Page:Henry VIII and the English Monasteries.djvu/50

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
4
Henry VIII. and the English Monasteries

The Tudor policy of government created also the "official," who was by nature restless and discontented. Working for the most inadequate of salaries, such a man was ever on the look-out for some lucky chance of supplementing his pay. Success and worldly prosperity depended on his being able to attract to himself the notice of his royal master. "It was his interest to compete for extraordinary grants in return for his work." [1] One with the other they strove who should best work their way into his favour by anticipating his wishes, satisfying his whims, and pandering to his desires, "their promotion being wholly dependent on his good-will."

As a result of the inadequate salaries, the administration of the law appears, with honourable exceptions, to have been partial and corrupt. Complaints were frequent against the lawyers of the period. Suits were kept on from year to year unless money was forthcoming to induce the authorities to make an end of the litigation. It even passed into a proverb that "the law was ended as a man was friended," and contemporary writers declaim against the mischief which men suffered "from the facility with which an accusation could be lodged against an innocent person." [2]

The same contemporary authority speaks of the miserable state of those who were unfortunate enough to be thrown into prison. There, he says, they "are lodged like hogs and fed like dogs." Moreover they were allowed to lie in these wretched prison-houses for years without any trial, and if they had no money were left to starve. If they, or their friends, could afford to pay for their food, they were allowed in some prisons to "pay for themselves four times as much as at any best inn." By all means, says Brinklow, "if a man offend the law let him have the law," but "to imprison a man and starve him is murder."[3]

In the midst of the throes of a great social crisis much depended upon the Church. There can be little doubt that the clergy of the time were ill-fitted to cope with the forces

  1. P. Friedmann, Anne Boleyn, i. p. 27.
  2. Complaint of Roderyck Mors, E. Eng. Text Soc. ed., Introduction, p. 25. In Starkey's Dialogue between Card. Pole and Lupset the same charges are made, and the same proverb is made use of by Starkey in the "Dialogue," which was afterwards quoted by Henry Brinklow in the "Complaint." Both these authors were contemporaries of the events about which they write.
  3. Ibid., p. 27.