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brings in Cardinal Morton's jester's advice, to send all the beggars to the Benedictines to be lay-brothers, and all the female beggars to be nuns, reckoning the friars as vagabonds that ought to be taken up and restrained: and the discourse that follows for two or three pages, gives such a ridiculous view of the want of breeding, of the folly and ill-nature of the friars, that they have taken care to strike it out of the later impressions. But as I did find it in the impression which I translated, so I have copied it all from the first edition, and have put in the Collection (No. x) that which the inquisitors have left out. From thence it is plain what opinion he had of those who were the most eminent divines and the most famed preachers at that time. This is yet plainer, page 56, in which he taxes the preachers of that age for “corrupting the Christian doctrine, and practising upon it : for they, observing that the world did not suit their lives to the rules that Christ has given, have fitted his doctrine as if it had been a leaden rule to their lives, that some way or other they might agree with one another.” And he does not soften this severe censure, as if it had been only the fault of a few; but lets it go on them all, without any discrimination or limitation.
Page 83, he taxes the great company of idle priests, and of those that are called religious persons, that were in other nations; against which he tells us in his last chapter how carefully the Utopians had provided : but it appears there, what just esteem he paid to men of that character, when they answered the dignity of their profession : for as he contracts the number of the priests in Utopia, page 186, so he exalts their dignity as high as so noble a function could deserve : yet he represents the Utopians “as allowing them to marry,” page 114; and page 130, he exalts “ a solid virtue much above all rigorous severities, which were the most admired expressions of piety and devotion in that age. He gives a perfect scheme of religious men, so much beyond the monastic orders, that it shows he was no admirer of them.
Page 152, he commends the Europeans for “observing their leagues and treaties so religiously; and ascribes that to the good examples that popes set other princes, and to the severity with which they prosecuted such as were pertidious.” This looks like respect; but he means it all ironically : for he who had seen the reigns of Pope Alexander the Sixth and Julius the Second, the two falsest and most perfidious persons of the age, could not say this, but in the way of satire ; so that he secretly accuses both popes and princes for violating their faith, to which they were induced by dispensations from Rome. Page 192,“ his putting images out of the churches of the Utopians,” gives no obscure hint of his opinion in that matter. The opinion, page 175, that he proposes, doubtfully indeed, but yet favourably, of the first converts to Christianity in Utopia, who (there being no priests among those who instructed them) were inclined to choose priests that should officiate among them, since they could not have any that were regularly ordained; adding, that they seemed resolved to do it: this shows that in cases of necessity he had a largeness of thought, far from being engaged blindfold into the humours or interests of the priests of that time ; to whom this must have appeared one of the most dangerous of all lieresies.
And whereas persecution and cruelty seem to be the indelible characters of popery; he, as he gives us the character of the religion of the Utopians, “ that they offered not divine honours to any but to God alone,” p. 173 ; so, p. 177, he makes it one of the maxims of the Utopians, “ that no man ought to be punished for his religion :" the utmost severity practised among them being banishment, and that not for disparaging their religion, but for inflaming the people to sedition : a law being made among them, that “every man might be of what religion he pleased," p. 191. And thougla there were many different forms of religion among them, yet they all agreed in the main point of “worshipping the Divine Essence; so that there was nothing in their temples, in which the several persuasions among them might not agree."
“ The several sects performed the rites that were peculiar to them in their private houses; nor was there any thing in the public worship that contradicted the particular ways of the several sects;" by all which he carried not only toleration, but even comprehension further than the mosi moderate of our divines have ever pretended to do. It is true, h presents all this in a fable of his Utopians; but this was a scene dressed up by himself, in which he was fully at liberty to frame every thing at pleasure; so here we find in this a scheme of some of the most essential parts of the Reformation. “He proposes no subjection of their priests to any head; he makes them to be chosen by the people, and con. secrated by the college of priests ; and he gives them no other authority but that of excluding men that were desperately wicked from joining in their worship, which was short and simple : and though every man was suffered to bring over others to his persuasion, yet he was obliged to do it by amicable and modest ways, and not to mix with these either reproaches or violence: such as did otherwise were to be condemned to banishment or slavery."
Vol. III, PART I.
These were his first and coolest thoughts; and probably, if he had died at that time, he would have been reckoned among those, who, though they lived in the communion of the church of Rome, yet saw what were the errors and corruptions of that body, and only wanted fit opportunities of declaring themselves more openly for a reformation. These things were not writ by him in the heat of youth; he was then thirty-four years of age, and was at that time employed, together with Tonstall, in settling some matters of state with (the then Prince) Charles; so that he was far advanced at that time, and knew the world well. It is not easy to account for the great change that we find afterwards he was wrought up to: he not only set himself to oppose the Reformation in many treatises, that, put together, make a great volume : but when he was raised up to the chief post in the ministry, he became a persecutor even to blood ; and defiled those hands, which were never polluted with bribes, by acting in his own person some of those cruelties, to which he was, no doubt, pushed on by the bloody clergy of that age and church.
He was not governed by interest, nor did he aspire so to preferment as to stick at nothing that might contribute to raise him ; nor was he subject to the vanities of popularity. The integrity of his whole life, and the severity of his morals, cover him from all these suspicions. If he had been formerly corrupted by a superstitious education, it had been no extraordinary thing to see so good a man grow to be misled by the force of prejudice. But how a man who had emancipated himself, and had got into a scheme of free thoughts, could be so entirely changed, cannot be easily apprehended ; nor how he came to mufle up his understanding, and deliver himself up as a property to the blind and enraged fury of the priests. It cannot indeed be accounted for, but by charging it on the intoxicating charms of that religion, that can darken the clearest understandings, and corrupt the best natures : and since they wrought this effect on Sir Thomas More, I cannot but conclude, that “if these things were done in the green tree, what shall be done in the dry ?"
His friend Tonstall was made bishop of London by the pope's provision* ; but it was upon the king's recommendation signified by Hannibal, then his ambassador at Rome. Tonstall was sent ambassador to Spain, when Francis was a prisoner there. That king grew, as may be easily believed, impatient to be so long detained in prison : and that began
to have such effects on his health, that the emperor, fearing it might end in his death, which would both lose the benefit he had from having him in his hands, and lay a heavy load on him through all Europe, was induced to hearken to a treaty, which he pretended he concluded chiefiy in consideration of the king's mediation. The treaty was made at Madrid, much to the emperor's advantage : but because he would not trust to the faith of the tieaty, Francis was ob to bring his two sons as hostages for the observance of it. So he had his liberty upon that exchange : soon after he came back to France, and then the pope sent him an absolution in full form, from the faith and obligation of the treaty. It seems his conscience reproached him for breaking so solemn an engagement, but that was healed by the dispensation from Rome: of which the original was sent over to the king ; perhaps only to be showed the king, who upon that kept it still in his secret treasure ; where Rymer found it*. The reason insinuated in it is, the king's being bound by it to alienate some dominions that belonged to the crown of France. For he had not yet learned a secret, discovered, or at least practised since that time, of princes declaring themselves free from the obligations of their treaties, and departing from them at their pleasure.
Of malters that huppened during the time comprehended in the
Second Book of the History of the Reformation.
(1525.) I will repeat nothing set forth in my former work, but suppose that my reader remembers how Charles the Fifth had sworn to marry the king's daughter, when she should be of age, under pain of excommunication, and the forfeiture of 100,0001.: yet, when his match with Portugal was thought more for the interests of the crown, he sent over to the king, and desired a discharge of that promise. It has been said, and printed by one who lived in the time *, and out of him by the Lord Herbert, that objections were made to this in Spain, on account of the doubtfulness of her mother's marriage. From such authors I took this too easily ; but in a collection of original instructions t, I have seen that matter in a truer light.
Lee, afterwards archbishop of York, was sent ambassador to Spain, to solicit the setting Francis at liberty : and, in reckoning up the king's merits on the emperor, his instructions mention, “ the king's late discharge of the emperor's obligation to marry his dearest daughter, the Princess Mary; whom, though his grace could have found in his heart to have bestowed upon the emperor, before any prince living, yet, for the more security of his succession, the furtherance of his other affairs, and to do unto him a gratuity, his grace hath liberally, benevolently, and kindly condescended unto it.” There are other letters of the 12th of August, but the year is not added, which set forth the emperor's earnest desire to be with all possible diligence discharged of his obligation to marry the princess. At first the king thought fit to delay the granting it, till a general peace was fully concluded, since it had been agreed to by the treaty at Windsor ; but soon after (1527), a discharge in full form under the great seal was sent over by an express to Spain: but from some nints in other papers, it seems there were secret orders
+ Among the VSS of the Bishop of Ely.