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with his wife to Chelsea Church, where he sat, as he used to, with other gentlemen in the choir. When he was chancellor, it had been the custom for one of his servants to go to his wife at the end of the service and say, "My lord is gone." This particular morning Sir Thomas went himself to his wife, and, bowing humbly, said, “ Madame, my lordship is gone." His wife did not for a long time understand the joke; and when it was explained to her she thought it no joke at all, but fell into a fit of passion and grief.
In January, 1533, Henry VIII. was privately married to Anne Boleyn in a garret in Whitehall palace. On the 1st of June she was crowned and anointed at Westminster, by Cranmer, who had just been appointed Archbishop of Canterbury. Henry tried every means in his power to obtain the presence of Sir Thomas More at the coronation, and several bishops wrote to him persuading him to attend. He not only refused to go himself, but warned the bishops of the consequences that would follow if they went. “Take heed, my lords,” he said; "by procuring your lordships to be present at the coronation, they will next ask you to preach for the setting forth thereof, and finally to write books to all the world in defence thereof."
On the 11th of July following, the Pope reversed the judgment given by Cranmer in favour of Henry's marriage, and issued a bull excommunicating, or cutting off from communion with the church, both the king and his consort. Upon this Henry threw off altogether allegiance to the Pope, and proclaimed himself supreme Head of the Church of England, a title which our sovereigns still bear. The change, however, was too sudden to obtain the assent of the people of the realm, though the king was successful in defeating all attempts at insurrection. Two monks, Friar Peto and Friar Elstow, preaching before the king at Greenwich, told him to his face that his marriage with Anne Boleyn was unlawful, and would call forth the vengeance of heaven. Other persons began to arise, pretending to have seen visions from heaven; and the ignorant peasantry were inclined to believe all they uttered. The most famous of these impostors was Elizabeth Barton, called “ The Holy Maid of Kent,” to whose ravings Sir Thomas More gave some credit. She was executed at Tyburn in 1534, and there confessed that Sir
Thomas More and other eminent persons had been in correspondence with her. The other persons were arrested and charged with treason; and it was with great difficulty that More
i escaped, the king being so angry at his refusal to acknowledge the lawfulness of his marriage. After one of these attempts to make him yield, the Duke of Norfolk said to him : "By the mass ! Master More, it is perilous striving with princes! The anger of a prince brings death !" Sir Thomas replied: "Is that all, my lord ? Then the difference between you and me is but this, that I shall die to-day, and
to-morrow.” Soon after this, an act was passed through Parliament making it high treason to write, speak, do, or say anything against the king's lawful matrimony with Queen Anne, and enjoining all persons to take an oath to maintain the whole contents of the statute. Within a fortnight from the passing of this act, Sir Thomas was called from his quiet home at Chelsea to the Archbishop's palace at Lambeth, in order to take this new oath. This, however, he firmly declined to do, stating as his reason that he could not do what his conscience told him was wrong. He was soon after sent to the Tower, and, by the king's order, pens, ink, and paper were denied him. But some merciful jailor placed scraps of paper in his way, and upon these he wrote notes with pieces of charcoal to Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, who was confined in another part of the Tower, and to his favourite daughter, Margaret Roper. His wit and humour never forsook him. In one of the last letters he wrote with charcoal to his daughter, he said : “If I were to declare in writing how much pleasure your daughterly loving letters give me, a peck of coals would not suffice to make the pens.”
When he had been about a year in this dismal prison, he was visited by Cromwell and others, who urged him to take the oath, and thus gain his release. He replied : “I am the king's true and faithful subject. I pray for His Highness and all his, and all the realm. I do nobody harm, I say no harm, I think no harm, and wish everybody good; and if this be not enough to keep a man alive, in good faith I long not to live. I am dying already, and since I came here have been divers times in the cases that I thought to die within one hour. And I thank our Lord I was never sorry for it, but rather sorry when I saw the
pang past; and therefore my poor body is at the king's pleasure. Would to God my death might do him good!"
A few days after, Archbishop Cranmer, with Cromwell and certain noblemen visited him, and at this interview Cromwell told him that unless he yielded he must die, for that “his grace the king would follow the course of his laws towards such as he should find obstinate."
On the 6th of May, 1535, Sir Thomas More was taken to Westminster Hall, and there charged with high treason. He made an eloquent defence, denying that he had attempted to deprive the king of his new title of supreme head of the church, since all that he had done was to be silent thereon, and that silence was not treason. He was, however, found guilty, and the usual sentence passed upon him. As he returned to the Tower from Westminster Hall his daughter Margaret forced her way through the soldiers, clasped him round the neck, kissed him, and sobbed aloud. Sir Thomas comforted her, and gave her his blessing, and she collected sufficient strength to bid him farewell for ever; but as her father moved on, she again rushed through the crowd, and threw herself on his neck. Here the weakness of nature overcame him, and he wept as he repeated the blessing he had before given. The people wept too; and the guards, though used to scenes of woe, were so overpowered by their feelings, that they could hardly summon up resolution to separate the father and daughter.
Some time, however, elapsed before his execution took place, as the king yet hoped to win him over to compliance with his commands. His wit was as light as ever in his last moments. When told that the king had been graciously pleased to commute the hanging, drawing, and quartering into simply beheading, he said : “God preserve all my friends from such royal favours." The framework of the scaffold was so weak that some fears were expressed that it might break down. "Master lieutenant," said
“ Sir Thomas, “ see me safe up, and for my coming down let me shift for myself.” The executioner, as usual, asked his forgive
“Friend,” replied he, “thou wilt render me to-day the greatest service in the power of man: but my neck is short, take heed therefore that thou strike not awry, for the sake of the credit of thy profession.” After prayers were said, he bade the
headsman stay till he had removed his long white beard, re-, marking, with a smile, “My beard has never committed any treason.” The axe then fell, and his head was instantly severed from his body. It was picked up, and, according to custom, placed for some time on London Bridge; but after a time his daughter obtained permission to take it, and when she died it
her breast and buried with her. The fate of Sir Thomas More called forth the sympathy of Christendom, and the feeling of indignation was deep against the tyrant who had commanded his death. The Emperor Charles V. said that if he had had such a servant, he would rather have lost the best city in his dominions than so able and worthy a counsellor.
The Life of Lord Nelson,
(ABRIDGED FROM SOUTHEY'S LIFE.)
N 1800, Lord Nelson was sent to the Baltic Sea, as
second in command under Sir Hyde Parker. Russia, Denmark, and Sweden had joined together to force England to resign her naval rights. The navies of these three nations united, made a formidable power, and the British government instantly prepared to
defeat this attack upon its position. They erred, , however, in permitting any petty consideration to prevent them from appointing Nelson to the command. The public properly murmured at seeing it entrusted to another.
When Nelson joined the fleet at Yarmouth, he found the admiral “a little nervous about dark nights and fields of ice.” “But we must brace up,” said he, “these are not times for nervous systems. I hope we shall give our northern enemies that hailstorm of bullets which gives our dear country the dominion of the sea." Great difficulties were met with on their arrival at the shores of Denmark, owing to the admiral not being a man well able to perform the duties of his position. At a Council of War, some of the members spoke of the Swedes and Russians, whom they would afterwards have to engage, as a consideration which ought to be borne in mind. Nelson, who kept pacing the cabin, impatient as he ever was of anything that seemed undecided, repeatedly said, “ The more numerous the better : I wish they were twice as many ; the easier the victory, depend upon it.” The plan upon which he had determined, if ever it should be his fortune to bring a Baltic fleet to action, was to attack the head of their line, and confuse their movements. “ Close with a Frenchman,” he used to say, “but out-manæuvre a Russian.” He offered his services for the attack, requiring ten sail of the line, and the whole of the smaller craft. Sir Hyde gave him two more line-of-battle ships than he asked, and left everything to!his judgment.
The greatest difficulty had yet to be overcome. The channel through which the fleet had to pass was little known, and all the buoys had been removed. Nelson had the soundings made, and fresh buoys laid down, so that the fleet might pass through it with safety. When this was done, he thanked God for having enabled him to get through this difficult part of his duty. “It had worn him down,” he said, “and was infinitely more grievous to him than any resistance which he could experience from the enemy.” At five minutes after ten in the morning, the Battle of Copenhagen began, and by half-past eleven the action became general. No sooner was Nelson in battle than his countenance brightened, his conversation became joyous, animated, and delightful. The commander-in-chief was at a distance from Nelson, and suffered great anxiety from not knowing how the action was proceeding. He thought the Danish fire was too hot for him to endure, so he made the signal of recall in order that Nelson might withdraw his ships. Nelson was at this time, in all the excitement of action, pacing the quarter-deck. “ You know, Foley,” said he, speaking to a captain, “I have only one eye-I have a right to be blind sometimes;" and then putting the glass to his blind eye, he exclaimed, “I really do not see the signal.” Presently he exclaimed, "Keep mine for closer battle flying! That's the way I answer such signals! Nail mine to the mast!”
By half-past two o'clock, the Danes were completely defeated,