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ders against the character of his deceased master, to suffer the glory of his magnificence to pass away without an effort to transmit to future ages some testimony of its radiance. So that it became the pious care of this steady adherent of the “mighty fallen," to dwell with fondness on the scenes in which he had seen his master perform his stately part, to watch over again in thought the progress of his doubtful fate, and collect the few faint rays which played about the last hour of the brokenhearted statesman. Both Wolsey and ourselves may be said to be fortunate in his biographer. In spite of the attachment which the writer must be supposed to have felt to his subject, his work bears evidence of a most exemplary impartiality, by which the Cardinal loses nothing, and we gain much. The pen of Cavendish is a lively and a ready one, and all that came under his own observation he describes with fidelity and accuracy. His style has the unstudied graces of a man writing in earnest; and when it rises, as it frequently does, in denouncing the blind caprices of chance, the degeneracy of the times, or the neglect of obscure worth, it often possesses a dignity and impressive eloquence, which mark a lofty and intellectual spirit.
In the management of the work, he has adhered to the order of time, and commences with what he understood to have been the history of Wolsey's early life and rise to greatness. In this part, he interweaves some events as he had heard them described from the mouth of the Cardinal himself; after which he proceeds to a description of his sumptuous establishment and magnificent mode of life, such, probably, as he himself found it on entering the miņister's service. He then proceeds to relate what passed under his own observation—the extent of which period not reaching much farther than from the Cardinal's embassy into France to his death, does not embrace any long interval, but is filled with scenes of pomp and splendour, and gorgeous ceremony, which cast into the shade the simplicity of modern manners; and likewise pourtrays the most interesting period of the life of Wolsey, as well as of his master, the “hard-ruled king.” The trial and divorce of Katherine-the King's passion for Anne Boleyn—the cruel separation of that lady and the lord Percy—the Cardinal's embassy into France, his fate, the last scenes of his life, and his death in the abbey of Leicester—are all here, with many other events and anecdotes of inferior importance, related by an eye-witness, with a fidelity and a liveliness which place them before our eyes.
It is well known that the fortunes of Wolsey took their rise in the reign of Henry VII. and that had not the death of that king interposed, it is probable that his ability and dexterity would have secured his advancement to the highest station by the favour of that wary monarch. The circumstance which first brought him into notice is mentioned in all the histories, but is here related, at length, from Wolsey's own mouth, and is too characteristic to be omitted :
“ It chaunced at a certain season that the king had an urgent occasion to send an ambassador unto the emperor Maximilian, who lay at that present in the Lowe Countrey of Flaunders, not far from Calaise. The bishop of Winchester and sir Thomas Lovell, whom the kinge most esteemed, as chiefe of his counseile, (the king one day counselling and debating with them upon this embassage,) saw they had nowe a convenient occasion to prefer the kinge's chapleene, whose excellent witt, eloquence, and learning, they highly comended to the kinge. The kinge giving eare unto them, and being a prince of an excellent judgement and modesty, comanded them to bring his chapleine, whom they so much comended, before his Grace's presence. And to prove the wit of his chapleine he fell in communication with him in great matters : and, perceiving his wit to be very fine, thought : him sufficient to be put in trust with this embassage ; commanding him thereupon to prepare himself to his journey, and for his depeche, to repaire to his Grace and his counsell, of whom he should receive his commission and instructions. By means whereof he had then a due occasion to repaire from time to time into the kinge's presence, who perceived him more and more to be a very wise man, and of a good intendment. And having his depeche, he tooke his leave of the kinge at Richmond about none, and so came to London about foure of the clocke, where the barge of Gravesend was ready to launch forthe, both with a prosperous tide and winde. Without
further aboade he entered the barge, and so passed forthe. His happie speede was such that he arrived at Gravesend within little more than three hours; where he tarried no longer than his post horses were provided ; and travelled so speedily with post horses, that he came to Dover the next morning, whereas the passengers were ready under saile to saile to Calaise. Into the which passengers without tarrying he entered, and sailed forth with them, so that long before noone, he arrived at Calaise; and having post horses in a readiness departed from thence, without tarrying. And he made such hasty speede, that he was that night with the emperor. And he having understanding of the coming of the kinge of England's ambassador, would in no wise delay the time, but sent for him incontinent (for his affection to kinge Henry the seventh was such, that he was glad when he had any occasion to shewe him pleasure.) The embassador disclosed the whole summe of his embassage unto the emperor, of whom he required spedy expedition, the which was graunted him, by the emperor; so that the next day he was clearly dispatched, with all the kinges requests fully accomplished and graunted. At which time he made no farther delay or tariaunce, but tooke post horses that night, and rode incontinent towarde Calais againe, conducted thither with such persons as the emperor had appointed. And at the opening of the gates of Calaise, he came thither, where the passengers were as ready to retourne into Englande as they were before at his journey forewarde; insomuch that
he arrived at Dover by tenne or eleven of the clocke before noone; and having post horses in a readiness, came to the court at Richmond that same night. Where he, taking some rest untill the morning, repaired to the kinge at his first coming out of his bed chamber, to his closet to masse. Whom (when he saw) he checked him for that he was not on his journey. “Sir," quoth he, “if it may please your highness, I have already been with the emperor, and depeched youre affaires, I trust with your grace's contentation.” And with that he presented the kinge his letters of credence from the emperor. The kinge, being in a great confuse and wonder of his hasty speede and retourne with such furniture of all his proceedings, dissimuled all his wonder and imagination in the matter, and demanded of him, whether he encountered not his pursevant, the which he sente unto him (supposing him not to be scantly out of London) with letters concerning a very necessary matter, neglected in their consultation, the which the king much desired to have dispatched among the other matters of ambassade. “ Yes forsoothe,” quoth he, “ I met with him yesterday by the way: and having no understanding by your graces letters of your pleasure, notwithstanding I have been so boulde, upon mine own discretion (perceiving that matter to be very necessary in that behalf) to dispatch the same. And for as much as I have exceeded your graces commission, I most humbly require your graces remission and pardon.” The kinge rejoicing inwardly not a little, saide againe, “ We do not only pardon you thereof, but also give you our owne princely thanks bothe for your proceedings therein, and also for your good and speedy exploit,” commanding him for that time to take his rest, and to repaire againe to him after dinner, for the farther relation of his ambassage. The kinge then went to masse ; and after at convenient time he went to dinner.
“ It is not to be doubted but that this ambassador hath in all this time bene with his great friends, the bishop, and sir Thomas Lovell, to whome he hath declared the effect of all his speede ; nor yet what joge they have received thereof. And after his departure from the kinge, his highnesse sent for the bishop of Winchester, and for sir Thomas Lovell; to whom he declared the wonderful expedition of his ambassador, commending therewith his excellent witt, and in especiall the invention and avauncing of the matter lefte out in their consultation, and the ambassadors commission. The kinges wordes rejoiced not a little these worthy counsaillors, for as much as he was of their preferment.
“ Then when this ambassador remembered the kings commandment, and sawe the time drawe faste on of his repaire before the kinge, and his counsaile, he prepared him in a readinesse, and resorted unto the place assigned by the kinge, to declare his ambassage. Without all doubt he reported the effect of all his affaires and proceedings so exactly, with such gravity and eloquence, that all the counsaile that heard him could doe no less but commend him, esteeming his expedition to be almost beyond the capacity of man. The kinge of his mere motion, and gracious consideration, gave him at that time for his diligent service, the deanery of Lincolne, which was at that time, one of the worthiest promotions, that he gave under the degree of a bishopricke. And thus from thenceforth he grewe more and more into estimation and authority, and after was promoted by the kinge to be his almoner. Here may all men note the chaunces of fortune, that followethe some whome she intendeth to promote, and to some her favour is cleane contrary, though they travaille never so much, with all the painfull diligence that they can devise or imagine: whereof, for my part, I have tasted of the experience.
“ Now you shall understande that all this tale that I have declared of the good expedition of the kings ambassadour, I had of the reporte of his owne mouthe, after his fall, lying at that time in the great parke at Richmonde, he being then my lord and master, and I his poore servant and gentleman usher, taking then an occasion upon diverse communications, to tell me this journey, with all the circumstances, as I have here before declared.”
In the midst of this devotion to the will of the reigning monarch, Wolsey, doubtless, was too sagacious to neglect his successor. Accordingly, we find the young king, instantly on his elevation to the throne, continuing the favour of his father, and even calling the rising churchman to tender those counsels, on which, before long, he himself was destined wholly to repose. The arts by which Wolsey insinuated himself into the confidence of the king, as well as his qualifications to play the part of counsellor or courtier, as might suit the occasion, are thus well described :
“ After the finishing of all these solemnizations and costly triumphes, our naturalle young and lusty courageous prince and sovereigne lorde kinge Henry the eighth entering into the flower of lusty youth, took upon him the regal scepter and the imperiall diadem of this fertile and fruitful realme, which at that time flourished in all aboundance and riches (whereof the king was inestimably furnished) called then the golden world, such grace reigned then within this realme. Now the almoner (of whome I have taken upon me to write) having a head full of subtile wit, perceiving a plaine pathe to walk in towards his journey to promotion, handled himself so politickly, that he found the meanes to be made one of the kings counsaille, and to growe in favour and good estimation with the kinge, to whome the king gave an house at Bridewell in Fleet-street, sometime sir Richard Empson's where he kept house for his family, and so daily attended upon the kinge, and in his especiall favour, having great sute made unto him, as counsaillors in favour most commonly have. His sentences and witty persuasions amongst the counsaillors in the counsaile chamber, were alwaies so pithy, that they, as occasion moved them, continually assigned him for his filed tongue and excellent eloquence to be the expositor unto the kinge in all their proceedings. In whome the kinge conceived such a loving fansy, and in especiall for that he was most earnest and readiest in all the counsaile to avaunce the king's only will and pleasure, having no respect to the cause; the king, therefore, perceiving him to be a mete instrument for the accomplishing of his devised pleasures, called him more neare unto him, and esteemed him so highly, that the estimation and favour of him put all other auncient counsaillors out of high favour, that they before were in; insomuch that the king committed all his will unto his disposition and order. Who wrought so all his matters, that bis endeavour was alwaies only to satisfy the kings pleasure, knowing right well, that it was the very vein and right course to bring him to high promotion. The kinge was young and lusty, and disposed all to pleasure, and to followe his princely appetite and desire, nothing minding to travell in the affaires of this realme. Which the almoner perceiving very well, tooke
upon him therefore to discharge the king of the burthen of so weighty and troublesome busines, putting the kinge in comforte that he should not neede to spare any time of his pleasure, for any business that should happen in the counsaile, as long as he, being there and having his graces authority, and by his commandment, doubted not so to see all things well and sufficiently perfected ; making his Grace privy, first, of all such matters before, or he would proceede to the accomplishing of the same, whose minde and pleasure he would have, and followe to the uttermost of his power; wherewith the kinge was wonderfully pleased. And whereas the other auncient counsaillors would, according to the office of good counsaillors, diverse times persuade the kinge to have some time a recourse unto the counsaile, there to heare what was done in weighty matters, the which pleased the king nothing at all, for he loved nothing worse than to be constrained to doe any thing contrary to his pleasure ; that knew the almoner very well, having a secret intelligence of the kings naturall inclination, and so fast as the other counsaillors counselled the kinge to leave his pleasure, and to attend to his affaires, so busily did the almoner persuade him to the contrary; which delighted him very much, and caused him to have the greater affection and love to the almoner. Thus the almoner ruled all them that before ruled him; such was his policy and witt, and so he brought things to pass, that who was now in high favour, but Mr. Almoner? who had all the sute, but Mr. Almoner? and who ruled all under the king, but Mr. Almoner? Thus he persevered still in favour, untill at the last, in came presents, gifts, and rewardes so plentifully, that I dare say he lacked nothing that might either please his fantasy or enrich his coffers; fortune smiled so favourably upon him. But to what end she brought him, ye shall heare hereafter. Therefore let no man to whome fortune extendeth her grace, trust overmuch to her subtell favour and pleasant promises, under colour whereof, she carrieth vevemous galle. For when she seeth her servaunt in most high authority, and that he most assureth himselfe of her favour, then sodaynelye turneth she her visage and pleasaunt countenaunce, unto a frowning cheere, and utterly forsaketh him : such assuraunce is in her inconstant favour and promise.”
Thus did Wolsey pave the way for the promotion, which was soon after heaped upon him. He was successively invested