Henry admired his chivalry, and perhaps his talent. The loss of Wolsey had left him without any very able man, unless we may consider Sir Thomas More such, upon his council, and he could not calculate on More for support in his anti-Roman policy; he was glad, therefore, to avail himself of the service of a man who had given so rare a proof of fidelity, and who had been trained by the ablest statesman of the age.
To Wolsey Cromwell could render no more service except as a friend, and his warm friend he remained to the last. He became the king’s secretary, representing the government in the House of Commons, and was at once on the high road to power. I cannot call him ambitious; an ambitious man would scarcely have pursued so refined a policy, or have calculated on the admiration which he gained by adhering to a fallen minister. He did not seek greatness—greatness rather sought him as the man in England most fit to bear it. His business was to prepare the measures which were to be submitted to Parliament by the government. His influence, therefore, grew necessarily with the rapidity with which events were ripening; and when the conclusive step was taken, and the king was married, the virtual conduct of the Reformation passed into his hands. His Protestant tendencies were unknown as yet, perhaps, even to his own conscience; nor to the last could he arrive at any certain speculative convictions. He was drawn towards the Protestants as he rose into power by the integrity of his nature, which compelled him to trust only those who were honest like himself.
WILL OF THOMAS CROMWELL—1529.
In the name of God, Amen. The 12th day of July, in the year of our Lord God MCCCCCXXIX., and in the 21st year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord, King Henry VIII., I, Thomas Cromwell, of London, Gentleman, being whole in body and in good and perfect memory, lauded be the Holy Trinity, make, ordain, and declare this my present testament, containing my last will, in manner as following:—First I bequeath my soul to the great God of heaven, my Maker, Creator, and Redeemer, beseeching the most glorious Virgin and blessed Lady Saint Mary the Virgin and Mother, with all the holy company of heaven, to be mediators and intercessors for me to the Holy Trinity, so that I may be able, when it shall please Almighty God to call me out of this miserable world and transitory life, to inherit the kingdom of heaven amongst the number of good Christian people; and whensoever I shall depart this present life I bequeath my body to be buried where it shall please God to ordain me to die, and to be ordered after the discretion of mine executors undernamed. And for my goods which our Lord hath lent me in this world, I will shall be ordered and disposed in manner and form as hereafter shall ensue. First I give and bequeath unto my son Gregory Cromwell six hundred