Page images

By this, in future, no individual was to be brought to trial under that statute, till after he had been legally presented, on the oaths of twelde men, before such commissioners as are mentioned in this Act, and referred to in another; nor was he, till then, to be imprisoned. No reputed offence of an older date than one year was to be actionable ; nor was any preacher to be indicted, if forty days had elapsed after any sentiment he had uttered in the pulpit. The accused might also challenge any juryman. These provisions formed so many very important alleviations in the fury of persecution; though two years hence, as in the cases of Anne Askew and others, they were most scandalously disregarded.

By the time that Henry departed from France, also, it will be observed, that not only were Norfolk and Gardiner withdrawn from the country, but the Queen was Regent; and with Cranmer at the head of her Council, the chief man bent upon cruelty and mischief, or Bonner of London, must have been under certain restraint. Nor was this all. Just before his Majesty left, it deserves notice that prayers in the English tongue were directed to be generally used. This fact in itself was important; but in reference to past times, and royal influence, not so much so as another, which now comes out incidentally

“ We have sent unto you,” says the King to all the Bishops of his realm, “We have sent unto you these suffrages, not to be for a month or two observed, and after slenderly considered, as other our injunctions, to our no little marcel hare been used, but to the intent that as well the same, as other our injunctions, may be earnestly set forth,” &c.

Thus it was officially acknowledged that the King's former injunctions had carried no powerful or prolonged influence. Before this we have frequently had occasion to observe, that the cause of God and his truth had been so peculiarly conducted, as to have no leaning or dependence on him whatever. We have seen, by many striking proofs, that it went on in its course, first in defiance, and then independently of royal interference. But now, towards the close of his reign, lest posterity should mistake, or not observe it; as far as his own name and authority had been employed, here is an artless and very frank confession of impotence, on the part of his Majesty, if not also of Cranmer, who is supposed to have drawn up the injunction.

3 Statutes at large, 35 H. VIII., cap. 5.

So far, indeed, from being a consistent friend to the progress of Divine Truth amongst his subjects, only last year Henry had lent his authority to the reprobation of the original translator, at whose death he had winked so hard ; and frowned upon the poor for reading the Sacred Volume. His injunctions, like himself, staggering from side to side, must have confounded the public mind; and considering what had passed in Parliament last year, in reprobating the name and writings of Tyndale, it was not wonderful that the indignity should be resented. Tyndale's very name had become precious to many, and his translations of Scripture were now carefully preserved or hoarded in many a corner throughout England, far beyond the ken of Bishop, or King, or any underling.

Meanwhile, there seems to be no account whatever upon record of the seizure or burning of the New Testament, though there might have been, had foreign politics and preparations for war not engrossed attention ;- but Lewis and some others have gone too far when they have stated that Day and Seres printed the Pentateuch this year. Day had not yet begun to print at all, and the volume must belong to a subsequent impression, or that of 1549. It is, however, curious, and more to the purpose, that a foreign press was at work even this year, and with an edition of Tyndale's New Testament. This must have been in the face of the recent anathema. A copy, once in the possession of the Earl of Oxford, is mentioned in the Harleian Catalogue, with this remark—" it seems to be a foreign print."5 Indeed it must have been so; and it may be put down in these troublous days, as a serenade from Antwerp or elsewhere, in answer to the contemptible brawl in Parliament last year.


4 It is true that in Herbert's Ames, under 1544, (p. 1555) there is mention made of one burning of the New Testament by Somersand sixteen others; but this refers to an earlier period, in the days when the possessors were condemned to throw them into the fire prepared at Cheapside.

6 Bibl. Harl., vol. i., No. 428.

[blocks in formation]




We are now within two years of the King's death, and the entire period was fraught with great misery to his subjects, though, generally speaking, not after the fashion in which they had been tormented in past times. His Majesty and the government, with all the strength of the kingdom, were at present fully occupied in preparing for self-defence. Such was the consequence of Henry's visit to France !

France had not been so exhausted by the double invasion of last year, as to be incapable of retaliation. Francis, having now only one enemy before him, had resolved to attack Boulogne by land, to block it up by sea, and even invade England. His army was to amount to above 50,000 men, and he fitted out a fleet of ships, large and small, amounting to above 200 sail, besides twenty-five gallies. It was the greatest effort that France had ever made by sea.

By the middle of July 136 sail had arrived within sight of Portsmouth, where the English fleet of only sixty sail lay to defend the kingdom. The sands, however, proving their grand defence, the French were unable to dislodge them ; though the contrast between last year

and the present, must have been striking in the extreme, to him who witnessed both. Precisely a year ago, Henry having sailed in his ship rigged with cloth of gold, was upon French ground at the head of 45,000 men, proposing to march to Paris : and now, at no small expense to his subjects, he was standing on the shore at Portsmouth, the fleet of France braving him to his face, and riding triumphantly in the British Channel ! One of the English vessels too, the Mary Rose, with her captain, Sir George Carew, and seven hundred men on board, went down before his eyes ; and though the ship was very partially recovered afterwards, all on board perished! The skirmishing between the two fleets was in

The French insisted that they had sunk her by their fire; the English said she had gone down from being overloaded with ordnance, and having her ports very low. We have said that she was partially recovered ; but who would have supposed that the remains, could have been brought to light in our own day, after lying for nearly three hundred years under water? The timber and relics recovered from the Mary Rose, sunk in 1545, were recorered only in 1840, and being sold by auction in November, brought great prices. The heel of the oak mast sold for £30. Stone and iron shot, for from twenty to thirty shillings cach. Common glass bottles and warrior's bows, from ten to fifteen shillings, and other articles in proportion. One brass and twenty iron cannon hare been recovered.


significant at that moment, but no time was to be lost in farther preparations ; although no sooner had his Majesty left the ground than “ many of his mariners and soldiers had fallen sick, and many were not able to continue the seas. Still, by the 10th of August, the English fleet had amounted to 104 vessels of all descriptions, with 12,738 men on board ; and reprisals must be sought for on the coast of France. On the 2d of September about seven thousand men were landed in Normandy, and after burning the seaport and Abbey of Treport, the fleet returned in a condition sufficiently miserable, owing to sickness and disease. Lord Lisle, the Lord-Admiral, in writing to the Privy Council on the 14th of September, tells them “of the number of the men who came home with me, there were found in the musters, 12,000 sick and whole. And because there was no money to pay the army at the said musters, there was new musters taken the 13th of the said month, at which day were mustered of whole and able men 8488 !" so that it doth appear there were sick, dead, and dismissed by passport 3512 13

With the most savage barbarity, during all this month, the war in Scotland had been pursued, under Seymour, Earl of Hertford, to which some reference must be made at its close next year.

Throughout this busy year, and indeed ever since the death of Crumwell, there had been no man at his Majesty's right hand, fruitful in expedients to supply his exchequer ; so that the state of his finances will forcibly explain the condition into which he had now brought himself, as well as the people under his sway.

When in France the King had procured money by "loans," never to be repaid. He could not, within a few months only, solicit loans a second time ; nor does he seem to have been willing to face Parliament at its usual period of assembling in the beginning of the year. As for that species of assistance, strangely enough styled benevolences, time there was when the spirit of the people of England put an end to their imposition, and they had been declared by Parliament to be illegal ; but the iron sway of this Monarch was such, that should any man dare to resist a “ benevolence” now, we shall soon see the consequences.

Upon any emergency whatever, and much more when money was wanted, law was now a trifling hindrance. Henry had been in the habit of making and unmaking laws for many a day, as to heresy, and why not, when his coffers were empty?

Early in the month of January, therefore, his Majesty coolly told his subjects, that he had “forborne, at this time, to trouble Parliament with their repair to the Court.” He now merely addressed a

“ Minute of a letter to divers Lords," &c., for a benevolence! In this he adverted to the “ importable charges” which he had “borne, upon the league with the



2 Gov. State Papers, i. vol.

3 Idem, i. and y., 475.

Emperor for the benefit of Christendom, and for the recovery of his right to the Crown of France !” He then calls on all those to whom the letter was addressed to “contribute such sums of money as they conveniently may, by way of benevolence, as if the same were granted by Parliament!!"4 Amongst others, of course the Lord Mayor and Aldermen of London were not forgotten ; but two of the latter had not found it “convenient” to comply. One of them, Richard Reed, before the month was ended, had been sent off to join the ranks of the army in Scotland. He was made prisoner in the very first engagement, and had to pay a heavy fine for his ransom ! Sir William Roach, the other Alderman, suffered a confinement of three months under a charge of seditious words, and no doubt paid sweetly for his liberation. Such were the consequences of resisting Henry's “ benevolence, if it were convenient,” 5

The sum thus raised amounted to £70,723, 188. 10d., or equal to above a million of our present money ; but this proved only a mere driblet, when compared with the expenses incurred by the war with France. If the true condition of the country is to be known, and as descriptive of the reign of Henry the Eighth, it is important. Without any historical narration, the better way will be to repair to my Lord Chancellor Wriothesly, and inquire what he has got to say by the month of September. In self-defence, he will tell us far more than his Majesty would have ever chosen to disclose to posterity. He is writing to the Privy Council, on Monday morning the 7th of September, and the information will be new to most readers of English history.

“ My Lords, if I had my horses here with me, I would be with you this night ; but the same standing so far abroad that I cannot conveniently so do, I shall not fail to set forward on Wednesday, according to the King's Majesty's pleasure and my former advertisement.

“ As concerning the preparation of money, I shall do that is possible to be done ; but, my Lords, I trust your wisdoms do consider what is done and paid already. You see the King's Majesty hath, this year and the last year, spent £1,300,000 or thereabouts, and his subsidy and ó benevolence' ministering scant three hundred thousand thereof.6 So the lands being consumed, the plate of the realm molten and coined, whereof much hath risen, I sorrow and lament the danger of the time to come ; wherein is also to be remembered the money that is to be repaid in Flanders, and what is as much, or more than all the rest, the

* See Gov. State Papers, i., 789, note.

5 By the 21st for June, while the French fleet was in the act of preparing to pay Henry their visit, in return for his intrusion, we find the Duke of Norfolk writing to Paget the King's Secretary-"I have had here with me the collectors of this shire, Norfolk, and greatly blamed them for that the benerolence was not yet all paid. And their excuse was, that a great number of people have lamentably complained unto them, that for lack of payment for such grain, as is taken of them for the King's Highness' use, they have no money to pay the same; but noturithslanding, I have and shall this week, take such order, that I trust it shall be shortly paid !"-Gor. State Papers, vol. 1., p. 789, 790.

6 That is, an amount, in our day, equal to nineteen millions and a half, of which four and a half had been received, while he saw not where the remaining sum, equal to fifteen millions, was to be found!

« PreviousContinue »