Anne Boleyn Chosen By Henry To Succeed Catherine

It was believed at the time--and it was the tradition afterwards--that

Wolsey, in his mission to Paris, intended to replace Catherine by a French

princess, the more surely to commit Francis to the support of Henry in the

divorce, and to strengthen the new alliance. Nothing can be inherently

more likely. The ostensible reason, however, was to do away with any

difficulties which might have been suggested by the objection of the

Bishop of Tarbes to the legitimacy of the Princess Mary. If illegitimate,

she would be no fitting bride for the Duke of Orleans. But she had been

born bona fide parentum. There was no intention of infringing her

prospective rights or of altering her present position. Her rank and title

were to be secured to her in amplest measure.

The Cardinal went upon his journey with the splendour attaching to his

office and befitting a churchman who was aspiring to be the spiritual

president of the two kingdoms. On his way to the coast he visited two

prelates whose support to his policy was important. Archbishop Warham had

been cold about the divorce, if not openly hostile. Wolsey found him "not

much changed from his first fashion," but admitting that, although it

might be unpleasant to the Queen, truth and justice must prevail. Bishop

Fisher was a more difficult subject. He had spoken in the Legate's court

in Catherine's favour. It was from him, as the King supposed, that

Catherine herself had learnt what was impending over her. Wolsey called at

his palace as he passed through Rochester. He asked the Bishop plainly if

he had been in communication with the Queen. The Bishop, after some

hesitation, confessed that the Queen had sought his advice, and said that

he had declined to give an opinion without the King's command. Before

Wolsey left London, at a last interview at York Place, the King had

directed him to explain "the whole matter" to the Bishop. He went through

the entire history, mentioned the words of the Bishop of Tarbes, and

discussed the question which had risen upon it, on account of which he had

been sent into France. Finally, he described the extreme violence with

which Catherine had received the intelligence.

The Bishop greatly blamed the conduct of the Queen, and said he thought

that if he might speak to her he might bring her to submission. He agreed,

or seemed to agree, that the marriage had been irregular, though he did

not himself think that it could now be broken. Others of the bishops, he

thought, agreed with him; but he was satisfied that the King meant nothing

against the laws of God, and would be fully justified in submitting his

misgivings to the Pope.

Mendoza's and the Queen's letters had meanwhile been despatched to Spain,

to add to the anxieties which were overwhelming the Emperor. Nothing

could have been less welcome at such a juncture than a family quarrel with

his uncle of England, whose friendship he was still hoping to retain. The

bird that he had caged at Rome was no convenient prisoner. The capture of

Rome had not been ordered by himself, though politically he was obliged to

maintain it. The time did not suit for the ambitious Church reforms of

Lope de Soria. Peace would have to be made with the Pope on some moderate

conditions. His own Spain was hardly quieted after the revolt of the

Comunidades. Half Germany was in avowed apostasy from the Church of

Rome. The Turks were overrunning Hungary, and sweeping the Mediterranean

with their pirate fleets, and the passionate and restless Francis was

watching his opportunity to revenge Pavia and attack his captor in the Low

Countries and in Italy. The great Emperor was moderate, cautious, prudent

to a fault. In a calmer season he might have been tempted to take the

Church in hand; and none understood better the condition into which it had

fallen. But he was wise enough to know that if a reform of the Papacy was

undertaken at all it must be undertaken with the joint consent of the

other Christian princes, and all his present efforts were directed to

peace. He was Catherine's natural guardian. Her position in England had

been hitherto a political security for Henry's friendship. It was his duty

and his interest to defend her, and he meant to do it; not, however, by

sending roving expeditions to land in Cornwall and raise a civil war; all

means were to be tried before that; to attempt such a thing, he well knew,

would throw Europe into a blaze. The letters found him at Valladolid. He

replied, of course, that he was shocked at a proceeding so unlooked for

and so scandalous, but he charged Mendoza to be moderate and to confine

himself to remonstrance. He wrote himself to Henry--confidentially, as

from friend to friend, and ciphering his letter with his own hand. He was

unable to believe, he said, that Henry could contemplate seriously

bringing his domestic discomforts before the world. Even supposing the

marriage illegitimate--even supposing that the Pope had no power to

dispense in such cases--"it would be better and more honourable to keep

the matter secret, and to work out a remedy." He bade Mendoza remind the

King that to question the dispensing power affected the position of other

princes besides his own; that to touch the legitimacy of his daughter

would increase the difficulties with the succession, and not remove them.

He implored the King "to keep the matter secret, as he would do himself."

Meanwhile, he told Mendoza, for Catherine's comfort, that he had written

to demand a mild brief from the Pope to stop the scandal. He had requested

him, as Catherine had suggested, to revoke Wolsey's powers, or at least to

command that neither he nor any English Court should try the case. If

heard at all it must be heard before his Holiness and the Sacred

College. But he could not part with the hope that he might still bring

Wolsey to his own and the Queen's side. A council of Cardinals was to meet

at Avignon to consider the Pope's captivity. The Cardinal of England was

expected to attend. Charles himself might go to Perpignan. Wolsey might

meet him there, discuss the state of Europe, and settle the King's secret

affair at the same time. Should this be impossible, he charged Mendoza

once more to leave no stone unturned to recover Wolsey's friendship. "In

our name," he said, "you will make him the following offers:--

"1. The payment of all arrears on his several pensions, amounting to 9,000

ducats annually.

"2. Six thousand additional ducats annually until such a time as a

bishoprick or other ecclesiastical endowment of the same revenue becomes

vacant in our kingdom.

"3. The Duke, who is to have Milan, to give him a Marquisate in that

Duchy, with an annual rent of 12,000 ducats, or 15,000 if the smaller sum

be not enough; the said Marquisate to be held by the Cardinal during his

life, and to pass after him to any heir whom he shall appoint."

As if this was not sufficient, the Emperor paid a yet further tribute to

the supposed all-powerful Cardinal. He wrote himself to him as to his

"good friend." He said that if there was anything in his dominions which

the Cardinal wished to possess he had only to name it, as he considered

Wolsey the best friend that he had in the world.

For the ministers of great countries deliberately to sell themselves to

foreign princes was the custom of the age. The measure of public virtue

which such a custom indicates was not exalted; and among the changes

introduced by the Reformation the abolition or suspension of it was not

the least beneficial. Thomas Cromwell, when he came to power, set the

example of refusal, and corruption of public men on a scale so

scandalously enormous was no more heard of. Gold, however, had flowed in

upon Wolsey in such enormous streams and from so many sources that the

Emperor's munificence and attention failed to tempt him. On reaching Paris

he found Francis bent upon war, and willing to promise anything for

Henry's assistance. The belief at the French Court was that the Emperor,

hearing that the Churches of England and France meant to decline from

their obedience to the Roman Communion, would carry the Pope to Spain;

that Clement would probably be poisoned there, and the Apostolic See would

be established permanently in the Peninsula. Wolsey himself wrote

this, and believed it, or desired Henry to believe it, proving the extreme

uncertainty among the best-informed of contemporary politicians as to the

probable issue of the capture of Rome. The French Cardinals drew and sent

an address to the Pope, intimating that as long as he was in confinement

they could accept no act of his as lawful, and would not obey it. Wolsey

signed at the head of them. The Cardinals Salviati, Bourbon, Lorraine, and

the Chancellor Cardinal of Sens, signed after him. The first stroke in

the game had been won by Wolsey. Had the Pope recalled his powers as

legate, an immediate schism might have followed. But a more fatal blow had

been prepared for him by his master in England. Trusting to the Cardinal's

promises that the Pope would make no difficulty about the divorce, Henry

had considered himself at liberty to choose a successor to Catherine. He

had suffered once in having allowed politics to select a wife for him.

This time he intended to be guided by his own inclination. When Elizabeth

afterwards wished to marry Leicester, Lord Sussex said she had better fix

after her own liking; there would be the better chance of the heir that

her realm was looking for. Her father fixed also after his liking in

selecting Elizabeth's mother.

Anne Boleyn was the second daughter of Sir Thomas Boleyn, a Norfolk knight

of ancient blood, and himself a person of some distinction in the public

service. Lady Boleyn was a Howard, daughter of the Duke of Norfolk. Anne

was born in 1507, and by birth and connection was early introduced into

the court. When a girl she was taken to Paris to be educated. In 1522 she

was brought back to England, became a lady-in-waiting, and, being a witty,

brilliant young woman, attracted and encouraged the attentions of the

fashionable cavaliers of the day. Wyatt, the poet, was among her adorers,

and the young Percy, afterwards Earl of Northumberland. It was alleged

afterwards that between her and Percy there had been a secret marriage

which had been actually consummated. That she had been involved in some

dangerous intrigue or other she herself subsequently confessed. But she

was attractive, she was witty; she drew Henry's fancy, and the fancy

became an ardent passion. Now, for the first time, in Wolsey's absence,

the Lady Anne's name appears in connection with the divorce. On the 16th

of August Mendoza informed Charles, as a matter of general belief, that if

the suit for the divorce was successful the King would marry a daughter of

Master Boleyn, whom the Emperor would remember as once ambassador at the

Imperial court. There is no direct evidence that before Wolsey had

left England the King had seriously thought of Anne at all. Catherine

could have had no suspicion of it, or her jealous indignation would have

made itself heard. The Spanish Ambassador spoke of it as a new feature in

the case.

The Boleyns were Wolsey's enemies, and belonged to the growing faction

most hostile to the Church. The news as it came upon him was utterly

distasteful. Anne in turn hated Wolsey, as he probably knew that she

would, and she compelled him to stoop to the disgrace of suing for her

favour. The inference is reasonable, therefore, that the King took the

step which in the event was to produce such momentous consequences when

the Cardinal was not at hand to dissuade him. He was not encouraged even

by her own family. Her father, as will be seen hereafter, was from the

first opposed to his daughter's advancement. He probably knew her

character too well. But Henry, when he had taken an idea into his head,

was not to be moved from it. The lady was not beautiful: she was rather

short than tall, her complexion was dark, her neck long, her mouth broad,

her figure not particularly good. The fascinating features were her long

flowing brown hair, a pair of effective dark eyes, and a boldness of

character which might have put him on his guard, and did not.

The immediate effect was to cool Wolsey's ardour for the divorce. His

mission in France, which opened so splendidly, eventuated in little. The

French cardinals held no meeting at Avignon. They had signed the address

to Clement, but they had not made the Cardinal of York into their

patriarch. Rouen was not added to his other preferments. Could he but have

proposed a marriage for his sovereign with the Princess of Alencon, all

might have been different, but it had fared with him as it fared with the

Earl of Warwick, whom Henry's grandfather had sent to France to woo a

bride for him, and in his absence married Elizabeth Grey. He perhaps

regretted the munificent offers of the Emperor which he had hastily

rejected, and he returned to England in the autumn to feel the

consequences of the change in his situation. Mr. Brewer labours in vain to

prove that Wolsey was unfavourable to the divorce from the beginning.

Catherine believed that he was the instigator of it. Mendoza was of the

same opinion. Unquestionably he promoted it with all his power, and made

it a part of a great policy. To maintain that he was acting thus against

his conscience and to please the King is more dishonouring to him than to

suppose that he was either the originator or the willing instrument. All,

however, was altered when Anne Boleyn came upon the stage, and she made

haste to make him feel the change. "The Legate has returned from France,"

wrote Mendoza on the 26th of October. He went to visit the King at

Richmond, and sent to ask where he could see him. The King was in his

chamber. It happened that the lady, who seemed to entertain no great

affection for the Cardinal, was in the room with the King, and before the

latter could answer the message she said for him, "Where else is the

Cardinal to come? Tell him he may come here where the King is." The Legate

felt that such treatment boded no good to him, but concealed his

resentment. "The cause," said Mendoza, "is supposed to be that the said

lady bears the Legate a grudge, for other reasons, and because she has

discovered that during his visit to France the Legate proposed to have an

alliance for the King found in that country." Wolsey persuaded Mendoza

that the French marriage had been a fiction, but at once he began to

endeavour to undo his work, and prevent the dissolution of the marriage

with Catherine. He tried to procure an unfavourable opinion from the

English Bishops before legal proceedings were commenced. Mendoza, however,

doubted his stability if the King persisted in his purpose, and advised

that a papal decision on the case should be procured and forwarded as soon

as possible.

The Pope's captivity, however, would destroy the value of any judgment

which he might give while he continued in durance. The Emperor, encouraged

by the intimation that Wolsey was wavering, reverted to his previous hope.

In a special memorandum of measures to be taken, the most important,

notwithstanding the refusal of the previous offers, was still thought to

be to "bribe the Cardinal." He must instantly be paid the arrears of his

pensions out of the revenues of the sees of Palencia and Badajoz. If there

was not money enough in the treasury, a further and larger pension of

twelve or fourteen thousand crowns was to be given to him out of some rich

bishopric in Castile. The Emperor admitted that he had promised the Cortes

to appoint no more foreigners to Spanish sees, but such a promise could

not be held binding, being in violation of the liberties of the Church.

Every one would see that it was for the good of the kingdom.

The renewed offer was doubtless conveyed to Wolsey, but he probably found

that he had gone too deep to retire. If he made such an effort as Mendoza

relates, he must have speedily discovered that it would be useless. He had

encouraged the King in a belief that the divorce would be granted by the

Pope as a matter of course, and the King, having made up his own mind, was

not to be moved from it. If Wolsey now drew back, the certain inference

would be that he had accepted an imperial bribe. There was no recourse,

therefore, but to go on.

While Wolsey had been hesitating, the King had, unknown to him, sent his

secretary, Dr. Knight, to Rome with directions to obtain access if

possible to the Pope, and procure the dispensation which had been already

applied for to enable him to marry a second time without the formalities

of a judgment. Such an expedient would be convenient in many ways. It

would leave Catherine's position unaffected and the legitimacy of the

Princess Mary unimpugned. Knight went. He found that without a passport he

could not even enter the city, still less be allowed an interview. "With

ten thousand crowns he could not bribe his way into St. Angelo." He

contrived, however, to have a letter introduced, which the Pope answered

by telling Knight to wait in some quiet place. He (the Pope) would "there

send him all the King's requests in as ample a form as they were desired."

Knight trusted in a short time "to have in his custody as much, perfect,

sped, and under lead, as his Highness had long time desired."

Knight was too sanguine. The Emperor, finding the Pope's detention as a

prisoner embarrassing, allowed him, on the 9th of December, to escape to

Orvieto, where he was apparently at liberty; but he was only in a larger

cage, all his territories being occupied by Imperial troops, and he

himself watched by the General of the Observants, and warned at his peril

to grant nothing to Catherine's prejudice. Henry's Secretary followed him,

saw him, and obtained something which on examination proved to be

worthless. The negotiations were left again in Wolsey's hands, and were

pressed with all the eagerness of a desperate man.

Pope Clement had ceased to be a free agent. He did not look to the rights

of the case. He would gladly have pleased Henry could he have pleased him

without displeasing Charles. The case itself was peculiar, and opinions

differed on the rights and wrongs of it. The reader must be from time to

time reminded that, as the law of England has stood ever since, a marriage

with a brother's widow was not a marriage. As the law of the Church then

stood, it was not a marriage unless permitted by the Pope; and according

to the same law of England the Pope neither has, nor ever had, any

authority to dispense with the law. Therefore Henry, on the abstract

contention, was in the right. He had married Catherine under an error. The

problem was to untie the knot with as little suffering to either as the

nature of the case permitted. That the negotiations were full of

inconsistencies, evasions, and contradictions, was natural and inevitable.

To cut the knot without untying it was the only direct course, but that

all means were exhausted before the application of so violent a remedy was

rather a credit than a reproach.

The first inconsistency was in the King. He did not regard his marriage as

valid; therefore he thought himself at liberty to marry again; but he did

not wish to illegitimatise his daughter or degrade Catherine. He disputed

the validity of the dispensation of Julius II.; yet he required a

dispensation from Clement which was equally questionable to enable him to

take a second wife. The management of the case having reverted to Wolsey,

fresh instructions were sent to Sir Gregory Casalis, the regular English

agent at the Papal court, to wait on Clement. Casalis was "bid consider

how much the affair concerned the relief of the King's conscience, the

safety of his soul, the preservation of his life, the continuation of his

succession, the welfare and repose of all his subjects now and hereafter."

The Pope at Orvieto was personally accessible. Casalis was to represent to

him the many difficulties which had arisen in connection with the

marriage, and the certainty of civil war in England should the King die

leaving the succession no better provided for. He was, therefore, to

request the Pope to grant a commission to Wolsey to hear the case and to

decide it, and (perhaps as an alternative) to sign a dispensation, a draft

of which Wolsey enclosed. The language of the dispensation was peculiar.

Wolsey explained it by saying that "the King, remembering by the example

of past times what false claims [to the crown] had been put forward, to

avoid all colour or pretext of the same, desired this of the Pope as

absolutely necessary." If these two requests were conceded, Henry

undertook on his part to require the Emperor to set the Pope at liberty,

or to declare war against him if he refused.

A dispensation, which was to evade the real point at issue, yet to convey

to the King a power to take another wife, was a novelty in itself and

likely to be carefully worded. It has given occasion among modern

historians to important inferences disgraceful to everyone concerned. The

sinister meaning supposed to be obvious to modern critics could not have

been concealed from the Pope himself. Here, therefore, follow the words

which have been fastened on as for ever fatal to the intelligence and

character of Henry and his Ministers.

The Pope, after reviewing the later history of England, the distractions

caused by rival claimants of the crown, after admitting the necessity of

guarding against the designs of the ambitious, and empowering Henry to

marry again, was made to address the King in these words:--

"In order to take away all occasion from evil doers, we do in the

plenitude of our power hereby suspend hac vice all canons forbidding

marriage in the fourth degree, also all canons de impedimento publicae

honestatis preventing marriage in consequence of clandestine espousals,

further all canons relating to precontracts clandestinely made but not

consummated, also all canons affecting impediments created by affinity

rising ex illicito coitu, in any degree even in the first, so far as the

marriage to be contracted by you, the petitioner, can be objected to or in

any wise be impugned by the same. Further, to avoid canonical objections

on the side of the woman by reason of former contract clandestinely made,

or impediment of public honesty or justice arising from such clandestine

contract, or of any affinity contracted in any degree even the first, ex

illicito coitu: and in the event that it has proceeded beyond the second

or third degrees of consanguinity, whereby otherwise you, the petitioner,

would not be allowed by the canons to contract marriage, we hereby license

you to take such woman for wife, and suffer you and the woman to marry

free from all ecclesiastical objections and censures."

The explanation given by Wolsey of the wording of this document is that it

was intended to preclude any objections which might be raised to the

prejudice of the offspring of a marriage in itself irregular. It was

therefore made as comprehensive as possible. Dr. Lingard, followed by Mr.

Brewer, and other writers see in it a transparent personal application to

the situation in which Henry intended to place himself in making a wife of

Anne Boleyn. Two years subsequent to the period when this dispensation was

asked for, when the question of the divorce had developed into a battle

between England and the Papacy, and the passions of Catholics and

Reformers were boiling over in recrimination and invective, the King's

plea that he was parting from Catherine out of conscience was met by

stories set floating in society that the King himself had previously

intrigued with the mother and sister of the lady whom he intended to

marry; precisely the same obstacle existed, therefore, to his marriage

with Anne, being further aggravated by incest. No attempt was ever made to

prove these charges; no particulars were given of time or place. No

witnesses were produced, nor other evidence, though to prove them would

have been of infinite importance. Queen Catherine, who if any one must

have known it if the accusation was true, never alludes to Mary Boleyn in

the fiercest of her denunciations. It was heard of only in the

conversation of disaffected priests or secret visitors to the Spanish

Ambassador, and was made public only in the manifesto of Reginald Pole,

which accompanied Paul III.'s Bull for Henry's deposition. Even this

authority, which was not much in itself, is made less by the fact that in

the first draft of "Pole's Book," sent to England to be examined in 1535,

the story is not mentioned. Evidently, therefore, Pole had not then heard

of it or did not believe it. The guilt with the mother is now abandoned as

too monstrous. The guilt with the sister is peremptorily insisted on, and

the words of the dispensation are appealed to as no longer leaving room

for doubt. To what else, it is asked, can such extraordinary expressions

refer unless to some disgraceful personal liaison?

The uninstructed who draw inferences of fact from the verbiage of legal

documents will discover often what are called "mare's nests." I will

request the reader to consider what this supposition involves. The

dispensation would have to be copied into the Roman registers, subject to

the inspection of the acutest canon lawyers in the world. If the meaning

is so clear to us, it must have been clear to them. We are, therefore, to

believe that Henry, when demanding to be separated from Catherine, as an

escape from mortal sin, for the relief of his conscience and the surety of

his succession, was gratuitously putting the Pope in possession of a

secret which had only to be published to extinguish him and his plea in an

outburst of scorn and laughter.

There was no need for such an acknowledgment, for the intrigue could not

be proved. It could not be required for the legitimation of the children

that were to be born; for a man of Wolsey's ability must have known that

no dispensation would be held valid that was granted after so preposterous

a confidence. It was as if a man putting in a claim for some great

property, before the case came on for trial privately informed both judge

and jury that it was based on forgery.

We are called on to explain further, why, when all Europe was shaken by

the controversy, no hint is to be found in any public document of a fact

which, if true, would be decisive; and yet more extraordinary, why the

Pope and the Curia, when driven to bay in all the exasperation of a

furious controversy, left a weapon unused which would have assured them an

easy victory. Wolsey was not a fool. Is it conceivable that he would have

composed a document so fatal and have drawn the Pope's pointed attention

to it? My credulity does not extend so far. We cannot prove a negative; we

cannot prove that Henry had not intrigued with Mary Boleyn, or with all

the ladies of his court. But the language of the dispensation cannot be

adduced as an evidence of it, unless King, Pope, and all the interested

world had parted with their senses.

As to the story itself, there is no ground for distinguishing between the

mother and the daughter. When it was first set circulating both were named

together. The mother only has been dropped, lest the improbability should

seem too violent for belief. That Mary Boleyn had been the King's mistress

before or after her own marriage is now asserted as an ascertained fact by

respectable historians--a fact sufficient, can it be proved, to cover with

infamy for ever the English separation from Rome, King, Ministers,

Parliaments, Bishops, and every one concerned with it. The effectiveness

of the weapon commends it to Catholic controversialists. I have only to

repeat that the evidence for the charge is nothing but the floating gossip

of Catholic society, never heard of, never whispered, till the second

stage of the quarrel, when it had developed into a passionate contest;

never even then alleged in a form in which it could be met and answered.

It could not have been hid from Queen Catherine if it was known to

Reginald Pole. We have many letters of Catherine, eloquent on the story of

her wrongs; letters to the Emperor, letters to the Pope; yet no word of

Mary Boleyn. What reason can be given save that it was a legend which grew

out of the temper of the time? Nothing could be more plausible than to

meet the King's plea of conscience with an allegation which made it

ridiculous. But in the public pleadings of a cause which was discussed in

every capital in Europe by the keenest lawyers and diplomatists of the

age, an accusation which, if maintained, would have been absolutely

decisive, is never alluded to in any public document till the question had

passed beyond the stage of discussion. The silence of all responsible

persons is sufficient proof of its nature. It was a mere floating calumny,

born of wind and malice.

Mr. Brewer does indeed imagine that he has discovered what he describes as

a tacit confession on Henry's part. When the Act of Appeals was before the

House of Commons which ended the papal jurisdiction in England, a small

knot of Opposition members used to meet privately to deliberate how to

oppose it. Among these one of the most active was Sir George Throgmorton,

a man who afterwards, with his brother Michael, made himself useful to

Cromwell and played with both parties, but was then against the divorce

and against all the measures which grew out of it. Throgmorton, according

to his own account, had been admitted to an interview with the King and

Cromwell. In 1537, after the Pilgrimage of Grace, while the ashes of the

rebellion were still smouldering, after Michael Throgmorton had betrayed

Cromwell's confidence and gone over to Reginald Pole, Sir George was

reported to have used certain expressions to Sir Thomas Dyngley and to two

other gentlemen, which he was called on by the Council to explain. The

letter to the King in which he replied is still extant. He said that he

had been sent for by the King after a speech on the Act of Appeals, "and

that he saw his Grace's conscience was troubled about having married his

brother's wife." He professed to have said to Dyngley that he had told the

King that if he did marry Queen Anne his conscience would be more troubled

at length, for it was thought he had meddled both with the mother and the

sister; that his Grace said: "Never with the mother," and my Lord Privy

Seal (Cromwell), standing by, said, "nor with the sister neither, so put

that out of your mind." Mr. Brewer construes this into an admission of the

King that Mary Boleyn had been his mistress, and omits, of course, by

inadvertence, that Throgmorton, being asked why he had told this story to

Dyngley, answered that "he spake it only out of vainglory, to show he was

one that durst speak for the Commonwealth." Nothing is more common than

for "vainglorious" men, when admitted to conversations with kings, to make

the most of what they said themselves, and to report not very accurately

what was said to them. Had the conversation been authentic, Throgmorton

would naturally have appealed to Cromwell's recollection. But Mr. Brewer

accepts the version of a confessed boaster as if it was a complete and

trustworthy account of what had actually passed. He does not ask himself

whether if the King or Cromwell had given their version it might not have

borne another complexion. Henry was not a safe person to take liberties

with. Is it likely that if one of his subjects, who was actively opposing

him in Parliament, had taxed him with an enormous crime, he would have

made a confession which Throgmorton had only to repeat in the House of

Commons to ruin him and his cause? Mr. Brewer should have added also that

the authority which he gave for the story was no better than Father Peto,

afterwards Cardinal Peto, as bitter an enemy of the Reformation as Pole

himself. Most serious of all, Mr. Brewer omits to mention that Throgmorton

was submitted afterwards to a severe cross-examination before a Committee

of Council, the effect of which, if he had spoken truly, could only be to

establish the authenticity of a disgraceful charge.

The last evidence alleged is the confession made by Anne Boleyn, after her

condemnation, of some mystery which had invalidated her marriage with the

King and had been made the ground of an Act of Parliament. The confession

was not published, and Catholic opinion concluded, and concludes still,

that it must have been the Mary Boleyn intrigue. Catholic opinion does not

pause to inquire whether Anne could have been said to confess an offence

of the King and her sister. The cross-examination of Throgmorton turns the

conjecture into an absurdity. When asked, in 1537, whom he ever heard say

such a thing, he would have had but to appeal to the proceedings in

Parliament in the year immediately preceding.

Is it likely finally that if Throgmorton's examination proves what Mr.

Brewer thinks it proves, a record of it would have been preserved among

the official State Papers?

If all the stories current about Henry VIII. were to be discussed with as

much detail as I have allowed to this, the world would not contain the

books which should be written. An Irish lawyer told me in my youth to

believe nothing which I heard in that country which had not been sifted in

a court of justice, and only half of that. Legend is as the air

invulnerable, and blows aimed at it, if not "malicious mockery" are waste

of effort. Charges of scandalous immorality are precious to

controversialists, for if they are disproved ever so completely the stain