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HERE is nothing, either more Useful or Entertaining, than to be placed in the great Theatre of human Life, (of which History gives us the most extenfive and compleat Representation) and,by beholding herein the great Actions and Engagements, the frequent Calamities and Diftreffes of others, we may become fo cautious and wife, as to fhun the Shoals and Rocks on which many have split. It is here, that we fee whole Ages exhibited to us in one View; with the various Operations of mortal Paffions; the different Principles by which ourFellow-Creatures are acted; the different Objects they are in Purfuit of; and the different Iffucs
fues and Events which their Actions at last meet with. It is here, we see the Beginning, the Progrefs, and the Conclufion of the greatest Empires; and the probable Caufes both of their Rife and Declenfion; both of their Grandeur, and their Ruin; how the haughtiest States and Kingdoms have rofe and flourish'd, from the humblest and most uncultivated Simplicity of Life and Manners; and how from thefe, being grofly corrupted and depraved by Profperity and Luxury, they have gradually declined, and totally perished. It is History that furnishes us with Examples of all Kinds, and all Qualities, whether indifferent, vicious, or virtuous; that strikes the deepest Impres fions on those, who are confcious of its tranfmitting the Memoirs of their own Management to Pofterity; that encourages good Men in Power to be ftill more useful, and often makes evil ones lefs hurtful to Mankind; while both confider, that their Deeds will be foon viewed by the Eyes of the whole World, and Ages to come the Judges,
who are either to crown them with unfading Honours, or brand them with indelible Ignominy.
It is prefum'd that most of these Reflections are relative to fuch Writings as give us an Account of the Lives of particular great Men, who have been remarkable for the high Stations they have fill'd, and the great Scenes of publick, extraordinary Affairs, in which they have been engaged And therefore we shall make this Application, That when Perfons, who prefide in any Nation at the Head of publick Bufinefs, read the Tranfactions of those who have moved before them in the like Sphere,they must make a proportionably ftronger Impreffion on their Minds, as they have a more immediate Relation to their Conducts. The Character of à bad Minifter, ftigmatiz'd in History for giving fuch Counfels, and purfuing fuch Measures, as were most injurious to the publick Good, muft have a Tendency in it to deter all that are in the same high Tufts, from a fhameful Mifapplication
application of their Talents, and a vile Perverfion and Abuse of their Power: Because the fame corrupt Principles and Practices must confequently in time render the Lives of fuch Men equally deteftable and reproachful. As, on the contrary, the Life of a good Minister, who was ever heartily zealous in feeking the Welfare of his Country, and ever as active in promoting it, and who had attain'd a Portion of Glory adequate to the Merits of his Services, will help to infufe into the Hearts of others fuch an Emulation to follow his great Example, as may make their Characters hereafter meet with the fame Efteem, and shine with the fame Luftre.
The Time Cardinal Wolfey lived in was very remarkable for many great and extraordinary Events; fo that, to form a true Judgment of the deep Schemes and extenfive Views of fo penetrating a Genius, especially when he arrived to be Prime Minifter, we are not only to confider his Conduct, with regard to Affairs at Home, but alfo to the Situation of Things Abroad, which a
Minister certainly fhould be well acquainted with, and have a strict Eye to; because the Welfare of one Nation can never be rightly establish'd independent of the Felicity of others.
But, to return to our present Undertaking, no Care has been wanting to collect from antient Records, Manufcripts, and Hiftorians, the Materials, to compofe a full History of this high Prelate and moft illuftrious Minister, and of the Times in which he lived.
It is probable fome may object, that the Insertion of that antient and curiousHistory of the Cardinal, wrote by Mr. Cavendish, will make many Parts of this Hiftory of him a needlefs Repetition: To which we Answer, that his is inserted by itself, by way of Notes, and not intermixed with this in the Body of the Text: So that, by giving Mr. Cavendifb's History intire, the Reader may fee, in the Course of this Work, the new Discoveries that have been made fince his Time, both in respect to the Cardinal's Publick and Private Capacity.