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and which he had so long forced upon those countries that owned him as their head. The king was now acknowledged to be the head of the church of England; and as Henry was willing to do any thing to show his independence of the Pope, he was persuaded, without much difficulty, to consent shortly afterwards. to the publication and circulation of the Bible, which, as I said, had been just translated by Miles Coverdale.
But I must not pass over this part of the history, without telling you something about a very remarkable man who was one of the most distinguished persons of Henry's reign, and whose fall and death were in some measure connected with the events of which we have just been speaking. This man was Cardinal Wolsey. He was born in rather humble life, but being talented, very diligent, and very persevering, he rose, as people of that kind frequently do, to a high position in the world. He received a learned education, entered the church, passed from one office to another, till at last he became Cardinal. Wolsey was for a long time a great favourite of king Henry VIII. He was pleasant and agreeable in his conversation, and very magnificent and expensive in his manner of living; and this suited the fancy of the King; so the Cardinal became his constant companion, and he consulted him
upon all occasions. We have had many examples, in the course of our history, of the instability of worldly friendships; I mean of friendships founded upon nothing more solid than mere selfish motives, and with no higher object than that of pleasure or convenience. Another melancholy instance of this instability we shall find in the story of Cardinal Wolsey.
Wolsey was concerned in the negociations connected with the affair of Henry's divorce from Catherine; and in his management of it he did not succeed in such a way as to please his royal master. And then, besides this, Henry's temper and affections were very uncertain and capricious. He often grew tired of his friends, as we have seen he had already done of his queen Catherine, and as he soon after did of Anne Boleyn, and of three other wives whom he successively married.
favourite could hope long to enjoy the friendship of such a man; and Wolsey was at last to feel the sorrow and vexation of disappointed hope and ambition. He had been in Henry's favour many years, and now, when he was growing an old man, and when friendship and favour were more necessary for his comfort than ever, he saw that the king did not look on him as he had done before. Instead of being pleased with what Wolsey did, Henry was continually offended; instead of meeting him
with smiles, he frequently frowned upon him, or spoke to him with angry words; and though no particular accusation had yet been made, it was evident to Wolsey that he had lost the king's esteem, and that consequently his fall was near at hand. And there were those about Henry, who were quite ready to cherish any unkindly feelings that he might have towards the Cardinal. Some had long been jealous of the favour shown him, and now they took a cruel pleasure in promoting his disgrace and ruin. At last, Wolsey received a letter from the king, depriving him of the office of Lord Chancellor, which Henry had bestowed upon him, and which was now transferred to Sir Thomas More. Then he was commanded to leave the splendid palace which he had built for himself in London. This was seized upon by Henry; it afterwards became a residence of the kings of England, and was called Whitehall. Wolsey's magnificent furniture,-his plate, and the gold and silver with which his house was ornamented,—all were taken away; the men who had courted his acquaintance, in his days of prosperity, forsook him, and he found himself deserted by almost all the world. He was allowed to retire to a place he yet possessed in Yorkshire, and there he lived for a while, far away from the king, and from the scenes
of his former grandeur. But his enemies would not suffer him to remain even here in peace. They had succeeded in exciting Henry still more against him, and at last the Earl of Northumberland received orders to arrest him for high treason, and to convey him to London for his trial.
Perhaps Wolsey was more distressed than surprised when he heard of this fatal news. He well knew what Henry was, and the consequences of incurring his displeasure. Wolsey could not indeed accuse himself of having deserved such treatment. He had many faults; he was ambitious, and proud, and extravagant; he had been a man quite taken up with the things of this world, never giving a thought to those of another; and the time was fast approaching when he would bitterly feel and lament this his folly and sin. But though Wolsey had not served his God, yet he had long served his king, and he knew that he merited not such treatment at his hands. But there was no resisting the commands of Henry; so Wolsey left his house in Yorkshire, and, guarded by officers, commenced his journey to London.
Now just picture to yourselves that sad journey. The grey-haired courtier, not long ago the envied favourite of one of the greatest
kings in Europe, the richest and most magnificent of all his subjects, now old, care-worn, borne down by disappointment and sorrow; a prisoner watched and guarded, about to be tried for his life, and soon, perhaps, to be condemned, sentenced, and executed! Ah what a change was there! Who that looked upon Wolsey, as he set out on that journey, would have envied his past glory, his lost riches and magnificence then?
Thoughts like these, and anxiety, and sorrow, so affected the unhappy cardinal that, long before he reached London, he became ill, and was taken to Leicester Abbey, as it was found impossible for him to proceed on his journey. When the abbot and the monks came out, as they did, to meet him with reverence and respect, Wolsey humbly begged a resting-place; and told them that he was come to lay his bones among them; for he felt that death was near, and that he should leave that spot no more. The poet represents him as saying,
O father abbot,
An old man broken with the storms of state,
And so the abbot and the monks received
him kindly. They laid him in bed, and gave