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"favour a Frenchman; Scotchmen favour a "Scotchman; but More's general benevolence "hath; imprinted his memory fo deep in all "men's hearts,' that they bewail his death as "that of their own father or brother. I myself "have seen many perfons weep for More's death, who had never feen him, nor yet re"ceived any kindness from him. Nay, as I "write, tears flow from my eyes, whether I " will or not. How many persons has that axe "wounded, which fevered More's head from his "body!"
"Therefore," adds Erafmus, "when my "friends have congratulated me that I had a friend like More placed in fo eminent a station, "I was used to say that I would never congratu"late him upon his increase of dignity till he " himself told me that I might."
Sir Thomas More used to say of ungrateful perfons, that they wrote good turns done to them in the duft, but engraved injuries upon marble. Of the folly of those who were over-anxious for the dignities of the world, he observed," As a " criminal who is about to be led to execution "would be accounted foolish, if he fhould en
grave his coat of arms upon the gate of the prifon; even fo are they vain, who endeavour
" with great induftry to erect monuments of their dignity in the prison of this world."
"The King, Henry the Eighth," fays. Mr. More, in the Life of his Grandfather, "ufed of "a particular love to come on a fuddain to Chelfey, where Sir Thomas More lived, and leaning upon his fhoulder, to talke with him of fecrett "counfel in his garden, yea, and to dine with "him upon no inviting."
"It happened one day," fays Mr. Aubrey, in his Manufcript Lives, "that a mad Tom of Bed"lam came up to Sir Thomas More as he was " contemplating, according to his cuftom, on the
leads of the gate-house of his palace at Chelsea, " and had a mind to have thrown him from the "battlements, crying out, Leap, Tom, leap. "The Chancellor was in his gown, and befides, "ancient and unable to ftruggle with fuch a ftrong fellow. My Lord had a little dog with " him. Now (faid he,) let us first throw the "dog downe, and feew hat sport that will be: fo "the dog was thrown over. Is not this fine fport (faid his Lordship?) Let us fetch him up and "try it again. As the madman was going down, my Lord fastened the door, and called for help."
When Sir Thomas was Lord Chancellor, he conftantly fat at mafs in the chancel of Chelsea church, while his Lady fat in a pew; and because
pew ftood out of fight, his Gentleman Usher ever after service opened it, and said to Lady More, Madam, my Lord is gone." On the Sunday after the Chancellor's place was taken from him (of which he had not apprized his wife,) the family went to church as ufual; when, after the fervice, Sir Thomas himself came to his wife's pew, and faid, " Madam, my Lord is gone," to her great aftonishment and indignation.
More's spirit and innocent mirth did not forfake him in his laft moments. As he was going up the scaffold to be beheaded, he found the ftairs of it so weak and crazy, that it was nearly ready to fall: he turned about to the Lieutenant of the Tower and faid, " Pray, Mafter Lieutenant, "fee me fafe up; and for my coming down, I "can fhift for myself." When he had finished his prayers, he turned to the executioner, and faid, on obferving him look fad and dejected, " Pluck
up thy fpirits, Man, and be not afraid to do "thine office; my neck is very fhort, therefore "take care you do not strike awry, for your cre"dit's fake." Then laying his head upon the block, he defired the executioner to stay till he had put his beard afide, " for that," faid he " has "never committed treason." Mr. Addison well obferves," that what was only philosophy in Sir "Thomas More, would be phrenzy in one who "does not refemble him in the cheerfulness of
"his temper, and in the fanctity of his life and
The Duke of Norfolk advised Sir Thomas, previous to his trial, to make his fubmiffion to his unprincipled and obdurate Sovereign. "By the "mafs, Sir Thomas," faid he," it is perilous ftriving with Princes; therefore I could with " you as a friend to incline to the King's pleasure ; for, by God's body, Indignatio principis mors ·" eft." "Is that all, my Lord?" replied Sir Thomas: "In good faith, then, there is no more "difference between your Grace and me, than "that I fhall die to-day and your Grace to-mor" row. If therefore the anger of a Prince causeth "but temporal death, we have greater cause to "fear the eternal death which the King of Heaven "can condemn us unto, if we fticke not to dif "please him by pleasing an earthly King."
"When the news of More's death was brought "to the King," fays Stapleton," he was playing "at tables; Anne Boleyn was looking on. The "King caft his eyes upon her, and faid, Thou art "the caufe of this man's death! and prefently
leaving his play, he retired to his chamber, and "fell into a deep melancholy."
It is wonderful what mifchievous effects fuperftition and prejudice produce upon the wifest heads and the best hearts:-One Frith had written against the corporal prefence; and on his not retracting,
tracting, after More had answered him, he caused him to be burned.
James Bainton," fays Burnet," a Gentle"man of the Temple, was taken to the Lord "Chancellor's houfe, where much pains was taken "to perfuade him to discover those who favoured "the new opinions. But, fair means not prevailing, More had him whipped in his presence, "and after that sent to the Tower, where he looked on, and faw him put to the rack. He was "burned in Smithfield; and with him," adds Bur(c net, More's perfecutions ended; for soon "after he laid down the Great Seal, which put "the poor preachers at cafe."
Luther being asked, Whether Sir Thomas More was executed for the Gofpel's fake? anfwered, By no means, for he was a very notable tyrant. "He was the King's chiefeft counsellor, a very "learned and a very wife man. He shed the "blood of many innocent Chriftians that con"feffed the Gofpel, and plagued and tormented "them like an executioner."
Colloq. Menfal." 464
Yet how discordant does More's practice seem to be to his opinions! In his celebrated "Utopia" he lays it down as a maxim, that no one ought to be punished for his religion, and that every person might be of what religion he pleased.