Showing The Vacillations Of The King Between Wolsey And Anne Boleyn





Before returning to the state apartments, Henry took a turn on the

ramparts on the north side of the castle, between the Curfew Tower

and the Winchester Tower, and lingered for a short time on the bastion

commanding that part of the acclivity where the approach, called the

Hundred Steps, is now contrived. Here he cautioned the sentinels to be

doubly vigilant throughout the night, and having gazed for a moment at

the placid stream flowing at the foot of the castle, and tinged with the

last rays of the setting sun, he proceeded to the royal lodgings, and

entered the banquet chamber, where supper was already served.



Wolsey sat on his right hand, but he did not vouchsafe him a single

word, addressing the whole of his discourse to the Duke of Suffolk, who

was placed on his left. As soon as the repast was over, he retired to

his closet. But the cardinal would not be so repulsed, and sent one of

his gentlemen to crave a moment's audience of the king, which with some

reluctance was accorded.



"Well, cardinal," cried Henry, as Wolsey presented himself, and the

usher withdrew. "You are playing a deep game with me, as you think; but

take heed, for I see through it." "I pray you dismiss these suspicions

from your mind, my liege," said Wolsey. "No servant was ever more

faithful to his master than I have been to you."



"No servant ever took better care of himself," cried the king fiercely.

"Not alone have you wronged me to enrich yourself, but you are ever

intriguing with my enemies. I have nourished in my breast a viper; but I

will cast you off--will crush you as I would the noxious reptile."



And he stamped upon the floor, as if he could have trampled the cardinal

beneath his foot.



"Beseech you calm yourself, my liege," replied Wolsey, in the soft and

deprecatory tone which he had seldom known to fail with the king. "I

have never thought of my own aggrandisement, but as it was likely to

advance your power. For the countless benefits I have received at your

hands, my soul overflows with gratitude. You have raised me from the

meanest condition to the highest. You have made me your confidant, your

adviser, your treasurer, and with no improper boldness I say it, your

friend. But I defy the enemies who have poisoned your ears against me,

to prove that I have ever abused the trust placed in me. The sole fault

that can be imputed to me is, that I have meddled more with temporal

matters than with spiritual, and it is a crime for which I must answer

before Heaven. But I have so acted because I felt that I might thereby

best serve your highness. If I have aspired to the papal throne--which

you well know I have--it has been that I might be yet a more powerful

friend to your majesty, and render you what you are entitled to be, the

first prince in Christendom."



"Tut, tut!" exclaimed the king, who was, nevertheless, moved by the

artful appeal.



"The gifts I have received from foreign princes," pursued Wolsey, seeing

the effect he had produced, "the wealth I have amassed, have all been

with a view of benefiting your majesty." "Humph!" exclaimed the king.



"To prove that I speak the truth, sire," continued the wily cardinal,

"the palace at Hampton Court, which I have just completed--"



"And at a cost more lavish than I myself should have expended on it,"

interrupted the king angrily.



"If I had destined it for myself, I should not have spent a tithe of

what I have done," rejoined Wolsey. "Your highness's unjust accusations

force me to declare my intentions somewhat prematurely. Deign," he

cried, throwing at the king's feet, "deign to accept that palace and all

within it. You were pleased, during your late residence there, to express

your approval of it. And I trust it will find equal favour in your eyes,

now that it is your own."



"By holy Mary, a royal gift!" cried Henry. "Rise, You are not the

grasping, selfish person you have been represented."



"Declare as much to my enemies, sire, and I shall be more content. You

will find the palace better worth acceptance than at first sight might

appear."



"How so?" cried the king.



"Your highness will be pleased to take this key," said the cardinal; "it

is the key of the cellar."



"You have some choice wine there," cried Henry significantly; "given you

by some religious house, or sent you by some foreign potentate, ha!"



"It is wine that a king might prize," replied the cardinal. "Your

majesty will find a hundred hogsheads in that cellar, and each hogshead

filled with gold."



"You amaze me!" cried the king, feigning astonishment. "And all this you

freely give me?"



"Freely and fully, sire," replied Wolsey. "Nay, I have saved it for you.

Men think I have cared for myself, whereas I have cared only for your

majesty. Oh! my dear liege, by the devotion I have just approved to you,

and which I would also approve, if needful, with my life, I beseech you

to consider well before you raise Anne Boleyn to the throne. In giving

you this counsel, I know I hazard the favour I have just regained. But

even at that hazard, I must offer it. Your infatuation blinds you to

the terrible consequences of the step. The union is odious to all your

subjects, but most of all to those not tainted with the new heresies and

opinions. It will never be forgiven by the Emperor Charles the Fifth,

who will seek to avenge the indignity offered to his illustrious

relative; while Francis will gladly make it a pretext for breaking his

truce with you. Add to this the displeasure of the Apostolic See, and it

must be apparent that, powerful as you are, your position will be one of

infinite peril."



"Thus far advanced, I cannot honourably abandon the divorce," said

Henry.



"Nor do I advise its abandonment, sire," replied Wolsey; "but do not let

it be a means of injuring you with all men. Do not let a mal-alliance

place your very throne in jeopardy; as, with your own subjects and all

foreign powers against you, must necessarily be the case."



"You speak warmly, cardinal," said Henry.



"My zeal prompts me to do so," replied Wolsey. "Anne Boleyn is in no

respect worthy of the honour you propose her."



"And whom do you think more worthy?" demanded Henry.



"Those whom I have already recommended to your majesty, the Duchess

d'Alencon, or the Princess Renee," replied Wolsey; "by a union with

either of whom you would secure the cordial co-operation of Francis,

and the interests of the see of Rome, which, in the event of a war with

Spain, you may need."



"No, Wolsey," replied Henry, taking a hasty turn across the chamber; "no

considerations of interests or security shall induce me to give up Anne.

I love her too well for that. Let the lion Charles roar, the fox Francis

snarl, and the hydra-headed Clement launch forth his flames, I will

remain firm to my purpose. I will not play the hypocrite with you,

whatever I may do with others. I cast off Catherine that I may wed Anne,

because I cannot otherwise obtain her. And shall I now, when I

have dared so much, and when the prize is within my grasp, abandon

it?--Never! Threats, expostulations, entreaties are alike unavailing."



"I grieve to hear it, my liege," replied Wolsey, heaving a deep sigh.

"It is an ill-omened union, and will bring woe to you, woe to your

realm, and woe to the Catholic Church."



"And woe to you also, false cardinal," cried Anne Boleyn, throwing aside

the arras, and stepping forward. "I have overheard what has passed;

and from my heart of hearts I thank you, Henry, for the love you have

displayed for me. But I here solemnly vow never to give my hand to you

till Wolsey is dismissed from your counsels."



"Anne!" exclaimed the king.



"My own enmity I could forego," pursued Anne vehemently, "but I cannot

forgive him his duplicity and perfidy towards you. He has just proffered

you his splendid palace of Hampton, and his treasures; and wherefore?--I

will tell you: because he feared they would be wrested from him. His

jester had acquainted him with the discovery just made of the secret

hoard, and he was therefore compelled to have recourse to this desperate

move. But I was apprized of his intentions by Will Sommers, and have

come in time to foil him."



"By my faith, I believe you are right, sweetheart," said the king.



"Go, tell your allies, Francis and Clement, that the king's love for me

outweighs his fear of them," cried Anne, laughing spitefully. "As for

you, I regard you as nothing."



"Vain woman, your pride will be abased," rejoined Wolsey bitterly.



"Vain man, you are already abased," replied Anne. "A few weeks ago I

would have made terms with you. Now I am your mortal enemy, and will

never rest till I have procured your downfall."



"The king will have an amiable consort, truly," sneered Wolsey.



"He will have one who can love him and hate his foes," replied Anne;

"and not one who would side with them and thee, as would be the case

with the Duchess d'Alencon or the Princess Renee. Henry, you know the

sole terms on which you can procure my hand."



The king nodded a playful affirmative.



"Then dismiss him at once, disgrace him," said Anne.



"Nay, nay," replied Henry, "the divorce is not yet passed. You are

angered now, and will view matters more coolly to-morrow."



"I shall never change my resolution," she replied.



"If my dismissal and disgrace can save my sovereign, I pray him to

sacrifice me without hesitation," said Wolsey; "but while I have liberty

of speech with him, and aught of power remaining, I will use it to his

advantage. I pray your majesty suffer me to retire."



And receiving a sign of acquiescence from the king, he withdrew, amid

the triumphant laughter of Anne.





Showing How Morgan Fenwolf Escaped From The Garter Tower The Butcher And How He Was Cast Into The Vault Of The Curfew Tower facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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