Harper's New Monthly Magazine, Volume 1, No. 3, August, 1850.

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Excerpt While living in the neighborhood of Chelsea, we determined to look upon the few broken walls that once inclosed the residence of Sir Thomas More, a man who, despite the bitterness inseparable from a persecuting age, was of most wonderful goodness as well as intellectual power. We first read over the memories of him preserved by Erasmus, Hoddesdon, Roper, Aubrey, his own namesake, and others. It is pleasant to muse over the past; pleasant to know that much of malice and bigotry has departed, to return no more, that the prevalence of a spirit which could render even Sir Thomas More unjust and, to seeming, cruel, is passing away. Though we do implicitly believe there would be no lack of great hearts, and brave hearts, at the present day, if it were necessary to bring them to the test, still there have been few men like unto him. It is a pleasant and a profitable task, so to sift through past ages, so to separate the wheat from the chaff, to see, when the feelings of party and prejudice sink to their proper insignificance, how the morally great stands forth in its own dignity, bright, glorious, and everlasting. St. Evremond sets forth the firmness and constancy of Petronius Arbiter in his last moments, and imagines he discovers in them a softer nobility of mind and resolution, than in the deaths of Seneca, Cato, or Socrates himself; but Addison says, and we can not but think truly, "that if he was so well pleased with gayety of humor in a dying man, he might have found a much more noble instance of it in Sir Thomas More, who died upon a point of religion, and is respected as a martyr by that side for which he suffered." What was pious philosophy in this extraordinary man, might seem frenzy in any one who does not resemble him as well in the cheerfulness of his temper as in the sanctity of his life and manners. Oh, that some such man as he were to sit upon our woolsack now; what would the world think, if when the mighty oracle commanded the next cause to come on, the reply should be, "Please your good lordship, there is no other!" Well might the smart epigrammatist write: When More some time had chancellor been,No more suits did remain;The same shall never more be seen,Till More be there again! We mused over the history of his time until we slept, and dreamed: and first in our dream we saw a fair meadow, and it was sprinkled over with white daisies, and a bull was feeding therein; and as we looked upon him he grew fatter and fatter, and roared in the wantonness of power and strength, so that the earth trembled; and he plucked the branches off the trees, and trampled on the ancient inclosures of the meadow, and as he stormed, and bellowed, and destroyed, the daisies became human heads, and the creature flung them about, and warmed his hoofs in the hot blood that flowed from them and we grew sick and sorry at heart, and thought, is there no one to slay the destroyer? And when we looked again, the Eighth Harry was alone in the meadow; and, while many heads were lying upon the grass, some kept perpetually bowing before him, while others sung his praises as wise, just, and merciful. Then we heard a trumpet ringing its scarlet music through the air, and we stood in the old tilt-yard at Whitehall, and the pompous Wolsey, the bloated king, the still living Holbein, the picturesque Surrey, the Aragonian Catharine, the gentle Jane, the butterfly Anne Bullen, the coarse-seeming but wise-thinking Ann of Cleves the precise Catherine Howard, and the stout hearted Catherine Parr, passed us so closely by, that we could have touched their garments; then a bowing troop of court gallants came on; others whose names and actions you may read of in history; and then the hero of our thoughts, Sir Thomas More—well dressed, for it was a time of pageants—was talking somewhat apart to his pale-faced friend Erasmus, while "Son Roper," as the chancellor loved to call his son-in-law, stood watchfully and respectfully a little on one side. Even if we had never seen the pictures Holbein painted of his first patron, we should have known him by the bright benevolence of his aspect, the singular purity of his complexion, his penetrating yet gentle eyes, and the incomparable grandeur with which virtue and independence dignified even an indifferent figure. His smile was so catching that the most broken-hearted were won by it to forget their sorrows; and his voice, low and sweet though it was, was so distinct, that we heard it above all the coarse jests, loud music, and trumpet calls of the vain and idle crowd. And while we listened, we awoke; resolved next day to make our pilgrimage, perfectly satisfied at the outset, that though no fewer than four houses in Chelsea contend for the honor of his residence, Doctor King's arguments in favor of the site being the same as that of Beaufort House—upon the greater part of which now stands Beaufort-row—are the most conclusive; those who are curious in the matter can go and see his manuscripts in the British Museum....
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