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d suppress the monasteries.' Such language alarmed the friends of the papacy, who stoutly opposed a scheme which they believed to be sacrilegious. 'These foundations were consecrated to Almighty God,' they told the king; 'respect therefore those retreats where pious souls live in contemplation.'[164] 'Cont

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emplation!' said Sir Henry Colt smiling; 'tomorrow, Sire, I undertake to produce proofs of the kind of contemplation in which these monks indulge.' Whereupon, says an historian


, Colt, knowing that a certain number of the monks of Waltham Abbey had a fondness for the conversation of ladies, and used to pass the night with the nuns of Chesham Convent,


went to a narrow path through which the monks would have to pass on their return, and stretched across it one of the stout nets used in stag-hunting. Towards daybreak, as the m

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onks, lantern in hand, were making their way {82} through the wood, they suddenly heard a loud noise behind them—it was

caused by men whom Colt had stationed for the purpose—and instantly blowing out their lights they were hurrying away, when they fell into the toils prepared for th

em.[165] The next morning, he presented them to the king, who laughed heartily at their pi

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teous looks. 'I have often seen better game,' he said, 'but never fatter. Certainly,' he added, 'I can make a better use of

the money which the monks waste in their debaucheries. The coast of England requires to be fortified, my fleet and army to be increased, and harbors to be built for

the commerce which is extending every day.[166] All that is well worth the trouble of sup

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f Englan
  • d. The clois
  • ter schools have f
  • allen into decay
  • , and the wants of



  • better ones
  • . To suppress the
  • pope and to keep
  • the monks is like



g the ge
  • neral and de
  • livering the fortres
  • ses of the count
  • ry up to his army.

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ng houses of impurity.' The protectors of the religious orders were not discouraged, and maintained that it was not necessary to shut all the convents, because of a few guilty

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houses. =REVIVING INFLUENCE OF THE LAITY.= Dr. Leighton, a former officer of Wolsey's, proposed a middle course: 'Let the king order a general visitation of monasteries,' he

said, 'and in this way he will learn whether he ought to secularize them

or not. Perhaps the mere fear of this inspection wil

l incline the monks to yield to his Majesty's