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Master Latimer, said he, speak out: I am very thick of hearing, and here be many that sit far off. I marvelled at this, that I was bidden speak out, and began to misdeem, and gave an ear to the chimney. And, Sir, there I heard a pen walking in the chimney behind the cloth. They had appointed one there to write all mine answers, for they made sure work that I should not start from them; there was no starting from them.
God was my good Lord, and gave me answer ; I could never else have escaped it.
Here I have occasion to tell you a story which happened at Cambridge. Master Bilney, or rather Saint Bilney, that suffered death for God's word sake, the same Bilney was the instrument whereby God called me to knowledge, for I may thank him next to God, for that knowledge that I have in the word of God. For I was as obstinate a papist as any was in England, insomuch that when I should be made bachelor of divinity, my whole oration went against Philip Melancthon, and against his opinions. Bilney heard me at that time, and
perceived that I was zealous without knowledge ; and he came to me afterward in my study, and desired me for God's sake to hear his confession. I did so ; and to say the truth, by his confession I learned more than afore in many years. So from that time forward I began to smell the word of God, and forsook the school-doctors and such fooleries.
Now after I had been acquainted with him, I went with him to visit the prisoners in the tower at Cambridge ; for he was ever visiting , prisoners and sick folk. So we went together, and exhorted them as well as we were able to do, moving them to patience, and to acknowledge their faults. Among other prisoners, there was a woman which was accused that she had killed her own child, which act she plainly and steadfastly denied, and could not be brought to confess the act; which denying gave us occasion to search for the matter, and so we did. And at the length we found that her husband loved her not, and therefore he sought means to make her out of the way. The matter was thus: a child of hers had been sick by the space of a year, and so decayed as it were in a consumption. At the length it died in harvest-time. She went to her neighbours and other friends to desire their help, to prepare the child to the burial; but there was nobody at home, every man was in the field.
The woman, in a heaviness and trouble of spirit went, and being herself alone prepared the child to the burial. Her husband coming home, not having great love towards her, accused her of the murder ; and so she was taken and brought to Cambridge. But as far forth as I could learn, through earnest inquisition, I thought in my conscience the woman was not guilty, all the circumstances well considered.
Immediately after this, I was called to preach before the king,* which was my first sermon that I made before his majesty, and it was done at Windsor ; where his majesty, after the sermon was done, did most familiarly talk with me in a gallery. Now when I saw my time, I kneeled down before his majesty, opening the whole matter, and afterwards most humbly desired his majesty to pardon that woman. For I thought in my conscience she was not guilty ; else I would not for all the world sue for a murderer. The king most graciously heard my humble request, insomuch that I had a pardon ready for her at my return homeward. In the mean season, that same woman was delivered of a child in the tower at Cambridge, whose godfather I was, and mistress Cheket
Henry VIII. + This lady was the mother of Sir John Cheke, the learned tutor of Edward the Sixth.
was god-mother. But all that time I hid my pardon, and told her nothing of it, only exhorting her to confess the truth. At the length the time came when she looked to suffer ; I came as I was wont to do, to instruct her; she made great moan to me. So we travailed with this woman till we brought her to a good trade ; and at the length shewed her the king's pardon, and let her go.
This tale I told you by this occasion, that though some women be very unnatural, and forget their children, yet when we hear any body so report, we should not be too hasty in believing the tale, but rather suspend our judgments till we know the truth.
It is a common speech amongst the people, and much used, that they say, all religious houses are pulled down ; which is a very peevish saying, and not true; for they are not pulled down. That man and that woman that live together godly and quietly, doing the works of their vocation, and fear God, hear his word and keep it, that same is a religious house ; that is that house that pleaseth God. For
religion, pure religion, I say, standeth not in wearing of a monk's cowl, but in righteousness, justice, and well-doing, and as St. James saith, in visiting the orphans, and widows that lack their husbands, orphans that lack their parents; to help them when they be poor, to speak for them when they be oppressed. Herein standeth true religion, God's religion, I say; the other which was used, was an unreligious life, yea, rather an hypocrisy. There is a text in Scripture; I never read it but I remember these religious houses ; “ Estque recta homini via, cujus tamen postremum iter est ad mortem.' There is a way, which way seemeth to men to' be good, whose end is eternal perdition. When the end is naught, all is naught.
So were these monks' houses, these religious houses ; there were many people, specially widows, which would give over house-keeping, and go to such houses, when they might have done much good in maintaining of servants, and relieving of poor people; but they went their ways.
What a madness was that ! Again, how much cause we have to thank God, that we know what is true religion, that God hath revealed unto us the deceitfulness of those monks, which had a goodly shew before the world of great holiness, but they were naught within
Therefore Scripture saith,