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disguise his impetuosity, or his peevishness. His advices were pressed with heat; his admonitions were pronounced with anger; and whether his theme was a topic of policy or of faith, his knowledge appeared to be equally infallible. He wished to be considered as an organ of the divine will. Contradiction inflamed him with hostility; and his resentments took a deep and a lasting foundation. He considered the temporal interests of society as inferior to the ecclesiastical; and, unacquainted alike with the objects of government and the nature of men, he regarded the struggles of ambition as impious and profane; and knew not that the individual is carried to happiness and virtue on the tide of his passions, and that admiration and eminence are chiefly to be purchased by the vigour, the fortitude, and capacity which are exerted and displayed in public occupations. He inculcated retired and ascetic virtues. He preached the unlimited contempt of this world; he was a mortal enemy to gaiety and mirth; and it was his opinion that human life ought to be consumed in the solemnities of devotion, in sufferance, and sorrow. The pride of success, the spirit of adulation, the awe with which he struck the gaping and ignorant multitude, inspired him with a superlative conception of his own merits. He mistook for a prophetic impulse the illusions of a heated fancy; and, with an intemperate and giddy vanity, he ventured at times to penetrate into the future, and to reveal the mysteries of Providence. Not contented with being a saint, he aspired to be a prophet. In discharging the functions of his ministry, his ardour was proportioned to his sincerity. Assiduous and fervent toils, watchful and anxious cares, wasted his strength and hastened his dissolution. He saw it approach without terror; spoke with exultation of the services which he had rendered to the gospel and the church; and was constantly in prayer with the brethren. His confidence of a happy immortality was secure and firm, and disdained the slightest mixture of suspicion or doubt. He surrendered his spirit with cheerfulness, and without a struggle. It belongs to history to describe with candour his virtues as well as his imperfections: and it may be observed, in alleviation of the latter, that the times in which he lived were rude and fierce; and that his passion for converts, and his proneness to persecution, while they rose more immediately out of the intenseness of his belief, and the natural violence of his temperament, were keenly and warmly fostered by his professional habits.
The character of Wolsey has been portrayed by the pencil of Erasmus, who had tasted of his bounty, and by that of Polydore, whom his justice or policy had thrown into confinement. Neglecting the venal praise of the one, and the venomous slander of the other, we may pronounce him a minister of consummate address and commanding abilities; greedy of wealth and power and glory; anxious to exalt the throne on which his own greatness was built, and the church of which he was so distinguished a member; but capable, in the pursuit of these different objects, of stooping to expedients which sincerity and justice would disavow, and of adopting, through indulgence to the passions and caprice of the king, measures which often involved him in contradictions and difficulties, and ultimately occasioned his ruin. As legate, he is said to have exercised without delicacy his new superiority over the archbishop of Canterbury, and to have drawn to his court the cognizance of causes which belonged to that primate: but the question of right between them admitted of much dispute, and it is acknowledged, on the other hand, that he reformed many abuses in the church, and compelled the secular and regular clergy to live according to the canons. His office of chancellor afforded him the opportunity of displaying the versatility and superiority of his talents. He was not, indeed, acquainted with the subtleties and minutia of legal proceedings, and on that account was careful to avail himself of the knowledge and experience of others: but he always decided according to the dictates of his own judgment; and the equity of his decrees was universally admitted and applauded. To appease domestic quarrels, and reconcile families at variance with each other, he was accustomed to offer himself as a friendly arbitrator between the parties: that the poor might pursue their claims with facility and without expense, he established courts of requests: in the ordinary administration of justice he introduced improvements which were received with gratitude by the country; and he made it his peculiar care to punish with severity those offenders who had defrauded the revenue or oppressed the people. But his reputation, and the ease with which he admitted suits, crowded the chancery with petitioners: he soon found himself overwhelmed with a multiplicity of business: and the king, to relieve him, established four subordinate courts, of which that under the presidency of the master of the rolls is still preserved.
Literature found in the cardinal a constant and bountiful patron. On native scholars he heaped preferment, and the most eminent foreigners were invited by him to teach in the universities. Both of these celebrated academies were the objects of his care: but Oxford chiefly experienced his munificence in the endowment of seven lectureships, and the foundation of Christ Church, which, though he lived not to complete it, still exists a splendid monument to his memory. As a nursery for this establishment, he erected another college at Ipswich, the place of his nativity.
But these occupations at home did not divert his eyes from the shifting scene of politics abroad. He was constantly informed of the secret history of the continental courts; and his dispatches, of which several are still extant, show that he was accustomed to pursue every event through all its probable consequences; to consider each measure in its several bearings; and to furnish his agents with instructions beforehand for almost every contingency. His great object was to preserve the balance of power between the rival houses of France and Austria: and to this we should refer the mutable politics of the English cabinet, which first deserted Francis to support the cause of Charles, and when Charles had obtained the ascendancy, abandoned him to repair the broken fortunes of Francis. The consequence was, that as long as Wolsey presided in the council, the minister was feared and courted by princes and pontiffs, the king held the distinguished situation of arbiter of Europe. Lingard.
THE EARL OF ESSEX.
Thus, at the premature age of thirty-three, perished the gallant and aspiring Essex. At his first introduction to Elizabeth he had to contend against the dislike with which she viewed the son of a woman who had been her rival, and a successful rival, in the affections of Leicester. If he overcame this prejudice, it was not owing to personal beauty or exterior accomplishments. In these respects, if we except the exquisite symmetry of his hands, he was inferior to many gentlemen at court. But there was in him a frankness of disposition, a contempt of all disguise, an impetuosity of feeling, which prompted him to pour out his whole soul in conversation; qualities which captivated the old queen, accustomed as she now was to the cautious and measured language of the politicians around her.
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