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these measures, were hanged. Intimidated by such acts of violence, the rest signed a deed of surrender which was laid before them, and in which they accused themselves of the most scandalous transgressions, and were obliged to declare that it was the greatest good fortune for their soul and body that they had been deprived of their abode, mode of life, and property; and with all this, the expelled Monks were prohibited, with equal inconsistency and cruelty, from marrying or availing themselves of any former hereditary right. Only in the case of Thomas à Becket, whose tomb was equally honoured and wealthy, it was thought necessary to make an exception, by appointing a special tribunal, which decided that he did not merit the name either of a saint or martyr, for that he had rebelled against his King, and had perished in a dispute which had been commenced by himself. He was therefore declared a traitor, his festival abolished, his property confiscated, and his statue broken in pieces. In pursuance of this sentence the royal Commissioners took possession of all the offerings, works of art, gold, and precious stones—an immense booty, and destroyed the rest. It was further remarked, as a consequence of the catholic opinions respecting saints, that on the altar of Becket, É954 had been offered in one year; on that of the Virgin Mary, £4. 1s. 8d.: upon the altar of God, nothing. But, unhappily, no less superstition and barbarism were exhibited in the suppression of the Convents. Within the space of three or four years, a great number of the finest churches, buildings, and works of art, were destroyed, out of hatred, avarice, and stupidity; church ornaments, books, and manuscripts demolished, thrown away, or burnt. If the sign of the cross was found in a book it was condemned as papistical; lines and figures passed for wicked sorceries: one person purchased two libraries for forty shillings.(*)
Though much property had been secured by those who were threatened, and so much had been destroyed, the booty was still immense, and the King himself probably thought that he had at once become the richest, most powerful, and independent monarch in Europe. When he was urged by Cranmer, Latimer, and other well disposed prelates, to convert some of the foundations into schools, almshouses, and hospitals, or to employ a portion of the Church property for these purposes, they received a denial, and found themselvespainfully disappointed. Of all the extravagant hopes that had been excited, and of the promises which had been given, none were fulfilled; except that the King (it seemed almost a mockery,) appointed a couple of Bishops, and founded a couple of Professorships. In a few years nothing remained of all that had been gained, —every thing had been gambled or given away, squandered, embezzled, sold for a mere trifle, &c., and the old distress for money most unexpectedly returned. It is scarcely conceivable how this could happen, but indeed if the King gave a woman a Convent, because she had placed a good pudding before him (*), he might have made away in a short time with the Church property of all Christendom; and this proceeding was commended by many, because they thought that it increased the number of the opponents of those institutions, and rendered their restoration impossible. How much more judicious and moderate, in comparison with this conduct, was that of the protestant princes of Germany; and how natural that, after such a suppression of the Monasteries, their excellencies should again be brought forward(*),such as the maintenance of the poor, provision for younger sons and unmarried daughters; or for calm and enthusiastic minds, hospitality, laudable application to learning, &c. There was surely a better medium between the undisturbed existence of all abuses, and such a rude and barbarous mode of proceeding; and we may almost consider it fortunate that the pillage was followed by such senseless prodigality. For after the votes of so many of the Clergy were retrenched from the Upper House,(*) such enormous domains would have fully annihilated in future all the importance of the Parliament; and in fact Henry VIII., after this time, conducted himself in every respect as an intolerable tyrant.
Thus he already acted in 1536 towards his wife, Anne Boleyn. Her cheerful and open manner, which had first won the King, became now the subject of his displeasure and gloomy suspicion. It was alleged that she was so friendly and pleasant with some of her attendants, treated by some with so much devotion, that there must necessarily be some improper reasons which were not known. In this manner the King, whose conscience ought to have visited him for his own sins, sought for guilt in the innocent; and on the 2d of May, 1536, she was arrested and impeached on the charge of having carried on an improper intercourse with her brother and four other persons. All solemnly protested their innocence; on the strength, however, of a confession extorted, under the fear of death, from the musician Smeton, (who was never confronted with Anne,) and the assertion of a deceased old woman, the affair was submitted to the decision of twenty-six Lords, who either from infatuation or servile fear decided—that they left it to the King to determine whether Anne should be beheaded or burnt. The consideration that the prosecution had been precipitated, the forms violated, the crimes denied, and in themselves improbable, had as little weight as the earnest intercession of Cranmer. Henry commanded that his wife, and those accused with her, should be executed. When on the scaffold she accused no
one, thanked the King for all his favours, and died with serenity. No impartial person now entertains a doubt of her innocence, (*) and the mildness of her expressions towards her persecutor were the result partly of her own disposition, and partly of fear that, by an opposite conduct, she might injure her daughter Elizabeth.(*) The Queen was beheaded on the 19th of May, and on the following day the King married Jane Seymour, her maid of honour, without reflecting that he not only violated all decorum by his blood-stained marriage, but also gave the strongest testimony of the innocence of his murdered wife. To the next Parliament Henry stated that, notwithstanding the unfortunate result of his two first marriages, he had, for the welfare of his people, taken a third wife; and the Chancellor (Audley,) affirmed, that the King had been induced to take this step, not for his own gratification, but at the humble entreaty of his nobles. In his reply, the Speaker of the Lower House extolled his extraordinary gifts of nature and of grace; called him a Solomon in wisdom, a Samson in strength, an Absalom in beauty. Carried away by his rage, the King declared his marriage with Anne null and void, because once, previous to her marriage, she had thought of marrying another, and declared his daughter Elizabeth illegitimate; and yet he persisted in asserting, that Anne had been guilty of VOL. I. E