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The reason of this assertion will be plain, if your Majesty will reflect on the more-than-royal retinue, which, though a subject of the lowest and most plebeian rise, he maintained. For not to waste your Majesty's important hours with a long catalogue of the particulars, he had in his family one earl, nine barons, knights, gentlemen, and inferior officers about one thousand: for the maintenance of whom he was at once possessed of the Almonership, the Bishoprics of Tournay, Lincoln, and York, and Durham, St. Alban's in commendam, the Bishopric of Winchester (in exchange for that of Durham) the revenues of those of Bath, Worcester, and Hereford, was Lord Chancellor of England, and had the disposal of all places of trust and profit, and singly and alone despatched all public negotiations.
• But the maintenance of so numerous a dependence was not, perhaps, the moiety of his expenses. He had long entertained an ambition to be Pope, and he was too wise to attempt any thing in the conclave or court of Rome, by means of which he could have no hopes of success. Money has always been the only argument, which has prevailed in the papal elections, or in the particular interests, that the princes in obedience to that see form for themselves or favourites. The Cardinal must, therefore, be at an expense proportionable to the vehemence of his de sires; which having no bounds, his largesses to ob tain that end could be bounded by nothing but the abilities of the King and kingdom, the treasure of which was wholly at his command.
"This was the reason, that prevailed with him to engage the King his master to lend sums of money to the Emperor, whose poverty was so well known,
that he could have no prospect of ever having them repaid. 'Tis true, the Emperor and the court of Rome were not fair chapmen, but received his money, and at the same time instead of promoting obstructed all his aims at the triple crown. These incident charges, joined with the constant expenses of so numerous a retinue, occasioned perpetual and large disbursements; and these put him on extraordinary ways and means of providing a fund for their con tinuance.
To this end he grants commissions under the great seal of England, which obliged every man on oath to deliver the true value and estimate of his estate, and to pay four shillings in the pound for every fifty pounds and upward. This was so heavy and severe a tax, that it's being authorised by parliament would not have freed it from the imputation of an oppression of the subject: but to be done by the private authority of a subject, is what wants a name. And that it was so, notwithstanding the great seal was affixed to the commissions, is plain from his Majesty's disowning the matter, as such a violation of the fundamental rights of the people, and a total dissolution of Magna Charta, that no wise King of England could be guilty of. A just consideration of this made the King declare, that though his necessities were great, yet he should never think them great enough to make him attempt the raising money by any but the legal way, of the people's consent in parliament.'
Though the King had made this declaration, and the Cardinal found his first illegal project defeated; yet since money was to be had, or his designs fall to the ground, he once more tries one as little agreeable
to law as the former, though not so odious and improper. He therefore puts the King on desiring a benevolence of the people, without an act of parlia ment. And the Commissioners, who were the Cardinal's creatures, and employed by him, exacted this money, not as a free gift, but as if due by law. But in this he was exactly disappointed, though at the expense of his master's reputation; for the people pleaded a statute of Richard III., and obstinately refused to pay it.
'There is something yet very particularly remarkable in this affair, which discovers the ingratitude of the favourite. For to take off the imputation of doing this of his own head, he summoned the Lord Mayor and Aldermen before him, and solemnly protested that from a thorough conviction of their inability to bear so heavy a tax, and out of his sincere affection to them, he had in a most humble manner been a mediator with the King, to recall those commissions, and wholly throw himself on their free gifts and good inclinations to his Majesty; thus casting the odium of the attempt on the King, and challenging the merit of their revocation to himself. And this is the necessary consequence of the pride and ambition of such favourites, as would monopolise the ear of the prince, to whom they have no farther regard than as he is subservient to their aims and designs. For, if the honour and service of their prince and country was in their view, they would never be solicitous of excluding all others, whose judgement and zeal might be assistant to the success of that common
These sort of men are easily distinguished, by a judicious and wise prince, by their complaisance and
their fawning devices. They make it their endeavour to study, and find out, the most powerful inclination of the King; whether he be inclined by youth or temper to pleasures, to tenderness or pity, to cruelty or avarice: and having thoroughly gained a knowledge of this, they seldom want address enough to work and interweave it in all their designs, to promote and accomplish all their private ends. And there are few of mankind, who are not sooner won by an obsequious flattery of their darling inclinations, than with the rough, and often thought disagreeable, face of truth in contradiction of those inclinations. And, of all mankind, princes are the most apt to be thus imposed on; because use being a second nature, and they being bred from their infancy with a deference of all their attendants and a will uncontrolled, seem to have a sort of right to do what they please without contradiction: and this makes them think those most their friends, who have the most submissive complaisance for whatever they have a mind to. Now it is impossible, that the best-inclined prince should always be free from desires, often inconsistent with the good of their people, for which they were wholly made; and a faithful counsellor is obliged to oppose this, and humbly to remonstrate the inconvenience, that must ensue from an indulgence of it. Whereas the false favourite adds fire to the fuel, by persuading the justice and reasonableness of a prince's doing what he pleases, and that his will alone is the mark of right and wrong; that his subjects ought to suffer all things, rather than he want his pleasure; that being the vicegerent of heaven, he is unaccountable to his creatures for his actions.
• These are topics too engaging to the corrupt na
ture of man, in which pride has so great a share, that he easily is induced to believe, that all is his due that he can obtain: especially a young prince, whose want of experience and warmth of blood deny him the calm considerations, necessary for a happy administration of government. This we find verified in Nero, whose first five years, by the admirable precepts of Seneca, excelled those of Augustus; but when he gave ear to such flatterers as I have described, [he] soon swallowed the gilded poison, till he perished in the obstinacy of his own will.
And though there was a vast distinction betwixt your royal father and that prince, yet he would have made a more glorious figure in history, and in the world, had not Cardinal Wolsey's advice prevailed on him in his young and riper years to quit the administration to him, and indulge in all the pleasures his high station and vast exchequer enabled him to enjoy. Bribed by so sweet a bait, he pursued the counsel, and kept such a habit, that betrayed him to actions, that are not capable of being so far justified as I could wish they might. Yet it may easily be proved, that King Henry was guilty of no fault, but 'twas the natural consequence of this advice of Wolsey; and from which even Wolsey himself, by a particular instance of Providence, derived his own ruin.
"Tis true, that princes of a good and generous disposition are not so easily perverted by this way, because they afford the flatterer less matter to work on: yet it is certain, that a man of nice judgement and address will easily turn the virtues of his prince to the public detriment, if he can once gain so far the ascendant over him, as to hear no other counsellor but him and his immediate creatures. And he is by