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The following life was written by the cardinal's gentleman usher, Cavendish ; whose Christian name in the superscription to some of the manuscript copies is George, but by bishop Kennet, in his Memoirs of the family of Cavendish; by Collins, in his Peerage ; and by Dr. Birch (No. 4233, Ayscough's Catalogue, Brit. Museum) he is called William'. The work was known only by manuscripts, and by the large extracts from it, inserted by John Stowe in his Annals, from the reign of Q. Mary in which it was composed, until the year 1641; at which time a book was printed in a thin quarto, intitled, “ The Negotiations of Thomas Woolsey, the great Cardinal, containing his Life and Death," &c. But surely no publication was ever more unfaithful to the manuscript, from which it professed to be taken; the editor, whosoever he was, being every way unqualified for his undertaking. The language he has thought fit to alter, almost in every sentence, without the guidance of any principle, but the gratification of his own tasteless caprice. Omissions he has made of many of the most interesting and valuable portions of the volume, amounting in extent to at least one third part of the whole; and through ignorance, and inability even to read the manuscript which was before him, he has left a multitude of passages in the text utterly absurd and unintelligible. Yet the piece, even with all these disadvantages, has been so much a favourite with the public, that it has been reprinted twice, in the years 1667 and 1706 (besides being inserted in the Harleian Miscellany, and in the Selection
1 Called William.] In a tract, published in the year 1814, entitled “Who wrote Cavendish's Life of Wolsey ?” and written by the Rev. Joseph Hunter, F.S.A., author of the “ History of Hallamshire,” &c. &c., it is shown, very satisfactorily, that George, elder brother of William, was the author.
from that work), and is still a book of not very frequent occur
The Lambeth Library supplying two manuscript copies of this life, the editor obtained permission from his grace the archbishop of Canterbury, to make use of them for the present collection. The first of these (No. 179) is very fairly and accurately written, and appears from a subscription at the end, bearing date A. D. 1598, to have belonged to John Stowe, the antiquarian; and afterwards to Sir Peter Manwood: both whose names are autographs. In the title of this copy, the work is ascribed to George Cavendish. The other MS. (No. 250) is also a correct and valuable one, but wants a few leaves.
Stowe's manuscript was made the groundwork of the present edition. That being first transcribed, the copy was collated with the MS. No. 250, the readings of which were adopted, where they seemed to be deserving of preference. In one or two places the editor availed himself of the readings given by Stowe in his Annals : and in a few others, he followed a MS, of this life, formerly belonging to Dr. Tobias Matthew, archbishop of York, now in the library of the dean and chapter of that cathedral; the use of which was very generously conceded to the editor, by that venerable body, through the intervention of his grace the archbishop of Canterbury. A deficiency in one passage was supplied by a MS. (No. 4233, Ayscough's Catalogue) in the British Museum: for the discovery of which the editor begs to return his thanks to Mr. Ellis and Mr. Douce, librarians there : as he does to the latter gentleman for the very liberal offer of the free use of another valuable MS. of this same life, in his own possession?
? Now  in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, to which Mr. Douce bequeathed the whole of his valuable books and MSS.
ME-SEEMS it were no wisdome to credit every light tale, blasted abroade by the blasphemous mouthe of rude commonalty. For we dayly heare how with their blasphemous trumpe, they spread abroad innumerable lies, without either shame or honesty, which prima facie sheweth forthe a visage of truthe, as though it were a perfect verity and matter indeede, whereas there is nothing more untrue. And amongst the wise sorte so it is esteemed, with whom those bablings be of small force and effect.
For sooth I have reade the exclamations of divers worthy and notable authors, made against suche false rumours and fonde opinions of the fantasticall commonalty, whoe delighteth in nothing more than to heare strange things, and to see newe alterations of authorities; rejoicing sometimes in such newe fantasies, which afterwardes give them more occasion of repentance than of joyfulness. Thus may all men of wisdome and discretion understand the temerous' madness of the rude commonalty, and not give to them too hasty credit of every sodeine rumour, untill the truth be perfectly knowne by the reporte of some approved and credible person, that ought to have thereof true intelligence. I have hearde and also seene set forthe in diverse printed books some untrue imaginations, after the deathe of diverse persons which in their life were of great estimation, that were invented rather to bring their honest names into infamy and perpetuall slaunder of the common multitude, than otherwise.
The occasion therefore that maketh me to rehearse all these
Temerous.] Rash; temerarious.
things is this; for as much as I intend, God willing, to write here some parte of the proceedings of Cardinal Wolsey, the archbishop, his ascending unto honour's estate', and sodeine falling againe from the same; whereof some parte shall be of myne own knowledge, and some parte of credible persons information.
Forsothe this cardinall was my lorde and master, whome in his life I served, and so remained with him, after his fall, continually, duringe the time of all his trouble, untill he died, as well in the Southe as in the Northe parts, and noted all his demeanor and usage in all that time; as also in his wealthy triumphe and glorious estate. And since his death I have hearde diverse sondry surmises and imagined tales, made of his procedings and doings, which I myself have perfectly knowen to be most untrue : unto
Ascending unto honour's estate.] It may be well to give the several dates of Wolsey's career :1471.
Entered Oxford. 1486.
? B. A.
Fellow of Magdalen. 1500. Oct. 10. Parson of Lymington. 1505.
Chaplain to Henry VII. 1506.
Rector of Redgrave.
Envoy to Maximilian. 1508. Feb. 2. Dean of Lincoln. 1509. Almoner to Henry VIII. 1510,
Rector of Torrington.
Canon of Windsor, and Registrar of the order of the Garter. 1511. Prebendary of York. 1512.
Dean of York.
Abbey of St. Alban's, in commendam. 1513. Bishop of Tournay (in 1518 he agreed to receive from Francis,
as compensation for the loss of this, a pension of 12000 fr.). 1514. Feb. 6. Bishop of Lincoln. Aug. 5. Archbishop of York.
Cardinal. Dec. 1. Lord Chancellor. (He took the oaths on the 24th.) 1516.
Legate de latere. 1518. Aug. 28. Bishop of Bath, in com. 1521.July 29.—Dec. 1. Ambassador to Charles V. 1523. Apr. 30. Bishop of Durham, in com. 1527. July 3.—Sept. 30. Ambassador to Francis I 1529. Apr. 6. Bishop of Winchester, in com.
Confessed to Præmunire. 1530. Nov. 29. Died at Leicester.
the which I would have sufficiently answered accordinge to truthe, but as me seemed then it was much better for mee to dissemble the matter, and to suffer the same to remaine still as lies, than to reply against their untruth, of whome I might, for my boldness, sooner have kindled a great flame of displeasure, than to quench one spark of their untrue reportes. Therefore I committed the truth of the matter to the knowledge of God, who knoweth the truth in all things. For, whatsoever any man hath conceived in him while he lived, or since his deathe, thus much I dare be bold to say, withoute displeasure to any person, or of affection, that in my judgement I never saw this realme in better obedience and quiet, than it was in the time of his authority and rule, ne justice better ministered with indifferency; as I could evidently prove, if I should not be accused of too much affection, or else that I set forth more than truth. I will therefore leave to speak any more thereof, and make here an end, and procede further to his originall beginning and ascending with fortunes favor to high honours, dignities, promotions, and riches.
Truthe it is that this cardinall Wolsey was an honest poore man's sonne“, of Ipswiche in the county of Suffolk, and there borne; and being but a child, was very apt to be learned; wherefore by the means of his parents, or of his good friends, and masters, he was conveied to the university of Oxonford, where he shortly prospered so in learning, as he told me by his owne mouthe, he was made Bacheller of Arts, when he past not fifteen yeares
was called most commonly, through the university, the Boy Bacheller.
Thus prosperinge and increasinge in learning, he was made fellow of Magdalen College, and after elected and appointed to be schoole master of Magdalen schoole; at which time the lord
3 Better ministered.) Hence Fuller says beautifully, and very aptly and sagaciously: “I hear no widows' sighs, nor see orphans' tears in our chronicles, caused by him. Sure in such cases wherein his private ends made him not a party, he was an excellent justicer: as being too proud to be bribed, and too strong to be overborn.” Fuller's Holy and Profane State,
* Poore man's sonne.) He was born in the year 1471. See Fiddes's Life of Wolsey, p. 2. edit. 2. A.D. 1726.