THE FINAL STRUGGLE.
The first of the "good things" brought out of the divorce of Anne of Cleves was a fifth wife for the much-married monarch. Parliament, which had petitioned Henry to solve the doubts troubling his subjects as to the validity (that is to say, political advantages) of his union with Anne, now besought him, "for the good of his people," to enter once more the holy state of matrimony, in the hope of more numerous issue. The lady had been already selected by the predominant party, and used as an instrument in procuring the divorce of her predecessor and the fall of Cromwell; for, if her morals were something lax, Catherine Howard's orthodoxy was beyond dispute. She was niece of Cromwell's great enemy, the Duke of Norfolk; and it was at the house of Bishop Gardiner that she was first given the opportunity of subduing the King to her charms. She was to play the part in the Catholic reaction that Anne Boleyn had done in the Protestant revolution. Both religious parties were unfortunate in the choice of their lady protagonists. Catherine Howard's father, in spite of his rank, was very penurious, and his daughter's education had been neglected, while her character had been left at the mercy of any chance tempter. She had already formed compromising relations with three successive suitors. Her music master, Mannock, boasted that she had promised to be his mistress; a kinsman, named Dereham, called her his wife; and she was reported to be engaged to her cousin, Culpepper. Marillac thought her beauty was commonplace; but that, to judge by her portraits, seems a disparaging verdict. Her eyes were hazel, her hair was auburn, and Nature had been at least as kind to her as to any of Henry's wives. Even Marillac admitted that she had a very winning countenance. Her age is uncertain, but she had almost certainly seen more than the twenty-one years politely put down to her account. Her marriage, like that of Anne Boleyn, was private. Marillac thought she was already wedded to Henry by the 21st of July, and the Venetian ambassador at the Court of Charles V. said that the ceremony took place two days after the sentence of Convocation (7th July). That may be the date of the betrothal, but the marriage itself was privately celebrated at Oatlands on the 28th of July, and Catherine was publicly recognised as Queen at Hampton Court on the 8th of August, and prayed for as such in the churches on the following Sunday.
The King was thoroughly satisfied with his new marriage from every point of view. The reversal of the policy of the last few years, which he had always disliked and for which he avoided responsibility as well as he could, relieved him at once from the necessity of playing a part and from the pressing anxiety of foreign dangers. These troubles had preyed upon his mind and impaired his health; but now, for a time, his spirits revived and his health returned. He began to rise every morning, even in the winter, between five and six, and rode for four or five hours. He was enamoured of his bride; her views and those of her uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, and of her patron, Bishop Gardiner, were in much closer accord with his own than Anne Boleyn's or Cromwell's had been. Until almost the close of his reign Norfolk was the chief instrument of his secular policy, while Gardiner represented his ecclesiastical views; but neither succeeded to the place which Wolsey had held and Cromwell had tried to secure. Henceforth the King had no Prime Minister; there was no second Vicegerent, and the praise or the blame for his policy can be given to no one but Henry.
That policy was, in foreign affairs, a close adherence to the Emperor, partly because it was almost universally held to be the safest course for England to pursue, and partly because it gave Henry a free hand for the development of his imperialist designs on Scotland. In domestic affairs the predominant note was the extreme rigour with which the King's secular autocracy, his supremacy over the Church, and the Church's orthodox doctrine were imposed on his subjects. Although the Act of Six Articles had been passed in 1539, Cromwell appears to have prevented the issue of commissions for its execution. This culpable negligence did not please Parliament, and, just before his fall, another Act was passed for the more effective enforcement of the Six Articles. One relaxation was found necessary; it was impossible to inflict the death penalty on "incontinent" priests, because there were so many. But that was the only indulgence granted. Two days after Cromwell's death, a vivid illustration was given of the spirit which was henceforth to dominate the Government. Six men were executed at the same time; three were priests, condemned to be hanged as traitors for denying the royal supremacy; three were heretics, condemned to be burnt for impugning the Catholic faith.
And yet there was no peace. Henry, who had succeeded in so much, had, with the full concurrence of the majority of his people, entered upon a task in which he was foredoomed to failure. Not all the whips with six strings, not all the fires at Smithfield, could compel that unity and concord in opinion which Henry so much desired, but which he had unwittingly done so much to destroy. He might denounce the diversities of belief to which his opening of the Bible in English churches had given rise; but men, who had caught a glimpse of hidden verities, could not all be forced to deny the things which they had seen. The most lasting result of Henry's repressive tyranny was the stimulus it gave to reform in the reign of his son, even as the persecutions of Mary finally ruined in England the cause of the Roman Church. Henry's bishops themselves could scarcely be brought to agreement. Latimer and Shaxton lost their sees; but the submission of the rest did not extend to complete recantation, and the endeavour to stretch all his subjects on the Procrustean bed of Six Articles was one of Henry's least successful enterprises. It was easier to sacrifice a portion of his monastic spoils to found new bishoprics. This had been a project of Wolsey's, interrupted by the Cardinal's fall. Parliament subsequently authorised Henry to erect twenty-six sees; he actually established six, the Bishoprics of Peterborough, Oxford, Chester, Gloucester, Bristol and Westminster. Funds were also provided for the endowment, in both universities, of Regius professorships of Divinity, Hebrew, Greek, Civil Law and Medicine; and the royal interest in the advancement of science was further evinced by the grant of a charter to the College of Surgeons, similar to that accorded early in the reign to the Physicians.
Disloyalty, meanwhile, was no more extinct than diversity in religious opinion. Early in 1541 there was a conspiracy under Sir John Neville, in Lincolnshire, and about the same time there were signs that the Council itself could not be immediately steadied after the violent disturbances of the previous year. Pate, the ambassador at the Emperor's Court, absconded to Rome in fear of arrest, and his uncle, Longland, Bishop of Lincoln, was for a time in confinement; Sir John Wallop, Sir Thomas Wyatt, diplomatist and poet, and his secretary, the witty and cautious Sir John Mason, were sent to the Tower; both Cromwell's henchmen, Wriothesley and Sadleir, seem to have incurred suspicion. Wyatt, Wallop and Mason were soon released, while Wriothesley and Sadleir regained favour by abjuring their former opinions; but it was evident that the realisation of arbitrary power was gradually destroying Henry's better nature. His suspicion was aroused on the slightest pretext, and his temper was getting worse. Ill-health contributed not a little to this frame of mind. The ulcer on his leg caused him such agony that he sometimes went almost black in the face and speechless from pain. He was beginning to look grey and old, and was growing daily more corpulent and unwieldy. He had, he said, on hearing of Neville's rebellion, an evil people to rule; he would, he vowed, make them so poor that it would be out of their power to rebel; and, before he set out for the North to extinguish the discontent and to arrange a meeting with James V, he cleared the Tower by sending all its prisoners, including the aged Countess of Salisbury, to the block.
A greater trial than the failure of James to accept his invitation to York awaited Henry on his return from the North. Rumours of Catherine Howard's past indiscretions had at length reached the ears of the Privy Council. On All Saints' Day, 1541, Henry directed his confessor, the Bishop of Lincoln, to give thanks to God with him for the good life he was leading and hoped to lead with his present Queen, "after sundry troubles of mind which had happened to him by marriages". At last he thought he had reached the haven of domestic peace, whence no roving fancy should tempt him to stray. Twenty-four hours later Cranmer put in his hand proofs of the Queen's misconduct. Henry refused to believe in this rude awakening from his dreams; he ordered a strict investigation into the charges. Its results left no room for doubt. Dereham confessed his intercourse; Mannock admitted that he had taken liberties; and, presently, the Queen herself acknowledged her guilt. The King was overwhelmed with shame and vexation; he shed bitter tears, a thing, said the Council, "strange in his courage". He "has wonderfully felt the case of the Queen," wrote Chapuys; "he took such grief," added Marillac, "that of late it was thought he had gone mad". He seems to have promised his wife a pardon, and she might have escaped with nothing worse than a divorce, had not proofs come to light of her misconduct with Culpepper after her marriage with Henry, and even during their recent progress in the North. This offence was high treason, and could not be covered by the King's pardon for Catherine's pre-nuptial immorality. Henry, however, was not at ease until Parliament, in January, 1542, considerately relieved him of all responsibility. The faithful Lords and Commons begged him not to take the matter too heavily, but to permit them freely to proceed with an Act of Attainder, and to give his assent thereto by commission under the great seal without any words or ceremony, which might cause him pain. Thus originated the practice of giving the royal assent to Acts of Parliament by commission. Another innovation was introduced into the Act of Attainder, whereby it was declared treason for any woman to marry the King if her previous life had been unchaste; "few, if any, ladies now at Court," commented the cynical Chapuys, "would henceforth aspire to such an honour". The bill received the royal assent on the 11th of February, Catherine having declined Henry's permission to go down to Parliament and defend herself in person. On the 10th she was removed to the Tower, being dressed in black velvet and treated with "as much honour as when she was reigning". Three days later she was beheaded on the same spot where the sword had severed the fair neck of Anne Boleyn.
Thus ended one of the "good things" which had come out of the repudiation of Anne of Cleves. Other advantages were more permanent. The breach between Francis and Charles grew ever wider. In 1541 the French King's ambassadors to the Turk were seized and executed by the order of the imperial governor of Milan. The outrage brought Francis's irritation to a head. He was still pursuing the shadow of a departed glory and the vain hope of dominion beyond the Alps. He had secured none of the benefits he anticipated from the imperial alliance; his interviews with Charles and professions of friendship were lost on that heartless schemer, and he realised the force of Henry's gibe at his expectations from Charles. "I have myself," said Henry, "held interviews for three weeks together with the Emperor." Both sovereigns began to compete for England's favour. The French, said Chapuys, "now almost offer the English carte blanche for an alliance"; and he told Charles that England must, at any price, be secured in the imperial interest. In June, 1542, Francis declared war on the Emperor, and, by the end of July, four French armies were invading or threatening Charles's dominions. Henry, in spite of all temptations, was not to be the tool of either; he had designs of his own; and the breach between Francis and Charles gave him a unique opportunity for completing his imperialist projects, by extending his sway over the one portion of the British Isles which yet remained independent.
As in the case of similar enterprises, Henry could easily find colourable pretexts for his attack on Scots independence. Beton had been made cardinal with the express objects of publishing in Scotland the Pope's Bull against Henry, and of instigating James V. to undertake its execution; and the Cardinal held a high place in the Scots King's confidence. James had intrigued against England with both Charles V. and Francis I., and hopes had been instilled into his mind that he had only to cross the Border to be welcomed, at least in the North, as a deliverer from Henry's oppression. Refugees from the Pilgrimage of Grace found shelter in Scotland, and the ceaseless Border warfare might, at any time, have provided either King with a case for war, if war he desired. The desire varied, of course, with the prospects of success. James V. would, without doubt, have invaded England if Francis and Charles had begun an attack, and if a general crusade had been proclaimed against Henry. So, too, war between the two European rivals afforded Henry some chance of success, and placed in his way an irresistible temptation to settle his account with Scotland. He revived the obsolete claim to suzerainty, and pretended that the Scots were rebels. Had not James V, moreover, refused to meet him at York to discuss the questions at issue between them? Henry might well have maintained that he sought no extension of territory, but was actuated solely by the desire to remove the perpetual menace to England involved in the presence of a foe on his northern Borders, in close alliance with his inveterate enemy across the Channel. He seems, indeed, to have been willing to conclude peace, if the Scots would repudiate their ancient connection with France; but this they considered the sheet-anchor of their safety, and they declined to destroy it. They gave Henry greater offence by defeating an English raid at Halidon Rig, and the desire to avenge a trifling reverse became a point of honour in the English mind and a powerful factor in English policy.
The negotiations lasted throughout the summer of 1542. In October Norfolk crossed the Borders. The transport broke down; the commissariat was most imperfect; and Sir George Lawson of Cumberland was unable to supply the army with sufficient beer. Norfolk had to turn back at Kelso, having accomplished nothing beyond devastation. James now sought his revenge. He replied to Norfolk's invasion on the East by throwing the Scots across the Borders on the West. The Warden was warned by his spies, but he had only a few hundreds to meet the thousands of Scots. But, if Norfolk's invasion was an empty parade, the Scots attempt was a fearful rout. Under their incompetent leader, Oliver Sinclair, they got entangled in Solway Moss; enormous numbers were slain or taken prisoners, and among them were some of the greatest men in Scotland. James died broken-hearted at the news, leaving his kingdom to the week-old infant, Mary, Queen of Scots. The triumph of Flodden Field was repeated; a second Scots King had fallen; and, for a second time in Henry's reign, Scotland was a prey to the woes of a royal minority.
Within a few days of the Scots disaster, Lord Lisle (afterwards Duke of Northumberland) expressed a wish that the infant Queen were in Henry's hands and betrothed to Prince Edward, and a fear that the French would seek to remove her beyond the seas. To realise the hope and to prevent the fear were the main objects of Henry's foreign policy for the rest of his reign. Could he but have secured the marriage of Mary to Edward, he would have carried both England and Scotland many a weary stage along the path to Union and to Empire. But, unfortunately, he was not content with this brilliant prospect for his son. He grasped himself at the Scottish crown; he must be not merely a suzerain shadow, but a real sovereign. The Scottish peers, who had been taken at Solway Moss, were sworn to Henry VIII., "to set forth his Majesty's title that he had to the realm of Scotland". Early in 1543 an official declaration was issued, "containing the just causes and considerations of this present war with the Scots, wherein also appeareth the true and right title that the King's most royal Majesty hath to the sovereignty of Scotland"; while Parliament affirmed that "the late pretensed King of Scots was but an usurper of the crown and realm of Scotland," and that Henry had "now at this present (by the infinite goodness of God), a time apt and propice for the recovery of his said right and title to the said crown and realm of Scotland". The promulgation of these high-sounding pretensions was fatal to the cause which Henry had at heart. Henry VII had pursued the earlier and wiser part of the Scottish policy of Edward I, namely, union by marriage; Henry VIII resorted to his later policy and strove to change a vague suzerainty into a defined and galling sovereignty. Seeing no means of resisting the victorious English arms, the Scots in March, 1543, agreed to the marriage between Henry's son and their infant Queen. But to admit Henry's extravagant claims to Scottish sovereignty was quite a different matter. The mere mention of them was sufficient to excite distrust and patriotic resentment. The French Catholic party led by Cardinal Beton was strengthened, and, when Francis declared that he would never desert his ancient ally, and gave an earnest of his intentions by sending ships and money and men to their aid, the Scots repudiated their compact with England, and entered into negotiations for marrying their Queen to a prince in France.
Such a danger to England must at all costs be averted. Marriages between Scots kings and French princesses had never boded good to England; but the marriage of the Queen of Scotland to a French prince, and possibly to one who might succeed to the French throne, transcended all the other perils with which England could be threatened. The union of the Scots and French crowns would have destroyed the possibility of a British Empire. Henry had sadly mismanaged the business through vaulting ambition, but there was little fault to be found with his efforts to prevent the union of France and Scotland; and that was the real objective of his last war with France. His aim was not mere military glory or the conquest of France, as it had been in his earlier years under the guidance of Wolsey; it was to weaken or destroy a support which enabled Scotland to resist the union with England, and portended a union between Scotland and France. The Emperor's efforts to draw England into his war with France thus met with a comparatively ready response. In May, 1543, a secret treaty between Henry and Charles was ratified; on the 22nd of June a joint intimation of war was notified to the French ambassador; and a detachment of English troops, under Sir John Wallop and Sir Thomas Seymour, was sent to aid the imperialists in their campaign in the north of France.
Before hostilities actually broke out, Henry wedded his sixth and last wife. Catherine Parr was almost as much married as Henry himself. Thirty-one years of age in 1543, she had already been twice made a widow; her first husband was one Edward Borough, her second, Lord Latimer. Latimer had died at the end of 1542, and Catherine's hand was immediately sought by Sir Thomas Seymour, Henry's younger brother-in-law. Seymour was handsome and won her heart, but he was to be her fourth, and not her third, husband; her will "was overruled by a higher power," and, on the 12th of July, she was married to Henry at Hampton Court. Catherine was small in stature, and appears to have made little impression by her beauty; but her character was beyond reproach, and she exercised a wholesome influence on Henry during his closing years. Her task can have been no light one, but her tact overcame all difficulties. She nursed the King with great devotion, and succeeded to some extent in mitigating the violence of his temper. She intervened to save victims from the penalties of the Act of Six Articles; reconciled Elizabeth with her father; and was regarded with affection by both Henry's daughters. Suspicions of her orthodoxy and a theological dispute she once had with the King are said to have given rise to a reactionary plot against her. "A good hearing it is," Henry is reported as saying, "when women become such clerks; and a thing much to my comfort to come in mine old days to be taught by my wife!" Catherine explained that her remarks were only intended to "minister talk," and that it would be unbecoming in her to assert opinions contrary to those of her lord. "Is it so, sweetheart?" said Henry; "then are we perfect friends;" and when Lord Chancellor Wriothesley came to arrest her, he was, we are told, abused by the King as a knave, a beast and a fool.
The winter of 1543-44 and the following spring were spent in preparations for war on two fronts. The punishment of the Scots for repudiating their engagements to England was entrusted to the skilful hands of Henry's brother-in-law, the Earl of Hertford; while the King himself was to renew the martial exploits of his youth by crossing the Channel and leading an army in person against the French King. The Emperor was to invade France from the north-east; the two monarchs were then to effect a junction and march on Paris. There is, however, no instance in the first half of the sixteenth century of two sovereigns heartily combining to secure any one object whatever. Charles and Henry both wanted to extract concessions from Francis, but the concessions were very different, and neither monarch cared much for those which the other demanded. Henry's ultimate end related to Scotland, Charles's to Milan and the Lutherans. The Emperor sought to make Francis relinquish his claim to Milan and his support of the German princes; Henry was bent on compelling him to abandon the cause of Scottish independence. If Charles could secure his own terms, he would, without the least hesitation, leave Henry to get what he could by himself; and Henry was equally ready to do Charles a similar turn. His suspicions of the Emperor determined his course; he was resolved to obtain some tangible result; and, before he would advance any farther, he sat down to besiege Boulogne. Its capture had been one of the objects of Suffolk's invasion of 1523, when Wolsey and his imperialist allies had induced Henry to forgo the design. The result of that folly was not forgotten. Suffolk, his ablest general, now well stricken in years, was there to recall it; and, under Suffolk's directions, the siege of Boulogne was vigorously pressed. It fell on the 14th of September. Charles, meanwhile, was convinced that Boulogne was all Henry wanted, and that the English would never advance to support him. So, five days after the fall of Boulogne, he made his peace with Francis. Henry, of course, was loud in his indignation; the Emperor had made no effort to include him in the settlement, and repeated embassies were sent in the autumn to keep Charles to the terms of his treaty with England, and to persuade him to renew the war in the following spring.
His labours were all in vain, and Henry, for the first time in his life was left to face an actual French invasion of England. The horizon seemed clouded at every point. Hertford, indeed, had carried out his instructions in Scotland with signal success. Leith had been burnt and Edinburgh sacked. But, as soon as he left for Boulogne, things went wrong in the North, and, in February, 1545, Evers suffered defeat from the Scots at Ancrum Moor. Now, when Henry was left without an ally, when the Scots were victorious in the North, when France was ready to launch an Armada against the southern coasts of England, now, surely, was the time for a national uprising to depose the bloodthirsty tyrant, the enemy of the Church, the persecutor of his people. Strangely enough his people did, and even desired, nothing of the sort. Popular discontent existed only in the imagination of his enemies; Henry retained to the last his hold over the mind of his people. Never had they been called to pay such a series of loans, subsidies and benevolences; never did they pay them so cheerfully. The King set a royal example by coining his plate and mortgaging his estates at the call of national defence; and, in the summer, he went down in person to Portsmouth to meet the threatened invasion. The French attack had begun on Boulogne, where Norfolk's carelessness had put into their hands some initial advantages. But, before dawn, on the 6th of February, Hertford sallied out of Boulogne with four thousand foot and seven hundred horse. The French commander, MarĂ©chal du Biez, and his fourteen thousand men were surprised, and they left their stores, their ammunition and their artillery in the hands of their English foes.
Boulogne was safe for the time, but a French fleet entered the Solent, and effected a landing at Bembridge. Skirmishing took place in the wooded, undulating country between the shore and the slopes of Bembridge Down; the English retreated and broke the bridge over the Yar. This checked the French advance, though a force which was stopped by that puny stream could not have been very determined. A day or two later the French sent round a party to fill their water-casks at the brook which trickles down Shanklin Chine; it was attacked and cut to pieces. They then proposed forcing their way into Portsmouth Harbour, but the mill-race of the tide at its mouth, and the mysteries of the sandbanks of Spithead deterred them; and, as a westerly breeze sprang up, they dropped down before it along the Sussex coast. The English had suffered a disaster by the sinking of the Mary Rose with all hands on board, an accident repeated on the same spot two centuries later, in the loss of the Royal George. But the Admiral, Lisle, followed the French, and a slight action was fought off Shoreham; the fleets anchored for the night almost within gunshot, but, when dawn broke, the last French ship was hull-down on the horizon. Disease had done more than the English arms, and the French troops landed at the mouth of the Seine were the pitiful wreck of an army.
France could hope for little profit from a continuance of the war, and England had everything to gain by its conclusion. The terms of peace were finally settled in June, 1546. Boulogne was to remain eight years in English hands, and France was then to pay heavily for its restitution. Scotland was not included in the peace. In September, 1545, Hertford had revenged the English defeat at Ancrum Moor by a desolating raid on the Borders; early in 1546 Cardinal Beton, the soul of the French party, was assassinated, not without Henry's connivance; and St. Andrews was seized by a body of Scots Protestants in alliance with England. Throughout the autumn preparation was being made for a fresh attempt to enforce the marriage between Edward and Mary; but the further prosecution of that enterprise was reserved for other hands than those of Henry VIII. He left the relations between England and Scotland in no better state than he found them. His aggressive imperialism paid little heed to the susceptibilities of a stubborn, if weaker, foe; and he did not, like Cromwell, possess the military force to crush out resistance. He would not conciliate and he could not coerce.
Meanwhile, amid the distractions of his Scottish intrigues, of his campaign in France, and of his defence of England, the King was engaged in his last hopeless endeavour to secure unity and concord in religious opinion. The ferocious Act of Six Articles had never been more than fitfully executed; and Henry refrained from using to the full the powers with which he had been entrusted by Parliament. The fall of Catherine Howard may have impaired the influence of her uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, who had always expressed his zeal for the burning of heretics; and the reforming party was rapidly growing in the nation at large, and even within the guarded precincts of the King's Privy Council. Cranmer retained his curious hold over Henry's mind; Hertford was steadily rising in favour; Queen Catherine Parr, so far as she dared, supported the New Learning; the majority of the Council were prepared to accept the authorised form of religion, whatever it might happen to be, and, besides the Howards, Gardiner was the only convinced and determined champion of the Catholic faith. Even at the moment of Cromwell's fall, there was no intention of undoing anything that had already been done; Henry only determined that things should not go so fast, especially in the way of doctrinal change, as the Vicegerent wished, for he knew that unity was not to be sought or found in that direction. But, between the extremes of Lutheranism and the status quo in the Church, there was a good deal to be done, in the way of reform, which was still consistent with the maintenance of the Catholic faith. In May, 1541, a fresh proclamation was issued for the use of the Bible. He had, said the King, intended his subjects to read the Bible humbly and reverently for their instruction, not reading aloud in time of Holy Mass or other divine service, nor, being laymen, arguing thereon; but, at the same time, he ordered all curates and parishioners who had failed to obey his former injunctions to provide an English Bible for their Church without delay. Two months later another proclamation followed, regulating the number of saints' days; it was characteristic of the age that various saints' days were abolished, not so much for the purpose of checking superstition, as because they interfered with the harvest and other secular business. Other proclamations came forth in the same year for the destruction of shrines and the removal of relics. In 1543 a general revision of service-books was ordered, with a view to eradicating "false legends" and references to saints not mentioned in the Bible, or in the "authentical doctors". The Sarum Use was adopted as the standard for the clergy of the province of Canterbury, and things were steadily tending towards that ideal uniformity of service as well as of doctrine, which was ultimately embodied in various Acts of Uniformity. Homilies, "made by certain prelates," were submitted to Convocation, but the publication of them, and of the rationale of rites and ceremonies, was deferred to the reign of Edward VI. The greatest of all these compositions, the Litany, was, however, sanctioned in 1545.
The King had more to do with the Necessary Doctrine, commonly called the "King's Book" to distinguish it from the Bishops' Book of 1537, for which Henry had declined all responsibility. Henry, indeed, had urged on its revision, he had fully discussed with Cranmer the amendments he thought the book needed, and he had brought the bishops to an agreement, which they had vainly sought for three years by themselves. It was the King who now "set forth a true and perfect doctrine for all his people". So it was fondly styled by his Council. A modern high-churchman asserts that the King's Book taught higher doctrine than the book which the bishops had drafted six years before, but that "it was far more liberal and better composed". Whether its excellences amounted to "a true and perfect doctrine" or not, it failed of its purpose. The efforts of the old and the new parties were perpetually driving the Church from the Via Media, which Henry marked out. On the one hand, we have an act limiting the use of the Bible to gentlemen and their families, and plots to catch Cranmer in the meshes of the Six Articles. On the other, there were schemes on the part of some of the Council to entrap Gardiner, and we have Cranmer's assertion that, in the last months of his reign, the King commanded him to pen a form for the alteration of the Mass into a Communion, a design obviously to be connected with the fact that, in his irritation at Charles's desertion in 1544, and fear that his neutrality might become active hostility, Henry had once more entered into communication with the Lutheran princes of Germany.
The only ecclesiastical change that went on without shadow of turning was the seizure of Church property by the King; and it is a matter of curious speculation as to where he would have stayed his hand had he lived much longer. The debasement of the coinage had proceeded apace during his later years to supply the King's necessities, and, for the same purpose, Parliament, in 1545, granted him all chantries, hospitals and free chapels. That session ended with Henry's last appearance before his faithful Lords and Commons, and the speech he then delivered may be regarded as his last political will and testament. He spoke, he said, instead of the Lord Chancellor, "because he is not so able to open and set forth my mind and meaning, and the secrets of my heart, in so plain and ample manner, as I myself am and can do". He thanked his subjects for their commendation, protested that he was "both bare and barren" of the virtues a prince ought to have, but rendered to God "most humble thanks" for "such small qualities as He hath indued me withal.... Now, since I find such kindness in your part towards me, I cannot choose but love and favour you; affirming that no prince in the world more favoureth his subjects than I do you, nor no subjects or Commons more love and obey their Sovereign Lord, than I perceive you do; for whose defence my treasure shall not be hidden, nor my person shall not be unadventured. Yet, although I wish you, and you wish me, to be in this perfect love and concord, this friendly amity cannot continue, except both you, my Lords Temporal and my Lords Spiritual, and you, my loving subjects, study and take pains to amend one thing, which surely is amiss and far out of order; to the which I most heartily require you. Which is, that Charity and Concord is not amongst you, but Discord and Dissension beareth rule in every place. Saint Paul saith to the Corinthians, the thirteenth chapter, Charity is gentle, Charity is not envious, Charity is not proud, and so forth. Behold then, what love and charity is amongst you, when one calleth another heretic and anabaptist, and he calleth him again papist, hypocrite and Pharisee? Be these tokens of Charity amongst you? Are these signs of fraternal love amongst you? No, no, I assure you that this lack of charity among yourselves will be the hindrance and assuaging of the perfect love betwixt us, except this wound be salved and clearly made whole.... I hear daily that you of the Clergy preach one against another, without charity or discretion; some be too stiff in their old Mumpsimus, others be too busy and curious in their new Sumpsimus. Thus all men almost be in variety and discord, and few or none preach truly and sincerely the Word of God.... Yet the Temporalty be not clear and unspotted of malice and envy. For you rail on Bishops, speak slanderously of Priests, and rebuke and taunt preachers, both contrary to good order and Christian fraternity. If you know surely that a Bishop or Preacher erreth, or teacheth perverse doctrine, come and declare it to some of our Council, or to us, to whom is committed by God the high authority to reform such causes and behaviours. And be not judges of yourselves of your fantastical opinions and vain expositions.... I am very sorry to know and to hear how unreverently that most precious jewel, the Word of God, is disputed, rhymed, sung, and jangled in every Ale-house and Tavern.... And yet I am even as much sorry that the readers of the same follow it in doing so faintly and so coldly. For of this I am sure, that charity was never so faint amongst you, and virtuous and godly living was never less used, nor God Himself among Christians was never less reverenced, honoured, or served. Therefore, as I said before, be in charity one with another like brother and brother; love, dread, and serve God; to which I,as your Supreme Head and Sovereign Lord, exhort and require you; and then I doubt not but that love and league, that I spake of in the beginning, shall never be dissolved or broke betwixt us."
The bond betwixt Henry and his subjects, which had lasted thirty-eight years, and had survived such strain as has rarely been put on the loyalty of any people, was now to be broken by death. The King was able to make his usual progress in August and September, 1546; from Westminster he went to Hampton Court, thence to Oatlands, Woking and Guildford, and from Guildford to Chobham and Windsor, where he spent the month of October. Early in November he came up to London, staying first at Whitehall and then at Ely Place. From Ely Place he returned, on the 3rd of January, 1547, to Whitehall, which he was never to leave alive. He is said to have become so unwieldy that he could neither walk nor stand, and mechanical contrivances were used at Windsor and his other palaces for moving the royal person from room to room. His days were numbered and finished, and every one thought of the morrow. A child of nine would reign, but who should rule? Hertford or Norfolk? The party of reform or that of reaction? Henry had apparently decided that neither should dominate the other, and designed a balance of parties in the council he named for his child-successor.
Suddenly the balance upset. On the 12th of December, 1546, Norfolk and his son, the Earl of Surrey, were arrested for treason and sent to the Tower. Endowed with great poetic gifts, Surrey had even greater defects of character. Nine years before he had been known as "the most foolish proud boy in England". Twice he had been committed to prison by the Council for roaming the streets of the city at night and breaking the citizens' windows, offences venial in the exuberance of youth, but highly unbecoming in a man who was nearly thirty, who aspired to high place in the councils of the realm, and who despised most of his colleagues as upstarts. His enmity was specially directed against the Prince's uncles, the Seymours. Hertford had twice been called in to retrieve Surrey's military blunders. Surrey made improper advances to Hertford's wife, but repudiated with scorn his father's suggestion for a marriage alliance between the two families. His sister testified that he had advised her to become the King's mistress, with a view to advancing the Howard interests. Who, he asked, should be Protector, in case the King died, but his father? He quartered the royal arms with his own, in spite of the heralds' prohibition. This at once roused Henry's suspicions; he knew that, years before, Norfolk had been suggested as a possible claimant to the throne, and that a marriage had been proposed between Surrey and the Princess Mary.
The original charge against Surrey was prompted by personal and local jealousy, not on the part of the Seymours, but on that of a member of Surrey's own party. It came from Sir Richard Southwell, a Catholic and a man of weight and leading in Norfolk, like the Howards themselves; he even appears to have been brought up with Surrey, and for many years had been intimate with the Howard family. When Surrey was called before the Council to answer Southwell's charges, he wished to fight his accuser, but both were committed to custody. The case was investigated by the King himself, with the help of another Catholic, Lord Chancellor Wriothesley. The Duke of Norfolk confessed to technical treason in concealing his son's offences, and was sent to the Tower. On the 13th of January, 1547, Surrey was found guilty by a special commission sitting at the Guildhall;a week later he was beheaded. On the 18th Parliament met to deal with the Duke; by the 24th a bill of attainder had passed all its stages and awaited only the King's assent. On Thursday, the 27th, that assent was given by royal commission. Orders are said to have been issued for the Duke's execution the following morning.
That night Norfolk lay doomed in his cell in the Tower, and Henry VIII. in his palace at Westminster. The Angel of Death hovered over the twain, doubting which to take. Eighteen years before, the King had said that, were his will opposed, there was never so noble a head in his kingdom but he would make it fly. Now his own hour was come, and he was loth to hear of death. His physicians dared not breathe the word, for to prophesy the King's decease was treason by Act of Parliament. As that long Thursday evening wore on, Sir Anthony Denny, chief gentleman of the chamber, "boldly coming to the King, told him what case he was in, to man's judgment not like to live; and therefore exhorted him to prepare himself to death". Sensible of his weakness, Henry "disposed himself more quietly to hearken to the words of his exhortation, and to consider his life past; which although he much abused, 'yet,' said he, 'is the mercy of Christ able to pardon me all my sins, though they were greater than they be'". Denny then asked if he should send for "any learned man to confer withal and to open his mind unto". The King replied that if he had any one, it should be Cranmer; but first he would "take a little sleep; and then, as I feel myself, I will advise upon the matter". And while he slept, Hertford and Paget paced the gallery outside, contriving to grasp the reins of power as they fell from their master's hands. When the King woke he felt his feebleness growing upon him, and told Denny to send for Cranmer. The Archbishop came about midnight: Henry was speechless, and almost unconscious. He stretched out his hand to Cranmer, and held him fast, while the Archbishop exhorted him to give some token that he put his trust in Christ. The King wrung Cranmer's hand with his fast-ebbing strength, and so passed away about two in the morning, on Friday, the 28th of January, 1547. He was exactly fifty-five years and seven months old, and his reign had lasted for thirty-seven years and three-quarters.
"And for my body," wrote Henry in his will, "which when the soul is departed, shall then remain but as a cadaver, and so return to the vile matter it was made of, were it not for the crown and dignity which God hath called us unto, and that We would not be counted an infringer of honest worldly policies and customs, when they be not contrary to God's laws, We would be content to have it buried in any place accustomed to Christian folks, were it never so vile, for it is but ashes, and to ashes it shall return. Nevertheless, because We would be loth, in the reputation of the people, to do injury to the Dignity, which We are unworthily called unto, We are content to will and order that Our body be buried and interred in the choir of Our college of Windsor." On the 8th of February, in every parish church in the realm, there was sung a solemn dirge by night, with all the bells ringing, and on the morrow a Requiem mass for the soul of the King. Six days later his body "was solemnly with great honour conveyed in a chariot towards Windsor," and the funeral procession stretched four miles along the roads. That night the body lay at Sion under a hearse, nine storeys high. On the 15th it was taken to Windsor, where it was met by the Dean and choristers of the Chapel Royal, and by the members of Eton College. There in the castle it rested under a hearse of thirteen storeys; and on the morrow it was buried, after mass, in the choir of St. George's Chapel.
Midway between the stalls and the Altar the tomb of Queen Jane Seymour was opened to receive the bones of her lord. Hard by stood that mausoleum "more costly than any royal or papal monument in the world," which Henry VII had commenced as a last resting-place for himself and his successors, but had abandoned for his chapel in Westminster Abbey. His son bestowed the building on Wolsey, who prepared for his own remains a splendid cenotaph of black and white marble. On the Cardinal's fall Henry VIII designed both tomb and chapel for himself post multos et felices annos. But King and Cardinal reaped little honour by these strivings after posthumous glory. The dying commands of the monarch, whose will had been omnipotent during his life, remained unfulfilled; the memorial chapel was left incomplete; and the monument of marble was taken down, despoiled of its ornaments and sold in the Great Rebellion. At length, in a happier age, after more than three centuries of neglect, the magnificent building was finished, but not in Henry's honour; it was adorned and dedicated to the memory of a prince in whose veins there flowed not a drop of Henry's blood.
So died and so was buried the most remarkable man who ever sat on the English throne. His reign, like his character, seems to be divided into two inconsistent halves. In 1519 his rule is pronounced more suave and gentle than the greatest liberty anywhere else; twenty years later terror is said to reign supreme. It is tempting to sum up his life in one sweeping generalisation, and to say that it exhibits a continuous development of Henry's intellect and deterioration of his character. Yet it is difficult to read the King's speech in Parliament at the close of 1545, without crediting him with some sort of ethical ideas and aims; his life was at least as free from vice during the last, as during the first, seven years of his reign; in seriousness of purpose and steadfastness of aim it was immeasurably superior; and at no time did Henry's moral standard vary greatly from that of many whom the world is content to regard as its heroes. His besetting sin was egotism, a sin which princes can hardly, and Tudors could nowise, avoid. Of egotism Henry had his full share from the beginning; at first it moved in a limited, personal sphere, but gradually it extended its scope till it comprised the whole realm of national religion and policy. The obstacles which he encountered in prosecuting his suit for a divorce from Catherine of Aragon were the first check he experienced in the gratification of a personal whim, and the effort to remove those impediments drew him on to the world-wide stage of the conflict with Rome. He was ever proceeding from the particular to the general, from an attack on a special dispensation to an attack on the dispensing power of the Pope, and thence to an assault on the whole edifice of papal claims. He started with no desire to separate England from Rome, or to reform the Anglican Church; those aims he adopted, little by little, as subsidiary to the attainment of his one great personal purpose. He arrived at his principles by a process of deduction from his own particular case.
As Henry went on, his "quick and penetrable eyes," as More described them, were more and more opened to the extent of what he could do; and he realised, as he said, how small was the power of the Pope. Papal authority had always depended on moral influence and not on material resources. That moral influence had long been impaired; the sack of Rome in 1527 afforded further demonstration of its impotence; and, when Clement condoned that outrage, and formed a close alliance with the chief offender, the Papacy suffered a blow from which it never recovered. Temporal princes might continue to recognise the Pope's authority, but it was only because they chose, and not because they were compelled so to do; they supported him, not as the divinely commissioned Vicar of Christ, but as a useful instrument in the prosecution of their own and their people's desires. It is called a theological age, but it was also irreligious, and its principal feature was secularisation. National interests had already become the dominant factor in European politics; they were no longer to be made subservient to the behests of the universal Church. The change was tacitly or explicitly recognised everywhere; and cujus regio, ejus religio was the principle upon which German ecclesiastical politics were based at the Peace of Augsburg. It was assumed that each prince could do what he liked in his own country; they might combine to make war on an excommunicate king, but only if war suited their secular policy; and the rivalry between Francis and Charles was so keen, that each set greater store upon Henry's help than upon his destruction.
Thus the breach with Rome was made a possible, though not an easy, task; and Henry was left to settle the matter at home with little to fear from abroad, except threats which he knew to be empty. England was the key of the situation, and in England must be sought the chief causes of Henry's success. If we are to believe that Henry's policy was at variance with the national will, his reign must remain a political mystery, and we can offer no explanation of the facts that Henry was permitted to do his work at all, and that it has stood so long the test of time. He had, no doubt, exceptional facilities for getting his way. His dictatorship was the child of the Wars of the Roses, and his people, conscious of the fact that Henry was their only bulwark against the recurrence of civil strife, and bound up as they were in commercial and industrial pursuits, were willing to bear with a much more arbitrary government than they would have been in less perilous times. The alternatives may have been evil, but the choice was freely made. No government, whatever its form, whatever its resources, can permanently resist the national will; every nation has, roughly speaking, the government it deserves and desires, and a popular vote would never in Henry's reign have decreed his deposition. The popular mind may be ill-informed, distorted by passion and prejudice, and formed on selfish motives. Temporarily, too, the popular will may be neutralised by skilful management on the part of the government, by dividing its enemies and counterworking their plans; and of all those arts Henry was a past master. But such expedients cannot prevail in the end; in 1553 the Duke of Northumberland had a subtle intellect and all the machinery of Tudor government at his disposal; Queen Mary had not a man, nor a shilling. Yet Mary, by popular favour, prevailed without shedding a drop of blood. Henry himself was often compelled to yield to his people. Abject self-abasement on their part and stupendous power of will on Henry's, together provide no adequate solution for the history of his reign.
With all his self-will, Henry was never blind to the distinction between what he could and what he could not do. Strictly speaking, he was a constitutional king; he neither attempted to break up Parliament, nor to evade the law. He combined in his royal person the parts of despot and demagogue, and both he clothed in Tudor grace and majesty. He led his people in the way they wanted to go, he tempted them with the baits they coveted most, he humoured their prejudices against the clergy and against the pretensions of Rome, and he used every concession to extract some fresh material for building up his own authority. He owed his strength to the skill with which he appealed to the weaknesses of a people, whose prevailing characteristics were a passion for material prosperity and an absolute indifference to human suffering. "We," wrote one of Henry's Secretaries of State, "we, which talk much of Christ and His Holy Word, have, I fear me, used a much contrary way; for we leave fishing of men, and fish again in the tempestuous seas of this world for gain and wicked Mammon." A few noble examples, Catholic and Protestant, redeemed, by their blood, the age from complete condemnation, but, in the mass of his subjects, the finer feelings seem to have been lost in the pursuit of wealth. There is no sign that the hideous tortures inflicted on men condemned for treason, or the equally horrible sufferings of heretics burnt at the stake, excited the least qualm of compassion in the breast of the multitude; the Act of Six Articles seems to have been rather a popular measure, and the multiplication of treasons evoked no national protest.
Henry, indeed, was the typical embodiment of an age that was at once callous and full of national vigour, and his failings were as much a source of strength as his virtues. His defiance of the conscience of Europe did him no harm in England, where the splendid isolation of Athanasius contra mundum is always a popular attitude; and even his bitterest foes could scarce forbear to admire the dauntless front he presented to every peril. National pride was the highest motive to which he appealed. For the rest, he based his power on his people's material interests, and not on their moral instincts. He took no such hold of the ethical nature of men as did Oliver Cromwell, but he was liked none the less for that; for the nation regarded Cromwell, the man of God, with much less favour than Charles II., the man of sin; and statesmen who try to rule on exclusively moral principles are seldom successful and seldom beloved. Henry's successor, Protector Somerset, made a fine effort to introduce some elements of humanity into the spirit of government; but he perished on the scaffold, while his colleagues denounced his gentleness and love of liberty, and declared that his repeal of Henry's savage treason-laws was the worst deed done in their generation.
The King avoided the error of the Protector; he was neither behind nor before the average man of the time; he appealed to the mob, and the mob applauded. Salus populi, he said in effect, suprema lex, and the people agreed; for that is a principle which suits demagogues no less than despots, though they rarely possess Henry's skill in working it out. Henry, it is true, modified the maxim slightly by substituting prince for people, and by practising, before it was preached, Louis XIV’s doctrine that L'État, c'est moi. But the assumption that the welfare of the people was bound up with that of their King was no idle pretence; it was based on solid facts, the force of which the people themselves admitted. They endorsed the tyrant's plea of necessity. The pressure of foreign rivalries, and the fear of domestic disruption, convinced Englishmen of the need for despotic rule, and no consideration whatever was allowed to interfere with the stability of government; individual rights and even the laws themselves must be overridden, if they conflicted with the interests of the State. Torture was illegal in England, and men were proud of the fact, yet, in cases of treason, when the national security was thought to be involved, torture was freely used, and it was used by the very men who boasted of England's immunity. They were conscious of no inconsistency; the common law was very well as a general rule, but the highest law of all was the welfare of the State.
This was the real tyranny of Tudor times; men were dominated by the idea that the State was the be-all and end-all of human existence. In its early days the State is a child; it has no will and no ideas of its own, and its first utterances are merely imitation and repetition. But by Henry VIII.'s reign the State in England had grown to lusty manhood; it dismissed its governess, the Church, and laid claim to that omnipotence and absolute sovereignty which Hobbes regretfully expounded in his Leviathan. The idea supplied an excuse to despots and an inspiration to noble minds. "Surely," wrote a genuine patriot in 1548, "every honest man ought to refuse no pains, no travail, no study, he ought to care for no reports, no slanders, no displeasure, no envy, no malice, so that he might profit the commonwealth of his country, for whom next after God he is created." The service of the State tended, indeed, to encroach on the service of God, and to obliterate altogether respect for individual liberty. Wolsey on his death-bed was visited by qualms of conscience, but, as a rule, victims to the principle afford, by their dying words, the most striking illustrations of the omnipotence of the idea. Condemned traitors are concerned on the scaffold, not to assert their innocence, but to proclaim their readiness to die as an example of obedience to the law. However unfair the judicial methods of Tudor times may seem to us, the sufferers always thank the King for granting them free trial. Their guilt or innocence is a matter of little moment; the one thing needful is that no doubt should be thrown on the inviolability of the will of the State; and the audience commend them. They are not expected to confess or to express contrition, but merely to submit to the decrees of the nation; if they do that, they are said to make a charitable and godly end, and they deserve the respect and sympathy of men; if not, they die uncharitably, and are held up to reprobation. To an age like that there was nothing strange in the union of State and Church and the supremacy of the King over both; men professed Christianity in various forms, but to all men alike the State was their real religion, and the King was their great High Priest. The sixteenth century, and especially the reign of Henry VIII., supplies the most vivid illustration of the working, both for good and for evil, of the theory that the individual should be subordinate in goods, in life and in conscience to the supreme dictates of the national will. This theory was put into practice by Henry VIII. long before it was made the basis of any political philosophy, just as he practised Erastianism before Erastus gave it a name.
The devotion paid to the State in Tudor times inevitably made expediency, and not justice or morality, the supreme test of public acts. The dictates of expediency were, indeed, clothed in legal forms, but laws are primarily intended to secure neither justice nor morality, but the interests of the State; and the highest penalty known to the law is inflicted for high treason, a legal and political crime which does not necessarily involve any breach whatever of the code of morals. Traitors are not executed because they are immoral, but because they are dangerous. Never did a more innocent head fall on the scaffold than that of Lady Jane Grey; never was an execution more fully justified by the law. The contrast was almost as flagrant in many a State trial in the reign of Henry VIII.; no king was so careful of law, but he was not so careful of justice. Therein lay his safety, for the law takes no cognisance of injustice, unless the injustice is also a breach of the law, and Henry rarely, if ever, broke the law. Not only did he keep the law, but he contrived that the nation should always proclaim the legality of his conduct. Acts of attainder, his favourite weapon, are erroneously supposed to have been the method to which he resorted for removing opponents whose conviction he could not obtain by a legal trial. But acts of attainder were, as a rule, supplements to, not substitutes for, trials by jury; many were passed against the dead, whose goods had already been forfeited to the King as the result of judicial verdicts. Moreover, convictions were always easier to obtain from juries than acts of attainder from Parliament. It was simplicity itself to pack a jury of twelve, and even a jury of peers; but it was a much more serious matter to pack both Houses of Parliament. What then was the meaning and use of acts of attainder? They were acts of indemnity for the King. People might cavil at the verdict of juries; for they were only the decisions of a handful of men; but who should impugn the voice of the whole body politic expressed in its most solemn, complete and legal form? There is no way, said Francis to Henry in 1532, so safe as by Parliament, and one of Henry's invariable methods was to make the whole nation, so far as he could, his accomplice. For pardons and acts of grace the King was ready to assume the responsibility; but the nation itself must answer for rigorous deeds. And acts of attainder were neither more nor less than deliberate pronouncements, on the part of the people, that it was expedient that one man should die rather than that the whole nation should perish or run any risk of danger.
History, in a democratic age, tends to become a series of popular apologies, and is inclined to assume that the people can do no wrong; some one must be the scapegoat for the people's sins, and the national sins of Henry's reign are all laid on Henry's shoulders. But the nation in the sixteenth century deliberately condoned injustice, when injustice made for its peace. It has done so before and after, and may possibly do so again. It is easy in England to-day to denounce the cruel sacrifices imposed on individuals in the time of Henry VIII. by their subordination in everything to the interests of the State; but, whenever and wherever like dangers have threatened, recourse has been had to similar methods, to government by proclamation, to martial law, and to verdicts based on political expediency.
The contrast between morals and politics, which comes out in Henry's reign as a terrible contradiction, is inherent in all forms of human society. Politics, the action of men in the mass, are akin to the operation of natural forces; and, as such, they are neither moral nor immoral; they are simply non-moral. Political movements are often as resistless as the tides of the ocean; they carry to fortune, and they bear to ruin, the just and the unjust with heedless impartiality. Cato and Brutus striving against the torrent of Roman imperialism, Fisher and More seeking to stem the secularisation of the Church, are like those who would save men's lives from the avalanche by preaching to the mountain on the text of the sixth commandment. The efforts of good men to avert a sure but cruel fate are the truest theme of the Tragic Muse; and it is possible to represent Henry's reign as one long nightmare of "truth for ever on the scaffold, wrong for ever on the throne"; for Henry VIII. embodied an inevitable movement of politics, while Fisher and More stood only for individual conscience.
That is the secret of Henry's success. He directed the storm of a revolution which was doomed to come, which was certain to break those who refused to bend, and which may be explained by natural causes, but cannot be judged by moral considerations. The storm cleared the air and dissipated many a pestilent vapour, but it left a trail of wreck and ruin over the land. The nation purchased political salvation at the price of moral debasement; the individual was sacrificed on the altar of the State; and popular subservience proved the impossibility of saving a people from itself. Constitutional guarantees are worthless without the national will to maintain them; men lightly abandon what they lightly hold; and, in Henry's reign, the English spirit of independence burned low in its socket, and love of freedom grew cold. The indifference of his subjects to political issues tempted Henry along the path to tyranny, and despotic power developed in him features, the repulsiveness of which cannot be concealed by the most exquisite art, appealing to the most deep-rooted prejudice. He turned to his own profit the needs and the faults of his people, as well as their national spirit. He sought the greatness of England, and he spared no toil in the quest; but his labours were spent for no ethical purpose. His aims were selfish; his realm must be strong, because he must be great. He had the strength of a lion, and like a lion he used it.
Yet it is probable that Henry's personal influence and personal action averted greater evils than those they provoked. Without him, the storm of the Reformation would still have burst over England; without him, it might have been far more terrible. Every drop of blood shed under Henry VIII. might have been a river under a feebler king. Instead of a stray execution here and there, conducted always with a scrupulous regard for legal forms, wars of religion might have desolated the land and swept away thousands of lives. London saw many a hideous sight in Henry's reign, but it had no cause to envy the Catholic capitals which witnessed the sack of Rome and the massacre of St. Bartholomew; for all Henry's iniquities, multiplied manifold, would not equal the volume of murder and sacrilege wrought at Rome in May, 1527, or at Paris in August, 1572. From such orgies of violence and crime, England was saved by the strong right arm and the iron will of her Tudor king. "He is," said Wolsey after his fall, a prince of royal courage, and he hath a princely heart; and rather than he will miss or want part of his appetite he will hazard the loss of one-half of his kingdom." But Henry discerned more clearly than Wolsey the nature of the ground on which he stood; by accident, or by design, his appetite conformed to potent and permanent forces; and, wherein it did not, he was, in spite of Wolsey's remark, content to forgo its gratification. It was not he, but the Reformation, which put the kingdoms of Europe to the hazard. The Sphinx propounded her riddle to all nations alike, and all were required to answer. Should they cleave to the old, or should they embrace the new? Some pressed forward, others held back, and some, to their own confusion, replied in dubious tones. Surrounded by faint hearts and fearful minds, Henry VIII neither faltered nor failed. He ruled in a ruthless age with a ruthless hand, he dealt with a violent crisis by methods of blood and iron, and his measures were crowned with whatever sanction worldly success can give. He is Machiavelli's Prince in action. He took his stand on efficiency rather than principle, and symbolised the prevailing of the gates of Hell. The spiritual welfare of England entered into his thoughts, if at all, as a minor consideration; but, for her peace and material comfort it was well that she had as her King, in her hour of need, a man, and a man who counted the cost, who faced the risk, and who did with his might whatsoever his hand found to do.