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HENRY the Eighth having demanded of the Convocation the furrender to him of the small Abbies in England, the Clergy in general agreed to his requifition. Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, perceiving how his brethren were inclined, thus addreffed them:
My Lords, and the rest of my Brethren here "affembled, I pray you to take good heed to "what you do, left you do not know what you "can and what you cannot do. For indeed the things that are demanded at our hands are none "of ours to grant, nor theirs to whom we fhould "bestow them, if we fhould grant them their
defires: but they are the legacies of those teftators who have given them to the Church for "ever, under the penalty of a heavy curfe im
pofed on all those who shall any way go about "to alienate their property from the Church: " and befides, if we fhould grant thefe leffer "Abbies, &c. to the King, what fhall we do "otherwise than fhew him the way how in time "it may be lawful to him to demand the greater? "Wherefore, the manner of these proceedings puts me in mind of a fable: How the axe " (which
BISHOP OF ROCHESTER.
(which wanted a handle) came upon a time "unto the wood, making his moan to the great
trees, how he wanted a handle to work withal, "and for that cause he was conftrained to fit " idle. Wherefore he made it his requeft to "them, that they would be pleased to grant him "one of their small faplings within the wood, to « make him a handle. So, becoming a complete "axe, he fell to work within the fame wood, "that in process of time there was neither great "nor small tree to be found in the place where "the wood stood. And fo, my Lords, if you
grant the King these smaller Monafteries, you "do but make him a handle, whereby, at his " own pleasure, he may cut down all the Cedars " within your Libanus; and then you may thank "yourselves, after you have incurred the heavy displeasure of Almighty God."
"This fpeech," fays his Biographer, Dr. Bayley," changed the minds of all thofe who were formerly bent to gratify the King's demands herein, "fo that all was rejected for that time."
Cromwell was fent to the good Bishop by the King, to know what he would do if the Pope fhould fend him a Cardinal's hat. "C Sir," replied Fisher, "6 "I know myself to be fo far unworthy of any fuch dignity, that I think of nothing lefs; but if any fuch thing should hap"pen, affure yourfelf I fhould improve that fa
vour to the beft advantage that I could in affifting the holy Catholick Church; and in that respect I would receive it upon my knees." Cromwell having reported this answer to the King, he said, with great indignation, " Yea, is "he yet fo lufty? Well, let the Pope fend him <s a Cardinal's hat when he will. Mother of God! "he fhall wear it on his fhoulders then; for I
will leave him never a head to fet it on."
Henry was foon afterwards as good as his word, and fent to the block one of the most virtuous and upright prelates that his kingdom had ever produced. The Bishop met his fate with the conftancy and refignation of a martyr.
Charles the Fifth, on hearing of the death of this Prelate, told Sir Thomas Ellyot, the King of England's Ambassador at his Court, that in killing Bishop Fisher, his mafter had killed at one blow all the Bishops of England: For," added he, "the Bishop was fuch an one, as for all pur
poses I think the King had not the like again " in his realme, neither yet was he to be matched "throughout all Chriftendom."
THIS great man describes a custom prevalent in England in his time among the females, the difcontinuance of which, as the British ladies have moft affuredly gained great attractions fince the days of Erafmus, ftrangers, no less than natives, must most truly lament.
"Sunt hic in Angliâ "tibus, blandæ, faciles.
quam fatis laudandus,
"Ex Angliâ, 1449. nymphæ* divinis vulEft præterea mos nunfive quò venias, om
"The English," fays Mr. Barry, in his excellent work upon the Obstruction to the Arts in England, "have been re"marked for the beauty of their form even fo early as the time "of Gregory the Great, and it was one of the motives for "fending Auftin the Monk amongst them. Our women also
we fhall but flightly mention, for it would bear too much "the appearance of an infult over others, were we to do but
half juftice to their elegant arrangement of proportions and "beautiful delicate carnations."
"There is a delicate peachy bloom of complexion very "common in England (which is the fource of an infinite truly "picturesque variety, as it follows the directions and paffions
of the mind) that is rarely and but partially to be met with "anywhere elfe, except in the fancied defcriptions of the "Greek and Latin poets,"
"nium ofculis receperis, five difcedas aliquò, "ofculis dimitteris. Redis, reddunter fuavia; "venitur ad te, propinantur fuavia; difceditur "abs te, dividuntur bafia; occurritur alicui, "bafiatur affatim; denique quocunque te moveas, "fuaviorum plena funt omnia."
Luther in his " Table-talk" fpeaks thus of this great scholar and elegant writer:
"Erasmus was stained and poisoned at Rome "and at Venice with Epicureifm. He praifes "the Arians more than the Papists. But amongst all his blunted darts I can endure "none lefs than his Catechifm, in which he "teaches nothing certain; he only makes young perfons err and defpair. His principal doctrine "is, that we must carry ourselves according to "the times, and as the proverb fays, We muft hang the cloak according to the wind. Eraf"mus only looked to himself, to eafy and plea"fant days. Erafmus is an enemy to true reli gion; a picture and an image of an Epicure and " of Lucian."
The celebrated Roger Afcham, in one of his letters from Augsburg, thus fpeaks of the English:
"England need fear no outward enemies; the lufty lads "verelie be in England. I have feen on a Sunday more "likelie men walking in St. Paul's Church, than I ever yet "faw in Augufta, where lieth an Emperor with a garrifon, "three Kings, a Queen, three Princes, a number of Dukes, " &c."