Wolsey, Thomas

, a celebrated cardinal and statesman, but to be remembered with more respect as a benefactor to learning, was so obscure in his origin that scarcely any historian mentions the names of his father and mother. Their names, however, are preserved by Rymer (Feed. vol. XIV. p. 355), in the pope’s bull of favours to those who came to Cardinal college in Oxford, and prayed for the safety of the said cardinal, and after his decease for the souls of him, his father Robert, and his mother Joan. This partly confirms the discovery of his zealous biographer, Dr. Fiddes, that he was the son of one Robert Wolsey, a butcher of Ipswich, where he was born in March 1471. Fiddes says that this Robert had a son whose early history corresponds with that of the cardinal, and that he was a man of considerable landed property. We may from other evidence conclude that his parents were either not poor, or not friendless, since they were able to give him the best education his native, town afforded, and afterwards to send him to Magdalen college. But in whatever way he was introduced here, it is certain that his progress in academical | studies was so rapid that he was admitted to the degree of bachelor of arts at the age of fifteen, and from this extraordinary instance of precocity, was usually named the boy bachelor.

No proofs are indeed wanting of his uncommon reputation as a scholar, for he was elected fellow of his college soon after taking his bachelor’s degree, and proceeding to that of master, he was appointed teacher of Magdalen grammar school. In 1498, he was made bursar of the college, about which time he has the credit of building Magdalen tower. It is yet more in proof of his learning having been of the most liberal kind, and accompanied with a corresponding liberality of sentiment, that he became acquainted with Erasmus, then at Oxford, and joined that illustrious scholar in promoting classical studies, which were peculiarly obnoxious to the bigotry of the times. The letters which passed between Wolsey and Erasmus for some years imply mutual respect and union of sentiment on all matters in which literature was concerned; and their love of learning, and contempt for the monks, although this last was excited by different motives, are points in which we perceive no great disagreement. Yet as Erasmus continued to live the life of a mere scholar, precarious and dependent, and Wolsey was rapidly advancing to rank and honours, too many and too high for a subject, a distance was placed between them which Wolsey would not shorten, and Erasmus could not pass. Hence, while a courteous familiarity was preserved in Wolsey’s correspondence, Erasmus could not help betraying the feelings of a client who has received little more than promises from his patron, and when Wolsey fell from his high state, Erasmus joined in the opinion that he was unworthy of it. For this he is severely censured by Fiddes, and ably defended by Knight and Jortin.

Wolsey’s first ecclesiastical preferment was the rectory of Lymington in Somersetshire, conferred upon him in 1500, by the marquis of Dorset, to whose three sons he had acted as tutor, when in Magdalen college. On receiving this presentation he left the university, and resided for some time on his cure, when a singular circumstance induced, or perhaps rendered it absolutely necessary for him to leave it. At a merry meeting at Lymington he either passed the bounds of sobriety, or was otherwise accessary in promoting a riot, for which sir Amyas Pauiet, a justice | of peace, set him in the stocks. This indignity Wolsey remembered when it would have been honourable as well as prudent to have forgot it. After he had arrived at the high rank of chancellor, he ordered sir Amyas to be confined within the bounds of the Temple, and kept him in that place for five or six years.

On his quitting Lymington, though without resigning the living, Henry Dean, archbishop of Canterbury, made him one of his domestic chaplains, and in 1503, the pope, Alexander, gave him a dispensation to hold two benefices. On the death of the archbishop, in the same year, he was appointed chaplain to sir John Nan fan of Worcestershire, treasurer of Calais, which was then in the possession of the English, and by him recommended to Renry VII. who made him one of his chaplains. About the end of 1504, he obtained from pope Julius II. a dispensation to hold a third living, the rectory of Redgrave in Norfolk. In the mean time he was improving his interest at court by an affable and plausible address, and by a display of political talent, and quick and judicious dispatch in business, which rendered him very useful and acceptable to his sovereign. In February 1508, the king gave him the deanery of Lincoln, and two prebends in the same church, and would probably have added to these preferments had he not been prevented by his death in the following year.

This event, important as it was to the kingdom, was of no disadvantage to Wolsey, who saw in the young king, Henry VIII. a disposition that might be rendered more favourable to his lofty views; yet what his talents might have afterwards procured, he owed at this time to a court intrigue. Fox, bishop of Winchester and founder of Corpus Christi college, introduced him to Henry, in order to counteract the influence of the earl of Surrey (afterwards duke of Norfolk), and had probably no worse intention than to preserve a balance in the council; but Wolsey, who was not destined to play a subordinate part, soon rose higher in influence than either his patron or his opponent. He studied, with perfect knowledge of the human heart, to please the young king, by joining in indulgencies which, however suitable to the gaiety of a court, were ill becoming the character of an ecclesiastic. Yet amidst the luxuries which he promoted in his royal master, he did not neglect to inculcate maxims of state, and, above all, to insinuate, in a manner that appeared equally dutiful and disinterested, | the advantages of a system of favouritism, which he secretly hoped would one day center in his own person. Nor was he disappointed, as for some time after this, his history, apart from what share he had in the public councils, is little more than a list of promotions following each other with a rapidity that alarmed the courtiers, and inclined the people, always jealous of sudden elevations, to look back on his origin.

In this rise, he was successively made almoner to the king, a privy counsellor, and reporter of the proceedings of the Star-chamber; rector of Turrington in the diocese of Exeter, canon of Windsor, registrar of the order of the garter, and prebendary and dean of York. From these he passed on to become dean of Hereford, and precentor of St. Paul’s, both of which he resigned on being preferred to the bishopric of Lincoln; chancellor of the order of the garter, and bishop of Tournay in Flanders, which ne held until 1518, when that city was delivered up to the French, but he derived from it afterwards an annual pension of twelve thousand livres*. In 1514, he was consecrated bishop of Lincoln, in the room of Smyth, founder of Brasen-nose college, and was chosen chancellor of the university of Cambridge. The same year he was promoted to the archbishopric of York, and created cardin-al of St. Cecilia.

Yet in the plenitude of that political influence which he now maintained to the exclusion of the ancient nobility and courtiers, it appears that for some time he preserved the peace of the country, by a strict administration of justice, and by a punctuality in matters of finance, which admitted no very unfavourable comparisons between him and his predecessors. Perhaps the splendour and festivities which he encouraged in the court might, by a diffusion of the royal wealth among the public, contribute to a certain degree of popularity, especially when contrasted with the more economical habits encouraged by Henry VII. It was not until he established his legantine court, a species of English popedom, that the people had reason to complain of a vast and rapacious power, unknown to the constitution, boundless in its capricious decrees, and against which there was no redress. This court, however, could not have


Dr. Fiddes allows lhat this piece of preferment partook of usurpation, as the former bishop of Tournay had been neither legally nor ecclesiastically deprived.

| inflicted many public injuries, as it formed no part of the complaints of parliament against him, when complaints mi<rht have been preferred with safety, and would have been welcomed from any quarter. At that time, the legality of the power was called in question, but, not the exercise of it.

In the private conduct of this extraordinary man, while in the height of his prosperity, we find a singular mixture of personal pride and public munificence. While his train of servants rivalled that of the king, and was composed of many persons of rank and distinction, his house was a school where their sons were usefully educated, and initiated in public life. And while he was dazzling the eyes, or insulting the feelings of the people by an ostentation of gorgeous furniture and equipage, such as exceeded the royal establishment itself, he was a general ancj liberal patron of literature, a man of consummate taste in works of art, elegant in his plans, and bpundless in his expences to execute them; and, in the midst of luxurious pleasures and pompous revellings, he was meditating the advancement of science by a munificent use of those riches which he seemed to accumulate only for selfish purposes.

In the mean time, there was no intermission in his preferments. His influence was courted by the pope, who had made him a cardinal, and, in 1516, his legate in England, with powers not inferior to his own; and by the king of Spain, who granted him a pension of three thousand livres, while the duchy of Milan bestowed on him a yearly grant often thousand ducats. On the resignation of archbishop Warham, he was appointed lord high chancellor. “If this new accumulation of dignity,” says Hume, “increased his enemies, it also served to exalt his personal character and prove the extent of his capacity. A strict administration of justice took place during his enjoyment of this high office; and no chancellor ever discovered greater impartiality in his decisions, deeper penetration of judgment, or more enlarged knowledge of law or equity.

In 1518, he attended queen Catherine to Oxford, and intimated to the university his intention of founding lectures on theology, civil law, physic, philosophy, mathematics, rhetoric, Greek, and Latin; and in the following year three of these, viz. for Greek, Latin, and rhetoric, were founded and endowed with ample salaries, and read in the hall of Corpus Christi college. He appointed for his | lectures the ablest scholars whom the university afforded, or whom he could invite from the continent. The members of the convocation, about this time, conferred upon him the highest mark of their esteem by a solemn decree that he should have the revisal and correction of the university statutes in the most extensive sense, and it does not appear that they had any reason to repent of this extraordinary instance of their confidence. The same power was conferred upon him by the university of Cambridge, and in both cases, was accompanied by documents which proved the very high opinion entertained by these learned bodies of his fitness to reform what was amiss in the republic of letters.

In the same year the pope granted him the administration of the bishopric of Bath and Wells, and the king bestowed on him its temporalities. This see, with those of Worcester and Hereford, which the cardinal likewise farmed, were filled by foreigners who were allowed nonresidence, and compounded for this indulgence by yielding a share of the revenues. The cardinal’s aid, about this time, in establishing the College of Physicians of London, is to be recorded among the many instances of the very liberal views he entertained of every improvement connected with literature. In 1521, he evinced his zeal against the reformation‘ which Luther had begun, by procuring his doctrines to be condemned in an assembly of divines held at his own house, published pope Leo’s bull against him, and endeavoured to suppress his writings in this kingdom; but there is no favourable part of his character so fully established as his moderation towards the English Lutherans, for one article of his impeachment was his being remiss in punishing heretics, and showing a disposition rather to screen them.

In the same year he received the rich abbey of St. Alban’s to hold in commendam, and soon after went abroad on an embassy. About this time also, he became a candidate for the papal chair, on the demise of Leo X. but was not successful. This disappointment, however, was compensated in some degree by the emperor, who settled a pension on him of nine thousand crowns of gold, and by the bishopric of Durham, to which he was appointed in 1523. On this he resigned the administration of Bath and Wells. The same year he issued a mandate to remove the convocation of the province of Canterbury from St. | Paul’s to Westminster, one of his most unpopular acts, but which appears to have been speedily reversed. On the death of pope Adrian he made a second unsuccessful attempt to be elected pope; but while he failed in this, he received from his rival a confirmation of the whole papal authority in England.

In 1524, he intonated to the university of Oxford his design of founding a college there, and soon commenced that great work. About two years after he founded his school ,*


On the site of the priory of St. Peter’s, which was surrendered to the cardinal, March 6, 1527. Dr. William Capon was first and last dean, for this school was discontinued on the cardinal’s fall. The foundation stone is now preserved in Christ Church.

or college, as it has been sometimes called, at Ipswich, as a nursery for his intended college at Oxford, aiul this for a short time is said to have rivalled the schools of Winchester and Eton. As he mixed ecclesiastical dignity with all his learned institutions, he appointed here a dean, twelve canons, and a numerous choir. At the same time he sent a circular address to the schoolmasters of England, recommending them to teach their youth the elements of elegant literature, literatura elegantissima, and prescribed the use of Lily’s grammar.

Of the immense riches which he derived from his various preferments, some were no doubt spent in luxuries which left only a sorrowful remembrance, but the greater part was employed in" those magnificent edifices which have immortalized his genius and spirit. In 1514 he began to build the palace at Hampton Court, and having finished it, with all its sumptuous furniture, in 1528, he presented it to the king, who in return gave him the palace of Richmond for a residence. In this last mentioned year, he acceded to the bishopric of Winchester by the death of Fox, and resigned that of Durham. To Winchester, however, he never went. That reverse of fortune which has exhibited him as an example of terror to the ambitious, was now approaching, and was accelerated by events, the consequences of which he foresaw, without the power of averting them. Henry was now agitated by a passion not to be controuled by the whispers of friendship, or the counsels of statesmen, and when the cardinal, whom he had appointed to forward his divorce from queen Catherine and his marriage with Anne Boleyn, appeared tardily to adhere to forms, or scrupulously to interpose | advice, he determined to make him feel the weight of his resentment. It happened unfortunately for the cardinal that both the queen and her rival were his enemies, the queen from a suspicion that she never had a cordial friend in him, and Anne from a knowledge that he had secretly endeavoured to prevent her match with the king. But a minute detail of these transactions and intrigues belongs to history, in which they occupy a large space. It may suffice here to notice that the cardinal’s ruin, when once determined, was effected in the most sudden and rigorous manner, and probably without his previous knowledge of the violent measures that were to be taken.

On the first day of term, Oct. 9, 1529, while he was opening the Court of Chancery at Westminster, the attorney-general indicted him in the Court of King’s Bench, on the statute of provisors, 16 Richard II. for procuring a bull from Rome appointing him legate, contrary to the statute, by which he had incurred a prtemunire^ and forfeited all his goods to the king, and might be imprisoned. Before he could give in any reply to this indictment, the king sent to demand the great seal from him, which was given to sir Thomas More. He was then ordered to leave York-place, a palace which had for some centuries been the residence of the archbishops of York, and which he had adorned with furniture of great value and magnificence: it now became a royal residence under the name of Whitehall. Before leaving this place to go to Esher, near Hampton Court, a seat belonging to the bishopric of Winchester, he made an inventory of the furniture, plate, &c. of York-place, which is said to have amounted to the incredible sum of five hundred thousand crowns, or pounds of our money. He then went to Putney by water, and set out on the rest of his journey on his mule, but he had not gone far before he was met by a messenger from the king, with a gracious message, assuring him that he stood as high as ever in the royal favour, and this accompanied by a ring, which the king had been accustomed to send, as a token to give credit to the bearer. Wolsey received these testimonials with the humblest expression of gratitude, but proceeded on his way to Esher, which he found quite unfurnished. The king’s design by this solemn mockery is not easily conjectured. It is most probable that it was a trick to inspire the cardinal with hopes of being restored to favour, and consequently to prevent his defending | himself in the prosecution upon the statute of provisors, which Henry knew he could do by producing his letters patent authorising him to accept the pope’s bulls. And this certainly was the consequence, for the Cardinal merely instructed his attorney to protest in his name that he was quite ignorant of the above statute; but that he acknowledged other particulars with which he was charged to be true, and submitted himself to the king’s mercy. The sentence of the court was, that “he was out of the protection, and his lands, goods, and chattels forfeit, and his person might be seized.

The next step to complete his ruin was taken by the duke of Norfolk and the privy counsellors, who drew up articles against him, and presented them to the king; but he still affecting to take no personal concern in the matter, remained silent. Yet these probably formed the basis of the forty-four articles presented December 1, to the House of Lords, as by some asserted, or, according to other accounts, by the lords of the council to the House of Commons. Many of them are evidently frivolous or false, and others, although true, were not within the jurisdiction of the House. The cardinal had, in fact, already suffered, as his goods had been seized by the king; he was now in a prtemunire, and the House could not go much farther than to recommend what had already taken place. The cardinal, however, found one friend amidst all his distresses, who was not to be alarmed either at the terrors of the court or of the people. This was Thomas Cromwell, formerly Wolsey’s steward (afterwards earl of Essex), who now refuted the articles with so much spirit, eloquence, and argument, that although a very opposite effect might have been expected, his speech is supposed to have laid the foundation of that favour which the king afterwards extended to him, but which, at no very distant period, proved as fatal to him as it had been to his master. His eloquence had a yet more powerful effect, for the address founded on these articles was rejected by the Commons, and the Lords could not proceed farther without their concurrence.

During the cardinal’s residence at Esher the king sent several messages to him, “some good and some bad,” says Cavendish, “but more ill than good,” until this tantalizing correspondence, operating on a mind of strong passions, brought on, about the end of the year, a sickness | which was represented to the king as being apparently fatal. The king ordered his physician, Dr. Butts, to visit him, who confirmed what had been reported of the dangerous state of his health, but intimated that as his disease affected his mind rather than his body, a kind word from his majesty might prove more effectual -than the best skill of the faculty. On this the king sent him a ring, with a gracious message that he was not offended with him in his heart; and Anne Boleyn sent him a tablet of gold that usually hung at her side, with many kind expressions. The cardinal received these testimonies of returning favour with joy and gratitude, and in a few days was pronounced ut of danger.

Nor can we blame Wolsey for his credulity, since Henry, although he had stripped the cardinal of all his property, and the income arising from all his preferments, actually granted him, Feb. 12, 1530, a free pardon for all crimes and misdemeanors, and a few days after restored to him the revenues, &c. of the archbishopric of York, except York place, before-mentioned, and one thousand marks yearly from the bishopric of Winchester. He also sent him a present of 3000l. in money, and a quantity of plate and furniture exceeding that sum, and allowed him to remove from Esher to Richmond, where he resided for some time in the lodge in the old park, and afterwards in the priory. His enemies at court, however, who appear to have influenced the king beyond his usual arbitrary disposition, dreaded Wolsey’s being so near his majesty, and prevailed on him to order him to reside in his archbishopric. In obedience to this mandate, which was softened by another gracious message from Henry, he first went to the archbishop’s seat at Southwell, and about the end of September fixed his residence at Cawood castle, which he began to repair, and was acquiring popularity by his hospitable manners and bounty, when his capricious master was persuaded to arrest him for high treason, and order him to be conducted to London. Accordingly, on the first of November he set out, but on the road he was seized with a disorder of the dysenteric kind, brought on by fatigue and anxiety, which put a period to his life at Leicester abbey on the 28th of that mouth, in the fifty-ninth year of his age .*


The cardinal had a bastard son called Thomas Winter. “Bulla Jaiii Pont. Rom. dilecti filio Thomas Wuley Rectori paroch. Eccl’las de Lyrayngtoa


Biabo. Well. dioc. Magistrum in Ar tibus pro Dispensatione ad tertium incompatibile. dat. Romæ. 1508. prid. cal. Augusti Pont, u‘ri anno quiuto.’’ —Kennet’s Mss. in Brit. Mus. obligingly communicated by Mr. Ellis.

Some of his last words implied the awful and | just reflection, that if he had served his God as diligently as he had served his king, he would not have given him over to his enemies. Two days after he was interred in the abbey church of Leicester, but the spot is not now known. As to the report of his having poisoned himself, founded on an expression in the printed work of Cavendish, it has been amply refuted by a late eminent antiquary, who examined the whole of the evidence with much acuteness.*

The learned Dr. Samuel Pegge. See —Gent. Mag. vol. XXV. p. 25, and two very able articles on the cardinal’s impeachment, p. 299, 345.

Modern historians have formed a more favourable estimate of Wolsey’s character than their predecessors, yet it had that mixture of good and evil which admits of great variety of opinion, and gives to ingenious party-colouring all the appearance of truth. Perhaps Shakspeare, borrowing from Holinshed and Hall, has drawn a more just and comprehensive sketch of his perfections and failings than is to be found in any other writer.

———``This cardinal,

Though from an humble stock, undoubtedly

Was fashioned to much honour. From his cradle

He was a scholar, and a ripe and good one;

Exceeding wise, fair spoken, and persuading;

Lofty and sour to them that lov’d him not;

But to those men that sought him, sweet as summer.

And though he was unsatisfy’d in getting,

(Which was a sin) yet in bestowing, madam,

He was most princely: Ever witness for him

Those twins of learning that he raised in you,

Ipswich and Oxford! one of which fell with him,

Unwilling to outlive the good that did it;

The other, though unfinish’d, yet so famous,

So excellent in art, and still so rising,

That Christendom shall ever speak his virtue.

His overthrow heap’d happiness upon him:

For then, and not till then, he felt himself,

And found the blessedness of being little:

And, to add greater honours to his age

Than man could give him, he died, fearing God


The speech of the “honest chronicler, Griffith,” to queen Katherine. Henry VIII. Act IV. Scene II.

The cardinal’s biographers, in treating of the founda.­tion of his college, begin with a very laboured defence of his seizing the property and revenues of many priories and nunneries, which were to serve as a fund for building and | endowment; and the zeal they display on this subject, if it cannot now enforce conviction, at least proves the historical fact that the rights of property even at that time were not to be violated with impunity, and that the cardinal’s conduct was highly unpopular. At first it was objected to even by the king himself, although he soon afterwards converted it into a precedent for a more general dissolution of religious houses. Wolsey, however; ought not to be deprived of such defence as has been set up. It has been urged, that h.e procured bulls from the pope empowering him to seize on these priories; and that the pope, according to the notions then entertained of his supremacy, could grant a power by which religious houses might be converted into societies for secular priests, and for the advancement of learning. It has been also pleaded, that the cardinal did not alienate the revenues from religious service, but only made a change in the application of them; that the appropriation of the alien priories by Chichele and Waynriete was in some respects a precedentj and that the suppression of the Templers in the fourteenth century, might also be quoted. Bishop Tanner likewise, in one of his letters to Dr. Charlett, quotes as precedents., bishops Fisher, Alcock, and Beckington. But perhaps the best excuse is that hinted by lord Cherbury, namely, that Wolsey persuaded the king to abolish unnecessary monasteries that necessary colleges might be erected, and the progress of the reformation impeded by the learning of the clergy and scholars educated in them. Tbe same writer suggests, that as Wolsey pleaded for the dissolution of only the small and superfluous houses, the king might not dislike this as a fair experiment how far the project of a general dissolution would be relished. On the other hand, by two letters still extant, written by the king, it appears that he was fully aware of the unpopularity of the measure, although we cannot infer from them that he had any remedy to prescribe.

Whatever weight these apologies had with one part of the public, we are assured that they had very little with another, and that the progress of the college was accompanied by frequent expressions of popular dislike in the shape of lampoons. The kitchen having been first finished, one of the satirists of the day exclaimed, Egregium opus! Cardinalis iste instituit Collegium et absolvit popinam. Other | mock inscriptions were placed on the walls, one of which at least, proved prophetic:

``Non stabit ilia domus, aliis fundata rapinis,

Aut ruet, aut alter raptor habebit eam.‘’

By two bulls, the one dated 1524, the other 1525, Wolsoy obtained of pope Clement VII. leave to enrich his college by suppressing twenty-two priories and nunneries, the revenues of which were estimated at nearly 2000l.; but on his disgrace some of these were given by the king for other purposes. The king’s patent, after a preface paying high compliments to the cardinal’s administration, enables him to build his college principally on the site of the priory of St. Frideswide and the name, originally intended to be “The College of Secular Priests,” was now changed to Cardinal College. The secular clergy in it were to be denominated the “dean and canons secular of the cardinal of York,” and to be incorporated into one body, and subsist by perpetual succession. He was also authorised to settle upon it 2000l. a year clear revenue. By other patents and grants to the dean and canons, various church livings were bestowed upon them, and the college was to be dedicated to the praise, glory, and honour of the Holy Trinity, the Virgin Mary, St. Frideswide, and All Saints.

With respect to the constitution of this college, there is a considerable variation between the account given by the historian of Oxford, and that by Leonard Hutten, canon of Christ Church, in 1599, and many years sub-dean. His manuscript, now in the possession of the college, and quoted in the Monasticon, states that, according to Wolsey’s design, it was to be a perpetual foundation for the study of the sciences, divinity, canon and civil law, also the arts, physic, and polite literature, and for the continual performance of divine service. The members were to be, a dean, and sixty regular canous, but no canons of the second order, as Wood asserts.

Of these Wolsey himself named the dean and eighteen of the canons. The dean was Dr. John Hygden, president of Magdalen college, and the canons first nominated were all taken from the other colleges in Oxford, and were men of acknowledged reputation in their day. He afterwards added others, deliberately, and according as he was able to supply the vacancies by men of talents, whom he determined to seek wherever they could be found. Among his lattfic appointments frcrr Cambridge, we find | the names of Tyndal and Frith, the translators of the Bible, and who had certainly discovered some symptoms of heresy before this time. Cranmer and Parker, afterwards the first and second protestant archbishops of Canterbury, were also invited, bat declined; and the cardinal went on to complete his number, reserving all nominations to himself during his life, but intending to bequeath that power to the dean and canons at his death. In this, however, he was as much disappointed as in his hopes to embody a force of learned men sufficient to cope with Luther and the foreign reformers, whose advantage in argument he conceived to proceed from the ignorance which prevailed among the monastic clergy.

The society, as he planned it, was to consist of one hundred and sixty persons, according to Wood, or omitting the forty canons of the second order, in the enumeration of whom Wood was mistaken, one hundred and forty-six; but no mention could yet be made of the scholars who were to proceed from his school at Ipswich, although, had he lived, these would doubtless have formed a part of the society, as the school was established two years before his fall. This constitution continued from 1525 to 1529-30, when he was deprived of his power and property, and for two years after it appears to have been interrupted, if not dissolved. It is to his honour that in his last correspondence with secretary Cromwell and with the king, when all worldly prospects were about to close upon him, he pleaded with great earnestness, and for nothing so earnestly, as that his majesty would be pleased to suffer his college at Oxford to go on. What effect this had, we know not, but the urgent entreaties of the members of the society, and of the university at large, were at length successful, while at the same time the king determined to deprive Wolsey of all merit in the establishment, and transfer the whole to himself. The subsequent history of Christ church it would be unnecessary to detail in this place.

An impartial life of cardinal Wolsey is perhaps still a desideratum in English biography.*

* A Life of Wolsey has indeed been recently published by Mr. Gait, which the editor has not yet had an opportunity of perusing.
Cavendish is minute and interesting in what he relates of the cardinal’s domestic history, but defective in dates and arrangement, and not altogether free from partiality; which, however, in one so | near to the cardinal, may perhaps be pardoned. Fiddes is elaborate, argumentative, and upon the whole useful, as arc extensive collector of facts and authorities; but he wrote for a special purpose, and has attempted, what no man can effect, a portrait of his hero free from those vices and failings of which it is impossible to acquit him. Grove, with all the aid of Cavendish, Fiddes, and even Shakspeare, whose drama he regularly presses into the service, is a heavy and injudicious compiler, although he gives so much of the cardinal’s contemporaries, that his volumes may be consulted with advantage as a series of general annals of the time. But Cavendish, on whom all who have written on the actions of Wolsey, especially our modern historians, have relied, has been the innocent cause of some of their principal errors. Cavendish’s work remained in manuscript, of which several copies are still extant, until the civil wars, when it was first printed under the title of “The Negociations of Thomas Wolsey, &c.1641, 4to, and the chief object of the publication was a parallel between the cardinal and archbishop Laud, in order to reconcile the public to the murder of that prelate. That this object might be the better accomplished, the manuscript was mutilated and interpolated without shame or scruple, and no pains having been taken to compare the printed edition with the original, the former passed for genuine above a century, nor until very lately has the work been presented to the public as the author left it, in Dr. Wordsworth’s "Ecclesiastical Biography. 1
1 Fiddes’s and Grove’s Lives. Chalmers’s Hit. of Oxford.