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WILLIAM STUBBS Seventeen lectures on the study of medieval and modern history and kindred subjects

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WILLIAM STUBBS
Seventeen lectures on the study of medieval and modern history and kindred subjects
page 338



CONCLUSIONS. [XII. 33* speeches, which took such a long time to deliver, and so much more to write out and read. All our authorities, even the dry journals themselves, furnish matters of amusement to inquiring minds. But time has failed me already, and I must wind up with a few words of sentiment. I think, that after what I have said, you will allow me to say that I have grounds for believing that Henry VIII was the master, and in no sense the minister, of his people : that, where he carried their good-will with him, it was by forcing not by anticipating or even educating it. I am obliged altogether to reject the notion that he was the interpreter in any sense of the wishes of his people : the utmost that he did in this direction was to manipulate and utilise their prejudices to his own purposes. I allow fully the truth of the theory that one great principle of his policy was to obtain for his measures, for all his measures, the acquiescence of his people, and thus to invest them with a safe, irrefragable authority; but I must add that he knew how to turn opposition into acquiescence, or to take acquiescence for granted. Further, I am convinced, as I said in the last lecture, that he was his own chief, I might say sole, counsellor, not one of his other advisers, after the fall of Wolsey, succeeding in becoming anything more than the instrument of a grand, imperious, ever encroaching will. And now let me confess that I do not think so badly of Henry VIII as the received views of either his advocates or his enemies would suggest. The unhappy, most unhappy history of his wives, has brought upon him an amount of moral hatred which is excessive. Nine kings out of any ten whom you may pick out of the list would have saved their character for humanity by simple self-indulgence. No absolutely profligate king could have got into the miserable abyss in which we find Henry VIII struggling during the


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