in which More is not forgotten. and his house was assiduously frequented by an academy of Hellenists Colet. so shrewd. " I should obey without a murmur.. " If he bade : way inferior to Tully. that he has every quality of a perfect advocate." Coming down to detail. and with a view to tempering their " humour" anew at a good spring. he adds the following lines." said Erasmus. although in urbanity he is in no the same author. The — delight of the band of scholars may easily be In their ardour for work. so keen-sighted. Linacre. not to neglect his profession of barrister too completely. imagined. occupied writing a declamation on tyrannicide in imitation of wished Erasmus to follow his me to dance on the tightrope. More had been married for some months. and Lilly. his Oxford host. and. the two friends made use of the interval to turn several dialogues of Lucian into Latin. nature never made any one so ready of wit. Grocyn. He paid so much attention . He example. This time he went straight to More's. " Unless my ardent love blinds me. which we feel to be very just " The style of his oratory approaches more the structure and dialectic subtlety of Isocrates than the limpid stream of Cicero. More chose ^' himself in the most caustic. Towards the end of 1505 he crossed the Channel again. His intellect is equalled by his power of speech and his suavity is so great. his humour so keen yet so innocuous.

41 F). until at length. . 26 in his THOMAS MORE youth to writing poetry. egged him on. he stood shoulder to shoulder and fired a shot himself. The Praise of Folly was finished. he was seized with an idea which struck him as a splendid find. In 1516. and stood for a pleasant reminder that the work had been written under Thomas More's roof and in collaboraliterary tion. We He communicated it to his host. by the end of a few weeks. sicuti nee ego certe " {Ad Dorpium. The very title of the famous little book. i. the campaign of which The Praise of Folly is the most famous episode. man to throw cold water on any More was not the project of the kind he encouraged Erasmus.. he still declared that for his own part he could not have wished the suppression of a single line of Erasmus's epigrams against the monks.^ and about the same time he himself was with his friend ' B. Some weeks later. 82. of a kind. and again came to stay with Thomas More. prompted him with a few jests of his own. . that you may now ^ discern the poet in his prose compositions. 83. before the outburst of Luther. In Collaboration. so to speak. year 1508." have now reached the critical moment. the Encomium Moriae. nil in eis reperisse te " " Non miror quod mutari velles. The pamphlet he composed has all the biting wit and the dashing attack of the Moria itself. on the brotherhood of the two friends. the in which Erasmus returned once more to England. we say but More was not content with encouraging Erasmus and defending him. while he was riding in difficult country at the mercy of his mule. set a seal. with the future author of Utopia.

B. 109. 27 indulging in a few piquant anecdotes on the same Devout as he was and singularly attached to the Blessed Virgin.ERASMUS AND THOMAS MORE themfe. Yet. " You cannot believe. though it may be noted that in all these matters his touch is more delicate and lighter than that of Erasmus." ^ More was delighted. to tell the truth. " pays one-half of the cost. 109. from Antwerp. no. of course. how . my I love for you. More had written his famous letter to Dorpius in defence of The Praise of Folly." wrote Erasmus.* Their friendship continued without a cloud. In 1517 More was languishing." ^ The year before. . a reluctant ambassador. and it is wonderful how sweetly I am elated when the thought occurs to me that I shall be commended to the most distant ages by the friendship. which ^ is not so good as his friend's. at Calais. refer. to his Latin. . this eagerness of yours to bind me still more closely to you. You know me so well that need not labour to prove to you that. the letters. my Erasmus. I am no great boaster. with all my faults. has heightened . and I the other. the pictures of Erasmus. he was merciless judged in ridiculing certain devotions which he superstitious. my darling Erasmus (the erasmiotatos is untranslatable). but we wished the gift to be from both. Either of us would gladly have paid the whole. i. Erasmus and Peter Giles sent him their portraits. and replied with an outburst of affection. there is one craving for glory I cannot shake off. ^ B. In 1520 appeared ' I do not i. " Peter. the books. just finished by Quentin Matsys.

did not lose sight of each other tinued to correspond.28 his letter to THOMAS MORE a sent him certain vile But he was already absorbed by affairs of State. by one of those unconscious sophisms of which we are all capable." Ill main lines. who was a staunch Catholic controversialist in the campaign against idea Protestantism. and soon afterwards by the struggle against Protestantism. to see how usually serious and sincere biographers In its friendship have fallen victims to the temptation to attenuate fit or amplify the facts. however. sooner or later. them to their So legends are born. monk who had Erasmus. and therefore. The two friends. as to nearly all his contemporaries. they contone. . More remained sensi- every attack on Erasmus's orthodoxy. The friendship. his hero must have arrived at the same conclusion. slanders against however. Stapleton. is unable to stomach the More can have remained a friend of Erasmus. Erasmus is nothing but a forerunner of that Luther. even struggle with the Lutherans. he will have it that. the history of this famous It is both sad and amusing is known. To him. and always in the ." he writes. so as to wishes. and claimed that quality stoutly for his " dear darling. his in same and we tive to shall see before long how. "was the cause of More's having a greater affection for Erasmus than for any one and Erasmus justly returned it to the full. " Their common devotion to letters. was rather honourable to .

that in the course of time their friendship cooled." gives Stapleton for on it. in 1 B. 39- . but. " with Erasmus my darling the shrewd intent and purpose that I book. More expressed himself clearly on the is subject of Erasmus. copied by Cresacre More and many others. More's affection diminished by little and continued to cool." Every word is of that legend.ERASMUS AND THOMAS MORE 29 Erasmus than beneficial to More. or perhaps forgot. Stapleton does not ignore it. clearly cut to What says history pattern the pattern of " In the interests ? I — of truth. and that Erasmus." writes More. the place in which to look for his last word. and in proportion as the heresy hatched from the terrible egg laid by little Erasmus grew bigger. not content with neglecting his advice. the last lines. beyond question. he either did not see. Vague rumour him ground the statement that More implored his friend to publish a book of retractations. which happen to be a decisive profession of affection and confidence. The ingenuity rash conclusion still undeniable. " I must declare at the outset that cannot find the very slightest foundation for the assertion of Stapleton." says Father Bridgett. That. his In a book he published towards the at the height of the end of life. litteras Nee has Mori of this better is superesse passus is est. " For had I found. but there to follow. Protestant agitation. took care to destroy the compromising letter. i. Abundant proofs i of the contrary will appear as insists we proceed. He prints the passage in his consequence of the involuntary blindness we have mentioned.

and no less than Erasmus. 'Pp. a forerunner of Pro- testantism. The phrase and the thought of More ended thus " But I find in Erasmus my darling that he detesteth and abhorreth the errors and heresies that Tyndale plainly teacheth and abideth by. 112. 11 1." But these little liberties taken with the truth . 422. good even heightens — and either good-naturedly or acutely changes the meaning of the phrase by changing it. which seems to open the door to conjecture." Stapleton purposely stops at the conditional. and : therefore darling Erasmus my i darling shall he my He dear still. . THOMAS MORE Erasmus my darling should^be no more my darling. he shall be no more my darling. the doubting and dis- whose faith was under suspicion." writes Nisard. : — the tenses of the verbs " If my darling Erasmus hath translated 2 . ^English Works. that their early relations had not been entirely free from imprudence.. ascetic. too. takes care not to quote the whole passage.— 30 find in Tyndale. Here we come upon the the legend of satisfied Catholic birth of a new legend. all but succeeds in compromising life More threw ofiF and broke with a dangerous friend is to insinuate." Cresacre More. Thomas More. or at any rate to leave room for supposing. bring no advantage to their authors Stapleton's clumsy apology his hero.. "The young p. Nothing more was needed to let loose the imagination of another To say that later in his infatuation category of biographers.

" It would be impossible to caress one's own image more fondly. liberty of religion in Utopia.ERASMUS AND THOMAS MORE " the Christian 31 who had found the cloister too mild to confine his rebellious youth. the polemic writer who was going to defend the cause of Catholicism with such ardour." more tolerant than any. not one of these features bears the slightest resemblance to Thomas More. Henry VIII.'s chancellor was certainly " tolerant.. a kindly philosophy founded on Christian humanity. In proclaiming faith. His tolerance was no more than a just view of things. as a matter of fact. Morus comes nearer to philosophic doubt than to the Roman His mind had been sweetened without being corrupted by his occupation with public affairs. for. . but by no means in the sense claimed for him under the reign Merely from the point of view of of Louis Philippe. intelligent and moderate in our judgment on all subjects. and even to Erasmus. " and which make us tolerant in matters of religion. which disposes men to benevolence. and by his knowledge of human interests. criticism.. had experienced that slackenof the opinions. that failing of the spirit through which we all pass about that age" (a ing historian should not be in such haste to credit a Christian of 1510 with the sentiments through which " we pass " in the nineteenth century). . the lukewarm and infinitely diluted Christianity which Nisard thinks to honour him by claiming for him. we should need triple evidence before ascribing to such a man. unimpassioned reformers. and as reserved in negation as in affirmation. and glory.

then so clearly joined in love. Stapleton). I For the fact is that it is all flagrant invention. which is a beautiful piece of work. 187." ^ Really. moreover. i86. . "touch and The prudence of Erasmus agree at all points.32 THOMAS MORE portrait. Erasmus was a : devoted to Erasmus therefore sceptic: More was More was a sceptic. true that a letter of his. is a pure invention." concludes Nisard. will be less devoted (here speaks Erasmus will say of Morus that. it is anything in religious matters he inclines rather superstition than religion if : is Morus will he refuses active and incessant controversy with Luther it is because he has a secret leaning towards heresy. More defends It is have already quoted the formal statement by which his friend from all suspicion of heresy. but of the courage of Erasmus. and Morus and Erasmus. drowsy faith which is only to be woken by the resounding voice of Luther. takes on in Morus's eyes the colour of his own tolerHis leaning towards doubt meets in Morus a ance. this The all such as it is. so soon to turn to swords. Let Luther hurl till his words. we are at a loss for words when we find a perfectly honest hold of Erasmus that man in all good faith writing like this. "These two men. if there to. be- trays some slight anxiety. who of a promised work against Luther. this letter. into the world of Christendom. and psychology springs from a simple logical deduction. And. on account not of the orthodoxy. written in 1526. is of the kind that a man addresses only to his 1 seemed volume just then hesitating to publish the second Pp.

superstitioni quam i. More had just retired into private life. is entirely devoted to the praise and defence of More. he believed himself to have found it. but they must give up hope of summoning them as witnesses against They loved each other. no sooner his trial is one on than the other takes his place beside him. and championed each other to the end.e. and one verdict must condemn or acquit them both. B. no doubt. The charge against them is that they paved the way for the rebellion of 1 Luther by too much si activity in B. The letter in which. C '8 . it would be in the direction of superstition Writers are at liberty to rather than impiety.ERASMUS AND THOMAS MORE intimate. and the Protestants were tearing his name to pieces.^ As to the sup- posed expression of Erasmus. 1505. p. " More detests these seditious doctrines (i. Luther's) which are now so lamentably disturbing the world. for he is so given to piety that if he leaned in the least degree to one side or the other. understood each other. 277-79. impietati 246). men all IV They cannot be separated. in alterutram ^ " Sic addictus pietati ut partem aliquantulum vicinior esse inclinet momentum." ^ indulge in psychological fantasies about these two as much as they please. i. videatur" (London edition. Nisard is particularly unfortunate. his 33 most intimate friends. Erasmus has no trouble in showing that the Chancellor had not evaded his duty in his treatment of heretics. each other. He makes no mystery of his sentiments on that point.

May it not be that that is where we should look for the real Erasmus. for his inmost soul ? Here we have no more frivolity or sarcasm there is nothing to tempt him to reveal and exaggerate the less lofty tendencies of his nature and we are seized with affectionate gratitude and admiration at the thought of the great man who . no doubt." ^ It is well known that he had decided to take him as his theologian in the Council of Lateran. . But we need other witnesses than More himself. He feels that to him he may open his heart without reticence. Life of Blessed John Fisher. but the friendship of such a a presumption of the prisoner's "Fisher. for his part. . and very vigorously. always thoroughly convinced of the sincerity of the attachment of Erasmus to the Church. his friend of more than thirty years. Erasmus. was a personal man is in itself innocence. wrote to the saintly bishop He with the fullest freedom and confidence. He strongly approved and encouraged the labours of the Christian humanist on the Scriptures and the Fathers. had continued to extend him his friendship and his confidence. prisoner. the subject of the abuses which both observed in the Church. loi. up would only have to repeat that up till till martyrdom. "was friend. He too.34 THOMAS MORE What have they to say in their defence ? If Erasmus were the only the war against the abuses the Church then suffered from. They call witnesses." says Father Bridgett. and I know none in the whole century of more authority than the saintly Bishop Fisher. p. broaches in this letter. he the very end. ' Bridgett. Thomas More.

a synonym for rebellion. have died a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church. and in so doing compelled him to purify his zeal and moderate the vivacity of his attack. Rede Lecture. " The electing body. Bridgett. if he had liked. "was the whole Faculty of Theology. at any rate the general respect for his character and attainments carried the day. Many other English bishops. and everybody knows that Thomas More's friend might. thought and acted in the same way.. Fox. Moreover. that it was constantly on the lips or the pens of the most holiest Finally. Adrian VI. and Paul III. Fisher. about that time the word " reform was so far from being what it was soon to become with Luther. a little disconcerting. there were other Popes. no doubt. who lavished attentions on Erasmus. Erasmus.. and some of the most famous. some. regulars as well as seculars. Twice. Warham. in 1511 and 1513. but all marks of affection and confidence. p. . who enjoyed the Moria more than any one... Clement VII. The Praise of Folly dates from 1508. J." as Sir Richard Jebb points out. If Erasmus was not universally acceptable to the schoolmen or to the monks of Cambridge. and Tunstall. Wolsey. not ' ' Jebb. loi.." ERASMUS AND THOMAS MORE 35 gave ear to the daring reformer." i " His labours gained him the support and approbation of many of the and most learned bishops of the Continent. . the author of this hotly discussed little book was appointed Professor of Theology at Cambridge." ^ to mention Leo X..

Lecture XIV. at the house of Sir Thomas More in 1512. however." ^ No doubt the excessive haste and self-conceit of some of those who denounced the abuses laid them open to the danger of setting themselves before the Church." ^ The ^ future. " It is quite possible. Luther and Erasmus. Froude himself has said as much: "You cannot understand the sixteenth century till you recognise the immense difference then present in the minds of men between a change of doctrine and a reformation of the Church's manners and morals. Life and Letters of Erasmus. and it is only natural that in the smoke of the first battles the heretics of the morrow and the Catholics of all time should seem indistinguishable. the whole world was agreed on the foundation of the dispute. Bridgett. with the exception of a few reactionaries. The Church would be . 103." says Father Bridgett and — there " that is nothing out of the question in the idea had Fisher and Colet. neither divine nor Hving were she not constantly concerned with her own reformation of this continually necessary process. and it is a gratuitous insult to credit heresy with the monopoly There is no need to repeat here the reasons which made this necessity more urgent on the morrow of the great schism and the dawn of the modern era. All we are concerned to remember now is that.— 36 saintly THOMAS MORE and orthodox men. they would have conversed on the state of the Church and of the world with a seemingly cordial met together unanimity. was to reveal the secret and Froude. ' . Fisher. p.

and More. 155. p. says Father Gasquet. . But when the matter is sifted to the bottom. ' Jortin." but " is often perhaps injudicious in the manner in which he advocated reforms. pp. = /«</." ^ : 1 Gasquel.ERASMUS AND THOMAS MORE the Reformers of contention. The 178.. declared to his penitent that in correcting St Jerome. Erasmus. 373. Erasmus had committed an The name of St Jerome unpardonable crime. the envy and the ignorance Not only was of those whom he wished to serve. and even —the word is not too strong— the daily subjected to. madness of the attacks he was From the throne of Christianity. iii. 37 incurable antagonism which thenceforth separated and though Erasmus is still a bone it is quite clear that a decided Catholic More believed as Colet or Fisher. injustice. 156. a Dominican bishop. He begins by recalling the extraordinary violence. he felt himself as guilty as his friend. Queen Catherine's confessor. him to be as faithful and staunch Not a word did he speak or justify that could his being set down a Erasmus. like . was " keenly alive to the spiritual wants of the age. wrote ruined by the same plagues as now attack the labours of Erasmus. Erasmus's New Testament was denounced as one of the signs of the coming of Antichrist. Eve of the Reformation. write rebel. and as for excess and imprudence in polemics." ^ That was More's opinion too. and joined him in pleading extenuating circumstances. it will commonly be found that his ideas are just. vol. forgetting his usual " The labours of Jerome were moderation.^ was ill chosen.

The contest was too unequal. These Trojans v/ere accustomed to jeer at and . and seeing him smile. When the sermon was over. . " by this you prove your folly. the unhappy preacher fell on his knees for pardon. that none are more bitter in their outcry than they who do not read what I write.. one of those whom it most concerned. either out of hatred of Greek studies or from love of fun." said the king. the theologian was summoned to the king's presence and compelled to defend his statements against Thomas More. Defeated out of hand. and all the Hellenists sold to the devil. THOMAS MORE study of the Bible and the Fathers denounced Greek itself became an accursed language. Pace looked at the king to see how he was taking it." 1 The heat : of these battles is still only too evident in More's famous letter to the University of Oxford " in London he had heard of a faction at Oxford calling themselves Trojans." It was often thus. in condemning what you have not read. knew that Greek would win the day.. in which he fulminated against the study of Greek. and as Erasmus sadly remarks. The king asked him if he had read the writings of Erasmus. was sitting next to Thomas More. When . I generally find to be the case. who was charged with the defence of the Greek language. declaring that he believed himself to have followed the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.— 38 all critical . . One day a theologian preached a sermon before Henry VIII. " This . " Then. He was obliged to confess that he had not. Richard Pace.

. and suddenly coming from his solitude. and fasting. and . He had thought these were merely the regrettable folHes of young men but . in the very temple of God. he has found that the folly is growing into madness. and that one of these Trojans. should turn a Lenten sermon into a Bacchanalian farce ? As to his attack on all secular studies. if the good man had long withdrawn from the world and spent years in the desert. . a man wise in his own esteem and merry in the judgment of others.. but who must be counted insane by all who consider his conduct... had urged his hearers to give themselves to watching. before a great assembly of Christian men. His simplicity might have gained him pardon some kind hearers might have called it sanctity. . but most liberally against all liberal arts. . from such a preacher such a sermon might have been endured. in the sacred time of Lent. What in greater infamy could be offered to the func- tion of the preacher than that the preacher himself. But here they see a man ascend the pulpit elegantly dressed with a furred mantle. the holiest time of the year. and even those who liked it least might have excused it as piety and devotion.ERASMUS AND THOMAS MORE otherwise molest 39 all the students of Greek. and that the rude and unlearned fly to heaven unhindered. . in the presence of the venerable Body of Christ. raved not only against Greek literature and Latin culture. has in a public sermon. and that all the rest was but that the study of literature was the forging trifling of fetters. . . saying that by such means only could they gain heaven.. prayer.

. that they need to be held back by a public sermon. . or the rush . and there. Who Had he not he does not understand one iota ? matter enough in the seven capital sins matter.40 the insignia of a THOMAS MORE man of learning. Erasmus somewhere complains that there was nothing in his books that his adversaries did not find offensive. such and such a line scandalous. . And with this insane fury he pointed at a man (Erasmus) by the name of a devil whom all knew to be such that the real devil would be most him made a preacher. . not literature. in days received the blows of our Hellenists. too. openly rail against almost can deem this any? Hovf came it into his head to preach about the Latin tongue. . in which he is better skilled ? " Will it be pretended that what he condemns is — . of men so headlong towards study. which he knows still less or about Greek. and the disciples the devil's imps. he and More possibly " . of which he knows but little or the liberal sciences." our turn. must be careful not to clap a Trojan helmet on all who in the battles of those loath to see We. in the midst of a university to which no one comes except for the sake of learning. such and such words wanting in reverence. man had no But the good such moderate designs. the professors he nicknamed big devils. called the students of Greek heretics. of which every kind of literature. They see a scorpion under every stone such and such a passage is suspect. but the immoderate study of Surely that sin is it? not so common. thing but mere malice and envy . for he openly ." In the same way.

some More At in or Erasmus sight it to use their wit in their writings. first seems as all if irony ought to be rigorously excluded from Christian polemics. . . Dutch. or practices approved by the Church. . but practice this redoubtable weapon will remain necessary so long as pure reason proves insufficient for the guidance of men and the removal of abuses. There never was one day in his life when More would have applauded or tolerated an attack or a sneer at anything which he knew the Some years Church to have countenanced. There had been no outcry against it. — divine dogmas or institutions. That is the great danger of all discussions from which wit is not excluded and the severest of directors would no doubt have hesitated to forbid . 41 and in any case they were asking themselves whether of the ridicule they poured out so copiously might not splash the devoted soldiers of the good cause and even the Church herself. " Its satire. " moderate com- pared with that of faith many previous writers whose — and loyalty to the Church have never been Satire on ecclesiastical persons whatever opinion we may form of it must not be confounded with the ridicule cast by heretics on called in question. It had been at once translated into Latin. Their pens may have slipped now and then. earlier a German named Sebastian Brant had written in German verse a book called The Ship of Fools. French. but the two friends believed they might be satiric in all security of conscience.ERASMUS AND THOMAS MORE saw Trojans everywhere not careful enough in . . speaking of the Moria." says Father is Bridgett.

the great Jamieson. army He was poser of every priestly abuse. There was no prospect of heresy on any large scale. tion. .' This seems to me to explain why . indeed. written in Latin for more learned men. 84. i Erasmus was likely More thought it of the would. 85. . we have the proof both 1 B. And as a book may cease to be dangerous. i. . . and welcomed the book. and it is often the circumstances in which a book is read that determine its weight. . where he bore the character of a good Catholic. Circumstances had totally changed. . . be pernicious or perilous ? That it was judged and declared to be so by the Church more than fifty years later. a biting and unsparing exof Protestant reformers.42 THOMAS MORE A recent Scotch editor of this book. proves what it had become. Why should a deeper book. but a loyal son of the Church. . times. so also it may become dangerous by change of . not what it was at its first appearance. writes ' Brant can scarcely be classed in a reformer from within. The Ship of Fools had been received with applause throughout Europe. It had even been taken as a text-book for sermons in Germany. but among all good men there were hopes of a Catholic reforma." There. Whether the it satire of to hasten might well be doubted. More saw no harm or danger similar book of Erasmus when in it the somewhat first appeared. " When Erasmus wrote his Praise of Folly. the whole of Europe was Catholic Luther's name was yet unknown except in Wittenberg. Mr : and English.

and pave the v?ay an act of convinced that the arch-heretic was already knocking at the door. " I fear that you are imposed upon by the trickery of certain people who nowadays go boasting mightily of the liberty of the gospel. . 43 and of the presence of a in amount of perspicacity the various feared accusations brought against Erasmus. . if you knew more of things. " in times of I should never have written it if I had peace foreseen this tempest. the danger had broken out. maintained that rebellion. though I did so in all honesty. but nowhere. so that I am deeply grieved that in my writings I once preached the liberty of the spirit. you would be less weary of your present life. I see a race of men arising from whom my mind turns with I see no one becoming better. I believe. 86. becoming worse. wrote the Moria. i. Believe me. more frankly than in his exquisite letter to the monk who wished to leave his monastery. of Some for that his too vivacious criticism might serve the ends some heretic others. every one loathing. I desired then was that the abatement of external 1 B." ^ He makes similar admissions elsewhere. future beforehand. the best means of delaying him or preventing his doing any harm was simply to set vigorously to work Both sides were right and when Erasmus and More did not hesitate to recognise that they would have written differently if it had been granted them to at reform." said Erasmus. know the " I .ERASMUS AND THOMAS MORE innocence of the certain pair. suspecting nothing so What little as the appearance of people of this kind.

then. because they cannot be ignorant that you yourself confess frankly that you have handled certain subjects in a manner which. had you been able to foresee the speedy appearance of these foes and traitors to religion. .. p. excuse some of the ancient doctors of the Church. showed an equal determination to sacrifice all his literary past to the pressing needs of the Church. Lib. . ' London edition. had . we have not the liberty of the spirit but the unbridled licence of the . and forbids us the sacrifice of the Mass?"i There was nothing prise is . " Ibid. be not ashamed to temper your words to his pious fear. my Erasmus. no thought for the ills to come. he warmly declares that neither suspicion nor direct attack can disarm him. xx. will find it no easy task to . . " Your enemies. . . Go on. these retractations to sur- on the contrary. . The date of the letter is October 1527. He himself. ceremonies might true piety.." he writes to Erasmus. . ." ^ . . Epist. .44 THOMAS MORE much redound it is. of course. who. What liberty is that which forbids us to say our prayers. l8. while applying the remedy to present ills. " are all the less deserving of pardon. and prosper in those your virtues yet if aught should rouse the anxiety of some worthy soul beyond what need be. you would have endeavoured to soften and dilute. 150S. He that would blame you for this. to the increase of But as the ceremonies have been so destroyed that in place of them flesh. . Thomas More . .

but mine own also. I would not only my darling's books. of the Luther. "in which men. 423." he writes again. 422. or some works either that I have myself written on this. or the Renan. help to burn them both with mine own hands.ERASMUS AND THOMAS MORE 45 " In these days. folk yet being (as they be) given to take harm of that that is good. and submissive son of the Church. The man who wrote them manifestly was and always had been a faithful. loyal. rather than folk should (though through their own fault) take any harm of them. with him . misconstrue and take harm out of the very Scripture of God. the Bayle. In the Erasmus that he knew or thought he knew. pp. . and that after an experience of thirty is years. if any man would now translate Moria into English. the Voltaire. until men better amend. seeing that I see them likely in these days so to do. I will only remark that Henry VIII.'s Chancellor had a knowledge of men that he saw Erasmus at close quarters. As for his beloved Erasmus. his testimony ' possibly calculated to lessen English Works. we know now beyond question the opinion he had of him and the grounds on which he remained staunch in his friendship and confidence. albeit there be none harm therein. lived with him in complete intimacy. I am not concerned here to examine whether that was the real Erasmus. for the question has no bearing on the perfect orthodoxy of Thomas More. by their own default. so far as questions of faith were concerned."i Such words appear to me decisive. there was nothing. the Erasmus that he loved. prayed .

think they know him thoroughly and take it upon themselves to define him. because they have read the Moria and H few of Erasmus's letters and colloquies.46 THOMAS MORE the haste and increase the hesitation of those who. .

lodging. now of irony.CHAPTER III PRIVATE LIFE It is dear that Sir Thomas had a i. in which Holbein painted his friend's family. found him work. The painter's debt of gratitude and I have already spoken of affection was paid royally. that More had a delighted and unwearying admiration for Holbein's simple. . found board. and a studio for some months There is in the house of Sir Thomas More. which was now full of kindness. More welcomed the artist with his usual kindness. which was sent to Erasmus. on Erasmus's recom- mendation. and profound painting. TT is related that Hans Holbein the barbarity of the the younger. little Utopia of his own in his family (Bridgett. p. It is easy to imagine that the two became friends. and gave him every assistance in starting his career in the capital. intellectual. has now disappeared and is possibly lost. and Holbein a vivid interest in More's interesting face. now of gravity. his wonderful portrait of Thomas More and the present chapter might be regarded as little more than a commentary on another famous picture. no docu- mentary evidence legend. but it is in support of the picturesque certain that. 138). There are a few more . The picture. fleeing Swiss iconoclasts.

and the sketch. but the result of habit. His limbs are formed with such perfect symmetry as to leave nothing to be desired. let us " To begin. such as we often con- The .48 THOMAS MORE first or less imperfect copies remaining. as to Thomas More. his face fair rather than pale. rather cold face." . then. . In the rest of his person there offend. John More's betrothed. His hair is dark brown. The eyes are greyish blue. Between the two and a little behind them. especially when he walks. is a girl of fifteen. to speak candidly. a faint flush of pink appears beneath the whiteness of his skin. it is better framed for gladness than for gravity and dignity. tract. His countenance is in harmony with his character. though without any approach to folly or buffoonery. since all painting is untranslatable. and. being always expressive of an amiable joyousness. His complexion is white. with his father. with some spots. what is least known to you. a kind which betokens singular talent. The right shoulder is a little higher than the left. and even an incipient laughter. is in the museum in at Basle. is nothing to His hands are the least refined part of his body. pleasant. quarters of her pretty. though not remarkably short. or brownish black. This is not a defect of birth. showing threeof the room. the judge. old judge we have seen before. in stature he is not tall. and though by no means ruddy. More is sitting on a cushioned seat the middle on his right. . and among the English is considered attractive. in pen and ink. with call Erasmus to our aid. with many other masterpieces by the same painter.

Thomas More's arms knees. was a young man he delighted Yet not to seem singular or . Until he . in drinking water.^ He speaks with great clearness and perfect articulation. It is the custom wine. and his hands are buried in wide sleeves. but that of a Though he delights in every kind of music. wonderful how consist. not resounding or clear speaker. but penetrating. lips. He prefers In doing so he will merely touch He milk diet and fruits. and is especially fond of eggs. that . rather than what most people count Otherwise. are resting on his Holbein." continues Erasmus. " so indifferent about food. he has no vocal talents. clearly. " His voice is neither loud nor very weak. gives harmless pleasure to the body. or often pure water. " I never saw any one. used to sing with the choir in the church proves nothing ! unfortunately. he has no aversion to what delicacies. as regards all It is negligent he the ceremonious forms which most men make politeness to He Father Bridgett corrects Erasmus with the reminder that More . morose.PRIVATE LIFE Subrusticae : 49 Erasmus is the more conscious of In the that detail because his own hands were more delicate. sketch. He likes a simple dress. using neither silk nor purple nor gold chain. soft. . in England to pledge each other likes to eat in drinking it with his corned beef and coarse bread much leavened. without rapidity or hesitation. he would hide his temperance from his guests by drinking out of a pewter vessel beer almost as light as water. except when in ' it may is not be omitted. with an indiscretion worthy of an interviewer. was of the same opinion.

. though he enjoys ease. . The question is difficult to settle. hands. Cecily. The younger of the two. no doubt towards the painter. because the eyes are hidden. . i. is turning her delicate head. with his gold honour of the occasion. Holbein has grouped More's four children round their father.. in an Her alert and fixed attitude of interested curiosity. An early editor of Roper found it foolish. while Mr Hutton is struck by its intelligent distinction. By is chary of his liberty and of ease. and still more so because we have no biographical information to help us. 56-58. nature More yet. stands John. and once begin quoting Erasmus. On the other hand. But the chance was offered of quoting another and a minutely detailed piece of painting. the youngest. no one is more alert or patient when duty requires it. which had been holding a book and apparently a garland of flowers or a string of beads. and the right is hanging lightly and gracechain round his neck ' B. slightly bent over a book which he is holding in both hands.. . though he not un- acquainted with them when necessary. nor to he anxious is use them himself. . have parted suddenly. There has been some disagreement about this fair-haired head.50 THOMAS MORE is does not require them from others. Next to him. there is no chance of hesitation concerning the two young women sitting on very low stools at their father's feet. it is difficult to stop." i I confess that not all these characteristics can be detected in the appearance of the man whom Hol- bein has represented among in his family. on his left.

a little way off. The daughter of a country gentleman. the eldest and the favourite. too. in his epitaph. lines of frail. who was taken into the house from charity she is leaning forward with an open book. Her eyes. as if to ask for some explanation. John Clements. are very small. There is one figure lacking in Holbein's sketch. All the intellectual vivacity of her in father gleams her little eyes and her smile. who later married the family tutor. give the same impression of her. ever ready to yield to the amiable caprices of her husband. which the judge will certainly take care not to give her. More's first wife. calls her uxorcula Mori. for the pleasure of being scolded by him. the second daughter. looks graver. not so pretty as she was clever. died soon after the birth of John More. is also grave. she has a almost a look of tranquil resignation. She was a lovable woman. and another had come to take care of the four orphans. More himself. but they have the effect of increasing the size of the fine brow under the heavy geometrical head-dress. and some pathetic Erasmus delicate. a little cousin. she lived far from . . liked to see there. with a book under Close to the judge is her arm and her hands folded. Margaret Gigs. whom we see here as a man. Like her father. serious air. a sweet-looking girl with a delicate profile she is standing on her . and used to amuse herself as a child by offending Thomas More. Elizabeth. and that is just the figure we should most have Jane Colt. grandfather's right.PRIVATE LIFE fully in 51 the air. which is equally far from sadness and joy. a and gracious woman. Margaret.

52 THOMAS MORE London. And now. framed his fancy toward her. little though it is. went back to her lessons. for she had soon become a good musician. Mr Colt used often to invite him to his house. but the artist intended to alter his : first idea. with her two sisters. it is enough to win our love. " most served him to the second daughter. little more than a child herself. let us see what Holbein thinks of her. the margin Holbein has written " She must be sitting. More's second wife. The virtuous lady is on her knees before a priedieu. When the children were asleep." Five happy years followed. Flattered by the hope of having the young barrister for son-in-law. and. reposeful figure of Alice Middleton. the uxorcula Mori. since her husband wished her to be a scholar or else she sang and played the clavichord. her husband loving nothing so well. On her. of a certain pity. in tranquil ignorance." writes Roper. certainly without enthusiasm. and soon after married her. but with the sympathy which is one of the conditions of truth in art. That is all we know of her. without being . in a corner of the picture. for that he thought her the fairest and best favoured. yet when he considered that it would be both great grief and some shame also to the eldest to see her younger sister preferred before her in marriage. indeed. " More's mind. Before we lend an ear to the unkind conjectures of the biographers who have been too . eager to celebrate the conjugal martyrdom of their hero. He has drawn her. we find the solid. but." and that. he then. is the proper position for She was older than More.

to devote to this task a fixed time every flute. for becoming an expense to the good lady but Erasmus. indeed.. who was naturally restless. as he would say laughingly. by the appointment of her husband. of kindness and patient goodness. but an active and vigilant housewife. " A had all the charms of youth. Margaret. but its dominating note is tranquillity. with whom he lived as pleasantly and sweetly as if she death. after giving him a proper welcome. day ? " 1 After such evidence as that. by no means of a pliable disposition. . had nothing unpleasant in her appearance. What. his friend. Lady More. has left a fine eulogy few months after his wife's who might take care of his children (the eldest. and the and. IB. I am well aware that in another passage Erasmus says he fear of is thinking of leaving London . sense. was barely five) she was neither young nor fair. by authority or severity. the lute. It is quite possible that. the mono- chord. he married a widow. and intent on domestic affairs. 113. PRIVATE LIFE 53 exactly pretty. prevailed on a woman when he has already getting old. i. has gained such ready compliance as More by playful flattery. would never have stayed with his friend so long if the hospitality had been anything but cordial. You will scarcely find a husband who. to learn to play the harp. it would need the most convincing proofs to persuade us that Alice Middleton was a constant trial to her husband's patience. Her face lacks neither intelligence nor wit. would he not obtain. meaning to praise of his friend's wife. the tran- quillity that comes of somewhat commonplace good Erasmus.

. lost. English. who is warm in her defence. and we know also that More. in my most hearty wise I recommend me to you. admits that " perhaps she was somewhat worldly. we must. who was very negligent to in matters of this world. portance to on. albeit (saving God's pleasure) it is it great pity of so much good corn 'B. most genial of wives to hear all moving jokes for weeks together. as a good mother welcomes her children's playmates. but More used to say. i. was bent on : Bridgett very truly says to the meekest or " It As Father would surely be a trial - the conversation and the laughter carried on daily. And whereas I am informed by my son Heron (the husband of Cecily) of the loss of our barns and our neighbours' also.— 54 in THOMAS MORE a moment of temper. shows that the house was always open to a large number of friends and though Lady More probably attached no im. and surely none but a Christian and a generous-hearted could her husband have written in such terms as these " Mistress Alice. all the philosophical dialogues that went we may believe that she had a kind welcome for these fine talkers. yet since hath liked Him to send us such a chance. with all the corn woman : that was therein. in a language ^ of which she could not understand a word." All contemporary evidence. and may have shown some imwho knew not a word of talking Latin. had chosen her for her economical qualities. moreover. patience with this guest." saving a candle's end. 117. Father Bridgett. as spoiling a velvet gown .

and heartily thank Him. He sent us all that we have lost. .' saith she. and bid them take no thought therefor for and I should not leave myself a spoon.. as well for adversity as for prosperity. For His wisdom better seeth what is good for us than we do ourselves. as follows " This wife on a time after shrift bade : Sir ' Thomas More be merry. but also to be glad of His visitation.." This kind of playful banter Harpsfleld writes does not belong to a Xantippe." In a letter to Erasmus of . His pleasure be fulfilled. " if the widow of iVIr Middleton had occasionally a sharp tongue. especially for your careful wish that she may live many years. not only to be content. . day left all ' ' for I have. and take all the household with you to church. She says she is the more anxious for this as she will live the longer to plague me." i " Again. Indeed. there shall no poor neighbour of mine bear no loss by any chance happened in my house. . I pray you to make some good ensearch what my poor neighbours have lost. . I this my shrewdness.PRIVATE LIFE 55 and are bounden. and to-morrow talk. p. and since He hath by such a chance taken it away again. Therefore I pray you be of good cheer. 1419. will begin afresh with merry-conceited though Sir now and then ' it proved very true. English Works. she was no termagant. and there thank God. December 15. More writes : " My wife desires a million of compliments. 1517. but take it in good worth. Let us never grudge thereat." continues Father Bridgett. and for that He hath left it. both for that He has given us and for that He hath taken from us. .

1 17-120. For. and with strait bracing in her body to make her middle : ' twain to her great pain. she fell in hand with him and asked What will you do that ye list not : ' do ? Will you and make goslings in the ashes with a stick. And. to oftentimes such kind of talk. for I never found you willing to be ruled as yet. for the pride of a little Forsooth. for it must needs be your own of very right. what would you do ? What ? by God. therefore. and look what I would do.56 THOMAS MORE could well digest and like it Thomas More and others .' " ^ to put forth yourself as other folks sit still by the fire.' quoth her husband. when she saw that Sir Thomas had no great list greatly to get upward in the world" (Father Bridgett is still quoting the totally unsympathetic Harpsfleld). he said to her you not hell He shall do you great wrong. I warrant you. ' ' ' ' ' ' ' B. it is ever better to rule than to be ruled. for you buy it very dear. as children do ? Would God I were a man. Among when he divers times beheld his wife what pains she took in straight binding up her hair small.' quoth her husband. in her neither was he in her debt for repaying home again other things.' This wife. by God. that he forsook a right worshipful if God give room when it was ofFered him. . foolish praise. besides. i.' Why. wife. both make her a fair large forehead. go forward with the best. and take very great pains therefor. be so foolish to be ruled when I might rule. madam. and. I would not. in this I daresay you say truth. wife. as my mother was wont to say (God have mercy on her soul !).' By my troth. " neither would labour for office of authority.

Utopia. More's sadness and anxiety can easily be imagined. . of More is not complete in Holbein's and I cannot understand is why William Roper. is past convincing. He would not hear of prayers and sacraments. absent. whom Holbein has been careful to show.PRIVATE LIFE Alice might have replied by reminding 57 him of all the music-lessons she had taken with such good grace but there is no replying to a bon mot. who was burning to spread the newgospel. the husband of Margaret. and set laboriously to work to make the famous act of faith which was to render everything Only consideration for More preelse unnecessary. vented Roper. and bishop in the country. from falling out with the secular arm." concludes Father Bridgett. Fortunately the alarm was soon over. " We have now seen. We must not forget Henry Patenson. For a time the good fellow was the cause of some anxiety to his father-in-law. More's fool. abbot. and anyone who would take this innocent jest seriously . including almost every abbess." The family picture.time To say came she did not rise to the height of his soul merely to class her with i nearly all her contemporaries. Luther's writings had turned his head. 121. a little in In the Isle of the rear of the family group. i. " they have singular delight and pleasure in 1 B. and the little bout of heretical fever passed as quickly as it had come. and it certainly does More amongst the that when his. not justify our classing Blessed ill-matched great men. of suffering is •' all the evil that can be alleged against this lady. 120.

so a great reproach to do any of they prohibit not to take pleasure of foolishness. foxes. beginning to climb up Lady More's place. none of them be committed to his tuition. If he meets with anything foreign or in any way redelights. is He is far from being out of a reminder of one of his master's : " One of his great most characteristic habits Erasmus. and the like. for in all a fool's memory never had so good a master been seen nor one more swift to recognise that there is no wisdom so foolish as that which remains deaf to the counsels of folly. = B. ' Utopia. so that his house is full such things. a large watch-dog for Sir John More." i Patenson had nothing of that kind to fear under the roof of Thomas More. much good to the fools. (Robinson's translation)." says markable." that in the final picture Holbein lying at the feet of the in It seems certain had put two dogs two most important people the group. There is hardly a species of bird that he does not keep in his house. he eagerly buys of it. is Right at the bottom of the picture a small monkey. . for he dress. " is to consider the forms. such as monkeys. Book ii. 59. and the instincts of different kinds of animals. the habits. neither at their words nor at their deeds. ferrets. and rare animals. if doth any man be so sad and stern that he cannot laugh. For But that. they think. THOMAS MORE And as it is them hurt or injury.58 fools. and his own they attract pleasure is renewed ^ whenever he sees others pleased. 60. weasels. barely sketched in. and at every turn the eye of visitors. i.

as soon as the sitting is over. Never were humane letters cultivated with more eagerness. There are four books open. The elder ones were married. by Thomas More. and Margaret already a mother. no doubt. Here put a clavichord and other instruments on a shelf. The detail is significant." The marginal note of the wonderful drawing leaves and like the rest an impression of suavity. astronomy. "that philology has got a bad name through you.. or honoured with more respect and gratitude. intended to hang in the corner on the left near the " elegant side-board with the flowered pottery. Their absence from the sketch is to be regretted. and of harmony. " You complain occasionally in your letters to me. is sufficient. six at least are reading or just going to read. II Of the ten people in this picture. of measure. but the professors of Greek. . two about to be opened." writes Erasmus to Budaeus.PRIVATE LIFE 59 and a " Boulogne spaniel " for Thomas More. omitted to draw the musical instruments which he rest. For the it matters little that the artist. to be taken up. and other sciences continued their lessons. since it has both injured your health and made you But More manages to be well spoken of poorer. Latin. and others scattered on the floor. a reminder that the Chancellor's four children did not regard their studies as finished. under the masterly direction of the friend of Erasmus. to save time.

more useful to his country and his relatives. . who knows Erasmus so well how to unite ^ solid prudence with sweetness of manners. no journey. more dear to heaven. makes More lay aside his books yet you will find no one who is so companionable a man at all times and to every cellent prince. Well." In the " same it letter gives some pleasant particulars of the literary education of the children. he closed the letters and sent them to me without changing a syllable. for becoming more agreeable both to himself and his friends. Believe me. When they had done so. A year ago occurred to More to send me a speciall men of their progress in study. offered their papers to their father he affected to be displeased with the bad writing. Formerly learning had a bad name. ^B. 115. and made them copy out their letters more neatly and accurately. and he avers that he indebted to literature both for better health. dear Budaeus. so affable. and the style was such that you would feel they . 116. . and lastly. so ready to render service. . so or lively in conversation. i. . since it seemed to deprive its votaries of common-sense. neither the subject being suggested nor the language corrected for when they for correction. for the favour and affection he meets with from his exvi'ell as from his own countrymen and foreigners. He bade them write to me. as . I never was more surprised there was nothing whatever either silly or girlish in what was said. for an increase of wealth. class. no business. each one without any help.. 60 by is THOMAS MORE all and in all respects. however prolonged or arduous.

allowing no one to be idle or to be occupied in trifles. my dear Gunnell. .. IB. and full of From your letter I perceive your devoaffection. no one busied in feminine trifles. and the principal passages of it were no doubt given the children to learn by heart. They have advanced so far that they can read such authors and understand them without a translation. yet i. elegant as your letters always are. the treasures of kings. your letter. Let her understand that such conduct delights me more than all possible letters I could receive from any one. Moreover. In that house you will find no one idle. unless there occurs some such word as would perhaps perplex myself. their own. Though I prefer learning joined with virtue to all — . His wife. 115. governs the little company with wonderful tact. and requiring its performance. Titus Livius is ever in their hands. tion to my children I argue their diligence from Every one of these letters pleased me." i Latin or no Latin the least suspicion of pedantry would here be utterly ridiculous.PRIVATE LIFE 61 were making daily progress. . The letter is in Latin. who excels in good sense and experience rather than in learning. but I was particularly pleased because I notice that Elizabeth shows a gentleness and self-command in the absence of her mother which some children would not show in her presence. " I have received.. renown for learning. More has left us his system of education in a letter written from Court to one of the tutors of his family. It is too precious not to be quoted here. assigning to each a task.

. my dear Gunnell. would do it of your own accord. out of your affection for my children. especially of philosophers. is nothing else than splendid and notorious infamy. not to lament that they do not possess what they erroneously admire in others. . no doubt.. if a woman should (and this all I desire and hope with you as their teacher for my daughters) to add an outwork of even I think she will have more real profit than if she had obtained the riches of Croesus and the beauty of Helen. that man would seem to abase a generous character who should accustom it to admire what is vain and low. . who. I do not say this because of the glory which will be hers. I have often begged not you only. my dear Gunnell. Therefore. have dwelt so much on this matter. . since we must walk by this road.. there is none more excellent than this. . . that by the study of books we are taught in that very study not to seek praise. and. to you also.. . On the other hand. . . in eminent virtue moderate skill literature. . and to walk in the pleasant meadows of modesty not to be dazzled at the sight of gold. not to I character should not be abased. but because the reward of wisdom is too solid to be lost like riches or to decay like beauty. . quite agree with . Such has been the teaching of the most learned men. . that Margaret's lofty In this judgment you but to me. because I of what you say in your letter.62 THOMAS MORE when it is not united with a good life. . but all my friends to warn my children to avoid the precipice of pride and haughtiness. Among all the benefits that learning bestows on men. but utility. who are the guides of human life. .. . .

will neither be puffed up by the empty praise of men. in order to assist them. neither to deform the beauty that nature has given them by neglect. and in their most whatever may teach them piety towards God. I think. studies to esteem consider the genuine fruits of learning. These first place. themselves pro- that nowadays old men. nor to try to heighten it by artifice to put virtue in the . . By such means they will receive from God the reward of an innocent life. but also. nor want of them. and wrote for tender girls letters replete with so sound erudition. that nature's defect may be redressed by industry. by which saying many keep women from study. and modesty and Christian humility in themselves. I would maintain that those who give themselves to study with such views will easily attain their end I I and become " If it perfect. and apter to bear bracken than corn. and meanwhile possessing solid joy. Not to speak of the restr St Jerome and St Augustine not only exhorted excellent matrons and most noble virgins to study.PRIVATE LIFE less for the 63 think more of themselves for gaudy trappings. will view death without horror. and in the assured expectation of it. on the contrary. be true that the evil of a woman's brain be bad. and. who call . learning in the second. that a woman's wit is on that account all the more diligently to be cultivated. . of those who were most prudent as well as most holy. nor dejected by evil tongues. diligently explained the abstruse meanings of Holy Scripture. . charity to all. though admit that all literary men do not possess them. This was the opinion of the ancients.

my I young see the . they will neither be praise of flatterers. and how wholly they ought to look for its fruits in a good conscience. . is a thing despicable is and to be spit upon and that nothing more sublime than that humble . But. and beat there it into their heads. of praise. that while much the greater That this plague of vain-glory may be banished far from my children I do desire that you. Do you. that vain - glory . For I find children by their nurses. the more from no other reason why this evil clings so to our hearts. . they ought to propose from their learning. my learned Gunnell. understand them. . parents. though true. nor chagrined by moved by the the ignorant scoffers at learning. dear Gunnell.64 THOMAS MORE them fessors of sacred science. and repeat it. it is cultivated by their and brought to its full growth by their Thus we grow accustomed to make so . are beyond the capacity of children. . teachers. we study how to please number (who will always be the worst). my dear Gunnell. " I fancy I hear you object that these precepts. have the kindness to see that my daughters thoroughly learn these works of those holy men and from hence they will learn what end much less . Thus. internally and the approval of heaven. than because almost as soon as we are born it is sown in the tender minds of I do see the necessity of setting to work at it childhood. the more difficulty of getting rid of this pest of pride. happy and tranquil. and their mother and all their friends. would sing this song to them. can scarcely read correctly. we grow ashamed of being good (with the few).

since you have learnt whatever he had to teach you about astronomy. I think. in addition to their lesson in Sallust to Margaret and Elizabeth. then. If you will teach something of this sort.. who. " I think. and still more dear by learning and virtue. to distinguish the sun from the forward. you have no longer any need of Mr Nicholas." found astrologer — among ' — all these leading heavenly ! bodies. as they know. who are dear to me by nature. when need arose. . cannot be angry with them. . or any of the constellations. Adieu. From the Court on the vigil of Pentecost. and I will only mention that his gently satiric spirit cut short." ^ — — In matters of education. to defend him against the partisans of an inhuman pedagogy. all temptations to childish More knew the value he wrote to them on one occasion. as being more advanced than John and Cecily you will bind me and them still more to you. as of public business. 127-31. His letters to his children are full of encouragement and praise.PRIVATE LIFE 65 modesty so often praised by Christ. And thus you will bring about that my children.. in that B. of a well-placed compliment.. but are able also which requires a skilful and pro" that vanity.. here. moon Go new and admirable science i. will become most dear by that advance in knowledge and good conduct. . There is no call. To tliis purpose nothing will more conduce than to read them the lessons of the ancient Fathers. I hear you are so far advanced in that science that you can not only point out the polar-star or the dog-star.

or the lack of interesting news. Nothing have much less trouble in turning it into Latin . . to your mind also to heaven. whether you write serious matters or the merest it is my wish that you write everything dilitrifles It will be no harm if you thoughtfully. 132." asks their father. and gently first write the whole in English. first scrutinise the whole sentence and then every . » B. and that beautiful and holy poem of Boetius keeps singing in your ears. that nothing at great length. since you are girls. your mind will be intent only on the language. loquacious by nature. I admonish you.66 THOMAS MORE by which you ascend to the stars. One thing. But while you gaze on them assiduously. for then you will : nothing to write about. They used to plead want of time. I leave to your own choice. who have always a world to say about nothing at all. 133. whereas I strictly enjoin that whatever you have composed you carefully examine before writing it out clean and in this examination. i. however." ^ The girls of those days were no more remarkable than those of our own for a keen delight in family raise correspondence. in the case of More's daughters it was all the more excusable because they were obliged to write in Latin. however. when there you write me can be easier for you. " since I of your studies or of your when you write am glad to hear will please games is ? and you me most if. not having to look for the matter. or the huriied departure of the courier. That. consider that this holy time of Lent warns you. " How can a subject be wanting to me.

once more. and even then examine it will easily detect them. write the whole letter again. 67 Thus." ^ I am obliged to pass over other equally interesting letters. The reply was not long in coming. for sometimes. and could not even have his shoes mended without writing to his father. From the Court. my dear children. These details we have from himself. and in giving them he praises his father's prudence highly. my dear Margaret. Farewell. And now we find IMargaret writing to him one day to ask for a little money. and since you have written to only repay each me a letter such that it i. for money with too much bashfulness and timidity. faults slip in again that one had expunged. your little trifles will become serious matters. in rewriting.PRIVATE LIFE part of it. B. 134. so also there give a nothing in so insipid that you cannot season with grace and wit little you thought to it. you Correct these. for while there is nothing so neat and witty that will not be made insipid by is silly and inconsiderate itself if lo- quacity. the 3rd September. I would not line of ' with a golden philippine. less academic kind. since you are asking from a father who is eager to give. The reader may re- member that during his career at Oxford. which seems to me to be perhaps the most illuminating and most charming thing in all the abundant more intimate and prefer in and their place a little note of a collection of More's writings. if any solecisms have escaped you. . By this diligence. " You ask. young More had not a groat in his purse.

but otherwise determined to follow. » B. the best inspirations of the " in elegiacs rain. or for the Christian philosophy. as you are wont to do. only that as I am eager to give.68 THOMAS MORE if as Alexander did the verses of Cherilos. the more you will be sure of pleasing your father. i. especially by you. So the sooner you spend this money well. I send only what you have asked. whom virtue and learning have made so dear to my sol. the man who could find unqualified praise and at the very same moment open his purse-strings and his heart to the slightest He remained the same wishes of his children. B. and the sooner you ask for more. ready to accept way whatever was neces- sary and excellent in tradition. controversy. I would reward each syllable with two gold ounces. it reveals one of the essential features of his singular character." ^ above the romance. 138. I3S. 1 new times. severity of his father. my means were as great as my desire. but. but would have added more." ^ Father Bridgett makes the happy observation that "vyhatever little romance is wanting in the courtships of this singular man is made up for by the intensity of affection poured out from the father's But beyond and heart on this gracious child. throughout.1. As it is. education. so am I desirous to be asked and coaxed by my daughter. . More was just the same. without advertisement or noise. In dealing with matters of all kinds. faithful to the past but paving the for the future." In a letter which he improvised during a ride in the he reminds his children how he always brought i.

or fine stuffs. it would be pleasant to point to More as an example and a precursor. I hope. fruit.PRIVATE LIFE 69 them presents from every journey." says Erasmus. But the foregoing chapter will enable us. and that England is. to begin praying. Ill had time to embark on paradoxes. I might undue trouble. inquire into the state of poor families. " his More was house or used. the birch itself being nothing more terrible than a bundle of peacocks' feathers. and how for every stroke of the birch he had given them a hundred kisses. without suffering. the classic land of friendship. " whenever in in the village he lived in there was a woman until and so continue news was brought him that the delivery had in labour." says Stapleton. " Ad amicitiam natus factusque videtur. who was an authority on the subject. that his kind heart went out to all kinds of If I showf. We know. too. in a word. to dispense with any further discourse on friendship and the friendship of Thomas More. And from this point of view. and he would . as is proved by the frequent and abundant alms he poured without distinction among all unfortunate persons. and should in any case have guessed. cakes. of More was without bounds. that the love of home is rather French than English. He used himself to go through the back lanes and come happily to " The charity pass.

written in letters of gold ' but I would have it Bear no malice nor . all and in order to love each and Christ said: " with pure charity. and maintained them at his own expense. and joyand scarcely ever the nobility. . " He even received into his household and sup- ported a poor widow all named . by two. . it with a coal in his prison : . familiarly he rarely invited the rich. three. especially to the sick and the aged. and old people. had the care of this house.70 THOMAS MORE by scattering a few small when he ascer- relieve their distress. which he gathered many infirm. . his eldest daughter. in sufferer into his house Not a week passed without his taking and having him In his parish of Chelsea he hired a house. who had spent her " money on a lest lawsuit. Margaret. . or four gold pieces. I will here transcribe from his English works. indeed. " Gigs. not coins. . as is the general custom. very often invited to his table his poorer neighbours. according to that most sure of a Christian. Paula. . But he should feel any hatred for any of his neighbours. he drew up for himself a certain rule of life which. Margaret He . of which mark if By this shall all men know that you are my disciples. When More was away . . . for the benefit of mankind. wrote . you have love one for another " (John xiii.). He. . but tained a real need. receiving ously them . he would send some of to . his family to dispense his alms. . " When his official position and duties prevented this personal attention. some poor tended. poor. the wife of The office often fell John Clements.

or abide naughty and die naughty and go to the Devil. vi. that I will give if every good friend of mine. And then love let me remember (if I that if he shall be saved. . to him with in eternal whom shall in ? time coming be coupled if friendship And. ever pray for such merciful amendment in other folk as our own con. there well think myself a deadly cruel wretch is he shall then so I outrageous eternal sorrow towards him that if I may would now rather pity his pain than malign his person. . If he be naughty. science showeth us that we have need in our self. For either the man is good or naughty. else leave the desire But let us. If he be good and I hate him. me And why which I be saved too. lest he should do harm to such other folk as are innocent and good. that are no of punishing unto God. then am I naughty. and I shall then in likewise love should I now then hate one for this while. as I trust to be) to very heartily. . I But not If . cap. one would say that we may well with good conscience wish an evil man harm. will not now dispute upon that point. on the other continue naughty and be damned.' ^ Such was the charity neighbour. but counsel to he be put in such a room as to punish an evil man [that] lieth in his charge by reason of his office. and go to God. Stapleton. . . 1405.PRIVATE LIFE evil will to 71 no man living. better than men of a mean sort. verily thus will I say. either he shall amend and die good. he shall not fail him. shall hereafter love I me for evermore: and why should now be an enemy side. "2 1 of More towards God and '^ his English Works. p.

After reminding us that More heard Mass every day. Next to his library he had a chapel. meditative. . the loving and serious religion which with him was the rule and standard of dominating factor of his life. . He frequently added the graduals and the psalm Beati immaculati. and we get an adequate idea of his piety from the statement that he devoted more time to God than even to his books. but also in his . joining thereto the seven penitential psalms and Litanies. ' p. He had also certain private prayers. he made himself a little psalter or compendium of psalms by selection from the rest. which are contained in some in Latin. . 203. Staple" He recited daily the morning and ton goes on sight. From this fervent care for prayer he had not only built himself a retired little building in a remote part of his house. : evening prayers. . ." says Nisard. because his religious sonal. prayer. the The higher he rose in honours." 1 nothing to give this imaginative statement the slightest appearance of foundation. where he might be undisturbed in study.72 THOMAS MORE But it is time to complete this chapter by speaking all of his religion. mind return to the austere reliThere is gion of his youth. and this he used often. his collected English works. but the mistake is quite possible at first life was essentially perand silent. English. . " " the closer did his things. But for all the inwardness of his Christianity he was as attached in heart and mind to the slightest practices of the Church as the simplest of the faithful. and meditation. some in Copying St Jerome and others.

' Sometimes he served the priest's Mass and sometimes in the public supplications he carried the . But even until he became Chancellor of the realm. who had found him thus wearing a surplice and singing in the choir. saying I will not follow Him on horseback. . and on being asked by his friends to ride on account of his My Lord went on foot. . which is a thing that in England the common . he replied be displeased at the service I pay to his Master God. He presented many gold and silver vessels to his church. cross before the priest. He did this even when Chancellor of the kingdom and on being warned by the Duke of Norfolk. Sometimes he would go on pilgrimage to holy places some seven miles from his home. This he did often. and others appertaining to the adornment and decoration of God's house. . he would always draw : ' strength from the Holy Communion. not refusing or blushing to perform the office of a verger. .PRIVATE LIFE parish church at Chelsea he built a little 73 chapel. he refused. then he followed in the many processions in Rogation week. dignity. . clothed in a surplice. and that always on foot. : ' . . in which he venerated the Lord. that the King would certainly be displeased at a proceeding so humble and so little suited to one of My master the King cannot his station. in which the way was often long.' by which he alluded to the image of the crucifix. he took his part in the singing of the services. and furnished it copiously with all things necessary for the worship of God. Whenever he was appointed to some new office or was about to undertake some arduous piece of work. but in that same church.

. and ended with the to do De profundis for the dead. with the words Tu autem Domine miserere nostril . cap. He had such care of chastity that the men and maids slept in different buildings. Rope(."i we owe some interesting particulars of the religious practices which More had introduced as rules into his household. One of the little girls used to read and the reading was always closed. and be present at the whole office.. Ad te Domine levavi. At table. as it is in monastic houses. . To these he added the Salve Regina with the collect. such as Christmas and Easter.74 THOMAS MORE To Stapleton also people scarcely do. and there pray to summon with them in common. ^ Stapleton. This he continued when he was Chancellor. vi. and the women were forbidden to go into that part of the house where the men worked except in case of necessity. such as Miserere mei Deus. When any of his household committed a fault. . " None. . .. he used . . . any to be absent from Mass on holy days and even made them rise in the night on the great festivals. . . cf. He never allowed . . or Deus misereatur nostri. some of the Scriptures used to be read. not even nobles. When he was at Chelsea. with the commentary of Nicolas of Lyra or some other ancient writer. . Margaret Gigs used to relate that sometimes she used to offend More on purpose in order to enjoy his most loving and suave correction. he reproached them. . . the greater part of the household into the hall before they went to bed. but with such gentleness that they loved him the more for it. and recite three psalms (all kneeling). were allowed to play cards or dice.

written in poor English. confirms the done. caught sight of the top of his Chancellor having taken John More's young ^ Stapleton.' and there had the Passion read to them. with great study. cap. I buried his first wife. . If any man of learning were present (as often happened) they took counsel in common concerning the reading they had heard. . * English Historical Review^ vii. Item. . John Harris. .. generally by his secretary. the wife. he called the whole of his family into the New Building. as for Sir Thomas More. . . deliberation. and when that was More was the first to start some jest (in which he had the happiest humour). . recollections preserved eloquent prose. and set every one laughing heartily. so clean. devout I never heard many such." Roper tells us that one evening at table. in Stapleton's somewhat " Item. Anne Cresacre. 712-15 (the spelling ntodemised). in his con. pp.PRIVATE LIFE 75 ." i There has recently been discovered a confidential letter from one of More's confessors and this simple evidence. . More's fool. he was my parishioner at London. He was in his divine service. ix. in so much my mistress marvelled when his shirts was washed. off his gown. fession to be so pure. ' . This Mr More was my ghostly child. . took his part. Every year. more —keep you this (sic) privily to yourself — and what he wore a that great hair next his skin. on Good Friday. this mistress his wife desired me to counsel ^ [him] to put [off] that hard and rough shirt of hair.. For at that time Henry Patenson. I christened him two goodly children. and devotion.

Margaret. told sorry. him of it in private. was secretly sent her by More on the eve of his martyrdom. for only one aware of his mortifications. thenceforth useless. in was charged to take care of her father's instru- ments of penance. he was perceiving this. he wished his eldest daughter to be the Margaret. . fact.76 hair shirt THOMAS MORE and began to laugh at it. and we shall see that the hairshirt.

of modern times.). suppress Wolsey let More succeed Warham. in place of and Henry VIII. and all. or.CHAPTER IV PUBLIC LIFE If I should propose to any king wholesome decrees. think you not that I should forthwith either be driven away. bridled the tyranny of legal injustice. Put a Louis XIII. and yet the England of the Tudors was not far from witnessing a like marvel. in the quality of chief minister.i It is all a dream of dreams. and some part at * The above is a bird's-eye view of the scheme of Utopia. the ideas. he accustomed the public mind to look for and prepare a solution by other. and above having foreseen. A •'^ FEW yet it pages will suffice for this chapter and might have been important in the history . King Utopus left his fine town of Amaurote. or else made a laughing-stock? {Utopia.. and the general the threshold of the sixteenth century. simpler still. 77 . and consented to mould with his own hands. On He fashioned the new world with intelligence and respect for religious liberty. as a little reflection will show. means than the unfailing impotence of the laws. Book i. doing my endeavour to pluck out of his mind tlie pernicious original causes of vice and naughtiness. long before the terrible evidence of the hours of crisis. the gravity of the social pro- blem.. nipped the greed of imperialism in the bud. finally. policy of England. the manners.

the history of his time might be written without mention of him. the property of his biographers. There is no excuse for saying " Too good to be true " or " All very well on an undiscoverable island " One must have read Utopia very unintelligently to call More's mind chimerical. who are at liberty almost entirely to . being free to act as they choose. of power. no one knevsr more clearly than he where possible reforms ended and Utopian ideas I I began. listen to any but those who agreed in And so More's life never becomes absorbed left their general history. gave More but the shadow The friend and confidant of an absolute such a king as Henry he was soon to limit his whole ambition to the policy of the least evil. and the politician a still. also a By a man of rare combination. a politician. The author . the philosopher was affairs. like the lives of lesser men. who. and expend the best of his genius on the task of delaying the hour at which the passionate monarch king — and — would cease to with him. he attained to the highest office in his country and held it for philosopher. The result is that he becomes. though he was both a philosopher and an honourable man. in a more intimate way. Stranger fifteen years. no law bears his name and but for the humanist and the martyr.78 least of the THOMAS MORE programme might perhaps actually have begun to be realised. of Utopia took the initiative in no reform. have im- press on the internal and external policy of a nation. On the contrary. But here we His office find fortune strangely inadvertent.

The embassy . once he declined to reply to the advances made him by Wolsey on behalf of the King. the leading barrister in London. him to Court and attach him to More quite understood that he would not be able to escape for ever. it appears. little II When the royal favour came to seek him out. to entice He wished his person. income exceeded £400 a year. and having quickly won popularity with the common people by his expeditious and conciliatory way of administering justice. they need only try to penetrate deeper into the secret of that sweet and grave expression. Henry value of the VIII. now perhaps a graver than before. He was under-sheriff in 1510. his annual According to Roper.PUBLIC LIFE man. and he would have resisted longer still but for a concourse of circumstances which forced him into the mill against his In 1515. permission to make the young magistrate a member of an embassy they were sending to Flanders to settle certain commercial differences. knew the man who was praised to the skies by the hellenists. 79 neglect the minister in him and see nothing but the Forgetting the distractions of the Court and the trappings of the Chancellor's robe. he became thenceforward. the city asked the king's own desire. and no less esteemed in the world of business and the courts of justice. but he was in no More than hurry to abdicate his independence. More was one of the most prominent of his countrymen.

of which both the surroundings and the climate are unpleasant and if litigation. of it all ? But what was More's own opinion He has stated it frankly in Utopia. In the riots of May. how ! tedious must ^ be here. place of Wolsey disgraced. and never left his master . where to it brings gain. again except upon numerous embassies. 1529. You can scarcely believe how unwillingly I am engaged in them. i. it is so abhorrent it my nature.— 80 lasted six THOMAS MORE months. 76. Erasmus grumbled. where only brings loss Willy-nilly. I am relegated to maritime town. Nothing can be more odious than this little this legation. he was appointed Lord Chancellor London applauded. he harangued the rebels in the street at the invitation of the Privy 1517. in Finally. he was thenceforth unable to defend His visits to Court became more 1508 he became a 1521 The King could not do without him. during Soon afterwards he was sent on a new Calais. though not ill-pleased at heart to see a man of intellect at the head of affairs. even at home. with the laborious triflings of princes and you show your love for me in wishing that I may extricate myself from them. he wrote to Erasmus Council. on October 25. " himself any longer. 1 B. . More took advantage of his enforced holiday to form a friendship with a number of continental scholars and to begin Utopia. . which he found very dull. mission. frequent. and that book. In member of the Privy Council in he was knighted. " From : I quite approve of your resolution not to meddle .

had found in it strange things and a barely disguised condemnation of his policy of conquest. . if you should suddenly come upon the stage in a Philo- sopher's apparel and rehearse out of Octavia the place wherein Seneca disputeth with Nero : had it not been better for you to have played the for the time nor place to have dumb person. playeth her part accordingly with comeliness. What : part soever you have taken upon you. while a comedy of Plautus playing Or else . The king.. is certainly not the work of a restlessly ambitious man. But there is another philosophy more civil. Raphael Hythloday shrugged his shoulders. When urged to give the republic the benefit of the experience of his numerous journeys. than by rehearsing that which served neither made such a tragical comedy or gallimaufry ? .PUBLIC LIFE 81 which was published in 1516. as ye would say. Indeed — : (quoth I) this school philosophy hath not which thinketh all things meet for every place. which knoweth. uttering nothing out of due order and fashion. "That is it which I meant (quoth he) when I said philosophy had no place among kings. her own stage. saying that wisdom and justice were exiled for ever from the councils of kings. . play that as well as you can and make the best of it and do not therefore B l8 . a less intract- able person. And this is the philosophy that you must is use.. and thereafter ordering and behaving herself in the play that she hath in hand. developed without undue enthusiasm the reasons which might permit a man of honour to embark on such offices. who had certainly read it. More himself.

because that another which is merrier and better Cometh to your remembrance.: 82 THOMAS MORE disturb and bring out of order the whole matter. No. Utopia^ book i. which I think will not be this good all men were many years. if you cannot even as you would remedy vices which use and custom have confirmed yet for this cause you must not leave and forsake the commonwealth you must not forsake the ship in a tempest. If evil opinions and naughty persuasions cannot be utterly and quite plucked out of their hearts. because you cannot rule and keep down the winds. as much as in you lieth. and so it is in the consultation of kings and princes. I must say otherwise than they ' say. which you know well shall be nothing regarded with them that be of clean contrary minds. to handle the matter wittily and handsomely for the purpose. He rises with that easy eloquence of his. so dear to absolute minds. undisturbed. compliance. But you must with a crafty wile and a subtle train steady and endeavour yourself. these are the surest means of letting evil men go word. For it is not . " For either In every way the wise man cuts but a sad figure at Court. Raphael has the last mon-sense. so to order it that it be not very bad. or rather. . against the policy of " cast about " and the least evil. Compromise. and that which you cannot turn to good. there speaks comNone the less. nor you must not labour to drive into their heads new and strange informations."' There speaks More. possible for all things to be well. So the case standeth in a commonwealth. unless good.

Ill Some have thought More a service to render the memory of by declaring that he took his place at Court and kept it so long only with the most utter repugnance. and help to further their madness. and More was not the ' Utopia.PUBLIC LIFE 83 and then I were as good to say nothing. brilliant crowd of courtiers. this impeccable logician of the policy of abstention was newly arrived from Utopia. He had a horror of dice and cards. When and in my opinion quite as edifying. we remember that in the happy land of the Utopians insignia of precious metals are reserved a mark of infamy. does not even trouble to remind us that . . . and the necessity of being constantly at the king's orders must have weighed on him heavier still." ^ The Chancellor of to-morrow makes no reply to the dilemma. it is easy to guess that More found no pleasure in hanging round his neck the heavy gold chain of the Chancellor. book i. Anne Boleyn soon came to display the cultivated graces she had learned in France. or else I must say the same that they say. The human truth is not so simple but more interesting. he must have composed or recalled a score of epigrams against the idle. An enemy to every idea and desire of luxury. which were the commonest distraction or occupation of the Court. . He for criminals as had a very keen and English taste for independence.

Another anecdote is of less doubtful authenticity." said the Cardinal. ' Lt Misanthrope of Moli^re. the lies that were soon become tragic. Master More. ' Opera latina. everyto thing. p.^ life the constant censor of a thing was foreign to him. tended to aggravate a servitude which kept him far from his family. what is true in the story from what is obviously legendary. 24. his dear house at Chelsea. . " that his More. in which nearly everyHis independence was not His early biographers relate with a world of detail a scene in Parliament in which More is said to have put a check on the pride of the Cardinal It is difficult and the commands of the king." The atmosphere of futility. and his books. But he is not to be regarded as a sort of Alceste. In he had the stuff of vain he disliked the Court ." replied ness has but one fool in his Council!" That is very like him. the universal complaisance that was soon to reveal its shallow worthlessness. especially if the gesture and the smile to unruvel which carried off the speech are not forgotten. royal Highthank God. angular. "You show yourself a foolish " I councillor. " Quisquis insula satus Britannica Sic patriam insolens fastidiet suam Ut more simiae Et aemulari laboret fingere gallicas ineptias. At a discussion in the Privy Council More flatly opposed a measure introduced by the Cardinal.' 84 THOMAS MORE man to be gentle with the vain folk who bartered the healthy rudenesses of their own country for foreign elegance. in fact.

More had no lack of wit. wherein he liked himself so well that at his dinner he sat. to give ample proof. in fact the whole of that worldly seasoned with plenty of wit. Meanwhile.." But glorious was he very far above all measures. a sense for necessary conciliation management side of others. Never was he satiate of hearing So happed it one day. and of his pride as a man of honour he was ready. art. . a knowledge of the and weak on which the most violent are accessible. on thorns. when need arose. as I . that his own praise. " When I was first in Almaine. him thought. one of the greatest in all that country there " (Wolsey is easily recognisable). 85 Suppleness.PUBLIC LIFE a courtier in him. he is Christian and a not prodigal of disagreement. and that was great pity. upon musing awhile. for it did harm. and caresses the little foibles of the great folk around him with a pleasant mixture of amused respect and kindly irony. thought after. till he might hear how they that sat with him at his And when he had sat board would commend it. Uncle " (Almaine was not a hundred miles from London) " it happed to me to be somewhat favoured with a great man of the Church and a great state. and made him abuse many great gifts that God had given him. a desire to please. is neither so insipid nor so contemptible when its use is not directed Thomas to petty vanity or personal advancement. So long as there is no question of a plain duty he lends himself adroitly and gracefully to the common need.. he had in a great audience made an oration in a certain manner. devising. self- Why not ? forgetfulness.

another personal reminiscence. who remained in London during the king's numerous journeys. no man (I ween) ate one morsel of meat more. or else of nature very cold and dull. Uncle. how well we liked his oration and asked us all But in faith. a new adventure. even bluntly forth. chap. But better it were to do well and look for none. when that problem was once proponed. x. he brought . Howbeit they that cannot find in their heart to commend another man's good deed. Finally. the conversation ends with this agreeable moral. show themselves either envious. When it is finished. at the lack of a better (lest he should have letted it the matter too long)." . which More's supple and generous nature had no difficulty in putting into practice. A Dialogue of Comfort. for More is never in a hurry when writing. till it was full answered." For instances of this cordial flattery we need only turn to More's letters to the Chancellor. iii.. The Cardinal. for in withal. story takes its course. . that he had made that day.. Cardinal Wolsey. to give them the greater courage to the increase thereof. regularly kept ' that praise must prick them forth. no doubt. . men keep still in that point For one condition of children. even comes to show that it is not well to tell the truth when they ask for it.' 86 THOMAS MORE to bring it some pretty proper way last. " I can well allow that men should commend (keepof truth) such things ing them within the bounds as they see praiseworthy in other men. The to princes. Of Flattery. Every man was fallen in so deep a study for the finding of some exquisite praise.

"' Ellis. i. as help me God in my poor fantasy." he wrote . again. " The so well liked. 203. More Henry VIII. . study. PUBLIC LIFE his 87 master informed of the progress of affairs. is so well in health as he saith that ye heareth by divers his and he may thank counsel thereof by which ye leave the often taking of medicines that ye were wont to use. matter." " In the reding and advising of all which things. so high well despatched in so brief time." ^ He takes a pleasure in dispensing to his correspondent the "food for self-congratulation" of which Nicole was to speak later. . but not without finding means of usually accompanied breaking with the dull impersonality of the protocol. . and travail your Grace had taken in the device and penning of so many. 198.^ The King. and prove to the Cardinal that the king has affectionate thoughts of him. .. " was very that . for it is for the quantity one of the best-made letters for words. 204. his Highness said that he perceived well what labour. pain. when the only reading thereof held him above two hours. 197. minister the Henry VIII. that ever I read in my life. sentence. 2 Letters and Papers. and couching that letter . so great things. ^ Ellis. pp. i. your Grace devised his Grace I never saw him like thing better and. He is evidently delighted to communicate the royal commendations. 206. pp. IVIore replies to it the letter of thanks that the king wished had been joyful much " better. iii. and replied for him to Wolsey. your Grace . 3298. having sent the killed in game a hunt. not causeless.

when we recall the absolute fascination that the king was long able to throw over the most eminent men about him. But I question whether another person. and if More's consent. . king Henry himself. ccjtciiv . IV That brings us to one of the most curious features It has been said of More. ." i ' ieUers and Papers t iii. 's confidence than himself. . . that his daughter Margaret was the single passion of his life. capricious.. with more intense devotion. Gardiner. had not also a special place in his faithful heart. . no doubt. views with the king. history. " did ministers ever dedicate themselves. . Had Henry been the wilful. but More's merit consists in thus collecting for the Cardinal's benefit the smallest scraps of the king's attentions.88 THOMAS MORE is This simplicity. the . ccxci. His praise was coveted as famishing men crave for bread. head and heart. pp. and not without justice. characteristic of the times. ." says Brewer. after his first inter- of his character as courtier. " To no sovereign. was deeper in and that at a time when no one Henry VIII. to devote himself entirely to his service. men as Wolsey. was not given to a certain extent in obedience to the call of a respectful affection. body and soul. and selfindulgent monarch he is sometimes represented. There is nothing surprising in the supposition. Fitzwilliam would have been the most unintelligible paradox in intense personal devotion of such . Cromwell. More.

And other whiles. Yet such is the virtue and learning of . courses." ^ Roper's of the is life the classical and permanent account long friendship between Henry VI 11.PUBLIC LIFE 89 " He is so affable and courteous to all men. that the more I see him increase in these kingly ornaments. geometry. to send for him into his traverse. but to the end he remained under the Writing to Fisher. And I am as uncomfortable as a carpet knight in the saddle. he said " I have come to Court entirely against my will. seems that More was not long on the durability of the King's find We shall him presently expressing spell. p. even as the citizens' wives imagine that Our Lady's picture at the Tower smiles upon them as they pray before it. the less troublesome the courtiers' becomes to me. The King used "upon holy days. would he have him up into the leads. the King. and Thomas More. 149. Roper. illusion it under any favour. . and there — sometimes in matters of astronomy. l€8k ^ Stapleton. and as the King himself often jestingly reproaches me for. and sometimes of his worldly affairs — to sit and confer with bim. : himself pretty freely to his son-in-law. ' 6. i. cap." said More. there to consider with him the diversities." ^ The remark shows a wary mind. when he had done his own devotions. . in the night. vii. and his daily increasing progress in both. motions. divinity. To tell the truth. Hutton. and wperations of the stars and planets. " that each one thinks himself his favourite. . that was not so swiftly to be drawn into excess of confidence. . and such other faculties.

from his former .: 90 THOMAS MORE of a pleasant disposition.. Bonjour. II vous A parli. : me dit Bonjour. ^ Roper had not forgotten that day. grand-mire.. after the council had supped. walked with him. and after dinner. at the time of their supper. for their pleasure commonly to call for him to be merry with them. " Be it instinct of loyalism Napoleon or Henry VIII. by little and little. the slightest gestures of the two who walked " // below. Good day. my dear. the whole family were following. All those years after. he came to dinner. " And for the pleasure he took in his company ." From the windows. . : sent he. with grateful surprise. in a fair garden of his. good grandmamma. parli. that he could not once in a month get leave to go home to his wife and children (whose company he most desired). he spoke to you : ' my dear. " He said to me lie spoke to you. When he perceived them so much in his talk to delight. mirth to disuse himself.' ! " (B^ranger). on a time. and to be absent from the Court two days together but that he should be thither for again liberty. it And because he was pleased the King and Queen. unlooked for. it is still the same which the blackest crimes of stifle in tyrants cannot the hearts of faithful subjects. II vous cl ma ma cMre ' chire. and began thereupon somewhat to dissemble his . much misliking this restraint of his nature.. would his Grace suddenly sometimes come home to his house at Chelsea to be merry with him. . whither.

153." says Father nothing more. whose of letters and effaced. said to Sir Thomas More. i. rejoicing thereat. " does not appear much more prominently during these years in English history to his is greatly due want of ambition. A witty talker.. except Cardinal. it ' ' : should not fail to go.' quoth he. but " That More's name." i That seems to me a kind been called. a man and a scholar. for if my head would win him a castle in Prance (for then there was war between us). find his Grace my very I Lord. . I may tell thee. to be consulted on the motions of the stars or the best way was of replying to an objection of all Luther's — More that to Henry VIII. I. 91 during the whole hour that intimate conversation who was taller than More. Bridgett. how happy he was whom the King had so familiarly entertained. whom I saw I thank our his Grace walk once with arm in arm. was a looked to for an hour of intellectual distraction.' " at the height of his These reminiscences of the time when More was enjoyment of the King's friend- ship serve to explain how it action of the future Chancellor was that the political was always restrained man. Wolsey. and I believe he doth as singularly favour me as any subject within this realm howbeit. good lord indeed. an honourable friendship it pride to possess. as I never had seen him do to any before. had his arm round his friend's neck. whether he of praise ill-calculated to advance the glory of our beatified hero. " As soon as his Grace was gone.PUBLIC LIFE lasted the king. He had ' B. son. I have no cause to be proud thereof. son Roper.

while Wolsey devised means of accomplishing the ' Mr " History of the English Church. Though Henry VIII. it was he himself who in all cases decided on the line of action to be followed. according to them.^ The says publication of the State Papers proves this " legend to be groundless.. ' biographers. less than a duty. against the Emperor. that and ambition. chap. would or tion.' " i More's early . . or flatterers. life. In revenge. pp. secretaries. of directing the . who had prevented his being elected Pope. and the Cardinal often took upon himself the responsibility of unpopular measures which had secretly emanated from a higher quarter. Even Wolsey's reign was far shorter than many historians imagine.92 THOMAS MORE not. would have been nothing But to a minister of Henry VIII. . i8. the ambipower of the sovereign towards the greatest good. who are witnesses to contemporary in- opinion. . ii. attack the Cardinal to the extent of sinuating that the whole affair of the divorce was due entirely to his machinations. Henry would have none about him but advisers-." says Mr Gairdner. " Wolsey. 19. such aims were closed. " even bore at times the unpopularity of measures which were not his own when the king required a and it is wonderful how in the early scape-goat years of the reign people seemed to be convinced that the king could do no wrong. More had no call to refuse an authority that was never offered him. "was well aware that Wolsey was his most sagacious adviser and most practical man of business." Gairdner again. to public is. An absolute monarch in the full meaning of the phrase.

. and moreover cared little for leading roles. The truth is that." 93 who began by i Now. was so soon compelled to abdicate. and of deference for a minister More whose high worth he knew and whose In 1529. that being so. so long as Wolsey was Chancellor. in which More. who followed him. More to succeed the Cardinal. And here us take the opportunity to reply. career ' Except. whom he knew to be infull capable of manoeuvring against him. without condemning Wolsey's proceedings.. p.PUBLIC LIFE intended objects. but of honours. 66. V. it is easy to understand that More. of course. to those whose animosity against Wolsey has persuaded them at all costs to make out that he and Sir Thomas More were enemies. was rapidly ascending the ladder. and while More. under his authority. on the question of the divorce. him but the beginning of the final No chance ' of direct action being offered him.^ the Cardinal leaning with absolute confidence on a loyal protigi. influence retarded the complete victory of the King's boon companions. let had less authority still. his political More remained throughout Ibid. if Wolsey. the battle was shall see shortly the spirit in which he resigned himself to the dignity which he clearly foresaw could mean and we nothing to disgrace. refused to take any part. when the king appointed lost. cap. being absolute master. in passing. not of power. they walked shoulder to shoulder.

was more imLetters The penetrable than ever. made a complaint great anger. foreign ambassadors wrote to their governments that they ' B. when he stands collection of public at the Cardinal's side in the Cathedral at Amiens during the signature of the treaty of peace between France and England (1527). signs the treaty of peace of (1529). well aware of the trust that may be put in princes. having been unjustly treated by the Earl of Arundel.. these earthly Sir Arthur Pole. as the first. i. or himself. to Henry More write VIII. the truths of the gospel. When he accompanies Henry VIII. to the the king. to the Field of the Cloth of Gold (1520). and the philosopher of Utopia. he is still Cambray skirting the leading parts without ever taking his stand in the centre of the stage.94 THOMAS MORE the king. and the Christian. letters relieved the pettiness of such a The man life of by polishing the Latin speeches which the King bade him deliver on great occasions . as minister plenipotentiary. . in culprit very and Papers state simply that More thought it best to send him " a loving letter It is unnecessary to add that More. More than once. The barrister turned courtier at the king's importunity found it easy to adapt himself to this impersonal kind of work. in the midst of cares. bade sternly. 170. simply the subordinate of Wolsey and The monumental and private papers relating to this epoch leaves no doubt on that point." 1 depositary of other people's secrets. by all sweetly recalling. drew up treaties and signed official undertakings which others vi'ould take care to see broken.

because Pace is known to be devoted to the Signory and iVlore to justice. taken from the Venetian deshow highly he was esteemed by all. are. most virtuous." ^ The last phrase serves also to sum up that part of More's public life which entailed more initiative and independence. I suspect. forsake a gentlewoman's it New Year's gift. With a single word. Now it was a lady who had sent him money and gloves granted. and put to shame the plaintiffs suborned by the Court. an anecdote.' Now was a • client i. His biographers.. writes one of them. Wolsey had selected him and Richard Pace " They to negotiate the removal of a tax on wine. More was able to dispel every charge brought against him. Even before he received the great seal. B. to get " the slightest Another passage. . 169." 1 95 It in vain to make him speak. p. however. shows gift.PUBLIC LIFE had tried hint. that this promise will not be performed. inquiries were made into his long judicial career to see if he had never received a present of sufficient value to justify a charge of corruption. but it was only the gloves he kept. and most linked with myself of any in England. was im- possible. In 1518. "the most sage. and among them Erasmus. as it would be 'against good manners to . who had sent a richly chased gold = Ibid. 166. Nisard relates that "after his fall. or a piece of rebutting evidence." writes the Venetian ambassador. his position gave him a sort of upper hand over the administration of justice. naively insist on the conscientious integrity which was proof against every patches.

had given More a magnificent silver-gilt cup. forthwith confessed that forasmuch as that cup was. and one of the King's instruments. and could not resist the pleasure of keeping the fine piece of chasing. my lords. long after ' the foresaid decree. . .' After which obtained. a mortal enemy of More's. said unto the lords: 'So.96 THOMAS MORE . so that they would vouchsafe of their honours indifferently to hear the other. and of that cup drank to her. that albeit he had indeed with fill it much work received that cup. and that when he had so done and she pledged him. cup true. did I not tell you. he. and was preferred by Anne Boleyn's father. yet immediately thereupon caused he his butler to with wine. More. but he had presented him in return with a more valuable cup. of courtesy refused not to receive it. whose wife. Then the Lord of Wiltshire. he declared. writes Roper. who looked to the Court for had already stood up to condemn him. judges. bitterly of having lost Parnell complained a case against one Vaughan. my lords. New Year's upon her importunate pressing upon him thereof. he farther declared unto them. " The gravest charge was brought by one Parnell. as he did not wish to receive presents. when More 'desired their lordships that. with much rejoicing. . brought him for a gift. the Marquis of Wiltshire. as they had heard him courteously tell the one part of his tale. then it as freely as her husband had given to him even so . who was not ashamed to expose his share in this monstrous exhibition of retrospective justice. that you should find this matter true?' The their fees.

the plaintiff. integrity. But. which. his appli- was not appreciated. though much against her will. and whom More rescued from the hands of the courts below. for want of a controlling virtues The magisterial and vigilance were never carried to a higher pitch than by him. " In cases where law and common-sense agreed." The judges. More showed the only quality demanded of an cation to the duties of his office n i8 . at length yet she was fain to receive. as herself and them deposed. and no one gave him any credit for it. More had been unable to resist the certain others there present before pleasure of raising their hopes by his in first statement set in order to dash them the more by his explanation. his right to be relieved of all other business. as men's minds and civilisation were then. The nation. except possibly some few clients who were pining for a settlement of their cases. which wanted him elsewhere.PUBLIC LIFE freely 97 gave he the same again to her to give unto her husband for his New Year's gift. More's administration would have been sufficiently useful and honourable to win him the recognition of force. and gave a powerful and useful impulsion to every branch of the judicature. which. and the Marquis were dumfounded. In more settled times. probity. were of all grown slack. hardly thanked him for services he had not been asked to perform. when promptitude and certainty in the judgment of cases would have been considered of paramount importance in a vast state. Nisard continues : " The new Chancellor motion all the cases that were standing over. at his instant request.

if we may say so. you. then sitting in court. he exercised a kind of ingenious equity. and had. on account of her rank. In cases where opposition. the Chancellor value. and complained that Lady More was detaining her dog. telling them it that so assizes. he had remarked at the Newgate sessions an old judge who always blamed the people who had had " While their purses stolen. Taking the dog in his hands.98 officer THOMAS MORE of justice. ' And when its his wife protested against his de- cision. in many More cases of thieving was came their fault before the sent for one of the cleverest thieves and promised to defend him if he would steal the old judge's purse at the next Newgate prison. . about it. still under-sheriff of the city of London. appeared before the Chancellor. A fine dog had been stolen from a poor woman and sold to Lady More. promptitude. learning where he was. The animal's real mistress. On hearing the voice of his first mistress the animal ran straight to her. he In unforeseen cases.' it. like Solomon's. The Chancellor immediately bade summon his wife. common-sense and law were in tempered each with the other. and placing Lady More at the upper end of the hall. The thief consented. a touch of the rustic his wit to The instances given show have had an antique flavour. which was rather shrewd than exalted. day's sitting of the court. and the poor woman at the lower end.' 'The dog does not belong to said More to his wife you must do without . times bought the dog for three and every one was pleased. he ordered them both to call the dog.

who had no faith in human glory. he neatly cut off his purse. jesting. them up in would be far length from a grave professor of the Sorbonne. 99 His case came on at the beginning of the morrow's He declared himself confident of proving if he might have leave to speak to one of the judges in private. On being asked which. his innocence to their purses. The judge began to us of having robbed you?' cried ' get angry.' " i These tales are unfortunately the most definite information that survives on the public life of the author of Utopia. and restoring it to the old judge said he. he indicated the old judge who blamed the victims of theft. Atudes sur la Renaissance.' on the poor folk who have their purses stolen. to be less severe I would counsel you. took the purse from him. Nisard. since ' ' you let your own be taken before the whole court. More summoned the thief. would you accuse What. would have relished the irony of it. More. While pleading in the judge's ear and keeping his attention fixed.: PUBLIC LIFE sitting. and himself The hands of all the bench went set the example. . and came back to his place with an air of great solemnity. In those days the purse was worn suspended from the belt.' cried More. ' and the old judge. until I reflected that it more telling to quote them at full The 1 story of the Chancellor's dealings with the Thomas More. vii. was gone. finding that his out that he had been robbed. alms to a poor wretch who was present. My first intention was to sum two lines. Then More addressed the He asked the judges of their charity to give court.

100 first THOMAS MORE English Protestants also properly belongs to It is. detail. indeed. . of it. the most important part but by reason of that very importance it deserves to be treated separately and in some this chapter.

K. ' * Erasmus. German monk..CHAPTER V THOMAS MORE AND THE LUTHERAN INVASION An non ita clementer odit impios. This work is commonly attributed to More .^ \^7HEN ^ ' Luther Henry VIII. to go Germany when they went tavern to discuss. were beginning to creep About 1525 into the two ancient universities.'&. there was no appearance of serious menace to the Church The ideas of the of England from Lutheranism. the the Church. Rosseus. a calumniis Lutheri ^ under the pseudonym of G. in the slang of Cambridge. qui vitiis. .. cf. 1506. Epist.. . and two years later. the prior of the Augustines in the town. . et opibus et ingeniis et religione cum primis ilorens. published his book against in 1521. people vrere said. Et supremum Angliae judicem volebant connivere donee impune talis coUuvies inundaret in regnum. quum hateat jus occidendi. 222. omnium confusionem (Erasmus. when More issued his Vindicatio Henrici VIII. London. 1525. Nemo plus non optat ecclesiae mores emendates . _/. at nemo prudens existimat recipiendam rerum . however. Fabio episcopo Vitnnensi). On December 24. . p. studet mederi ut homines ipsi sint incolumes. among the to to the " White Horse " reform of Robert Barns. preached a sermon against the " special observances " of the initiated.

not always easy to distinguish. he had the dry highest and vigorous eloquence of men of narrowly logical minds who can push on their work of destruction without a tremor of respect or pity to unsteady their hands. In reading these indomitable words. chap. Gasquet.102 feast of THOMAS MORE Christmas. The Eve of the Reformation. the first missionary of the infant heresy in England. 90. he was scrupulous in going to and life it is Germany to receive or renew his orders. Church. x . I can only regret that the scope of this little book prevents my dwelling at leisure on this singular figure. Gairdnei. indeed his only attractive disciple. Only once does he show a touch of tenderness. cannot help thinking. . vii.^ Tyndale was Luther's earliest lieutenant. what is properly his from what he drew from his master. at any rate. against his own great Arnaud and of Pascal. pp. in a letter full of haughty humility which he wrote to Frith. a Frenchman will. With a great power of . rousing ideas and polemic ability of the order. either in his or his writings. ' of the Frith was in prison. movement appeared a long way when the appearance of Tyndale's New Testament made the danger grave and pressing. from Henry VIII. and chap. But anything to be still like a popular off. Whether it were he or Luther who had the first clear intuition of the forces of revolutionary mysticism that were ever ready to ferment in the English people. A History of the English 89. to Mary. In the early stages. his most attractive. I should not like to say but in any case Tyndale displayed real genius in the anarchic propaganda.

" They send them hither.i In truth. 2 i. 341-44." 8 In these pamphlets the whole edifice of the old faith was violently undermined. It is clear that we are no longer dealing with a doctrine handful of men inn. p. finally. Works. and if the execu" tioner appears on the scene. " by the whole fat^-fuU at once. of intellect playing at reformers in a Cambridge The deadly is winding its way through tinctions.THE LUTHERAN INVASION 103 and Tyndale. seizing in its toils the simple and passionate souls who know nothing of fine disand are turned in an instant by a single half-comprehended idea into men of conviction on And. More. barrel or bale.e. book. . pp. the Bible. and in some places. these heretics were mighty agitators. that the gravity of the circumstances may be com' i. There was to be Armed with that one sole authority. it was the duty of every man to take up the war against the reignTo break a crucifix or force open ing superstition. Tyndale's liii. cast them abroad by night. looking for no lucre. who had not long to live. the joyful " brethren with the enthusiasm the gallows of hail the stake or martyrs. encourages him to be staunch. a tabernacle was a work of piety . and develops his plan of campaign. the meanest peasant might hold his own against the most learned theologian. English Works. the crowd. fire to carry out their belief in action. published ' by the Parker Society." wrote More. They scatter their seditious pamphlets far and wide as freely as nowadays we scatter advertisements.

letters. until the king should raise his mask. The obligation to do so seemed to him rigorous and indisputable. the Chancellor used every means offered him by the law to arrest the heretical propaganda. . his duty appeared to him independent of external command. The grand-justiciar of the kingdom. So long as politics alone were concerned More had no difficulty in resigning himself to hold his high office . in describing the island of Utopia and turning elegant Latin verses.^ From every quarter comes the roar of schism. and there is only just time to think of resistance. the king himself ere long begins secretly to encourage the revolt against the Church. II Unhappily. ibid. plete. set to work to reply with at the his erudition and spirit to the enemy's pamphlets and same time. But a layman was on the watch. one of the greatest saints of modern times. with the exception of a few priests and the noble Bishop of Rochester. he lent the support of the " secular arm " to the threatened Church. most of the natural defenders of the faith did not seem to grasp the danger.104 THOMAS MORE . simply as a depositary of others' orders but now in that souls were at stake. and he would be none too pleased to find us defending him against himself by the insinuation that so true a liberal and one so far in advance ' Gairdner. The his artist who had hitherto occupied mind all .

no mistaking the meaning. to the harm of his own soul and other men's too. " Howbeit. than overlong to tarry to the destruction of other." and then." i " That he were gone in time. that whoso be so deeply grounded in malice. well and plain appear whereof. it would." The veiled periphrasis betrays the hand of the man of letters but if the dread word is not actually launched. and so set upon the sowing of seditious heresies. — — . if it were requisite. there is . beyond question. There we see what body of doctrine. and very fain would that the one were But that I have toward no man any other mind than this how loudly soever these blessed new brethren and professors and preachers of heresy belie me if all the favour and pity that I have used among them to their amendment were known. xlix. I will that all the world wit it on the other side. cap. obstinate heart. B. because it were neither right nor honesty that any man should look for more thank than he deserveth. proud. heretics.THE LUTHERAN INVASION of the ideas of his age 105 must have lent himself with regret to the application of the ancient public right " As touching that had still the force of law. 255. . i. cious folly out of his poisoned. . I would rather be content that he were gone in time. some spots of blood on the ermine of Sir Thomas More. that no good means that men may use unto him can pull that mali- destroyed and the other saved. I could bring forth witnesses more than men would ween. Nisard calls the " terrible ' Apology. I warrant you. I hate that vice of theirs and not their I persons.

not impertinent and absurd to try and force one's own point of view upon other people by threats and violence ? Even supposing that there should be one sole true religion." Nothing can be plainer than these wise laws. from the precious book of Utopia. put an end to the disorder by proclaiming absolute liberty of conscience. Who can tell. to start veith. versal liberty. finding his island torn by religious factions. says More. whom I am here broadly summing up. he intended to act not little We solely for the sake of peace. . but also. in the interests of religion itself. and. that will of this variety of cults was against the is it God. ' The gospel had not been preached in Utopia. And in doing so. for in that country " they be pursuaded that it is in no man's power to believe what he list. it seems. There was one exception only to limit this uniWhoever did not believe in the life come was dismissed from all office and given over But even then all violent the public hatred.i the natural force of truth would break forth of its free down all obstacles by degrees. to to measures were illegal. and the light would soon shine own radiance in men of good will and from prejudice. the earliest gospel of the modern idea of tolerance. in the second place. King Utopus. indeed.106 THOMAS MORE III have travelled far.

" wrote Fish of the monks. On the eve of the Lutheran invasion. p. unanimously accepted a single rule of faith. Less subtle than our modern persecutors. England. "Tie these holy idle thieves to the carts. and of inevitable consequence. after for the defence. the peace of religion was not the only thing troubled by these apostles of the new gospel. 1529 (Arber Reprint. at any rate. The war of the peasants Germany recalled to More's mind the atrocities his own country had suffered in the days of the Lollards. " to be whipped naked about every market town. and he foresaw with surprising precision the catastrophes that must follow the triumph of the new revolution. A Supplication for the Beggars. so far from being broken up into a thousand discordant sects. did not pride themselves on their tolerance. which. this passage. . I We • Simon Fish. the heretics had no mind to be content with the weapons of peace in the war they were declaring on the established order." ^ The rest of the programme was to be on similar lines. Finally. they. What is there to add ? As I close all. 1878.THE LUTHERAN INVASION 107 in they are the necessary charter of every society which doctrinal unity has been broken. But we must understand them very ill to find in them a condemnation by anticipation of the attitude of Sir Thomas More. malefactors in the world are the apostles of anarchy. the whole of the social order. 13). and perhaps chiefly. Moreover. is very like a speech cannot help wondering what More would have thought of this modern feebleness of have not learned even yet that the worst ours. They menaced in also.

His own words give a good idea of the way he conducted these interrogatories. for him to strike a blow for the Church and make the heretics to vanish. had power to imprison heretics. " Whom . and honestly entreated him one day or twain in mine house. What actually happened? Froude.. with no sign of smoke at Smithfield. And when I had spoken with him. on the contrary. then. true. to recognise any contradiction between the theories of the philosopher and the Impenitent liberals that somewhat lukewarm. therefore. The truth is. lay elsewhere. to the bishops. but that the suspected persons who came before the Chancellor he sent on. who. I sent for. And the reason was. The moment had come. The and inconsistency. not that they had become prudent and all succeeded in escaping More's vigilance. and we take no heed of the fact that with our would-be tolerance we play straight into the hands of the most dangerous enemies of liberty. it is informs us that no sooner was Wolsey fires of dis- graced than the Smithfield were rekindled.108 THOMAS MORE we are. and laboured about his . be pointed out at once. shall if any there be. we blush if practice of the chancellor. Here is a flagrant case of it. under a recent decree. if he failed to dissuade them from their errors himself. still though possibly any one lays a finger on the sacred rights of free thought. that one year and then another went by. but Froude had a genius for inaccuracy. and not a single heretic condemned to death. There is no call.. More was in power.

On the same page More remarks death. when Cromwell and the rest were on the watch for any additional charge to bring against him. but quicksilver will not abide it " ^ and More. i. absolved him and let him go. 109 as I in as hearty loving manner . 221. It is quite possible that the number is overstated. alleging too severe imprisonment. p. named Silver. R. afid Nisard writes : " I know that that Thomas More never slew " (p. and Th."1 There was another. 270." * During the last months of More's administration there were four executions. Bayfield. . * B. ! Gairdner. both the Lords and the Council were obliged to acknowledge that the complaints of these condemned persons were inadmissible. holding that a man of wit could not be a dangerous fanatic. pp. 246).^ and in any case. the J English Works. Cf. p. Bilney. says that under More's government no one lost his life for the new faith. Hilton was executed on the 23rd February 1530." ' Hutton. 905. It remains to be questioned whether . ' Erasmus. and that if he was guilty of any offence with regard to them.^ Later. it is true." said " Silver. and J. \z<j-yz. After examining More said to him with his customary humour " Silver must be tried by the fire. when More himself was on his trial. Tewkesbury in 1531. . of people petitioned not against him. but against the bishops with at such a whom he had agreed to save them from But even moment. 3 Ibid.: THE LUTHERAN INVASION amendment could. But it seems to be proved that Th. "that he was too easily dealt with and had wrong that he was no worse served." " Ay. a number him. it was that of excessive leniency. " albeit that he said that the clergy loved him not (he) seemed not yet very loth to go to the bishop's prison. .

' The reader may notice The reason of it is that I am to execution in a slight hesitation in this paragraph. and remind my readers that the last prayer of the condemned men was but one more act of homage to the humanity of the Chancellor " God. 110 sufferers being THOMAS MORE men who after being once absolved and reconciled to the Church had then relapsed and resumed their propaganda. responsibility of the Chancellor in these four executions. that the Bishop of London condemned Tewkesbury. May we suppose that in practice there was a last appeal in such cases to the royal mercy and. and my own It was at Chelsea. But I certainly have no wish to romanticise history myself. More's house.: . the law was precise and the Chancellor had no power to pardon them. On principle the law had the entire approbation of the Chancellor. however it came about that he did so. open the eyes of Sir Thomas More " ^ 1 a loyal subject is at liberty to say that a minister of justice "slays" a condemned man whom he delivers up accordance with the verdict of the assizes. he was so far from being enraged with the guilty that he tried every possible chance of safety in their favour. before the final condemnation. In those days common thieves were punished . he was bound to experience the scruples of a modern jury. if there were any precedent for such a proceeding. did More think of applying it ? I should not like to say. not quite able to determine the exact Legally. the sentence of the bishop was equivalent to a death-sentence. and in punishing the crime of heresy he believed himself to be doing his duty neither more nor less than when he sent a murderer to the gallows. I would only remark that. . as the condemned were backsliders. in opinion inclines rather to the negative. with death without a thought. and insinuate that when More countersigned the warrants.

and made his confession before the public with a tranquil good-nature that commands confidence. They were tied to trees and beaten till the blood came. . or of some other prisons." i who might easily have in advance. sufferings. that for a great robbery or a heinous murder I caused sometimes such things to be done by some officers of the Marshalsea. 73. p. History of England... albeit . " What cannot these brethren say that can be so shameless to say thus ? For of very truth. Thirty years after Poxe collected these lies in his Protestant martyrology and established the legend of the bloody Chancellor which the gravest historians have religiously accepted.THE LUTHERAN INVASION IV Their friends were less honest. HI They went about declaring that the examination of the martyrs in the garden at Chelsea was accompanied by shocking cruelties. . the avaricious Chancellor was not above seizing the windfall. he followed his unhappy victims to the Tower. I found out and repressed many such ' desperate wretches as else had ii. with which ordering of them . if any money fell from pockets. Having whetted his appetite with this delightful prelude. . their Meanwhile. The legend descended in repeating it bewails to who the fact that the spirit of persecution can thus " co-exist with the fairest graces of the Fortunately More himself been consulted has replied to these calumnies — — human character. the days of Froude. to gloat over the spectacle of their iWore's death.

he took to brawling in churches during the offices and committing acts of great indecency. ^ Apology. xxxvi. whom his father had. stole out of their cloister to make them this harlots. began to teach my house. otherwise called Clerk. nursled up in such matters. and had set him to attend upon George Jaye or Gee.112 THOMAS MORE I not failed to have gone farther keeping of heretics. . . i. and is now wedded in Antwerp. being in service with me. That was sufficient. cap. " to beat his remembrance home " he promised to be wise. On his release. except only Of which the one was a child and a servant of mine in mine own house. for that point perceived. 268. . twain. . tied to a tree in the street. " And of all that ever came in my hand for heresy. which for all that otherwise called Adrian. so much as a fillip on the forehead." The other was a Protestant who had gone mad and been confined in Bedlam. had never any of them any stripe or stroke given them. any of them in all my life. is a priest. of himself caused a servant of mine to stripe him like a child before amendment mine houseand an example of such other.267. into whose house then the two nuns were brought whiph John Birt. to be done to yet saving the sure never did cause any such thing . B. which heresy this child afterwards. ere ever he came with me. More had him arrested by the police. and no more was heard of him. which uttered his counsel. 1 And upon hold. he adds. and beaten with a birch. child ungracious This George Jaye did teach heresy against the Blessed Sacrament of the another child in altar." i . .

" Howbeit. vs^hich Thomas More. . but I More as author deserves a separate must say a few words here on his ' controversial all Pp. in these mine own causes care. but that I trust well that among many good and honest men mine own word would alone.e." Apology." adds Nisard. . xxxvi. It is clear. . 243. I his what faith my words will have with anonymous accuser). be somewhat better believed than would the oaths of some twain of this new brotherhood in a matter of another man. . my delight will be understood ^ and my good fortune envied." The naive emotion lips. the corner-stone of his work on his introduction 113 after is giving a full translation of this evidence. : In I he had written as follows " If say that the discovery of this confession made me as happy for several days as a happy family event. And ." ^ -V V study. The idea of it is to in show "the noble More's conscience. 240. cannot very surely say. {i. struggle * . that his state- ment him is sufficient to settle this historical point. too. H » . even in mine own cause. Unfortunately Nisard is very rhetorical through the chapter. and is replying here to a particular merely defending himself on the charge of having ill-treated the heretics brought Nisard astray. between nature and the law. More is before his tribunal. of so upright a man checks the smile on our at last to but we are compelled remark that " never his passionate desire to prove that More slew " has led the excellent accusation. cap. nor yet very greatly yet stand I not in so much doubt of myself.THE LUTHERAN INVASION "These are sacred words.

" He knew therefore how far the liberty of-the pen might go. as for my own part. 296 . For the pleasant oil of heretics cast upon mine head can do my mind no pleasure. and he rarely refrains from his inability fill of gibing at the private disorders of the " Evangelicals. and as villainous as they list. I speak. for hatred that they bear to the Catholic Church and faith. or rather the worse the better. the greater pleasure. " If any of other to let I purpose not to bear so patiently. 1 neither can though I would. not only for the errors. Apology. . I am content to forbear any requiting thereof. as evil language. as needs must. and the limits which a Christian and ' B. wherein to ^ match them were more rebuke than honesty. to give them therein the mastery. but am content. as to forbear them hear some part of like language as they Howbeit utterly to match them therein. the worse that such folk write of me. but often for is the persons he attacking. The accusation is not More. against myself. i." to give But he himself confesses his them a full reply in their own them use their words at their pleasure. as polemic. cap. But surely their railing against all they do me.114 writings. men who have obviously never read and them have in will reproached him with equalling his adversaries coarseness and violence. nor will neither though 1 could. THOMAS MORE They have been bitterly criticised. certainly without pity. but contrariwise. ix. and give them no worse words again than if they speak me fair. stand for a moment. For all shall be one to me.

Let those of us whose tongues have never burned with a brutal epithet in the presence of certain renegades and public malefactors. or much open. As to the personal contro- versy which often approaches and sometimes reaches insult. With a public of that kind. But it is well in those days the most refined stood on ceremony.THE LUTHERAN INVASION a gentleman must not pass. a certain passage in Latin on the known that very little sources of the inspiration of Luther. it was not enough to be indeed. with what public is it enough ? The right — best argument in the world is nothing compared with a biting repartee. disgust can reach a point at which it becomes untranslatable into measured words. and one which a proper understanding of it makes one hesitate to licence. not against ideas but against persons. cast the first stone at Sir Thomas More. And further. and particular. contemporary licence is not a sufficient ex- cuse for such a man as More. Here and there we in find phrases that startle. but the vulgar herd. I could not but . a direct and decisive b'ow that makes the assailant look ridiculous. was properly doing the work of a not addressing people of refine- He was ment. is a delicate question. himself too 115 Whether he allowed whether in the heat of his passion he overstepped the bounds he had laid down. . which was stirred up every day by filthy pamphlets. But here again. IVlore journalist. can any one decide where the rights and necessities of polemics in 1530 began and ended? In writings of this kind. For my own part.

craft. the necessity of a living and infallible rule of faith. ccccxxix. it is impossible to find admiration enough for the theological instinct of the controversialist. . To Tyndale brandishing his Bible he opposes the " unwritten verities " that are the source of the doctrinal ' Letters ° Cap. me " like the misconduct of a dear For round no man in this great reign. but that close study entirely it is quite probable would reveal certain inaccuracies of detail in an extemporaneous work of such length." The he usually in adopted are extremely clever. " do our sympathies gather so strongly as round More in no man is humanity with' its various its sun and shadow.116 THOMAS MORE I the fact remains that ing with have no hesitation in agreein Brewer that certain passages these writings pain friend. so attrackindliness. and Papers. its gentleness and modes. While he never detail. the fatal danger to which men of More's . — — temperament were exposed by Luther's heedless and unnecessary violence." i the actual point of doctrine. the danger. iii. But this was precisely tively presented as in More. The vix saves the honour of the professional theologians or the elegance of the period. neglects to reply to particular attacks he constantly returns to the essential truth which ruins a priori the whole system of the heretics. They turned away in disgust from doctrines defended in such a style. iv. a brother of the : a sure warranty ut " ita et ad verae theologiae professione nortnam loqui accuratius ^ aptius tactics theologus vix loqui possit." he writes. is Stapleton. its sorrows and misgivings. On in a temper so impatient and so arrogant.

" I dare take God and the clergy to record that they could never fee but as their I plainly told money into with one penny thereof. written in the heart of the whole Catholic Church. but More clings than Christ's. Parker Society. bishops and priests of England.THE LUTHERAN INVASION and liturgical will believe 117 development of the Church. them I would rather have cast the Thames than take it. to be hired albeit they ." ^ no less firmly to the real book of the faith. wished to acknowledge by a public act of services rendered to the cause of the The Chancellor. " If ye whatsoever More can feign without the Scripture. and More himself. . The Bishops of Durham. and for whose sake I take the labour and not for theirs. after his by this layman. 488. was not rich. For me were good men and honourable. then can this poet" (a damning charge in Tyndale's eyes) " feign you another Church Thus Tyndale. iii. I am both over proud and slothful also. . 231. The clergy clubbed together disgrace.^ the living Bible which preserves tradition and has its meaning Church. in replying to those who accused him of having made money by his pen. . yet look 1 for my thanks of God that is their better. There fixed by the doctrinal authority of the is consolation in the thought that some of the ministers of that Church. ' Tyndale. to present him with a sum of more than £4000. and Exeter were charged to make the presentation. has related the course of faith homage the the interview. Bath. ^ English Works. p.

i. Roper. 312 . Apology." adds. . x.118 for THOMAS MORE money ^ to take half the labour and business in writing. that I have taken in this year since 1 " The bishops. cap. began. " thus de- were fain to restore unto every man his own again." parting." ' B.

II. within reach of his pen. i. and next some mottoes. but containing here and there a note of the choice music which real poets were soon to immortalise. pardon me I was born to speak mirth and no matter {Much Ado about Nothing. and a sure instinct told More that he might mould the infant language to all his humanclothes. the caprices of his humour and still his convictions as a Christian. of that date wished to make The English prose was still stammering like a child. In 1510. Spenser might have signed that the age of thirty-two. istic elegancies. at More translated into English . child he wrote While all but a A Merry Tale in very poor verse. he With was not content with the supple and living Latin which has won a European that of the reputation for Utopia as great as Encomium Moriae. : all 'pHOMAS MORE * wrote a good deal.— CHAPTER VI THE WRITER I beseech your Grace.). also only second-rate. He use of his native language also. better inspiration than Erasmus. it was there at hand. side doth " Fast by her weary Labour stand" line. and no master had yet arisen to rid it of its swaddlingFor all that.

the Greek to Luther (1523). Then he learned that in various quarters they were preparing to confute him. " Like as a husband. Frith. in 1529 he answered the Supplication for the Beggars with the Supplication of Souls in Purgatory ." In 1513 he began a life of Richard III. tidings. and the reply Meanwhile the friend of Erasmus had become a politician. from the week after Easter till as much before Michael- . since of so many. In the following year he published his Apology. He was now too busy. in 1532. futed Tyndale." in a series of pious verses. the first history ever written in English. the open letters in support of Erasmus (1516. Every new work found him ready with the counter-thrust in 1528 he published the Dialogue. the " twelve rules of the perfect lover. too much occupied with real life and the national life." he wrote. not to give up the tongue of the humanists. More replied to them in English. so. Between 1516 and Utopia (1516). " whose wife were in her travail. I hearkeneth and would fain hear good I so much heard of so sore travail longed of their long labour to see some good speed and some of those fair babes born. And when these great hills had thus travailed long.: 120 the life THOMAS MORE of Pico della Mirandola. Moreover. it was among the lower classes that the first Protestants poured their books of propaganda by thousands. in 1531 he conof (1518). 1520 came the principal Latin works. the letter to the University of Oxford on the study Epigrams (1518). and applied to the " love of God. On reaching the end of the book he found the muse still plaguing him.. 1520).

good soul. He was an author. By great good fortune he had ink and pens in the Tower. but had not time to finish it. with death so near at hand. only ' in his English Works. whether his Latin were grown rusty. then he began another book on the Eucharist. he wrote till the very end. or whether. and chose English as the vehicle for the work into which he put the most of himself. which comes very near to deserving a place among the finest books of devotion. and if the pens ran short. The Opera latina fill as big a volume a noble literary output for a man who was an author only in his spare moments and scarcely ever enjoyed any leisure until the months of imprisonment that preceded his — martyrdom. and hath need of good keeping. But it is important to observe that. the good hour came on as God would that one was brought a-bed with sore labour at last delivered of a dead mouse. or tried to forget." ^ The Mouse was a dialogue entitled Salem and Bysance. the fact remains that he forgot.THE WRITER 121 mas. More was an author to the backbone. it was still possible to write with a coal. 930. the Dialogue of Comfort against Tribulation. In less than a month More's answer was written and printed (1533). . The mother is yet but green. clearly enough. he wished to avoid even the shadow of an artificial elegance. p. the Latin tongue he had mastered with such labour. This dialogue brings to a close the stout blackletter quarto of fifteen hundred double-column pages which contains the English Works of Thomas More.

He never loses sight of the reader. the surprise. and the consciousness that it will go straight to the mark. him . subjects. literary epicure. Not that he worries interested and attracted the author as much . the movement of thought that gathers precision and most serious volume under the pen.122 THOMAS MORE was an author in the full spare moments. however excellent it may be in other respects. and the delightful defeat of the reader whom he was addressing and whom he had constantly before his mind. cannot perfection. And for this reason no life of him would be complete without a literary study of Thomas An amateur of had so much taste style and a More. does he ever become wearisome. independently of books are the best means of penetrating deeper into his being. and so perhaps still more did the uncertainty. for the craft he his information. unless it is fail to lack a certain higher undertaken and carried on More always enjoyed writing. . the struggle with a phrase that is finally mastered. and neither in English nor even in Latin. all other that. whether for duty or merely for his own pleasure and that is one of the reasons why on the with a natural delight. the man of letters. The search for the right word. the picturesque epithet. but he force of the word. II Literary work. the unexpected strokes of luck. controls all the evolution of a style that as he controls it.

He would have been hugely delighted to know that a day would come when a poet and a fellow-countryman.THE WRITER him. and exhibits a multiplicity of projects Sir " which the writer regards with almost every possible degree of approbation and shade of assent. The fascination of his books. 123 who never give us breathingboth too cautious and too goodnatured to be always pressing. The mistake would have struck him as so funny it. too. follows his thoughts ill their He was eyes. the disconcerting effect of glimmer some trap not discovered at once. talked of chartering a ship He must and sending out missionaries. like some writers space. It is our More himself is never so when we have guessed wrong and taken a joke or a flash of humour seriously. like that of his portrait. when certain simple souls. pleased as Morris. seized with admiration and pity for the inhabitants of Utopia. guesses their hesitation and the first of a response. We cannot tell where he is and where he begins to jest. " that it intimates a variety of doctrines. through gradations of descending plausibility. where the lowest are scarcely more than the exercises of ingenuity. but he has an eye on his readers all the time. and to which some wild paradoxes are . would discover in Utopia a gospel of socialism. lies in keeping us under the in earnest enigma of his smile. the success of an anecdote or an epigram. however. The true notion of Utopia is. that he would have taken good care not to dispel have been charmed." writes James Mackintosh. William business to find out. from the frontiers of serious and entire belief.

the mystification goes further. In literature as in life he is always the man whose own wife. whether he said a thing in jest or earnest." is the false Sometimes. cap. But More takes a special pleasure in the pathetic Equivoque. We tyrant's name. he smiles at his own idea and contents himself with adding in a quiet little parenthesis: "There is no born Turk so cruel to Christian folk as Christian that falleth from the faith. calling every Christian woman a priest. Antonio. " Since the time that Tindale hath begun his heresies and sent his erroneous books about. but that she doth. even in the middle of the gravest controversy. feel of the Turks. as Stapleton tells of useless to never knew serione autjoco aliquid diceret. who know know the the end of the story. xiii.^ Like his book on the Undiscoverahle Isle. logue of Comfort against Tribulation fiction. an old man. are discussing the invasion approaching catastrophe. . the Diaus." It is add that all More's pleasure would have been spoiled if he had taken us into his confidence on the degree of seriousness he attached to each of his theories. or as an easy means (if whole of this Platonic fiction. Two his is a work of honest Hungarians. and that not in corners ' Stapleton. and arming themselves with tranquillity against the imminent We.124 THOMAS MORE necessary) of disavowing the serious intention the appended. there is not now in some places of England the simplest woman in the parish. either as vehicle. and nephew Vincent. a thrill every time the Grand Turk appears on the page.

throughout the conversation. . More has not the courage indeed. but look 125 in on who will. by the author of the Lettres de mon Moulin. But. despise it. particularly in his son-in-law. a moral disease which his own clear con- — science never caught. 230. it never occurs He has just been speaking of to him— to be brief. and (lest you should look some I riddle) openly revested at the high altar. and More is not the man to she saith say) herself that hear reported) as . and remind us that Tyndale never set foot in a church. meanwhile. than not sensitive enough and it must be remembered that. like a thorough Englishman and a grown-up child who sticks close to his story." ^ He is joking he wants to give us a reductio ad absurdum of the heretical theories.THE WRITER secretly. that. but the deplorable effects of which he had studied now and then in other people. It might have been written by La Fontaine. scruples. He wants to show that in the main it is better to be too sensitive . ii. still better. the joke is fair. as Tindale himself either saith or heareth in two whole years together. he is caught in the act of giving way to his weakness for freaks of the imagination. open face of the world. if any worthy soul believes that in some places the villagers go in dozens robed in chasubles to sing iVIass. In a delightful chapter of his greatest spiritual work. (I and singeth too (if it be true many Masses in one week. I say not hear but say her own self. with just this difference. in her for own parish church. or. the Turkish B. Roper.

that he his master a cause of anger. like a good him to do so no more. . for everything that he did was deadly sin discreet confessor. he had liever have sitten fat goose. they called her Mother Maud. when I was a little boy. all the while at breakfast with a good it But when gluttony. . " To tell you all the poor ass's confession. came on a time to conThe poor ass came to shrift in and had a marvellous grudge in had one day given his the Shrovetide . when she sat by the fire with us. with him.126 force THOMAS MORE is menacing the Christian outposts. " iVIy mother had. . I remember one that . among others of her fond tales she told us once. . . that with his rude roaring before awakened him out of out of his rest. his inward conscience. his sleep master arose. charged but lie still . that saving for the manners' sake. a good old woman that took heed to her children. and that Cromwell is drawing up a new formula of faith. came to the penance giving. and sware afterward unto the badger that he was so weary to sit so long and hear him. till his master were up. in that. all the fox found that the most weighty sin in shrift his was and therefore he discreetly gave him in of his own meat do any other penance that he should never for greediness beast any harm or . to tell us that were children many childish tales. She was wont. he had and bereaved him The fox for that fault. . that the ass and the wolf fession to the fox. and sleep like a good son himself. wise wily confessor accounted them for But trifles his as they were. the poor soul was so scrupulous. it were a long work.

it secretly in my chamber. when the . out of sight of withal. and asked him wherefore he came so late. And therefore. I durst come no sooner. I indeed. 'But.' . for fear lest you would for any gluttony have given me in penance to fast some part of this Lent.: THE WRITER more. For I may say to thee. this shall be your penance that you shall all this year now pass upon yourself the price of sixpence at a meal. . . as good Mother Maud told us. . . Father Reynard.' Nay. such foolish brethren as for their weak scrupulous conscience would I wax oifended and so would counsel you to do.' said he. . ' ' : ' ' : . too craft can you none. upon Good Friday. his confessor shook his great pair of beads upon him almost as big as bowls. and measure is a merry mean. much is too much. it is no commandment of God this For I eat fasting. son. wolf came to confession to good Father Reynard . .' quoth Father Fox. I am not so unreasonable for I fast none of it myself. flesh all I this will Lent. " 127 hindrance. reproved that point in him. but an invention of man.' quoth he. Howbeit. But yet. and other other. you wot well. nay. surely. myself. . . . I wot well. .' " But when he heard after by his confession that then he prudently he was so great a ravener. I must needs tell you the truth I come (you wot well) therefor. . . . . . and then eat his meat and study for no Now. there- because fore eat all not be occasion of slander. . between us twain here in confession. . . Forsooth. 'you have used it so long that I think you can do no For live you must.

and so should he by the eating of it peradventure hinder another. . saw a sow lie with her pigs well lapped in new straw. when he waxed a hungered. . some lack of that straw die for cold. But anon his " Their shrift have us. For he thought that if he eat not that meat. and fell mannerly to his meat. . therefore.128 THOMAS MORE it I showed you. but how much could be had for the money was " Yonder dead left entirely to his own conscience. .. till when he told the cause. he thought he might not eat one straw thereof. that for greediness of meat he should do none other body harm. an she be worth so much. lest for his some of those pigs might hap to So held he still his hunger till one brought him meat. horse . him. and was a right honest ass many a fair day after. and then he cast ofF that scruple.. And thus stood he still fasting. other beast might hap to have it. and near he drew and thought to have eaten of the straw. . . The poor ass after his shrift. But when he should fall thereto. in my conscience I set him far above sixpence. I dare not meddle with But kine this country here hath enough. ." As to the wolf. . but money have they very little and therefore yonder cow seemeth to me in my conscience worth not past a groat. showed scrupulous conscience began therein to grudge him. . then fell he yet in a far further scruple. and. Now . his ghostly father came and informed him better. as Mother Maud But now serveth for our matter the conscience of them both. . he was limited to sixpence. For while his penance was. in the true performing of their penance.

^ Ill The surprising tl-. as for her calf. that.. half . ." And so More takes leave reluctantly of the wolf and the ass. breaking free at from archaism. though I cannot make him by no means to write true matter. and sometimes he but reaches the perfection of the greatest of those who were : to Tyndale had been guilty of mixing his metaphors. there appears in the world this rich mixture of Saxon and Latin.8 . of Burke and Newman. xvii. A less consummate artist than Montaigne. last Now for the first time. and this is how he handles him " And this thing. is not so much as she by and so pass they not sixpence between them both. yet I have thought good to give Tyndale warning of. . of Addison. I would have him yet at the after.:'--:.THE WRITER then. the English of Milton. though it be no great matter. is that this newly bom English of his already sounds like a formed language." ' ^ ' Dialogue of Comfort. The poorest scholar can understand these works with perfect ease to-day. come leastwise write true English. to tack on to his long story a short moral on the dangers of a scrupulous conscience. because I would have him write true one way or other. 129 . and therefore not so constantly superior to the novices working for the same end all about him. More is nevertheless fully conscious of the all nobility of his task. i. B.

but as soon as the point of an epigram or the crispness of discussion it. We cannot say. John the Baptist was. and is apt to drag a little but it is never weighed down by solemnity. are better known to that Wisdom than is to us. Herod and Herodias sat full merry at the feast. the fact remains that to we are not privileged diaper our style with whole series of epithets connected by no conjunction. and gives the B.^ Thanks just to the gentleness of style which we noted now. Whether. and so attain at once to precision and richness with a subtlety that defies translation. ii. and ourselves with them. or whether we are subject to an imperious need of analysis. His prose is as copious as a written conversation . More's phraseology usually extended . « B. sent her "a goodly fair fervent and it is a pity. ye wot well." We find the same mastery management of adjectives — of course in the English manner. in prison.130 THOMAS MORE He himself was already successfully working the inmost secret of English prose. 80. . it 1 demand becomes suddenly condensed. back to better thoughts " by such easy tender merciful means " as . perhaps. ii. in order to bring back a coquette to His service. 97. till i with her dancing she danced in his off St John's head. in France. and ample. like More. our emotions are less vivid. that we are fever " unable to pray the Divine Wisdom to lead our enemies. and the daughter of Herodias delighted them with while " St her dancing. that God. the use of the particles which mould the verbs to new meanings.

this delightful also very interesting. Re- served. devout " though not express. The rhythm. make Thomas More's us forget writings. yet imply. 131 is impression of mingled fulness and finality which Without any apparent effort. ii. not arrogant. do ence. very little learned.THE WRITER the mark of a master. finest . and the close perfect. and of the depths for which there is no formula but a reverent. devout silence signify." i But criticism of simple pily of all that the : of this kind may take us too far and the master-quality of Sir stylists. Note the scansion of passage: "All which holy things. proud and curious. which is still rather Latin. it takes on the and most subtle shades in proportion as it has to express the untranslatable and I have noted. wish- show how exact and genuine the theology believers can be. but yet in grace godly minded. gentle. under the full name of holy Housel with inward heavenly comfort. and under silence a reverent. 31. right many persons. the supreme gift never granted to the most skilful IV That gift is his humottr. with a hatred of all display. among ing to others. his spirit. with heart humble and religious. or French. the movement at once pious and decided. his life. and calm. but for the natural ^ is B." devoutly reveris Four lines without a pronoun . . a perfect courtier who would have enjoyed less favour and kept fewer friends. a remarkable passage in which. he speaks very hapignorant may imply without expressing in their prayers.

and iii. 393. and was on the watch for every new opportunity. ." cries More. the things and men that met sudden revivification of old ideas by new images. if there had been no hope of his ever propitiating the letter with favour of so great a man as you. benevolence that led him to listen and to go on listening he was still intensely alive in mind. his blunders." ^ Tyndale was rash enough to say that he could discern the Scriptures without the Church's help. their prey. p. for More is matchless at seizing a chance. Under the peaceable irony incessant all circulated activity. as young eagles. swoop on More takes care not to let the corn- He proveth his point by the ensample of a very the More wished it iii. pat i son drop. name of this monk to remain unknown. and of the surface of all heart. The obscure monk i who wrote to him attacking Erasmus. "Jortin. " ^ when they leave the nest.132 THOMAS MORE even after his curiosity was satisfied. His adversaries would do wisely rallying of all experience to be careful what pleas they lodged. carefully kept out of the letter he wrote. p. — ^Jortin. the constant and supple exercise of a nature that was proof against all fever. observation his eyes. the swift and all the forces of the soul round the subject that occupied him for the moment. imagination. closed his a promise that he would look favourably on the great humanist if he would but yet correct " Papae ! beasti hominem. "who indeed would have been in woful despair. 392. that possessed itself by lavish giving of itself. and the spontaneous influx of untainted emotion.

. but was content to come down here and walk on the ground among other poor fowls. lacked that inspiration " Howbeit I wis when our young eagle Tyndale learned to spy this prey first. and Huskin and Zuinglius and other and excellent heretics. is enough to set him off and if seems to play with the mouse a thought too the cat . he learned to know this prey.." ^ you see. and thereby maketh them spy their prey themselves. the rich royal king of all birds. it must needs iollow. . but scantily come out of the shell. But one thing is . . when he hath all said. be taught to know the true Scripture. good readers. must needs. since God in- spireth Tyndal and such other eagles. . by this reason. of whom. 231. in whose goodly golden nest the young eagle-bird was hatched. English Works. I cease not to marvel of. . A word. Martin Luther himself. how could it happen that the goodly golden old eagle. without any learning of any man. being their prey to spoil and kill and devour it splayed eagle. silly poor chicken. is above a poor puny chicken.THE WRITER goodly bird 133 and king of all fowls. . ' B. he was not yet fullfeathered. the poor children of his mother. p. the pleasant For since that such a bird can spy his prey untaught . ii. high flickered in the air above all our heads . . 684.. that St Austin. . perdie / that Tyndale and Luther in likewise. . as they " list. being in God's favour as far above all the Catholic Church as an eagle. not so ! . . in respect of these noble eagles that was but a there that spy their prey without the means of the Church. But now ye see well. 232.

for shame he should have favoured and forborne him somewhat. and all too rated me. crosses his thought. he seemed at the first very well content. And when I desired him to come and bear witness with me in this matter. without any respect of honesty fell in a rage with me. .' This tale Origen told me. He as it tingles with life . and swore by St Simkin that he was never so said unto of such a lewd fellow since he was first born of his mother. the writer not marking time on one spot. arguments. everything sets and images. too. very cunning and yet more virtuous.134 long. ii. everything has the power of I speech. For I shall tell you. But Tyndale.' quoth he. note is THOMAS MORE how. ' B. and called me stark heretic. him in motion as soon also. he I told him blessed himself and shrank back. as soon as he heard of my name. in a great audience." ^ In his writings. sir. I " Yet have another ancient sad father one that they call Origen. the good Bishop of ' Rochester. even while having his fun. and said he had liever go some other way many a mile than once meddle with him. authorities. 'before this time a right honourable man. But when that he should meet with Tyndale. p. brought me in for a witness against Luther even in this same matter about the time of Tyndale's evil translated Testament. 193 . Pie. an it had been but for his age. For Origen is now thirteen hundred years old or thereabouts. and that the starkest that ever was. English Works. 410. and is how the dis- cussion actually advanced by the pleasantry.

were all the bishops know some that be) ye should not English Works. have had an hundred such owners of me as thoti callest thyself. that weenest thou were half a God. my mind (as of priests have . when he saw him proud of his possession. and art amid thy glory but a man in a gay gown. and heard him boast himself that he and his blood are for ever the very lords and owners of the land. And some of them that proudly went over mine head. he often enters on an imaginary conversa- seldom resisting the little drolleries which that form of writing makes room for more easily than any other. I that am the ground here over whom thou art so proud. Who owned your castle. if the whole world were animated with a reasonable soul (as Plato had weened it were) and that it had wit and understanding. but quickly bringing these amusing digressions tion. Lord God. back into the " I line of the debate. 12 19. p. even in the books which are not deliberately cast in the form of a long dialogue. For then would the ground think the while in himself Ah thou sealy poor soul. nor any word hear of thy name. lie now low in my belly. Cousin. of And verily. more than ever thou hast heard the names of. how the ground on which a prince buildeth his palace would loud laugh his lord to scorn. three thousand years ago?"i That is the reason why. And many one shall as thou doest now. that neither shall be sib to thy blood.THE WRITER I 135 " Oh Cousin Vincent. to mark and perceive all things. call himself : ! mine owner after thee. and my side lieth over them.

" he wrote. pp. if isolated and put under glass. . . English jesting is made of units In that grey land a good of greater resisting power. selected. B. it is sent round. . p. until. I By my But were I Pope would ye were and my lady Well. ii. quoth he.136 THOMAS MORE soul. " And one that is but a layman." i Wit with us takes the form of a series of sparks. is one of the Father Bridgett has collected into a single chapter the flower of the " Fancies. his it may better haply become him merrily to tell mind. like a rare tulip. " as I that score too. then should . And as for me touching the the Church could not well devise better provisions than are by the laws of provided already. she devise for nuns. quoth I. would have any meaning. and Merry Tales. repartee is cultivated. Sports." ^ A bon mot is untranslatable. . . English Works. ' ^ English Works. 927. 183 . embellished on the way. choice of priests. but a " merry tale " can be thrown into a foreign tongue without losing And More's works are full of merry all its flavour. none of which. I the plenty that ye have. 227. 228. than seriously and solemnly to preach. somewhat is gathered by a writer. for I have not much heard that they very merrily read them. over this. ." which Blessed Thomas More so sweetly excused himself for having scattered about his books. On Thomas More am. Sir earliest representatives of the national wit. your wife Popess too. it No sooner does it bloom than news of it is passed from hand to hand. And find I can scant believe that the brethren any mirth in my books.

qui est liber magis reproached indeed. . inagistralis quam iste. Think you. and thereby gives us the benefit of several most spirited 1 Ad Dorp. the passage and I found showed it him. and the other to follow it very soon. but he refers to it on several occasions in his controversial works.THE WRITER tales. 31. I happened to say before him that St Augustine believed that for a certain time the devils had bodies. but it was to the interest of the innovators to circulate another version. ' — ! . . accused of heresy. He read and re-read it. have never read Augustine ? I have and " before you were born " There was a copy of the De Divinatione Demonuni in the shop. . not without my help. he cried in amazement am much surprised that Augustine should so write for he certainly does not say so in this passage in the Magister Sententiarum. had been found dead in prison. " It happened to me that opinion in a bookseller's shop. Whereupon he frowned and turning on me as black as thunder. The official inquiry gave a verdict of suicide. . me for my temerity. ' : ' ." ^ A certain Richard Hunn. I . often that I the Fathers. More had taken no part in the affair... as we say. 137 to be found even in Writing to Dorpius in defence of Erasmus. .C. he crosses on his way the path of the pseudo-theologians who threw scorn on the study of his long Latin letters. B. . Charming examples are met a man of He was an old man. and at the third time of reading beginning.D. I to understand it. with one foot in the grave. Verily.

my lord. woman or man. Have ye brought him hither ? Sir. Then my lord asked that man How say ye. by the Devil ? Nay by my troth I trow not.' pointing to one that he had caused to come thither. .' Therewith the ' ' ' work we come ' ' . to with much somewhat. : ' ' ' ' : ' ' ' ' neighbour. THOMAS MORE which obviously enshrine his own judicial " The greatest temporal lord there present said unto a certain servant of his own standing there Ye told me that one showed you that he could go take him by the sleeve that killed Hunn. this man it was that told me so.' quoth he. .' quoth he. forsooth. for I could never see her use any worse way than looking in one's hand.138 stories. an she were with you she would tell you wonders.' Well. But indeed I told him I had a neighbour " that told me that he could do it. I think she could as well tell who killed Hunn as who stole a horse. sir ? can ye do as ye said ye could ? Forsooth.' quoth he. ." ' Well. all is one she shall be had wheresoever she be.' By my faith. I would she were here with your it is a woman. But whereby think you that he can tell ? Nay. an it like your lordship.' quoth my lord.' quoth he. At indeed that he could " ' last they came to a man who knew one which he thought " said verily tell who killed him. I said not so much. for by God if a thing had been stolen she would have told who had it. ' ' ' ' . lordships now. . this gentleman did somewhat mistake me.' But it then turned out to be the neighbour's recollections. if it like your lordship. my lords.' quoth he.' quoth the lords at the last. ' ' . my lord.' But how could she tell it. .

' quoth another lord reason of mine office.' any sticking he answered lords. my lord. . and she was lodged here at Lambeth. And yet he cannot tell.' quoth he.' quoth he. for I have been officer under two almoners. ' .' quoth one of the lords.' not a hundred. how many. he meddleth not with them that hang themselves as Well.' them have ye meddled with in your days ? With many.THE WRITER lords laughed and asked sooth. : ' 139 is What ' she ? ' ' For- an Egyptian. . an it like your lordship.' merrily. 236. whether he had seen twenty.' Nay.' quoth he. a I have seen many. but she is gone oversea now. Howbeit I trow she be not in her own country yet. and thereat without Nay. and at last he said. p. your office had no more experience in hanging than hath a hangman.' quoth one. hundred ? Thereat a little Have ye seen fourscore and ten ? he studied as one standing in doubt and that were loath to lie. that he thought nay Then was he asked not fully fourscore and ten. It only needed a little experience to see that his corpse did not look like that of a man who had hanged himself. and she went over little more than a month ago. ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' • ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' : ' ' English Works. for they say it is a great way hence. Have ye seen. but I wot well I cannot tell. and therefore I have seen many ? Now how many ? quoth one of the lords. " I have occupied a great while under divers of the King's almoners.' " ^ Then came another witness who declared that Hunn could not have hanged himself. .' my quoth he.' Nay.' quoth he. and have seen so many by Why. sir. how many of I do. not twenty.

And there he began to study again. in humanity. But when he was asked. We need hardly add that in his case his observation was never scornful. when. ' life. the more remarkable. above all things. At the last they came to five. Then was he asked whether he had seen fifteen and thereat he said shortly. already far English Works. no doubt. and minister. confidences. whcJm.140 THOMAS MORE Thereat the lords laughed well to see that he was so sure that he had not seen twenty. . Then came they to three. combined with obedience to the most characteristic tendency of the English mind." 1 These lively stories are. The dull controversialists of his day.' And in likewise of ten. More's use of it shows great tactical wisdom. and Henry VIII. his way of enlivening an abstract discussion is no mere trick of style. and in what place. p. and that his keen sense of the ridiculous was tempered by benevolence and pity. courtier. a never wearied.. Nay. but no one knew better how to look on. dry. he was. and from five to four. constantly amused spectator of the universal comedy. in The was collector of medals a manner. and was in doubt whether he had seen fourscore and ten. necessity drove him at last unto the truth. and then for shame he was fain to say that he had seen so many and more too. and lover of strange animals interested. judge. 237. Fisher. whereby it appeared that he had never seen but one in all his . As barrister. always in the front seats. and no one was more interested in the play. Moreover.

He defends the threatened positions en Dialectic its bloc. impersonal dialectic of the Schools. we find at every step the intrusion and the triumph of a concrete intellect. composed of plain common-sense. . but has left off doctorial robes. and the constant reduction of everything to the tangible and the real. More saw the danger going back on and without the liberal spirit that dreamed instinctively. and yet he constantly opposes right reason to the reasoning of the man who had the imprudence to drive the people to verify the late into the field. a preoccupation with morality. it appeals to the common-sense of the people it takes its stand on the implicit theology which centuries of religious it jokes. it arguments that no subtleties can make a breach is not altogether absent. and instead of opposing argument argument and reasoning to reasoning.THE WRITER and Tyndale a writer. and instead life had instilled into the crowd of syllogisms it scatters a plenteous store of good things and good stories. coming had read the Schoolmen thoroughly. to . He does not always reply to Tyndale's arguments. by no means to be despised as remained faithful on the whole to the More. moments and dogma before a certain to the spoiler. But in the detail of his thought and the management of the debate. foundations of all belief for themselves. . all 141 himself. and invariably goes to them for matters of doctrine. and by concrete in. To cling to the abstract and consult the methods of religious philosophy at certain public would be to throw its past. the dream of Utopia becomes the most pronounced conservative in the face of the heretics.




" They that tell us that we shall be damned but if we believe right, and then tell us that we cannot know that but by the Scripture, and that the

Scripture cannot be so learned but of a true teacher, and they tell us we cannot be sure of a true teacher, and so cannot be sure to understand it right, and yet

say that God will damn us for understanding it wrong, or not understanding it at all they that thus tell us put me in mind of a tale that they tell of Master Henry Patenson " (More's fool), " a man

known wisdom in London and almost everywhere Which when he waited once on his master in the Emperor's court at Bruges, and was there soon

man of special wit by and unlike the common sort, they caught a sport in angering of him, and out of divers corners hurled at him such things as angered him and hurt him not. Thereupon he gathered up good stones, not gunstones but hard as they, and these he put apace into his bosom, and then stood him up upon a bench, and made a proclamation aloud that every man might hear him, in which he commanded every man upon their own perils to depart but whosoever tarried after his proclamation made he would take him for one of the hurlers, or else for one of their counsellers, and then have at their heads. " Now was his proclamation in English, and the company that heard him were such as understood none, but stood still and gaped upon him and laughed at him. And by-and-by one hurled at him again and he hurled a great stone out at adventure among them, he neither wist nor sought at whom, but
perceived upon the sight for a








pate, that the blood ran about his ears


upon a Burgundian's head and brake his and master Henry bade him stand to his harms hardily, for why would he not beware then, and get him thence betime, when he gave him before so great courteous
warning." 1






opens the

it is

for the literature of his country.


his glory to have, so to speak,


to the

thoughts of faith and the experience of the Christian

this English prose,


which is one of the noblest, and sweetest tongues ever found by the

gospel for the interpretation of



again, as in the popular theology of his con-

we find no touch of novelty, nothing remind us of the somewhat anxious searching In writing against the and curiosity of Utopia, innovators, he defends the truths of the catechism in his spiritual works he never goes far from the great commonplaces of Christian preaching, especially the Last Things and the story of the Passion. As a religious writer, no less than as a humorist, a controversialist, or a teller of stories, he excels in but, his his art and gives new life to all he touches Sacred secret is exactly the same in each case. things are as vivid and as present with him as a
troversial books,
; ;



of Tyndale








194. 195-

: ; ;


lay on the surface,

nurse's tale or a judicial reminiscence; but with
this difference, that his

while in the peaceful depths where
tate, his serene,

loved to medi-

grave soul was ever listening to the

voice of God and holding herself ready to reply. " Give me Thy grace, good Lord," he wrote in



make death no

stranger to

me "

and the thought

linked, across all the years of his

maturity, with the statement of the dear friend of







fabulatur de vita futuri

saeculi ut agnoscas ilium ex


" For, of truth, our very

prison this earth

and yet thereof we cant us out (partly by covenants that we make among us, and part by fraud, and part by violence too), divers parts diversely to ourself, and change the name thereof from the odious name of prison and call it our own land and

Upon our



garnish with gold, and

we build, our make it glorious.
in this prison

In this

prison they buy and

they brawl


chide, in this prison they run together



they dice, in this they card, in this they pipe and revel, in this they sing and dance. And in this prison many a man reputed right honest letteth not
in this



pleasure in the dark privily to





thus while


the King, and our chief

jailor too, suffereth

us and letteth us alone,

we ween

ourself at liberty,

and we abhor the

state of those

whom we



taking ourselves for no

prisoners at all."^
Bialogue of Comfort, English Works,





78, 79.

There are moments,




when he


with strange eloquence on the horror of death, which

he usually considered only as the beginning of


More was not



entirely to neglect the lessons

of the great mistress of irony.

In his meditation on

the Four Last Things, he people

makes fun of the


leave directions

in their wills for the

ceremonial of their funerals.


the thought of the centuries of



heritage which even in his most enthusiastic transports
of humanism he never dreamed of repudiating, he too wrote his Triumph of Death, and magnificent it is. " We well know that there is no king so great, but that all the while he walketh here, walk he never so loose, ride he with never so strong an army for his defence, yet himself is very sure (though he seek in the mean season some other pastime to put it out yet is he very sure, I say, that scape of his mind) he cannot and very well he knoweth that he hath already sentence given upon him to die, and that verily die he shall, and that himself (though he hope upon long respite of his execution), yet can he not tell how soon. And therefore, but if he be a fool, he can never be without fear, that either on the morrow, or on the selfsame day, the grisly, cruel hangman. Death, which from his first coming in hath ever hoved aloof, and looked toward him, and ever lain in await on him, shall amid all his royalty, and all



main strength, neither kneel before him, nor

make him any reverence, nor with any good manner desire him to come forth but rigorously and fiercely gripe him by the very breast, and make all his

as even ^ for a very love to Thee. tender. a man of his times and the father of a family. but by the humble confidence of a saint. English Works. nor so much for the attaining of the joys of heaven in respect of mine own commodity. 1244 English Works. charitable." ^ rattle. in writing for himself or for other true Christians. lowly. bones strike But. pp. B. ^ Dialogue of Comfort. . It is remarkable a man whose meditations con- stantly came back to thoughts of this kind. Neither the fear of hell nor the hope of heaven seemed to him incompatible with the loftiest sentiments. the penetrating and the future martyr humane compassion with which tells o'er the wounds of his crucified Saviour. . ii. p. a longing to be with spirituality is never overweighted by fear again we find the solution. 72. ii. It was not St Teresa but a solid Englishman. peaceable. 1418 . ^ give me. that his . and here by any theoretical process. an humble. him stark dead. kind. who wrote this prayer " Give me. patient." Words lively fail me to express the effect of this gift of the love of God and of souls in softening the candour of his style. of the calamities of nor so much for the avoiding of the pains of purgatory. 1243. good Lord. More takes the thought in of death more kindly. nor of the pains of hell wretched world neither. not for the this avoiding . good Lord. of the antinomy that is such a stumbling-block to independent moralists. not : Thee. "And quiet. as a rule.— 146 THOMAS MORE and so by long and divers sore torments. 96. B.

In spite of its English accent. but this continual discomfortable fashion of hers she so ' much misliked. and Nay. bringeth forth girl. all in fact. content to pardon her as she doth other of her fellows. and holy all my thoughts. and that she shall shrewdly be shent. or a scrupulous congirl is a meetly good puzzle in a but ever occupied and busy one. of charity " with all my to works. be not all well (as all cannot be well always). albeit she have a very gentle mistress. . mistress. and is content with that she doth. B. i. 95. and my words. Philotheus would not have hesitated long to acknowledge as his own this passage on Indeed." 1 have a taste of Thy blessed I would almost undertake to show by comparison that the mellitissimus friend of Erasmus 2 was a forerunner. and so letteth her know that she will yet can this peevish girl never cease whining and puling for fear lest her mistress oe always angry with her. and liked very well such service as she did her in the house.— THE WRITER and filial — 147 mind " — every shade. surely. . This house. (which thing is in women very rare) very mild and also meek. Spirit. note. or if it science. knew such one whose mistress was a very wise woman. that she ^ B. of St Francis de Sales. both in tone and doctrine. never idle. that loveth her well. Were her . ii. called Scrupulosity. strict Scrupulosity daughter. 121. this ween ? you. like to be I content with condition myself. a very timorous wretched and ever puling. a that is : " Pusillanimity silly.

. . " I think in very deed tribulation so good and profitable. so too. draw it. but yet will He that it. let us blood.. and not sine affectione. the body). can we surely how much tribulation may mar it and get it away. He will it. I shall not to break my brain in devising wherefore He bid us do both. so will He that we do for neighbours too and that we shall . 49. St John saith. . world be each to other piteous. among others. . and lay plasters to and lame tell not {i. p. and exhort our neighbours to do also same . ? And as He will that we do for ourselves.. 1182. . we it.' " ^ This chapter from the Dialogue upon Tribulation might stand quite naturally in the Introduction to a Devout Life. so biddeth He us also not to let to do our devoir to remove the pain from us both. might that in which More explains how far it is permissible to lay aside the cross. which teacheth us the one. that If He we shall patiently take send us the plague of pestilence.. that I should haply doubt wherefore a it. man might labour or pray to be delivered of saving that God. the And as He biddeth us take our pain patiently. And then need could when it is God that teacheth both. or peradventure hurt the soul also . yet with this fantastical fear of hers would be loath to have her in my house. and ripe Now. ii. . the one seeming to resist the other. . B. . loveth God but a little in this ^ Dialogue ef Comfort.e. English Works. . teacheth us also the other.148 THOMAS MORE : would sometimes say Surely if ' Eh I what aileth this girl ? she did me ten times better service than I she doth. he that loveth not his neighbour whom he seeth.

can check and no Puritanism cloud the simple.all who have read them. and others. . IVIr H. Hutton. pitieth little (whatsoever he say) the pain of his soul that he seeth not yet. 1160. 149 so he that hath no pity on the pain that he seeth his neighbour feel afore him. ^ Dialogue of Comfort. which was to pass with Sir Thomas More. Francis de More's latest biographer." ^ At that. And a note lacking in all these works. English Works. p. . name of another writer. . ii. a note which we find on every page of JWore a unique mixture of tenderness and reverence. of seriousness and freedom the childlike spirit that no solemnity the inner is life . Hooker. by whom Blessed Thomas More deserves a place. very justly recalls some of the great names in English religious literature. but literary parallel. the sombre and glowing faith of Bunyan. I have introduced the W. the soul of youth of the religious England. with its strong note of St Sales. Jeremy Taylor. let us pause. simply for the exactness of the No one has more admiration than I for the melodious solemnity of the Anglican divines.THE WRITER whom he seeth not . not with any idea of controversy. at once sedate and serene. and those early sermons of in Newman's. B. 51-53. which mark an epoch of yet there . smiling piety.

) CHAPTER VII THE CONFLICT I forgat not in this matter the counsel of Christ in the gospel. slept. that ere I should begin to build this castle for the safeguard of mine own I soul. Thomas More in all The martyr who showed himself nature of Sir attitude to its infinite so original in his death was certainly not less original during the course of the events which brought him by slow degrees to his tragic end. Marget. daughter. as he went to execution. so far forth that I am sure there can come none above. (Sir Thomas More from a letter written in prison either by Margaret Roper. what peril were possible for to me. or by More in his daughter's name. counted. And so with More on that march to martyrdom which lasted for years. Bishop Fisher. looked behind him. thereupon. I should sit full and reckon what the charge would be. I had a full heavy heart. surely many a restless night. fall to : '"pHE ^ present chapter is of all others essential to fine any attempt to represent the and delicate shades. He measured every step he took. not in order to shun suffering. while my wife and weened I had slept too. though the very uttermost should hap me that my fear ran upon. But yet I thank our Lord for all that. but to follow the inflexible and subtle delicacy of a conscience that desired at one and the same time to : 150 . I never thought to change. asked for his cloak he did not wish to catch cold on the way. And in devising. and Now and then he stopped and counted them.

which each is compelled to clear for himself. and that death. he accepted. It were folly to ask which is the better way. all haste. just as he had been used to do for his clients. . That is what makes these two rare souls stand out equally from the common men. who seldom move slowly without a suspicion of weakness and fear. so conciliating. The essential thing is : . the same clear understanding of the complexity of the problems. the high road or the path every way is good that leads to martyrdom. perhaps. as in his resistance. and the same fear of influencing others with the contagion of a sacrifice which God alone has the right to demand. But at the same time he was free from all passion. He was without and equally without fear. find To an analogous example of generosity in prudence.. He knew whither he was being led. finally certain. In both men we find the same deliberation. He knew no weak moments. In place of the broad. THE CONFLICT answer the illusion first call of 151 duty and reach the extremest point of legitimate concession. to the conversion of Newman. As politician. we must go. he set every wheel in motion to defer the fatal issue as advocate. long probable. he was never so sub. he brought all his genius to bear on his own defence. missive. straight road along which we have come to imagine the heroes of duty marching with light heart. proud and independent in his obedience. and where two men cannot walk abreast. either in wit or will our admiration follows him step by step without a throb of anguish and yet. we find these two in sinuous paths. the same constant refusal to hurry forvsfard.

^ Bryce. the King replied by a proclamation of his in own supremacy commanding the of religious matters and an edict clergy to recognise that the Bishop jurisdiction outside his Rome had no it own diocese — and ' was all over for centuries with the unity of the Christian world." i That professor deserved a bishopric. had nothing essentially to When . decisively was answered Mr : Gairdner. 271. in marvellously accommodated to the originality of each soul. of misreading the simple and lucid story. p.: 152 THOMAS MORE surrender to the inspirations of grace. nowadays especially. Henry wanted Anne Boleyn was burning to to be rid of his wife. We sure in advance of what the story of Sir may be Thomas its More will show us anew. a portion of whose reply I mitted to quote — " In Mr may be perHutton's view the divorce of Henry do with the Reformation ! V III. There is no possibility. II Freeman used to be fond of quoting the discreet formula employed by a certain Oxford professor to sum up the second half of the reign of Henry VIII. refused to sanction the double caprice . ^ A writer by who attempted lo maintain that the history of the first stages of the Reformation in England was not so simple. We may thank God that contemporary Anglicanism has ceased to employ such euphemisms. that is this grace. urgently solicited. put the crown on her pretty head. Studies in Contemporary Biography. note. The Pope. divine multiplicity. " The later years of this great monarch were clouded by domestic troubles.

be as puerile as unjust best path to reform. with another letter of Mr Gairdner's on the same in I am far from even think that the author of The Eve of the Reformation might have conceded a But schism is neither the sole nor the little more on this point. as the Scottish letter poet says. More related the incident with " At the first reading whereof (i." His advice sprang from political considerations a gentleman of this. and its conception. There was a certain member of the King's theological council who asked him then to moderate the vigour of his Ultramontane pronouncements. but facts. had loudly affirmed the universality of the pontifical jurisdiction. A few months before martyrdom. during his controversy with the Lutherans." should be read. It would. caprices.. are fellows that you can't coerce. reprinted." . and forget all that Manning himself called "The workings of the Holy Ghost in the Church of England. THE CONFLICT The that very 153 delightful part of this edifying story is that same King. the passage in the King's book which concerned the primacy of the Pope) I moved the King's Highness either to leave out that point or else to touch it more slenderly. It The whole and is appeared in the Guardian of March I. moreover. the Tablet of March 4. It may be disagreeable to trace the Reformathink it really time to ask people to put tion to such a very ignoble origin . the same member who was soon to be the first to refuse his submission to Henry's his his usual schismatic frankness. I Mr is Hutton's attainments is able seriously to tell us two and two together and say whether they find the sum can be anything whatever but four. 1899. to see nothing in the history of Anglicanism but this sad story of subject. I questioning the necessity of a reform. 1899.e. for doubt of such things as after might hap to fall in question between his Highness and some Pope.

once his choice was made. . but I put out the question either claimed somewhere whether the monarchy was or acknowledged in the time of Jerome. and that. and deny the primacy to be provided by God. in right great peril. stronger reasons reserve maintaining on this "Truth it is . openly proposed the theories of modern Anglicanism. he did not on the point too insistently. was already a staunch Roman. should have taken some time to make up his mind between the two schools. and the young critic had proposed queries that were still unanswered. but it was quite natural that a theologian by circumstance. who was highly esteemed by More for his virtue and knowledge." said Erasmus. and self-taught.. and after ten years' research into the Fathers and the Councils he had reached the conclusion that " his conscience were . like More. and made rightly... carry all the consequences of the theological thesis to their practical conclusion. if I should follow the other side." But it appears that though this truth was fixed in his mind thenceforth. I was myself sometime not of the mind that the primacy of that See should Be begun by the institution by God. More had never held it for an article of faith." The King's book gave him occasion to study the question more closely. The great schism had unsettled all his ideas on the subject. " The (spiritual) monarchy of the Pope.154 THOMAS MORE moment More had a discreet but at the for point.." Tunstall. he should hesitate to pronounce Moreover. no doubt. Fisher. " I have never doubted.

THE CONFLICT " 155 King's Highness appealed to the General Council from the Pope methinketh . length in my Confutation before. my since. I wot well. and for the proof thereof had compiled together all that I could find therefor. when I after that saw the thing likely to draw towards such displeasure between them I . For in the next General Council it may well happen. of the See Apostolic. I speak of him as primate. . seem to derogate and deny. it could be no furtherance there unto His Grace's cause if his Highness should And verily. even of those that grant it none of his But whereas I had written thereof at successors. advanced greatly the Pope's authority. . yet never thought I the Pope above the General Council.. . For albeit that I have for my own part such opinion of the Pope's primacy as I have showed you. And in . " since the . but also the authority of the General Councils too. ." he wrote. put forth among the King's subjects in our vulgar tongue. . For albeit that a man may peradventure so find therein that. after the common manner of all Christian realms. nor never have I in any book of mine.. that this Pope may be deposed and another substituted in his room. and yet of no more but only St Peter himself. book against the Masker I wrote not. such a breach as is fallen five lines. with whom the King's Highness may be very well content. yet never do I stick thereon with reasoning and proving of that point. not only the primacy . . hath . from whose person many take not the primacy. . . . at such time as I little looked that there should fall between the King's Highness and the Pope.

The remarks accompanying i. The found in the English Works (pp. who has collated it may be with the original MS. never was there. a few months later. 343-348. life When. written on the eve of More's are of the utmost importance." These statements.). the right to remind the world once more that our martyrs are also the witnesses and the champions of " liberty of thought. that his own researches having convinced him personally of the primacy of the Roman pontiff.156 suppressed in it i THOMAS MORE utterly. ' All the extracts quoted above on the primacy are taken from the long letter letter More wrote to Cromwell in his defence. not because he regarded faith . not even his own daughter's. . this great man was willing to die. The close of this long letter to Cromwell leaves no doubt that this was Sir Thomas More's attitude and to transcribe it in all its heroic simplicity. but is better consulted in the Life by Father Bridgett. not only because they show a reserve characteristic of a theologian and worthy of Newman himself. 1424 et seq." " Nor yet in any other thing else. is to gain. he recognises no right to speak on the matter otherwise than as he thinks. but solely because he held it He never broaches the question for to be true. pp. and never put word thereof my book. nor never there shall be any further fault found in did so. the extracts are a faithful risumi of Father Bridgett. but mainly because they give a precise definition of the cause for which trial. . others he makes no attempt to gain their adhesion. . B. he it as a dogma of imposed upon all. I think. to what he holds to be a free opinion it is merely this. he gave his as the price of his refusal to question the sovereignty of the Pope.

therefore. p. the widow of Henry VII. and a supreme respect for the finest shades of truth. but that. 's eldest son? not till September 1527 that the king It was Henry VIII. . . we must not conclude that he is merely endeavouring to escape death. a scruple of loyalty. conscience. ^ English Works.THE CONFLICT me.. nor can find in mine heart otherwise to say than as mine own conscience giveth me. attacked by other doubts. he wishes to define exactly : " I cannot in the real cause of his martyrdom everything think the same way that some other nor can find in mine heart otherwise to men ." 1 When. counsellor. . we find him defending himself and rebutting one by one the charges under which his enemies were trying to crush him. then. acquainted iWore with the belated tremors of his Straight to his face one day when they were both walking in the gallery at Hampton Court." Ill had neglected the advice of his and published his apology for the papal iVIeanwhile he was supremacy without revision. say than as mine own conscience giveth me. his powers in authorising the king's marriage with Catherine. simply from a sense of justice. than that I 157 cannot in everything think the same way that some other men of more wisdom and deeper learning do. which set the official Had not the Pope exceeded casuists to work. 1428.

1426. he would have found the first act of the drama amusing enough. had revealed to him the more pressing dangers that threatened the king's soul. Whatever Henry VIH. finding it impossible to share the opinions of the Court . " to serve Grace in other things. Henry opened it. theologians. would not so much as look any book of the tother part . and had of the it not been for the thought unhappy queen. and it is known that the legate Campeggio long inclined towards a solution agreeing with the king's wishes. shock with no excess of emotion. . the canonical problem itself was very complicated. or at any rate the gossip of the Court. p." There was a Bible "in the room. and he was made to attend learned controversies at which the question was discussed by a great concourse of theologians."! ' English Works. " Settling his my mind in quiet. The trial of the case was opened at the Court of Rome. He read aloud the specific texts asked if it from Leviticus and Deuteronomy. he declined to hear the controversy mentioned. not to recognise that the divorce was inevitable. More bore the His own eyes. and were possible.'s intentions may have been. His attitude relieves me of the need of studying the very difficult question of the divorce in itself.158 his THOMAS MORE Highness informed him that the marriage was so contrary to divine law " that it could in nowise by the church be dispensable. His calm was not taken in ill part. in the matter. nor let lie by me nor never gave ear to the Pope's proceeding . . after that. More obeyed the king by acquainting himself with what was argued on both sides and then." I he wrote.

History of the Church of England. was not so clear in the monarchy of those days. Henry did not suspect. neither saying nor doing anything that could be construed into approval of the king's conduct. even after fifteen years of intimacy. his new situation showed him no motive for abandoning his former tactics. he pursued his way outside the detestable intrigue." The right . A citizen of a modern state who found himself in similar circumstances. Both parties were soon to be better acquainted with each other. It really looks as if the appointment of More to succeed him was a last attempt on Henry's part to win over to the divorce the man who was then the most considerable person in England. pp.THE CONFLICT Meanwhile Wolsey had fallen 159 from power. lo. having once clearly stated his opinion. whatever may be the abstract ' Dixon. and as to the duty. the reserves of indomitable firmness hidden beneath that facile. . would have the right to " submit his resignation. thought that for the moment he need only protest by his silence.^ He was careful not to reveal to his new Chancellor the plans of vengeance which his pride. was already concocting he even gave him an assurance that the whole matter should remain where it was. Moreover. wounded by the Pope's decision. kindly. and. and liberal nature. if More had some few moments of hope. So long as he was not required to act for himself or speak in his own name. found guilty of not carrying the Pope's assent by storm. they were brief. 9. The desertion of Catherine and the filling of her place by Anne Boleyn were matters of the king's conscience. and More. i.

situation. . on February 11. that there were some who had said that the king was pursuing the divorce out of love for some lady. 1531. Chapuys. says that " the Chancellor declared to the lords Parliament. king. was called upon to remind the public that this was the comedy still on the stage. in a letter to Charles v.' 160 THOMAS MORE solution of the very diiBcult case. the dying independence of the bishops had accomthat this ambiguous 1 Letters and Papers^ v." 1 Some days before. i. and not out of scruples of conscience. The Chancellor of England brings the royal commissions to Parliament and it was in . The Chancellor then went down to the Commons. The Imperial ambassador. and that this was not true. 233. that. Hereupon some asked the Chancellor for his opinion on which he said that he had many times already declared it to the king. the capacity of the simple bearer of a message that he opened the session of March 15. Officially was consistently the only question remained the resolution of the king's scruples. More himself. 1531. moreover. 234. and made the same declaration on the part of the in ." Father Bridgett has firmly established the fact title might still be compatible with the supremacy of the Holy See. by command of the king. 171 . the clergy had been ordered to recognise the king as the " Supreme Head of the Anglican Church. Moi'eover. B. Sir Ttiomas did what he thought best. We may trust More him for equi- The vocal. a few months after his appointment.. and said no more.

and is determined to carry the matter.." adds Father Bridgett.i The measure was none the less grave. " The Chancellor is so mortified at it. or there deposition." writes Chapuys. there Henry had tried him and found him wanting. B. V. as it were. 234. a rough sketch of schism. " especially with the Chancellor and the Bishop of is The king Winchester. yet either his name gave prestige to the government. 18 . " that his voice had ceased to have any weight in the royal councils of gaining for his ." writes Chapuys." ^ " It is clear from this.THE CONFLICT it 161 panied the decree by an amendment which reduced to a cipher. 1532. It meant poverty. on May 16. 1013 235. " that he is anxious above all things to resign his office. when the King wished to take a and forbid the clergy to prosecute heretics or to hold any meeting whatsoever without his express permission. and the king consented. law of Christ allows. or the King was still in hopes was no pretext In him to his side." v." * Three days later. More and some of the bishops 1532. to dispense with his services. without anger. was nothing to be gained from him. i. almost want but any privation would have seemed a gain after the anguish of those ." So false a situation could not hold for long. More finally induced the king to accept the reasons of health and others which rendered him unfit to retain his office. i. Ii2j B. ' " So far as the ^Letters ' and Papers. and. " energetic resistance to the new legal very angry. r. May step forward offered an project. . Ibid.

THOMAS MORE Mora's all pelled to put down first thought on being comunnecessary expenses was to find situations for the men of his suite. we will not. and hoping that . and yet have I in yearly revenues at this present left me little above a hundred pounds by the year. learned. at Lincoln's Inn. if we like to live together. whom he passed on to the Lord Mayor. where many and ancient fathers be continually conversant.— 162 terrible years. the next live full first year after. So that now we must hereafter. go a-begging together. then will we. then we will the next year go one step down to New Inn fare. then may we yet. Which. descend to Oxford fare. If that exceed our ability too. says his son-in-law. and also in the King's Court. wherewith many an honest man is well contented. as follows " I have been brought up at Oxford. Then he called all his family together. be contented to become contributaries together. therefore. But by my counsel it shall not be best : for us to fall to the lowest fare first . and so forth from the lowest degree to the highest. with bags and for wallets. maintain neither. When all were well provided for. where many right worshipful and of good years do fare. at an inn of the Chancery. Oxford well. if our ability stretch not to grave. and gave his successor the eight rowers and the great barge which had so often taken him from Chelsea to Westminster. and addressed them. descend to nor to the fare of New Inn. if we find not ourselves the year able to maintain. but we will begin with Lincoln's Inn diet. which. he parted with his fool.

as soon as the bulls had arrived. 1533. like the poor " it was long since More had used that pleasant word. were moving rapidly. the king was secretly married to his favourite. (p. and so without any other fires to go to I their beds. He had not time." " ^ . We find it again now that he is on the downward slope. at still every man's door to sing Salve Regina. 294) for the last six words. and declared his union with Catherine null and void.THE CONFLICT pity 163 some good folk will give us their charity. which he had always Be merry together been fond of. Archbishop Cranmer summoned Henry before his tribunal. his wife and his children. and so keep company and be merry together. ^ 343. i. The consciences of these Pharisees on the legitimacy of Henry's marriage with Anne Boleyn were then reassured by a brief ^ Roper. every night before he went to bed. alas to shoulder his wallet again like the " poor students at Oxford. . and Harpsfield B. students at Oxford." ^ IV Events. meanwhile. On January 25. to cause a great burden of fern to be brought into his own chamber. and with the forced assent of the assembled clergy. " He was compelled for the lack of other fuel." bat Harpsfield says that the whole house had to practise the strictest economy. and with the blaze thereof to warm himself. note. In March.

by risking their honour. It He his life. also brought a fairly large sum of money. you required two things of of the robes order for the occasion. Henry was reckoning. He had it. moreover. he said to them which you lately sent me. and that he would have no judg- dealings with Cranmer having pronounced . the moral of which was that the bishops. and informed him officially how much he regretted that the Chancellor's illness prevented him from continuing his valued services. but his More should be noticed that in refusing the invitation did not exactly refuse to acknowledge the new queen. : me to : the one. on his friend's presence at the coronation. I the other therefore thought might be the bolder deny you. and he thereupon told them a story. which the ex-Chancellor would have to More kept the money and Some days later." The money. said from the first that this matter was outside his province. he added. the price cloaked under specious appearances. he had accepted with gratitude and without a scruple. other request. " My lords. since As to their the bishops wei'e rich and he poor. THOMAS MORE and June Till 1 was fixed for ttie coronation of the queen. By the king's orders three bishops wrote to More begging him to The messenger go with them to the celebration.164 inquiry. in the letters bishops. would not escape the danger that threatened their himself might well lose honour he would preserve. meeting the stayed at home. heads. then More's departure had been The king had made him flattering speeches. her had been unable to accede to it. sith I was so I well content to grant you.

pp. Here again we find the same admixture of submission and independence." 2 With More. at Canterbury there quicken enthusiasm. 289. and publicly deny the other queen. 165 he had no thought of protesting But he was equally unwilling to pay court to a woman he distrusted. nor never did. decision in favour of Catherine a dated March 23.THE CONFLICT ment on the case. At the convent of St Sepulchre was a poor woman with a great reputation for holiness. ' Her visions and prophecies was not given till The Pope's . his subjects. 1534. faithfully pray to hers both long to live God and well.^ His earliest editors either did not know or did not dare to publish a passage of his writings which leaves no doubt whatever of his attitude towards Anne Boleyn.. for his Grace and and their noble issue too. and not a soul was to be seen on the route taken by the usurping queen. nor will. 124. 123. ^Letters and Papers. he that among other his Grace's faithHighness being in possession of his marriage and this noble woman really anointed Queen. The letter dated March 5. but without any other meddling of the matter among his other faithful " I So am ful subjects. neither murmur at it nor dispute upon it. a few days before the decision of Rome. Doc. year later it is is . the English people remained faithful The day of the coronation was as silent as a funeral. who in happier days had been kind to him. against his decision. vii. and to whom there was no reason against his remaining faithful. The king wished to make an example which should to Catherine of Aragon.

on which Cromwell made notes of resolutions he was afraid of forgetting. and this was considered a good occasion to be rid of him. She was hanged at Tyburn. More than that.^ of edification. still in his possession . foreseeing that others. ^B. But his habitual caution had already sprung the trap. incident is characteristic. less discreet than himself. In a paper of January 1534. and to say that prudent enough. on April 20. and there is no knowing what importance should be attached to it.333. might run the risk of compromising the poor woman. when questioned about the divorce. we find. > When high esteem. he wrote this letter." i More had. political topics : letter was i. 1534. imploring her to confine her communications to the things of The rough draft of the the kingdom of God. in fact. More sent it to its Cromwell. on his return home. among other measures : con- cerning the nun of Canterbury and her accomplices. " Eftsoons to remember this sinister memorandum Master More to the King. It had been hoped that the minute inquiry conducted into her case would reveal a nobler victim. the " holy maid. herself an impostor. i. 334- . with six of her partisans. when she had avowed The avowal was wrung from her by torture. he had written her an affectionate and delicately worded letter. As soon as she was alone with him. God disapproved of the king's conduct. 322. had one or two conversations with the prophetess." after a few words The had shown signs of embarking on More had silenced her. who was convinced on inquiry ^ of ' B. More still held Elizabeth Barton in He changed his opinion later.166 THOMAS MORE she was im- had an extraordinary renown.

gracious Sovereign.. that worldly honour is the thing whereof I have resigned both the possession and the desire. 1534). . I should find your Highness good and gracious lord to me. to Henry himself.. that either should concern mine honour (that word it liked your Highness to use unto me). your own virtuous you that . . give the cause. . consider and weigh the matter if. 1 only beseech your Majesty and that . It is a touching letter. . More wrote or that should pertain unto my profit.. . 167 to produce it and was careful ncft at the to trial. unto your excellent no sinister information move Highness that your noble Grace to have any more distrust of my truth and devotion toward you than I have or shall .. to discharge and disburden me . which shows that what his noble and true heart suffered most from was the knowledge that his king suspected him of treason. . . in the resignation of your most honourable office. in any suit that I should after have to your Grace. " It may like your Highness to call to your gracious remembrance that at such time as of that great weighty room and office of your Chancellor . and worldly profit I trust experience proveth.. I be a wretch of such . during my life . it pleased your Highness further to say unto me. suit But now is my most humble .... . that for the service which before I had done you .THE CONFLICT authenticity. ye were so good as . mind shall give in your so doing.. at the same time as Cromwell (March 5. So is it now.. . that I never was very greedy thereon... and daily more and more shall prove.


. . .

a monstrous ingratitude then desire I no further favour at your gracious hand than the loss of all
that ever


ever lose, goods, lands, liberty, and



withal, vvhereof the keeping of

any part unto

myself could never do me pennyworth of pleasure. But only should my comfort be, that after my short

and your long ... I should once meet your Grace and be merry again with you in heaven, where, among mine other pleasures, this should yet be one, that your Grace should surely see there then that, howsoever you take me, I am your true bedesman now, and ever have been, and will be till I die, howsoever your pleasure be to do by me." ^ Any one but Henry VIII. would at least have granted a truce to such humble grandeur, such transparent honesty; but the unhappy king was possibly no longer capable of comprehending such He was determined to combine the cases accents. of the prophetess and of Sir Thomas More, and to arraign More on a charge of high treason. The ex-Chancellor had demanded to plead his cause before the Upper Chamber, and the lords, though not overflowing with courage, had signed a petition praying that the accused might be brought before them. But they were not yet sufficiently to be depended on. The King decided that More should be heard before a commission of four members of the Privy Council, Cranmer, Audley, the Duke of NorSuch men as these folk, and Thomas Cromwell. could be spoken to without ambiguity, and Henry explained to them that what he expected of them

Ellis, Letters, ii. p.




and Papers, vii.


was not a





which he did not want, but a More's obstinacy. They acted

accordingly, promised, threatened, talked of ingratifinally, for the sake of peace and quietness, dismissed the accused. "Then," writes Roper, "took Sir Thomas More


his boat

towards his house at Chelsea, wherein by
for that


way he was very merry, and


nothing sorry, hoping that he had gotten himself
discharged out of the Parliament
in his


he was

landed and come home, then walked

we twain


garden together he had sped, said




desirous to




trust, sir, that all is well

It is so indeed, because that you be so merry.' son Roper, I thank God,' quoth he. 'Are you then By my put out of the Parliament bill ? quoth I. I never remembered troth, son Roper,' quoth he,



it I'


Never remembered
sorry to hear

it!' said


toucheth yourself so near, and us

all for

'a case that your sake

when I saw you so merry, that all had been well.' Then Wilt thou know, son Roper, why I was so said he


verily trusted,



merry?' 'That would good faith I rejoiced,
given the devil a foul








said he, 'that


fall, and that with those had gone so far as without great shame I At which words I would never go back again.' waxed very sad for though himself liked it well, yet






The King was furious at the result of the conand commanded the bill to be brought on. The Chancellor and the rest fell on their knees


to implore

him not to adopt
this procedure.

folly to rely

More's relations

with the

Canterbury was so evident that it on such grounds. The king, very much against his will, allowed himself to be convinced. " On the morrow after," Roper continues, " Master Cromwell meeting me in the Parliament house, willed me to tell my father that he was put out of the Parliament bill. But because I had appointed to dine that day in London, I sent the message by my
servant to my wife to Chelsea. Whereof when she informed her father, In faith, Meg,' quoth he, Quod differtur non aufertur,' After this, as the Duke of Norfolk and Sir Thomas More chanced to

The nun of would be mere




familiar talk together, the


said unto




the Mass, Master More,


would wish you somewhat to incline to the King's pleasure. For by God's body. Master More, Indignatio principis mors est.' 'Is that all, my lord?' quoth he; 'then in good faith the difference between your Grace and me is but this, that / shall die to-day and you to-morrow,'
striving with princes, therefore

That same month of March 1534, Parliament passed an Act confirming the marriage of Henry and Anne Boleyn, and guaranteeing her children the
right of succession to the crown.

was made high

treason to oppose the Act
vations, every subject in

and to obviate any reserthe kingdom was compelled

to take


an oath before the king himself or his new law in its entirety. The form of the oath, which was drawn up by the commission, was not confined to acknowledging the rights of Anne Boleyn and all children to be born of her it was aggravated by a preamble in which the
delegates to observe the

authority of the

Pope was formally rejected. The people obeyed in a body. The execution


the " holy maid " did not go for nothing in overcoming their repugnance

and who was

likely to

be a

better judge of this case of conscience than the

Archbishop of Canterbury, who had been appointed to receive their submission ? Then, too, a prudent reservation came to soothe the conscience, if need were some people took the oath "so far as it be not contrary to the law of God." It was in that sense, no doubt, that More's own favourite daughter, Margaret Roper, obeyed the wishes of Parliament. But such little evasions, permissible or pardonable in the common run, were unworthy of a Fisher or a Thomas More. For them, the limits of legitimate concession had now been passed. On Low Sunday, April 12, More came to London to hear a sermon at St Paul's, and went on to see John Clements. His presence was noticed, and he was quickly accosted by an officer of the Court, who summoned him to appear the next day at Lambeth before the royal commissioners, to take the new

oath. " Then Sir

Thomas More,"

says Roper, " as his

accustomed manner was always ere he entered any matter of importance as when he was

at his departure from his wife whom he tenderly loved. and with a heavy heart. made Lord Chancellor. I ' answered I Sir. so did he likewise in the morning early the selfsame day that — he was Lambeth. at the last : he rounded me in the ear and said thank our Lord the field is won.172 THOMAS MORE chosen of the King's privy council.' it But. had to God wrought in conquered all his carnal affections utterly. with me and our four servants then took boat towards Lambeth. and »hut them all from him. was for that the love he him so effectually. appointed Speaker of the Parliament. and then to kiss them. and bid them all farewell. as conjectured afterwards. the the Thames at Lambeth and the palace . yet loath to ' Son Roper. to have them bring him to his boat. as by his countenance Wherein sitting still sadly a while. I What he meant seem ignorant. More stood before judges. and be houseled. when he was sent ambassador. On the opposite bank rose the marvellous church where slept the Church contains few more The scene is well known.' thereby I : wist not." A few minutes later. banks of of the Archbishops of Canterbury. and children. to hear Mass. I am very glad thereof. then would he suffer none of them forth of the gate to follow him. it appeared. but pulled the wicket after him. the successors of Anselm and Thomas a Becket. that it his The history of the important pages. or when he took any like weighty matter upon him to go to church and be confessed. summoned to appear before the lords at And whereas he evermore used before.

fore Thomas Cromwell. Sir Thomas More the little himself has preserved the remembrance of the smallest details From room where they fell bid him go to reflect a little further. Close by his side is a woman. them come nobles and to deny the authority of the Bishop of . they are to hand. the future Queen Elizabeth. his gaze over the garden. churchmen.THE CONFLICT dust of King 173 Edward the Confessor. and the Abbot of Westminster. No one has yet dared to refuse the oath but at last there comes one who stands and faces the comHis is the Catholic missioners. and two Thomas Cranmer. Rome. these ghosts were now to be exorcised. Chancellor Audley. On the stage sit four factotums. conscience. On those two sacred spots converge the recollections of centuries of faith. neither strained nor brittle. " In that time saw I Master Doctor Latimer come . the incomparable golden isle legend of the All island that was indeed the of saints. Archbishop of Bepriests stepping gaily Canterbury. and in a cradle a child of eight months. Behind the scenes. Sir Thomas IVIore. We only want the laughter and the jokes for the drama and here to resemble a scene from Shakespeare . a little distance off. the England whose imperial destinies we know so well to-day. but immovable. and the schism is more disastrous to the Roman Church and more to be deplored than even the revolt of Luther. was King Henry directing the drama. the martyr-roll of lona and Bangor. The deed that is being done in this hall is the schism of England. of the spectacle.

or else that it might be seen. either for gladness or for dryness. " My Lord of Canterbury. but rather as a thing uncertain and doubtful." More's interrogation was pressed hard the former advocate had lost none of his resource. . said unto me that it . that I condemned not the consciences of them that sware. THOMAS MORE other doctors and chaplains of and there walked he with divers my Lord of Canterbury. then (said my Lord) you know for a certainty. for he laughed.. as suitors were sometimes wont to be. And therefore are you bounden to leave off the doubt of your unsure conscience in refusing the oath. but were sped apace to their great comfort so far forth that Master Vicar of Croydon. Quod ille notus erat pontifici. and took one or twain about the neck so handsomely. . taking hold upon that that I had said.. as he himself relates. and all the remnant of the priests of London that were sent for. and called for drink. appeared well that I did not take it for a very sure thing and a certain. that you be bounden to obey your sovereign lord your King. I heard also that Master Vicar of Croydon. that they were not lingered. but he had never had to do with such cunning opponents. I would have weened he had been waxen wanton. and drank valde familiariter. and very merry I saw him.174 into the garden. that if they had been women. He all but lost his footing. went to my Lord's buttery bar. were and that they had such favour at the sworn council's hand. . and take the sure . and a thing without doj^ibt. that 1 might not lawfully swear But it. nor made to dance any long attendance to their travail and cost.

observing that. "the general council of Christendom. to his daughter Margaret cf." Thereupon the Abbot of Westminster appealed to his modesty. far from crying out with a loud voice at the scandal. since the great council of the realm had determined contrary to him. it so. . and namely with such authority coming out of so noble a prelate's mouth. it lay not in my power to help it without . that I could again answer nothing thereto. yet in my conscience the truth seemed on the tother side.THE CONFLICT way was self 175 it. of obeying your prince. . he ought not to persist in following his own opinion. . . sith that whatsoever other folk thought in the matter (whose conscience or learning I would not condemn nor take upon me to judge)." ^ is i. given in one of More's letters 353-357. the peril of ^ my soul. . . because that in my I conscience this was one of the cases in which was bounden that should not obey my prince. and what would he do ? " To which I said that whatsoever should mishap me. but only that I thought myself I might not well do I so." Then Thomas Cromwell. yet this argument seemed me suddenly so subtle. and swear Now all that in mine own mind me thought my- not concluded. B. who had no mind to be like the judges of the first martyrs. More replied instantly that on the side of his conscience against the council of the realm he had a greater council still. " sware a great oath that he had sooner that his had lost his head than that I should only son have refused the oath " for what would the king think. . The whole story of the scene .

was an old friend. honour nor the worst extremities of human life could make the smallest change in his attractive grace. possessing exterior. More had expressly was all that He made no difficulty about acknowledging the rights of the queen and the accession to the throne of the children born of the But he could not suffer the attack marriage. and now that he showed so much simple courage under his sweet and pre- Erasmus says. the oath was scarcely compatible with the . his wit. that. deserve our pity. stated that the preamble of the oath conscience. his charm stronger than ever. with or without the preamble. of the difficulty. therefore. way out that every one of them. for they were in a worse case The man before the tribunal They had met him often in other circumstances. and neither the summit of than their victim. and including even Cromwell. or his affectionate good-nature.i Cranmer. There was one offended his still possible. and abandoned a useless discussion. and it certainly seems.176 THOMAS MORE dialectic in the No world could prevail over such The judges recognised that at last. As he was one of those whom one could not help loving. the subtle and con^ The Pope had declared the validity of the marriage of Henry and Catherine . aimed in the preamble at the authority of the Bishop of Rome. We may safely say for must have been them and for Sir Thomas More. The poor souls a man. would have been only too glad to find some it was not policy alone that suggested the thousand means of saving him which they united in trying to adopt.

THE CONFLICT ciliating. " wearing. ' On ' : were taken in the field by my enemies I would they should somewhat fare the better for me. The attack. " And.' At whose landing Master Lieutenant was ready at the Tower gate to receive him. was clamouring for vengeance. it should be a good quietation to this many {i. 359. 177 asked Cromwell. he was taken to the Tower. however. it is was less explicit and 1 less direct and in any case clear that neither More nor Fisher thought of this consequence.' quoth he. once held in check by the honesty of these two. M'8 .&. having again refused to subscribe to the oath. peradventure. The self-love of the tyrant. to put before the king a new form of oath. Rochester and More) should say that the succession comprised within the said Act is good and according to God's other within as the Bishop of laws. which " iVIaster More " might sign without further scruple. On April 17. when if I rights of the Holy . sir. if such men realm. that had the charge of his conveyance thither. therefore. advised him to send home his chain to his wife or to some of his children. B. When given. the inquiry was over More had been handed over and the sentence for a few days to the Abbot of Westminster's guard. Nay. as he commonly a chain of gold about his neck. i. See. his way to prison. that I will not for did. Sir Richard Southwell. and Henry refused to grant his counsellors' request." 1 But it was too late.

"'i am very sorry no better ' Roper.178 the porter ' THOMAS MORE demanded off I of him quoth his he. saying. thee. . upper ' garit ment.' Master ' porter.' here it and took his cap and it delivered is to for him. is.

had left intact the delicate tenderness serenity. 1446. More's chest.— CHAPTER VIII THE MARTYRDOM Surely.^ ardent of the two. the more considered necessary to the It may be remembered that Erasmus. may be taken literally. my dear daughter. this is my great comfort. . when at Venice. the hair-shirt which More. especially towards caused his family some anxiety. I think. that albeit I am almost afraid of a yet in all the agonies that I have had. canst not have. could not stand the very Italian and Aldi. I thank the mighty mercy of God. English Works. Meg. my conscience. more lives his friend's lived Erasmus. " A FAINTER heart:" the phrase. 179 . he had all somewhat timid sensitiveness. a . in fillip. And verily. fainter heart than thy frail father hath thou . perhaps. he was living. easy and peaceful for the times they in. the dreadful penalty exacted by the science of those days. and both were threatened with the stone. in which a certain initial strength reinforced '^ by training diminishes the natural cowardice of the nervous system and the horror With of the imagination for all physical suffering. ^ Moreover. More had not the soldier's temperament. with summary rigiine of his friends the whom the close of his life. than of their natures. and the of both. I never in my mind intended to consent to do anything against p.

he had preserved out of his old inclination towards the life of the cloister a sort of home-sickness for solitude." he said to his daughter. and his cell the cell of a monk. the .. To him. " I believe.. but I assure thee on my faith. and to repose with childlike confidence on the store of courage that heaven would send him when the moment came. is the most reposeand if he had ful. happiness that his unexacting philosophy looked to find in this world. and straiter too. I would not have failed long ere this to have closed myself in as strait But since I am come a room. therefore. he feebly confessed his terror. As to his imprisonment. strict as it was. Comfort against Tribulation. " that they that have put me here ween they have done me a high displeasure. he had no trouble in making the best of it. had not made him one of the heroes who go joyfully to torture and far from pretending to make light of the punishment that awaited him. and tried to keep his mind from dwelling to no purpose on that aspect.. And no monk ever adapted himself more obediently The Dialogue of to the monotony of his rule. Studious and prayerful by nature. 180 resistance of THOMAS MORE common temptations. and the disturbances of his later years had prepared him to look on rest Tower was a monastery. which was written during his last fourteen months. Megg. the condemned prisoner would have thought himself blessed with all the as a gift from heaven. mine own good daughter. if it had not been for my wife and ye that be my children . . the most smiling of all his books been the only one to suffer.

he believed in his simple heart that they understood his meaning when he spoke with tranquil conviction of the nothingness of life. i.' " said she at Roper tells the story. a woman of middle age and very ordinary mind. B. for fails a too learned teacher who at to perceive the moment which the affection of his their intelligence is left pupils follows him while behind. however. I trust that God of His goodness will discharge me of my care. Lady More. the grief of his family was inex- pressible. He had and like long prepared them. and his — simple narrative seems to convey the very accents of the good lady " I marvel that you that have been — ' always hitherto taken for so wise a ' man will now so Roper . I find no cause. . . cf. and with His gracious help supply my lack among you. " ' What their first meeting the good-yere. Master More. 367." ^ But the at Chelsea. but this was going beyond the bounds. Megg.THE MARTYRDOM hither without mine 181 own desert. I thank God. She was unselfish enough to deny herself everything in order to provide as well as she could for the maintenance of the prisoner but she did not even try to see the sense of her husband's strange caprice. for me thinketh God maketh me a wanton. was the most difficult to convince. And now he had to begin all over again. Why could he not do like everybody else. and setteth me on His lap and dandleth me. to reckon myself in worse case here than in mine own house. and follow the example of a number of excellent people of their acquaintance ? He had had many a crotchet in his life before. trial.

Tylle valle is it 1 ' ' How say you. your library. j . your children. Is not this house.' 182 play the fool to THOMAS MORE lie here in this close filthy prison. 1247. when you might in the company of me your wife. after her accustomed homely fashion. your garden. as nigh heaven as mine own ? To whom she. groaning as she looked at the him from the massive bolts. tell me one thing What is that ? : ' ! ' ' quoth she. examining the cell. and all other necessaries so handsome about you. and with the favour and good-will both of the King and his council if you would but do as all the bishops and best learned of this realm have done.. will this Bone Deus. p. so near and yet so far she treating him . inspecting on the floor and along the walls the straw A mats which More had sent and crying that for to keep cold. iii." not so ? ' ' ' passage in the Dialogue of Comfort against Tribulation shows her again. 1 Dialogue of Comfort against Tribulation. and household. I muse what a God's name you mean here still thus fondly to tarry. cap. good Mistress Alice.i know not whether to laugh or cry at the spectacle of these two. man. your orchard. and be content thus to be shut up among mice and rats. not liking such talk. Indeed we for her part she could never breathe at night with such doors shut upon her.' After he had a while quietly heard her. Mistress Alice. Book English Works. gear never be left ? quoth she. be merry. when you might be abroad at your liberty. your gallery. with a cheerful countenance he said unto her I pray thee. bone Deus. ' ' ' answered : ' Tylle valle.' quoth he. xx. And seeing you have at Chelsea a right fair house.

if I may so express it. But such as it is. Two or three times Margaret Roper had obtained leave to visit her father. or rather to resign himself. and all we have is the long and heavy letter in which Margaret Roper describes her last interview with her father. Obviously she could hit on no new arguments. a desire to save him at any cost. in a most appealing manner. everything that could induce More to cling. and he cutting short his useless replies and waiting patiently till she shall have finished scolding him. it takes a Plato to write at the dictation of a just man on the point of death. Cleverer minds than hers had exhausted every means of persuasion. and had been too long the companion of his constant thoughts not to feel in her heart of hearts that her father was right and the But she was possessed by rest of the world wrong. and I regret that I cannot transcribe it in full.THE MARTYRDOM iike 183 a fractious child of whose prattling no one takes any notice. To tell the truth. and she tried to shut her eyes to the truth. to . But she summed up in her own person. the letter is inestimably precious. More's dear " Meg " was too like himself. II But certain more touching visits are eternally bound up in the memory with the story of these long months in prison. It was hoped in high quarters that the final intervention of his favourite child might possibly succeed at last in overcoming the prisoner's obstinacy.

to sit and be merry. and draw more and more to God. but continued after their and. first of his diseases both in his breast as of old and his reins now." she writes. and the litany said.184 life. Margaret Roper's letter is addressed to her " sister. but we share her suffering and his at the thought of what both must have endured during the long talk which reminded them of all the past and cruelly tore away the veil of the future. " after your letter received. and most frequently. and that at that time I found him out of pain. THOMAS MORE There lies the mournful beauty of this meeting. by reason of gravel and stone. when I had a while talked with him. creased. and other after our seven psalms and talk . disposing themselves every day more and more to set little by the world. slyness. and that I found by his words that they were not much in- manner that they did before." Alice Alington. beginning first with other things. now. More phrases we can hear Beneath his daughter's cumbrous his own voice speaking. and the good order of my brother. with the somewhat professorial copiousness that he was by no means averse from. and tenderness. of the good comfort of my mother. as one in his case might. and all my sisters. his neighbours. Margaret Roper's letter has the advantage also of showing Thomas as he was. meekly well-minded. and of the cramp also that divers nights grippeth him in his legs. We know beforehand that the appeal is hopeless. sometimes very sore and sometimes little grief. and now with lively sallies of humour. and that his household. " At my next being with him.

. then hath no man taken this oath already more gladly than I would do. 185 in diligently remembered him . he had gone and not by accident letter set again. that if ye change not your mind.THE MARTYRDOM good friends abroad. . that in this matter. we two have talked of this thing ofter than twice or thrice. wise. labour to make him swear against his conscience? And after that. and I have twice answered you too. you are likely to lose all those friends that are able to do you any good." ^ These preliminaries over. and God therewith not offended. . if it were possible for me to do the thing that might content the king's grace. and well-learned men. — 1 This letter is printed at the end of More's English Works. he looked sadly again. . and was nothing but an indirect warning from the Lord Chancellor. in the appendix to Roper's life of More (The King's Classics. . their prayers. With this my father smiled upon me and into the object of her visit. she went on "I have received a letter of late from my sister Alington. . she plunged straight More that he might well follow the example of many " great. . by which I see well. mistress Eve. 1903). said: What. and with a you awork to come tempt your father you bear him. . and earnestly said unto me. A few days before. . and for the favour that . reminding : . and more easily read. . ." Alice Alington's letter had evidently been written on purpose to be shown to More. His biographers give long extracts from it and it may be found complete. hath my daughter Alington played the serpent with you. Daughter Margaret." Then. . . drawing from her pocket a paper. .

had not Lady Alington go without inflicting another on her. ." made no mistake about the meaning of the fable. but would have all the rule themselves for their craft. the Chancellor had added " In good faith . saving a few which were wise. seeing that. that should be fouled or wet therewith. After protesting his friendship for More. till all the rain was past. but in a few of ^sop's fables. who possibly took it from this letter of Alice's. They. She went early and eagerly. It was one we know already. the which should make them all fools. expecting to hear some good news of him whom she called her father. of the which I shall tell you one. made it the foundation of one of the chapters of the treatise he was then writing... made them caves under the ground. Audley. and begged the Chancellor to make one more attempt for More's safety. would none of that. of the ass and the wolf It is the story who went to confession. The men in of that date were let certainly in less life of a hurry than we are. Alice and had defiled their clothes with them. And when men saw that they could not obtain their purpose they wished that they had been in the rain. More. I am very glad that I have no learning. : —to Then they came do what they list. and had asked her to come and see him the next day. whose fable own was no danger. There was a country in which there were almost none but fools. and they by their wisdom knew that there should fall a great rain. thinking to make the fools But the the wise fools and to rule them as they would.186 THOMAS MORE course a buck in Alice's husband's park. forth.

our Lord preserve them and send her much joy of them. a scruple. and brought up her of a child. being on the side of the fools and the wolves. as naturally minding me as you that are my own. in other things and learning both. . and my 1 Alice Alington was Lady More's daughter by her first marriage. More read the letter brought him by his daughter then. have ever found her." remarks Nisard. daughter daughter Alington such as I after that ' And said. he began it afresh and read over again. not to pretend to wisdom and scruples like the king his master. her take I verily for mine own too. characteristically enough "When he came to the end. Forsooth. and then I thus find he Margaret. and had sent the equivocal message for what it was worth.— THE MARTYRDOM In Audley's version. and I trust ever shall. pointed every word. was sent to the bishop's tribunal undisturbed. but advised it leisurely. the ass. like 187 La Fontaine's. and bringeth her own up very virtuously and well. I thank him. Whereof God. hath sent her good store.i Howbeit. my he paused. so that Margaret might transmit it to the prisoner. since I have married her mother. for a peccadillo. wherein 1 thank God she findeth now some fruit. while the wolf continued his depredations "The Chancellor. as I have brought up you." to Poor bewildered Alice had not known what answer make to this flood of literature. "had at least the merit. and . And in the reading he made no manner haste.

for his pastime.. that art mine other. so shall I.. my lord's ^sop's fables do not greatly move me. had found it among the traditions of the More applies the fable very wittily. Megg. More begins with a sly hit characteristic of the man of letters. then. just as he had been used to do in the days when he took the little Meg on his knees and made up interminable stories to help her forget her childish troubles. wished themselves fools too." If the reader feels at all impatient. to tell the truth between thee and me. wisely. but the Lord Chancellor lost nothing by being kept waiting. answer them to thee. was for those kind souls in distress. because they could not rule them. " If those wise men." 188 THOMAS MORE good son her gentle husband too. He reminds his daughter that the first of the two riddles had not the honour of being a discovery of the Chancellor's. Megg. that even through the ground it woolsack. The fable of the rain which washed away the wits of all it fell on had been used by Wolsey. and Lord Audley. where they found all men fools. I am daily bedesman (and so write her) for them all. . when the rain was gone at their coming abroad. none too rich in invention himself. he should remember that here is a father bent on distracting the mind of his child. . then seemeth it that the foolish rain was so sore a shower. told them merely to my one daughter. for my pastime.' His first thought. " But in this matter. In this matter she has used herself like herself. But as his wisdom. Megg. and draws from it a most sensible conclusion.

but he refused to acknowledge that the step demanded of him was a mere peccadillo. that no man may number and reckon me. " I trust 189 sank into their caves. among those that long to be rulers. I am sure that it is . his conscience was so made. but the second fable makes him merry again. and name is in Greek." was it quite certain that he stood alone in his opinion ? Now alive. and poured down upon their " But. Lord (Audley) reckoneth me so reckoneth . God and mine own conscience clearly knoweth." He had struck a loftier note towards the end of his commentary. among the fools. "The second fable. I never intend (God being that my good Lord) to pin not even the best Besides. I say for them that are yet But go we now to them that are dead before. thus far forth. they used not confession no more the men then than the beasts now. fable. are. seemeth to be feigned since ChristenFor in Greece. and wet added.THE MARTYRDOM heads. I myself. But what ? who made it. maketh but little matter. Be that how it might. Marget. confession." my . before Christ's days. " Verily. and even the example of old Bishop Fisher could not move it. For by that the matter goeth all upon ." Then comes a long commentary followed by a long More was quite willing to be the ass of the story. I man know this day living. as my But surely. daughter. Nor I envy not that Msop hath the name. I and that trust. it dom began." he them to the skin. " my soul at another man's back. seemeth not to be ^sop's. in heaven.

of all this matter." " When he saw me that God is in heaven.. as sure as . that mine own conscience in this matter (I damn none other man's) is such. . smiled upon Where Marget ? your mind now? Sit not musing with some serpent in your breast. I can no further go. sister. Megg. sit with this very sad. for in faith I fear not his he daughter soul. But as concerning mine own self. In good faith. as may well stand with mine own salvation thereof am I. father (quoth I). that I have for myself in that sure discharge of my conscience. not so much as spake in any company. .. What how. daughter. for thy comfort shall I say. but am (as I trow Cressida saith in Chaucer) come is ^ me and said: How now. peril of his person. soul all. nor I never wrote. that that the time while they lived. And yet show you not Marget. nay. nor I rebuke not nor impugn any other man's deed. as I have often told you. contrary unto mine. Mother Eve ? More frequently said that he would not give all the reasons it which made his duty to decline the oath. thought in some of the things that I way think now. daughter Margaret. I pray God give me the grace I that my may follow theirs. my heart was full heavy for the .190 THOMAS MORE all not the fewer part of them. " as I promise you. to thee. upon some new persuasion. I take not upon me neither to define nor dispute in these matters. nor I meddle not with the conscience of any other man." Margaret continues.^ But for the conclusion. to offer father Adam the apple once again. that either thinketh. any word of reproach in anything that the Parliament had passed. . . or saith he thinketh.

like now no further neither Master Harry: Why should you refuse to swear. The few letters he was able to send to his family were more affectionate than ever letters of farewell. family were refused permission to visit him. At this he laughed and said That word was like Eve too.: THE MARTYRDOM to Dulcarmon. even at 191 my wits' end. . . for she offered Adam no worse fruit than she had eaten . his The year 1534 closed with an increase in the More was now isolated. : herself. he waxed even angry with you and said 'Why. in which he is careful not . what aileth him that he will not swear? Wherefore should he stick to swear ? I have sworn the oath myself. For sith the ensample of so many wise men cannot in the matter move you. III rigour of his confinement. and heard that you were in the Tower still. indeed. I see not what to say more.' And so I can in good faith go but if I should say.." And so the dialogue goes on. Since their entreaties had had no effect on him. and when he had asked where you were. More seems to have had no further doubts on the fatal issue. For he met one day one of our men. In November Parliament passed an Act explicitly acknowledging the king as head of the Church of England. father? for I have sworn myself. but if I should look to persuade you with the reason that Master Harry Pattenson " (More's old fool) " made.

192 THOMAS MORE the servants." ^ " And here am I " (i. and refused to give his opinion on the new statute. on May 6. that these blessed fathers be now as cheerfully going to their deaths as bridegrooms to their marriage ? For God.e. he repeats that he has never attempted to influence any one. saw the monks of the Charterhouse going to martyrdom. neither better or worse. The day was well chosen for this last assault. no matter to forget the babes all To a whom. i. What good could they do ? It was only too clear by that time that the king's anger was at its height. 403. but that my whole study should be upon the Passion of Christ and mine own passage out of this world. his daughter was allowed to see him. . It annoys him that people come faf too often to weary him with new entreaties or supplementary examinations. he watches all night in his cell. fully . who was wavering in his first resolution. to refuse the oath. From the window. 1 B. leaning on his daughter's shoulder. " Lo. doest thou not see. 402. At the end of April he was summoned before a commission. in order to be still more alone. the maids and fellow-prisoner. in prison) " yet in such case as I was. His answer to Cromwell was that he had determined himself "neither to study nor to meddle with any matter of the world. considering their long-continued life in most sore and grievous penance. More. . . and that the penalty was not far off. Finally. will no longer sufPer them to remain here in this vale of misery and iniquity. ' B." ^ Once more. and their nurses. i. and is lost in still more earnest and unbroken prayer. Megg.

why not say definitely that the law is bad ? He made a noble reply " I have not been a man of such holy living as I might be bold to ofFer myself to death. the Lord Chancellor. leaveth him here yet still in the world further to be plagued and turmoiled with misery. who walked painfully. On July 1. More was kept till the last. More refused to reply. Finally. B. the Archbishop of Canterbury. and the Earl of Wiltshire came to bring inad- him the missible. they said to him brutally.THE MARTYRDOM everlasting Deity. lest God. Who would have thought. the Duke was of Norfolk. i. might and his : suffer me to fall." i Three days later." ^ The second batch of the London Carthusians were executed on June 19. Megg. in recognising the bent old man with long beard and grey hair. for my presumption. perhaps. 193 but speedily hence taketh them to the fruition of His Whereas thy silly father. that the Chancellor of England would one day return to Westminster. Since you have no wish to live. there to be con- demned ' to death ? ' Roper. and Bishop Fisher two days later. five years before. and the crowd found some difficulty. . leaning on a stick. It was the first time he had left the Tower since his long months of imprisonment. 408. that like a most wicked caitiff hath passed forth the whole course of his miserable life most sinfully. Silence Majesty desired More to say what he thought of the statute. he appeared before his judges. thinking him not so worthy so soon to come to that eternal felicity. God. Cromwell. 1535. king's latest commands.

at this time. and kept his thoughts t6 himself. " Neither your statute nor any laws in the world. not on the law of succession. is and loaded with false charges and imaginary complaints. I need not stand in this place. And if this oath of yours. The issue of the trial was never in doubt. mean- while the advocate. Mr Rich." —surely not for keeping The Attorney-General was him obliged to interrupt for fear the judges should be shaken. and a false witness was called. He refused to commit himself on the subject of the statute." . is speaking. and with no uncertain voice. my lords.194 THOMAS MORE accusation. More persisted in the attitude which he had advised a client to adopt and had chosen for himself. It gives one real pleasure to see him defending this standpoint with all his usual vigour and subtlety. the man of honour. who pretended that the accused had uttered seditious words to him. which is drawn up in Latin. then I pray that I may never see the face of God. More collected his forces. but the old advocate seems to wish for a final victory before The excessively long." said he. He neither approved nor condemned. which I would not say were it otherwise to win the whole world. These were matters with which he did not meddle. " If I were a man. as an accused person. " punish people except for words and deeds silence. Before long the Christian will pardon the perjurer . It is based. saying farewell to the bar. named Rich. but on the last Act of Parliament proclaiming the supremacy of the king over the Church of England. be true. that did not regard an oath.

counsel. professional scruples. and God knows how. ing still Up till then. . and knew that he was right. for the discharge of my conscience. in and then returned nounced him Chancellor to sentence. had persuaded him that it was his duty to play his part in this comedy of legality. I wish to speak freely of your statute. the smile he had doubtless worn before when bringing his friends to . the fear of tempt- God by throwing up his brief for his own defence. admired him. . For one bishop of your opinion I have a hundred saints of mine. For the seven years that I have studied the matter. . was continued in accordance with The jury retired for a few minutes. haste as if overwhelmed by the evidence of the prisoner's guilt. more. and judges. and for one Parliament of yours.THE MARTYRDOM The trial 195 accepted forms. but of a Christian confessing his faith in the midst of a number of unhappy men who loved him. men who no longer dared look him in the face. I have all the General Councils for 1000 years and for one kingdom I have France and all the kingdoms of Christendom. But with the passing of the sentence the curtain had fallen. and a smile spread slowly over his lips. I have not read in any approved doctor of the Church that a temporal lord could or ought to be head of the spirituality. guilty. "^ Then he was seized with great pity for all these . and God knows of what kind. " Since I am condemned. It was no longer a case of witnesses. They pro- and it only remained for the bow in his turn and pronounce the And now More's mouth was opened. and.

saying : seeing him so him with as good words as he ' Good Master Kingston. threw himself at his knees and asked his blessing. 196 THOMAS MORE them to harmony. . shall continue there friends for ever. though your lordships have now here in earth been judges to my condemnation. my Lords. His son. and restoring all stormy philosophic discussion. by the mere force of his personal charm. went with him. yourself. sorrowful. that we may meet . but be of you and my good cheer for I will pray for good lady your wife. trouble not . . that comes better from his lips than any one's and we see (for indeed it is he that seems the master here) the noble gesture of farewell which closes the sitting and dismisses the judges. Sir William Kingston. . so I verily trust. who was awaiting his departure from Westminster Hall. that and merrily all meet together to everlasting salvation. . and could not restrain Thomas More. after the door of his house at Chelsea. IV More was taken back to his cell. More said good-bye to him and got into the boat. comforted could. A dear friend his tears. Constable " Sir of the Tower.." " Merrily " once more we have that delightful ! word. and a . . of his. " More have I not to say. we may yet hereafter in heaven shall therefor right heartily pray. but that like as the blessed apostle St Paul was present and consented to the death of St Stephen and yet be they now both twain holy saints in heaven.

wife. being all ravished with the entire love of her dear father. not satisfied with the former sight of her dear father. in sight of them all. suddenly turned back him about the him most lovingly. "When Sir Thomas More came from West- minster to the Tower-ward again. she. ran to before. pressing in amongst the midst of the throng and company of the guard. ing his coming. and many godly words of comfort besides. Who well liking her most natural and dear daughterly affection towards him. and took him about the neck and kissed him. gave attendance about the Tower wharf. and divers times kissed : . my whom she thought she would never see in this world after. From blessing whom after she was departed. was fain to depart from him the beholding whereof was to many of them that were present thereat so lamentagain. hasting towards him. upon her knees reverently received. having respect neither to herself nor to the press of people and multitude that were there about him. took him as neck. desirous to see her father. as soon as she There. his daughter. without consideration or care of herself. and also to have his final blessing. that with halberds and bills went round about him. gave her his fatherly blessing.THE MARTYRDOM in 197 heaven together. and there openly. where she knew he should pass by before he could enter into the Tower. she. embraced him. and like one that had forgotten herself. where we shall be merry for ever and ever. tarryafter his saw him. with a full and heavy heart." Roper alone has the right to tell what follows. and at last. hastily ran to him.

good daughter. with a letter. yet 1 pray you be good to the tother.e. On the following Monday. for she sued hither to me this day to pray you be good to her. July 7th. convinced that the end was not far off. I pray you. Recommend me. and your little boy. whom I beseech our Lord to comfort. some kind answer. Thomas Utas : i. And I send her my blessing. If not. much. that you delivered me from my Lady Coniers. that you may send it in my name to her again. when you may. and God comfort my good son her husband.e. but I would be sorry if it should be any longer than to-morrow. the last and most precious of all. and all our friends. for a token from me to pray for me. and your good husband. good Margaret. the eve of the Feast of the Translation of the relics of St of Canterbury.. I would wit whether this be she that you wrote me of. and all my children. Our Lord bless you. and the Utas of Saint Peter ^ " ' St Thomas's Eve : i. I cumber you. and to all her children. I pray you be good unto her. her name is on the backside. June 29th. July 5. For it is Saint Thomas's Eve. My good daughter Dance hath the picture in parchment. that THOMAS MORE it made them for very sorrow thereof to weep and mourn. I like special well Dorothy Coly . and all my god-children. Give her. More took off his hair-shirt and sent it to his daughter Margaret. to my good daughter Cicily. as you may in her affliction. . and pray her to pray for me. the octave day of the Feast of St Peter. and to my good daughter Joan Aleyn too. and all yours. Show her that I heartily pray her." That was on July 1. 198 able. I send her an handkerchief.

and I send her. ' Cresacre of More is included in this blessing. " I never liked your manner toward kissed me better than when you love me last . "his singular good friend. In printing the words this letter in his Life of name Thomas More. whom ." Roper. . to great cause his hand. who was then still a child. for my dear and pray your friends. for I love when daughterly look to child. that I thank you for your great cost. the thought of the meeting of a few days before comes upon him with poignant sweetness. leisure to worldly courtesy. he puts in Thomas.^ Our Lord bless him and I his good wife my loving daughter. as he hath and that if the land of mine come to he break not my will concerning his sister Dance. I liked well his natural fashion. pray him to be good. And our Lord bless Thomas ^ and Austen and all that they shall have." ^ V Early in the morning of July 6 came Sir Thomas Pope. • brackets. son yohn More. and 1 shall for you and all we may merrily meet in heaven.THE MARTYRDOM : 199 and therefore to-morrow long I to go to God it were a day very meet and convenient for me. and my godson. I pray you at time convenient recommend me to my good me." Even while he writes the letter. with a niessage 1 More is evidently speaking of his manner at their last meeting. I send now to my good daughter Clement her algorism stone. and all hers God's blessing and mine. and dear charity hath no Farewell. after the : " who was my father.

which his entire friend. and be not discomforted. "Sir as one that had been invited to some solemn banquet. to be a means to his Majesty that my daughter Margaret may be at my burial.! am ready obediently to conform myself to his Highness's command and I beseech you. chap. that he was to death on that day before nine of the clock. 'you do well to give me warning of the King's pleasure. Sir Thomas Pope taking his leave of him. should have cause to be offended. ' had purposed at that time somewhat but no matter.) gave him. though perfectly innocent. which. . Mr Lieutenant seeing him xi. he was gone. and put on his silk camelot gown." Cresacre continues.' quoth he. in joyful bliss eternally. . Mr Antony Luca ' Bonvisi (a noble citizen ." The king also desired of More that at his execution he should not use for otherwise many words. whatsoever I intended. and had better not be I to have spoken . or any other.! "When Thomas More. : ' translated. " Mr Pope. comforted him in this wise Quiet yourself. for I trust that we shall once in heaven see each other full merrily. could not refrain from weeping. of the state of in Italy . Which Sir Thomas More perceiving. Howbeit. whilst he was in the Tower.200 THOMAS MORE suffer from the King and the council. changed himself into his best apparel. good Master Pope.' " And to draw him out of his melancholy he went on to make a joke. Cresacre More.' Then. . wherewith his Grace. good Mr Pope. would seem a little coarse to modern notions. where we shall be sure to live and love together.

There was nothing in it new. who should have them was but a javel.THE MARTYRDOM 201 prepare himself so to his death. gave his executioner thirty pieces of gold. in token that he maliced him nothing. and he goes to his death rather as to an empty formality than to a festival. His Death was of a piece with his Life. ' i.. that famous Bishop of Carthage.^ ' Mr Lieutenant. counselled him for his own benefit to put them off again. He remains thoroughly English to the end. Sir Thomas More was still the same as ever. or affected. ." no mistaking the significance of this passage..' Yet for all this Mr Lieutenant so pressed him. this in a classic passage which had been so conspicuous in his Life. were well cloth of gold I would think For St bestowed on him.. He is calm rather than joyful. ' shall I account him a who I will do me this day so singular a it benefit ? Nay. Addison has drawn attention to " Tha:t innocent Mirth. did not forsake him to the last . it assure you. rather loved him exceedingly for it. saying that he What. There is not a trace of exaltation or enthusiasm. but .' said Sir javel Thomas. Cyprian. neither trying any flights beyond his nature. that at last. because he knew he should procure unto him an unspeakable good turn.e. On the morning of his execiition. he altered his gown and put on a gown of frieze but yet he sent of that little money which was left him one angel of gold to the hangman. nor searching for great words. being loath for friendship's sake to deny him so small a matter. is : : There forced. He low did not look upon the fellow.

His humour. .202 severing his THOMAS MORE Head from his that ought to produce any Body as a Circumstance Change in the Disposition of his Mind. where. That is merely the petty spite of a man who had every reason for not admiring the simple courage and candour of noble souls. The martyr who went to the scaffold with the gentle mockery on his lips that we shall shortly read was simply the Thomas More of every day. He never thinks still of fortifying himself against fear. like all humour. I can see nothing that could properly be called either Stoic or Christian. Burnett confides in heroism. less sure of his eternal recompense. To tell the truth. us that these closing jokes struck indecent. and jokes all the way to the scaffold and on the scaffold itself. Had he been more terrified. No. their ' Spectator. and less of making a display of At most he wishes to cheer the woeful companions of his last walk. what we said before in connection with his writings. his inner life is not. but the grace that he had long prayed for enabled him to remain faithful to his own nature. He himself is too wise to go so far as that. 349. too. but he inclines to think that such proceedings are rather Stoic than Christian." ^ He jokes when bidding farewell to Sir Thomas Pope. We may repeat. at His jests such a moment. is only on the surface. no doubt More would behaved otherwise. have would be tasteless but for their spontaneity. death being too many people as solemn a thing to be jested with. because there is never a moment at which humour is not natural to him.

by his adversaries to dis' ' With More's is shouts of laughter Bossuet very began to laugh. and withdrawing himself from all things. livre vii. she came forth and offered him a cup of wine which he refused." 1 " He was therefore brought about nine of the clock by Mr Lieutenant out of the Tower. carrying in hands a red cross. may be compared Anne Boleyn's doom had struck.: THE MARTYRDOM unexpectedness. to see only "the heavens opened. have patience but for one hour's space. and he thinks that "God willed that the end of this princess should be as ridiculous as it was tragic " ( Variations. and not in the least ridiculous. martyrs of heart is all More at the bottom of his talking with God. suborned thereto. To whom he said Good woman. or because her .' There came another woman after him. "She either to make ostentation of an exaggerated quiet jokes when the hour of her head was turned by the approach of death". hard and unjust to the poor woman. saying: 'Christ in His passion drank no wine. crying unto him for certain books. and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. his face his pale and lean. as a matter of fact. but gall and vinegar. Her laughter. his beard being long. and by that time the King's Majesty will rid me of the care I have for thy papers and all other matters whatsoever. intrepidity. as some think.). like his brethren. asking humbly for the grace he has need of. was purely nervous. As he thus passed by a good woman's house. the ages. 203 In reality. which fashion he never had before used. casting his eyes often towards heaven.' Another woman. which she had given to his custody when he was Lord Chancellor.

he would not alter what he had already him. he was interrupted by the Sheriff. . and to bear witness with him that he there died in and for the faith of the Holy Catholic Church. and pronounced with great devotion the Miserere psalm. which being ended. this he kneeled down.' will When the executioner would have covered his eyes. . he cheerfully rose up. take heed therefore that thou : ' .' "When he began to speak a little to the people which were in great troops there to hear and see him. to whom he gave the answer. with a cloth he had brought with him for . ' I cover them myself ' .204 THOMAS MORE grace him. followed him also crying out against when he had been Lord Chancellor. he kissed him. . that he remembered her cause very well and that if he were now to give sentence thereof. man. sir. Wherefore briefly he desired all the people to pray for him. for saving thy honesty. he said : . strike not awry. it seemed to him so weak that it was ready to fall wherefore he said merrily to Mr Lieutenant I pray you. and be not afraid to do thy office my neck is very short. : ' myself. Being now brought to the scaffold. see me safe up. " . and for my coming down let me shift for . done. whereon he was to be beheaded. that he had done her great injury . saying do me this day a greater benefit than ever any mortal man can be able to give me pluck up thy spirit. a faithful Having spoken but servant of God and the king. and presently he did so. and the executioner asking Thou wilt his forgiveness.

which he had often spoken. saying that that had never committed any treason. he bade the executioner stay until he had removed aside his beard. cap. have no harm . So with great alacrity and spiritual joy. 205 Then laying his head upon the block. that a man may lose his head and . he received the fatal blow of the axe." ' Cresacre More. . . . yea. * I say unspeakable good and endless happiness. And thus he found those words true. xi.THE MARTYRDOM the purpose.

The Bibliographical Catholics (J. Brewer. and Le Clerc. 1689. The letter to Dorpius may be conveniently referred to in the London edition of the letters of and the letters to a monk who had attacked Erasmus. et seq. Calendar of State Papers iv.. Contemporary Documents Calendars.). Baga de Secretis.BIBLIOGRAPHY Works English of More of his letters). and to the University of Oxford. (vol. and Spain (vol. edited by Rawdon Brown. 1557. London. —England and — Venetian. in the appendices to Jortin's Erasmus . 1642. Erasmi Epistolae. the iii.. Bergenroth and P. de iii. Calendar of State Papers ii. vol. Opera latina. Works (with several Rastell's edition. edited by Reign of Henry VIII. full Several of his letters are printed in or abbre- viated in the Calendars of State Papers. The dates of the letters ao6 . D. of the English 1902) gives an excellent bibliography of More. The text of the trial. Brodie. Erasmus (1808. Frankfort. edited by Gayangos. Rolls Series Letters and Papers of et seq..). 1706. Gairdner.. Erasmi Epistolae.). iii. Dictionary Gillow.

Stapleton. with especial reference to More as Chancellor.. 1895. Lives of the Chancellors. Etudes sur la Renaissance. Nisard (D. in Essays or Chapters Books Mackintosh (Sir James). which. Two or three German lives. 1840. 1675. Imaginative Works Ellis Heywood. Lives of Eminent British Statesmen. 2nd edition. Contemporary. 1588 three written in and a good resume of the 1599 and published by Wordsvol. MS. Renaissance Types. W. H. Mus. or quasi-contemporary 6253. Hutton. unfortunately. Brit. . Seebohm. 1892. Tres Thomae. The Household of Sir Thomas More. Philomorus (on the Latin epigrams of Sir Thomas More).. S. Thomas Harpsfleld. Campbell. Roper (King's Classics edition. ii. Harl. worth. Original Letters. out of date. Sidney Lee. Oxford Reformers. 1626. . Walter. Nicliols.). Marsden (John). Ecclesiastical Biography. : Cresacre More.). M. Dictionary of National Biography. French Italian : : Translations of Stapleton and Walter. Dom Regi.BIBLIOGRAPHY 207 are very exactly fixed in the translation by Mr F. Lilly (W. English Lives Bridgett. 1903). II Moro d'Heivodo. Anne Manning. Sir Henry Ellis. Lives of Sir Thomas More . stops at present at the accession of Henry VIII.

attributed to Erasmus. Brewer revised by the author. Cf. Iconography Portraits by Holbein in the possession of M.). iv. Dumont of the famous letters on More's martyrdom long re-issue of an old Latin life. Gillow. Brussels. Drummond. Century. etc. by Jortin. teries. E. Wolsey. Gasquet. Feugfere. Friedmann (Paul). Bridgett. Cf. an excellent photogravure in Pollard's at Windsor.) Gairdner. S. and the English Monas- Gasquet. 2nd edition. Van Ortroy. translation. Amiel. p. Gasquet. The English Bible. History of the Church of Etigland. at Basle. A fine Henry VIII. the attribution to Ph.) Henry VIII. Froude.208 THOMAS MORE General History (T. Vie de Fisher. (M. Biographies of More's Contemporaries Dictionary of National Biography. 1893. The English Church in the Sixteenth (Vol. 35. A with most valuable notes. 1890. Anne Boleyn. study by Holbein drawing in The pen- the museum Cf.. . is more complete. The various Creighton lives of Erasmus. Printed in England. Huth. Life of Fisher. The Reign of Henry VIII. of Stephens and Hunt. 1902. The Eve of the Reformation.). (The French Dixon. etc.




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