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and entertainment, that they could not commend him too much.
“And whilst they were in communication and other pastimes, all their liveries were served to their chambers. Every chamber had a bason and a ewer of silver, some gilt and some parcel gilt, and some two great pots of silver in like manner, and one pot at the least with wine and beer, a bowl or goblet, and a silver pot to drink beer in ; a silver candlestick or two, with both white lights and yellow lights of three sizes of wax; and a staff torch; a fine manchet, and a chet-loaf of bread. Thus was every chamber furnished throughout the house, and yet the two cupboards in the two banqueting chambers not once touched. Then being past midnight, as time served they were conveyed to their lodgings to take their rest for that night. In the morning of the next day (not early), they rose and heard mass, and dined with my Lord, and so departed towards Windsor, and there hunted, delighting much of the castle and college, and in the Order of the Garter. They being departed from Hampton Court, my Lord returned again to Westminster, because it was in the midst of the term.”
The banquet just described in honour of the French Embassy, was Wolsey's last great entertainment at Hampton Court.
He still continued, however, to reside here a good deal, though the troubled course of events, which were hurrying him to his doom, and the frequent prevalence of the sweating sickness, allowed him neither opportunity nor leisure for dispensing his splendid hospitality. At the end of June, and during the greater part of the months of July and August, 1528, he was staying at the palace with a very few attendants, on account of a sudden and violent outbreak of that disease. No less than forty thousand persons in London were attacked ; and although of these only two thousand died, yet the strangeness and suddenness of the seizures were well calculated to strike terror.
During the panic, Wolsey received several affectionate letters from the King, who, like the Cardinal, shut himself up quite alone, begging him to take care of himself, and cautioning him to “keep out of the air, to have only a small and clean company about, not to eat too much supper, WOLSEY'S LAST DAYS AND FALL.
or drink too much wine," and to take some pills which he had had made up for him, and sent him, telling him to be of good comfort, and expressing his sorrow that he was so far away.
At this point, as we are about to bid farewell to the great Cardinal, respect for tradition demands, perhaps, that we
should notice the legend of the “Cardinal Spider.” This enormous insect, with its fat reddish-brown body and its long jointed hairy legs, often attains the size of five inches in width; and, when seen crawling about a bedroom at night, will startle even persons of tolerably composed nerves. It is alleged to be a kind of spider peculiar to Wolsey's palace, and being in some mysterious way connected with his disastrous fate, to be destined for ever to haunt the scene of his former greatness. Such is the story. The fact, however, is that this supposed unique specimen of the arachnida is well known to zoologists under the name of “Tegenaria Guyonii or Domestica,” a species which, though certainly found in extraordinary abundance in the old nooks and corners of Hampton Court, is yet not unknown elsewhere in the valley of the Thames.
During the anxious period that followed the arrival of Campeggio in England, Wolsey, harassed on all sides, and filled with forebodings of his impending fate, often hid himself in retirement at Hampton Court, where, because the sweating sickness was again virulently raging, “he fortified his gallery and garden, and would suffer only four or five persons to see him.” This was on July 3rd, 1529, and it was the last time he ever set eyes upon his dearly-loved brick towers and courts. Two days afterwards he returned to London to attend the further sittings of the legatine court; and in a few weeks more
“Wolsey, that once trod the ways of glory
And sounded all the depths and shoals of honour”was flung from his high estate, banished the King's presence, stripped of his dignities, robbed of all his vast possessions and goods, and sent in disgrace to Esher Place.
There he remained in retirement and disgrace for several months, brooding over his fallen greatness and the King's ingratitude; while Henry, accompanied by Anne Boleyn, the Cardinal's most persistent enemy, installed himself close by at Hampton Court. Their proximity led to Wolsey's receiving almost daily messages from the Court, sometimes of hope, and sometimes of new hardships in store for him, so that he was kept in a continual state of anxious suspense, which so preyed on his mind and worried his already feeble and shattered frame, that at about Christmas time he fell dangerously ill. When the King heard that he was likely to die, he seemed to relent for a while and to feel some remorse for his ungrateful treatment of one whose only fault had been to have served him too well. He sent him messages of comfort, and a ring as a token of goodwill, and
ILLNESS AND DEATH OF CARDINAL WOLSEY. 53
even induced Anne Boleyn to send him a tablet of gold hanging at her girdle, “with very gentle and comfortable words."
But the machinations of his enemies were not suspended; and, for fear of the King seeing and forgiving him, they got him banished to his diocese of York.
We need not follow him in the last few miserable months of his life, when every galling indignity that the ingenuity of
HENRY VIII. AND ANNE BOLEYN, SENDING TOKENS OF GOODWILL
TO THE SICK CARDINAL.
(From a Contemporary Drawing.) his enemies could devise was heaped upon his head. On the morning of the 29th of November, 1530, at eight o'clock, the once proud Cardinal and mighty minister of Henry VIII., attended only by a few faithful followers, breathed his last in Leicester Abbey, a prisoner in custody of the Lieutenant of the Tower, on the charge of high treason against his sovereign lord the King.
Speaking of the death of Wolsey, Mr. Brewer says: "So fell the great Cardinal, and the greatness and splendour of Henry's reign departed with him. There may be qualities which men desire more than these, and consider more conducive to the interest and happiness of nations; but these will not be denied to Wolsey's administration; nor, in these respects, can any of his successors be compared with him, for greatness and magnanimity are not the qualities we should attribute to Cranmer or to Cromwell. From a thirdrate kingdom, of little account in Europe, Wolsey raised this nation to an equality with the highest. For a time, at all events, peace and war depended on its fiat. It held the scales between the two great contending powers, and if that was a satisfaction to a proud and ambitious prince, Henry had the satisfaction of seeing the two most powerful monarchs of Christendom contending for his favour. No nation ever yet achieved greatness by its internal policy alone. It is only by mixing in the wide theatre of the world, by its external relations, by measuring its strength with others, that any nation attains to eminence; and without greatness even its virtues are apt to reflect the littleness of its vices.”
And elsewhere he observes, “It was not in domestic affairs or local politics that the genius of Wolsey displayed itself to the best advantage, but in diplomacy and statesmanship. Unaided by fleets or armies, ill supported by his master, and by colleagues of very moderate abilities, he contrived by his individual energy to raise his country from a third-rate state into the highest circle of European politics. Englishmen have been so long accustomed to this supremacy, are so sensitive to any diminution of their reputation and influence abroad, that they cannot recognize the difficulty of Wolsey's task, or the merits of the man who first conceived and realized this conception of his country's greatness. Gasping and enfeebled from the wounds of the Civil Wars, content to purchase internal tranquillity at the price of obscurity, menaced by Scotland on one side, by Ireland on the other, without fleets or armies, or a foot of colonial ground, -it required all the proud originality of genius to overlook the material disproportion of England and contend for the palm with the greatest and most ancient kingdoms in the world.”